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Issue 77 - 10 Best Autumn Walks

Scotland Magazine Issue 77
October 2014

 

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10 Best Autumn Walks

Stepping out into the great outdoors

1 Portpatrick & Dunskey Glen, Galloway

From Portpatrick Harbour follow the Southern Upland Way onto the dramatic cliffs above the village and keep on northwest for 1km to the lovely secluded cove of Port Mora. Walk across the beach and go left up steps from where a path travels around to Port Kale. At two conspicuous white hexagonal buildings, turn right onto a grassy track and then fork left into Dunskey Glen. Beyond two footbridges, bear left onto a path and climb steadily over two more bridges. At the next fork go left, cross a bridge above a spectacular waterfall and then, at a single-track road, keep left. At a T-Junction turn right and follow a narrow road for 1.5km to Dunskey Home Farm. Bear right past the farm to a path on the left, which leads to a driveway. Go left to the 19th century Dunskey Gardens and Tearoom. Retrace steps back to the road at Dunskey Home Farm and turn left. Just before the B738, go right onto a minor road, which is easily followed to the A77 on the outskirts of Portpatrick. Turn right, then right again onto Heugh Road. At the Portpatrick Hotel turn left and descend back to the harbour. OS Landranger Map 82 Start/Finish NW998542.

2 Glenapp to Ballantrae, Ayrshire

From Glenapp Church carefully cross the A77 onto the Ayrshire Coastal Path. A good track soon climbs steadily onto moorland above Loch Ryan. Here, a wild and windswept high-level walk proceeds with stunning views of Galloway, Ayrshire and Ailsa Craig. The route is well waymarked as it heads north
then northeast around the secluded Currarie Glen and Currarie Port. High level walking then continues, eventually traversing Downan Hill and an exemplary view along the
Ayrshire Coast and down into Ballantrae. At a farm road, just north of Downanhill Cottage, turn left and continue northeast past Kinniegar Farm to reach the road end. Turn left from where another quiet road passes the hamlet of Garleffin, culminating at the A77. Go left and follow a pavement with fine views of Ardstinchar Castle’s remains. Once over the River Stinchar by means of a new bridge (the old bridge, dating from 1770, sits a few yards up river) follow Ballantrae’s Main Street to finish at the small but
perfectly formed Kennedy Mausoleum. OS Landranger Map 76 Start NX074746 Finish NX083824.

3 Tyninghame Links & Binning Wood, East Lothian

Easily navigable tracks travel through the countryside of Tyninghame and Binning Memorial Wood. The original Binning Wood dates from the early 1700s. Walk through Tyninghame Links car park, turn left through a gap in a fence onto a wide track. Follow this in a northerly direction and beyond gate turn right at a junction. A track descends to run alongside dunes at Ravensheugh Sands then turns left. Once through a gate, keep along a rough track, soon passing several red-tiled buildings at Lochhouses. A single-track road now continues through a lovely rural landscape, to gain the A198. Carefully cross here, turn left, then after 200 metres turn right through a gate into Binning Memorial Wood. A wide track proceeds west and follow this for 1.25km and through a gate, turning left onto a minor road. This travels southwest and when opposite East Lodge turn left back into Binning Memorial Wood. From here another track proceeds back to the A198. Re-cross the road on to Limetree Walk and follow this for 1.5km back to the start. OS Landranger Map 67 Start/Finish GR NT627809.

4 The Falls of Clyde, South Lanarkshire

The woodland bounding the River Clyde at New Lanark is stunning during autumn and provides a fantastic, colourful walk. From New Lanark Visitor Centre follow a track through a stone doorway from where a good path heads south past Dundaff Linn and along the banks of the Clyde. Soon a single-track road, passes Bonnington Linn Power Station and then it is a steep climb to gain the fine Corra Linn Viewpoint. The path continues, crossing a weir at Bonnington Linn. Now the path heads north along the Clyde’s western bank to gain the 15th century Corra Castle. Keep on until Riverside Road is reached at Kirkfieldbank. Cross the river via the old Clydesholm Bridge, then turn right through a gate beside a row
of cottages. A single-track road, then grassy path, culminates at St Patrick’s Road. At a Clyde Walkway sign turn right into Castlebank Park. Drop down steps and walk through woodland. Beyond a footbridge continues alongside the river before ascending steps. Once over another footbridge, climb uphill
to New Lanark Road. Turn right back to New Lanark. OS Landranger Map 72 Start/Finish GR NS882427.

5 The Birks of Aberfeldy, Perthshire

The Birks of Aberfeldy, on the edge of the lovely town of Aberfeldy, is perhaps the best place in Scotland for autumnal colours and a walk through the woodland is exceptional. From either of the Birks of Aberfeldy car parks, follow a woodland track and then a path south along the western bank of the Moness Burn - treecreeper, warblers, flycatchers, dipper may well be spotted. In a while, the path crosses a footbridge and then climbs to cross a bridge over the Moness Burn, granting an absolutely breathtaking view of the Moness Falls. At its far end descend the eastern side of the gorge with steeper sections soon zigzagging down steps to continue alongside the Moness Burn and past a lovely statue of Robert Burns whose work was inspired by the Birks. A bridge then re-crosses the river from where a right turn leads back to the
start. OS Landranger Map 52 Start/Finish GR NO856490.

