A challenging "off-the-beaten track" hiking route across Scotland, which takes you through the heart of the southern Highlands, from the rich and varied landscapes of Perthshire in the east, to the dramatic Glencoe & Lochaber mountains in the west. This route (130 miles / 210km) is for fit and experienced walkers - most days are 12-14 mile hikes but there can also be one or two 17 mile hikes depending on your itinerary. Highlights include crossing the mountains between Fortingall and Rannoch, and the classic crossing of Rannoch Moor, from east to west. On most days you will follow quiet paths and you will see far fewer people (and much more wildlife) than on the West Highland Way. From Kingshouse you can choose to finish on the shore of Loch Leven at Glencoe or join the West Highland Way for the last 2 days walk to Fort William. Also options to have additonal overnight stops at Kenmore (between Aberfeldy and Fortingall) and at Bridge of Gaur (between Kinloch Rannoch and Rannoch Station).
|CtC A||Perth||Ft. William||10||A challenging "off-the-beaten track" hiking route across Scotland||£835|
|CtC B||Perth||Glencoe||9||Finishes in Glencoe, 18 miles south of Fort William||£785|
Version A (10 nights) itinerary: -
Day 1. Arrive in Perth. Depending on what time you arrive you may have the chance to explore this historic town, visit Scone Palace or climb nearby Kinnoull Hill, which overlooks the Firth of Tay.
Day 2. This is a walk of 13 miles, mostly along the banks of Scotland's longest and biggest river, the Tay, famous for salmon fishing. Overnight in the quiet village of Bankfoot.
Day 3. Today's walk takes you into the highlands by a secluded and beautiful glen, and then by the woods and waterfalls of the Hermitage before arriving in Birnam (10 miles), the Victorian village, which lies on the other side of the river from historic Dunkeld, the ancient capital of Scotland.
Day 4. A 17 mile walk over moorland & forest to the highland town of Aberfeldy. Just before the town, you can visit the Aberfeldy Whisky Distillery (and Dewar's World of Whisky Exhibition Centre). If you have an extra day in Aberfeldy, you can cross General Wade's Bridge over the River Tay and visit Menzies Castle, which lies one mile to the north-west of the town.
Day 5. The walk today (15 miles) has a historic theme and there is also an option to walk up the Birks of Aberfeldy (a woodland gorge and waterfalls made famous by Robert Burns). The route passes by a 4000 year old Neolithic stone circle at Croftmoraig and through the grounds of Taymouth Castle where Queen Victoria spent her honeymoon. You also have the chance to see a re-constructed crannog on Loch Tay. The day's walk ends at the peaceful village of Fortingall, where you can see the ancient yew tree which is estimated to be more than 3000 years old and one of the oldest living trees in Europe. There is a lot to see on this day, so if you want to have more time to visit the Crannog, you can have an additional overnight stop in the village of Kenmore, halfway between Aberfeldy and Fortingall.
Day 6. A challenging walk (12 miles) over the hills via Glen Mor, a remote glen which sits beneath Schiehallion. You have now reached the heart of the Highlands and the quiet village of Kinloch Rannoch, which sits at the east end of Loch Rannoch.
Day 7. Today you walk on a very quiet road by the shores of Loch Rannoch and on to the eastern edge of Rannoch Moor, to Rannoch Station where the road ends. If you take the road on the south side of the loch, you can opt to take a short detour into the Black Wood of Rannoch, one of the few surviving remnants of the ancient Caledonian pine forest which had covered the Scottish Highlands since the last Ice Age. This is the longest day (17 miles), but it can be broken into two shorter days by having an additional night at Bridge of Gaur, at the west end of Loch Rannoch.
Day 8. The classic traverse of Rannoch Moor, (from east to west, not south to north as on the West Highland Way), ending at Kingshouse. (13 miles). Rannoch Moor has been described as "the largest abstract painting the world" - a walk through this unique landscape of grass, heather, peat, water and mountains is an unforgettable experience.
Day 9. After a short taxi journey back to Kingshouse, you then follow the West Highland Way which follows General Wade's Military Road over the Devil's Staircase to the village of Kinlochleven (9 miles). The highest point of this walk is 550 metres above sea-level, but as you start at about 250m and the track zig-zags over the hill the ascent is not as bad as the name suggests.
