The Budget Savvy Travelers

Best Scottish Highlands Hiking Holiday | Introductory Hill Walking Holidays

Hiking in the Scottish Highlands will change your life. Our quest has always been to discover and share travel experiences that offer great value for the dollar. Recently, we are coming off one of the best, budget-savvy travel experiences that we’ve encountered on our worldwide travels.

This adventure can be found in Stirling, Scotland about an hour north of Glasgow, at the Gartmore Estate. This is where we enjoyed some of the best hiking in Scotland!

Feeling a wee bit sluggish? Stressed? Tired of the daily grind? We may have the perfect remedy to reignite that dying inner spark. It goes beyond saying, “Just take a vacation,” we’re suggesting devoting time to moving, discovering, and exploring the Scottish Highlands!

Best Scottish Highlands Hiking Holiday

So many people will go on a vacation and they’ll walk, but it will be through cities, museums, shopping malls, and the buffet line at an all-inclusive resort. For example, why do so many travelers seem to avoid exploring the great outdoors during their getaway?

“After our week surrounded by inspiring scenery, we felt physically and mentally rejuvenated and pleasantly disconnected.”
Sometimes you have to disconnect to reconnect. | Best Scottish Highlands Hiking Holiday

As a result, after about a week out walking in the Scottish Highlands, we discovered a sense of rejuvenation that we hadn’t felt in a long time. Each day brought on an exciting adventure and a fun, new challenge. Our bodies relished in the endorphins generated from that glorious, natural hiker’s high.

The Gartmore House | Historic Country Manor

The Gartmore House is an 18th-century historic country manor is set in Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. Located on 75-acres of private land, a stay on the Gartmore Estate is quiet and peaceful.

By the way, the Gartmore Estate is a not-for-profit charitable trust with folks that have a true passion for education. They specialize in hosting Activity Breaks where visitors come to enjoy and grow in their favorite creative pastimes. Some of the activities include painting, yoga, knitting, photography, hill walking, quilting and patchworking, jewelry, foraging, and more!

Also, we loved the Hill Walking Holiday, but doesn’t foraging sound cool? Like having a ‘Bear Grylls style’ adventure? We learned guests explore the Scottish Hills looking for edibles and learn how to survive in the wilderness. We have that flagged for our next visit.

Experience a Gartmore Walking Holiday

Explore snowy peaks on an adventurous hill walking holiday | Best Scottish Highlands Hiking Holiday

Don’t let the term “walking holiday” fool you! Our week was adventurous and fun! Before arriving, we assumed our hikes would start and end from the Gartmore House.

However, every morning we were transported to a new trailhead around the region. This allowed us to experience four very different days of weather, terrain, and trails.

Quiet paths and old stone bridges lead to the most serene places. | Best Scottish Highlands Hiking Holiday

One of the most brilliant aspects of our walking holiday was that there was little planning or stress involved. Essentially, we were required to simply show up, which we loved.

Our days were organized by Gavin Clarke, a local Scottish guide who designed our daily itinerary based on our personal preferences and fitness levels. He even had gear we could borrow such as hiking boots, walking poles, waterproof pants, and gaiters.

A Scottish Highlands Walking holiday can offer a wee bit of adventure or time for quiet reflection. | Best Scottish Highlands Hiking Holiday

We suggest bringing your favorite hiking boots, a pair of water-resistant pants, walking poles, and a comfortable day pack. For the day you’ll need cameras, snacks, water, and any necessary outdoor wear (hats, gloves, raincoats, etc.). A packed lunched is provided each day. Trust us,  this is the best hiking in Scotland!

Scotland is truly one of the most beautiful destinations in Europe | Best Scottish Highlands Hiking Holiday

Hiking the Scottish Hills | The Ultimate Decompressor

Hiking is the ultimate decompressor and stress reliever. Studies continuously show that spending time in nature is a natural mood enhancer and helps fight off common mental health issues like depression.

Our goal is to inspire others to get out in nature and to try a walking holiday.  We invite you to check out our video above to get a glimpse of what our outdoor adventure was like with the folks at the Gartmore Estate. They specialize in Activity Holidays, and Scottish Hill Walking is one of their most popular guest experiences. To learn more, we encourage you to visit GartmoreEstate.com.

Guest Rooms at the Gartmore House

This is not your everyday hiking accommodation! Look at this cozy bed!! | Best Scottish Highlands Hiking Holiday

On an average hiking holiday, after a long day out on the trails, hikers will return to their basic (sometimes highly trafficked) accommodations. The rooms at the Gartmore House were anything but basic. We loved our time doing some of the best hiking in Scotland, however, after a long day out on the trails, we always looked forward to coming back to our cozy room.

