The Arran Coastal Way takes in the beach at Brodick Bay
The North Sea Trail takes in existing paths such as the John Muir Way in East Lothian
The Sir Walter Scott Way follows the eastern shore of St. Mary's Loch in the Scottish Borders
The Three Brethren Cairns lies on the route of both the Southern Upland Way and the Sir Walter Scott Way
As well as Scotland’s Great Trails, you’ll find that there are other long distance routes.These are generally deemed to be a little more challenging and may not always be waymarked but the rewards are great; routes will take you across a variety of terrains, from dramatic cliff tops to shaded forest tracks. Before heading on one of these walks, plan your route in detail and make advance arrangements for accommodation and transportation, as towns, villages and facilities can be widely spaced.
Arran Coastal Way
Starting and finishing at the village of Brodick, this 65-mile circular walk can take up to seven days to complete. The Arran Access Trust has split the route into 12 stages, ideal if you only have a day walking and want to complete one or two sections. Parts of the walk have simple paths which you might find to be muddy or boulder-strewn. Be prepared for some clambering over rocks!
Cape Wrath Trail
This route runs through the west Highlands, extending from Fort William all the way to Cape Wrath, the most northwesterly point in the UK. Described by renowned outdoors writer Cameron McNeish as ‘the sort of long distance route that most keen walkers dream of,' the Cape Wrath Trail is 200 miles of wild, rugged terrain without markers and so strong navigational skills are required. It’s a great trail for those looking to experience Scotland’s wilderness.
On this walk you’ll get to discover the area known as ‘Argyll’s secret coast’ as you venture through forests, along shorelines, over hills and around lochs, starting at Portavadie on the Cowal Peninsula and finishing on the banks of Loch Lomond. The Cowal Way is a 57-mile route made up of existing footpaths, forestry tracks and quiet roads, takes around six days to complete in its entirety.
John Muir Way
Stretching for 134 miles across Scotland's heartland, the John Muir Way extends from Helensburgh on the Clyde on the west coast to John Muir's Birthplace Museum in Dunbar, East Lothian, on the east coast. Named after the Dunbar-born conservationist John Muir, it's divided into 10 sections and passes through the varied landscapes ranging from sandy beaches and rocky coastline to rolling hills and sweeping valleys. Much of the trail consists on a great mix of paths including tracks and cycleways, and it's as suitable for walkers as for cyclists, while some sections of the route can be tackled horse riding.
North Sea Trail
This 466-mile route follows existing coastal paths of Aberdeen City and Shire, East Lothian, Fife and the Moray Firth areas (you’ll find that sections are often broken between regions). In East Lothian, the North Sea Trail uses a part of the John Muir Way, and it also incorporates the Aberdeenshire Coastal Path and the well established Moray Coast Trail, some 50 miles between Forres and Cullen on the south shore of the Firth.
Sir Walter Scott Way
Broken into six sections, this route starts in Moffat in Dumfries & Galloway and ends in Cockburnspath in East Lothian. Along its length are numerous places of interest with links to Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott. You’ll witness countryside that inspired many of his great works and see where he spent a large part of his life. Part of this walk follows for a significant distance the waymarked Southern Upland Way, one of Scotland’s Great Trails.
This challenging route is suited to the more adventurous walker, taking in world-famous mountain ranges on Skye. It stretches 80 miles in length, passing through the Trotternish Ridge, a high-level, inland cliff walk, and under the jagged peaks of the Cuillins. Like the Cape Wrath Trail, the Skye Trail is not waymarked and some sections don’t have paths, meaning that excellent map-reading skills and hill walking experience is required.
Perfect for literary fans, the Stevenson Way is based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel Kidnapped. This route follows the tale of David Balfour who, after being kidnapped and shipwrecked on the Isle of Mull, journeys back to Edinburgh. Although the novel is fiction, it’s based on the murder of Colin Campbell in the Highland village of Ballachulish in 1752. The 230-mile walk has been broken down into six sections, each taking two days of walking to complete.
Unst Island Trek
With 60 miles of circular and cross country walks to discover, the Isle of Unst, one of the Shetland Isles, is ideal for those seeking lengthy island treks. Expect sandy beaches, high grass covered cliff tops and stunning wildlife; from 120,000 cliff-dwelling seabirds during breeding season to otters and seals playing on shoreline. If you’re feeling ambitious and want to explore all the trails, you’ll find there’s over 30 hours of walking to be enjoyed.