If you’ve an inclination to explore Scotland’s amazing countryside and you’re reasonably fit and healthy then why not try one of Scotland’s Great Trails?
Some of these waymarked long-distance routes are better known than others – notably the West Highland Way: this 154Km (96miles) route starts at Milngavie passes through Mugdock Country Park, hugs the shores of Loch Lomond, passing Ben Lomond, through Glen Falloch and Strathfillan, crossing Rannoch Moor, past Buachaille Etive Mor to the head of Glencoe, climbing the Devil’s Staircase, descending to the Loch Leven before entering Lairigmor and Glen Nevis and finishes at Gordon Square in Fort William. There are 28 other (arguably less well known) Great Trails in Scotland and helpfully there’s a great website which brings them all together.
Take some time to explore the official Great Trail website. Scotland’s Great Trails offer stunning scenery and varied topography so whichever walk you chose you will not be disappointed. Be warned, the Great Trails website is addictive and it’s hard to resist clicking the links; before you know it you will have become an armchair walker!
I have to admit that many on the Scottish Great Trails website were new to me, but once I had started my virtual journey I was captivated. In my head I have now completed the Three Lochs Way, most of the glorious coast to coast route across the Southern Uplands and just ten minutes ago I headed over the border into England contemplating life and spirituality on St Cuthberts Way which runs from Melrose to Holy Island! Whilst my imagination may have had a good work out you can’t beat the real thing for that intoxicating and pleasurable mix of physical effort and sensual reward.
There are also several new routes on the Great Trails’ drawing board including four potential Pilgrim Routes – the Fife Pilgrim Way; Iona to St Andrews (The Three Saints Way); the Whithorn Way and the Forth to Farne Way – these walks have added purpose. Modern pilgrimages have evolved and you don’t have to be religious to celebrate being at one with nature, the climate and your own thoughts and it’s easy to understand their appeal to a generation who may not be conventional Church going Christians. For many, their church is the great outdoors and there’s no better way to enjoy it than by foot.
Much as I love a good walk my fitness level is perhaps not up to tackling a Great Trail without some preparation. All Scotland’s Great Trails are a minimum of 25 miles in length and most are considerably more! Perhaps, I should start on two wheels rather than on two feet? Most of the trails are accessible to cyclists and whilst my progress would not be as quick as my virtual walking tour it would certainly be quicker than my normal amble through the countryside. Even if walking is not for you in any shape or form it would be hard to ignore its benefits to health and well-being. It is undoubtedly one of the most popular pastimes for anyone on holiday in Scotland. It’s a great way to get outdoors and enjoy the scenery and every region has hidden gems which can often only be reached by foot. It’s also free – unless you opt for a walking holiday with a guide or a rucksack carriage service – and it’s good for you!
Having somewhere to relax after a good walk makes it even easier and that’s one of the reasons why self-catering is such a good accommodation choice as it gives you complete freedom to come and go as you please, put the washing through, dry your boots, rest your weary limbs and plan your next day’s walking adventure in your holiday home from home.
And if you really think that walking is not for you keep in touch as next month we’ll be looking at the North Coast 500: more than 500 miles of the best the North Highlands has to offer. The route way runs to and from Inverness, venturing round the capital of the Highlands, up the West Coast and back via the rugged north coast. It is being marketed as Scotland’s answer to America’s Route 66 and if you are a petrol head then this surely must be on your bucket list!
Some Walkers Tips:
• Always dress for the weather you have and pack for the weather you might get. There’s a saying in the west coast of Scotland – ‘if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes’. Let’s face it, the weather in Scotland is changeable, but if you are wearing the appropriate gear (and that includes footwear) then you’ll enjoy being outdoors and you’ll stay warm and dry.
• Respect the Scottish Outdoor Access Code – there’s a Right to Roam in Scotland so you don’t have to stick to walking routes, trails and waymarked paths. But with rights comes responsibilities so please respect the interests of other people, care for the environment and take responsibility for your own actions.
• Walkers Welcome – you can search for self-catering properties via the Embrace website that meet the VisitScotland Quality Assurance scheme requirements for walkers.
Tuesday 16th May 2017
The Paws for a Break Pet-Friendly Award winner has been announced! The judges ruled, by a whisker, that Mains of Taymouth in Perthshire is the worthy victor. So a big congratulatory tail-wagging goes to Pauline and her team at Mains of Taymouth. We must give a paw to the five other finalists, Ardtornish Estate, Cologin, […]
Tuesday 16th May 2017
The Enjoyable Rut is a travel blog aiming to inspire you to get outside and make the most out of life. It aims to show you the beauty and wonder in the every day, that the edge of the map isn’t as far as you can go and that the ends of the world aren’t limits at […]
Wednesday 19th Apr 2017
As it’s the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, we asked Mike Spencer-Nairn, owner of Eagle Brae, for some more recommendations on delving into the past in the Highlands – here are some of his suggestions: Corrimony Chambered Cairn If you love exploring a stone circle site (or you are an Outlander fan!) Corrimony Burial Cairn lies near […]
Tuesday 28th Feb 2017
Guest post by Emma Gibb There is nothing quite like rugged Scottish scenery to quieten a busy mind. During a particularly busy week, when my mind was whirring with to-do lists, we headed to Eagle Brae – a luxury self-catering eco resort nestled between Glen Affric and Glen Strathfarrar. It is impossible to do anything other than switch off […]
Tuesday 14th Feb 2017
We asked the public to nominate their favourite pet-friendly self-catering property on EmbraceScotland for our Paws for a Break Award 2016/17 and we are delighted to announce our 6 finalists! These self-catering holiday properties go the extra mile to make sure that pets and their owners are made welcome, with all the facilities and services you need for a […]
Thursday 2nd Feb 2017
With over 8,000 miles of coastline we are spoilt for choice when it comes to beautiful beaches in Scotland (and you can often enjoy these gorgeous sandy stretches to yourself). Of course not all beaches are dog-friendly and, to give dog owners some holiday inspiration, we asked bloggers, our holiday home owners and lovely Instagram […]
Sunday 29th Jan 2017
Located in an area with royal connections past and present, Perkhill Holiday Cottages provide a comfortable base for a rural retreat in Aberdeenshire. We asked owner Pippa Davie about the self-catering accommodation and her tips for visiting the area. Can you tell us a bit more about Perkhill Holiday Cottages? We renovated the cottages from redundant farm […]
Saturday 21st Jan 2017
We know that quite a few of you have been searching for self-catering properties where you can take more than two furry friends and so we have put together this blog post to offer you some holiday inspiration. Contact individual owners for information on any property restrictions, charges or rules (with EmbraceScotland you book direct with […]
Friday 20th Jan 2017
Press Release Leading Scottish Holiday Home Provider Recommends The Best Dog-Friendly Breaks North of the Border Scotland’s extensive “right to roam” access makes it “top dog” when it comes to holidaying with a canine companion. The country offers an array of experiences, specifically with Fido in mind and now, thanks to EmbraceScotland’s “Pets Welcome Charter”, […]