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5 Great Scottish Hill Walks for Beginners

Updated on August 6, 2015
photo credit: Highlands via photopin (license)
photo credit: Highlands via photopin (license)

If you are new to hill walking it can sometimes be difficult to plan a good walk that you can enjoy, without finding that the conditions become quite tough on your ascent. We have compiled a list of five rewarding walks that you can complete so that you can gradually get your confidence up to tackle the more challenging hikes that Scotland has to offer. This is a very brief guide to selecting suitable walks to improve your skills one step at a time, so remember to plan out each trip before you attempt the summits.

1. Arthur's Seat

Arthur’s Seat might sound like a strange choice for a would-be serious hill walker, because it is basically in the middle of Edinburgh, but it can be great way to practice your skills. It offers similar terrain to certain sections of hills that you will find in the Scottish countryside while never taking you too far away from home comforts.

At a height of about 250 meters the climb isn’t a strenuous one, but it does offer excellent views of the historic capital city of Scotland. It has small sections that rise quite quickly giving you the chance to test out your legs on inclines, and train for more demanding adventures, before descending back into civilisation, allowing you recover in the bars and restaurants of the old town.

photo credit: IMG_1102.JPG via photopin (license)
photo credit: IMG_1102.JPG via photopin (license)

2. Berwick Law

Overlooking the town of North Berwick, sits the cone shaped hill of Berwick Law. It’s a small hill, standing at only 187 meters above sea level, but it is relatively steep. The Law gives you a great opportunity to build up your hiking abilities, and if you attempt to scale the law at a good pace, you’ll be well on your way to gaining the proficiency needed for the more difficult ascents.

At the summit there is a very interesting ruin of an iron-age hill fort that is a great photo opportunity and the views of the surrounding area are great. Berwick Law, then, offers a great means by which to build your hill walking skill set and fitness, while piquing your curiosity upon reaching the peak.

photo credit: IMG_9835 via photopin (license)
photo credit: IMG_9835 via photopin (license)

3. Conic Hill

Given its name, you won’t be surprised to discover that this is another cone shaped hill. Rising above Balmaha, the hill straddles the fault line that marks the boundary between the Highlands and the Lowlands, and you can see the fault continuing off into the distance. You get spectacular views of Ben Lomond and the Arrocher Alps which really makes you begin to feel like you are getting somewhere with your hill walking. You will ascend about 350 meters so this hill will give you a taste of things to come as you progress to being a proficient hiker, and you can test out your stamina with the 2-3 hour walk. Towards the summit there is a short rocky section that will give you a great opportunity to practice your rock scrambling too.

4. Cairnsmore of Fleet

Standing at 691 meters, Cairnsmore of Fleet in the Galloway hills represents a bit of a step up in terms of height, but the wide base of this hill actually means that the ascent isn’t all that steep. Your hike will be in the region of 7 miles, so this is a great hill to begin bagging the longer trails that Scotland offers, without the punishing inclines. The Last seventy meters or so does get quite rocky and steep but you can follow a pleasant path on around the summit if you don’t want to scramble up.

This hill will allow you to develop the strength and stamina you will need for longer climbs in the future, and with it being a vast and open environment, with patches of woodland, you can begin to improve your navigation too.

photo credit: View West via photopin (license)
photo credit: View West via photopin (license)

5. The Merrick

Staying in the Galloway hills, the next step in developing your hill walking would be to scale the Merrick. The trail begins at Bruce’s Stone, overlooking the stunning Loch Trool before a rocky trail leads you up your first ascent. This trail actually takes you up two peaks. Firstly you will arrive at the top of Ben Yellary, which boasts truly wonderful views of the surrounding lochs and rivers over a steep incline. The trail then descends, giving you some time to rest a little before taking on the steeper track up to the summit of the Merrick. Standing at about 875 meters, the Merrick will test out you hiking legs, but if you can manage the inclines and the rocky paths then you will be greeted by some amazing views, and you will be ready for climbing just about any hill Scotland has to offer.


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    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      these places are good for hikers