The Heart of Scotland Trail

Overview

The Heart of Scotland Trail is a delightful long distance walk, connecting east and west with a series of river walks, forest tracks, hill climbs and country lanes.  Starting in Perth city centre, the route follows the River Tay upstream into the heart of the remote Perthshire hills and countryside as it meanders through the regions historic towns and villages.  The trail then traverses the wilderness of Rannoch Moor towards the dramatic mountainous landscape of Glencoe and the famous West Highland Way, before arriving in Fort William under the shadow of Scotland’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis.

This 123 mile route boasts a stunning array of landscapes; from the gentle river banks of the Tay and the open hillside estate of Glenlyon, the stunning ancient woodlands of the Birks of Aberfeldy and Rannoch Forest, to the haunting peat bogs of Rannoch Moor; this is a walk which typifies the natural beauty of the Scottish Highlands.

Accommodation, services and refreshments are strategically located from start to finish, providing opportunities for a comfortable and relaxing end to a tough day’s walking.

EXCLUSIVE WAS GUIDEBOOK - We are delighted to include a detailed waterproof Guidebook within each Heart of Scotland Trail package - exclusive to WAS customers. Featuring Ordnance Survey map extracts and a step by step route description, this fully coloured guidebook will be sure to keep you on the right track (one per group booking).  

Click here for a sample preview - Cover Page Route Guide

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The Route

Stage 1: Perth to Luncarty

Distance: 6.0 miles / 9.80 km

Highest Point: 26 metres

The trail starts in Perth City Centre on the banks of the River Tay.  A local cycle route takes you along the riverside path, away from the city and into the Perthshire countryside.  This gentle walk is the perfect way to start your epic journey across the heart of Scotland.

 

Stage 2: Luncarty to Bankfoot 

Distance: 6.50 miles / 10.20 km 

Highest Point: 95 metres

From the village of Luncarty, the route follows heads through some rich farmland into the countryside, along an official national cycling route, before strolling into Bankfoot.

 

 

Stage 3: Bankfoot to Dunkeld

Distance: 9.50 miles / 15.20 km

Highest Point: 315 metres

The road from Bankfoot follows a country lane to Upper Obney farm, where the landscape suddenly changes from rolling farmland and countryside to jagged hillsides filled with bracken, heather and wild woodland.  The pass across the Obney Hills is a wonderful introduction to the Highlands, with the beautiful views serving as a taster for the remainder of the walk.  The path then weaves its way through the Tomgarrow Wood, along the Inchewan Burn and into Dunkeld & Birnam.  This is a relatively short day’s walking but a wonderful route which will leave you desperate for more.


Stage 4: Dunkeld to Aberfeldy

Distance: 17 miles / 27.20 km

Highest Point: 90 metres

The route away from Dunkeld leads to The Hermitage, a wonderful collection of some of Scotland’s oldest and tallest trees.  The Falls of Braan are as picturesque as anywhere in the country and remain one of Perthshire’s most popular tourist attractions.  From here, the route heads into Craigvinean Forest, a largely dense woodland across the moor which follows forest roads into Aberfeldy.  A carpet of purple heather along much of this route adds to the outstanding beauty of the area.

Stage 5: Aberfeldy to Kenmore

Distance: 8.5 miles / 13.60 km 

Highest Point: 337 metres

This section begins with a walk along a section of the Rob Roy Way, from the stunning Birks of Aberfeldy and the Moness Burn and up onto the hillside, providing unobstructed views of the valley below and the Munro of Schiehallion on the horizon.  The path leaves the Rob Roy Way as it descends into the beautiful village of Kenmore, passing an array of fabulous properties on the way down.

Stage 6: Kenmore to Fortingall

Distance: 6.5 miles / 10.40 km

Highest Point: 335 metres

After a stop off at the Kenmore Hotel, the second half of the day heads north and climbs through the Drummond Hill Forest before leaving the woods on the west side and descending onto the quiet country road which leads into the hamlet of Fortingall.  Upon arrival, why not spare a few minutes to visit one of the oldest living things in Europe, the Fortingall Yew Tree, thought to be over 5,000 years old.


Stage 7: Fortingall to Kinloch Rannoch

Distance: 11.0 miles / 17.60 km

Highest Point: 709 metres

This stage represents the first real climb of the trail, reaching over 700 metres at the highest point.  A typical highland landscape, the rough and barren terrain continues across the remote stretches of Glen Lyon, passing the Glenmore Bothy and into the shadow of the towering Munro of Shiehallion.  This section required good map reading skills as the path is very faint and indistinct in places, particularly at the bothy.  Once off the hillside, a country road leads to the village of Kinloch Rannoch.  See below section on Deer Stalking and the Glenlyon Estate.

Stage 8: Kinloch Rannoch to Bridge of Gaur

Distance: 16.0 miles / 25.60 km

Highest Point: 430 metres

There are two options to this route, the first being a simple walk along the banks of Loch Rannoch on the country road.  The second option, and much more rewarding, is the path which threads peacefully through the beautiful, ancient woodland of Rannoch Forest.  This makes for a longer day, however is worth every step for which will undoubtedly be one of the highlights of the entire walk.  Before reaching Bridge of Gaur, the route leaves Rannoch Forest and heads back into the open hillside and join’s the track which leads off the glen. 

