The continuing coronavirus pandemic has seen restrictions on travel in Scotland (and the rest of the UK) – cutting down on the areas where we can walk.
Those of us who are lucky enough to live in Aberdeenshire, Argyll & Bute, Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, Highland, Moray, Orkney, Shetland or the Western Isles are currently allowed to travel and walk within all of those areas, but not travel into a level 3 area for a walk. But for those living in a level 3 area, all is not lost – as you can still travel to begin your exercise throughout your own local authority area, and also go upto 5 miles beyond the boundary to begin your walk. (Those living in England currently have harsher restrictions and cannot currently travel to Scotland at all – sorry).
Walkhighlands features great walking routes in every part of Scotland. Given the current situation we thought that rather than pick out a walk in each area, we’d instead do a round-up of the walking opportunities that are still open to those living in each of the tier 3 or 4 areas. Here’s part 1, covering 11 authorities from Angus to Glasgow. The remaining 11 level 3 areas, from Inverclyde to West Lothian, are covered here.
NB: For full details of current Coronavirus travel restrictions – and necessary safety precautions including social distancing – see the official government website.
Those living in Angus have a huge variety of walking still available. The Angus Glens – Isla, Clova, Prosen and Esk – are arguably at their very best in the Autumn. There’s the obvious Munro routes of Mayar and Driesh, and Mount Keen, but that’s really just scratching the surface of the walking here. Have you tried the spectacular route up to Glas Maol via Monega Hill – a grand circuit beginning in Angus, and much finer than the usual route from within Perthshire? What about the loop walk around Loch Lee and the Falls of Unich? The remarkable monuments on Airlie Hill or the Hill of Rowan? A visit to Loch Brandy and Loch Wharral on the flanks of Ben Tirran? Ascents of slightly lower hills such as Cat Law, Corwharn, Mount Blair, Monamenach or Mount Battack? Autumn colours at Cortachy, or the wonderful Rocks of Solitude near Edzell? All these and many more routes can be found on our pages for the Angus Glens.
There’s much more to Angus than the Glens though, with a fine coastline too. Perhaps the finest spots are the Seaton Cliffs north of Arbroath, or the wonderful sands of Lunan Bay, but there’s a continuous coast path for almost the entire coast. Inland we feature walks in most of the towns, and there are lovely country parks such as Crombie and Monikie, or the wildfowl reserve of Montrose basin. Check out our walks for this region here (note that Dundee is not part of the Angus local authority area, though within the 5 mile limit).
City of Edinburgh
There can be very few cities anywhere in the world that can rival Edinburgh when it comes to walking. There’s the stunning Georgian architecture of the New Town with its circuses, parks and squares, all the history of the Old Town and its famous landmarks and hidden passageways. There’s Holyrood Park with Arthur’s Seat, a taste of rugged mountain walking in the heart of the city. Arthur’s Seat is, of course, just one of Edinburgh’s Seven Hills, spread across the city and all of them providing fine walks. Then there’s the Water of Leith, linking some fascinating neighbourhoods such as Dean Village, Stockbridge, and Leith. Outside the city, but within the council boundary, is the fine coastline of the Dalmeny estate. Or for a mini-adventure, you could check the tides for a trip to Cramond. All these walks and more are featured on our City of Edinburgh walks section.
The fact that you can travel upto 5 miles outside the boundary to begin your walk brings parts of the Pentland Hills within range, including Allermuir Hill with its panorama over the city, a choice of routes up the highest – Scald Law. On the lower slopes are the Harlaw and Threipmuir reservoirs and other fine easier routes. The lovely Almondell and Lin’s Mill Aqueduct circuit is also within the 5 mile range, as are Roslin Glen and Dalkeith Country Parks, and the coastline at Musselburgh.
Those living in Clackmannanshire have plenty of great walking options. Most obviously, the start points for most of the finest walks in the Ochils begin within the authority, including the highest, Ben Cleuch, but also many more routes including Alva Glen, Dollar Glen, or King’s Seat. The five mile extension brings the Glensherup horseshoe within range, together with Dumyat and the Castle Hill trails.
Are you feeling stuck in Dundee? A wander up Dundee Law, with its grand views, always helps to blow the cobwebs away. The cities biggest greenspace is Camperdown Country Park, extending into Clatto, whilst amongst the many other parks Balgay and Finlathan deserve special mention.
Luckily, the 5 mile limit means you can venture beyond the city. There’s the coastal path that begins in Broughty Ferry (great for bike rides too), and the main routes on the Sidlaws (Seedlies) are well within range, as is Monekie Country Park. You can venture across the Tay Bridge too, and take on the Balmerino Abbey from Wormit walk.
A great place to feel vast open spaces in East Ayrshire is from the summit of Cairn Table above Muirkirk, at the heart of an area of lonely hills; nearby is the Twa’ Brigs circuit, the short but tough walk to John Brown’s Memorial or the Old Railway route. In the north of the county is Loudon Hill where Bruce beat the English in 1307, whilst Darvel has the Dyke walk and there’s the Burn Anne walk at Galston. The walks – or bike rides – at Whitelee Windfarm are within the 5 mile limit.
Perhaps the remotest part of the area is Loch Doon in the south – have you ever tried the superb Ness Glen walk – or visited Loch Doon Castle and the Craiglea Trail? 5 miles from the boundary brings the lovely village of Straiton within range – from here you could visit the Monument and Bennan Hill.
If you fancy tackling a long distance path, most of the River Ayr Way lies within the local authority – though as you should avoid public transport, you’ll probably have to do it in a series of out-and-back stages – a great project for the winter maybe (the last stage leaves East Ayrshire but could be completed from a start point within 5 miles).
