Do you want to go on a walking holiday, but are worried about figuring out all the details? We spoke to leading tour company EasyWays about the benefits of booking organised walking holidays in Scotland versus planning it all by yourself, the best routes to choose from, some insider tips for beginners and more.
This article was commissioned by EasyWays. All opinions are our own.
This post contains affiliate links from which I may make a commission. Find out more here. All opinions are my own.
Over the years, I’ve planned a fair share of walking holidays. I’ve poured over maps and guide books to plan solo adventures. I’ve searched for B&Bs and luggage transfer options for hiking trips with friends And I’ve even helped clients plan their hiking holidays.
And let me tell you something: planning a walking holiday in Scotland is hard work.
There are so many movable elements. Transport, accommodation, luggage transfer, where to find restaurants, shops and facilities along the way, what equipment to take and what clothes to wear.
And on top of that, you have to consider how far you’ll manage to walk each day. You might worry about your fitness, or what’s feasible, and you don’t know what the terrain will be like.
That’s a lot to figure out.
But there is an easy solution for this planning overwhelm: Booking an organised walking holiday! Let someone else take care of the nitty gritty planning of your hike, and get expert advice on the route, packing, preparation and more.
For this article we talked to Andrew Fernie and Karynna Braid of EasyWays, one of Scotland’s leading trekking companies, about the benefits of going on walking holidays, why you should book an organised trek rather than planning it own your own, what routes in Scotland to choose from and some extra tips for beginners.
Read on to find out about:
- The benefits of walking and hiking trips,
- Why to book organised walking holidays in Scotland,
- What expertise a company like EasyWays brings to the table,
- Guided vs self-guided walking holidays,
- Popular routes to choose from,
- And a few tips to help you decide where to go.
EasyWays has been around since 1996, initially offering walking holidays on the West Highland Way, Scotland’s most popular long distance route, but soon branching to a network of trails crisscrossing the country.
Andrew Fernie took over the company in 2014 and has transformed EasyWays into a modern trekking company with all the perks. As a keen hiker himself, he brought lots of personal experiences and big plans for the future.
After a big digital revamp of the company, walkers now get access to a range of useful digital resources that make planning their walking holiday a lot less overwhelming. More on that later. And of course, there is a team on the ground who knows the walking routes in Scotland inside and out.
All visiting hikers have to do, is walk – and that’s after all what they’re here for.
EasyWays offers support on a wide range of trails, from long distance treks for beginners to challenging expeditions for experienced walkers. Hikers get expert advice on their customised route and EasyWays takes care of booking accommodations, luggage transfers and even local transport to and from the start/end points.
You can choose from over 18 walking routes and complete them at varying speeds. From coastal walks to mountain passes, they have a trail for everyone. EasyWays can even help you design a custom route.
More information about some of Andrew’s recommended walking routes below.
Benefits of Organised Walking Holidays in Scotland
OK, let’s dive into the topic of the article – why should you book organised walking holidays in Scotland rather than planning everything yourself.
Save yourself the stress
Like I said above, planning all the details of a walking holiday is a lot of work – you have to figure out a lot of things and the last thing you want is to forget something important.
Karynna says, “It’s stressful to get all the dates to match. There’s a lot involved with organising a walking holiday, because you’re changing accommodation every day.” And she’s right.
And she’s right – even though I’ve planned a few walking holidays for myself and for others, I don’t think I’d do it again…
Booking an organised walking holiday is particularly beneficial for first timers, beginners and anyone who is new to walking in Scotland, as well as those of you who are walking in a group. Booking accommodation for multiple people – even just 3 instead of 2 – is super fiddly!
Booking with a company like EasyWays takes the stress factor completely out of your equation. They book everything for you in advance: accommodation, luggage transfer and local transport.
They also know where to find water refills, coffee shops, restaurants and toilets along the route, so you don’t have to research any of this yourself.
