Ian Rankin author

Hermitage of Braid, Edinburgh

This is a woodland walk on the southern outskirts of Edinburgh but you’re still in the city. It’s at the foot of Blackford Hill and it’s a flat woodland walk that meanders alongside a stream. There’s lots of dogs that jump into the stream, kids play Poohsticks from the bridges and if you want something more strenuous you have the option of clambering up a hill.

It starts near the Braid Hills Hotel, where you can have afternoon tea. You can head in that way and it brings you out near King’s Buildings at the University of Edinburgh. It’s a very easy walk and takes about half an hour if you do it in a straight line but you can also go into the woods. There’s a little trail which takes you up to Braid Hills golf course.

It does get a bit muddy and slippy so a pair of boots is helpful. The change in seasons are great. When there’s snow on the ground, it changes the whole character of the walk.

There are mature trees at either side, slopes to climb up, a lot of dog walkers and occasionally people on horses. You are in the city but you get the sense you’re not. It’s a little piece of wilderness in Edinburgh.

It’s a good walk because our youngest son, Kit, is in a wheelchair and the main walk is wheelchair accessible. He loves being in the outdoors. It doesn’t bother him if it’s rainy or muddy. He loves the sound of running water. In the winter when the streams are in full flow it’s a pretty exciting time to go.

After the walk my wife Miranda, Kit, our other son Jack and I normally head back to the car and go home for hot chocolate but occasionally we will go up to the Braid Hills Hotel and have a drink.

Lorraine Kelly broadcaster

Old Man of Hoy, Orkney

One of my favourite yomps is on the island of Hoy. I went with my husband on one of our recent trips to Orkney, which is one of my favourite places. We went in the spring and the weather was perfect – gorgeous blue skies and a light breeze. In winter, I imagine it could be tough, but it’s a clearly marked path and if you are moderately fit then no problem at all.

We got the ferry from Houton on the Orkney mainland close to where we were staying at the Foveran Hotel overlooking Scapa Flow. We took the car across to Lyness on Hoy and drove across the island to Rackwick beach. There’s a car park and it’s worth it just to see this beautiful part of the island.

We then walked along the coastal path to the Old Man of Hoy. It’s about a six-mile round trip and took about two and a half hours. It’s spectacular – on a clear day the views are remarkable.

We took a flask with coffee, sandwiches and chocolate. Everything always tastes better when you are outdoors and you’ve completed a bit of exercise, but do take care on the cliff edge.

We used to take our late border terrier Rocky with us on all of our walks. He loved the countryside and would trot along for miles. Obviously, we kept him on the lead whenever there were sheep or lambs around. I really miss him and I don’t think a brisk walk is the same without your dog.

I’m not great with heights and found the view looking at the Old Man with the massive cliffs of St John’s Head looming behind me quite overwhelming. It made me feel very small but that’s what nature should do. It was so peaceful, calm and good for the soul.

After the walk and picnic we headed back to the ferry terminal and had a coffee. It’s a day I will always remember and I will definitely go back.

Lorraine Kelly’s new fitness DVD Lorraine – Brand New You is out now. Lorraine Kelly’s Hogmanay is on STV at 11.15pm tonight.

Jackie Bird newsreader

Kilbride Bay, Tighnabruaich, Argyll

I like walking but I’m not what you would call a hill or seasoned walker. There is a beautiful walk I like to do in Tighnabruaich, to a beach called Kilbride Bay. You can start from the village and that is about eight to nine miles. When I say walk I tend to run it but these days I’m so slow you could describe it as a walk, so it is a nice walk/run.

It’s quite hilly and the last mile is across a peat bog which takes you right to a bay. It’s a beautiful, golden, sandy bay and a perfect one to do in the festive season because you can blow the cobwebs away.

I have gone there my whole life with my family but it’s a nice place to go on your own. You can gather your thoughts because all you hear when you are running along the coast road is the oystercatchers with their distinct call.

There was a derelict property there and I used to think, “What a place for a house.” It’s overlooking Arran and over the years I watched someone build on it and they made a beautiful house. I wrote about it in an article and I got a lovely letter from the inhabitants, who recognised their house.

I popped in to see them the next time I was there and they were a remarkable couple who had rebuilt the house and used it to foster lots of children. It was a lovely environment to grow up in.

The walk is absolutely beautiful and there is a remote old church which is typical of Argyll. As soon as I get back I go to the pub and have a well-earned drink and bar snack but if I’ve run there I’ll maybe meet someone who will bring a picnic. Then you can sit on the beach and enjoy the scenery.

Jackie Bird presents Hogmanay Live at 11.30pm tonight on BBC One.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

Dunure beach, near Ayr

The scenery at Dunure beach is simply breathtaking, with the ruins of Dunure Castle, built by the Clan Kennedy, sitting on the edge of the cliffs with the silvery sea crashing on the rocks below. On a clear day you get great views over to Arran and even the Kintyre peninsula.

