The Importance of Hiking Safety

Walking and long distance hiking in the Highlands is amazing. Look at this:

Hikers along the West Highland Way on a sunny day.

Beautiful, isn’t it? Some of the best hikes in the Highlands and Scotland as a whole can be found in the Inverness and Loch Ness areas. These include the Loch Ness 360° Trail and the Affric Kintail Way. There are also many short day hikes but whatever the length, it’s important to be aware of hiking safety at all times.

Unfortunately, every year hikers get into trouble in the Highlands because they are not prepared for, or underestimate, the challenge they have taken on.

We want you to enjoy our trails and walks safely and have an amazing experience. So, here are some tips on how to stay safe when hiking in the Highlands.

Tips for Safe Hiking in the Highlands

Choose the right walk or hike for you or your group

How fit are you and what’s your hiking experience? It’s important to be realistic when choosing a hike or day walk and not take on too much.

If you’re walking in a group, always consider the youngest or least experienced group member–you’ll want them to enjoy the hike, too!

Be prepared!

Preparation is everything to ensure you make the most of your Inverness hiking experience.

A woman jumps across a stream in the Highlands.

Hiking Preparation Tick-List

Here are a few things to consider doing before starting your hike:

  • Get an up-to-date map of the area

Although many trails such as the Loch Ness 360° Trail or the Great Glen Way are waymarked, we recommend you take a map with you. This is because waymarkers can become obscured by trees or bushes or can even be damaged or missing.

It’s always a good idea to read or download a route description of the walk. These can often point out things like streams to cross, which may not be obvious on a normal map.

Visit Loch Ness 360° to find a route description of the trail. and for some more of the best Highland walks available, check out Walkhighlands.

  • Stay informed about the weather

Always check the weather conditions before you set off. If in doubt, be prepared to change your plans!

The weather in Scotland can be very changeable and things like poor visibility can not just spoil your view from the top of a hill, it can make your hike dangerous. As a result, keep checking that weather forecast!

  • Book your accommodation in advance

Many of our best hikes take you through small villages with limited accommodation options, especially during the summer months.

It’s very important to book in advance to make sure you have a bed for the night when you arrive. Similarly if you are planning to wild camp, then make sure you are familiar with theScottish Outdoor Access Code, and what to do if you are“caught short”!

  • Choose the right clothes and equipment

The weather in the Highlands can be very changeable. Therefore it’s important to be prepared for rain or shine, especially if you’re planning to be out all day and can’t just pop back to your hotel to get a jacket!

A hiker walking in the rain in the beautiful Scottish Highlands.

Items to Take Hiking

Here is a helpful list of items you should take with you:

  • Layers! The best way to dress for the hills is to dress in layers. This is so you can take a layer off when you get hot walking uphill and put it back on if it gets breezy on the summit!
  • Don’t forget a waterproof, even if the forecast looks good. Having all four seasons in one day is common in Scotland!
  • Good footwear suitable for hiking
  • A backpack
  • Map and compass
  • Sunglasses and sunscreen–yes, even in Scotland you can get sunburn!
  • A fully charged mobile phone (but please be aware that this doesn’t mean you can leave the map at home, many areas of the Highlands have no mobile reception!)
  • Enough food and water for the day–many areas of the Highlands are very remote and you won’t have any opportunities to buy provisions en route

Final safety checks

Great, now you’re ready to enjoy your time hiking in the Highlands! Just a few last things to consider before you set off.

Let someone know where you are!

Always make sure someone knows where you are going for a walk and when you can be expected back. This is extra important if you’re hiking solo.

Do you know who to call in an emergency?

Our visitors come from all over the world. If you’re not local, make sure you know the UK emergency numbers are 999 or 112.

Now you’re all set! We hope you have a fantastic experience around Inverness and Loch Ness and keep this hiking safety advice in mind at all times. Above all, make sure you have a great time in this gorgeous landscape!