A good chuck of the lovely Campsies lies within East Dunbartonshire, giving lots of options. For a very short walk you can’t beat the Campsie Glen, whilst the Cort-ma Law circuit gives a more challenging outing. As the start of the West Highland Way is in Milngavie, you can walk north from here along the classic route as far as you wish as long as you have enough time to walk back the same way; it leads through Mugdock Country Park, a great place to get stretch your legs. Don’t neglect the much newer John Muir Way, part of which runs right through East Dunbartonshire, giving many options.
Being able to drive up to 5 miles outside the authority area to reach the start of your walk brings many more options. This makes the classic Campsies routes up Dumgoyne and Earl’s Seat accessible, together with Duncolm and the Slacks in the Kilpatricks. The Croy Hill and the Antonine Wall circuit is a great route, whilst the hill viewpoint of Tomtain lies just within range.
UPDATE: East Lothian has now been moved down to level 3.
With its stunning coastline and rich history, East Lothian has plenty to keep walkers busy – as well as golfers. Who doesn’t feel better after a winter walk across a desolate beach, buffeted by the winds. Superb options here include Aberlady Bay (great for birds), Gullane Bay, Ravensheugh Sands, Fidra and Belhaven Bay. There’s the clifftop walk at Dunbar, and the later parts of the John Muir Way cross the area.
East Lothian has a series of curious, steep-sided volcanic hills which rise abruptly from the landscape. Climb North Berwick Law or Traprain Law, or hike along the Garleton Hills from Athelstaneford. There are meatier hillwalks towards the south in the Lammermuir Hills. These include the ascent of Lammer Law, the highest – Meikle Says Law, the Priestlaw Hill circuit or historic routes like the Herring Road. There’s lower level walks inland too – such as the banks of the River Tyne, or the fairy houses of Pressmennan Wood.
Perhaps the easiest big open space to access that’s actually in East Renfrewshire is the Whitelee Wind Farm – where we feature the Lochgoin circuit (it’s a good place for mountain bikes too). There’s also a good number of reservoirs, such as Harelaw, or Balgray, which can be good areas for getting outside, whilst the excellent Gleniffer Braes Country Park is well within the 5 mile range.
Further afield – but with start points still within 5 miles of East Renfrewshire – is Lochwinnoch and Castle Semple loch, whilst on the opposite side, the Calderglen Country Park is also within range.
The Falkirk area’s best known attractions have been those built in recent years – with the amazing Falkirk Wheel, and the Kelpies (at the Helix), both being great places to head out for walks. Both of those area built on the region’s canals – the Union, and the Forth and Clyde; we also feature an Underground / Overground circuit on the former on the fringes of Falkirk itself, whilst Callander Park is even more accessible for most Falkirk residents. Just a little further afield is one of Scotland’s most remarkable architectural features – the Pineapple on Dunmore Estate, whilst a coastal walk from Bo’ness visits spectacular Blackness Castle, with views to the Forth bridges.
The fact that you can go 5 miles over the border brings more options into play, with Meikle Bin providing a classic ascent for those missing the mountains, whilst there’s also an easier route alongside the reservoir. Also within range is the lovely circuit of Linlithgow Loch.
Two of Scotland’s Great Trails – long distance walking routes – head through the area, both making use of canal towpaths, so check out the relevant sections of the Forth and Clyde and Union canal towpath, and the John Muir Way.
Fife is another area that offers great variety. Most obviously, one of Scotland’s best loved long distance paths – the Fife Coastal Path – almost encircles the Kingdom, though it’s best known for the sections through the lovely fishing villages of the East Neuk. Historic St Andrews is great for either wandering the West Sands, visiting the Rock and Spindle, or exploring the rich heritage of the university in the town. A little further north is Tentsmuir – a haven for wildlife lovers. At the westernmost end of Fife is Culross, one of Scotland’s best preserved medieval centres, its fame recently increased by the TV series Outlander.
If you prefer climbing hills, you are not out of luck either. The Lomond Hills are at the heart of Fife, and are jam-packed with route options of varying length and difficulty. Don’t miss Benarty Hill, an outlier, or the country park at Loch Ore. The Falkland Estate on the north side offers great walks on the lower slopes too. Beyond the Lomonds there are several worthwhile wee hills – including Norman’s Law with views over the Tay, or Largo Law overlooking the Firth of Forth.
Taking advantage of the extra 5 miles, you could take on the excellent circular walk (or bike ride) around Loch Leven, passing the RSPB reserve at Vane Farm.
Scotland’s largest city has plenty to explore on foot. Glasgow Green is a big lawned expanse on the edge of the Merchant City, whilst further north is the Necropolis, one of our favourite spots to explore. You could go on a long walk visiting the city’s legacy of Charles Rennie Mackintosh creations, or take a tour of some of the spectacular modern murals. South of the river is lovely Pollock Park, Glasgow’s largest, though Cathkin Braes, Hogganfield and Dawsholm are all worth a mention too.
For longer walks, there’s the Clyde Walkway, which begins west of the centre and continues right through the heart of Glasgow – and ultimately out into Lanarkshire. The Kelvin Walkway extends north through the beautiful Kelvingrove district (eventually heading for Milngavie), and provides a chance for an out-and-back route.
The extra 5 miles permitted to travel to reach the start of your exercise brings an ascent of Duncolm via the Slacks into range, or, on the other side of the city, Strathclyde Country Park, or the lovely Cathkin Braes.
Walks in the remaining level 3 and 4 areas – from Inverclyde to West Lothian – are covered here.