 

Stage 9: Bridge of Gaur to Rannoch Station

Distance: 5.5 miles / 8.8 km

Highest Point: 229 metres

This stage involves a short, five mile walk along the country road to Rannoch Station.  The landscape quickly changes from the rich and colourful setting of Loch Rannoch to the boulder strewn, damp and desolate terrain of Rannoch Moor.  As the road ends at the railway station, walkers are required to transfer their main, overnight bags on a short train journey to Bridge of Orchy, before returning to Rannoch Station for the next day’s onward journey across Rannoch Moor.


Stage 10: Rannoch Station to King’s House Hotel

Distance: 12.50 miles / 20.0 km

Highest Point: 370 metres

This stage can be split into three distinct sections – the track which travels through the old forest, the boggy section through the heart of Rannoch Moor, and the land rover track which leads to the Kings House Hotel at the gateway to the Glencoe mountain range.  Whether it’s the hauntingly quiet forest path, the faint track across one of Europe’s last remaining wildernesses, or the stunning backdrop of the spectacular West Highland mountain range, this stage really is like no other.

Stage 11: King's House Hotel to Kinlochleven

Distance: 9.0 miles / 14.40 km

Highest Point: 550 metres

This is where the Coast to Coast Trail meets the West Highland Way. The path heads straight through Glencoe, eventually climbing up and over the mountain range via the ‘Devil’s Staircase’, the highest point on the WHW.  Once at the top, looking back down towards the Kings House Hotel, it pays to think how dramatically the landscape has changed from the lowlands of the Perthshire countryside. The path then follows a long descent into Kinlochleven.

Stage 12: Kinlochleven to Fort William

Distance: 15.0 miles / 24.20 km

Highest Point: 330 metres

The final stage closes in on the Mamore mountain range as it climbs steeply out of Kinlochleven, where some of the best views of the entire walk can be found.  Once this ascent has been cleared, the trail into Fort William is fairly level as it undulates along the old military road.  As the path closes in on Glen Nevis, a number of forested areas are passed through, with Ben Nevis becoming more and more dominant on the horizon.  A long forest track winds off the hill and into Fort William.


PRICES & ITINERARIES

Tour Code Walking Days/Nights Ave. Miles Per Day Price Per Person **
HEART1 10 Walking / 11 Nights 12 £600-£720

What is Included?

  • Pre-booked Accommodation
  • Full breakfast each morning (exclusions apply)
  • Baggage Transfers
  • Daily Itineraries
  • Exclusive WAS Heart of Scotland Guidebook
  • Info on transport and local services

What is not included?

  • Evening meals & packed lunches

  • Travel to Perth

  • Travel from Fort William

  • Travel Insurance


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

**Prices are based on 2 people sharing a twin or double room.  

The trail hosts a variety of hotels and Bed and Breakfasts; from moderate to more expensive pricing tariffs.  Individual preferences should be stipulated in the Holiday Booking Form

This package includes a one night stay in Fort William, however, additional nights at the end of the walk can be arranged to explore the highlands at your leisure, which could include a climb up Scotland's highest mountain, Ben Nevis. Walkers must organise their own return transport to Perth and beyond.   Details of public transport services are available on request.

If you would prefer to walk the Heart of Scotland Trail using an alternative itinerary, please let us know and will do our utmost to tailor the holiday to your needs.


Extra Nights & Extending Your Stay

Many walkers choose to take rest days during the walking holiday; whether to give the feet a well-earned break, to do a little sight-seeing or perhaps a bit of ‘Munro-bagging’.  There is also the possibility of staying on in Fort William to perhaps climb Ben Nevis or visit one of the many other tourist attractions in the area.  If this option is of interest, please let us know on the booking form.  Additional nights can be arranged from £40 per person per night.

Accommodation

Each Hotel and Bed & Breakfast has been hand-picked to ensure you enjoy the most welcoming, comfortable and value-for-money experience on the Heart of Scotland route.  A warm welcome awaits all walkers and hikers, with hotel owners keen to hear stories of the day’s adventures.  Evening meals and packed lunches for the onward journey are available at most hotels and B&B's, however, please note that they are NOT included in the holiday package.


Navigation

The route is not way marked or signposted, other than the stages which follow the Rob Roy Trail and the West Highland Way.  The route follows narrow paths at times, some of which can be obscured by overgrown heather, bracken and other Highland undergrowth.  For this reason, we must insist maps and a compass are carried at all times.  As well as the Guidebook, your package includes detailed Ordnance Survey maps of the entire route.  WAS highly recommend that at least one member of your party is a competent map and compass reader.


Dogs

Unfortunately, due to restrictions imposed by some places of accommodation, dogs are not permitted on this walk.

Travel Insurance

WAS highly recommends that all walkers have suitable travel insurance.


