Whether you are looking for a family friendly circular walk, a long walk with the pup, or are looking for a circular walk in the mountains, here are the best circular walks in Scotland.
Circular walks in the Scottish Highlands
- The Knockan Crag trail, Assynt – a site of special scientific interest famous for the Highland’s Controversy – a long-running argument between geologists about the age of the rocks here – otherwise known as the Moine Thrust – when two continents slammed together upending the landscape of Assynt. Explore on the 1.25 mile walking trail around Knockan Crag, one of the most interesting circular walks in Scotland!
- Stac Pollaidh ridge and circuit – Despite rising to just under 2000ft, Stac Pollaidh (pronounced Stac Polly) is one of Scotland’s best hill walks. With a 2.75 mile circuit on a well-made path to the summit, easy and fun scrambling over its pinnacles and ridges and incredible views of the mountains of the Inverpolly Nature Reserve, down to Loch Lurgainn and across to the mighty Cul More and Suilven, this mini-mountain punches well above its weight. Climb Stac Pollaidh for one of the best circular walks in Scotland.
- Oldshoremore Bay circuit – in wild and wonderful Caithness, explore Oldshoremore Bay on this 5 mile circuit along the north coast of Scotland – visit Oldshoremore Bay.
- Kyle of Durness – explore the lovely beaches of the far north west of Scotland on this 5.5 mile circuit from Durness. Visit the Kyles of Durness.
- River Inver and Glencanisp – explore the River Inver above Lochinver on this varied walk up to Glencanisp – there are fabulous mountain views all the way around this 5 mile circular walk in Scotland – visit Glencansip.
- Reelig Glen, Beauly – visit some of Scotland’s tallest trees on this pretty 1 mile woodland circuit of a steepside gorge close to Beauly. Visit Reelig Glen.
- Big Burn Golspie – visit the beautiful waterfalls at the Big Burn on this lovely 2 mile circuit from Golspie, or if you are feeling energetic there are mountain bike trails on Ben Bhraggie – or you could climb to the top for a view! More things to do near Golspie.
- Loch Affric Circuit – The 11-mile circular path around Loch Affric must be one of the best circular walks in Scotland. Amongst the remnants of Scotland’s ancient Caledonian Scots Pine forest, the walk takes you alongside the River Affric, past Loch Affric and Loch Beinn a’ Mheadhain amongst huge surrounding mountains. Hike Loch Affric.
- Pucks Glen, Dunoon – the stroll through Puck’s Glen is one of the best wee walks in Scotland following a path laid down by the Victorians in the 1800s (they loved a gothic walk!) through a waterfall-filled spectacularly-deep gorge filled with tropical plants and an otherworldly atmosphere. Explore Pucks Glen on this 1.5 mile circular walk in Scotland.
Circular walks in central Scotland
Explore Scotland’s central belt on these circular walks in Glasgow and Edinburgh, Lanarkshire and the Lothians:
- Dunmore Pineapple, Airth – Home to the quirkiest building in Scotland, the Dunmore Pineapple, along with the ruins of a grand mansion house and a beautiful planned village – visit the Dunmore Pineapple and Estate on this 3-mile stroll.
- Dalkeith Country Park, Midlothian – explore this pretty country park in Midlothian on a 3.75-mile circular walk in Scotland before stopping for a coffee at the lovely Restoration Yard cafe. Visit Dalkeith Country Park.
- The Falls of Clyde Circular, New Lanark – visit the World Heritage Site of New Lanark with a 3.75 circular walk along the tumbling River Clyde with waterfalls and beautiful woodlands. Visit the Falls of Clyde.
- Green Bridge walk at Chatelherault Estate, South Lanarkshire – explore the Clyde Valley Woodlands National Nature Reserve on this 5-mile walk around the pretty Chatelherault Estate. Visit the Green Bridge at Chatelherault Estate.
- Aberlady Bay Circular, East Lothian – explore one of the best beaches in East Lothian with this 5.5 mile walk through a nature reserve from pretty Aberlady. Visit Aberlady Bay.
- Loch Trool Circular – the largest forest park in the whole of the UK is one of my favourite places to walk in Scotland. Take a hike 5.5 miles around beautiful Loch Trool to find Bruce’s Stone under the towering mountains, or the short stroll up the gorgeous Ness Glen near Loch Doon.
- Pentland Hills Circular, Edinburgh – hike this 10-mile circular which takes in the Five Peaks of the Pentlands – Turnhouse Hill, Carnethy Hill, Scald Law and East and West Kip. My favourite of the Pentland Hills walks will take around 5 hours – a fantastic day in the hills – and it is just outside Edinburgh which is why it is one of the the best circular walks in Scotland.
- Whitelee Windfarm Circular – visit Europe’s largest windfarm on this 8.5 mile trail around Lochgoin reservoir – popular with dog walkers, bikers and horse riders. Visit Whitelee windfarm.
- The Semple Trail, Castle Semple Loch, Lochwinnoch – a 9-mile walk around Castle Semple Loch taking in Kenmure Hill and RSPB Lochwinnoch, pretty woodlands and the Courtshaw Hill Lookooterie. Hike the Semple Trail.
