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Walking in the Scottish Highlands

Scotland, Europe: The north face of Ben Nevis's insider take:

A popular challenge for keen hill walkers is to tackle all 284 Scottish peaks over 3,000 feet in height. They are known collectively as Munros, after Sir Hugh T. Munro, who first cataloged them, and the hobby of scaling them is called “Munro-bagging.” Among the classic Scottish mountain climbs is the Aonach Eagach ridge in Glencoe. It requires some scrambling and begins or ends at the evocatively named Devil's Staircase. On Skye, the Cuillin Mountains are the main draw. Back on the mainland, the 4,081-feet-high Cairn Gorm provides the name for an entire mountain range. The energetic can climb all the way up; less hardy souls can take the car and chairlift to within 170 yards of the top. At 4,406 feet, Ben Nevis, pictured, is the highest peak in the U.K., which makes it a popular climb. Most people use the well-kept Pony Track to reach the summit in about four hours, but there are also spectacular climbing routes for more experienced mountaineers. On a clear day, the Isle of Skye is visible from the top.

Not that you need a head for heights to enjoy the Highlands: There are plenty of low-level walks that provide stunning scenery. The circuit of Loch an Eilein on the Rothiemurchus Estate gives maximum reward for minimum effort, while a stroll along Glen Affric reveals swathes of the Caledonian pinewoods that once covered much of the landscape.

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