May is National Walking Month, so what better time to get out in nature and experience some of the breathtaking walks this country has to offer?
With the right to roam, there is no shortage of these fantastic walks in Scotland, so keep reading to find out 10 of the best walks across Scotland.
1. Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh
When you think of walks in Scotland, the first thing that comes to mind is probably some remote, rugged landscape that would take some travelling to get to. However, you don’t even need to travel far from the city, to experience a challenging walk with amazing scenery along the way.
Arthur’s Seat, the extinct volcano right next to the city of Edinburgh, offers such a walk. It is only around 3 miles (4.75km) to the top and should take around two hours. The walk isn’t too treacherous either; there are some steep climbs at times, but when you reach the plateau, it is much easier going.
When you reach the top, you will be blown away by the views on offer (it can get windy at the top, so make sure you don’t get blown away literally!). You can see the entire city and may even be able to see the shining waters of the Firth of Forth and the shores of Fife on a clear day.
When you’ve finished your descent, you don’t even have far to go for a drink or a coffee, as you are right back in Edinburgh afterwards.
2. Fife Coastal Path, Fife
The Fife Coastal Path was officially opened in 2002 and stretches the entire coast of Fife. We’re not suggesting you walk the entire thing (unless you are a very keen walker) as it would take around five days of walking in total. There are certain sections that may be worth walking, however.
The Kincardine to North Queensferry route, for example, is worthwhile if you like coastal walks. It is around 17 miles (27km) and could take anywhere between six and eight hours.
There is no shortage of sights on this walk though; you will pass through the huge port and naval base of Rosyth where the new HMS Prince of Wales aircraft carrier was built. The cherry on top is being able to see the bridges across the Firth at the end, which are worth walking over if you have any energy left.
3. Ben Nevis, Lochaber
A list of walks in Scotland wouldn’t be complete without including Ben Nevis. The walk takes around seven to eight hours, but you should keep in mind that it can be quite a treacherous walk. You should make sure you’re well equipped before you undertake the climb; this means wearing appropriate footwear, and packing snacks, water, and even a compass and a map.
Conditions at the top can change with little to no warning and visibility can rapidly decline, so you should be ready for a proper adventure before you start your climb.
It is well worth it though, as the views from the top are truly spectacular. You can even claim the bragging rights that you’ve climbed the highest mountain in the UK too.
4. Glenfinnan Viaduct trail, Glenfinnan
The Glenfinnan Viaduct has been immortalised by the Harry Potter films, but the walks the area offers are also breathtaking.
The walk takes around one to two hours and is about 2.5 miles (4km). It is relatively easy going for most of the walk too, but you should keep off the railway lines and don’t try to cross the actual bridge. If you are desperate to experience the railway as Harry Potter did, you could even try and time your walk with the steam train crossing the bridge.
Wizards and magic aside, the area is also steeped in Scottish history – the start of the walk has a monument where Bonnie Prince Charlie apparently raised his standard to mark the beginning of the 1745 Jacobite uprising.
5. Loch an Eilein, Cairngorms
This walk is ideal for those who love being around Scotland’s ancient forests and picturesque lochs. Loch an Eilein in the Cairngorms offers a flat, easy-going walk of around 4.4 miles (7km) and should only take around two hours.
The forest of imposing Scots Pine trees surrounding the loch has some history too – some of the trees are 300 to 400 years old and are called “granny pines”. You may even catch sight of a wildcat here, but they are pretty elusive so you would need to keep your eyes peeled.
6. Glencoe, Argyll
Glencoe is an absolutely jaw-dropping part of the country, and there are plenty of walks available there to soak up the views.
Besides the scenery, the history of Glencoe is fascinating too – this is famously where the Glencoe massacre took place, so Campbells should be on their best behaviour when they visit.
There are a variety of amazing walks around Glencoe, with varying levels of difficulty.
An Torr, also known as Signal Rock, is a fairly easy walk of around 1.5 miles (2.5km) and should only take around two hours. This route explores the wooded areas in the centre of Glencoe, and according to legend, this is where the signal was given to start the Glencoe massacre that targeted the MacDonalds.
Beinn a’Chrulaiste is a slightly longer walk at around 6.8 miles (11km) and will take around four to five hours. It isn’t too steep, the footing is relatively easy, and as it is mostly over heathery ground you should keep your eyes open for grouse. The view from the top of the Beinn is breathtaking though, making it well worth the climb.
7. Dunnotar Castle, Aberdeenshire
If you like a coastal walk with stunning cliffs and dramatic, imposing castles, then the Stonehaven to Dunnotar Castle route in Aberdeenshire may be more your thing.
The walk is around 1.7 miles (2.8km) and will only take about 40 minutes to an hour to complete, though you may want to spend more time at the castle soaking up the history. It is relatively easy-going too, as the ground is quite flat and there aren’t many steep climbs required. Just stay away from the cliff edges!
The castle itself is one of the most imposing in Scotland. It is perched on a rocky outcrop on the coast of the North Sea and has a history stretching back hundreds of years; this is where the Scottish crown jewels were famously hidden from Cromwell when he invaded in the 17th century.
8. Sandwood Bay, Sutherland
Many people may think that you need to travel to other countries to experience golden-sanded beaches. Well, think again, as you can get that right here in Scotland.
Sandwood Bay in Sutherland is a decent length walk at 8 miles (13km) and would take around four to five hours to complete. The beach itself, which must be one of the most beautiful beaches in the UK, goes on for a mile so it seems relatively unspoiled since visitors are spread right across the beach.
The walk to the beach itself is pleasant and flat enough – when you’re not walking on sand, you will be on moorland. This makes it the perfect walk to bring your dogs.
9. Tobermory, Isle of Mull
Tobermory is a quaint fishing village on the Isle of Mull that is characterised by brightly painted buildings. You may recognise Tobermory if you or your children ever watched the BBC show, Balamory, between 2002 and 2005.
Even if you don’t recognise it from the BBC, it is still well worth visiting the charming seaside town, and there are a few different walks in the area to choose from.
The Ardmore Shore walk, for example, is a 4.5 mile (7.25km) walk that offers a good track and relatively flat route. There may be some boggy sections along the way so make sure to keep your socks dry, but even then, it is well worth it for the spectacular coastal views it offers.
10. Ben Chonzie, Perthshire
Ben Chonzie is another great hill walk in central Scotland. Compared to other Munros, it is relatively easy going too – it is around 7.8 miles (12.5km) and should only take four to five hours to climb and get back down to the bottom.
It doesn’t get too steep, and the footing is pretty even as you will be walking mostly on heather moorlands. The views, as always, are spectacular from the top.
Although not the most challenging of walks it has a special place in my heart as it sits on Auchnafree, my in-laws farm. Some of you were “treated” to pictures of me gathering sheep from its slopes during lockdown!