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Issue 56 - 10 Best Family Walks

Scotland Magazine Issue 56
April 2011


This article is 7 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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10 Best Family Walks

Keith Fergus takes us through 10 easy strolls to take the family on

1Balcary Bay and Rascarrel
The stretch of coastline between Balcary and Rascarrel is as impressive and inspiring as anywhere along the Galloway coast. Leaving from the Balcary Bay Hotel the route quickly climbs high above the coast providing an exhilarating walk as the path, at times, hugs the cliff-edge. Some wonderful birdlife are constant companions and views are astounding, taking in much of the local coastline as well as the Lake District Mountains. The path continues to reach the wooden houses at Rascarrel and then passes by Loch Mackie from where a combination of paths and quiet roads returns to Balcary.
OS Landranger Map 84. Start/Finish
Grid Reference NX 821494

2Tinto Hill
South Lanarkshire
The Romans used Tinto Hill’s clearly visible vantage point as a beacon and the name Tinto translates from the Gaelic teinnteach as fiery hill. From Fallburn a path climbs gradually, skirting Totherin Hill, and then steepening over Maurice’s Cleuch to reach the red sandstone trig point on Tinto’s roomy summit. This is an amazing vantage point with the Galloway and Border hills forming an impressive spectacle whilst, again, the flatness of the Clyde Valley provides an uninterrupted view towards the Campsie Fells north of Glasgow and the Pentland Hills above Edinburgh. An interesting descent heads east from the summit crossing over Scaut Hill and around Wee Hill to reach the A73. Then walk back to Fallburn
OS Landranger Map 72. Start/Finish
Grid Reference NS 965374

3Arthur’s Seat & Salisbury Crags
Holyrood Park in Edinburgh has a multitude of family walks and maybe the best is the climb onto Arthur’s Seat. Beginning outside the Scottish Parliament the pavement leads into Holyrood Park. Turning right it then merges with a grassy path leading underneath Salisbury Crags to reach its base. A path then climbs along the edge of the crags and with views of Edinburgh Castle and the Firth of Forth. The path descends towards St Margaret’s Loch and then climbs steeply all the way to the compact summit of Arthur’s Seat. A steep descent heads down to Dunsapie Loch at Queen’s Drive, which is followed back to the start.
OS Landranger Map 66 Start/Finish
Grid Reference NT 268739

4The Pentland Hills
Many dismiss The Pentland Hills as an easy stroll above Scotland’s capital city. However climbing over the likes of Turnhouse Hill and Scald Law really stretches the legs. Beginning at Flotterstone Ranger Centre a short walk along Glencorse reaches a signpost for Scald Law. Here a path climbs steeply to the summit of Turnhouse Hill and continues to reach Carnethy Hill. The path then crosses the Kirk Road to climb to the Pentlands highest point of Scald Law, which affords superb views along Glencorse. From here descend back to Kirk Road, turn left and follow a good path down to Loganlea Reservoir. It is then a simple matter of following the road through lovely Glencorse back to Flotterstone.
OS Landranger 66. Start/Finish
Grid Reference NT 233631

5Cathkin Braes
Cathkin Braes is one of Glasgow’s many parks but differs from the majority as much of it comprises simply of lovely woodland (home to roe deer and woodpecker) as well as bestowing possibly the finest view of the city. Beginning at a car park on Cathkin Road a good path heads north-east into mixed woodland to reach a narrower, grassy path which then meanders its way through and then out of the woodland at Queen Mary’s Seat (supposedly where Mary Stuart watched the Battle of Langside) which is Glasgow’s highest point and the panorama across the city is truly spectacular. Turn left from the trig point and follow a series of paths through the Big Wood eventually leading out onto Gallowhill and then Wind Law. Descend Wind Law towards the village of Carmunnock, cross Carmunnock Road back into Cathkin Braes and follow the path back to the car park.
OS Landranger 64 Start/Finish
Grid Reference NS 619579

