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Issue 80 - 10 Best Spring Walks

Scotland Magazine Issue 80
April 2015

 

This article is 2 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 Spring Walks

Keith Fergus recommends the best places for an excursion

1. Newburgh, Fife 

This scenic walk circumnavigates the town of Newburgh on the banks of the River Tay. Facing Laing library on High Street, turn left, walk through the town to a car park. Go right through the car park and descend a gravel path to a junction. Turn left, right then right at the next junction out of the park. Follow the Fife Coastal Path as it runs along the banks of the Tay out of the town. Eventually the Fife Coastal Path is left behind with a path continuing to Abbey Road at Parkmill (the remains of Lindores Abbey lie nearby). Turn left, then right back onto the Fife Coastal Way to Cupar Road. Once across turn right then left onto a lane. After some houses go through a gate, climb a track then cross a stile into a field. Follow a path to a stile beside a gate on the outskirts of Newburgh. Beyond this a narrow path continues over a grassy embankment. Go through a gap in a fence, turn left then right and descend to a lane. Walk left and climb gently to a single-track road. Turn right, continue to Hill Road then descend back to High Street. OS Landranger Map 58 & 59 Start/Finish NO235184.

2. Cademuir Hill, Scottish Borders 

Cademuir Hill is one of the smaller hills surrounding Peebles but is no less interesting than the town’s loftier summits. From Kingsmeadow Car Park follow the John Buchan Way all the way to Edderstone Road. Turn left, walk a few metres then go through a gate on the right. Walk along a grassy path to a fork then keep right. A gradual ascent south west climbs the lower slopes of Cademuir Hill. Once over a crest keep left at the next fork and when the path splits again go right and climb steeply to reach the 407 metres summit – here there are some far-reaching views, with Broughton Heights prominent. Retrace steps back down to the first John Buchan Way signpost, turn right and descend a path south east, soon bearing left onto another path, leaving the John Buchan Way behind. At a track turn right then left onto a single-track road. Follow this quiet road, through glorious countryside, for 2 miles back into Peebles at Bonnington Road. At Springwood Road turn right then left onto Springhill Road and descend back to Kingsmeadow Car Park. OS Landranger Map 73 Start/Finish NT255401.

3. Kinneil Nature Reserve, Bo’ness, Falkirk

Kinneil Nature Reserve was built on the site of an old colliery and is extremely popular with walkers; knot, dunlin, oystercatcher, grebe, duck, teal and avocet may be spotted. From the Bo’ness/Kinneil Railway Station car park, walk past the station, turn right over a railway bridge and descend to Bo’ness Harbour. Turn left, follow a path in-between the railway line and harbour then at a crossroads go straight on from where a path hugs the coastline. At an information board, turn right and follow the coastal path west and then south through the reserve. At its southern edge bear left at a fork, right at the next then straight on at a crossroads. Continue to a junction. Go right then left at a fork back onto the outward-bound path. Retrace steps towards Bo’ness but upon reaching the foreshore turn right at a fork, cross a level crossing, and keep on to Kinneil Road (A904). At a roundabout bear left onto Memorial Drive, follow this past the Winding Wheel memorial onto Union Street, and continue back to the start. OS Landranger Map 65 Start/Finish NT003818.

4. Balloch Country Park, West Dunbartonshire

Begin from Loch Lomond Shores, enjoying an outstanding view along Loch Lomond. Take a paved path past several shops to Ben Lomond Way. At a junction keep right, and follow a path to a roundabout. Go straight across and continue beside the River Leven to Balloch Road. Go left, cross a bridge over the river then walk to the entrance of Balloch Castle Country Park. Turn left and follow a tree-lined driveway to a fork. Keep left and descend towards Balloch Castle, walking around the front of the castle onto a paved path. Continue high above Loch Lomond, soon re-entering woodland, and dropping gradually to a path on the right. Follow this down to reach Loch Lomond. Turn left where an attractive woodland path heads south beside the loch. At a junction turn right, walk through more parkland to the head of Loch Lomond. Here the path veers left and again runs beside the River Leven. At the next 2 forks go right back to Balloch Road. Turn right over the River Leven bridge and return to the start. OS Landranger Map 56 & 63 Start/Finish NS383822.

5. Cat Craig Loop, Argyll 

A selection of paths and tracks climb through Argyll Forest Park following the Cat Craig Loop, the height gained granting several superb views. From Ardgartan car park, near Arrochar, descend over a bridge across the Croe Water then turn right onto a forestry track. Climb in a north westerly direction through Argyll Forest Park above Glen Croe. In a while turn left at a junction from where another track undulates east, granting some superb views. In due course, after a prolonged, gradual ascent, the track narrows to a path, which zigzags uphill over a footbridge to gain another stunning vista across Loch Long. Here steps drop down to a track. Turn right and walk south, eventually descending to a narrow road. Go left and walk this quiet road to a junction. Turn left again and follow another road north above Loch Long, until it sweeps left to pass the entrance road of the Ardgartan Hotel. From here walk back to Ardgartan car park. OS Landranger Map 56 Start/Finish NN269037.

