With such a diverse landscape of moors, woodlands, lochs, glens, sandy beaches and rugged peaks, Scotland presents walkers with a medley of options, from multi-day, rigorous treks to more leisurely strolls of just a few hours duration. But no matter the level of exertion, you'll be enveloped in this country's sublime beauty if you choose any of the five walks below:
1. The four-day Great Glen Way will bring you to Leitirfearn Nature Reserve with its myriad wildflowers and the ruins of Invergarry Castle. Of course, Loch Ness is the most iconic sight. But those who are obsessed with canals, like myself, will be able to inspect various features along the route that parallels the Caledonian Canal with the eight locks of Neptune's Staircase.
2. West Highland Way is, without a doubt, the country's most popular walking route. There's plenty of woodland stretches along this almost 100-mile route, which typically takes a week to traverse. You'll wander along Lock Lomond, explore Rannoch Moor, a wild bogland, and climb the aptly named Devil's Staircase to some 1,800 feet.
3. On Orkney Island, a six-mile walk along the West Westray Coast
from Kirbest to Noup Headon will bring you to the 19th century Noup Head Lighthouse that stands over dramatic cliffs noted for their seabirds. In fact, this walk will delight birders. Arctic terns, puffins, guillemots are a few of the species you are likely to spot along the way, including in the Cliffs Nature Reserve.
Climbing to the top of Fitty Hills will provide panoramic views of the entire island
4. Beinn Eighe Mountain Trail is an almost three-mile loop that brings you to the Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve with its clutch of ancient pines.The mountain, as opposed to the woodland, trail affords 360° views, but it also requires negotiating steep rocky slopes with cairns marking the way.
The payoff: views of Loch Maree, the Beinn Eighe Massif and the Torridon Mountains.
5. Walking the scenic route from the hamlet of Blairmore to the Cape Wrath Lighthouse, you'll encounter few other people along a stretch of pristine coast
and the cream-colored beach of Sandwood Bay. Along the 14-mile trek, you'll climb across steep slopes, meander along cliff tops and cross several waterways. One of the most curious features of this journey is the stacks of boulders that resemble human faces