Hiking, History & Culture in the Scottish Highlands and Islands - DRAFT

Prepared with pleasure exclusively for Marathon Expeditions

May 2025 (exact dates still to be confirmed)

Number of Travellers: 40
Duration: 8 Days / 7 Nights

Overview

Hiking, History & Culture in the Scottish Highlands and Islands

For travel May 2025 – (TBC – exact dates to be agreed)

Two departure dates (to link before and after the run trips)

4 day gap between the running trip. NB. 3 x pre-nights & 1 x post-night options.

Trip Overview

This itinerary is designed to offer hiking, history and cultural experiences on a journey through the Scottish Highlands and Islands. Starting and finishing in Edinburgh, we’ll hike in Loch Lomond National Park, on a tiny Hebridean island and through the iconic Glencoe. Along the way, we’ll visit ancient sites and Castles.

Itinerary Highlights

  • Visit the Wallace Monument, commemorating Sir William Wallace (his story told in the movie, Braveheart), perched high on a volcanic crag overlooking the historic town of Stirling.
  • Stay in and hike through Loch Lomond National Park and enjoy breathtaking Scottish scenery.
  • Visit one of the finest concentrations of neolithic and bronze age sites in Scotland, with ancient burial cairns and standing stones.
  • View ancient castles and visit a small highland whisky distillery.
  • Hike on a tiny remote island, which less than 100 people are fortunate to call their home.
  • Hike through the rugged wilderness of Glencoe.

 

Start / Finish – Edinburgh / Edinburgh 

Edinburgh is easily accessible, connected by regular flights from various cities in the UK and Europe, as well-as some direct flights from the US. It’s also on the UK mainline rail network, with the sleeper train being an attractive option for the journey to/from destinations in the south of the UK. The airport is just 20 minutes from the city center and is connected by tram, bus and taxi.

Day by Day

Day 1 - Meet in Edinburgh early afternoon

(Monday)

Meeting in Edinburgh early afternoon, we leave the city and head north-west into the Scottish Highlands.

We break the journey for a leg stretch walk to visit the William Wallace monument, a landmark that tells the story of the patriot and martyr who became Scotland’s national hero (his story told in the movie, Braveheart).

We then continue onwards and enjoy a leisurely check-in to our hotel.

Overnight: The Winnock Hotel, Drymen, Loch Lomond (or similar)

Meals included: Welcome Dinner

Total transfer time c. 1hr 45mins. 

NB. Optional pre-nights available in Edinburgh.

Walk Details: 2 km / 2 miles | 170 m / 558 ft elevation gain | Approx: 1 hrs

Day 2 - Hike overlooking Loch Lomond

(Tuesday)

Today we have our first trek with a classic hike up an easy peak offering unbeatable scenery over Loch Lomond.

Conic Hill is a small summit (358m high) with an almighty view. It lies on the Highland Boundary Fault, and also forms part of the West Highland Way.

A popular climb, it starts in the forest and then breaks out as you climb higher. The view across Loch Lomond from the summit is one of the best in Scotland.

Afterwards, we celebrate our first Scottish hike with a visit to a Highland whisky distillery, to see the magic and mystery behind Uisge Beatha “The Water of Life,” and maybe sample a dram too.

We then return to our hotel, where the rest of the evening is free for you to enjoy one of the local restaurants of your choice.

Overnight: The Winnock Hotel, Drymen, Loch Lomond (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast.

Transfer time c. 20-30mins each way. 

Walk Details: 6 km / 4 miles | 400 m / 1,312 ft elevation gain | Approx: 4 hrs

Day 3 - Visit Inveraray Castle and Kilmartin Glen

(Wednesday)

After breakfast, we set off for the west coast.

At the head of Loch Fyne, we visit Inveraray castle, the 18th-century home of the Duke and Duchess of Argyll, and the seat of the Clan Campbell.

Later, visit Dunadd, the birthplace of Scotland, before we stop for a walk through Kilmartin Glen, one of the finest concentrations of neolithic and bronze age sites in Scotland.

This is an easy hike between Kilmartin Castle and Nether Largie which connects several ancient burial cairns and standing stones.

Afterwards, a 15 minute drive takes us to our hotel, which boasts one of the finest views in Scotland from its dining room.

Overnight: Loch Melfort Hotel, Arduaine, near Oban (or similar).

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner.

Total transfer time c. 2hrs – 2hrs 20mins.

Walk Details: 4 km / 2 miles | 50 m / 164 ft elevation gain | Approx: 2 hrs

Day 4 - The Green Isle of Kerrera

(Thursday)

Today we board a small passenger ferry to hike on an island steeped in rich history featuring ancient kings, feuding Highland clans and a 16th century castle. This little island is truly one of Scotland’s hidden gems.

We take a small boat (passengers only) across the Sound of Kerrera to this small island, which has about 100 residents. We enjoy a superb hike which takes a circular route covering the southern half of the island. On the way, we pass the ruins of Gylen Castle, once a stronghold for the Clan MacDougall.

After hopping back across to the mainland, we return to our hotel to relax in the comfortable surroundings of the hotel.

Overnight: Loch Melfort Hotel, Arduaine, near Oban (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch.

Total transfer time: c. 1hr each way.

Walk Details: 10 km / 6 miles | 300 m / 984 ft elevation gain | Approx: 5 hrs

Day 5 - Hike Glencoe for an outstanding panorama

(Friday)

Today we transfer inland to the rugged Glencoe valleys. En route we stop to enjoy a hike here, taking in the views which make this one of the most scenic spots in Scotland.

