Route: Scottish National Trail (United Kingdom)

Submitted by Matt Girvan on Tue, 08/18/2020 - 02:09pm
United Kingdom
864 km
Vertical Gain
19,138 m

Devised by outdoors writer and broadcaster Cameron McNeish, the Scottish National Trail is a challenging, 864 kilometre-long unofficial long distance walking route running the length of Scotland from Kirk Yetholm in the south to Cape Wrath in the north. The route is sure to make an impression on visitors with the sheer variety of scenery - from the historic capital of Edinburgh to remote Highland villages, and from the heights of the Cairngorm Mountains to the depths of Loch Ness. The terrain varies greatly too, with a mix of flat canal towpaths, well-groomed trails, mountainous passes and wide expanses of unforgiving, pathless bog.

The route combines sections of 'official routes' such as St Cuthbert’s Way, the Southern Upland Way, the Forth and Clyde and Union Canals, the West Highland Way and the Rob Roy Way. Other parts - including sections through central Perthshire, the Cairngorms and the infamous Cape Wrath Trail in the Northwest Highlands - make for a more serious backpacking route with neither waymarking nor a continuous path, as well as a number of potentially hazardous river crossings. The difficultly generally increases as the route heads northwards. Walked in its entirety, the route will surely come to be regarded as Britain's toughest and yet most varied backpacking challenge.

For more information, see:

GPS Track


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Hi all. I'm planning to start the Scottish National Trail at Kirk Yetholm on Friday 11th September. I'll be going from south to north, hiking/running it self-supported style. My current plan is to do it in 15 days, and I'm hoping this will be enough to set an FKT (both solo self-supported and solo overall). The trail is relatively new (2012) and 'unofficial', so I don't believe too many people have completed it in one push. The fastest times I'm aware of are:

I have been in touch with both of the above and the trail's designer Cameron McNeish, and none of these are aware of any other fast attempts. So I take 18 days to be time to beat for a solo FKT, though if anybody knows otherwise then please let me know.

As for logistics, I'll be carrying lightweight camping gear and wild camping most nights, with occasional hostels/BnBs where possible. I'll purchase food from towns along the way (hoping to avoid needing drop bags if I can, TBC) and getting water from a mixture of natural sources and shops. I'll have no form of organised support, meaning I will even avoid stopping at my house in Edinburgh. Some friends may meet me midway through the hike for photos and brief company, but they won't walk with me or provide any type of support. I'll hopefully set up GPS tracking and will share details on here, and you can follow me on Instagram @msgirvan .

I'm raising funds for WaterAid and the amazing work they do bringing water and sanitation to those who need it most. Please consider donating via my JustGiving page.

Wish me luck!!

I'm all set to start my mission on the Scottish National Trail this Friday 11th September, you can follow my Spot GPS tracker here. Let the adventure begin!

There's been an amazing amount of support for my fundraiser for WaterAid, with over £1500 raised so far. Please consider donating to this great cause through my JustGiving page.

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Hello - I'm planning to start the Scottish National Trail on Sunday 30th April. My current plan is to complete it in 12 days. You can track me here.

My partner will be supporting me throughout and a friend will be joining me for 4 days (Day 7 - Kingussie to Day 10 - Inverlael). I will be sleeping in a mixture of van and b&b accommodation. I will have 1 midpoint meet up with the van on 11 of the 12 of the days for refuelling purposes. Otherwise i'll be buying food and drink along the route. 

I'll post (infrequent) updates on instagram at @littlefair.

I contacted Matt last year and he kindly shared some advice and his planning documents.