If you want to feel good about the days getting colder, go on an autumn walk in Scotland. America, you can keep your Fall with all its pumpkins and fire-coloured foliage, because Scotland does Autumn brilliantly. The Scottish coastline usually hogs the limelight in this country but in October give us rolling hills and ancient woodlands. It's impossible to say which are the best but here are a few of my top autumn walks.

Glen Affric, Beauly

This one’s stunning autumn foliage is no secret, but it always delivers. Based 25 miles from Beauly, there’s a great 11 mile walk around the loch which is mostly high above the loch and has amazing views. If you’re after something a bit less hearty, there are lots of smaller walks in the area but wherever you go here, you’ll find ancient Caledonian pine forest, craggy mountains and beautiful stretches of freshwater loch.

Loch an Eilein, Cairngorms

I used to only head to these parts for the snow, but I had a post-pandemic October holiday here last year and it was like a Scotland I haven’t seen before. Walking around the quiet loch on a calm day, the trees reflected onto the water and the island castle ruin (Loch an Eilein means ‘Loch of the Island’ in the middle of the loch, this is definitely one to lift the spirits. It’s about 3 miles to walk around the island and there are miles more of the lovely Rothiemurchus network of trails.

Glen Finglas, Trossachs

Glen Finglas in the Trossachs is always good but in autumn, a truly special place to walk. There are nine marked trails across the Finglas Estate, the longest of which is 15 miles. If you’re a less keen walker or all about getting your photos and getting out of there, there are lots of easier ones where you can still see the colourful array of birch, aspen, rowan and hazel leaves spread across the hillside. The Great Trossachs Forest app is a good one to download so you can plan your jaunts.

The Hermitage, Dunkeld

It’s less off the beaten track than some walks but for the Hermitage in Dunkeld, Perthshire, autumn is its moment to shine. When you go, you’ll recognise it, as it is the subject of a thousand photographs. The fact that Queen Victoria, Wordsworth, Mendelssohn and Turner all came here suggests it’s pretty amazing. Walk in among giant Douglas firs to the Black Linn waterfall, usually raging after the rains. And far into the woods overlooking the waterfall, you’ll find a lovely simple 18th century folly romantically named Ossian’s Hall. A beautiful woodland walk.

Glen Trool, Galloway

The perfect walk where you can circle beautiful loch Trool in the Galloway Forest Park in just under six miles. Most of the walk is through woodland but it opens out on a hill on the loch’s north side, to a massive granite boulder. It commemorates Robert the Bruce’s first victory over the English there in 1307 during the Scottish wars of independence. From here the hard core ones can head up southern Scotland’s highest peak. It’s a tongue twister trying to say ‘Loch Trool Trail, Glen Trool…’ so don’t get lost!

The Queens Drive and the Lion’s Face, Braemar

Another circular walk (always the best walks, surely) which follows the River Clunie before joining the Queen’s Drive, one of Queen Victoria’s favourite routes for a carriage drive. It runs under the rocky outcrop which is the Lion’s Face bit and then once you’ve added in the Lion’s Face bit of the walk, that circles near to Braemar Castle. Heather, hills, forest, pines and in autumn, great firey expanse of golden reddish leaves. If you have time to nip into the Flying Stag bar at the Fife Arms on your arrival in Braemar, all the better it looks such fun, amazingly decked out.

Dawyck Botanical Garden, Peebles

Much tamer than the wilderness of some of my other walks but this botanical garden in the Scottish Borders is a stunner when the leaves begin to turn. You’ll find 65 acres of garden, covered in a patchwork of red, golds and deep browns from an amazing variety of trees including maples, beech Japanese katsura and North American golden birch. The ground is a carpet of beech nut husks, pine cones and shiny conkers. It’s quiet here, easy to find a hidden corner to yourself.

Dawyck 7 of the greatest walks in Scotland


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