7 iconic mountains to hike in Scotland

7 iconic mountains to hike in Scotland

Go climb Scotland’s mountains! 

From the stunning north west Highlands to the glens of Perthshire and the arctic tundra of the Cairngorms, Scotland’s mountains might not be the biggest hills in the world, but they are charismatic despite their lack of height, and because of Scotland’s dependably undependable weather, at times downright dramatic. Here are my favourite iconic Scotland mountains you should have climbed.

Iconic Scotland mountains

Warning – climbing Scotland’s mountains in winter is for the experienced and very well prepared hill walker. If you are a beginner please read my guide to hill walking in Scotland before attempting any of these routes. All of these Scotland mountains are suitable for those with a reasonable amount of fitness – there is no scrambling or rock climbing required!

Ben Lomond – for a 360-degree view of Loch Lomond

Ben Lomond is one of Scotland’s most popular mountains with over 30,000 people reaching the summit every year. Starting from Rowardennan on the east side of Loch Lomond you don’t need to climb far up the Ben Lomond’s ‘tourist path’ before views of the loch are revealed, but those who persevere to the summit will be treated to an incredible 360-degree view of the whole National Park. For a circular route, climb down the Ptarmigan Ridge for a quieter and in my opinion more spectacular descent.

  • Park at Rowardennan, be warned in good weather the car park can fill up quickly. Paid, bring £ coins.
  • Height / Distance – 974m / 7.5 miles / time – 5-6 hours.
  • Difficulty – hard
  • Read more: climb Ben Lomond

Suilven – an otherworldly rock rising straight up from sea level

At just 731m Suilven (pronounced Sool-ven) might be considered a wee mountain in Scotland (Ben Nevis is nearly twice its height) but once seen Suilven’s 2km long rocky ridge is never to be forgotten. Getting to Suilven is a challenge – at times the path never seems to get to the base of the hill and once you do finally reach Loch a Choire Dub at the foot of the mountain, you will start to wonder just how you are going to get up that cliff face However, all that effort is worth it – the views from the top of Suilven are simply incredible.

  • Park just before you get to Glencansip Lodge on Cansip Road.
  • Height / Distance – 731m / 12.5 miles / 8 – 10  hours. 
  • Difficulty – very hard
  • Read more: How to climb Suilven

Arthurs Seat – a volcano in the heart of the city

You don’t have to hoof it up to the Highlands to go hill walking in Scotland, Edinburgh has its own mini-mountain. An extinct volcano, climbing Arthur’s Seat is a must do when you visit Scotland’s capital. It is a short but steep climb but one with incredible views across the city and down to the Firth of Forth and on a clear day as far as the Forth Bridges. Whilst Arthur’s Seat is in the city centre, it is still a hill, so make sure you wear sensible shoes – the path up the front can be slippy and the summit is muddy and rocky.

  • Walk from the city centre
  • Height / Distance – 280m / 2.25 miles / max 2 hours
  • Difficulty – easy
  • Arthur’s seat walk – Route map

Ben Nevis – bagging the Big Ben

Climbing Scotland (and Britain’s) highest mountain is on most people’s bucket list which is why around 150,000 people attempt to climb to the top each year. The main route up the mountain is the ‘Mountain Path’ – also known as the ‘the Ben Nevis tourist route’ – which makes it sound easy – it is not. This is a 5-mile slog uphill – and often with no visibility, the top of Ben Nevis is clear on average just 14 days a year! If you do get a clear day, the views across Scotland and down to Fort William and Loch Linnhe,  and as far as the Isle of Mull are absolutely stunning.

  • Parking available at the Glen Nevis Visitor Center for £3. Taxi  – £7 from Fort William.
  • Height / Distance – 1345m / 11 miles / 7-9 hours
  • Difficulty – hard
  • Read more: how to climb Ben Nevis

Schiehallion – The Fairy Hill of the Caledonians

The most ‘mystical’ of all the Munros due to its name meaning “Fairy Hill of the Caledonians”, Schiehallion is also called the ‘constant storm’ due to the often nasty weather conditions on its slopes. Schiehallion is a popular first Munro, due to the well-made path most of the way up the mountain, although watch out for the boulders at the top! Whilst walking in Scotland in winter is really for those with experience and gear for the conditions (you will need an ice axe and crampons and know how to use them) Schiehallion is an easy first snowy Munro in good weather.

  • Park – the Braes of Foss car park (£ charge)
  • Height / Distance – 1083m / 6.25 miles / 4-6 hours
  • Difficulty – hard
  • Route via Walkhighlands

Buachaille Etive Beag – the litte(r) herdsmen

Driving through Glencoe the mountains will call your name. However, they are not for the faint of heart – the weather can be wild, the ascent steep and relentless and you will be facing your first ridges, Buachaille Etive Mor might be Scotland’s most famous (and photographed) mountain, but it’s neighbour Buachaille Etive Beag allows for the views to be achieved a little more easily… Aafter a very steep ascent, you will bag two Munros – Stob Coire Raneach is to the right and Stob Dubh – giving you a whole different perspective on Glencoe.

  • Park – in Glencoe next to the beehive cairn 
  • Height / Distance – 958m / 5 miles / 5-6 hours
  • Difficulty – very hard
  • Route via Walkhighlands

The Cobbler – The pinnacle in the Arrochar Alps

The Cobbler is one of the best known Scotland mountains. Famous for its distinctive shape and rocky crags – and the challenge of ‘threading the needle’ – jumping across and then scrambling up the Cobbler’s pinnacle to stand on the rocky peak which is actually the very top of the hill. A simple walk (in good weather that is, my video here at 46 secs shows it in the wet!) a good path leads up the hill from Arrochar before heading up the back of the hill popping out to an incredible view ar the top!

  • Park – Arrochar car park (£1 hour charge)
  • Height / Distance – 884m / 7 miles / 4 -6 hours
  • Difficulty – medium
  • Route – The Cobbler

Want more Scotland mountains?

Scotland’s best day hikes – including a walking marathon through two of Scotland’s best glens

Work your way up to bagging a Munro – 10 best hills for beginners in Scotland

10 Munros for beginners – and my video guide to how to bag a Munro 

Don’t fancy hill walking? – here are Scotland’s best short walks 

Love, from Scotland x

Scotland's mountains - charismatic despite their lack of height, and because of Scotland's dependably undependable weather, at times downright dramatic. Here are my favourite iconic Scotland mountains to climb.

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