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Scottish highlands long distance paths - recommendation?

Scottish highlands long distance paths - recommendation?


Postby al78 » Fri Oct 29, 2021 10:07 pm

I've always had a desire to browse OS maps of Scotland and pick out point to point routes across the wilder hillier parts which you can't get to with motorised transport. I am also wondering if it is worth having a go with one of the long distance paths. If I were considering such a route, I would be looking at the West Highland way, the Rob Roy way, or the Glen Affric way. A section of the Cape Wrath trail from Morvich to Kinlochewe and maybe a bit further to Clachan and Seana Bhraigh is also a possibility. The waymarked routes are attractive as they tend to have plenty of accommodation options along the route. Has anyone done more than one of these routes and can suggest which one is the best for scenery and remoteness?

The WHW seems to have its best scenery in the second half, the first half looks a bit meh, followed by a long slog along the shore of loch Lomond. The Glen Affric trail looks beautiful, but only from Cannich onward. The first bits appear to be alongside main roads most of the time which is not very appealing. The Rob Roy way is a mystery, I have no idea what to expect.

The Glen Affric trail bears left after the youth hostel to Gleann Lichd. Has anyone tried diverting further north along Gleann Gniomhaidh which takes a longer route to Morvich, but the scenery could be potentially just as good and there is a path marked all the way.
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Re: Scottish highlands long distance paths - recommendation?

Postby gaffr » Sat Oct 30, 2021 6:39 am

The official Ways, that I am not too acquainted with, but from what you read of these multi days route those doing them seem to have pleasant experiences and of course I hear about these days spent out from both my Wife and daughter.
Have come across several of the Long Distance paths when reaching Munros and Corbetts over the years. Tended when younger to walk the Glens and combinations on the Glens that are not official Ways and have done three of the easier official Ways using my off-road cycle. For the Affric route I walked from Morvich and then Cycled back to Inverness from where the road begins at Loch Affric. As for your suggested variant after Alltbeithe, GleannGniomhaidh, this was the only part of the path not walked, around four kls. or so, that I took when reaching the Corbett Sgurr Gaorsaic from Morvich. I found this approach to the hill very interesting through fine terrain and it felt fairly remote.
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Re: Scottish highlands long distance paths - recommendation?

Postby AspiringHiker » Sat Oct 30, 2021 12:59 pm

I've done several official long-distance trails including WHW and Glen Affric. You are right that southern end of WHW is a bit boring, but the route along Loch Lomond is actually quite nice. There is a fork in the route around Rowardennan if memory serves. There you can continue on the track or drop down a bit to stony footpath which is much more fun to walk. However, WHW is not a good as Glen Affric way.

I know the first stage of Glen Affric has a reputation for road walking, but it's actually not true anymore. The trail volunteers have recently made a diversion which cuts road walking to about 30min which itself is actually verge walking, rather than road. However, this also relies on improvised diversion via Corrimony. Where you are supposed to go on the road at White Bridge, you instead go to chambered cairn and along farm track to Millness Cottage. There you walk for a bit on the verge and the newly opened section of the route starts just after Millness. Past Cannich the route is wonderful with great views and fairly interesting terrain underfoot.

However, of the official routes I've done I would recommend Arran first, Glen Affric second. Arran is often overlooked for some reason. It's actually very easy to get to: one hour train from Glasgow plus frequent ferry. As a bonus, if you don't have a car, the ferry doesn't care which sailing you take. The route is very diverse: mountainous north, hilly south, beach walking, and boulder hopping. The route is very lightly used and feels very remote despite physical proximity of small villages. Like Glen Affric, it has reputation for road walking, but you can skip the worst bit using local busses.
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Re: Scottish highlands long distance paths - recommendation?

Postby ahukippax » Sun Oct 31, 2021 9:04 pm

The West Highland Way is a pleasant walk, but not remote and quite busy.
I did some sections of the Rob Roy Way as part of the Scottish National Trail, although the latter does deviate from it at Callander and then back to it in Glen Almond. It was very quiet when I did it in early September ( never met anyone else on the route ) and there were a couple of really nice remote sections through Glen Artney and Glen Almond. You could wild camp the whole route or there is the option to stay in the villages you pass through on the way.
The Scottish National Trail also did the last day on the Glen Affric/Kintail Way from Altbeithe to Morvich. Absolutely beautiful. Passes through great mountain scenery with the river and waterfalls accompanying you on your way.
I think whichever route you take it will be an adventure and weather permitting you will enjoy beautiful scenery.
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Re: Scottish highlands long distance paths - recommendation?

Postby cruachan06 » Mon Nov 01, 2021 1:55 am

One of the advantages of the WHW being less remote is that you can, if you want, only do parts of it. For example get public transport to Crianlarich and head north from there. Loch Lomond itself is obviously very scenic, and you have spectacular views from Conic Hill, but the first day section and the scramble section at the north end of the Loch aren't so enjoyable. If you only do the northern section of the WHW then the options are there at Fort William to carry on to either parts or all of the Cape Wrath trail or the Great Glen Way.
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Re: Scottish highlands long distance paths - recommendation?

