Northwest Highlands Hikes and Walks

This remote mountainous region of the Scottish Highlands features some of the world’s oldest mountains, untouched nature, beautiful sea and freshwater lochs, and charming remote villages. This is the land of epic views.

Eilean Donan Castle

The picturesque Eilean Donan Castle is located on a small island at the point where three sea lochs meet: Loch Duich, Loch Long and Loch Alsh. It is one of Scotland’s most iconic sites, often featured in photographs, television programs and films.

The first fortified structure was built here in the early 13th century as a defense against the Vikings, who controlled most of northern Scotland and the Western Isles between 800 and 1266. At the end of the 13th century, the castle became a stronghold of the Clan Mackenzie and their allies, the Clan MacRae. Over the centuries, the castle has been rebuilt about four times as the feudal history of Scotland unfolded. In 1719, the Mackenzies’ involvement in the Jacobite rebellion led to the destruction of the castle. It lay in ruins until 1911, when Lieutenant Colonel John MacRae-Gilstrap acquired the island and began restoration work that resulted in the current structure. The castle, complemented with a new arched bridge, was reopened in 1932.

Inverewe Garden Walk

Inverewe Garden is a botanical garden famous for its extensive collection.

This lochside garden was created on a remote stretch of the Atlantic coastline in the middle of a barren wilderness. Rare species thrive here as they can enjoy a unique microclimate thanks to the Gulf Stream. Plants from all over the world can be found here, including Himalayan blue poppies, Californian redwoods and Wollemi pines. Until recently, the Wollemi pine was known only from fossil records. Inverewe also has a fantastic variety of rhododendrons from China, Nepal and India. There is a blooming rhododendron for every day of the year.

Corrieshalloch Gorge Walk

The Corrieshalloch Gorge National Nature Reserve Walk leads to a spectacular deep gorge where you can enjoy the view of a cascading waterfall from a Victorian suspension bridge. The Corrieshalloch Gorge is a mile-long canyon through which the River Droma rushes through. It is a striking evidence of what glacial meltwater was able to create.

Well defined paths throughout.

Distance: 2 k
Ascent: 93 m
Duration: 0.5-1 hour

Info and map: https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/ullapool/corrieshalloch.shtml

From the car park, go through the gate on the right to head straight towards the Victorian suspension bridge. Cross the bridge and enjoy the view of the 45-meter Falls of Measach plummeting into the deep. A little further down the gorge, a viewing platform offers wonderful view of the waterfall and the bridge. Alternatively, go to the gate on the left to take a leisurely stroll around a hillside woodland.

Lael Forest Garden Walk

The Lael Forest Garden Walk is a pleasant walk in Scotland’s northernmost arboretum.

In the 19th century, the land belonged to enthusiasts of trees who collected rare seeds from all over the world. There are now about 200 different tree species here. Some remarkable trees that can be found here include the Giant sequoia, the Serbian Spruce and the Wollemi pine. A real rarity, the Serbian Spruce is natively constricted to locations along the Drina valley in Serbia and Bosnia, where it grows on soils overlying limestone rocks.

Knockan Crag Hike

Knockan Crag National Nature Reserve lies within the North West Highlands Geopark, which features some of the oldest rocks in Europe.

During the 19th century, Knockan Crag became the subject of much debate when geologists found that the layers at the top of the crag seemed older than the rocks below. The disagreements over the explanations were referred to at the time as the ‘Highlands Controversy’. The controversy was finally resolved in 1907 by the work of Ben Peach and John Horne, who demonstrated that by great forces the older rocks had been pushed towards, and then up and over, the younger rocks and then were driven westward over 70 kilometres. These events happened deep in the Earth’s crust. However, ice and weather gradually eroded the upper layers and exposed the rocks underneath. Knockan Crag was one of the first thrust belts to be discovered, where large scale horizontal rather than vertical movements became apparent. Peach and Horne’s revolutionary discovery have helped geologists understand what happens when continents collide and mountains form.

Well defined paths throughout. In some places the trail runs along exposed slopes.

Distance: 2 km
Ascent: 185 m
Duration: 1 hour

Info and map:
https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/ullapool/knockancrag.shtml

Sources
https://www.eileandonancastle.com/
https://www.nts.org.uk/visit/places/inverewe
https://www.nts.org.uk/visit/places/corrieshalloch-gorge
https://ntcs.org.uk/sites/lael-forest-garden/
https://www.nature.scot/enjoying-outdoors/scotlands-national-nature-reserves/knockan-crag-national-nature-reserve