HERE ARE THE BEST WALKS IN SCOTLAND
Scotland is such a wonderful destination for walkers, you can stay in a castle surrounded by amazing walks which start at the doorstep. No matter what your walking level or ability, there’s a walking trail for everyone. From serious hikers and adrenaline junkies to couples in search of a romantic stroll or families traveling with children. Wherever you go for your walking fix in this spectacular country, one thing is guaranteed.
The views will absolutely blow you away. Awe-inspiring scenery comes as standard here, and that’s what makes a vacation in Scotland so unforgettable. Even those who don’t enjoy hiking will become converts after witnessing the unspoilt splendor of the Highlands or the beautiful isles.
Here are some of the best walks in Scotland; including one-day trails, long distance hiking routes, easy ambles that are gentle enough for little legs, or parks where furry friends are just as welcome as their owners.
The Quiraing Walk, Isle of Skye
Quiraing is an icon of Scotland and whilst many visitors only explore a small section of the pathway, there is actually a full circuit that is over 4 miles long. With a summit height of 543 meters and an ascent of around 340 meters. When the weather’s good and the terrain is dry, this classic hill walk will take you between 3 to 4 hours. And Although it’s a decent climb in any season, we recommend saving this one for a day with clear skies so you can get the best views of the rock formations. Even though some parts of the path include steep sections, most of the route is easy for everyone and can be suited to all ages. You will find parking on the road between Staffin and Uig.
Distance: 4.25 miles
Time: 3-4 hours
Ben Ledi, Callander
Another fantastic hill walk with amazing views at the top. Ben Ledi is a mountain (technically classified as a Corbett) in Perthshire. So it can be easily accessed from towns such as Perth, Aberfeldy, Crieff, Blair Atholl, and Auchterarder. Slightly longer in distance than the Quiraing Walk, this route needs at least an extra hour or two and has a higher ascent of 760 meters (summit height of 879 meters). The views will gradually open up as you climb, first eastwards over Stirling and the rolling hills of Pentland, then westward over Ben Lomond and the Arrochar Alps. The path is good the whole way up, and you will be rewarded with jaw-dropping panoramas when you reach the top. If the conditions are wet, it can get a little boggy though so try to choose a dry day if you don’t have waterproof footwear.
Distance: 6.25 miles
Time: 4-6 hours
Old Man of Hoy, Orkney
One of the most spectacular natural attractions along Scotland’s coastline is the Old Man of Hoy, a 449 foot sea stack off the Orkney archipelago located in the north (and one of Britain’s tallest stacks). This is perhaps Orkney’s most recognized landmark. It is certainly one of the most photographed, and many ferry tours sail past it on the Scrabster-Stromness route. For those who want to see this beautiful red sandstone formation on foot, there’s a fantastic roundtrip walk that will take you up to 3 hours. From the clifftops, you will have spectacular views of the ocean and you can even enjoy some bird spotting.
Distance: 4.2 Miles
Time: 2-3 hours
The Old Mill and Achmelvich Beach
A brilliant coastal walk that should be coupled with a beach picnic and maybe even a dip in the sea if you’re visiting in the summer time. The gorgeous beach at Achmelvich is a lovely expanse of soft white sands, with a sheltered cove so you can relax and enjoy a little sunbathe. Not only is this a superb beach destination, but the area is also abundant in wildlife. Wildflowers line the coast, and you may be able to spot Heath-spotted and Butterfly Orchids in the right season. You will also see the Common Blue and Ringlet Butterflies at the right time of year, and even perhaps the much rare Six-spot Burnet Moth.
The walk itself takes you along the coastal path and will take you between 1 to 2 hours, depending on your desired pace. Just make sure you leave enough time to check out the beachfront, and don’t forget to pack a few sandwiches and refreshments.
Distance: 3.7 Miles
Time: 1.5 hours
Berwickshire Coastal Path
Set aside at least 2 days for this beautiful coastal adventure, and be fully prepared for some steep climbs. If you love being by the sea, the Berwickshire Coastal Path is the perfect walk for you. Across the route, there will be dramatic clifftop scenery to make every step worth it. From the most spectacular arches and stacks to crumbling castle ruins. The trail starts at the village of Cockburnspath in the north and will take you around the St. Abb’s Head National Nature Reserve, past several sandy beaches all the way to the town of Eyemouth, before eventually crossing over into the English border. For those who don’t have a few days here, you can easily break the route down into smaller sections for a day hike. Such as Cockburnspath to Dowlaw (7.4 miles) or Dowlaw to St Abbs (6.8 miles).
Distance: 30 Miles
Time: 2-4 days
The Dava Way connects the historic towns of Forres and Grantown-on-Spey, with a distance totaling 24 miles and most of those miles will take you through open countryside. So you can enjoy off-road walking, without the danger of traffic or crossing busy streets during busy hours. Much of the route also follows the old Highland Railway line, with the mind-blowing vistas of farmland, wooded areas and moorland. Not only is the Dava Way extremely popular with hikers, but it’s also the perfect place for cycling and experiencing the Scottish country on two wheels. From your starting point in Forres, you will move onto Dunphail, followed by Dava and then onto the finish at Grantown-on-Spey where you will find the Grantown Museum and some fabulous cafes, tea rooms and ice cream parlors.
