What to Expect: A test of balance and steel along Britain’s most exposed ridge, with stunning views of lakes nestled in the idyllic Scottish Highlands
Distance: 6 miles
Running like a dragon’s backbone through the Scottish Highlands, the Aonach Eagach is the ridge to rule them all. Called the U.K.’s most exposed hike, the Aonach Eagach clambers over two munros (the term for Scottish peaks over 3,000 feet): Meall Dearg (3,127 feet) and Sgorr nam Fiannaidh (3,173 feet).
The hike’s crux involves precariously teetering across a thin, rocky spine with the threat of a certain death fall on either side. No rope is required, but there’s no room for error either. The truly dodgy bits are contained to just two of the six miles, however, though memorable shimmies up chimneys and crawls across ledges appear throughout.
You’ll find views of Ben Nevis (4,412 feet), Britain’s tallest peak, on top, while tasty single malts and foamy black beers await in the pubs in the village of Glencoe far below.
Thrill Factor: Surviving the gauntlet that is the Aonach Eagach ridge demands a high proficiency in scrambling and down climbing, as well as the ability to keep a cool head when it matters most. Mountaineers may enjoy the added challenge of full Scottish winter conditions, when ropes, ice axes, and crampons would be mandatory, of course.
Easier Option: The nearby Devil’s Staircase, despite its name, is an easier and safer option: six round-trip miles of hiking for splendid vistas of Glencoe.