Where to Find the Best Walks in Scotland
Leave the car behind – we’re discovering Scotland's best strolls.
We love ambling down winding city streets, strolling along sunny beaches, and exploring country paths, which is why we always look for holiday destinations with some great walking routes. Work up an appetite for a lavish meal or a hearty pub lunch with some of Plum’s favourite places to stay for the best walks in Scotland.
If you ask us, there’s no better way to discover a city than to take a walk through it. Edinburgh is a rare gift in this respect; unlike sprawling capitals such as London and New York, this is a compact city, and with a good pair of trainers and a day to spare you can pretty much explore it all. Yes, it might be a bit hilly in places, but there are plenty of places to stop and refresh. You won’t get this many coffee shops on the side of a mountain, that’s for sure. Bypass the Royal Mile, which is filled with tartan tat and tourists (and during the Fringe, armies of people thrusting flyers for
horrific hilarious comedy shows in your face) and take a walk around the historic Old Town. We recommend starting in Grassmarket and following your heart – perhaps exploring the ghostly goings-on of Greyfriars Kirkyard, checking out the cavernous independent bars and ancient pubs of Cowgate, or heading on up to that famous castle. It’s hard to miss, trust us.
There’s nothing quite as bracing as a walk along the sea, climbing over coastal paths and sandy beaches to reach the promised land (aka, the pub). Though there’s plenty of coastline to choose from in Scotland, Aberdeenshire is our very favourite for brisk, breezy walks along the shore. For a gentle stroll, head to some of the golden beaches like Newburgh (keep an eye out for the resident seals), Saint Cyrus (with the quirky turrets of Ecclesgreig Castle) and Stonehaven (visit the bobbing boats and local shops in this quaint little harbour town). Thrill-seekers don’t despair, there are plenty more challenging coastal walks in Scotland to explore – taking the cliffy path from Cruden Bay to the sunken sea cave of Bullers of Buchan will lead you past some very impressive views of crashing waves, dramatic coastline, and the ruins of Slain Castle (which inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula).
Most of Aberdeenshire’s beaches are also dog-friendly, and many of our Plum homes in Scotland let you bring your faithful hound along, so no need to leave Fido behind for this holiday. We don’t recommend sharing your end-of-walk celebratory fish and chips with him, though.
Just a scant twenty minutes or so outside of Edinburgh, you’ll discover a much-less travelled land. Most tourists don’t venture out far enough to explore Leith, and more fool them for overlooking it – in the last decade or so this area has really boomed with bars, restaurants, and independent shops, and has a distinct and authentic local character. You could while away a happy afternoon just wandering the streets here (and we’ve done so) but if you’re looking for one of the most beautiful and perhaps unusual walks in Scotland, we recommend you take to the water. No, we’re not suggesting you get in and doggy-paddle – Leith rarely has the weather for a swim. But the Shore is where the Water of Leith runs into the sea, and you’ll uncover a new side to Edinburgh if you follow it down to the ports of this ancient city.
The Trossachs National Park
Is it really a holiday to Scotland if you don’t visit a loch? Our home critics at Plum say no, and we defer to their expert opinion. Nessie’s stomping grounds (or should that be splashing grounds?) is the obvious choice, but if you’re looking for the most enjoyable lochside walks in Scotland, the Trossachs is the place to be. Home of Loch Lomond and Ben Lomond (also an excellent walk, if you’ve got a head for heights and a sturdy pair of boots), the national park is just an hour’s drive away from Glasgow. Staying here makes for the perfect country idyll (with lots of long afternoon strolls by the water’s edge) without being too far from the bright lights of the city. Which, in our mind, is pretty much all you can ask for.
We couldn’t in good conscience leave the Borders off this list. This area of Scotland is home to some of the country’s most gorgeous scenery, with all the forests, woodlands and rolling hills of the Highlands with the added bonus of a more temperate climate. Which doesn’t mean you can leave the raincoat at home by any means – it’s still Scotland, after all. If you’re an avid rambler or just enjoy a nice stroll after a good pub lunch, the Borders is the place to go; long distance routes, small loops, and clearly marked paths make this one of the best places for walks in Scotland no matter what your experience or ability may be. With such a large variety of walks, the Scottish Borders is the perfect destination for a group holiday. Gather your pals, go over the maps, and set off from your Plum home each morning with a sense of adventure – and, hopefully, a sense of direction. Don’t go getting lost on us, will you?