Scotland | Highlands and Islands

A marvel for hikers, historians, horticulturists, and photographers.

Scotland

Trip Highlights:

  • Unleash your inner historian with visits to castles and historical landmarks.
  • Visit iconic production locations such as Outlander, Game of Thrones, Monty Python, and Harry Potter.
  • Summit Sgùrr Dhòmhnuill, a dramatic 2,913 ft. peak with stunning panoramic views.

Scotland is a unique country boasting 790 diverse islands, a rugged coastline, thousands of hidden lochs, a distinctive culture, imposing mountains looming stoically against the wilds of the infamous Scottish climate and vast stretches of uncharted trails. During this trek we traverse many miles of awe-inspiring mountains and precipitous glens, summit dramatic peaks and ramble through mossy forests. We visit historical landmarks, castles and gardens, sample world famous whisky, indulge in delicious cuisine, meet friendly locals, explore picturesque villages, and stay in charming accommodations blending comfort with a historic setting.

Scotland is rightfully famous for its most wild and untamed reaches. The image of the foggy moors, ancient beech forests, and windswept isles have inspired generations of writers, such as the luminary poet Robert Burns or the adventure novelist Robert Louis Stephenson. That the Scottish countryside has captured the imagination of so many is genuinely no surprise – the Scottish wilderness is unrivaled in the British Isles. Ryder-Walker’s trek through the Scottish Highlands and the Isle of Skye captures two of our favorite locations in the region.

Callander is a lively market town and our favorite village in the entirety of the Loch Lomond wilderness. The main street of Callander is reminiscent of its history as a trading hub for the Scottish Highlands, with dozens of quaint shops, cafes, and pubs lining the street. The surrounding countryside is the perfect gateway to the Scottish Highlands via the Trossachs National Park, the park which contains 21 Munros (mountains with a summit of more than 3,000 ft.). These summits are obviously much smaller than the mountains found in mainland Europe, but are no less mysterious and beautiful.

From Callander, we visit the Castle Doune before traveling on to Strontian. Castle Doune has immortalized itself in cinema through both Monty Python’s The Holy Grail and Game of Thrones, for which the castle’s austere and distinctly military exterior provided the perfect atmosphere.

Hiking in the Trossachs National Park is a definite joy. Moss coated forests give way to the famous Lochs, which sit in steep walled valleys, with the summits of Munros rising above.

The trails themselves alternate between forest roads, riverside paths, cairn-marked routes across the moors, and more rocky ascents on the mountain’s flanks. The variety and charm of hiking in the region is one of its great draws.

After we have had our fill of the Highlands, we continue off the coast to the Isle of Skye. The Isle of Skye needs no introduction – it has made its name in culture across literature, film, and television. Skye lives up well to its reputation – the isle is just as dramatic and remote as one imagines it. The beaches, mountains, and windswept hills all have a brooding character that is lightened by the friendly demeanor of the locals.

Leaving Skye en route to Torridon, we make a stop at Eilean Donan Castle. This restored medieval castle stands as one of Scotland’s most famous. The final trek of our journey leads us to the summit of the Horns of Alligin, a cluster of rugged peaks within the Torridan Mountains. This mountain range offers breathtaking views along an extraordinary ridge trail, providing us with an exhilarating traverse between the two summits.

Culturally, both the Scottish Highlands and the Isle of Skye are united by warmth and a welcoming nature. Of note are the lively pubs, where local musicians will gather to play traditional tunes on the fiddle, guitar, or dreaded bagpipes. There is no experience as comforting as a pint in a crowded Scottish pub. When the pubs themselves are closed, many locals work outside as shepherds, where they manage the sheep in the traditional style and lucky visitors may catch the local sheep dogs hard at work as well.

Trip Itinerary

Arrive and transfer independently to Callander, where you meet your guides and group for orientation and dinner.

Our tour begins with a memorable circular walk to the summit of Ben Lomond, one of Scotland’s most southerly Munros (a Scottish peak over 3,000 ft.). We hike along the adventurous Ptarmigan Ridge enjoying the 360-degree views before descending to Rowardennan.
Distance: 7 miles.
Elevation gain/loss: 3,200 ft.

A brief 10-minute transfer brings us to the base of Ben Ledi, where we climb to the 2,884 ft. summit. Afterward, we follow the northern descent to the valley, finishing our adventure with a leisurely stroll through a mossy forest along a cycle track, leading us back to Callander.
Distance: 10 miles.
Elevation gain/loss: 2,600 ft.

Begin the day with a visit to Doune Castle, renowned for its appearances in iconic productions like Monty Python, Outlander, and Game of Thrones. From there, we embark on a scenic drive deeper into the Highlands, with stops in route to uncover the secluded ruins of Finlarig Castle and the breathtaking Glen Coe valley, before reaching our hotel in Strontian.
Distance: 1 mile.

Today’s adventure begins with a walk through the Ariundle Oakwood National Nature Reserve, one of the most extensive and well-reserved oak woodlands in Scotland. From there we summit Sgùrr Dhòmhnuill, a dramatic 2,913 ft. peak with stunning panoramic views.
Distance: 11 miles.
Elevation gain/loss: 3000 ft.

Today we visit the iconic landmarks of Glenfinnan Monument, commemorating the Jacobite Uprisings of the 18th Century, and the famous arches of the Glenfinnan Viaduct, featured in the Harry Potter movies. Next, we drive the scenic “Road to the Isles” before taking a ferry from Mallaig to reach the Isle of Skye.
Distance: 1 mile.

On Skye, we start the day with a quick visit to the mythical Sligachan Old Bridge before moving on to the Glenbrittle Valley for a walk around Coire Lagan, one of the island’s less explored valleys. Tucked in by majestic peaks on three sides, this is truly an extraordinary place. The day ends with a whisky tour of the Talisker Distillery.
Distance: 6 miles.
Elevation gain/loss: 2000 ft.

Today we visit Eilean Donan Castle, the most photographed castle in Scotland. Next, we head north on a scenic route to Torridon. Along the way we visit the Attadale Gardens, renowned for its unique sculptures and rhododendrons.
Distance: 2 miles.

Today’s adventure leads us on a traverse of the famous “Horns of Alligin,” a thrilling hike with awe-inspiring vistas. The ridge consists of two peaks, known as the Horns, named Sgùrr Thionail and Sgùrr a’ Bhealaich Dheirg.
Distance: 7 miles.
Elevation gain/loss: 3900 ft.

Our final hike takes us to the summit of the Beinn Eighe Massif, treating us to panoramic views of the surrounding jagged peaks, verdant valleys, and pristine lochs. Tonight, we come together to celebrate our unforgettable adventure with a special final dinner.
Distance: 11.5 miles.
Elevation gain/loss: 3700 ft.

Highlands and Islands | Scotland

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