Scottish walks: Four of the best this summer holiday

Kyle of Durness. Picture: Nick Drainey

Kyle of Durness. Picture: Nick Drainey

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The summer holidays are here and the prospect of spending time in the outdoors stretches out before us. Weather permitting there are many places to explore; beaches are an essential part of this time of year but the mountains are also a wonderful escape while the days are long.

Kyle of Durness, Sutherland

Distance: 6 miles.

Height climbed: 300ft.

Time: 2½ to 3½ hours.

Map: OS Landranger 9.

Park: There are parking bays by the roadside at Balnakeil. If coming from the south, turn left off the A838 at Durness and follow a minor road for about a mile to Balnakeil Bay.

In summary: The swirling sands of the Kyle of Durness turn into magical patterns as the tide goes in and out, making the walk along its edge one of the best short outings on the coastline of Scotland. Starting at Balnakeil Bay’s white sands, backed by high dunes, you follow little cliffs and machair on a circular route which returns by a single track road and grassy farm tracks.

Schiehallion, Perthshire

Distance: 7 miles.

Height climbed: 2,460ft.

Time: 4 to 5 hours.

Map: OS Landranger 51.

Park: Take the B846 out of Aberfeldy and after nine miles turn right, following a sign for the Schiehallion Road. A little over two miles further on turn right into the Braes of Foss car park.

In summary: Schiehallion is in the middle of the central Highlands and offers views in all directions, with the eye being drawn over Rannoch Moor towards the mountains of Glencoe and Lochaber. Great path work by the John Muir Trust has not only reduced erosion but made the way up a lot easier, and although it is a Munro, it can be climbed by any healthy member of the family.

Lunan Bay, Angus

Distance: 6 miles.

Height climbed: Negligible except a short, steep climb up to Red Castle.

Time: 3½ to 4½ hours.

Map: OS Landranger 54.

Park: North of Inverkeilor on the A92 between Arbroath and Montrose turn off at a sign for Lunan. Once in the village turn left then right, following a sign for the beach down a farm road. At the end is a car park next to sand dunes.

In summary: Lunan Bay is a great expanse of sand, perfect for a family outing; some will want to sit with a picnic or have a paddle while others can stride out and enjoy a coastal walk taking in the ruins of the 12th century Red Castle. At the southern end you can walk along the top of cliffs before looking back along this beautiful stretch of Angus coast.

Criffel, Solway Coast

Distance: 3½ miles.

Height climbed: 1,740ft.

Time: 3 to 3½ hours.

Map: OS Landranger 84.

Park: Two miles south of New Abbey on the A710 turn right on to a track at a farm sign for Ardwall Mains. At the end of the track there is a car park, on the right.

In summary: Criffel, to the south of Dumfries, looks out across the Solway Firth to England. A steep clamber up its heather clad slopes rewards you with brilliant views, including the salt marsh and sand flats which form marbled patterns at the delta of the River Nith. Beyond stand the mountains of Cumbria’s Lake District and, on a clear day, the Isle of Man, and even the coast of Ireland.

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