Scotland’s top 10 best autumn walks

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Autumn is fast approaching. The leaves are changing, the rain is coming and the temperature is certainly falling. However, there is no better time to explore Scotland’s greatest walks than during this, the most colourful of all seasons. So dig out those wellies and grab that cagoule as Kirsty Fraser discovers ten walks to discover this autumn.

1. The Green Loch

Where: Loch Uaine, Aviemore

Open: All times, facility times vary

Facilities: Glenmore visitor centre, cafe, public toilets

Loch Uaine is more commonly known as the Green Loch because of its distinct colour. The walk begins at the Glenmore visitor centre where walkers can park, get hold of a map and pass by the resident reindeer. From there you can take the Ryvoan trail which follows a forest road around the Green Loch. The road is surrounded by brightly coloured ferns and trees which provide a brilliant shelter from any bursts of wind and rain. There is a six and a half mile walk around the loch however shorter routes can be taken. The Green Loch is an idyllic setting for a flask of hot chocolate with the water reflecting the radiant autumnal colours, although legend has it that it is green because fairies used to wash their clothes in its waters.

2. Haddo House and Country Park,

Where: Haddo House Estate, Tarves

Open: Dawn–dusk

Facilities: Cafe, public toilet

Haddo House and Country Park comes to life during autumn. Like a children’s story book, you can hear the squelch of the muddy bogs, the quack of the ducks and the crunch from the fallen leafs. The Haddo estate has superb walks along the riverside, through the surrounding forest and right up to the stag statue which overlooks the estate. There is a children’s adventure playground with a zip-wire and plenty of climbing trees which the adults can have a sneaky go at too. There is also a dog agility trail, a historic tour around Haddo House and a charming tea room for a coffee and cake stop.

3. Pollok Country Park

Where: South side of Glasgow

Open: All times, facility times vary

Facilities: Public toilets, café, restaurant

Pollok Country Park is Glasgow’s largest country park, so it is definitely worth a visit. It has tarmac and rougher footpaths which are surrounded by trees creating the perfect setting for leaf-crunching walks. There are seven miles of woodland paths and trails to explore, as well as play parks. In the event of a shower, visitors can hop into Pollok House (admission charges apply) and learn about the Maxwell family’s grand stately home. If the tour doesn’t take your fancy, then you can enjoy a warm drink and tray bake in the Edwardian Kitchen café.

4. Dalkeith Country Park

Where: Dalkeith, Midlothian

Open: 9:30am–8:30pm

Facilities: Restoration Yard Store, cafe

There are more than 1,000 acres to explore at Dalkeith Country Park, making it a great escape from Edinburgh. There are six marked walks meaning visitors can return time after time to explore the various routes. For a leisurely stroll in the autumnal sun there is the Wilderness Walk. It is a very flat route that is accessible for bikes, buggies and wheelchairs. For a more challenging and longer walk there is the North Wood Walk which stretches for 5 miles and explores a larger section of the country park. Finally, for those who can’t get enough of the outdoors, there is the Old Wood Walk that follows a narrow woodland path and has the option to extend into the Hermitage Walk. There is a cosy cafe to enjoy afterwards.

5. Steall Falls Walk

Where: Glen Nevis, Lochaber

Open: All times, facility times vary

Facilities: Braveheart car park, Ionad Nibheis Centre

Located beneath Ben Nevis is this superb low-level route that photographers will relish. It is surrounded by mountains and stunning scenery, including the striking Highland cattle. This walk goes through the gorge in the glen where the River Nevis flows. When approaching the gorge, walkers can see the power of this river with the waterfalls that tumble beneath the bridge. The gorge itself is lined with wild flowers and has outstanding views of the glen. If the views and scenery weren’t enough to take your breath away, then there is a daring wire-rope bridge that the brave-hearted can use to cross the river. This walk is approximately two miles long and should take around two hours to complete.

6. Whitelee wind farm, Lochgoin circuit

Where: Moor Road, Eaglesham, East Renfrewshire

Open: 10am–5pm

Facilities: Whitelee wind farm visitor centre, cafe, public toilets

For an easy going and unusual walk, the Lochgoin circuit is the one to try. It starts at the Whitelee visitor centre and trails a seven-mile route around the Lochgoin reservoir. It is a simple route to follow with green finger posts marking the way. What is unique about this walk is that is goes through the UK’s largest onshore windfarm. Instead of being encased amongst trees, walkers can enjoy a more open space which features wind turbines, a very different spectacle than you would expect to see on a typical autumn walk. On a clear day walkers can even see as far as Arran and Ben Lomond.

7. The Birks of Aberfeldy

Where: Aberfeldy

Open: All times

Facilities: Birks car park.

This charming short walk showcases several spectacular waterfalls. Walkers can begin from the Birks car park in Aberfeldy. There are a series of bridges which pass over rivers and provide a beautiful view of the Upper Monness Falls. The walk is relatively steep, however, there are handrails to provide support for walkers. Robert Burns’ song The Birks of Aberfeldy was inspired by this location. There is a natural shelf in the rocks at one point which is known as Burns’ Seat as he is said to have taken a rest on this ledge in 1787 while exploring the Birks of Aberfeldy.

8. The Hermitage

Where: Dunkeld

Open: All times, facility times vary

Facilities: Carpark, take-away cafe,

The Hermitage is an enchanted forest where there are giants to be found and traces of royalty. The giants come in the form of Douglas firs, which are among the tallest trees in the British Isles. They tower over walkers as they explore the woodland trail which stretches for two miles. It is said that Queen Victoria used to walk through this forest. If the giant trees and royal footsteps weren’t enough, then there is the Black Linn Falls to see which can be viewed from Ossian’s Hall. This incredible waterfall is a must-see spectacle at The Hermitage. Autumn is the perfect time to explore this beautiful forest as it will be radiant in colour.

9. River Tweed and Tweedbank

Where: Abbotsford, Borders

Open: All times

Facilities: Car park

A gentle stroll along the River Tweed is a simple but beautiful walk suitable for families. It is only three miles long and should take just over an hour to complete. It follows the Borders Abbey Way towards the River Tweed which then crosses over with the Solway Woodland Trail. Walkers will follow the river under the Redbridge Viaduct and along past Lowood House. Before climbing the wooden steps up to the road, visitors should keep their eyes peeled for heron, oyster catchers and goosander which can often be spotted along the riverside. For those who are lucky, they might even see an otter or kingfisher resting by the river.

10. Mugdock Country Park

Where: Milngavie, East Dunbartonshire

Open: 9am-5pm

Facilities: Car park, Mudgock visitor centre, Caulders garden centre, cafes, Mugdock country cycles

For a walk against a historic backdrop, Mugdock Country Park is the place to go. It is created from the rubble of the 14th century Mugdock Castle and the remainder of the 19th century Craigend Castle. Visitors can also find the remains of a Second World War anti-aircraft trench from 1942. These ruins are open to explore and are a fantastic addition to the beautiful scenery of the country park. For a family day out, there is a play park, an assault course and two miles of cycle paths. There are a variety of cafes.

Source : HeraldScotland

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