As I said earlier – all you have to do, is enjoy the walk.
A trip planned by experts
The EasyWays team knows the different walking routes in Scotland inside and out. They can draw on personal experience and guide you towards the most suitable trail for your capabilities and trip specification.
Andrew says, “Living in Scotland means our local knowledge and familiarity with the routes is our biggest selling point.”
With their help you will end up with a walking itinerary that ticks all your boxes. As an itinerary planner myself, I don’t have to emphasise how amazing it is to have a local expert in your corner.
Support tested & proven businesses
EasyWays have been around for a long time and over the years, they’ve built a solid network of relationships with local Scottish businesses. You’ll know that the money you spend for your walking holiday goes towards good quality accommodations and luggage transfer companies.
Your spending will not only support local businesses, you also know that the places you stay in overnight undergo a regular quality control process.
Access to helpful tools and advice
Now, this it the juiciest part. EasyWays are working with a range of digital tools that make it easier for them to plan your trip – but also gives you access to heaps of information at your finger-tips.
The company has partnered with Guibo to deliver vital information about your walk to your smartphone. Once you book your walking holiday, you’ll be asked to download the free app to access your travel information.
In the app, you’ll find:
- Booking details and contact numbers for your booked accommodations,
- Any details about local transport that has been booked for you,
- A map with the outline of your route (although some navigation might still be required on non-way-marked routes)
- Saved pins on the map pointing out water stops, cafes, toilets, restaurants and places of interest,
- Daily route descriptions so you’ll know where to go and what to expect.
This app is an absolute game changer because when you plan your own walking holiday, you have to research and compile all of this information yourself.
And finally, when you book organised walking holidays with EasyWays, you’ll always have a point of contact during your trip.
The team, based in Polmont, Stirlingshire, is always there to pick up the (hopefully only figurative) pieces in an emergency and can advise you on suitable alternatives on the fly.
Walking Holidays FAQ
Why go on a walking holiday in Scotland?
Post pandemic, walking holidays are on the rise. Here are three reasons why…
1. It’s good for you!
Walking, wild swimming, forest bathing… Many people are discovering the benefits of spending time outside. Numerous studies have proven that spending time outside is beneficial to our physical health and mental wellbeing.
And if anyone was sceptical about that, going through multiple lockdowns during the pandemic, has certainly cemented that knowledge.
2. It’s a great way to experience Scotland
I don’t have to tell you what a beautiful country Scotland truly is, and how rewarding it can be to immerse yourself in the Scottish landscapes on foot.
Andrew is convinced that hiking in Scotland is a fabulous experience in all weather – and I can only agree. Whether it rains or shines, spending time outdoors in Scotland, feeling the elements and slowly moving through the landscape is one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had.
A walking holiday in Scotland allows you to be immersed in nature, meet welcoming Scottish people, from fellow hikers to accommodation hosts, and enjoy good food and drink. Nothing tastes as good as a hot meal and a cold drink after a long day on the trail.
3. It’s a green way to travel
And finally, walking holidays are a sustainable way to travel and since you’re moving more slowly than by car, you are automatically supporting more local businesses along the way.
Head to this article to read more about how to be a responsible traveller in Scotland.
Self-guided vs guided walking holidays
Most of the EasyWays treks are self-guided walking holidays, but they also offer a few guided walking holidays throughout the year.
There is no right or wrong when choosing between a guided or self-guided walking holiday in Scotland, but here are some of the things to consider:
- A guided trek includes the expertise and guidance by an experienced mountaineer who is always at hand if you need advice or help. If you are a complete beginner, booking a guided hike can give you the safety net you need to make it happen.
- You’ll meet a lot of other hikers on a guided walking holiday. This may or may not be what you’re looking for. As a solo hiker, you might enjoy meeting others. But if you’re hiking with your partner or a friend, you may want to spend more time on your own.
- If you hike with a large group of friends or family, you might want a guide to keep everyone on track. Or you may find it easier to set your own tempo.
