4 walking routes to try in the South of Scotland

Scotland walking routes
photo: Sophie Potter

When you think of walking routes in Scotland, your mind may well turn to beautiful misty walks in the Scottish Highlands or on the remote isles. The truth is, you don’t have to go that far into Scotland to discover some of the country’s most stunning walks. From scenic circuits to the best place for an afternoon tea break, here are four of the dreamiest walking routes in the South of Scotland to try this year.

Loch Trool Trail Circuit, Galloway Forest Park

Scotland walking routes

Loch Trool itself is one of the highlights of the Galloway Forest Park in Dumfries & Galloway and this circuit will show it off at every angle. Taking roughly two and a half hours, it’s a relatively easy walk without too many hills. The route starts in the Loch Trool Trail car park and follows a full loop around the entire loch, clearly marked throughout, with gorgeous views at every turn.

Once you’ve come full circle back to the car park, you’re just an eight-minute drive from the House o’ Hill, Galloway Forest Park’s only inn, offering a menu packed full of locally sourced food. Make sure you fill up before you head off. 

If you plan to stay around for longer to explore the rest of the park, The Buchan offers stunning accommodation for up to eight people, with excellent walking and cycle route connections.

St Abb’s Head Lighthouse Route

Scotland walking routes

Just over an hour’s drive from Edinburgh and half an hour north of Berwick-upon-Tweed, this coastal route in the Scottish Borders will take you through the seabird habitat of St Abb’s Head. It can be a brisk two-hour walk without protection from the coastal winds, so stop off at Ebbcarrs Cafe for a takeaway hot drink before you head out. 

Take the path running towards Starney Bay out of the village of St Abbs and stick to the trail running along the cliff edge. It’s impossible to get lost as long as you keep the sea on your right, so you can focus on taking in the gorgeous views below. Your reward at the end of the route is St Abb’s Head Lighthouse, perched on the edge of St Abb’s Head. It is one of the most picturesque walking routes in Scotland.

To see the route from a different angle, head back to the town and visit Rib Rides St Abbs to book a scenic boat tour of the coastline.

River Dee Walk from Kirkcudbright

Scotland walking routes

Just a 90-minute drive from Carlisle, the artist’s town of Kirkcudbright in Dumfries & Galloway is well worth a visit. Be sure to stop off and browse work from local artists in its galleries, including The Whitehouse Gallery. To get to know even more about its rich artistic history, Kirkcudbright Art Tours offers fascinating guided tours around the town. 

Once you’ve had your fill of the town itself, it’s time to step out for the two-and-a-half-hour-long circuit walk. The path is mostly paved, well-signposted and fairly flat throughout, following the River Dee as it rushes out to sea. Once you’ve arrived back, it’s time for some hearty food and a refreshing drink at The Masonic Arms, one of Kirkcudbright’s many charming eateries.

John Buchan Way

Scotland walking routes

It’s two towns for the price of one if you head out on the John Buchan Way; you can start in either Peebles or Broughton in the Scottish Borders.

If you’re starting in Peebles, get a spot of lunch to send you on your way from the Bridge Inn and don’t forget to visit Cocoa Black, a decadently delicious local chocolatier. If you head out from Broughton, you won’t be left hungry; the Laurel Bank Tea Room offers outdoor seating and tasty homemade sandwiches to fuel your walk.

The route itself is about 13 miles and takes you over some stony paths, so you’d be wise to bring a sturdy pair of shoes along with you. With views across the moors, there’s no better place to take in miles and miles of the picturesque Scottish countryside as far as the eye can see.

Based on materials of The Red