Course participants hiking along the coast of the Isle of Arran in Scotland.
Camera Rich Brame

Backpacking Scotland's Isle of Arran - Alumni


8 days


18+ yrs



Stay tuned for dates

Join us for an eight-day circumnavigation of Scotland’s Isle of Arran, a rugged and historic island with such topographic diversity that it’s often called “Scotland in miniature.” This ~55-mile trip pieces together trails, coastal beach and boulder walking, highland-like grassy peaks, and shuttles to connect comfortable lodging at small inns and hotels. Features of this trip include ferries to and from the mainland, a hike up Goat Fell peak, a visit to Brodick Castle, exploration of a local Buddhist retreat, and a tour and tasting at the Arran Distillery.

Photo by Rich Brame Photo credit: Rich Brame

Connecting our string of small hotels allows us to lighten our packs, enjoy a little more comfort, savor outstanding local cuisine, and mix with other mostly European travelers.

Although we won’t carry cook gear, heavy rations, or sleeping bags, we'll do "real" walking up and down a mix of trails, beaches and country lanes with our light packs. Our hiking days average around 8 miles and cross some of the most beautiful terrain in Scotland.

Photo credit: Meghan Wood

Fantastic seaside views are always close by whether we are trekking on forest paths, over hills, glens, sandy beaches, or through glacial valleys. Arran’s varied terrain couldn’t have formed without varied weather. Expecting four seasons a day is a good rule of thumb for travel on Arran.

Photo credit: Meghan Wood

The trip starts and ends in the village of Brodick, about an hour’s ferry ride across the Firth of Clyde on Scotland’s southwest coast.

Photo credit: Meghan Wood

The first part of our trek heads south along rocky shores and sandy beaches where we’ll time the tides to negotiate some headlands. The latter part of the trip traverses glacially carved glens and can include a walk-up of Goat Fell’s stony summit. Throughout the trip we’ll see and explore the island’s history— from 5,000 year old standing stones, to historic crofts, to WWII staging and whiskey smuggling operations, to opulent residences of Scottish aristocracy and humble buddhist cloisters.

Photo credit: Rich Brame

The hiking trip ends by rounding the coast below Goat Fell and beach walking back to Brodick where the trip began. It’s an amazing sight and feeling to circumnavigate this historic and scenic island. Many people extend their Scotland adventure by adding days in Glasgow, Edinburgh, or beyond after the hike.

Photo credit: Samantha Hanson 

Overall Difficulty*:

*Enjoy light packs, challenging hikes, and inn living, but the hiking can be strenuous. 

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