As we approach Autumn and Winter, the memories of long summer nights fade fast, but it shouldn’t mean we spiral into hibernation. We take a look at some gentle winter walks within a stone’s throw of some of Scotland’s best foodie destinations.
The Pierhouse Hotel & Seafood Restaurant, Port Appin, Argyll Port Appin circuit
The Pierhouse Hotel & Seafood Restaurant is situated right by the Port Appin Lismore ferry terminal. If you are after a short stroll head to explore the Clach Thoull route 2.5km / 1.5 miles which will take you no more than 1 – 1.5 hours. A short coastal walk along the promontory at Port Appin alongside the shores of Loch Linnhe. Just follow the track signposted behind the hotel, which meanders past cliffs and beaches and woodland. Expect to spot the caves, geological archway, seals, deer and plenty of birdlife along the way. At the end of the track by a house you spy a sign for Port Appin, head along the path in woodland and a grass field. Just follow this route through a gate onto a minor road you will end up where you started.
Walk around Isle of Lismore and visit the Gaelic Heritage Centre building and café.
Alternatively, a short ferry journey away from Port Appin lies the Isle of Lismore. It may only be 9 kilometres long and 2.5 kilometres wide, but it is the perfect place to ramble around on a day trip. Wander the coastline, hike to the 127 metres peak of the highest hill called Barr Mor which has views across to the Ben Nevis in the northeast, Port Appin and Loch Etive to the east. If you time it right you can forage for the abundant brambles by the roadside. Wherever you wander you’ll be able to discover the island’s rich heritage.
Isle of Lismore Café is situated in the eco-friendly Lismore Gaelic Heritage Centre building, and is open every day between 11am- 4pm from April to October. The licensed café is known for its home caking, coffee, local produce, whisky beer and gin. So stroll in for a cup of warming soup, sandwiches, panini, or a jacket potatoes, you might even be able to pick up a word or two of Gaelic
The sand on Coral Beach is formed from crushed bleached Coralline seaweed or Maërl, it is one of the most unique beaches on the Isle of Skye. It only takes a 45-minute walk to reach it along a 3.6km track. Head along to the north of the island to the small crofting community of Claigan, a short drive away from Dunvegan Castle, before meandering along the farm track down to the beach. Along the way, you can gaze out over stunning blue seas which make the truly magical location whatever the season it makes for the perfect weekend ramble before a spot of lunch.
Just a few miles along the road from Coral Beach lies The Three Chimneys at Colbost. It serves the best of the Isle of Skye produce, bringing Orbost Farm beef, rare-breed Iron Age pork and wild venison to the table.
Plockton Inn, Plockton Wester Ross
As you come into Plockton, turn left going past the school and just follow the road, turn right then left. After the next couple of corners, you’ll spy a green caravan and a wooden footpath signed to the shore. Walk along the track and go through the gates and continue straight ahead, through the gorse bushes. Looking back there are great views towards the Applecross mountains. The path curves gently and continues downhill, down to the beach itself. The route is 1.4 km and should take around 40 minutes. It is a beautiful peaceful spot where you will want to linger, but when you are hungry just return the same way you came.
Head into the Plockton Inn Seafood Restaurant for a delicious meal after your walk. Seafood lovers must order the creel caught langoustines or Plockton Prawns as they’re known locally which are landed at the pier in the village.
Kylesku Hotel, Kylesku Sutherland, Lairg
A short 10 minute drive from Kylesku, park at Scourie beach if you are in the mood for a 3km short coastal walk with stunning sea views. Wildlife fans will head to the bird hide but further on there is a bench with views across Scourie Bay. Follow your nose towards the headland where you find several cairns at the point. From it you can spy the Old man of Stoer with mountains of Ben Stack, Quinag, Canisp and Suilven behind. Just retrace your steps then drive back to The Kylesku Hotel where the menu features as much locally based produce as possible. Situated on the lochside, deliveries of mussels, langoustines, lobsters, and crabs are landed directly in front of the restaurant and carried into the kitchen. Kylesku Hotel offers foodies the choice of a fine dining restaurant or dog-friendly bar.
Stroll around Hermitage Wood and Gleneagles Hotel, Auchterarder
The countryside surrounding Gleneagles offers both riverside walks and woodland trails. Just head for the Hermitage’s iconic trees, water pools and roaring falls just a short distance from the hotel and follow in the footsteps of Wordsworth and Mendelssohn who were inspired by the area’s dramatic landscape.
Hermitage Wood is managed by the National Trust for Scotland and was originally designed as a pleasure ground for the Dukes of Atholl and looks stunning in autumn and winter. An ideal easy 3.2 km circular woodland walk for all the family – including dogs will take around 2½ hours.
After your winter stroll, retreat back to the fireside at Gleneagles’ Century Bar for a bite to eat and perhaps a dram. The Century Bar menu has been the place to relax after a walk for a hundred years. The bar menu features more than 120 single malts, vintage champagne by the glass, cocktails, carefully selected wines, and a selection of local and international beers.
Capital Walk, Edinburgh
Make your way to Holyrood Park to scale Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano. No visit to the capital is complete without a meander to the summit 250 metres above the city to take in the spectacular views looking across the Lothians, over the Firth of Forth and out towards Fife. Bottom to top takes just over an hour and a half to complete. It is a popular walking route for both Edinburgh residents and tourists alike. Then wander down the iconic Leith walk and enjoy the afternoon tea aboard Fingal, which featured in Tripadvisor’s Travellers’ Choice Awards 2023 in the Top 10 Best of the Best mall Hotels in the UK.
Read more on Scottish Field’s News pages.