- The Magnificent 11, Glasgow – a *brand new* urban walk linking seven greenspaces, parks and habitats across Glasgow designed to celebrate ‘the dear green place’ – find out more about the Magnificent 11.
- Culter Fell Circular, Biggar – a popular hillwalk in central Scotland, Culter Fell can be tackled on this 11.5-mile circular walk of four Donalds. Climb Culter Fell.
Circular walks in the Cairngorms National Park
- Loch Morlich – Scotland’s highest beach at Loch Morlich is a huge draw on a summer’s day – and the 4-mile circular walk around the loch takes you along the beaches with beautiful views of the surrounding mountains. Walk or cycle Loch Morlich.
- Loch an Eilean – To the east of Aviemore is the beautiful Rothiemurchus Estate and 10,000 hectares of Caledonian Forest. In the heart of the forest is Loch an Eilein (Loch of the Island). There is a gorgeous 4.5-mile circular walk or cycle around the loch – look out for Ospreys and red squirrels. Walk Loch an Eilein.
- Loch Vaa – follow the easy trail around lovely loch Vaa to discover a pretty boathouse and views of the surrounding mountains, this is a short walk for all the family.
- Farleitter Crag and Uath Lochans – Hidden away in Glenfeshie are the Uath Lochans and above the lochs is a great view. Wind your way around the lochs before climb up to Farleitter Crag for an incredible view across to the Monadhliath Munros – the grey mountains. Climb Farleitter Crag.
- River Dee and Cambus O’ May Circular – stroll along the river Dee to Cambus O’May where there is a pretty suspension bridge on this 5 mile Cairngorms circular walk.
- Sgòr Mòr circular – hike this spectacular 13 mile circuit up Sgor Mor from the Linn of Dee with amazing views over the Cairngorm mountains – hike Sgor Mor.
Circular walks at Loch Lomond and in the Trossachs and Perthshire
- Loch Venachar circuit walk – Explore the forested banks of Loch Venachar on this 11 miles circuit with views over highland Perthshire. Not got much time, visit the southside of Loch Venachar on this popular 4.25 mile forestry walk with great views.
- Deil’s Cauldron – follow this lovely circuit through a Perthshire glen to find a series of waterfalls falling through a dramatic gorge and then climb up to the Melville Monument for a fine view. Walk the Deil’s Cauldron and find out why it is one of my favourite circular walks in Scotland.
- The Hermitage – an 18th-century pleasure garden filled with giant Douglas Fir trees. There are various walks you can take through the woodlands of Craigvinean Forest, the most popular is to walk to Ossian’s Hall, where a viewing platform reveals the tumbling Black Linn Falls below. A slightly longer walk will take you to Ossian’s Cave. Walk around The Hermitage, one of the best short circular walks in Scotland.
- Falls of Archarn near Kenmore – The falls at Acharn are a series of dramatic waterfalls above the banks of Loch Tay. A circular 1.5 mile walk takes you through pretty woodland, with views back over to the loch, before dropping down into a steep ravine through which the waterfalls tumble.
Circular walks in Fife
- Tentsmuir Beach and Forest – On the far north east coast of Fife is Tentsmuir National Nature Reserve and one of Scotland’s best beaches. Follow the Ice house trail for a circular walk at Tentsmuir Beach out amongst the sand dunes and WW2 barriers to spot seals on the sand, deer and red squirrels in the trees. Read more- how to visit Tentsmuir one of the best beach https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/perthshire/falls-of-acharn.shtml
- The West Fife Woodlands Way – a 10-mile marked circular route around west Fife starting and ending in the historic village of Culross.Along the way, you will visit many of west Fife’s gorgeous woodlands including Valleyfield Woodland Park, Balgownie Wood, Devilla Forest, a plague grave and the West Kirk (Black Kirk in Outlander) with great views of The Ochills and Fife along the way. Plan your walk around the West Fife Woodlands Way.
Circular walks on Scottish Islands
- Elgol Peninsula Circuit – hike out to the spectacular Am Mam pass with views of the black Cullin before descending down to Camasunary Bay and bothy before following the coastal path back to Elgol. Hike the Elgol Peninsula Circuit.
- American monument, Islay – walk to the American Monument along the Oa cliffs. Look for sea eagles soaring overhead and wild goats and highland cows ambling across the path. The Oa monument was built to commemorate two shipwrecks on Islay in 1918. Walk to the Mull of Oa and the American Monument.
- Brough of Birsay, Orkney – The Brough of Birsay is a tidal island, crossed only at low tide by a causeway. The island is best accessed between June and September but can be very carefully reached 2 hours each side of low tide. If the tide is in, follow the cliffside path to Skippa Geo to see Birsay’s unusual Whalebone sculpture. Explore the Brough of Birsay and Earl’s Palace
Love from, Scotland x
I’m Kate – a travel writer and photographer living in Scotland. Love, From Scotland is the Scotland travel guide that shows you where to stay and how to get outside in Scotland.