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Seven dog-friendly walks in Scotland

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.

1. Balmacara and Reraig circuit

Location: Kyle

Difficulty: Medium

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.

2. Balnakeil Beach and Faraid Head Circular

Location: Durness

Difficulty: Medium

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.

3. Castle Fraser

Location: Inverurie

Difficulty: Easy

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…

4. Ben Lawers and Beinn Ghlas

Location: Killin

Difficulty: Hard

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.

Dog-friendly pit stop: The dog-friendly Capercaillie Restaurant in Killin is ideal for a pint and a filling pub meal after your long walk.

5. Kingsbarns and Cambo Circuit

Location: St Andrews

Difficulty: Easy

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.

6. Holyrood Park to Arthur’s Seat

Location: Edinburgh

Difficulty: Moderate

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.

7. Loch Morlich circular

Location: Aviemore

Difficulty: Easy

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.