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Issue 86 - Ten Best Spring Walks

Scotland Magazine Issue 86
April 2016


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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Ten Best Spring Walks

Keith Fergus has a spring in his step this season

1 - Eyemouth - Scottish Borders 4.0 miles: From Eyemouth Harbour follow the quayside past the RNLI station to a narrow road. Turn right; follow a path through a gate from where a coastal path continues. Keep right at a fork to skirt the perimeter of Eyemouth Golf Course. Go left at a fork then left again at a junction. At a sign for Eyemouth go right, cross the course then keep left onto a pavement. Follow this south for one kilometre then turn right along the entrance road for the golf course. Walk to Stebbings Rise lane, descend onto Gunsgreen Park then keep right along the A1107. After crossing Victoria Road follow a path through woodland and parkland then turn left onto Coldingham Road. At Northburn Road follow a park path back to the A1107 then go right onto Hinkar Way and keep on to a junction. Keep left to gain a path which heads towards the coast. Turn right at the next junction, after which the Berwickshire Coastal Path returns to Eyemouth at Marine Parade. Follow this back to the harbour. OS Landranger Map 67 Start/Finish NT946644.

2 - Tyninghame and Sandy Hirst - East Lothian 2.75 miles: Over 200 species of bird have been recorded at Sandy Hirst, making it a birdwatcher’s dream. From the back of Tyninghame Links Car Park, go through a gate and follow a bridleway southeast through woodland, all the way to Tyne Sands shore. When the path splits turn right and follow the shoreline onto the low-lying Sandy Hirst. Depending on the tide height, either walk along the sandy shore or keep to the coastal grassland at the top of the beach. Head south along the eastern shore in the company of wading birds, enjoying fine views of John Muir Country Park, to round the southern tip of Sandy Hirst. Walk around the headland then continue north alongside coastal grassland and mudbanks. In due course a more defined path is picked up through dune grass. Eventually the path returns to the southern edge of Tyninghame, which in turn leads back to the outward-bound path. Turn left and retrace steps back to the start. OS Landranger Map 67 Start/Finish NT627809.

3 - Craiglockhart - Edinburgh 3.5 miles: From Craiglockhart Local Nature Reserve follow a path past a pond then turn right. Walk through woodland to a junction. Keep straight on (signposted Napier Craiglockhart Campus) to Glenlockhart Road. Walk left then after 40 metres cross the road and go through a gate. Bear right, walk past the campus to Merchants of Edinburgh Golf Course beside a sign for the eighth tee. Keep straight on along the course’s edge then turn left onto a track, which reaches a junction at the edge of a wood. Go left and follow a path onto Wester Craiglockhart and a wonderful view. Retrace steps to the signed junction for Napier. Keep right and climb steps through woodland. Beyond a gap in a wall, climb onto the summit of Easter Craiglockhart and another superb outlook. Keep along the summit back into woodland. Turn left and descend to a junction beside Craighouse Campus. Go left, return to the original path and retrace steps. OS Landranger Map 66 Start/Finish NT229709.

4 - Balmaha and Milarrochy Bay - Stirlingshire 3.5 miles: Balmaha and Milarrochy Bay bookend this gorgeous walk, which includes Craigie Fort’s sumptuous viewpoint. From the large car park at Balmaha walk to its northeastern end, turn left and follow a path west through oak woodland to the B837 at Balmaha Bay. Once across, go through a gap in a wall then turn right onto the West Highland Way. Follow the path to its end then bear left onto a minor road. After 100 metres turn right at a waymark and climb steeply onto the summit of Craigie Fort, which holds a spectacular view of Loch Lomond. Continue past the summit and descend a path through woodland towards the loch. Go right and follow the West Highland Way all the way to Milarrochy Bay, a lovely spot for a rest. Retrace steps back to the base of Craigie Forts but now keep on along the loch shore to reach the earlier minor road. Go left and follow this, regaining the West Highland Way, back to Balmaha. OS Landranger Map 56 Start/Finish NS421909.

5 - Birnam and the Hermitage - Perthshire 6.25 miles: Take Birnam Glen Road (signposted Inchewan Path) from opposite the Birnam Hotel on Perth Road, under the A9 to a crossroads. Go straight across then right at a fork into woodland. Follow a path southwest beside the Inchewan Burn for 1.5 kilometres then keep right at a fork. Cross a bridge and continue to a junction. Go left then right at the next junction and follow a forestry track, for ‘Inver Car Park’, soon bearing right onto another track. Descend to a junction; go left for ‘Braan Path to Rumbling Bridge’. Climb through woodland to a path on the right, which meanders through more woodland. At a track turn left; exit the woodland via a stile into open countryside. Continue southwest to a junction, turn right, descend a road to the A822 and go straight across onto a woodland path; follow this all the way to a narrow road. Turn right, walk across Rumbling Bridge then go right for ‘The Hermitage’. Eventually this passes the spectacular Black Linn waterfall and Ossian’s Hall. Keep on towards the A9 but just before the road turn right for Inver/Birnam/Dunkeld. At a Forestry Commission car park turn left and continue through an underpass beneath the A9. Walk to the River Tay, turn right, and follow the path all the way back to Birnam. OS Landranger Map 52 Start/Finish NO032418.