Day 10. Today starts with another climb up to the Lairigmor hilltrack, and then either continue on the West Highland Way to Fort William via Glen Nevis (15 miles), or join the Blarmachfoldach backroad which brings you into the centre of town after 14 miles. Fort William is the 'capital' of the West Highlands, and the town is effectively base camp for Ben Nevis so is popular with walkers and climbers.
Version B (9 nights). This is the same as Version A except that you walk from Kingshouse down historic Glencoe, and finish at Glencoe Village, on the shores of Loch Leven (14 miles). Route options: The walk from Birnam/Dunkeld to Aberfeldy is 17 miles, but as you will have passed by Rumbling Bridge on the walk from Bankfoot to Birnam the day before, you have the option of taking a taxi the first 3 miles up to Rumbling Bridge, and then you only have 14 miles to walk to Aberfeldy. Note that this direct route from Birnam to Aberfeldy passes through the 'Griffin' Wind Farm. This means you walk parallel to a line of 9 turbines over 2 miles in the middle section of the walk. The closest you get to the turbines is about 100m. If you like the look of wind turbines this is quite interesting, but if you really don't like wind turbines, the best option is to have an additional night in Pitlochry. (So you walk 15 miles from Birnam to Pitlochry, and then 10 miles from Pitlochry to Aberfeldy the next day. This was you can avoid seeing the windfarm altogether).
Please book early to avoid disappointment, the Coast to Coast is not a busy trail like the West Highland Way, but accommodation is limited in some villages and the sooner you book the better. Best to book the previous year if you want to hike the route in Easter, May and early June or during the high season in July-August, and early and mid September. There are dates in late April, May and June 2019 which are already booked up (mainly due to Glencoe, Kinlochleven being very busy with West Highland Way walkers), so best to book as soon as possible.
Extra nights: These are are recommended in Aberfeldy, which is just short of half-way and a good place to have a rest day. Also possible to have extra nights in other villages if you wish. Extra nights usually cost from GBP45-95 per person per night depending on which village and what rooms are available.
Additional nights: It is also possible to have additional overnight stops in three places - the attractive village of Kenmore half-way between Aberfeldy and Fortingall, Pitlochry (between Birnam and Aberfeldy), and Bridge of Gaur, a small settlement at the west end of Loch Rannoch (so it breaks the long day on the backroad from Kinloch Rannoch to Rannoch Station, also gives more time for the detour into the BlackWood of Rannoch). Additional nights in Kenmore, and at Bridge of Gaur are about GBP50-60 per person depending on rooms.
Accommodation is based in very good guest houses and B&Bs on most of the nights, except in Fortingall, Kinloch Rannoch, Rannoch Station, where we book the hotels as standard. Note that Kingshouse Hotel will re-open early in 2019 after being closed in 2017 and 2018 for major refurbishment and expansion. The new bunkhouse in Kingshouse (which was opened in 2016) will also re-open in 2019, after closure in 2018. If the hotel is full it may still be possible to book you alternative accommodation in Glencoe Village which is 12 miles to the west, and if so we will pre-book and pre-pay the necessary taxi transfers.
Shorter itineraries: If you don't have time to do the whole walk, we can also arrange this hike starting in Aberfeldy (or Pitlochry) and finishing in Glencoe or Fort william. (6-8 nights). Contact us for prices and more information.
Route guidance: we provide detailed written descriptions (in English) of each section, and three 1:50,000 OS maps which cover the whole route, and our own detailed maps of each day's walk. We also provide information about the history and things to do in each place you stay, general information about walking in Scotland and travel arrangements before and after your walk.
We are based in Aberfeldy which you pass through on this walk, so we come to meet you at your accommodation to say hello and answer any questions you may have about the rest of the hike. We have been organising this Coast to Coast route for over 20 years as a self-guided hike so there is not much we don't know about the things to see and do along the way.
Baggage Transfer: Due to space constraints, note that only one piece of luggage per person can be transferred. (We transfer you luggage from you accommodation to accommodation everyday - including across Rannoch Moor).
Start: Perth can be reached by bus, train or taxi from Edinburgh or Glasgow, journey takes just over an hour. Transfers can be also be arranged from Edinburgh or Glasgow airports (about £90, or £120 respectively for up to four people - we can quote for larger parties).