- A self-guided walking holiday generally offers more flexibility as you can adjust each daily route distance to suit your capability.
- A guided walking holiday has a set itinerary which may be too challenging or not challenging enough for you.
Popular walking holidays in Scotland
As mentioned, EasyWays offers a wide range of self-guided trekking routes and also several guided walking holidays all over Scotland. So before you get to figuring out details, even just choosing a route for your trip can be overwhelming.
Choosing a route
Karynna Braid recommends browsing the EasyWays website, looking at pictures and route descriptions and letting your imagination guide you.
Yes, there are many well-known routes you may have heard of before – like the West Highland Way – but lesser-known routes often come with their own hidden gems. It’s good to spend some time reading about different options.
Then ask yourself: How much time do you have? How experienced are you? How much would you like to walk? Those questions are important to guide you towards a challenging but still enjoyable walking route.
The next step is to reach out to EasyWays. Andrew says, that most people get in touch with an idea for a route – something that has sparked their interest, whether it is a walking trail, a certain kind of landscape or even a specific location or viewpoint.
The EasyWays team can guide you from there to find a suitable route, decide on a distance you can manage to walk and make a plan for a feasible day-by-day itinerary.
Andrew’s picks: Some popular walks in Scotland
West Highland Way: The WHW Scotland’s most popular route for a walking holiday in the Highlands. You can hike the entire way from Milngavie to Fort William (96 miles) or do a variation of the route to escape summer crowds or fit a shorter time frame. The route gets busy in high season, so it’s good to have a selection of dates in mind and be open to alternatives.
Loch Lomond & Cowal Way: The LLC Way is a great alternative to the West Highland Way. It runs for 57 miles from Portavadie on the Cowal Peninsula to Inveruglas on Loch Lomond. It can be walked in either direction and offers a great contrast of coastline and mountains. You’ll get a real range of landscapes and views, and the route can be linked up with the West Highland Way.
North Highland Way: The North Highland Way isn’t a continuous, way-marked walking route, but rather a series of walks on the beautiful north coast of Scotland between John O’Groats and Durness. It includes several private transfers to starting points of walks and the option of a day trip to Orkney. This is a great opportunity if you want to experience a part of the famous North Coast 500 – but on foot.
Great Glen Way: The GGW is a popular route that leads from Fort William in the NW Highlands to Inverness on the Moray Firth. Again, it links up well with the West Highland Way. You can also combine it with the South Ness Trail and circumnavigate Loch Ness on the Loch Ness 360.
Fife Coastal Path: The Fife Coastal Path is an excellent choice for beginners who are looking for relatively flat walking. It follows the coast of Fife, passes through many scenic towns and villages, runs through countless nature reserves and offers a great mix of cultural and natural sites. It’s also easy to do shorter variations of the trail and the real bonus is that it means you get to visit the historic town of St Andrews.
Tips for beginners
This topic warrants its own detailed blog posts, but for now, here are some tips for beginners that will help you choose the best route for your walking holidays in Scotland.
- Begin with a relatively flat route that isn’t too physically challenging.
- Build up stamina on long walks with a backpack before your trip. This will increase your physical ability when you do your walking holiday.
- Choose a route with a good network of infrastructure – i.e. accessible luggage transfer, frequent accommodations on the way, plenty of shops and facilities en route.
EasyWays can help you put together a walking holiday of any length and duration. Even if you only want to walk 5-10 miles per day, they can help you find the right route and make sure it’s a fun and interesting experience.
With that all the support and expert knowledge from EasyWays in their pocket, it’s really a no-brainer to book organised walking holidays in Scotland instead of planning it all by yourself.
I know, I won’t ever sweat over accommodation options and route planning for complicated walking holidays myself. Whether you are a novice or experiences hiker, the benefits of booking an organised trek easily outweigh the cost.
Are you convinced too?