6. Luing, Argyll 

The gorgeous slate island of Luing is easily reached via a short ferry journey from North Cuan. Once on Luing, turn right at the small ferryman’s hut onto a track. Follow this then a path north west along the coast. Round Cuan Point, passing an old quarry and head south, enjoying stunning views. Beyond Port Mary the path splits. Go right and walk beneath steep cliffs to Stac na Morain, a large fin of rock jutting out from the cliffs. Cross this via a stile at its left edge. Follow the path back to the shore then cross a short section of bouldery beach, which can be a little awkward at very high tides. A good track then continues into Cullipool, Luing’s biggest settlement and where redshank and oystercatcher are regular visitors. When the road splits keep right and walk out of the village. In a while it sweeps left and heads inland to a T-junction. Turn left and keep along a road as it rises gradually north – there is a stunning view of Torsa and the Cuan Sound en route a final, easy descent of 1.5km returns to South Cuan. OS Landranger Map 55 Start/Finish NM752142.

7. Moncrieffe Hill, Perthshire 

Moncrieffe Hill rises above the town of Perth. From Woodland Trust Scotland’s Tay Car Park, near Tarsappie, go through a gate onto a superb path, which zigzags up the lower slopes of Moncrieffe Hill, and into woodland. At a fork take the left branch and climb steadily, in a clockwise direction, eventually reaching a junction. Go left and at the next fork bear left for ‘Moredun Hill Fort’. At an information board take either of two paths to the top of Moredun Hill, and an exceptional vista. Retrace steps back to the main track then turn left and descend a track to another information board. Turn left and take a path onto Moncrieffe Hill Fort, and another superb view. Steps are again repeated back to the main track where another left turn is made. Meander easily through mixed woodland to a fork. Go right and walk for approximately 0.5km, past a track on the right to reach a second track on the right. This climbs back to the outward-bound track. Turn left and follow the path downhill back to the car park. OS Landranger Map 58 Start/Finish NN135210.

8. Dalbeattie Forest, Galloway 

Dalbeattie Forest offers some fine walking and wildlife. From Colvend Public Hall, take a private road to the right all the way into Dalbeattie Forest. A broad stony track then continues, passing the attractive Barean Loch. The track then climbs to a junction. Turn right, ascend steeply away from the loch, eventually reaching a fork. Turn left and continue under Ironhash Hill. There are several offshoot paths but keep to the main track for another mile to a T-junction. Keep left and continue, enjoying spring flowers such as wood anemone, bluebells and red campion. The track then descends to another T-junction. Go left and head back towards Colvend, through more open countryside, scattered with beautiful birch and rowan; there are wonderful views to the hills of Screel and Bengairn. Continue along the track, which eventually re-enters the forest and returns to reach a fork at the outward-bound route. Bear right and descend back down to the banks of Barean Loch and retrace steps to Colvend. OS Landranger Map 84 Start/Finish NX868545.

9. Dun Deardail, Lochanber 

Good paths climb to the summit of Dun Deardail where you can see much of Glen Nevis. From Glen Nevis Visitor Centre turn left onto Glen Nevis road. After 100 metres take the West Highland Way path on the right and follow this into woodland. At a junction, turn left and walk south along a forestry track, rising gently with some eye-catching views. After nearly 1.25km the track splits. Go right from where a prolonged steady ascent rises above Glen Nevis. In due course it levels off and enters thicker larch woodland. In turn a series of zigzags wind uphill with fine views of Bidean Bad na h-Iolaire, eventually climbing to a way-marked path on the left for Dun Deardail. Leave the West Highland Way here onto a good path, which soon curves right and ascends steeply over grassy hillside onto the summit. Dun Deardail still has visible remains of a fort that was built around 2,000 years ago while the view of Ben Nevis is exceptional. From the top return to the West Highland Way and retrace steps back to Glen Nevis. OS Landranger Map 41 Start/Finish NN123729.

10. Ben Rinnes, Moray

Ben Rinnes’ shapely outline rises from the heart of Scotch Whisky country in the magnificent region of Speyside and the panorama from its summit is extensive. Begin from the Glack Harnes Road – there is a small car park approximately four miles from the A95. Beyond a gate a stony track climbs over Round Hill. Almost immediately fine views open out along Glen Rinnes. The incline soon eases, but only for a short spell, with another sustained pull over Roy’s Hill soon beginning. To the south there is a striking view of the Cairngorms. Upon reaching Black Banks the track narrows to a path from where a steep, prolonged pull, of around 1,000 feet, ascends onto the 840 metre summit. Ptarmigan and a profusion of wildlife may well be spotted across the summit plateau, one studded with several granite tors, which give Ben Rinnes its name, ‘Hill of the Sharp Point’. To return to the car park it is a simple matter of retracing steps, taking care on the initially steep descent. OS Landranger Map 28 Start/Finish NJ284360.