Winter walking

winter walking web

Ramblers Scotland wants to encourage more Scots to keep walking through the winter.

It can be tempting to hang up your walking boots in winter. But that would be missing a great opportunity for some up-lifting walking, say the Ramblers. The walking charity wants more people than ever to enjoy a walk on the wintry side.

This month they have launched their annual Festival of Winter Walks, which features a wide range of free guided walks led by experienced volunteers. There are walks to suit all abilities and aspirations. The walks take place in towns and cities, parkland, the countryside and at the coast.

With the festive holiday season upon us, it’s the ideal time to enjoy some outdoor time with family and friends. You will also meet new people as part of a walking group.

If you can’t find the right walk on the ideal day, why not search for your own winter walk using the on-line library of Ramblers Routes? In Scotland, the Medal Routes library lists short, gentle walks near towns and there’s even a handy Medal Route mobile app.

Walking in winter should always be done with caution. You need experience and the right skills and equipment to safely walk in the hills and mountains in wintry conditions. That’s why a Ramblers Scotland group walk could be the perfect way to enjoy a walk this winter. Here we choose some of the best winter walks in Scotland.

Eight guided winter walks

ROSLIN GLEN

When: Saturday, 17 December 2016

Start time: 9:00

Distance: 8.7 miles/14 km (moderate)

A circular walk in Roslin starting from the war memorial in Roslin village. The group will walk past the 15th Century Chapel in Roslin village, a favourite among Da Vinci Code aficionados, and into Roslin Glen heading upstream to Rosewell via Springfield Mill, Hewan Bank and Bilston Wood before returning back to Roslin. No ascent although slightly undulating in places. Can be muddy.
Find out more

WATER OF LEITH

When: Wednesday, December 21 2016

Start time: 11:00

Distance: 4 miles/6.4 km (leisurely)

This is a scenic four-mile group walk along the popular Water of Leith walkway, from Balerno to Colinton. The wooded linear walk is a perfect way to burn off some calories before Christmas feasting! There’s even an optional extension to Kingsknowe, which surely earns you an extra mince pie.
Find out more

DRONLEY WOODS

When: Sunday, 8 January 2017

Start time: 10:30

Distance: 6 miles/9.6 km (strenuous)

Follow alongside the reservoir, then exit on north on a lovely farm track, through a pleasant forested area. We will then descend to an interesting dismantled railway track, and follow a track to Dronley Woods. We’ll then return via the railway track exiting at Dronley, take the road to Muirhead and back to the car park via Templeton woods.

WAUKMILL GLEN

When: Saturday, 7 January 2017

Start time: 09:40

Distance: 4.3 miles/7 km (leisurely)

This half-day walk is in the northern part of Dams to Darnley Country Park and, from its rural feel, you won’t believe that it is mostly within the Glasgow City boundary. Much of the walk is on good paths in woodland and more open areas, but it is graded leisurely (rather than easy), because there are parts across rough ground, involving some fence crossings.
Find out more

Silhouettes in the snow. Photograph: Ameila Calvert

Silhouettes in the snow. Photograph: Ameila Calvert

DUNKELD AND BIRNAM

When: Saturday, 7 January 2017

Start time: 10:00

Distance: 8 miles/12.8 km (moderate)

This is a pleasant winter walk that mainly follows good paths and through woodland near the popular Hermitage. Walkers will meet at Beatrix Potter Garden in Birnam, where there is parking available in side streets.
Find out more

MURTHLY CASTLE GROUNDS AND RIVER TAY

When: Saturday, 7 January 2017

Start time: 10:30

Distance: 6 miles/9.6 km (leisurely)

A fairly flat walk along the old railway track, through woodland, to the iconic River Tay. We’ll then walk on into the wonderful castle grounds. It will be easy walking along well-made tracks, starting at the parking area at the gate of Murthly Castle.
Find out more

MONKLAND CANAL

When: Thursday, 29 December 2016

Start time: 09:50

Distance: 5.6 miles/9 km (easy)

Monkland Canal was closed in the 1940s and most of the route is now culverted underground, much of it under the M8 motorway, but this walk follows one of the few remaining open sections, as well as incorporating some local parks. After the main walk, the leader will offer an optional extension of a quarter of a mile around the outside of Summerlee Heritage Museum. Walkers may, if they wish, then have lunch in the museum café, and perhaps visit the museum itself.
Find out more

THE BO’NESS AND BIRKHILL WALKABOUT

When: Saturday, 17 December 2016

Start time: 08:40

Distance: 9 miles/14.4 (moderate)

All are welcome to join Linlithgow Ramblers’ traditional circular Christmas walk, which involves reaching Birkhill at the same time as the ‘Santa special steam train’ from Bo’ness. The group will stand on the railway bridge and wave to all the children on the train.
Find out more

A frosty day in the Pentland hills, Midlothian. Photograph: Ramblers Scotland

A frosty day in the Pentland hills, Midlothian. Photograph: Ramblers Scotland

Seven more wonderful winter walks

These walks are not guided. To find out more about the routes sign up to the Ramblers website. It is important that you choose the right walk according to your experience and skills.

Stroll around Edinburgh
Grade and distance: An easy-graded 7.3 miles/11.7km
The walk starts at Queen Margaret University and meanders along to Leith. It’s a mainly traffic-free route through the north-eastern and coastal fringes of the capital city. You might be surprised by the variety of terrain including footpaths, estate grounds, riverbanks, a promenade and the coast.

Scenic Dunfermline, Fife
Grade and distance: An easy-graded 3.3 miles/5.3km
Enjoy a historic circular stroll through the Royal Burgh of Dunfermline, which was the ancient capital of Scotland. The route also visits the town’s historic abbey and the ruins of Dunfermline Palace.

Beinn Ghlas & Ben Lawers, Perthshire
Grade and distance: A moderate 6.3 miles/10.1km
This circular hill walk is a superb outing in good winter weather and takes in two Munro summits of Beinn Ghlas and Ben Lawers.

Ben Nevis and the CIC Hut
Grade and distance: A moderate 7.1 miles/11.4km
While Ben Nevis summit itself is often the goal, this walk through the valley below the North Face and up to the CIC hut is very rewarding. Again, the weather needs to be favourable, especially to see the views of the stunning North Face cliffs that rise some 700 metres towards the summit of Britain’s highest mountain. This is a view that is not seen by walkers who ascend by the Mountain Track.

Plockton, Lochalsh, West Highlands
Grade and distance: An easy-graded 8.6 miles/13.8km
This circular walk from Plockton via Duncraig Hill (Carn a’ Bhealaich Mhoir) offers picturesque views of Duncraig Castle. It offers easy walking on good tracks and quiet roads all the way, except for one climb.

Pirnmill Hills, Isle of Arran
Grade and distance: Strenuous 9.3 miles/14.9km
This route has it all, including a rugged ridge-top hike, coast, scenic views and mostly good paths. The route starts at Thundergay and heads via Coire Fhionn Lochan, Beinn Bhreac, Mullach Buidhe and Pirnmill.

Craigellachie National Nature Reserve, Highland
Grade and distance: A moderate 3.7 miles/6km
If you haven’t been to Craigellachie National Nature Reserve in Aviemore, you’ve missed a treat. This walking route journeys through woodland and over a hill for great views across the wider Cairngorms.

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