You don’t need to be out in the Cairngorms or up Ben Nevis to get hiking. Scotland’s urban areas have a surprising bounty of hilly trails, open stretches and forest wanders. Here is our list of best hiking trails in Scotland within reach of our beautiful cities.
Glasgow - The Seven Lochs Trail
Distance: 6 miles
Time required: 2-3 hours
Difficulty Level: Moderate
If you’re looking for a place that combines natural scenery, wildlife and local heritage, then Glasgow’s city walk around the Seven Lochs is the perfect place to go. This is a new development in the east end of the city which, as the name suggests, hosts seven lochs; Lochend, Woodend, Garnqueen, Johnston, Bishop, Frankfield and Hogganfield.
The Seven Loch’s Trail is six miles long and crosses the whole park, visiting each of the seven lochs and taking around 2-3 hours. This hike is relatively easy and accessible for all types of trail-goers but we’d watch out for the weather on that side of the country. A raincoat like our Stroma Jacket, some sturdy boots and even waterproof trousers are always a good precaution.
During this trail you will pass through woodland groves, protected wetlands, nature reserves, parks and even 15th century heritage site! It is also hosting several community projects such as ReWild the Child so if you’d like to let yours loose then this is a good place to do it! For more managed rewilding, they include an action pack of nature oriented activities for kids on their website.
This one is courtesy of Kathi at Watch Me See who exposed us to this beautiful hidden hike.
Edinburgh - Arthur’s Seat Walk
Distance: 1-2.5 miles depending on the trail you choose
Time required: 1-2 hours
Difficulty Level: Easy, moderate or difficult trails available
It’d be silly to mention city hikes in Scotland without mentioning the Arthur’s Seat walk in Edinburgh. This 350 million year old volcano is a defining feature of the city and its vibrant history. Arthur’s seat is an authentic urban hike as the beginning of the climb is about 10 minute walk from the Scottish Parliament Building or 5 minutes from Dynamic Earth.
If you are wondering how long it takes to walk up Arthur’s Seat then it’s about an hour and a half to get up and down again on all of the main trails. These all differ on the steepness of the ascent and how difficult you want your hike to be.
Up at the top you can take in the beautiful 360 view of Edinburgh and Lothian and its also a lovely place for a picnic as long as the wind isn’t going to blow your sandwiches off the top!
If you’re up early enough, then we recommend reaching the top for sunrise. However, now that we’re reaching the summer period an evening hike will probably show off some superb skies as well. There’s something about the open sky near the sea that always looks particularly dramatic.
Dundee - The Law
Disantce: 1 mile
Time required: 40 minutes
Difficulty: Moderate (steep in some places)
Another volcano climb is the walk up Dundee’s Law that sits at the highest point in the city, overlooking the Tay river as it runs into the sea. From up here you can have a wonderful 360 of the Dundee area with claims that you can see up to 45 miles into the distance on a clear day which lucky isn’t too unusual for this sunny city. When the weather's more dreich try spotting the little town of Broughty Ferry or Tentsmuir Nature Reserve across the river.
From the City Square there is a signed route that directs you to the top of the Law which takes about 40 minutes. As it is a steep vertical climb, just like the last volcano, there are variations in trails that allow you to either get sweaty or keep it steady on your way up there. Much of the trail takes you straight through the city streets, allowing you to take in the urban heritage as you climb.
The Law itself is a Locally Important Nature Conservation Site and has lovely woodlands which host a selection of bird and animal species. I have spotted quite a few bullfinches, rabbits, squirrels and goldfinches up there. Just be careful you don’t get whisked away by the fae as the legends of the Law suggest…
Inverness - Craig Phadrig
Distance: 1.2 miles
Time required: 1 hour
Difficulty level: Morderate
Take in the beautiful views over the Beauly Firth as you walk through woodlands to reach an ancient hillfort at the summit of this urban hike.
Craig Phadrig is a small hill, just outside of Inverness, located in Blackpark. It’s around 3 mile from the city center which is a 40 minutes walk or you can get a bus that will drop you close by.
Historians reckon that this hillfort was built around 300BC in the Iron Age and after being abandoned and burned was taken over by a formidable Pictish King. To add in some extra heritage for your walk you can glance across the Beauly Firth to see Ord Hill, another ancient hillfort!
It should take you about an hour to get to the top of Craig Phadrig which is around 1.2 miles from the bottom. This trail is considered moderate but with some steep patches up to the top and potential mud, it follows through woodlands and grassy patches that make you forget how close you are to the center. This is another one for taking your good boots and a raincoat.
Aberdeen - Tullos Hill and Kincorth Hill Local Nature Reserve
Distance: 2 miles
Time required 1-2 hours
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Admittedly more of a walk than a hike, these two little summits are great option if you are looking to take a break from the city and wonder into some natural spaces.
Kincorth Hill is quite a modest mound with open Scottish heatherland, deciduous woodland and grassland that gives way to a lovely view over Aberdeen. It’s great for nature watching and the pond near the bottom is full of life in spring and summer. There are various lengths of trails you can take around the Kincorth Reserve varying from 2 miles to 0.9 if you just fancy a light walk. There is also an orienteering course with clear boards for you to follow along. You can loop around the whole area and enjoy the natural terrain and biodiversity that the site boasts.
Tullos Hill which is just across Hareness Road from Kincorth Hill and is also a moderately easy climb that is around 2 miles from start to finish. It’s a site that holds archaeological value ranging from the Medieval period to the Second World War. Small mound and dykes are thought to be remnants of prehistoric settlements.Walking through Tullos is a lovely way to enjoy nature, especially if you’re a bird enthusiast and want to catch a glimpse of willow warblers, blackchaps and chiffchaffs!
Song Of The Week - Visiting Friends; Animal Collective
I don’t usually like to listen to music when I’m out hiking, but if I do, this song definitely goes well with nature’s ambience!
Quote of the Week
Between me and the smallest animal, the difference is only in manifestation,
but as a principle, he is the same as I am, he is my brother...