The Most Beautiful Coastal Walks in Scotland
These Scottish coastal walks will blow away your cobwebs.
It’s practically illegal to visit Scotland and not spend some time exploring its glorious coastline. And what better way to do that than cracking out those walking boots you use once a year, packing some trail snacks and hitting the ground running? Walking is really the only way to see Scotland, as the slow pace will give you time to take in the majesty of the country, its dramatic landscapes, sheer cliffs and rock formations that look as though they were dropped there from another planet. And of course, when you’re done with the great outdoors you can return to your luxurious Plum Guide property to relax. Here’s our guide to the best coastal walks in Scotland.
The Fife Coastal Path
Running 117 miles along Scotland’s east coast, we’re not suggesting you walk this whole trail (we’re not sure your knees could take it). Tackling a small section, however, is strongly recommended, and the best part of this whole walk is the portion that follows the coast from Anstruther to Crail. A relatively easy four mile trek, seeing the sights here and stopping for a picnic on the way must be one of the best ways out there to spend a day.
This coastal walk in Scotland winds through narrow country lanes of seaside cottages at Anstruther before trickling past Cellardyke Harbour and then on to open countryside, all accompanied by incredible views of the towering Bass Rock and the Isle of May. You can then enjoy getting up close and personal with the limestone rock formations at Caiplie Caves before finally finishing up at Crail, where the Crail Harbour Gallery & Tearoom has your table ready.
St Abb’s Head
Can’t decide between hills, freshwater lochs and dramatic headlands when you’re searching for your ideal coastal walk in Scotland? St Abb’s Head is calling your name. It might only be four miles long, but it’s punching above its weight in terms of beauty. Once you’ve explored the adorably quaint Berwickshire fishing of St Abbs (don’t miss out on a stickily delicious slice of traybake at Ebb Carr's Cafe - the diet can wait until tomorrow, and anyway you’ll burn off the calories while you’re walking), begin in the National Trust for Scotland car park.
Once you’ve embarrassed your grandkids by making them pose for photos in front of the nearby Victorian lighthouse, the scenery starts to get truly dramatic. The sheer cliffs at St Abb’s Head have a 300 foot drop in some spots, and combined with the blustery wind and seas boiling below, you’ll feel like a brooding character in a Victorian novel taking a walk.
Birdwatchers (we see your nerdiness and we love it), there are guillemots, kittiwakes, razorheads, shags, puffins, shearwaters and skuas nesting nearby, so don’t forget your binoculars.
More interested in kicking back in front of the fire of a nearby pub than doing much walking? We fully support this move. But just so your family will get off your back about the fact that you prefer enjoying Scotland’s more indoor-friendly pleasures such as whisky on your morning porridge than a bracing jaunt through the countryside, this mile and a half-long walk is one of the less strenuous coastal walks in Scotland. It's short enough so your cobwebs don’t get too blown away but they still get the outdoor time they’re craving.
Snaking along the road which runs high above Melvich Bay, this coastal walk in Scotland gives you views of the Halladale River, a footbridge to cross to get to the Bighouse Lodge, historic home of the Bighouse and MacKay chieftains and a breathtaking look at a horseshoe-shaped bay of white sand and sand dunes.
Plockton to Duncraig
It might have a name that’s amusing to say, but the truth is that Plockton is one of the prettiest villages in Scotland - in fact, it’s referred to as the jewel of the Highlands. And for good reason too, sitting as it does on a peninsula overlooking Loch Carron, surrounded by mountains and inlets.
Heading off on this walk is as simple as strolling out of Plockton itself and following the sign that reads ‘footpath to Duncraig Castle’. From there, you’ll hike through woodland and a railway line before coming to a stern-looking Victorian castle just begging to be included in a ghost story. Fair warning that this is one of the most popular coastal walks in Scotland, so be prepared to share the path if you’re there in high season.
Cruden Bay to Bullers of Buchan
Always fancied yourself a bit of an explorer? We know we’ve been guilty of that in the past. This walk will ignite that passion in you once again, featuring as it does a gorgeously craggy collection of cliffs centred around a collapsed sea cave, which now forms a rock archway that will definitely be adorning this year’s set of your Christmas cards.
Walking from the village of Cruden Bay, you’ll pass by the ruins of Slains Castle while you walk, which was said to have inspired Bram Stoker to write Dracula. The coastal scenery here is some of the best in Scotland, with an impressive series of sea caves, arches and blow holes to enjoy before you get to the Bullers of Buchan itself.