Head for a wander in the lovely Lothians! The area that surrounds our capital is a magical spot on the map. Whether you’re basing yourself here for a holiday or day tripping from Edinburgh, there’s so much to discover on foot.
Uncover the coastal highlights of East Lothian, the rolling countryside of Midlothian and the cultural history of West Lothian.
1. Rosslyn Chapel and Roslin Glen
Distance: 4.25 km/2.6 miles; duration: 1.5 – 2 hours
Just outside Edinburgh, this walk has a bit of everything to enjoy. The fantastic Rosslyn Chapel dates from Pictish times and is well worth a visit to admire the intricate stonework and mysterious history.
The dramatic woodland gorge of Roslin Glen is a real treat at any time of year, with a ruined castle and wonderful leafy paths following a bubbling burn.
2. Glencorse Reservoir, The Pentlands
Distance: 5.75 km/3.5 miles; duration: 1.5 hours
A favourite escape for Edinburgh dwellers, there are over 100 km of sign-posted routes across the Pentland Hills.
The Glencorse reservoir route is a scenic short circuit which offers great views of Edinburgh, or you can choose the longer route with a climb to Scald Law (the highest peak of the Pentlands) for more of a challenge.
3. Dalkeith Country Park
Distance: 6.5 km/4 miles; duration: 2 hours
This fine ramble meanders through the picturesque and historic surroundings of Dalkeith Country Park near Edinburgh, taking in the spectacular ruined conservatory, the banks of the Rivers North and South Esk, and an ancient oak wood.
4. Vogrie Country Park to Crichton Castle
Distance: 11.2 km/7 miles; duration: 3 hours
Starting at the pretty hamlet of Ford, this wander takes you through some of the finest countryside in Midlothian.
Vogrie Country Park has many peaceful pathways including a rhododendron walk to enjoy in the late spring, and an impressive Baronial mansion, Vogrie House.
Later, the path leads you to admire some of the area’s age-old buildings, including Crichton Collegiate Church and Crichton Castle.
5. Gorebridge Circular Walk
Distance: 13 km/8.2 miles; duration: 3 hours
With panoramic views towards the Pentland Hills, this walk takes you through ‘Gunpowder Glen’ and the site of the first gunpowder mill in Scotland.
This circular route leads around the town and through the picturesque Gore Glen Woodland Park. You’ll see wildlife, ancient stone bridges, a waterfall and a couple of castles along the way. There is always the option to pick up a coffee at one of the shops on the main street before you set off.
Walks in West Lothian
6. Jupiter Artland
Distance: 5 km/ 3 miles; duration: 1 – 1.5 hours
Be inspired by the artistic landscape of Jupiter Artland where you’ll come across over 30 permanent sculptures laced across 100 acres of meadow and woodland space.
The late Charles Jencks designed the sweeping interlinked landscape known as ‘Cells of Life’.
7. The West Lothian Walk, Shale Trail
Distance: 14.4 km/9 miles; duration: 3 hours
The Shale Trail runs 16 miles in total and is a journey through the industrial history of West Lothian.
The trail explores the oil shale story with public art and paths tracing the history of workers who worked in shale mines.
The West Lothian section of the trail begins and ends in East Calder and this section passes the Lin’s Mill Aqueduct, the Union Canal and Almondell Viaduct.
8. Broxburn & Uphall Heritage Art Trail
Distance: 5.7 km/3.26 miles; duration: 2 hours
The two West Lothian towns of Uphall and Broxburn love to showcase their creativity!
Discover a series of 12 exciting artwork sites along this trail, starting at the Uphall Community Centre Car Park and finishing up at Argyle Court in Broxburn, passing by the Union Canal.
Download the map to learn more about the artworks.
9. Perambulation of the Marches, Linlithgow
Distance: 6.5 km/4 miles; duration: 2 hours
Explore Linlithgow, one of Scotland’s most ancient Royal Burghs. This walking route follows the old town boundary, marked by eight stones each engraved with ‘LPB’ which stands for Linlithgow Parliamentary Burgh. The first stone is found just to the west of St Ninian’s Craigmailen Church on Falkirk Road.
The walk is an annual civic tradition on 11 June, but you can do it any time you fancy! You’ll see the striking Linlithgow Palace and the Ross Doocot from the 16th century.
10. Harperrig Reservoir & East Cairns Hill
Distance: 14.5km/9 miles with a climb of 561m; duration: 4- 5 hours
This challenging walk explores the lower end of West Lothian and will lead you right into the Pentlands. The walk starts and ends in the layby opposite Harperrig Fishery car park.
The reservoir is abundant with wildlife and you’ll see the remains of 15th century Cairns Castle. When you reach the top of East Cairns Hill, catch your breath and enjoy clear views for miles across to Fife and West Lothian.
East Lothian walks
11. North Berwick to Tantallon Castle
Distance: 10 km; duration: 3 hours
Starting in North Berwick, wander eastwards along the dramatic clifftops until you reach the stunning Tantallon Castle, before heading back the way you came.
This adventure can only be achieved at low tide – be sure to check the times so you can enjoy the beach for as long as possible.
A great stopping point is Drift an incredible clifftop coffee house made from old containers! And, reward yourself with a seafood snack from the Lobster Shack in North Berwick on your return.
12. Longniddry to Haddington railway walk
Distance 6.6 km; duration 2 – 2.5 hours
This walk follows an old railway line, connecting two fabulous East Lothian towns. The line closed in 1949.
Along the way, watch out for wildlife and wildflowers. From the route, you can see Redhouse Castle and the Hopetoun Monument at the top of Byres Hill, which you could also climb for the views! Extend the walk to enjoy the Longniddry coastline, or stop for a coffee or lunch in one of the two towns’ cafés.
13. Traprain Law
Distance: 2 km (steep); duration: 1 hour
The peak is about 221 m high and along the way you might come across the pack of 13 Exmoor ponies who love to graze here.
At the summit, you’ll find an ancient hill fort which dates to Roman times. There have been several key archaeological finds unearthed here, including 25 kg of Roman silver in 1919.
14. North Berwick Law
Distance: 6.75 km; duration: 2- 2.5 hours.
A prominent feature on the horizon, the North Berwick Law is a conical extinct volcano.
It gives a magnificent panoramic view of much of the Lothians, beyond to the Scottish Borders and across the Firth of Forth to the Fife coast.
At the top, stand by the cairn (which has ‘live for the moment’ written on it) and take it all in!
15. Newhailes House, near Musselburgh
Distance: 5 km; duration: 1 – 1.5 hours
The 17th century Palladian villa is a prominent fixture from the Scottish Enlightenment period of history. You and the family will love exploring the nooks and crannies of these stunning grounds, with a play park and pretty woodlands to discover.
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