6 Ben Vorlich, Loch Earn, Perthshire

Rising to a height of 986 metres, the muscular flanks of Ben Vorlich, above Loch Earn, grants one of the finest views of Strathtay. It is one of the simplest Munro’s to climb but, like any mountain, real care should be taken throughout. The path leading to Ben Vorlich’s marvellous vantage point is excellent and from the summit much of Perthshire and Stirlingshire are on show. From the east gate of Ardvorlich House take the estate road south towards Ardvorlich House. Just before reaching the house turn left from where a stony track climbs gradually and then more steeply with fine views of Loch Earn opening out. Keep right at a fork and once over a burn beside a weir a path ascends across open hillside. Eventually the path zigzags uphill to gain a ridge where marvellous views extend to the Ben Lawers massif. A final stiff pull finally reaches the trig on Ben Vorlich’s summit and a stunning view of the neighbouring Munro of Stuc a Chroin and much of the Southern Highlands – during autumn the browns and reds on the mountain slopes are beautiful. After relishing the views retrace steps back to Loch Earn. OS Landranger Map 51 & 57 Start/Finish GR NN634233.

7 Crinan Oakwoods, Argyll & Bute

This gorgeous walk utilises a section of the Crinan Canal and the fabulous Crinan Oakwoods where breathtaking views stretch across the Sound of Jura. From Crinan Basin cross Lock 15, then follow the scenic Crinan Canal towpath for a little over 1km to reach Crinan Bridge. Turn right here to cross the canal, turn left along a narrow road then after 20 metres go right into the ancient Crinan Oakwoods. There are a few short ascents and descents but the path is clear as it meanders through stunning woodland. In a while turn left at a waymarked junction and climb onto Dun Mor where there is a magnificent panorama. The path descends steeply back into woodland and then more gradually to a crossroads. Go straight on down to a narrow road. Turn right and when opposite a red-roofed cottage bear left back into Crinan Oakwoods. A path undulates through the woodland to reach the best view of the walk, looking all the way to Jura. Bear right here and descend back to the Crinan Canal at Lock 14. Do not cross the lock, instead turn left and follow a track back to the car park. OS Landranger Map 55 Start/Finish GR NR787943.

8 Coire Ardair, Badenoch & Speyside

An out and back walk to Coire Ardair and Lochan a’ Choire follows a fabulous path through one of Scotland’s most remarkable landscapes, allowing you to experience the wilder nature of Creag Meagaidh Nature Reserve. From the car park follow the red waymarked path west to a junction. Turn left and continue to reach Aberarder House. Take the path to its right and climb to a junction. Turn right from where it ascends northwest under the slopes of Carn Liath. The reserve has a stunning variety of wildlife including golden eagle, meadow pipit, dotterel, wheatear, mountain ringlet butterfly, dipper, Scots Pine, bilberry and purple moor grass. As the path veers southwest the view is dominated by Coire Ardair and its incredible castellated cliffs. Drop steadily to walk alongside the Allt Coire Adair, and then take the final gradual pull to reach Lochan a’ Choire, an outstanding spot – the loch is framed by Coire Adair’s bare, rugged cliffs, rising to almost 400 metres from the corrie floor. It is the perfect location to sit and enjoy the surroundings before retracing steps back to the car park. OS Landranger Map 34 Start/Finish GR NN483873.

9 Creag Bheag, Kingussie, Badenoch & Speyside

Creag Bheag stands proud over Kingussie and provides a breathtaking vantage point to view much of Badenoch and Speyside. From Kingussie Railway Station follow Ruthven Street to Newtonmore Road. Turn left. then right onto Tait’s Brae. then just before Middle Terrace bear left onto a rough track. Once through a gate walk left and take a wide track through woodland. At a fork go left with the path soon exiting the woodland onto the lower slopes of Creag Bheag. A good path rises up the hillside onto the rugged ridge of Creag Bheag and a stunning view of the Cairngorm National Park. Turn right and continue northeast and then descend, with a superb view of Loch Gynack, to a waymarked junction. Turn right onto a path signposted Kingussie Golf Course Circular and proceed through birch woodland. The path passes through a gap in a wall from where it bears left through a gate. Turn right and follow a path through a firebreak between trees. Just before a gate at a caravan park go right back into woodland. At a junction turn left and descend back to Middle Terrace then return to Kingussie. OS Landranger Map 35 Start/Finish GR NN757004.

10 Scolty Hill, Banchory, Aberdeenshire

Although rising to only 299 metres in height, Scolty Hill grants one of the finest panoramas along the length of the River Dee. From the car park head west onto a white waymarked forestry track. When it forks, go left and ascend gradually to another fork and keep straight on. Once through a gate, turn left where a broad woodland path climbs for 50 metres to an orange/brown waymarked path on the right. Follow this steeply southwest, climbing above the treeline and then onto the summit, adorned by the General Burnett Tower and an exceptional panorama along Deeside and to the distant Cairngorms. Pass the tower then bear right to a fork. Go left then left again when the path splits and descend west down to a fork on a flatter area of ground. Go right with the path now heading north then northeast, traversing Scolty Hill’s lower slopes. Keep to this as it drops gradually down to another fork and branch left. Upon reaching another path, turn right and descend to a gate beside the outward-bound track. Once through retrace steps back to the
start. OS Landranger Map 45 Start/Finish GR NO686948.