CHRISTMAS is a hectic time, but taking a break from festive revelry by going on a walk in the country can be a good way to recharge the batteries, allowing you to enjoy the celebrations even more when you get back. So put on that Christmas jumper and get out for a stroll before you eat too many mince pies.
DISTANCE 2 miles. HEIGHT CLIMBED 755ft. TIME 1.5 to 2 hours. MAP OS Landranger 66.
PARK Use the pay and display car park next to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Turn right at the bottom of the Royal Mile and follow the road round, going left at a roundabout then left into the car park.
IN SUMMARY At this time of year, with visitors arriving from across the world, especially at Hogmanay, Edinburgh’s streets are thronged with people. While that is a great spectacle, it can be good to get a little peace and quiet now and then. Arthur’s Seat, towering over the city, is the obvious place and a great viewpoint. Starting from the Palace of Holyroodhouse you get to experience the whole of this little hill, especially if you return via the Radical Road below Salisbury Crags.
LOCH FASKALLY, PERTHSHIRE
DISTANCE 9 miles. HEIGHT CLIMBED 500ft. TIME 4 to 5 hours. MAP OS Landranger 52 and 43.
PARK Turn off Pitlochry’s main street next to Victoria’s Restaurant and Coffee Shop and drive down Ferry Road. Once under a railway bridge continue down to a car park on the left, next to the town’s recreation ground (ignore car parks on the right).
IN SUMMARY Loch Faskally is actually a reservoir, but despite its use to create hydro-electric power, it is one of the most scenic spots in Perthshire. A walk around its banks allows you to stretch the legs with very little strenuous uphill effort required. The last section leads you past Loch Dunmore, once the 19th century ornamental centrepiece of the grounds of Faskally House, but now looking a little more natural. When low winter sun is shining through the trees this is a wonderful place to be.
DUCHESS’S DRIVE, BOWHILL, BORDERS
DISTANCE 7 miles. HEIGHT CLIMBED 1,100ft. TIME 3∫ to 4 hours. MAP OS Landranger 73.
PARK Bowhill House and Country Estate is three miles west of Selkirk on the A708 Moffat road. Go right to the end of the drive to reach a car park, just beyond the main house.
IN SUMMARY This waymarked route on the Duke of Buccleuch’s Bowhill Estate, just outside Selkirk, is an old carriageway, designed to enhance the views of Borders countryside. The Yarrow Valley with the rolling hills of the Minch Moor and Three Brethren above it catch the attention as you make your way around before returning past the 15th century Newark Tower (or Castle).
TYNE ESTUARY AND JOHN MUIR COUNTRY PARK, EAST LOTHIAN
DISTANCE 5 miles. HEIGHT CLIMBED Negligible. TIME 2∫ to 3 hours. MAP OS Landranger 67.
PARK Turn off the A1 at the Thistly Cross roundabout and follow signs for Dunbar. About a mile from the roundabout turn off the A1087 just before the 30mph sign for West Barns, following a brown sign for John Muir Country Park. At a junction in front of East Links Family Park go right to reach a car park.
IN SUMMARY The John Muir Country Park outside Dunbar means you can walk along a beach, the Tyne Estuary and then the inland fields.