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Hills for Beginners Your Ultimate Scottish Guide

Hills for Beginners: Your Ultimate Scottish Guide

Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just starting out, Scotland’s hills offer breathtaking views and unforgettable experiences.

Each hill has its own character and charm, from the mystical heights of The Cobbler to the tranquil trails of West Lomond. Keep reading to uncover some of the best beginner-friendly hills that promise both adventure and awe-inspiring scenery!

Best Hills for Beginners in Scotland

Ben A’an


Hill Walking Length: Approximately 3.7 km round trip.

Difficulty: Moderate; suitable for beginners with a reasonable level of fitness.

Budget and Ways to Go to the Hill: Accessible by car or local transport. Parking is available near the starting point. No entry fee.

Ben A’an, often referred to as a mountain in miniature, is the perfect introduction to hillwalking in Scotland. The path starts at the car park in Trossachs, leading you through a forested area before opening up to stunning views of Loch Katrine and the mountains.

The trail is well-maintained and offers a rewarding summit experience, making it ideal if you are new to hillwalking.

Pro tip: 

After your hike, visit the nearby Trossachs Pier, where you can enjoy a relaxing boat cruise on Loch Katrine. The serene waters and picturesque scenery make for a perfect end to your day.

Arthur’s Seat


Hill Walking Length: Around 4.5 km round trip.

Difficulty: Easy to moderate, with some steep sections.

Budget and Ways to Go to the Hill: Located in Edinburgh, easily reachable by public transport. Free access.

Arthur’s Seat, an ancient volcano, is a prominent feature in Edinburgh’s skyline. The trail begins at Holyrood Park, a royal park near the city centre. 

As you ascend, the path offers panoramic views of the city and the Firth of Forth. The hill’s accessibility and the variety of routes available make it a popular choice for both locals and tourists.

Pro tip: 

Post-hike, explore the historic Holyrood Palace at the base of Arthur’s Seat, the official residence of the British monarch in Scotland. It’s a great way to delve into Scottish royal history.

Conic Hill


Hill Walking Length: About 4 km round trip.

Difficulty: Moderate, with some steep and rugged paths.

Budget and Ways to Go to the Hill: Accessible by car or public transport. Parking is available at Balmaha. No entry fee.

Conic Hill sits on the boundary of the Highlands and Lowlands, offering spectacular views over Loch Lomond. The trail starts in the quaint village of Balmaha, a gateway to the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park.

The walk is relatively short but provides a real sense of being in the Highlands, with well-defined paths leading to the summit.

Pro tip: Following your hike, you can head to the Oak Tree Inn in Balmaha. It’s a cosy spot to enjoy a well-deserved meal with stunning views of Loch Lomond.

The Cobbler (Ben Arthur)


Hill Walking Length: Approximately 11 km round trip.

Difficulty: Moderate; a bit challenging for complete beginners but doable with some preparation.

Budget and Ways to Go to the Hill: Best accessed by car. Located near Arrochar. Parking is available at the base. No entry fee.

The Cobbler, also known as Ben Arthur, offers one of the most distinctive outlines in the Southern Highlands. The trailhead is located at the Succoth car park in Arrochar, leading you walkers through a scenic path surrounded by rugged terrain.

The summit is famous for its rocky outcrops and spectacular views across Loch Long and the surrounding peaks.

Pro tip: 

After descending The Cobbler, take a short drive to the nearby Loch Fyne Oyster Bar. It’s an excellent place to enjoy some of Scotland’s finest seafood.

Tinto Hill


Hill Walking Length: Around 7 km round trip.

Difficulty: Moderate; steady climb but not overly steep.

Budget and Ways to Go to the Hill: Accessible by car, with parking available at the base. Located near Lanark. No entry fee.

Tinto Hill is a prominent landmark in South Lanarkshire and is known for its distinctive shape and ancient history. The walk starts from the car park, leading up a well-trodden path that passes through moorland and offers expansive views of the Scottish Borders.

The hill is also home to a Bronze Age burial cairn at the summit, which, I can say personally, adds a historical element to the hike.

Pro tip: 

Near Tinto Hill, you can visit the charming town of Biggar. After your hike, you can even explore its quaint high street, filled with independent shops and cafes, perfect for a leisurely stroll.



Hill Walking Length: Approximately 10 km round trip.

Difficulty: Moderate; well-defined path but can be rocky and steep in parts.

Budget and Ways to Go to the Hill: Located near Pitlochry. Accessible by car with parking available. A small parking fee may apply.

Schiehallion, known as the Fairy Hill of the Caledonians, is one of Scotland’s most iconic and popular hills. The trail begins at the Braes of Foss car park, taking walkers through a serene landscape with a gradual ascent.

The hill’s isolated position offers 360-degree views of the surrounding countryside, making it a rewarding climb for beginners.

Pro tip: 

After your hike, make a stop at the nearby town of Pitlochry. Here, you can visit the Edradour Distillery, Scotland’s smallest traditional distillery, for a tour and a taste of fine single-malt whisky.

