IT IS midsummer and if there was ever a time to get out and enjoy Scotland, now is it. Whether it is long days in the mountains or strolls along the coast, you can make the most of days that never seem to end. So, here are just a few of the best places to have a good summer walk.
CLACHTOLL BEACH AND BROCH, SUTHERLAND
DISTANCE: 1¬ miles.
HEIGHT CLIMBED: 110ft.
TIME: 1 to 1∫ hours.
MAP: OS Landranger 15.
PARK: Turn off the A837 just north of Lochinver and follow the single-track B869 for five miles. Turn right at a sign for Clachtoll Beach and at the end of the track park next to a ranger’s hut.
IN SUMMARY: Clachtoll Beach (pictured) is surely one of the best in Scotland – turquoise waters and white sand surrounded by rocky crags. For some, just parking up and sitting by the water for a day will be fulfilment enough, especially if huge waves are crashing on to the shore. However, a short, but spectacular, walk along the coast reveals the long human history of the area – an iron-age broch. Although the roof has collapsed, it is still amazing to be able to go through the old doorway after 2,000 years.
ST BALDRED’S CRADLE AND RAVENSHEUGH SANDS, EAST LOTHIAN
DISTANCE: 4 miles.
HEIGHT CLIMBED: Negligible.
TIME: 1∫ to 2 hours.
MAP: OS Landranger 67.
PARK: Just over half a mile north of the village of Tyninghame, on the A198, turn right to reach a car park at the end of a straight country lane.
IN SUMMARY: The beaches of East Lothian are a great place to head in summer. Some are busier than others and one of the quieter ones is found near Tyninghame – Ravensheugh Sands.
Starting near Tyninghame House, rolling farmland, dense forest and then spectacular headland lead to the brilliant expanse of golden sands, which is perfect for kite flying.
DISTANCE: 12 miles.
HEIGHT CLIMBED: 1,946ft.
TIME: 6 to 7 hours.
MAP: OS Landranger 17.
PARK: At the south end of Dunbeath turn off the A9 onto a single-track road signed to Braemore. Six miles along, at the end, there is a small parking area on the left, near a red phone box.
IN SUMMARY: If you want a long isolated walk up a fine, pointy mountain, then Morven is for you. The walk is perfect for summer days, with little man-made intrusion once you have left Braemore Lodge behind – except the intermittent path. The prominent peak of Morven can be seen from the Cairngorms to Orkney as it stands high above the Flow Country and desolate moorland. Although there is less than 2,000 feet to climb, the walk is tough going underfoot, especially as you pick your way through heather and boggy ground to find a route up the south side of the mountain, the view from which will live long in the memory.
DISTANCE: 15 miles.
HEIGHT CLIMBED: 3,500ft.
TIME: 8 to 9∫ hours.
MAP: OS Landranger 36.
PARK: Take the B970 from Aviemore, through the Rothiemurchus forest to Loch Morlich and park at its western end, the first part you see. There is a £2 car park fee.
IN SUMMARY: Starting from Rothiemurchus and making your way up the deep chasm of the Lairig Ghru, a long walk up Sròn na Lairige leads to the most fantastic corrie in the Cairngorms. At 4,252ft you may think it best to return quickly, but sit back and savour this for as long as you can, possibly in the company of the resident reindeer herd. n