Race season is coming up, and for joggers that means it’s time to lace up the running shoes and get training! Whether you’re attempting your first 5k or already have a dozen shiny medals to your name, Scotland boasts countless routes and paths to help you keep up the mileage this summer, from city runs and urban parks to deserted beaches, mountain trails and beyond.
Get itchy feet with our list of 15 of our favourite places to go for a run in Scotland, or find races and challenges to keep you motivated in 2015.
On your marks, get set… go!
Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh
Right in the heart of Edinburgh, Arthur’s Seat towers 250 m above the Scottish capital and offers various options for both road and trail running, all set to sweeping panoramic views. If, like me, the mere thought of that uphill scrambles leaves you gasping for breath, the nearby Holyrood Park makes for a pleasant (and much flatter) alternative.
Linlithgow Peel, West Lothian
Birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots, the grounds of Linlithgow Palace are a firm favourite with local and visiting joggers alike. Follow the path around the loch for a short, relaxing run, and make sure you keep your eyes peeled for birdlife: the area is home to mute swans, greylag geese, goldeneye and many more fascinating creatures.
Calanais Standing Stones, Lewis
I think most runners would agree that those long-distance slogs are much more enjoyable when you’ve a few interesting monuments to spot along your route. If you’re visiting the Isle of Lewis, be sure to take a jog along the west coast: you’ll pass historic sites such as the Gearrannan Blackhouse Village, Dun Carloway Broch or the atmospheric Calanais Standing Stones. Don’t get that on a treadmill, do you?!
Photo by Paul Tomkins © VisitScotland
Fife Coastal Path
The wonderful Fife Coastal Path leads from Kincardine to Newburgh and passes many of the region’s most picturesque villages and beaches, as well as some of Scotland’s best fish and chip shops – perfect for a hard-earned post-run snack! Any part of the varied, 117-mile route is great for offroad running, but be sure to check the forecast before you head out, as some sections may be impassable at high tide.
The West Highland Way
One of Scotland’s most famous walking routes, the West Highland Way is also a hotspot for trail running. If you’ve already got a few marathons under your belt (and/or are a wee bit crazy) you might even want to tackle the West Highland Way Race, an ultramarathon spanning 94 miles in a maximum time of 35 hours. My feet hurt just thinking about it.
Bute, Argyll & The Isles
Despite a total area of just 47.2 square miles, Bute is a remarkably varied island, making it a great choice for runners who like to mix and match their training routes. Head to the hills for an offroad run through heather moorlands, or enjoy a peaceful jog across the gorgeous sandy beaches for stunning coastal views – like this one, looking out to the Isle of Arran from Scalpsie Bay.
Scott’s View, Scottish Borders
Named after the Borders’ most famous resident, Sir Walter Scott, Scott’s View overlooks the verdant valley of the River Tweed towards the Eildon Hills. Follow the road from Dryburgh Abbey and back again – taking a quick breather to admire the vista, of course – for a fun 4-mile run or walk, or tackle a longer route from Melrose Abbey, just under 4.5 miles away.
Photo © Kenny Lam, VisitScotland
Pollok Country Park, Glasgow
Glasgow boasts a number of gorgeous parks that are ideal for jogging. My personal favourite is Pollok Country Park, home to the striking Pollok House (pictured) as well as lots of lovely peaceful woodland. Join in the Great Scottish Run half marathon in October, which passes through Pollok Country Park, Bellahouston Park and Glasgow Green, or see some of the city’s most famous sights on the 10k route.
Photo by Paul Tomkins © VisitScotland
Barra, Outer Hebrides
The Isle of Barra is something of a paradise for runners, so much so that places for this year’s Barrathon sold out in 10 minutes – it’s like the Beyoncé of half marathons. Try and snatch a spot for the 2016 race when booking opens early next year, or simply head off to this idyllic island to enjoy running across its gorgeous beaches and lush green glens at your own leisurely pace.
The Isle of Skye
Running on Skye is not for the faint of heart (or legs) but it’s worth the effort just to catch sight of the island’s incredible landscapes. Take a run past breathtaking sights including the Old Man of Storr and the Cuillin mountains, or sign up for the Isle of Skye Half Marathon on 13 June for an unforgettable challenge.
Photo by Kenny Lam via Flickr
Calton Hill, Edinburgh
You don’t need to head off to the countryside for a challenging run with great views! One of my favourite routes is through Edinburgh’s Old Town, along Regent Road and up to Calton Hill. The city’s slopes and steps make for a varied urban route, and the views from the top of the hill are unbeatable.
Loch Ness, The Highlands
Famed worldwide for its mythical monster, Scotland’s second-deepest loch is surrounded by paths that are perfect for long walks or jogs, and is also known to runners around the globe as the home of the Loch Ness Marathon. Don’t fancy doing the full 26.2 miles? There’s also a River Ness 10k, a 5k Fun Run and a Wee Nessie race for little athletes, all taking place on 27 September.
Photo by Colin Keldie © VisitScotland
With its rugged cliffs, towering sea stacks, and brooding moorland, Hoy is a treat for walkers and runners alike. Tackle the small but quirky Hoy Half Marathon (including a family fun run) on 14 June – its challenging route means it probably won’t be your fastest race, but it’s sure to be one of the most scenic!
Culzean Castle, Ayrshire
Culzean, Ayrshire’s iconic clifftop castle, is perched on the edge of a 600-acre country park of majestic woodland and secluded ponds – ideal for walkers and joggers. Look out for occasional Fun Runs taking place in the castle grounds, or enjoy a longer run from nearby Turnberry and back again.
Balmoral Estate, Aberdeenshire
Summer home to the British Royal Family, the magnificent Balmoral Castle is surrounded by 50,000 acres of beautiful rivers, mountains and woodlands, making it perfect for outdoor activities. Explore the grounds for yourself, or take in the beauty of the estate at Run Balmoral, a two-day running festival featuring a 5k, 10k, 15-mile trail route and numerous races for kids (25 – 26 April).
These are just a few of the fantastic running spots around Scotland, so feel free to leave us a comment with your own favourite routes. Remember, it’s important to train and prepare properly before taking part in any race! Visit ScottishRunningGuide.com for information on training, stretching and nutrition, or find more marathons and races for you to tackle around Scotland.
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