The next part of the Beginners Series, is about selecting the right walk for your introduction to hiking. There are so many variables, so many hills and so many experiences to choose from. I touched a little bit on choosing the right hill and the right route for your skills in an earlier post, which you should definitely check out if you haven’t done so already.
In this post, I am going to look at some of the best hills for beginners to tackle. However, my earlier advice on doing your own research and deciding if the hill and route is right for you still stands. Similarly, whilst I can recommend these hills, a lot will depend on the day, the weather and the decisions you make on the day – don’t blame me if these hills are above your skill level!
All Scottish hills can have a sting in their tail, no matter their height or geography, so please always take a map, do your preparation, carry the appropriate kit and be sensible out on the hill. And remember, take nothing but photographs and leave nothing but footprints.
Kilsyth Hills – Tomtain and Garrel Hill – 453m and 459m
These two hills are a great walk for the beginner – two hills in one walk! My report of this walk can be found here. These hills are easily accessible as they are just to the north of Kilsyth and Cumbernauld, with good links to the M80 and M9. After parking up in a great view point, the walk has boggy bits, steep bits and the views are incredible.
For the beginner, this walk gives you a flavour of what Scottish Hill walking can be all in microcosm. And if there was ever a reason to fall in love with hiking in the Scottish mountains, the views here alone are good reason.
Arthurs Seat – Edinburgh – 251m
When you talk about accessibility, there is nowhere else on earth (as far as I am aware) that has an extinct volcano in the middle of the capital city! Having walked this hill many times, I can say that whilst there is not the remoteness factor that you get from some of the larger hills on this list, Arthurs Seat more than makes up for it with its unique character and location.
The views north in Fife and south into the Pentlands are excellent, as well as along the Firth of Forth. The best thing about this hill – in my humble opinion – is that you can climb it in an hour or so from a variety of start points, and grab a coffee on the way back into town. Where else can you do that? Perfect for hill walking beginners.
Dumyat – 451m
Dumyat has a place close to my heart. Located just off campus at the University of Stirling, where I did my degree, I spent many an afternoon exploring its slopes. Some of these can be quite steep, but if you start from the bottom of the well trodden path, the hill is quite friendly all told. The views into the heart of the Ochills and Ben Cleuch are brilliant, and looking south/east/west from the prominent view point is one of the best in Scotland.
A great hill for a beginner, a couple of hours up and down (or quicker depending on your route) is a great way to spend an afternoon.
Sclad Law – 579m
I walked this hill in conjunction with 9 others in the Pentlands – it was an epic day out, and a whole heap of fun. Beginners will like the broadness of the ridge leading to Scald Law, as well as the views across the Pentlands and its reservoirs. The going is not arduous, but as with all the hills on this list, its always good to be prepared for anything when tackling a walk in Scotland.
Ben Ledi – 879m
Ben Ledi is located near Callendar, making it very accessible to the majority of people living in the Central Belt. The usual route takes you from the carpark up a relatively well trodden path, rising through various levels of forest and trees to pop onto the ridge. A short walk over several false summits to the true summit and the memorial cross.
I’ve included it here as the path is quite easy to follow (when not covered in snow) and the terrain is really not too bad underfoot. It is quite high, and there is a lot of climbing to do (over 750m) for a hill that is not a Munro. Be prepared for some rough weather due to its altitude and for some reason every time I have been up there, its been super windy!