The 134-mile John Muir Way has been officially recognised as one of Scotland’s Great Trails. There are now 28 Scottish Great Trails and I have picked some of my favourites. Read all about it in the pdf of my Sunday Mail outdoors column or see the story below.
Scotland’s Great Trails
The John Muir Way is the 28th long-distance route to be given the accolade by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH). Since its launch in April 2014, the route has become the focus for many thousands of walkers and cyclists.
The route starts in Dunbar, East Lothian, which is celebrated as Muir’s birthplace, and extends across the country to Helensburgh in the west.
It takes in castles, historic towns and villages, coastal scenery and Scotland’s first national park, Loch Lomond and The Trossachs.
The way also passes some great attractions, such as the famous bridges across the Firth of Forth and the iconic Falkirk Wheel.
The John Muir Way takes an average of 12 days to walk, while some people cycle it in a few days.
5 of the best Scottish Great Trails
With 28 long-distance trails in Scotland to choose from, we pick some of the best. Scotland’s Great Trails are nationally promoted routes for people-powered journeys. Each is distinctively waymarked, largely off-road and has a range of visitor services. They must be at least 25 miles and suitable for multi-day outings, as well as day trips.
Collectively the 28 routes offer more than 1700 miles of well-managed paths from the Borders to the Highlands.
Here’s a selection of top walking trails in Scotland including five of my top picks.
If you love stunning seascapes, sand dunes, seabirds and salty sea air, you will enjoy one of Scotland’s great coastal trails.
Stretching for 117 miles from the Firth of Forth in the south, to the Firth of Tay in the north, the Fife Coastal Path boasts beautiful sea views, stunning beaches and many pretty fishing villages. See www.fifecoastalpath.co.uk
Source to sea routes
From source to sea, you can follow some of Scotland’s big rivers to their coastline. The routes include the Annandale Way, the Clyde Walkway, the Speyside Way and, my pick, the River Ayr Way.
Trace the length of the River Ayr for 40 miles from its source at Glenbuck to the sea in the town of Ayr. It offers a variety of landscapes, including moorland, woodland, rocky gorges and farmland.
You also walk through an area rich in industrial history. This part of Ayrshire was once a prosperous mill and mining location. See River Ayr Way.
Footsteps through history
Take a journey back in time on a Scottish historical trail. You can follow in the footsteps of St Cuthbert, imagine Gregorian singing in the Borders Abbeys and trace the route used by drovers taking their cattle to market.
The trails include the Cateran Trail, Rob Roy Way and St Cuthbert’s Way. It’s hard to choose but the Borders Abbeys Way is a superb route of 64.5 miles and divided into five sections of roughly equal distances.
The route can be walked clockwise or anti-clockwise and starts at any of the Border towns of Kelso, Jedburgh, Hawick, Selkirk or Melrose. See bordersabbeysway.com
Mountains and lochs
There are plenty of trails to choose from if you fancy walking through some of the wildest and most wonderful landscapes of Scotland, such as the Kintyre Way, the West Island Way and the West Highland Way. One of my favourites is the Great Glen Way.
The Great Glen Way runs from Fort William at the northern end of the West Highland Way to Inverness along the Great Glen Faultline.
The route is 73 miles and follows closely the line of the Caledonian Canal. See www.greatglenway.org
There have been long distance walks mapped out for decades including the Southern Upland Way and the West Highland Way. If there’s one route that is a must-do in Scotland it’s the West Highland Way, extending 96 miles from Milngavie, just north of Glasgow, to Fort William in the Highlands.
The route passes through a huge variety of landscapes and offers walkers a chance to experience the difference between lowlands and Highlands Scotland. See www.west-highland-way.co.uk
Also see Scotland’s Great Trails