Enjoy the most amazing sunsets from your room! | Best Scottish Highlands Hiking Holiday

Our room was super spacious with a king-sized, comfortable bed. There was lots of room to unpack and feel settled. We appreciated our little “coffee station” where coffee, tea, biscuits, and chocolates were replenished daily. Toiletries were generously provided. It’s unfortunate how many accommodations no longer supply shampoo or soap in their stay, especially in Europe.

Savor a cup of coffee or tea in your sitting area, or enjoy a good read while enjoying views of the Scottish countryside | Best Scottish Highlands Hiking Holiday

From our room, we could see a silhouette of the Stirling Castle and Wallace Monument off in the distance. In the evenings, we’d look out the massive windows at enjoying views of the sunset, mountains, and farm animals.

Gartmore House is an old country manor full of unbelievable character and charm! | Best Scottish Highlands Hiking Holiday

From experience, we will tell you not all hiker’s accommodations are this comfortable at this great of value!

How’s the Food at the Gartmore House?

Enjoying wonderful views of the Scottish countryside over a Scottish breakfast! | Best Scottish Highlands Hiking Holiday

Activity Holidays come full board which includes three daily meals. Typically, this will be a traditional Scottish breakfast, lunch, and a tasty three-course dinner. The food was amazing!

Every day we’d receive a dinner itinerary (that’s what I playfully called it) in which you could select from three different items in each course; starters, mains, and desserts. The chefs prepared hearty, professionally prepared dishes and we were pleasantly surprised at the quality and selection. Therefore, the portions were large and we never once left feeling hungry.

Day Trips from the Gartmore House

Guests have the opportunity to explore some of the nearby towns and cities. Holidays lasting for four days or more include an optional day trip. On our hiking holiday, we were able to tour the cities of Dollar and Stirling.

Consider a day trip to Stirling, a quaint city where many folks begin their holiday! | Best Scottish Highlands Hiking Holiday

Stirling is a charming, walkable city where you can climb to the lookout of Stirling Castle (no charge) or visit the Wallace Tower. Each attraction does have an admittance fee. We recommend stopping for drinks and roasting marshmallows at Monterey Jack’s.

The Wallace Tower is full of history and legends. This is a must-see in Stirling, Scotland! | Best Scottish Highlands Hiking Holiday

Excursions to Aberfoyle and Loch Katrine are other options. Boat cruises on the Loch Katrine are available at an additional fee. Transportation is included.

What to Do During Down Time?

After dinner, we’d relax in the parlor room to enjoy the cozy fireplace. Sometimes we would have dessert and coffee served there as we decompressed from the day. Essentially, this is a place for detoxing, so there are not any televisions in the rooms, which we recognized as a good thing.

Wi-Fi can also be slow and spotty due to the remote location. Again, this is probably a good thing, as we were her to escape. Consider bringing some good books for evenings. There is a small library on location.

One of our favorite places in the Gartmore House was in front of the cozy fireplace! | Best Scottish Highlands Hiking Holiday

Towards the end of our trip, we were told we were going to have a special dinner and some live entertainment. The Gartmore House arranged a Champagne dinner in the Cayzer room. The room is right out of the movies. It’ wood-paneled, features a stunning boardroom table, a fireplace, and a decorated frieze.

Every activity holiday comes with a night of live entertainment! | Best Scottish Highlands Hiking Holiday

Afterward, we were brought into the parlor where local Scottish singer Gary MacAlba Speirs put on a phenomenal live performance. His amazing act consisted of Celtic songs, jokes, and stories of local folklore.

Over a Guinness, we sang along to familiar songs and laughed over stories of recent adventures. Saint Patrick’s Day was just a few days prior, so Celtic vibes were still going strong! We had learned that each Activity Holiday concludes with a special live performance for all the guests.

Cost for the Activity Holiday

There are specialized rates and perks that come with an Activity Holiday package. We participated in the Walking Holiday and for everything we experienced, it was a phenomenal deal. The organized Activity Holidays vary slightly in length and price, but on average the rate is about USD 100 per person per day.

As a result, each Activity Holiday Package is extremely affordable and includes:

  • Transfers to and from Stirling Train Station.
  • Full Room and Board, three meals daily.
  • Unlimited tea and coffee.
  • Toiletries.
  • An evening of live entertainment.
  • Four Days with Private Guide (Walking Holiday) or Tutor.
  • Optional day trip/transport to Aberfoyle or Loch Katrine.

How to Get to the Gartmore Estate

From Glasgow, the Gartmore Estate can be reached in about an hour with a vehicle. You may also take a train from Glasgow to Stirling. In this case, it’s about a 30-minute ride to Stirling, and a 40-minute drive from the Stirling train station to the Gartmore Estate. The free transfer will take you from the train station directly to the door of the Gartmore House!

Do you have any questions or comments related to a walking holiday in the Scottish Highlands? If so, please let us know below.

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