Postby LDPWalker » Mon Nov 01, 2021 6:52 pm

I would recommend the Speyside Way, a relatively easy route with a lot of variety. If you are feeling really energetic you can extend it along the lovely Moray coast to Lossiemouth and beyond or add your own variants - it depends on what you fancy. I have walked it twice and would gladly do it again.

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Re: Scottish highlands long distance paths - recommendation?

Postby TimothyGr » Wed Nov 03, 2021 9:04 am

I’ve dreamt about visiting the Outer Hebrides for some time, but like with the Isle of Bute, I want to travel them slowly in order to take it all in. Only that the Hebrides are obviously quite a bit bigger than Bute and therefore need a lot more time and prep.

Walking the Hebridean Way sounds like the perfect way to experience every corner of the Outer Hebrides and get hands-on experience with the variety of different landscapes on the islands. It is no doubt the biggest challenge I have ever set myself – covering 247km across 10 islands, from Vatersay in the south to Stornoway in the north, it takes 8-14 days to hike the Hebridean Way.
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Re: Scottish highlands long distance paths - recommendation?

Postby al78 » Wed Nov 03, 2021 11:20 pm

Thanks for the other suggestions. I have considered the Outer Hebrides, but was thinking along the lines of cycle touring combined with occasional walks, similarly with the Orkney and Shetland islands.
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Re: Scottish highlands long distance paths - recommendation?

Postby WalkWithWallace » Thu Nov 04, 2021 9:06 am

Fort William to Morvich is a great section on the CWT, as is Kinlochewe to Ullapool and Inchnadamph to Rhicconich.

Blair Atholl to Kingussie following the Scottish National Trial is a nice walk or you can head further north through the Lairig Ghru and out near Aviemore. Another fine variation would be Blair Atholl to Tomintoul. transport may be a bit of a pain for that one.
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Re: Scottish highlands long distance paths - recommendation?

Postby AyrshireAlps » Thu Nov 04, 2021 9:54 am

Have a look at folks TGO challenge routes, some belters available online. Not waymarked, but CWT isn't either.

I reckon a few days from either end of the cairngorms, doing a loop taking the lairig ghru and then lairig an laiogh would be brilliant.
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Re: Scottish highlands long distance paths - recommendation?

Postby LobeyD » Thu Nov 04, 2021 6:51 pm

Big fan of the Glen Nevis to Dalwinnie through route, if occasionally a bit squelchy after Steall and a bit of a plod at the end. Works really well as a rolling base camp type affair, with plenty of Munro's etc. that can be done with a day pack from the glens. Plenty of alternatives to all the way to Dalwinnie with bail outs to Tulloch, Kinlochleven, at Corrour or to Rannoch all possible. Plus a well-positioned hostel for a halfway shower and pub for a halfway beer :D.
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Re: Scottish highlands long distance paths - recommendation?

Postby prog99 » Fri Nov 05, 2021 11:44 am

A bit squelchy is being a bit economical with the truth! It’s blooming awful around Tom an Eite
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Re: Scottish highlands long distance paths - recommendation?

Postby LobeyD » Fri Nov 05, 2021 4:13 pm

prog99 wrote:A bit squelchy is being a bit economical with the truth! It’s blooming awful around Tom an Eite


Character building.

In fairness, apart from that bit and small sections of the rougher path between Loch Ossian and the Ben Alder bealach, the paths are pretty good for a non-waymarked route.
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Re: Scottish highlands long distance paths - recommendation?

Postby Giant Stoneater » Fri Nov 05, 2021 8:59 pm

LobeyD wrote:
prog99 wrote:A bit squelchy is being a bit economical with the truth! It’s blooming awful around Tom an Eite


Character building.

In fairness, apart from that bit and small sections of the rougher path between Loch Ossian and the Ben Alder bealach, the paths are pretty good for a non-waymarked route.


Definitely character building, Tom an Eite when we were walking through there was under about 6inches or more of water.

The rougher path between Loch Ossian and the Ben Alder bealach part has been replaced with a hydro track.

Screenshot 2021-11-05 195433.jpg
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Re: Scottish highlands long distance paths - recommendation?

Postby al78 » Sat Nov 06, 2021 1:51 pm

Giant Stoneater wrote:
LobeyD wrote:
prog99 wrote:A bit squelchy is being a bit economical with the truth! It’s blooming awful around Tom an Eite


Character building.

In fairness, apart from that bit and small sections of the rougher path between Loch Ossian and the Ben Alder bealach, the paths are pretty good for a non-waymarked route.


Definitely character building, Tom an Eite when we were walking through there was under about 6inches or more of water.


Character building --> unpleasant relentless slog.

Analogous to the phrase "He's quite a character" --> He's an obnoxious pratt.
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