If you’re in need of a holiday that provides a break from the real world, look no further than Scotland. From wild mountainous landscapes to beaches that wouldn’t look amiss on a Caribbean island, this country has it all. There are hundreds of magnificent open spaces for your four-legged friend, and while we couldn’t possibly list all of the wonderful walks on offer here, we’ve come up with some of our favourite dog-friendly walks in Scotland.
Walk length: Three and a quarter miles
Terrain: Way-marked walking paths, with some steep gradients in parts
A traditional highland crofting estate, Balmacara’s hills are dotted with crofting settlements and patches of woodland, which are great for exploring with your four-legged friend. Climbing through forestry tracks and open moorland, this walk has excellent coastal views out to the Isle of Skye. The starting point of the Balmacara and Reraig Circular walk is the Balmacara Estate Visitor’s Centre, near Kyle, which gives an excellent overview of the area’s rich crofting history, as well as providing information about the many other walks in the area.
Walk length: Four miles
Terrain: Soft sand and windswept cliffs
Take a walk around the Balnakeil Beach and Faraid Head Circular, near the northern town of Durness, for some outstanding coastal views. The turquoise waters and big sand dunes are perfect for a sea-loving pooch, and the expansive white sands make for some scenic walking opportunities.
Dog-friendly pit stop: Stop by the Smoo Cave Hotel for some well-priced pub food.
Walk length: Four and a half miles
Terrain: Flat, well-marked trails in this National Trust estate
Scotland has plenty of country parks to discover. At Castle Fraser, located near the Aberdeenshire village of Inverurie, dog walks will take you around the fairy-like tower house at the heart of this National Trust estate. There are several trails here, but try joining up the Alton Brae and Miss Bristow’s trails for an easy two-hour walk. In spring, the open trails of the park are dotted with wildflowers.
Dog-friendly pit stop: Head to the dog-friendly BrewDog bar in Inverurie for a post-walk pint. The only downside will be electing your designated driver…
Walk length: Seven miles
Terrain: Well-marked trails with a steep ascent profile
It wouldn’t be a ‘best dog-friendly walks of Scotland’ list without including the chance to bag a Munro, and this hike includes not one, but two. At 1,214 metres,Ben Lawers, in Perthshire, is Scotland’s tenth highest Munro and it’s a good option for those looking for an introduction to the mountains. The paths on the Ben Lawers and Beinn Glass walk are perfect for a fit, young dog and their suitably-attired owner.
Location: St Andrews
Walk length: Three and a quarter miles
Terrain: Sandy beaches and easy woodland footpaths
The Kingsbarns and Cambo Circuit explores some of the Fife Coastal Path. Running alongside the magnificent beach of Cambo Sands and skirting around the links of the Kingsbarns Golf Course, before taking you inland to discover Cambo’s tranquil woodland trails. At the end of the walk, why not treat your pooch to a splash in Fife’s chilly North Sea.
Dog-friendly pit stop: The Cheesy Toast Shack is a fantastic place to get a whopping cheese toastie and eat it on the beach.
Walk length: Three mile
Terrain: Well-maintained paths, with a steep and rocky section at the end
For a proper hill walk, you can’t get better than Holyrood Park to Arthur’s Seat. And as dog-friendly cities go, Edinburgh is up there with the best. But, in fact, Holyrood Park is a 650 acre site, of glorious craggy hillside, Iron Age forts and Bronze Age terraces. So if the trek up Arthur’s Seat isn’t for you (or your dog), then there are plenty of other easier trails for dog walkers.
Dog-friendly pit stop: For nearby craft beer and gourmet burgers, try the dog-friendly Holyrood 9A.
Walk length: Three and a half miles
Terrain: Forest trails and flat loch-side paths
The small town of Aviemore is well-known among British skiers, being situated right at the foothills of the Cairngorms. However, in summer, it’s equally well-located for a dog owner, offering hiking trails through the acres of woodland in Cairngorms National Park. This Loch Morlich Circular walk is easy, taking only a couple of hours.
Dog-friendly pit stop: Fuel up either before or after your walk at the Explorer Cafe, which has spectacular views of the Cairngorms.
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