14 Scenic Short Walks for Families

We've put together some family-friendly walks, which are fairly gentle but have lots of interesting things to see along the way.
There's a huge variety of scenic surroundings to choose from on family walking holidays in Scotland. Enjoy walks near Glasgow, forest walks near Edinburgh and family hill walks in Scotland's countryside. Why not bring your doggy along too on a family hiking break in Scotland with a dog-friendly path or trail?

  1. Brough of Birsay Orkney

    L’île de Brough of Birsay, îles Orcades

    © Orkney.com

    This little island off the north-west coast of Orkney's Mainland is just a short walk along a tidal causeway, from a small car park at Birsay. When the tide goes out it leaves lots of rock pools, which are ideal for inquisitive young minds to investigate. Along with crustaceans in the rock pools, you're likely to spot seabirds including puffins, razorbills, shags and guillemots overhead, depending on when you visit.

    If you want to explore more of the area after rockpooling, the Brough of Birsay and Earl's Palace walk takes in some fascinating Pictish, Norse and monastic ruins on the island and the Earl's Palace at Birsay. Just remember to check tide times.

    • Parking
    • Itinéraire desservi par les transports en commun
  2. Ness Island Walk Inverness

    The view down the River Ness running through the city centre of Inverness, from the grounds of Inverness Castle, Highlands of Scotland.

    © Paul Tomkins, VisitScotland. All rights reserved.

    The Ness Islands are a popular oasis of calm in the centre of Inverness. Set in the River Ness, these islands are connected to the city by suspension bridges built in the Victorian era. The paths around them are flat and if you're lucky you might see seals between the bridges. The circular 3-mile (5 km) walk will take about an hour, but you can cut across one of the bridges and shorten it if you like.

    Or take a bit longer and stroll around Whin Park, which is great for family picnics and also contains a playground, boating pond, miniature railway, and an ice cream and coffee shop.

  3. Smugglers' Trail Eyemouth

    St Abbs, Scottish Borders

    Along the Berwickshire Coastal Path in the Scottish Borders, the Smugglers' Trail takes you on a journey to see some out-of-the-way coves and beaches that the 'free traders' used in days of old. Travel along the shore and see where smugglers would stash their 'booty' before selling to the local community.

    Start your walk at the striking Gunsgreen House, where you can buy a map of the Smugglers' Trail. For the energetic family, there's the waymarked 8-mile (12 km) Eyemouth circular route. There are also shorter options, such as a climb to Blaikie Heugh. Uncover the Smugglers' Trail.

  4. Montrose Basin Angus

    Scottish Wildlife Trust - Montrose Basin Visitor Centre

    © Scottish Wildlife Trust

    Montrose Basin on the Angus coast is a huge enclosed estuary teeming with birdlife and wildlife. Short tracks leading down to the basin start from Bridge of Dun and Mains of Dun, where you can really appreciate the scale of the basin. It's a fabulous place to spot waders, terns and, if you're lucky, seals and otters.

    Don't miss the refurbished family-friendly 4-star Scottish Wildlife Trust Visitor Centre (small entry charge applies), which is only half a mile (1 km) from the basin. You'll find telescopes and binoculars here for viewing wildlife, as well as live footage of migratory birds.

    • Parking
    • Itinéraire desservi par les transports en commun
    • Boucle magnétique
    • Parking accessible ou point de débarquement
    • Accès au niveau du sol
    • Toilettes accessibles
  5. Kelburn Castle & Country Park Largs

    Kelburn Castle. This castle is graffiti painted with a bright and colourful mural.

    Based around a colourful 13th century castle, Kelburn Estate, near Largs in Ayrshire & Arran, is a great place for a family day out with the flamboyant designs on the castle walls sure to captivate curious young minds. The Kelburn Glen, with its waterfalls and deep gorges, is regarded by many as one of Scotland's most beautiful and the Short Glen Walk/Sculpture Trail is a great option for families.

    Kids will also love the Secret Forest - a network of enchanting woodland paths with amazing surprises along the way. After all that, there's still the Adventure Course, Pets Corner and the Playbarn to explore!

    • Parking
    • Itinéraire desservi par les transports en commun
    • Parking accessible ou point de débarquement
    • Toilettes accessibles
    • Cafétéria ou restaurant
  6. Muir of Dinnet NNR & Burn O'Vat Aberdeenshire

    Muir of Dinnet National Nature Reserve

    This popular National Nature Reserve is east of Ballater in Royal Deeside, within the Cairngorms National Park. There are four great waymarked walks starting at the visitor centre including the 1 mile (1.6  km) trail to the otherworldly Burn O' Vat - a huge, secret geological pothole which you enter via a narrow gap and stepping stones on the Vat burn. The pothole was reputedly used as a hiding place by notorious local outlaw Gilderoy MacGregor.

    Don't forget to explore the other trails and enjoy lovely views over Loch Kinord and Loch Davan. You might also spot some local wildlife - it really is a great place for a family nature walk.

    • Parking
    • Toilettes accessibles
    • Parking accessible ou point de débarquement
  7. Tentsmuir Forest Fife

    Mountain biker on a cycle route in Tentsmuir Forest

    © Kenny Lam, all rights reserved.