Cairn Gorm


Hill Walking Length: About 13 km round trip.

Difficulty: Moderate to challenging; more suitable for beginners who have some hillwalking experience.

Budget and Ways to Go to the Hill: Accessible by car. Located in the Cairngorms National Park. Parking is available for a fee.

Cairn Gorm is one of the most prominent mountains in the Cairngorms National Park and a popular destination for hillwalkers. The trail starts at the Cairngorm Mountain car park, leading through a rugged landscape with chances to spot local wildlife.

The hill offers stunning views of the Cairngorm plateau and is a great introduction to this spectacular national park.

Pro tip: 

Try to combine your hill walk with a visit to the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre. It’s a unique opportunity to see Britain’s only free-ranging herd of reindeer in their natural habitat.

West Lomond


Hill Walking Length: Approximately 5 km round trip.

Difficulty: Easy to moderate; a gentle hill suitable for all levels.

Budget and Ways to Go to the Hill: Located near Falkland. Accessible by car with free parking available.

West Lomond, the highest hill in Fife, offers a gentle yet rewarding climb. The trail starts at Craigmead car park, leading through farmland and open moorland.

The summit provides panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, including the River Forth and the Pentland Hills.

Pro tip: 

After exploring West Lomond, take a short drive to the historic Falkland Palace and Gardens. This beautiful Renaissance building is steeped in history and surrounded by picturesque gardens.



Hill Walking Length: Around 8 km round trip.

Difficulty: Easy to moderate; a popular hill for beginners.

Budget and Ways to Go to the Hill: Best accessed by car. Located near Stirling. Free parking is available at the base.

Dumyat is part of the Ochil Hills and offers a straightforward route for beginners. The trailhead is at Sheriffmuir Road, winding through a landscape rich in history, including an Iron Age fort near the summit.

The hill provides excellent views of Stirling and the surrounding area, making it a favourite among local walkers.

Pro tip: 

Following your hike up Dumyat, consider visiting the Wallace Monument, a national tower standing on the Abbey Craig. It offers panoramic views and a rich history of one of Scotland’s most famous figures, William Wallace.

Hillwalking Tips for Beginners

Getting on your first hillwalking adventure can be both exhilarating and daunting. As you prepare to explore the stunning hills of Scotland, it’s important to equip yourself not only with the right gear but also with essential knowledge and skills.

Here are some useful tips you should consider on your hillwalking escapade.

Start with the right gear

  • Footwear. Remember to invest in good waterproof hiking boots that offer ankle support and grip. Scotland’s weather can be unpredictable, and the terrain can be rugged.
  • Clothing. Dress in layers. Use moisture-wicking fabrics for your base layer, add an insulating layer like fleece, and top it with a waterproof and windproof jacket. Don’t forget waterproof trousers.
  • Backpack. Choose a comfortable, lightweight backpack with enough space for your essentials. A rain cover for the backpack is also advisable.

Bring all your navigation essentials

  • Map and Compass. Learn the basics of map reading and compass navigation. A physical map and compass are essential backups even if you plan to use a GPS device or a smartphone app.
  • Route Planning. Plan your route in advance. Be aware of the distance, elevation gain, estimated time, and any challenging sections.
  • Check Weather. Always check the weather forecast before heading out. Weather in the Scottish hills can change rapidly.

Safety first

  • Inform Someone. Always tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to return.
  • Emergency Contacts. Keep a note of emergency contacts, including local mountain rescue services.
  • First Aid Kit. Carry a basic first aid kit for minor injuries.
  • Whistle and Torch/Headlamp. A whistle for emergency signals and a headlamp or torch with extra batteries for when visibility is low.
  • Mobile Phone. Fully charged for emergency calls. Consider carrying a portable charger.

Plan for proper sustenance and hydration

  • Water. Bring enough water for your hike. Consider a water purification method (like tablets or a filter) if you plan to refill from natural sources.
  • Snacks. Pack high-energy snacks like nuts, fruit, energy bars, or chocolate. These are essential for maintaining energy levels.

Respect the environment

  • Leave No Trace. Take all your litter back with you. Be mindful of the natural environment and its wildlife.
  • Stick to the Path. To prevent erosion and protect plant life, stick to marked paths wherever possible.

Build stamina and experience

  • Start Small. Begin with shorter, less challenging hills and gradually build up to more challenging hikes.
  • Pace Yourself. Walk at a pace that is comfortable for you. It’s not a race, and frequent breaks are important, especially on steeper sections.

Join a group or club

  • Hiking Groups. Consider joining a local hiking group or club. They often organise guided walks and can be a great source of knowledge and experience.

Additional Useful Items

  • Walking Poles. It is helpful for balance and reducing strain on knees, especially on descents.
  • Emergency Shelter or Bivvy Bag. In case you get stranded or injured, this can provide temporary shelter.
  • Camera or Binoculars. For capturing the scenery or observing wildlife.
  • Insect Repellent and Tick Remover. Particularly important in areas known for midges or ticks.
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