Hill walk routes to climb in SW Scotland - also coastal paths and National Scenic Areas with maps, pictures and other useful information based on extensive local knowledge
Introducing South West Scotland
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The South West of Scotland tends to be ignored by most visitors to Scotland as they head north for the the classic tourist destinations - Loch Lomond, Loch Ness, Skye and the West Highlands in general.
For the people who live in the area and for the more discriminating visitor this general rush northwards is quite a blessing. We here are not afflicted by the more brash appendages of tourism, and the crowded roads that go with it. This is an area where you will find, mostly, ordinary people just getting on with their own lives in a quiet rural landscape where there is peace and space aplenty to savour the more subtle qualities of Scottish land and culture.
For the 'serious' walker there is a coast to coast walk across the whole width of southern Scotland called the "Southern Upland Way". As with tourism so with walking - the "West Highland Way" is where most 'serious' walkers rush to in Scotland. On the Southern Upland Way you would not expect to find yourself part of a long snaking line of people making their way across country like a mini refugee procession.
And this is surely the outstanding feature of walking in this area - you can easily get away from other people into some wonderful countryside of shoreline, hills and lochs, under a big ever-changing sky, with the peace to let it all penetrate into your soul. It is quite possible to spend a whole day walking and not meet another example of homo sapiens, though buzzards, ravens, falcons, eagles, ferrel goats, sheep, foxes, hares ...... Well the place belongs to them really doesn't it? We are privileged to be mere interlopers here and wonder at it all.
So while there is this national walkway through the area, and while there are popular routes along the coast or up onto the best known hills, like Criffel, Screel or Merrick, the real way to see this area is to 'walk on the wild side'. Right of access is pretty well unlimited in the wilder parts of the region (and there is plenty of that). So you can study the maps, work out a route to suit yourself and just head for the hills. This demands a totally different mind set from the 'serious' walker intent on 'bagging Munros' - where the object is to be able to say you have been to the top of every mountain in Scotland over three thousand feet.
There are no Munros south of Ben Lomond, so you won't be knee deep in 'baggers' here.

All we would like to offer in this site is an introduction to the possibilities of this area for people who prefer not to go with the herd - and these possibilities are pretty well unlimited. For example you could be out on the hill each week for a year and never on the same route twice, though you would come into the same ranges of hills from every conceivable angle, and in every conceivable weather! This gives you a kind of awareness map of the whole area. You get to know what it is like to be on those hills over there and look back to where you are now.

The spirit of the place comes together like a big jigsaw in your head. Past walks and today's merge into one big experience, and over the years you will want to go back and feel the uniqueness of individual areas again and again - and it is never the same twice - cliche as that may seem. The sense of individual freedom and yet infinite relatedness is awesome. The sun, the mist, the bitter cold wind and rain, the physical exertion, the tiredness in the body, the dram on the top of the hill, is your experience of it nobody else's - magic. Mouseover the image below to see the names of the various hills in this combined image.
If you are of a historical turn of mind you might like to read Daniel Defoe's account of travelling through this area called a "Tour through the whole Island of Britain" published 1724 - 27 in 3 volumes.
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