    Discover a massive sand dune system, one of Scotland's most dynamic coastlines, a pine-scented forest and wonderful wildlife including seals at Tentsmuir National Nature Reserve. It's an ideal place for walking and off-road cycling and a picnic on the beach. Collect seashells and look out for red squirrels and dragonflies too.

    Combine it with a trip to nearby St Andrews for food and refreshments, a visit to St Andrews Aquarium or Craigtoun Park.

  8. Lady Mary's Walk Crieff

    A broad path runs through the middle of the forest, with a carpet of autumn leaves on the ground and a canopy of red and gold leaves above

    © VisitScotland / Paul Tomkins, all rights reserved.

    Named after Lady Mary Murray, whose family were local landowners in the early 19th century, Lady Mary's Walk goes through beautiful woodland and along the banks of the River Earn and is great for bikes and buggies. Some of the trees here are over 150 years old and stunning in all seasons (though especially in autumn). Herons, kingfishers, grey wagtails, oystercatchers and dippers all live on the river and otters have been seen at dusk.

    A longer walk taking in Lady Mary's Walk and Laggan Hill is another option and Crieff offers many family-friendly eateries and play areas.

  9. Falls of Clyde and New Lanark Lanarkshire

    Falls of Clyde Visitor Centre & Wildlife Reserve

    © Paul Watt

    Surrounded by lush woodlands, the historic New Lanark UNESCO World Heritage Site is the gateway to the Falls of Clyde which is famous for its dramatic waterfalls and beautiful riverside walks. There's an unstaffed visitor centre giving information about the reserve and over 100 bird species have been recorded here, as well as regular badger and bat walks throughout the year.

    Combine your visit to the reserve with some time exploring New Lanark, which alongside a fantastic visitor experience also offers a café, restaurant, hotel, shops and the fabulous Clearburn natural play and picnic area.

  10. Gruffalo Trail, Ardkinglas Argyll

    Ardkinglas Woodland Garden, Gruffalo & Fairy Trail

    Ardkinglas House is an impressive and historic exclusive-use venue on the shores of beautiful Loch Fyne in Argyll. The Woodland Garden is part of the 12,000-acre estate, is open year-round and contains an impressive collection of trees, including one of Britain's tallest.

    The highlight for kids is, undoubtedly, the Gruffalo Trail. Pick up the trail map from the mouse, who will guide you along the route to find the Gruffalo. There's an admission charge for the trail and there's also the Treeshop garden centre, gift shop and café if you're looking for a spot of lunch and souvenirs.

    • Parking
    • Animaux de compagnie bienvenus
    • Parking accessible ou point de débarquement
  11. Loch Ard Sculpture Trail Aberfoyle

    View of loch

    Loch Ard in Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park is home to the Loch Ard Sculpture Trail, a fine family walk, where the kids will have fun discovering the sculptures. Each represents an animal, insect or bird which is part of the forest's natural food chain. Along the route you'll find sound posts featuring toads, deer, Great Spotted Woodpeckers, jays and buzzards.

    There are five trails suitable for bikes, buggies and wheelchairs ranging from 2 to 10 miles (3 to 16 km). Download the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park leaflet to find out more or stop off at The Lodge Visitor Centre near Aberfoyle to pick up a copy - the café there has one of the best views in Scotland.

    More adventurous older kids can experience GoApe! here too. 

  12. Loch An Eilein Rothiemurcus

    Loch an Eilein at Rothiemurchus

    Rothiemurchus Forest is the magical setting for this sparkling loch near Aviemore in the Cairngorms National Park. It's the ideal spot to soak up beautiful reflections of ancient Scots pine and quietly seek out Scottish crossbills and red squirrels.

    Walk the 5 mile (8 km) circuit around the loch admiring the 13th century island castle as you go. There are good footpaths, which are mostly suitable for off-road buggies. Start at the Loch an Eilein car park (charges apply) and follow the signs, sticking to the main path. Afterwards head back to Aviemore for a trip on the Strathspey Steam Railway - the kids will love it!

    Watch our walking video to see views of the loch, the surrounding area and some visitor attractions nearby.

  13. Arthur's Seat Edinburgh

    Holyrood Park and Arthur's Seat

    It's an ancient volcano in the city, so kids will love it! Only a short walk from Edinburgh's Royal Mile and family attractions such as Dynamic Earth and the Museum of Childhood, Arthur's Seat dominates Holyrood Park. Sitting 822 ft (251 m) above sea level, it provides spectacular views over the city and is steeped in history dating back 2,000 years.

    You can also visit 15th century St Anthony's Chapel, Salisbury Crags and Duddingston Loch, which is rich in birdlife - the circular walking route around Holyrood Park takes you to most of these. There are also many cafés nearby to enjoy a well-deserved ice-cream.

  14. Hill 99, Culbin Forest Moray Speyside

    Culbin Sands

    How about a day at the beach? Culbin Forest, near Forres, offers a great network of family walking trails and borders the ever-shifting and vast Culbin Sands, home to seals and a wide range of birdlife. The 3.5-mile (5.6 km) Hill 99 Trail is mostly flat, passing ponds teeming with insect life and pretty picnic stops, and has a gentle climb to Culbin's highest sand dune. Children will love climbing the viewing tower for dramatic views over the treetops to the Moray Firth.

    Download a map of Culbin Sands before you visit or pick one up at Wellhill car park where the walk starts. Climb Hill 99.

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