Scotland has countless long-distance hikes and soaring mountain ranges with breath-taking views. But you don’t have to travel a great distance or even a great height on foot to find a spectacular view.
Whether you find yourself in Scotland’s buzzing capital city or on some of its secluded islands, here are just some of the shorter walks with a view you can enjoy. With distances which can be comfortably covered in just an hour to up to half a day, you’ll discover that some of Scotland’s most stunning vantage points are closer than you think.
Walking is one of the best ways to explore the country and one of the most sustainable; but it is essential we all do so responsibly. Watch our new video and learn more about the ways you can experience sustainable and slow travel in Scotland.
Douglas Park & Castle Hill
Location: Largs, Ayrshire
Start/End: Haylie Car Park – Largs Esplanade
Distance: 3 miles (5 km)
Largs is best known for being an idyllic seaside town. It’s also a great place to enjoy an exhilarating hill walk. Discover one of the costal town’s best-kept secrets and scale Castle Hill, a peak located in the lovely Douglas Park. From here you can soak up dazzling views across to Millport, the only town on the tiny Isle of Cumbrae, and beyond to the isles of Arran and Bute. As you climb, pace yourself by pausing at various resting stops located along the way where you can stop to admire the coastal panorama. There’s also a special discovery to be made on the journey to the top; the 5,000-year-old Haylie Chambered Cairn which was discovered in the 18th century. At the top, don’t forget to look for the remains of the ‘castle’, to which the hill owes its name, and traces of the Iron Age hill fort which once kept watch over the sparkling Firth of Forth. To return, join the signposted footpath which leads to the pier.
Start/End: Calton Hill – Waverley Railway Station car park
Distance: 0.4 miles (0.6 km)
The steep Jacob’s Ladder leads to one of the city’s most spectacular vistas, taking in the length of the medieval Royal Mile, Arthur’s Seat and Edinburgh Castle. Numbering 140 steps, the route is a bracing one which slices through volcanic rock. Its unusual name alludes to the biblical story of Jacob and his dream of the rope step ladder hanging down from heaven. First recorded in the 18th century but believed to be much older, it is thought the route served as a short-cut between the Old and New towns, as well as allowing mourners access to the Old Calton Burial Ground. Start at the top of Calton Hill and follow the curve of the elegant Georgian-era Regent, Calton and Royal terraces before descending the recently restored staircase.
The Forth Bridges and North Queensferry
Start/End: Battery Car Park – Carlingnose Point
Distance: 3.25 miles (5.25 km)
You don’t have to climb a hill or a mountain to find an extraordinary view. On the short walk around the small town of North Queensferry on the Firth of Forth, you can join the Fife Coastal Path to find the best vantage point of these incredible structures. The path winds under and past the bridges, eventually leading to the (currently closed) Forth Road Bridge footpaths. On the east side of town, the path continues, through Carlingnose Point Wildlife Reserve, a stretch of coastal habitat maintained by the Scottish Wildlife Trust and set against the awesome backdrop of the bridges.
Lady Mary’s Walk and Laggan Hill
Location: near Crieff, Perthshire
Start/End: Famous Grouse Experience car park
Distance: 5.5 miles (9 km)
Lady Mary’s Walk offers a gentle stroll beside the River Earn beneath a cathedral-like canopy of oak and chestnut trees. It’s especially popular during the colder months when walkers are treated to dazzling autumnal colours. A low-level walkway, it offers a leisurely stroll with sightings of kingfishers, oyster catchers and other wading birds in the river while beyond, the views from the top of Laggan Hill beckon. Follow the signpost and start your ascent. At the summit, take in expansive views of the Victorian market town of Crieff and the surrounding countryside before descending in the direction of the town’s MacRosty Park. Alternatively, after your walk you can pay a visit to The Glenturret, Scotland’s oldest working distillery. From the car park you can walk through the town in the direction of Laggan Hill.