6 - Steall Gorge and Meadows - Lochaber 2.0 miles: This stunning route is one of the best in Scotland. From the car park at the end of the road up Glen Nevis, follow a path east through fine birch woodland and pass high above the amazing Steall Gorge. The path soon narrows, but if care is taken then few problems are encountered. As you proceed there are superb views west along the glen. A rockier section drops down over a burn with a short climb up steps before crossing a bridge. From here continue just above the river, with the path soon emerging into the alpine glen of Steall Meadows. After the confines of the wooded gorge the open space of the meadow is even more unexpected. At the head of the meadow is the magnificent An Steall (The White Spout), which plummets 120 metres from An Gearanach – it is Britain’s second to highest waterfall. Carefully retrace steps back to the car park. OS Landranger Map 41 Start/Finish NO032418.

7 - Crarae Garden - Argyll & Bute 2.0 miles: Crarae Garden is one of the finest in Argyll and home to an incredible diversity of plants and trees. From the visitor centre take the path past a cairn that dates from around 3500BC to a junction. Go left, climb gently uphill into woodland then turn right at the next junction. Follow a track (with red and white waymarks) past impressive rhododendron bushes to a path on the left, which is followed over a footbridge. Continue along until the path splits. Keep left and climb steps, bestowing a great view of Loch Fyne. A short descent regains the main path. Turn left, follow this across a track and continue to the next junction. Go left, walk alongside the gorgeous Crarae Burn. Eventually a bridge crosses the river after which turn left onto a white waymarked path. Walk through the glen to reach another junction. Go right, left, then right again at subsequent junctions down to a red waymarked path. A right turn leads over another footbridge spanning the Crarae Burn. Walk left through a tunnel of bamboo back to the visitor centre. OS Landranger Map 55 Start/Finish NR986972.

8 - Ben Hiant - Ardnamurchan 3.0 miles: Ben Hiant is a marvellous little peak that climbs steeply from a vast tract of moorland near the western edge of the Ardnamurchan Peninsula. From a small car park on the east side of the B8007, at its highest point, cross over and take a narrow path beside a very small cairn. This climbs over open hillside, rising steadily west, then southwest with fine views stretching out to the distinctive profile of Eigg. A more gradual rise passes underneath a craggy outcrop on the right, after which the good grassy path curves right and continues its ascent. Another couple of moderately steep pulls leads to a flatter area of hillside where a little breather can be taken, before another good pull leads up to the 430 metre contour line. A series of rocky bumps continues to the east face of Ben Hiant. Rather than climbing up this very steep face, the path contours left around the south face of Ben Hiant and then curves right to reach the 528 metre summit and a spectacular vista. Retrace steps back to the start. OS Landranger Map 47 Start/Finish NM552642.

9 - Northern Corries - Cairngorm National Park 6.0 miles: This route offers some of the finest scenery in Scotland, but care is required in poor visibility. From Coire Cas Car Park take the Cairngorm Mountain Trail up to the ski access and turn right. The road bends left, right, then left again at which point bear right onto a path and climb onto Fiacaill a’ Choire Chais. Follow the ridge north to reach the Central Cairngorm Plateau, beside a large marker cairn. Walk south for 200 metres then turn right onto a path that hugs the edge of the corries – be aware that the cliff edge may be heavily snow corniced during spring. Dramatic views extend across much of the National Park. The path heads southwest to cross Stob Coire an t-Sneachda, where there is a wonderful view of Cairn Gorm. After a short descent, another steady climb eventually gains the summit of Cairn Lochan (the highest point of the walk) where the panorama looks onto Ben Macdui. Keep west and descend pathless, grassy terrain to reach the Ben Macdui and Coire Cas path. Here turn right and descend all the way back to the start. OS Landranger Map 36 Start/Finish NH989060.

10 - Lossiemouth and the River Lossie - Moray 4.75 miles: Lossiemouth is well known for its gorgeous sandy beach and dunes, leading to it being known as the ‘Jewel of the Moray Firth’. From Lossiemouth Harbour, walk through Seatown to East Beach Car Park and from here cross the River Lossie by way of a lovely old wooden footbridge. Here there is a fine view of Lossiemouth. At its far end turn right onto a gorgeous sandy beach, in-between dunes and the River Lossie – there is a broad range of wildlife to see here. Follow the beach to its end to pick up a path than runs alongside the river into woodland. In due course the path splits; keep left and continue, but just before a clearing turn left onto a sandy path. This climbs through heather covered dunes. As it sweeps left, leave the path and cross over the extensive dunes onto the stony Lossiemouth Beach. Turn left and head northwest for two kilometres (the stones are soon replaced by gorgeous, soft sand), back to Lossiemouth. OS Landranger Map 28 Start/Finish NJ239713.