Embrace mountain hikes and leisurely coastal walks in the Hebrides and Highlands. Step back in time as you walk up to ancient standing stones and iconic castles, meet weavers and distillers, and take in breathtaking landscapes from the Isle of Lewis and Harris and the Isle of Skye to Loch Ness and the Cairngorms.

Starting at: $5,595 Register Interest or Call 833-254-6678
 Hikers enjoying the scenery  Hiking in Scotland  Hiking on the Isle of Lewis and Harris. Credit: Jeremy Martin  Urquhart Castle, the Highlands  Urquhart Castle, on the shore of Loch Ness  Standing Stones of Callanish, Isle of Lewis and Harris  Beach on Isle of Harris  Enjoying the vista in the Outer Hebrides  Weaver on the Isle of Harris  Black House Village, Isle of Lewis and Harris  The Black Cuillan Hills with Sligachan Bridge, Isle of Skye  Red stag deer of Scotland  Eilean Donan Castle, located at Kyle of Lochalsh, near Scotland's Isle of Skye  Eilean Donan Castle and walkway  Landscape of Cairngorms National Park  Landscape of Cairngorm National Park  Tomatin Distillery, the Highlands  Traditional whisky distillery   Traditional Scotch whisky

Hiking Scotland’s Hebrides and Highlands

10 days from $5,595

Embrace mountain hikes and leisurely coastal walks in the Hebrides and Highlands. Step back in time as you walk up to ancient standing stones and iconic castles, meet weavers and distillers, and take in breathtaking landscapes from the Isle of Lewis and Harris and the Isle of Skye to Loch Ness and the Cairngorms.

or Call 833-254-6678

Overview

Activity Level 3:  Moderate / Active 


Expectations:  This trip is part of the Smithsonian Active Journeys collection. These trips feature a daily schedule of physical activities—such as walking, hiking, kayaking, rafting, or bicycling—in addition to activities designed to offer cultural or historical context. Each trip entails a different level of physical expectations. Please review the following activity level description—and feel free to contact an Active Journeys Specialist to discuss the trip at more length—to ensure this Active Journey is right for you.

Daily hikes of 2 to 7 miles (up to four hours a day) are taken at a leisurely to active pace over various types of terrain, from well groomed trails to beaches and pine forests. A few long travel days with early morning departures should be expected. Hiking boots and day packs for daily necessities are a must; some travelers may wish to bring hiking poles.

Almost every day features a cultural site associated with the hike, such as a castle visit, archaeological site, meeting with local people, or such. Hikes are not long enough to require support vehicles so once a hike is begun it is necessary to finish. (However, it is sometimes feasible to skip a day’s activities and relax at the hotel, if desired.) Leisure time is limited to the evenings.

Transport between hotels is by a small 20-person coach. Accommodations feature comfortable lodges and country hotels. The highest elevation is 3,500 feet, reached by funicular railway.

Appropriate for: Travelers who have a strong fitness level, expect a slightly vigorous pace, are comfortable participating in up to four hours of hiking per day, and enjoy challenging themselves physically.

Itinerary

Day 1 — Depart the U.S.

Depart the U.S. on your flight to Scotland.

Day 2 — Arrive in Inverness, Scotland

Arrive in Inverness. This afternoon, explore the ruins of Urquhart Castle, which is situated along the shore of Loch Ness. Afterwards, transfer to the hotel and join your fellow travelers this evening for a welcome orientation and dinner to discuss the days ahead. (D)

Day 3 — Outer Hebrides / Isle of Lewis and Harris / Tarbert

After an early breakfast, transfer to Ullapool and take the ferry to Stornoway, located on the Isle of Lewis and Harris in the Outer Hebrides. (The Isle of Lewis and Harris is the largest island in Scotland.) Following lunch, visit the incredible historic sites of the Callanish Standing Stones, the broch, and the Blackhouse Village, all located in the Lewis part of the island. A lovely coastal walk links some of these sites, making this a great way to ease yourselves into the trip. Travel to Harris, the southern part of the island, and stay overnight in Tarbert for three nights. Hiking 6.5 miles, 3-4 hours. (B,L,D)

Day 4 — Coffin Road / Harris Tweed Weavers

Today’s hike is a coast-to-coast hike across Harris and features an unusual history. The island’s east coast is rocky terrain, which makes it difficult to dig a grave. Consequently, in days of old, coffins were carried across the island to be buried in the softer, sandier west coast graveyards. Your hiking route is known as a coffin road, as it follows the trail of those pallbearers of times gone by. Later in the day, you’ll meet a local Harris Tweed weaver to learn the story of this world-renowned fabric. Hiking 5 miles, 3 hours. (B,L)

Day 5 — Medieval Chapel / The Golden Road

Begin your day with a walk at beautiful Scarista beach. The route crosses the machair flower meadows to Rubh' an Teampaill, a ruined chapel which dates back to the 15th century. The coastal views are wonderful in all directions. Afterwards, visit a local museum that traces the human history of these islands. You'll then complete a circuit of Harris by traveling back north via the "Golden Road" on the east coast. This is a stunning road with amazing views at every turn. Hiking 4 miles, 2 hours. (B,L,D)

Day 6 —The Isle of Skye / The Highlands

Take the late morning ferry from Harris to the Isle of Skye. On Skye, you'll enjoy a hike in Glen Sligachan, which dramatically splits the Red Cuillin and Black Cuillin mountain ranges. Depart Skye via the Skye Bridge onto the mainland where you'll stop at Eilean Donan Castle, one of Scoland's most iconic castles. Then continue to Fort Augustus, located at the southern end of Loch Ness, for the night. Hiking 4 miles, 2-3 hours. (B,L)

Day 7 — Whisky Distillery / The Cairngorms

Enjoy a leisurely hour-long cruise on Loch Ness this morning. Then drive south to one of Scotland’s prime whisky-making centera—Tomatin whisky distillery—for a late morning tour and tasting of the Highland malt. Now in the Cairngorms National Park, you'll enjoy a short hike after lunch through the Caledonian Pinewood forests around the village of Carrbridge, finishing by the fragile stone arch of the Packhorse Bridge, dating to 1717. Hiking 3 miles, 2 hours. (B,L,D)

Day 8 — Hikes & History / The Cairgorms

Begin the day with a short but interesting hike along the Frank Bruce Sculpture Trail—a short trail in the woodlands near Glen Feshie punctuated by a series of large wooden sculptures. Afterwards, visit Uath Lochans for another short hike, with a great opportunity to see a variety of waterfowl. In the afternoon, tour the Highland Folk Museum, a huge outdoor museum that traces Highland life through the centuries, a fascinating journey through time. Hiking 2-3 miles, 2-3 hours. (B,L)

Day 9 — Loch an Eilean / Cairngorm Mountain

Your hike today begins at a trailhead just above the tree-line, offering great views towards Cairngorm Mountain itself. The trail winds through ancient forest to Loch an Eilean, which features views of a ruined castle perched on a tiny island in the middle of the lake. After lunch, transfer up a mountain road and then board Scotland’s only funicular railway. This whisks you up Cairngorm Mountain to a café with an elevation of 3,500 feet. (It’s also home to the highest post box in the U.K.!) The café is a great place to reflect on your trip while admiring the views. This evening, celebrate the trip with a farewell dinner in a renowned local restaurant. Hiking 4-5 miles, 3-4 hours. (B,L,D)

Day 10 — Depart for the U.S.

After breakfast, return to Inverness for onward air or rail transfers. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)