- Join a conservationist and historian from the John Muir Trust for a hike beneath the hulking peak of Ben Nevis.
- Explore two islands, Loch Lomond National Park, and the UNESCO World Heritage site of Edinburgh on a variety of hikes and walks.
- Step into Scotland’s past as you walk among Neolithic and Bronze Age remains, as well as an Iron Age fort considered by some to be the country’s birthplace.
- Discover Highland culture in remote villages, and tour a local whisky distillery in Oban.
Amid the velvet hills and craggy peaks that rise from Scotland’s western reaches, saints and kings have passed, clans and armies have clashed, and poets and rebels have sought refuge. Encounter the untamed Highlands and the remote isles of the Inner Hebrides on foot, exploring glittering lakes and waterfalls, fantastic geologic formations, and historic sites that date back more than a thousand years. Following in the footsteps of famous native Scots such as John Muir, Sir Walter Scott, and Bonnie Prince Charlie, learn the rich history and legends of Scotland’s wild western lands.
Arrive in Edinburgh and transfer to our hotel. After time to relax, meet for a mid-afternoon walk along the Royal Mile. Step back in time as you wind your way past medieval church spires and cobbled alleyways to Holyrood Park. A brisk hike leads up the knoll of Arthur’s Seat, where outstanding views of the city await. Tonight, gather for an orientation and a welcome dinner at the hotel.
Head west after breakfast, stopping for a warm-up hike in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park—Scotland’s first national park, established in 2002. Our hike takes us along part of the famous West Highland Way trail, diverting to a small but prominent peak called Conic Hill. Geologically part of the Highland Boundary Fault, this 1,180-foot summit offers outstanding views across the islands of Loch Lomond to the peaks of the “Arrochar Alps” and beyond. Afterwards, continue to Oban in the West Highlands and settle into our historic hotel overlooking the harbor. (4 miles hiking, 3 hours)
Set off on an intriguing hike through history on the isle of Kerrera. Pass Horseshoe Bay, where King Alexander II of Scotland died in 1249 while preparing to drive the Norwegian army out of western Scotland; and explore Gylen Castle, perched dramatically on a nearby cliff. Built as a stronghold of the MacDougall clan in 1582, the castle was besieged and burned in 1647. Head up into the hills to take in spectacular views of the Island of Mull. Later, return to Oban by ferry and spend some time exploring this colorful port at your leisure. (6-7 miles hiking, 4-5 hours)
This morning we join a local historian on an interpretive hike at Kilmartin Glen, home to hundreds of ancient monuments. Afterwards, stop at the ruins of Dun Add, an Iron Age fort considered by some to be the birthplace of Scotland. Back in Oban, take a guided tour of the local whisky distillery, and sample Scotland’s national drink. (5 miles hiking, 2-3 hours)
Head north, tracing the eastern shores of Loch Linnhe into a mystical landscape of sweeping slopes and rocky peaks. Pass the western end of Glen Coe, scene of a historic massacre of the MacDonald clan in 1692, and then continue to Fort William. Join a conservationist and John Muir historian for a guided hike beneath the hulking summit of Ben Nevis, the highest peak in the United Kingdom. Later this afternoon, cross over the sea to Skye, stopping for a visit to the iconic Eilean Donan Castle. (3 miles hiking, 3 hours)
The spectacular landscapes of northern Skye rise in soft, grassy slopes that drop off in sheer cliffs, and rock formations that spike and curl. Set off on foot into this magical place, rich with legend and intrigue. Hike beneath the unusual rock formations of the Quiraing and learn its fascinating story of geologic turmoil. (4-5 miles hiking, 3-4 hours)
Hike through a wild glen on a journey through Skye’s most famous mountains, walking from the Red Cuillin to the Black Cuillin range. Surrounded by red-hued peaks, descend volcanic slopes, and take in a stunning vista of the Black Cuillin—one of Scotland’s most iconic views. Trace the coast of Loch Slapin, framed by the magnificent rock citadel of Bla Bheinn. After refreshments in a local tea room, transfer south to Perthshire and settle into our hotel located in a Victorian mansion. (5-6 miles hiking, 3-4 hours)
Enjoy a free morning to explore the picturesque Highland town of Pitlochry. Stroll the main street past Victorian-era stone buildings, or visit the town's famed fish ladder, which allows salmon to bypass the Pitlochry dam and continue upstream to their spawning grounds each year. Arrive in Edinburgh in the late afternoon and transfer to the city center or to the airport for your flight home.