Hiking in Scotland is a popular past time and the South West region is a haven for walkers; its spectacular scenery is quite different to overused routes you may find elsewhere.
It’s true that hiking in Scotland is one of the best ways to explore this amazing country, its wildlife and landscapes. Whether you are strolling along the shores of vast lochs, or hiking up a mountain, you won’t be disappointed with the breathtaking views that await you.
Here are some great trails if you want to do some hiking in Scotland:
This trail stretches for 37 miles from the Stevenson Lighthouse at the Mull of Galloway (Scotland’s most southerly point) through to the finish at Glenapp Kirk. The trail heads north along the eastern coastline of the Rhins of Galloway, a hammer-head peninsular in Dumfries and Galloway. The walk takes in the RSPB reserve at the Mull, some quiet villages, fine sandy beaches and offers an attractive walk most of the way. It is considered to be one of the best hiking trails in South West Scotland.
Read more about The Mull of Galloway Trail here.
Ayrshire Coastal Path
The Ayrshire Coastal Path runs from Glenapp Kirk to Skelmorlie and covers around 100 miles if you take into account some of the “must see” heritage sites along the way. Particularly in the south, the terrain can be rugged and there are a few, short areas where you’ll need to scramble over the rocky shoreline (notably between Girvan and Turnberry, Culzean and Dunure, and Dunure and Ayr). Thus these sections are best suited to well-equipped, fit walkers. From Ayr to Largs, the route is much flatter and offers far gentler walks across sandy beaches and within the countryside.
Whichever part of the Ayrshire Coastal Path you hike along, you’ll be treated to ever changing scenery and glimpses of a wide variety of wildlife including more than 100 bird species, foxes, deer and basking sharks.
The “must see” heritage sites that you can visit include the stunning Culzean Castle and Country Park, historic castles at Dundonald, Seagate, Ardrossan and Portencross (to name but a few), plus the Maritime Museum in Irvine, and Vikingar in Largs.
Read more about the Ayrshire Coastal Path here.
The Merrick Trail
The Merrick is the highest peak in Southern Scotland and is found in the heart of the Galloway Forest Park, about 15 miles north of Newton Stewart.
The easiest route to get to the top of the Merrick starts in Loch Trool and covers 8.25 miles in total. The first point of interest is Bruce’s Stone – a cairn which was erected in 1929 to honour Robert the Bruce who defeated an English army on the banks of Loch Trool. The path (signed as The Merrick Trail) then meanders upwards past natural waterfalls and through forest areas before it opens out to reveal The Merrick in all its glory.
This trail will reward you with stunning views out to the Isle of Man, Northern Ireland and the whole of the Galloway region.
Find out more about The Merrick Trail here.
This 6.25 mile circular walk of moderate difficulty starts at the north side of the harbour at Portpatrick. There is a waymarked trail which follows the scenic coastline and then takes you up a steep section of rocky steps to the top of the cliff, where the Killantringan Lighthouse can be seen in the distance.
On reaching the lighthouse, which was built in 1900, look out for the remains of the Craigantlet container ship in the bay, which ran aground in 1982 due to hazardous crosscurrents.
On leaving the lighthouse, the walk heads inland along minor roads and through woodland paths to return back to Portpatrick.
Find out more about the Portpatrick to Killantringan Lighthouse walk here.
Millfore from Black Loch
Millfore is a Galloway hill which may not be as high as some of the others, but has a challenging, rough ascent. This 7 mile walk starts gently at Black Loch and continues along a forested track, and offers the first view of Millfore. To reach Millfore itself, you need to leave the track and head towards Kirkloch, clambering over deep heather, tussocks and boggy ground. As you climb higher, the land dries out and finally, on the steep climb to the summit, you will be rewarded by fabulous views, particularly those to the north over Loch Dee, where you will see the hills of Galloway with The Merrick standing out clearly as the highest of the lot.
Find out more about the Black Loch to Millfore walk here.
If you are interested in hiking in Scotland, there are walks for all abilities. The trails above are just the tip of the iceberg! So what are you waiting for? Put on your hiking boots, pack your waterproofs, and get ready for rambling around some of Scotland’s most wonderful landscapes.