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Walking in Scotland’s level 3 areas – part 2

Do you live in one of Scotland’s local authorities that are currently under level 3 Coronavirus restrictions? We’re taking a look at what walking opportunities are still available to you, within the government guidance.

The first half of this article, covering level 3 Coronavirus restriction areas from Angus to Glasgow, can be read here.

Inverclyde

The classic walk in Inverclyde is the excellent Greenock Cut, a circuit following an old aqueduct above the towns, with fantastic views across the Clyde. For a short outing, Craig’s Top rewards the effort of ascent with panoramas over both Greenock and Gourock, or there’s the Cornalees Nature Trail – a delight with hidden sculptures. Check out cycle path 75, which is good for walking as well as bikes – it links Port Glasgow to Kilmacolm and beyond.

Windy Hill. Photo: Phil Turner

If you are looking for big empty spaces and more challenging walking, parts of the Clyde Muirshiel Country Park lie within Inverclyde, and the fact that you can travel 5 miles outside your authority area to begin your exercise brings more of it within range. This includes the Locherwood and Lady Muir Woodland walk, the highest summit, the rough Hill of Stake, and the more accessible Windy Hill.

Midlothian

Remember to keep social distancing, on West Cairn Hill

UPDATE: Midlothian has been moved down to level 2 since this was published.

This part of Lothian has a great deal of walking on offer. Most of the finest ascent routes in the Pentland Hills start here, including Scald Law and Carnethy Hill from Flotterstone, Allermuir Hill, or Monks Rigg and Braid Law from the Nine Mile Burn, whilst the 5 mile extension brings the lesser known East Cairn Hill and Mount Maw into walking range. If you aren’t a lover of the summits, there are plenty of options on the lower slopes too – visit the fascinating Castlelaw, or tackle the Capital View walk for its great outlook over Edinburgh.

Ruins on the lower slopes of the Moorfoot hills

The highest hills of the area are not actually in the Pentlands, but to the south, where Blackhope Scar and the Moorfoots provider a tougher, boggier but satisfying hill day. There’s also a worthwhile circuit around the Gladhouse Reservoir. Closer to the towns, Roslin Glen offers many miles of sylvan exploration, whilst Dalkeith Country Park has woodlands, fascinating ruins and riverside paths to discover.

North Ayrshire

Dragon sculpture, Irvine beach

As the Coronavirus guidance asks you to avoid using public transport – such as the Calmac ferries – unless essential, North Ayrshire is really split in two for walking purposes. Those on mainland North Ayrshire need to do their walks on the mainland, whilst those on Arran can walk on Arran (likewise for those on Great Cumbrae).

Largs from Castle Hill

On mainland North Ayrshire, there’s both the coastline and hills on offer. The coastline is, of course, included in the Ayrshire Coastal Path, though due to needing to avoid public transport, you’ll probably need to tackle sections as out-and-back walks. In this area the path leads through Irvine, Saltcoats, Ardrossan and up to Largs and beyond. You can check out the views over Largs from Castle Hill, Knock Hill, upto the mast above the Gogo Glen, or venture even further from the town into the vast, empty moors of the Clyde Muirshiel. There’s the Doggartland walk from Dalry, or the short but lovely Lynn Glen.

Machrie Moor, Arran

For those over on Arran, there’s little difficulty in finding a great place to walk – the island famously has a bit of everything of Scotland’s landscapes. We’re not going to single out any particular routes here – check out our full guide to walks on Arran.

North Lanarkshire

Strathclyde Loch

Taking this area from north to south, the Kilsyth hills have plenty of open space and some great views – Tomtain is a good introduction to this area. The Carron Valley reservoir shore trail is also just within range – you could extend this to the summit of Meikle Bin for a longer walk. We really enjoyed the Croy Hill and Antonine Wall circuit when we researched it, and don’t forget that both the John Muir Way and the Forth & Clyde and Union canals towpath pass through the area.

On the Clyde Walkway

There are some great country parks too – including Palacerigg near Cumbernauld, Drumpellier near Coatbridge, or the lovely Strathclyde Loch. The Clyde Walkway passes through this part of North Lanarkshire, and the Dalzell Estate and Baron’s Heugh reserve makes for a fine walk in itself. The ability to travel 5 miles outside the area to reach the start of your walk means that Chatelherault is also within range.

Perth and Kinross

Tarmachan Ridge

This local authority area covers a vast swathe of Scotland, taking in part of both the Highlands and the Lowlands, so having your walks restricted here is not so great a hardship in itself. There are no fewer than 28 Munros, including famed peaks such as Schiehallion, Ben Lawers or Ben Vorlich (though remember we’re getting into winter conditions now, if you are not an experienced hillgoer). For the slightly less ambitious, there are plenty of smaller hill viewpoints such as Craigower at Pitlochry, Craig Varr at Kinloch Rannoch, or Birnam Hill at Dunkeld.

River Tay at Dunkeld

There are superb woodland, riverside and waterfall routes aplenty, including the Hermitage, the Falls or Bruar, or the Birks of Aberfeldy, or Cargill’s Leap at Blairgowrie – just a few of the better known. There are magnificent glens – including Glen Tilt and Glen Lyon, which rank among Scotland’s finest. There’s beautiful Loch Tay (even Killin at the western end is within the 5 mile limit), the cyclepath around Loch Leven, or gems like Loch Tummel, Loch Rannoch or Loch Faskally. Check out our full Perthshire guide for all these and more.

