9 of the best winter walks in and around Edinburgh
You can always blow away the cobwebs as we enter 2018 with a scenic walk on a crisp, frosty day. With a variety of walks to choose from in and around Edinburgh, Alex Watson takes her pick of the best routes for walkers of all abilities.
Offering incredible views of the city centre, the extinct volcano, Arthur’s Seat, is just a stone’s throw from the Royal Mile. The hike to the top of Arthur’s Seat is three miles long and takes approximately two and half hours to complete, but shorter and easier routes around the Salisbury Crags and Holyrood Park offer equally rewarding views.
Dalkeith Country Park
This park (located just south of the city) offers a range of walks through wintery woodland, with plenty of opportunities to spot local wildlife. The easiest of the trails is the Wildernesse Walk which takes approximately 20 minutes, and is fully accessible for bikes, buggies and wheelchairs.
For a more challenging winter hike, try Scald Law – the highest peak in the Pentlands. The walk, which begins at Flotterstone and goes past Turnhouse Hill, Carnethy Hill and East and West Kip, is an eight-mile route which takes around five hours to complete. This hike offers stunning panoramic views of the snow-topped Pentlands and finishes by the scenic Loganlea Reservoir.
After a short but steep climb up the Calton Hill Steps, walkers will be rewarded with a beautiful view of Edinburgh city centre, with twinkling festive lights still visible. This route is easy for inexperienced walkers. Allow around one hour to take in the sights, walk around the hill itself, and explore the various monuments (including the National Monument, Dugald Stewart Monument and Nelson Monument) on top of Calton Hill.
John Muir Way
Long-distance path the John Muir Way stretches from Helensburgh in the west to Dunbar in the east, but there are plenty of shorter sections to explore if you don’t fancy the full 130-mile walk. The section between North Berwick and Dunbar is particularly suited to a winter walk, with bracing sea air and coastal views along the moderately easy 14.5 mile trail.
Allermuir Hill is the closest major Pentlands summit to Edinburgh, and the four-mile walk to its summit is recommended for moderately experienced walkers. The route begins near the ski slopes at Hillend, heads up to viewpoints at Caerketton Hill and Allermuir Hill, and ends in the quaint thatched village of Swanston.
The walk to Cramond Island has to be timed carefully, as it can only be accessed when the tide is out. Choose a shorter beach walk which involves walking along the causeway to Cramond Island, or enjoy the full 4.5 mile walk which stretches from Silverknowes to Cramond Village, along the River Almond, and finishes at Cramond Brig.
A short distance outside Edinburgh, near Linlithgow, is Beecraigs Country Park and Cockleroy Hill. This easy walk takes around two hours, and includes a trail through the forest as well as a climb of 278 metres up Cockleroy Hill. In addition to the panoramic views from the top of the hill, walkers will also spot a picturesque loch within the forest, and a deer park with red deer and highland cows grazing in the fields.
Harlow and Thriepmuir Reservoirs
One of the easier walks in the Pentlands, the short circular route covering the Harlow and Thriepmuir Reservoirs takes around one hour to complete. The path travels through woodland to reach the reservoirs, offering a sheltered winter walk, with some of the Pentland peaks visible in the more open areas by the water.