Location: The Ochils near Stirling
Start/End: Blairlogie Meadows car park or Menstrie Scout Hall
Distance: 2.4 miles (3.8 km)
The Ochils are a fantastic area to explore on an afternoon hike. Why not scale Dumyat? This is one of the Ochils’ ‘wee’ hills which boasts two peaks: its 419 m (1375 ft) summit and a lower peak, Castle Law, topped with the remains of an Iron Age hill fort. Depending on where you start, both Dumyat Farm Track and Diamond Jubilee Path intersect with one another and offer a choice of footpaths to both summits. Aside from the spectacular 360-degree views from the top, you will also find a fire basket placed to commemorate the Queen’s Silver Jubilee and a moving memorial to the British Army Regiment, The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. If you’re rushed for time, the quickest and busiest route to the top is the popular ‘Motorway’ route which starts from Sheriffmuir Road and is ideal for families.
Location: near Dunoon, Argyll
Distance: 1.75 miles (2.75 km)
The small hamlet of Glenbranter is the starting point for a network of waymarked routes through the Argyll Forest Park. Many visitors are drawn to the area by the magnificent trees and thriving wildlife, including hordes of red squirrels in the autumn, as well as stunning beauty spots like the Allt Robuic gorge with its tumbling falls. But the most dramatic sight is reached by following the route leading high above the tiny settlement through native woodland, which gives way to spectacular views of the glen and the head of Loch Eck. Just follow the waymarked forestry paths to find your way there.
Location: Alness, Highlands
Start/End: Fyrish Jubilee Car Park
Distance: 4.4 miles (7.1 km)
Follow this circular route to take in panoramic views stretching for miles from the top of Cnoc Fyrish, a peak crowned with the 18th century folly, the Fyrish Monument. Start by following the Jubilee Path before making the steady climb up the shoulder of the peak. Stop to catch your breath and take in the wonderful views across the Cromarty Firth and rugged north-west Highlands. As impressive as the scale of the crumbling monument is up close, it has a sad history. It was commissioned by a local laird to create employment for tenants in danger of being forcibly evicted at the height of Highland Clearances. The return route is equally rewarding, through mature forest buzzing with wildlife.
The Butt of Lewis
Location: Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides
Start/End: End of the Road to the Butt of Lewis
Distance: 1 mile (1.6 km)
This hour-long walk to the Butt of Lewis, the Hebridean island’s most northerly tip, will make you feel as though you’ve reached the edge of the world. From the bottom of the soaring red-brick lighthouse, take in the endless seascape of the North Atlantic as it meets the island’s jagged cliffs teeming with seabirds. On clear days you can see the distant peaks of the mainland, while seals, dolphins and even whales can be sighted rising from the waves. Bring a pair of binoculars to spot them and stay to watch some of the most spectacular sunsets you’ve even seen. Take care along the route which features uneven ground and steep cliff edges. Bring a torch or flashlight in case of low light. The W1 bus service runs every few hours and passes the starting point at the end of the road to the Butt.
Location: Mainland, Shetland
Distance: 5.25 miles (8.5 km)
The coastline stretching from Silwick to Westerwick and beyond features some of the most spectacular clifftop scenery in the UK, with immense arches, towering sea stacks and cavernous caves lining the route. Follow this section to view the most impressive geological marvels, starting from the end of the public road in Silwick. Here you’ll find the gate which marks the beginning of the track. Admire awe-inspiring formations like the Berga and Erne’s stacks, the Skerry of the Wick and the Giltarumps, as you wander a safe distance from the edge of the grassy clifftops. Although it is possible to continue walking as far as Olas Voe, you can return by retracing your steps back to Silwick. Please note that this this route crosses land grazed by cattle and sheep and that dogs must be kept on the leash. The ground along parts of the route can be uneven, so you should also come prepared with a torch or flashlight in the event of low light.
Are you inspired to get out there and start exploring Scotland again? Here’s everything you need to know about planning a walking holiday in Scotland.