Our aim for today is to summit a rarely-climbed peak which offers some of the best panoramas of Glencoe.

A further short transfer then takes us to our next hotel, where we will enjoy the breathtaking scenery from this base for the next 3 nights.

Overnight: Kingshouse, Glencoe (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner.

Total transfer time: c.1hr 45mins – 2hrs.

Walk Details: 11 km / 7 miles | 655 m / 2,150 ft elevation gain | Approx: 5 hrs

Day 6 - The Devil's Staircase and the West Highland Way

(Saturday)

Today we will hike part of the world renowned “West Highland Way” and up the famous Devil’s Staircase. This will arguably be the most challenging day of the trip.

Leaving the hotel, as we walk into Glencoe to begin the ascent we come face to face with the imposing sight of Buachaille Etive Mor, one of Scotland’s most famous Munros.

We’ll make our way towards Altnafeadh close to the foot of Buachaille Etive Mor, before turning sharply right for the Devil’s Staircase. It is steep in places, with some switchbacks, but tracks a constant gradient all the way to the summit at 550m. Marked by a cairn, you will be rewarded with stunning views of Glencoe and Loch Leven, and breathtaking views back to the Buachaille and northwards towards the Mamores mountain range.

The rest of the route is a winding descent into the next valley, from where we follow a good trail to the small village of Kinlochleven,.

A short transfer takes us back to the hotel to enjoy a well earned relaxing evening.

Overnight: Kingshouse, Glencoe (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch.

Total transfer time: c.30-40 mins.

Walk Details: 14 km / 9 miles | 550 m / 1,804 ft elevation gain | Approx: 6 hrs

Day 7 - Wilderness and waterfalls

(Sunday)

Following yesterdays epic hike, today we’ll have an easier hiking day, but we’ll be rewarded with bucket-list views of a thundering waterfall, across Loch Leven and the Pap of Glencoe.

We take a short transfer to Kinlochleven, where we start our ascent out of the village on a good trail through the forest. We’ll soon be able to hear the thunder of falling water – The Grey Mare’s Tail is an impressive waterfall, dropping almost 50 feet. We’ll continue on our hike as the path comes out of the woods and eventually reaches a remote loch, surrounded by mountains and wild moorlands. On the return, we’ll enjoy stunning views down the length of Loch Leven to the Pap of Glencoe.

Returning to Kinlochleven, we might have a paddle on the banks of Loch Leven to rest those weary feet before the short transfer back to the hotel.

Tonight we will enjoy a wonderful evening, reminiscing about our Scottish adventure together and a farewell dinner.

Overnight: Kingshouse, Glencoe (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch & farewell Dinner.

Total transfer time: c.30-40 mins each way.

Walk Details: 5 km / 3 miles | 185 m / 607 ft elevation gain | Approx: 3 hrs

Day 8 - Transfer to Edinburgh

(Monday)

After breakfast we transfer to Edinburgh Airport, where the trip ends.

Meals included: Breakfast.

Total transfer time c. 2hrs 30mins.

NB. Optional post-night available in Edinburgh.

Trip Details

Inclusions Read More
  • 7 nights accommodation in small hotels on a double/twin share basis.
  • Breakfast each day.
  • 3 picnic lunches (Days 4, 6 & 7).
  • 4 evening meals (Days 1, 3, 5 & 7).
  • Additional snacks while hiking.
  • The services of qualified and experienced WS guides from Day 1 to Day 8 (1 guide per 8 people in the group).
  • All private transfers as required on Day 1 to Day 8, starting and finishing in Edinburgh.
  • All guided hikes, visits and activities as mentioned in the itinerary, specifically:
    • Day 1 – Wallace Monument.
    • Day 2 – Whisky distillery tour.
    • Day 3 – Inveraray Castle and Kilmartin Glen.
  • Gratuities for hotel and restaurant staff, as well as local guides.
  • Trip design and delivery.
  • 24/7 in-country trip support.
Exclusions Read More
  • Meals and drinks not mentioned in the inclusions
  • Activities and entrance fees not mentioned in the inclusions
  • Flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Gratuities for the lead guide(s)
  • Pre & post night accommodation
Arrival & Departure Read More

Your guide will meet you at Edinburgh (NB. pre-night option) at 1:00 pm on the first day of your trip.

You will be returned to Edinburgh (NB. post-night option) at 1:00 pm on the final day of your trip.

Pricing Read More

NB: Pricing still to be confirmed – subject to dates and accomodation.

Group size: Up to 40 travellers (which includes 1 Marathon Expeditions leader)

The NET price for this itinerary varies depending on group size as follows:

  • 20-24 travellers: £2,950pp
  • 25-29 travellers: £2,925pp
  • 30-34 travellers: £2,900pp
  • 35-40 travellers: £2,875pp
  • Single supplement: £700 (max. 3 single occupancy rooms available)
  • NB. Trip confirmed on 20 travellers

 

NB. Pre & Post nights STILL TO BE CONFIRMED

  • 3 x Pre-nights options – x day (May x th) –  Bruntsfield Hotel (or similar) : £ x per room inc breakfast (£ x single occupancy)
  • 1 x Post-night option – Tuesday (May x th) – Bruntsfield Hotel (or similar) : £ x per room inc breakfast (£ x single occupancy)

 

The above prices includes 1 x free places for Marathon Expeditions leaders (Jenny) from the above group size allocation.

Please also see the Partner Agreement (to follow) for terms and conditions about the running of this itinerary.

 

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