Hiking the Isles and Highlands of Scotland - Summer 2000

In the summer of 2000, my wife Judi and I went on two Cross Culture of Amherst hiking trips in Scotland, "Hiking Scotland's Isle of Skye" and "Hiking the Scottish Highlands, in the Footsteps of Bonnie Prince Charlie".

Technical Climbing in Scotland.

Technical climbing is a big sport in Scotland. Two of the major climbing centers are the Black Cuillins on the Isle of Skye and Ben Nevis on the mainland. Neither of our hiking trips involved any technical climbing (I stopped technical climbing when I got old enough to know better).

An expert mountain climber.

MacLeod's Tables, Isle of Skye.

Our first hike was Healabhal Bheag, the smaller, but higher, of the two MacLeod's Tables, on the left in the photo below. This was 6.25 miles round trip with a climb of 475 meters (1558 ft).

MacLeod's Tables.

The Quirang, Isle of Skye.

Our second hike was the Quirang and Meall na Suiramach, the table at the very left in the photo below. This was a short (4 miles round trip), leisurely hike with a climb of only 283 meters (928 ft). There was a lot of activity by the trail head caused by the filming of a Jeep TV commercial.

Meall na Suiramach in the Quirang.

Dun Caan, Isle of Raasay.

Our third hike was Dun Caan. This was a long hike (9 miles round trip), but a climb of only 443 meters (1453 ft).

The Black Cuillins, Isle of Skye.

After a day of rest, we climbed Bruach na Frithe, the only non-technical climb in the Black Cuillins. The trail comes up behind the small tooth that sticks out on the right side of the small, rounded peak that is between the two pointed peaks in the center of the photo below. This was an 8 mile round trip with a climb of about 958 meters (3143 ft).

The Black Cullins.

The Ardnish peninsula, Scotland.

The first hike of the second week was on the Ardnish, which is a small peninsula on the west coast of Scotland next to the cove where Bonnie Prince Charlie landed to claim the throne of Scotland. This was the first time he had set foot in Scotland (up until this time he lived in Europe). He was reasonably successful until the disastrous (for Scotland) defeat at Culloden, after which he escaped back to Europe, where he lived the remainder of his life. The Ardnish peninsula is a short distance south of Mallaig, which was the final destination of the train in one of the PBS TV train trip series. This was another easy hike, 7 miles round trip with a climb of only 267 meters (876 ft).

The Devil's Staircase, Scotland.

The Staircase is a very steep section of the trail from Altnafeadh in Glen Coe to Kinlochleven. This trail is part of the West Highland Way, which is something like our Appalachian Trail. This hike was 6 miles with a climb of about 380 meters (1246 ft). The first photo below is looking backward on the way up and the second photo is looking forward on the way down the other side.

Going up the Devil's Staircase.

Going down the Devil's Staircase.

Ben Nevis, Scotland.

After another day of rest, we were ready for the ultimate hike. Ben Nevis is Britain's highest mountain and a very popular place for technical climbing, especially in the winter. The non-technical route is up the right-hand side in the photo below. This was an arduous hike, round trip of 9 miles with a climb of 1329 meters (4359 ft) taking about 7 1/2 hours. The trail starts at only 15 meters above sea level, so the mountain is actually 1344 meters high.

Ben Nevis, Britain's highest mountain.

On the way up.

Near the top.

Looking down the tail from the top.

Looking down from the top.

Our group at the top.

The intrepid climber at the very top.

Back down and ready for a cold beer.