As Scotland's spring bursts into bloom, Ren Deakin explores the country's most popular stomping grounds
The West Highland Way
Distance 152km/95miles Duration 6–7 days
Difficulty Level 3 with walks up to 7 hours and climbs to 540m
Probably the most famous of Scotland’s extreme strolls, the West Highland Way takes you from the outskirts of Glasgow (Milngavie) to Fort William. Walkers have a few choices as to how they can tackle the route – the hard way, the really hard way or the easy way. The really hard way is to carry all your worldly possessions with you and camp each night after the days hike. The easier way is to carry what you need and stay at the number of bunkhouses along the path. The easiest way is to have transport companies sherpa your gear from one hostel to the next.
Fife Coastal Path
Distance 132km/82m Duration Approximately 6 days
Difficulty Paths, tracks, roads, shoreline climbs and dunes
The Fife Coastal Path begins in North Queensferry and ends at Tay Bridge. King James VI described the Fife coast as a 'fringe of gold'. This path guides the walker along the stunning scenery of this part of Scotland. The route passes award-winning beaches, beautiful fishing villages, caves and castles. Possibly the most famous castle in Scotland is on this path – MacDuff’s Castle near East Wemyss, residence of the MacDuff family during the reign of the Scottish king Macbeth (1040-57). The path links a series of towns and villages so accommodation isn’t a problem, although as with all the routes you’d be advised to book in advance.
Great Glen Way
Distance 117km/73m Duration 5–6 days
Difficulty Low altitude walk, level 2-3 with no difficult climbs
A relative new kid on the long walk block, the Great Glen Way was opened by Prince Andrew in 2002 (he’s the Earl of Inverness, fact lovers). Great Glen Way starts at Fort William and follows towpaths and woodland tracks as well as meandering along the shoreside of lochs. The route includes steep climbs and magnificent views. With a short-ish diversion the really keen amongst you can bag some of the Munroes that litter the route. There are hostels and B&Bs along the way, so a good night’s sleep is guaranteed.
Distance 65m/135km, 84m including spurs
Duration 5–7 very relaxed days
Difficulty Varying from easy to strenuous climbs
The relative baby of these walks, the Speyside Way makes up for its brevity with its location – one of the premier whisky producing regions in the world. Taking the easy sections first, the route begins at Buckie on the shore of the Moray Firth and runs southwest to Aviemore in the Cairngorms. There are spurs to Tomintoul and Dufftown. The rewards for completing the Dufftown spur are nine distilleries and a whisky museum. On reaching Tomintoul you’ll be able to boast to friends and relations that you’ve visited the highest village in the Cairngorms.