7 best mountain walks along Scotland’s North Coast 500 route

Liathach. Picture: Shutterstock
Liathach. Picture: Shutterstock
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Since opening in 2015, the North Coast 500 has attracted 29,000 tourists to Scotland’s magnificent far north wilderness.

• READ MORE: Everything you need to know about Scotland’s North Coast 500 road trip

Suilven. Picture: Shutterstock

Suilven. Picture: Shutterstock

If you’re looking to join those making the pilgrimage around the north coast it’s worth considering tackling one of the region’s fabled mountains.

The views from the rugged summits are even better than the views from the tarmac.

Liathach

Consistently regarded by Munro baggers as two of the finest peaks that exceed the 3,000 feet mark, taking on Liathach isn’t an experience for the faint of heart.

A waterfall at Ben Hope. Picture: Shutterstock

A waterfall at Ben Hope. Picture: Shutterstock

The walk takes around ten hours and the going is tough for the majority of the route, with exposed scrambles punctuating much of the traverse. Views of the Torridon range and the ridge itself are quite stunning for those with the stomach to go up against the mountain.

Seriously consider hiring a guide if you aren’t well acquainted with mountaineering and only take on the walk in clear and still conditions.

Start point: A896 east of Glen Cottage

Route description: https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/torridon/Liathach.shtml

• READ MORE: 5 of the best woodland walks in Edinburgh

Suilven

Suilven stands at 731 metres, qualifying only as a Graham (a peak between 2,000 and 2,500 feet). What the peak lacks in height it makes up for with prominence, impossibly rising above the wild Sutherland countryside.

From the ground Suilven looks desperately difficult to summit, however a well pathed - albeit steep - route means that the Graham is perfectly accessible.

Once on the ridge, views are quite suddenly revealed to walkers and are simply magnificent in all directions. If anything these improve once you reach the true summit of Suilven.

Start point: End of the public road from Lochinver

Route description: https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/ullapool/suilven.shtml

An Teallach

This dramatic and complex mountain massif rises from an area known as the great wilderness. Translated from Gaelic to English, An Teallach means the ‘anvil’ or ‘the forge’, due to its distinctive dark shade of Torridonian sandstone.

The walk to the range’s two peaks; Sgurr Fiona and Bidein a Ghlas Thuil, is fraught with exposed and technical scrambling, but the views of the aforementioned wilderness and the mountain itself induce a tingle up the spine of the most seasoned of hillwalkers.

• READ MORE: Everything you need to know about walking in Glencoe

Start point: the Eastern tip of Little Loch Broom off the A832

Route description: https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/ullapool/anteallach.shtml

Sgurr a’ Chaorachain, Bealach na Ba

The drive to Applecross over Bealach na Ba is a highlight for anyone who undertakes the NC500 due to other-worldly mountain scenery encountered. If the weather’s on your side the views of these beastly mountains can be bettered with a swift stroll up Sgurr a’ Chaorachain.

The walk up Sgurr a Charorachain is simple enough taking no more than one and a half hours and the peak acts as a superb vantage point for the surrounding area. To the West the Isles of Skye and Rum are visible, while the view over to the A Choich ridge is simply staggering.

Start point: The summit of Bealach na Ba

Route description: https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/torridon/Sgurrachaorachain.shtml

• READ MORE: 5 of the most famous Scottish walks

Ben Hope

Scotland’s most northerly mountain can be viewed from a section of NC500 due to its isolation from other peaks. If you’re looking to tackle a simple Munro while circumnavigating Scotland’s North then Ben Hope is your best option.

Though steep in places, the route to the summit is well pathed and the views of the chilly arctic ocean are sensational - and better still you’re one Munro closer to becoming a compleatist.

Start point: Strathmore

Route description: https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/sutherland/ben-hope.shtml

Beinn Liath Mhor and Sgorr Ruadh Achnashellach

These two peaks are often climbed separately, but combined they make for a magnificent and varied day in a neglected corner of Scotland.

Paths to the two sandstone giants are reasonably well trodden, though once you reach the ridge of Ruadh Stac navigation can become tricky in complex terrain. If you are able to keep your bearings the views northwest to the Torridon range are stupendous.

• READ MORE: 6 of the best ridge walks in Scotland

Start point: Achnashellach

Route description: https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/torridon/Beinnliathmhor.shtml

Morven

At 706 metres, Morven is the highest mountain in the region of Caithness. Though dwarfed by its western neighbours, this peak’s character is palpable.

Cone-shaped and isolated, Morven is best climbed with her two shorter neighbours Smean and Maiden Pap.

This part of the North is often neglected by hill walkers, but after a boggy and view-rich walk up Morven you’ll wonder why.

Start point: Braemore

Route description: https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/sutherland/morven.shtml

• READ MORE: Five essential Cairngorm walks