Forests, coastlines, rivers, lochs, mountains and cityscapes all of a jaw-dropping beauty not found anywhere else in the world provide the backdrops to the most scenic walks in Scotland. Here’s our guide to six of them.
A loch, a 13th-century island castle and a route that passes under the canopies of ancient Scots pine make the 5-mile trail that circumnavigates Loch an Eilein in the Cairngorms National Park one of the most scenic walks in Scotland. Keep an eye out for Scottish crossbills and red squirrels as you walk through Rothiemurchus Forest, a remnant of 9,000-year-old Caledonian Forest that once covered a huge swath of the highlands. The footpaths of this trail are good quality and mostly accessible to off-road buggies. The route is best joined from the Loch an Eilein car park. Follow signs from there.
Falls of Clyde
The Falls of Clyde wildlife reserve is accessible from New Lanark, a village – and a UNESCO World Heritage Site – that was built during the 19th-century as a utopian vision of the ideal industrial community. The walking trails that lead through the reserve wind beneath beautiful woodlands, alongside rivers and past a series of magnificent waterfalls. Head to the visitor centre to learn about the reserve and the 100 bird species that inhabit it.
If your idea of a scenic walk is one along a magnificent river estuary that teems with birds and other wildlife, then you’ll want to head to the Montrose Basin in Angus. The trails that lead through this amazing landscape are excellent places to catch sight of waders and terns, and, on occasion, otters and seals. Marvel at the basin’s beauty in all its vast glory from Bridge of Dun Station before following one of the many short tracks leading down into it. Learn more about the area and its animal inhabitants at the nearby Scottish Wildlife Trust Visitor Centre.
Scenic walks in Scotland that combine forest and coastline don’t come much better than those leading through the Tentsmuir National Nature Reserve in Fife. Discover the ten sculptures that line the Tentsmuir Time Line Trail that depict scenes from the area’s prehistoric past and keep your eyes peeled for red squirrels hopping between the branches above. From the forest, you’ll emerge onto the beach where you can collect shells as you explore its huge system of sandy dunes. If you fancy refreshments after your walk the historic coastal town of St Andrews, also known as ‘The Home of Golf,’ is only a short journey away.
Edinburgh is built on seven extinct volcanoes and the trail leading up the one called Arthur’s Seat in Holyrood Park is among the most scenic walks in Scotland. Once you’ve scaled its rocky heights you can enjoy sweeping views over the castle, medieval spires and long boulevards of the historic Scottish capital. Holyrood Park is also home to an Iron Age Hill Fort, the ruins of a 15th-century chapel and the tranquil Duddingston Loch.
Five trails lead around the forested hillside banks of Loch Ard in the Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park. Each of the trails is suitable for buggies and wheelchairs and there’s plenty of family fun to be had discovering the animal-themed sculptures along Loch Ard Sculpture Trail. Round off your visit with refreshments from the café at the nearby Lodge Visitor Centre which boasts one of the best views available at any eatery in Scotland.
Where to Stay Near the Most Scenic Walks in Scotland
Choose from lodges and charming cottages in Dumfries & Galloway, glamping pods and amazing holiday homes in Perthshire & Fife including the amazing The White Tower of Taymouth Castle, old mill houses, castle lodges and more in Loch Lomond & The Trossachs, and luxury apartments, and lodges and the stunning Scottish Castle Apartments in the Highlands & Islands.