Renfrewshire

Castle Semple Loch

Whilst it can’t match Perthshire, Renfrewshire still gives opportunities to do some great walks. The Castle Semple route at Lochwinnoch is a delight, with plenty of birdlife and a beautifully located ruined church. For bigger open spaces, the heart of the Muirshiel Country Park lies within Renfrewshire, including the Locherwood and Lady Muir Woodland walk, the highest summit, the rough Hill of Stake, or the more accessible Windy Hill. In the east of the area is the Gleniffer Braes country park, with countless paths. Erskine has a length of cycle path alongside the Clyde, you can walk the old railway line at the Bridge of Weir, or go on a walk that visits all of Paisley’s parks.

South Ayrshire

The beach at Girvan (we admit this is summer!)

Around two thirds of the Ayrshire Coastal Path lie within South Ayrshire, and there’s miles and miles of fine sandy beaches, so walking this in stages (out and back, due to having to avoid public transport) might be a great project whilst the area remains under level 3 restrictions.

Straiton and the monument

Some of the real gems of the area we’d choose to highlight include walking in the extensive estate at Culzean Castle, which you can hike into from Maidens. There’s lovely Straiton, starting point for the Monument and Bennan Hill route. You could delve into literary heritage of the Burn’s Trail at Alloway. For something a little higher, climb Kildoon Hill at Maybole, experience some of Ayrshire’s finest views from Byne Hill, or visit remote Cornish Hill. For those looking for a meatier hillwalking challenge, South Ayrshire has its very own Corbett, the wild and lonely Shalloch on Minnoch,

South Lanarkshire

Falls of Clyde

The great classic walk of South Lanarkshire is the Falls of Clyde from New Lanark, but far fewer people know of the quieter Complete Falls of Clyde route on the opposite bank of the river. Gems though they be, there’s much more to the area than these falls, which are the finale of the Clyde Walkway. Across the other side of the M74 is the lovely Chatelherault Country Park, the Spectacle E’e Falls walk at Strathaven, and the Douglas Explorer walk.

View from Tinto

There’s some great hillwalking on offer too. The best known is the ascent of Tinto, but did you know there’s a steeper alternative approach from Wiston? The Lowther Hills walk runs largely along the boundary of the area, or you could go for real seclusion by heading into the heart of the range around the Daer Reservoir. But the highest hills in the region are on the Culter Fell horseshoe – a pretty full day out. The five mile rule means that a hike in the Broughton Heights are within range too.

Stirling

Winter walking on Ben Challum

Those who live in the Stirling Council area under level 3 still have some of Scotland’s best walking on offer. A huge swathe of the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park lies within Stirling, including the east side of Loch Lomond, all of the Trossachs, and the areas around Crianlarich, Lochearnhead, Killin and Tyndrum.

Loch Ard, Trossachs

This means you have great Munros in reach such as Ben Lomond, Ben More and Stob Binnein, Ben Challum, Creag Mhor and Beinn Heasgarnich, Sgiath Chuil and Meall Glas, or Meall Ghaordaidh. Majestic Ben Lui – perhaps the finest in the southern Highlands – lies on the border, and the approach up Glen Cononish is within Stirling. There’s Cruach Ardrain and Beinn Tulaichean, Ben Oss and Dubhcraig, or Beinn Chabhair. If the big winter hills aren’t your bag, there’s smaller hills too, ranging from Ben Ledi and Venue, to the wee classics like Ben A’an, Conic Hill, or perhaps Sron a Chlachain above Killin. There’s lots more on Walkhighlands too.

Above the North Third reservoir

The Trossachs has countless superb loch and woodland walks, many of which are featured in detail on our Trossachs page. Closer to Stirling itself, Abbey Craig (site of the Wallace Monument) has classic views, as does wee Dumyat. The North Third Reservoir is another great place for a walk, or there’s walks along the Darn to Dunblane, or out to Cambuskenneth.

West Dunbartonshire

River Leven at Balloch

Bridging the gap between Glasgow and the south shores of Loch Lomond West Dunbartonshire has a good deal of walking on the doorstep. The Kilpatrick Hills are mostly within this area, including the Lang Craigs circuit, and the ascent to the highest, Duncolm, but there’s miles and miles of empty country beyond these. The John Muir Way passes through the northern part of the range, whilst also enabling walks from Balloch up onto Gouk Hill.

Loch Lomond from Duncryne

Giving great views over Loch Lomond is the Dumpling – Duncryne Hill – once a favourite of Tom Weir, who lived at Gartocharn. Or you could walk along the loch itself at Lomond Shores, or in lovely Balloch Castle Country Park.

West Lothian

Linlithgow Loch and Palace

We finish our round-up of walking opportunities for those living in tier 3 with West Lothian. Some of our favourite walks here would include the circuit of Linlithgow Loch with its great palace, or the walk around Almondell Country Park and Lin’s Mill aqueduct. If doing the latter, it’s well worth also visiting the beautiful ancient trees of Calderwood. The Beecraigs Country Park is another gem – don’t miss the views from Cockleroy.

Lin’s Mill Aquaduct

Two long distance walks cut through the area – the John Muir Way (including a stretch along the Forth) and the Forth & Clyde and Union canals towpath. Parts of the Pentlands also lie within West Lothian; you could climb the Cairn Hills from Harperrigg. The five mile rule of allowed travel to reach a walk means that Harlaw and Thriepmuir reservoirs are within range too – allowing for the ascent of Scald Law and the Kips.

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Walking can be dangerous and is done entirely at your own risk. Information is provided free of charge; it is each walker's responsibility to check it and navigate using a map and compass.