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Scottish National Trail

Cairngorms National Park

A superb long distance trek from the Lowlands to the Highlands, across the country of Scotland.

Also in Aberdeenshire, United KingdomAngus, United KingdomDundee, United KingdomEast Lothian, United KingdomFife, United KingdomHighland, United KingdomMoray, United KingdomPerthshire and Kinross, United Kingdom

Hiking Difficult

871 km
12 km
12 km
1 day +
Low Point
0 m
High Point
731 m
Scottish National Trail Map

The Scottish National Trail is a superb long-distance trek that spans the country from south to north, passing through both of its national parks and the capital city. In the Lowlands, it follows established paths and roads to link cities, but becomes progressively more difficult heading northward, requiring wilderness backpacking on a route through the Highlands that is marked in places and pathless in others.


The variety of terrain and access points along the trail allow walkers to choose sections based on length and difficulty, but there is, of course, the option to walk the full trail from end to end, a challenging journey that typically takes 1-2 months. The scenery includes age-old castles, abbeys, historic homesteads, and green pastures set among Scotland’s breathtaking landscape of hills, high mountains, lakes, rivers, waterfalls, moors, bogs, sea cliffs, and islands.

Beginning at the Scottish Border in a small farm village, the trail rolls along verdant hills and flowing rivers on its way northward to Edinburgh, the capital. It follows a canal westward to leave the city, then connects more towns and farms on its way past Glasgow, into the land of lochs and mountains in the West Highlands. It works its way farther north into increasingly rugged and sparsely populated regions. Unbridged river crossings and backcountry camping are required along the path beyond Blair Atholl.

Moving northward, the mountains grow larger and the climate less hospitable. The trail passes within sight of the UK’s highest peak, Ben Nevis, and crosses the Great Glen, thus entering the wilds of the Northwest Highlands. There the climbs become steeper, the rivers more swift, and the navigation more difficult. An unmarked route across windswept ridgelines, through boggy valleys, and along steep cliffs leads eventually to the sea at Scotland’s most northwestern point, Cape Wrath.

Sources: https://www.scottishnationaltrail.org.uk/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ScottishHighlands https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/scottish-national-trail.shtml



Hiking trails where obstacles such as rocks or roots are prevalent. Some obstacles can require care to step over or around. At times, the trail can be worn and eroded. The grade of the trail is generally quite steep, and can often lead to strenuous hiking.

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.


2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

between April and November


  • Wildlife
  • Historical
  • Picturesque
  • Wild flowers
  • Water features
  • Forestry or heavy vegetation

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area