Distance: 24 Miles
Time: 1-3 days
Mull of Galloway Trail
An incredible walk from summer to winter, the Mull of Galloway is one those places that you will want to return to year after year. The entire route can be broken down into three sections, so you can tackle one on each day. The first being the longest stretch from Mull of Galloway to Ardwell (12.7 miles), the second being Ardwell to Stranraer (12.1 miles), and the last leg being the Loch Ryan Coastal Path (11.9 miles). The terrain can be somewhat challenging in parts, and you must watch out for the second day where the route shadows the coastline but is quite close to the road (some sections are a little overgrown so the path may not be as obvious). All in all though, the path is well signposted so you shouldn’t get too lost.
Distance: 45 Miles
Time: 3 days
Three Lochs Way
Known as one of Scotland’s great trails, Three Lochs Way is a must for anyone who wants a challenge with dramatic mountain scenery. Some of the highlights include Stoneymollan Road (an ancient route linking Balloch and Cardross), The Hill House (a restored mansion designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh), the red squirrels in the Glen Loin Woodlands, and the jaw-dropping views over Loch Lomond. For overnight stays, both Balloch and Helensburgh offer some great B&Bs as well as shops and amenities along the way.
Distance: 28 miles
Time: 3-4 days
Smugglers Trail, Eyemouth
This fantastic circular walk is short, scenic and suitable for all age groups. The Smugglers Trail takes you along the coastline to some of the secreted coves and sandy beach spots, little corners of heaven that your little ones will love. You can tell them the story of how smugglers used to hide their treasures on these shores before selling on to the local communities at markets and fairs. Start your journey at South Beach in Troon and walk through ancient woodland, with an easy to follow trail all the way to Dundonald Castle. Give at least a couple of hours if you want to make the most of the scenery and the beaches.
Distance: 5.6 miles
Time: 1-2 hours
Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh
Taking the ascent to Arthur’s Seat is one of the best and easiest walks for families, one that can be accessed conveniently from Scotland’s capital. Located in Holyrood Park in Edinburgh (at the end of the Royal Mile), Arthur’s Seat is a grass covered extinct volcano that will fascinate your kids. Whilst the name remains something of a mystery, many believe that there is a link with King Arthur and Camelot. The viewpoint is definitely worth the hike if you want to experience 360 panoramic vistas from the top. But you don’t have to walk all the way up to Arthur’s Seat to enjoy the views over the city. The Salisbury Crags provide the least strenuous walking option, which is particularly suitable for little ones with wee legs. Here are 5 child-friendly things to do in Edinburgh.
Distance: 28 miles
Time: Up to 3 hours
Ness Islands Walk, Inverness
Inverness is one of the few places in the world where you can enjoy a walk from the city center and feel like you are out in the countryside in no time. And the Ness Islands Walk is the perfect introduction to walks in this area. A lovely gentle stroll for kicking off your morning, or a superb route for the kids. Follow the footsteps on the Inverness City Center Map and walk along the banks of the River Ness, where you might be lucky enough to see the occasional seal. There are also plenty of seagull species for those who have an interest in bird spotting.
Distance: 3 miles
Time: 1-2 hours
Scottish Beaver Trail, Knapdale Forest
Beavers in Scotland have been a major success story for conservationists. November 2016 marked the first milestone for successful reintroduction of a mammal in the UK, and beavers have now been given protected status in the country. The Beaver Trail in Knapdale gives you the chance to go on a beaver hunt whilst getting some exercise and fresh air, and little ones will love searching for these cute rodents. There’s a 3 mile circular walk which follows the terrain around Dubh Loch and Loch Collie Bharr, with a good gravel path and great viewing opportunities.
Distance: 28 miles
Time: 3-4 days
Pow Burn to Troon, Ayrshire
If you’re looking for the perfect sandy beach for you and your beloved pup, this walking trail from Pow Burn to Troon is ideal for burning some energy. This coastal path takes an hour (at least) and there will be off-lead and on-lead sections for your dog to explore (including a big stretch of sand for running around). If you have time, stop to take pictures or to enjoy a splash in the water at Monkton Beach. And if you’re in a hurry, you can always get the train back to your starting location (trains run every 30 minutes on the Ayr-Glasgow line). Along your travels, you will also pass the historic golf links at Royal Troon Golf Club, and the terrain will give your furry friend so much variety with both sandy tracks and pavement. And of course, the ocean views are to die for no matter the time of year.
Distance: 5.7 miles
Time: 1-2 hours
Thornhill and the Covenanters Graveyard, Dumfriesshire
The grounds can get quite muddy in the wet season, so wellies may be required if it’s been raining. But otherwise, the path is easy to walk on and even the littlest of canines can take on this dog friendly route. Starting off at Trigony House Hotel, follow the minor road at the back towards Kirkland Cottage. At the cottage, turn left and follow a lane then then through a gate (follow the signposted footpath) then follow the hill down to the graveyard before ending up at the town of Thornhill.
Distance: 2.5 miles
Time: 50 minutes