Click to view our Scotland adventure itinerary
I have travelled around Scotland a few times before Pepper came along and had some of my best holidays there. My nan and grandpa were really big fans of a Scottish adventure and would book their annual bus tickets on Macpherson coaches in the hope of discovering a new patch of highlands they hadn't covered before. Each year I would have a new toy resembling the Loch Ness monster and a stick of rock to glue my teeth together.
So for me it only seemed a right of passage that Pepper came along too for her Scotland initiation. I needed to make it as dog friendly as possible. It was also part 2 of my Three Peak Pooch challenge, so I had to make the most of the long drive up and pack my trip full of activities.
The Nevis Range - Scotland
Ben Nevis . 1,345m
Duration: 5-7 hours up and down with thigh burn breaks
Difficulty: Really hard (dependent on your fitness level)
Parking: You can park in the car park by the Visitor Centre or park for free 200m down the road.
Location: PH33 6ST – postcode for the road parking
Paws for thought: We walked up Ben Nevis on quite a hot day. If you’re planning on doing the same, then it’s very important to pack additional water for both you and your pooch. Dogs get dehydrated just as humans do. They also don’t plan for a long hike and so only drink when thirsty rather than in preparation as we do, therefore allowing your pooch to drink in streams is only half the picture. My top tip is that once you finish with plastic water bottles you fill these up whenever passing fast flowing water, these will act as a reserve for your dog. My second top tip is during the climb there are some small pools/streams during the summer months, these aren’t large enough to swim as these are mere trickles escaping down the mountainside. Scoop up some water and cover your dog with a coat of cool mountain H2O to make them feel revitalised for the remainder of the walk.
There are lots of amazing walking trails with your dog in Scotland. The rugged landscape and empowering mountains make any walk feel like a real adventure as you never know what’s around each corner, whether it be a wild boar or an outstretched loch – there is excitement in it all.
Ben Nevis is the biggest of all three climbs for my Three Peak Pooch Challenge…This climb is a tough one but the views carry you to the top making it well worth the effort (and burning blisters). We took the trail from the Visitor Centre and the path was signposted the whole way up. As with Scafell, there were large flat rocks formed into steps to help you ascend up the zig zag path. Initially there is a lot of climbing involved with little breaks in between however, the scenery from the word go is, dare I say it….spectacular. The majestic beauty that Scotland has to offer is undeniable. The everlasting lochs, leading into the sea, the powerful mountains and the peaceful, unpopulated wilderness is beyond compare. In my opinion, it’s Europe’s version of Canada right on your doorstep.
There are likely to be sheep grazing on the way up so it is best to keep your dog on a lead unless fully trained around livestock and they stay close on command. Although you may own a small dog, if a ewe is pregnant just the shock of a dog chasing/barking may cause it to miscarry so it’s really important to use the lead when appropriate for your dog.
About 80% of our journey was off lead which is better for you and your pooch allowing you both to move at your own pace and to keep you both safe. I strongly suggest that if you’re not 100% confident with your four legged friend being off lead then you invest in an extendable lead, allowing your dog to move freely without risking making you unstable as you scramble up the tougher sections. I have trained Pepper to ‘stay close’ and not wander into the distance so I can keep an eye on her.
Naturally, after hiking up Ben Nevis we were ready for something more substantial than a toastie. The unique location of the Ben Nevis Inn at the very foot of Ben Nevis is a place for great food, real ale, live music and bunkhouse accommodation. This pub is popular with walkers, mountaineers and locals alike boasting a great outdoor area overlooking Glen Nevis. We sat outside with Pepper as it was such a lovely day and took in the views whilst sipping a cold, refreshing beverage. There are plenty of dog bowls out for water too, so your pooch can enjoy a good slurp before journeying back home.
A pillow for the night
Most years I look for a deal with the Daily Mail as they offer an absolute bargain of a holiday with their £20pp caravan offers. I use the caravan as a base, I don’t stay in it all day or use the facilities like the pool etc but they are there should you want them. I like the fact we can afford to do several holidays a year all over Britain because of the fantastic price for 5 nights away in lots of locations. Staying in a caravan brings back lots of happy memories from previous family holidays. The carpeted upholstery mixed with the smell of gas from the cooker makes the experience very nostalgic for me and sometimes…it’s just what you need. A cosy little base to keep you all tucked up in the evenings after a long day out. Make sure to check out some of their deals.