Enjoying Scotland Responsibly

The Scottish Outdoor Access Code is a set of guidelines issued by The Scottish National Heritage Trust. The Scottish Outdoor Access Code provides detailed guidance on the responsibilities of those exercising access rights and of those managing land and water. By doing so, the Code provides a practical guide to helping everyone make informed decisions about what best to do in everyday situations.

Each holiday information pack will include a copy of the Outdoor Access Code Summary Leaflet, including details of where the full code and A-Z guide can be downloaded.

 

DATE ITINERARY DISTANCE
Pre-Walk/Night 1 Arrive in Perth (overnight accommodation) n/a
Day 1 Perth to Bankfoot 11.30 miles / 17.92 km
Day 2 Bankfoot to Dunkeld 9.33 miles / 15.02 km
Day 3 Dunkeld to Aberfeldy 17.00 miles / 27.20 km
Day 4 Aberfeldy to Fortingall 15.30 miles / 24.30 km
Day 5 Fortingall to Kinloch Rannoch 11.90 miles / 19.20 km
Day 6 Kinloch Rannoch to Bridge of Gaur 15.80 miles / 25.60 km
Day 7 Bridge of Gaur to Rannoch Station 5.50 miles / 8.80 km
Day 8 Rannoch Station to Kings House Hotel 12.50 miles / 20.00 km
Day 9 Kings House Hotel to Kinlochleven 8.00 miles / 12.80 km
Day 10 Kinlochleven to Fort William 15.00 miles / 24.20 km

Baggage Transfer

Unlike the West Highland Way, there is no single dedicated baggage transfer service along the Heart of Scotland Trail, however, we have arranged for local transport operators and hoteliers to provide an equivalent service, ensuring your heavier bags will be transferred and delivered safely to your next place of accommodation.

IMPORTANT NOTE: There is no direct road link between Rannoch Station and the Kings House Hotel, which makes the transfer of bags from door-to-door, at this stage, a more complicated task.  At WAS, we do not want to burden our walkers with the prospect of carrying their own heavy bags across Rannoch Moor.  Our solution to this problem involves a short train journey from Rannoch Station to Bridge of Orchy, where the WHW baggage transfer operators will collect the bags and take them to your next destination.  More details can be found in your detailed daily itinerary.

Transport & Travel

Although travel to Perth and from Fort William is not included in the holiday package, we are more than happy to provide details of public transport services.

To Perth – There are excellent train and bus services, allowing easy access from Glasgow and Edinburgh to the south, and Inverness and Aberdeen from the north. 

From Fort William – The main routes out of Fort William is by bus and train to Glasgow.  The journey, whether by rail or coach, is an absolutely glorious trip with stunning scenery throughout.  This really is the perfect way to end a memorable holiday.

Transport links will be detailed in your holiday package information pack.


Minimum Group Size

Please note that; as there are some sections of this route which pass through remote hills, forests and countryside, the minimum group size for this holiday is two people.  The safety of our walkers is of the utmost importance and we would not want to risk the possibility of a solo walker becoming injured or disorientated in an area where there are no other people around to help.


The Glenlyon Estate

The Estate of Glenlyon is extremely active with deer stalking from August to February; therefore, it is important that the land owner and deer stalker are made aware of any intention to cross from Fortingall to Kinloch Rannoch using the designated path.  The following criteria, in accordance with Section 3.62 of the Outdoor Access Code, must be met during this section of the trail:

BEFORE ENTERING THE ESTATE – A member of the WAS team will contact the gamekeeper to advise that walkers are intending to use the path across the estate. If no stalking is taking place at that time, walkers will be advised of such details. Conversely, if stalking is actively taking place, walkers will be advised of an alternative route (currently, this is from Innerwick to Loch Rannoch.  WAS will cover the costs of any transfer required to the starting point at Innerwick)Upon entering the estate, walkers MUST stick to the path at all times. Any activity, which could otherwise divert deer and other animals from their natural grazing, is strongly discouraged.Any action, which may be regarded as ‘commercial’, e.g. groups involved in activities other than walking, is strongly discouraged.GLENMORE BOTHY – This is a private bothy and is, therefore, not always open to the public.  At such times when the door is locked, please respect the wishes of the land owner and do not try to enter the bothy by force.  When the bothy is unlocked; on departure, please leave the bothy exactly how it was on arrival.


Hill-walking and Deer Stalking

Scotland has fantastic hill-walking opportunities, but summer and autumn are also important times for deerstalking,which supports the local economy and is essential for sustainable deer management. The following options offer some advice to help walkers and land managers have a great day on the hill.

From 1st July to 20th October (the stag stalking season) you should:

Take reasonable steps to find out where stalking is happening, such as looking at;

Heading for the Scottish Hills,http://www.outdooraccess-scotland.com/outdoors-responsibly/access-code-and-advice/scottish-hills/heading-scottish-hills), orleaflets and signs;Follow reasonable requests on alternative routes on days stalking is taking place;Not cross land where stalking is taking place;Avoid wild camping where stalking is planned for the next day


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