6Achray Forest
The Trossachs, Stirlingshire
Sir Walter Scott made The Trossachs famous in the 19th century with his novel Lady of the Lake. This lovely, peaceful walk around Achray Forest has plenty wildlife and some superb views. Starting from the Byre Inn near Brig o’ Turk a single track road crosses an old bridge and passes Achray Farm to reach the Three Lochs Forest Drive. Turn left here and follow the quiet forestry track into Achray Forest with good views to Ben Ledi. After about 1.75 miles a faint track on the right zigzags its way through woodland to reach a broader track. Turn right and continue along the track enjoying some wonderful views of Ben Venue and Ben A’an eventually descending to the shores of Loch Achray. The track swings right and follows the loch back to Achray Farm and onwards to the Byre Inn.
OS Landranger 57. Start/Finish
Grid Reference NN 533065

7Glen Loin, Arrochar
Argyll & Bute
Glen Loin was home to Clan McFarlane of Arrochar and was a gathering place for their notorious activities. Today great tracks and paths provide an incredibly scenic walk, with stunning views of the rugged Arrochar Alps. From the car park at Succoth cross the A83 into the Argyll Forest Park and climb steep slopes to reach a broad forestry track. Turn right, descend to a fork and take the left fork and enjoy a superb woodland walk for almost three miles. On reaching a dam take the right fork over a burn to join another track, which continues underneath Ben Vane to reach Coiregrogain. Turn right here to follow a path into the aforementioned Glen Loin and here a good path ascends and descends its way through the glen and back to Arrochar.
OS Landranger 56. Start/Finish
Grid Reference NN 295049

8Signal Rock & the Glencoe Lochan
Glencoe, Highland
Glencoe is usually associated with big mountains and high-level walks but this walk stays low yet still provides magnificent views. Starting at the historic Clachaig Inn a short waymarked diversion circumnavigates Signal Rock, which, supposedly, was where the Glencoe Massacre began. A single-track road then passes through mixed woodland for a couple of miles underneath the celebrated Glencoe mountains. Just before Glencoe Village is reached turn right onto a narrow road which passes through a small car park leading into more beautiful woodland home to red squirrels and goldcrest. Again way-marked paths travel through the woodland eventually leading out at Glencoe Lochan. A path makes its way around the lochan, the views throughout are stunning, particularly the perfectly formed Pap of Glencoe. The path descends back to the single-track road and here turn left to walk back to The Clachaig Inn.
OS Landranger 41. Start/Finish
Grid Reference NN 128567

9The Lomond Hills
Similar to the Clyde Valley and Tinto Hill, the twin peaks of the Lomond Hills, above the village of Falkland, rise from the flat terrain of Fife forming a conspicuous focal point. Leaving from the car park at Craigmead an excellent path climbs gradually towards the lower East Lomond with only the last section of the climb being steep.
East Lomond gives a fantastic vantage point to look across the Firth of Forth towards Edinburgh and East Lothian. Retracing steps back to Craigmead a walk through the car park ventures onto the slopes of West Lomond and again paths climb to her summit. Like East Lomond the views are striking with flat, agricultural land stretching out to the likes of Ben Vorlich and Stuc a Chroin.
OS Landranger 58 & 59. Start/Finish
Grid Reference NO 227062

10Culbin Forest and Hill 99
Findhorn, Moray
A walk through the historic Culbin Forest is a great walk, especially for young kids, as the outward half of the walk culminates at the top of the wooden platform of Hill 99, which offers a ‘squirrel’ eye view from the treetops across the Moray Coastline.
The route begins at Wellhill car park and a way-marked circuitous route passes the beautiful Gravel Pit pond to reach Hill 99 and the incredible views it offers. Excellent tracks and paths return
to Wellhill car via the equally interesting Dragonfly Pond.
OS Landranger 27. Start/Finish
Grid Reference NH 998613

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