There’s absolutely nothing better than getting wrapped up on a blustery winter’s day and striding out along the pebbly shore. The route my husband Peter and I take passes an old croft that my grandparents used to live in, which is filled with wonderful memories.

We usually walk out all the way through Dunure as far as you can go. While I like to walk in any weather, my favourite is when it is cold but dry – it makes coming home to a warm cup of tea all the more enjoyable.

Jenny Colgan, author

Fife Coastal Path

We start our walk behind our house in Aberdour. There’s a little wood that leads down to a pathway and it’s the main route into the village. You walk along the pathway, which has a fantastic view of the Firth of Forth.

You will also see Inchcolm Abbey and of course the bridges. Once you walk down the path you come up to the beach at Silver Sands bay.

You can see Edinburgh from the beach – it’s 10 miles from the city centre. It’s a nice balance because where we are is peaceful but we’re not stuck in the middle of nowhere. You feel like you are removed from everything but you aren’t.

There’s a parallel walk through the woods but I love to watch the sea, the herons and birds. The nice things about this walk is that there’s a cafe at the end of it. On a Sunday morning that’s my treat. The rest of the time I’m walking the kids to the station or doing other stuff.

In the winter, there are very low suns, a lot of cloud. Some days you can see Edinburgh and some you can’t. You can normally see the bridges and you get a lot of seals and herons. The seals are fun. They’re so cheery-looking. They will come out and sun themselves on the rocks when the tide is out. They always look like they’re grinning at you.

In the winter we get a lot of deer in the forest and the bird life is astonishing.

The kids and I pick a lot of brambles to make jam with and there’s a play park at the end that they enjoy. We take our dog Neville, a lakeland terrier, on our walks. It’s a great place to have a dog because he loves to run free. When the tides are out he likes to run and hop about the sand but he also keeps an eye out for squirrels and other dogs.

The coastal path is a great idea. It’s extremely well sign posted and you get a lot of hikers, cyclists and people who will do the whole thing over a few days.

We don’t get a lot of snow because we’re so close to the coast. What we do get a lot of is fog. It can get quite foggy some mornings. It’s lovely to see the vistas because you can watch the weather coming in.

On a pretty day here you can’t imagine there’s anywhere nicer in the world.

Graeme Macrae Burnet author

Wester Ross

My family have a house in Lochcarron which is about 20 miles away from this walk in Wester Ross on the Ben Damph estate, between Shieldaig and Torridon.

You park on the A896 shortly after a little bridge over the river Balgy and then you follow the river up to Loch Damph. It’s a beautiful stretch of river with a nice waterfall. You head south and come up to the loch, which is small and in between some mountains.

The river is absolutely gorgeous. There is a beautiful waterfall called the Balgy and there’s a nice spot looking down on to the falls. You then follow a forestry track back down to the road, turn right and you can do a little circuit. Next, you can walk around this coastal area which is gorgeous. It’s such a great view so you can have a picnic and enjoy the scenery.

When you stand there, you are looking across the Torridon mountains and there’s a little house at the end of that point which is very picturesque. If there is a low tide it’s a great place to pick fresh mussels.

I go up there at New Year. If you’re not too hungover and a crisp winter’s day it’s a nice walk. You almost always see red deer on the estate and there are buzzards and herons. There are also a couple of sea eagles which nest in Shieldaig. If you’re lucky and have your binoculars you might see one.

When I go at New Year I tend to take friends with me. It’s not a demanding walk up a hill so you can take your lazy friends along. You can also then tempt with fresh mussels from the water.

At the end of the walk I sometimes go to this nice cafe in Torridon and they have excellent coffees and cake. That’s my end reward. It also has fantastic views across Loch Torridon so you can have a look back at where you were walking.

Judith Ralston TV weather presenter

Belhaven Beach, East Lothian

I used to do a lot of hillwalking but now I’ve got a few children so we don’t tackle too many. My favourite walk with the children is Belhaven Beach on the east coast near Dunbar. It’s a walk I used to do as a child. My family are from around there so we go every year. It’s a part of the John Muir Country Park and a lovely big beach that you can walk right around. You can see the Bass Rock and it’s lovely because it reminds me of home.

It’s a nice flat walk on the sand and the kids love it. We’ll take some juice, a ball for the beach, sometimes a bucket and spade; the last time we took blankets and sat for a bit.

You can go into the woods when you get round to Tyninghame. You cross the River Tyne and go through the country park which is a really nice combination of woods and the beach.

It’s such a great beach. My mum used to ride horses across it so I always think of her when I’m there. There was a stable nearby that had racehorses so they used to train the horses on the beach because it’s so big.

It takes us an hour to an hour and a half. You always meet interesting people. The last time I met four ladies in wet suits. I was chatting away to them and couldn’t believe they were going in the sea.

Quite often the east will be crisp and clear and it’s good ending up at the woods because that’s a wee adventure too. It’s the views from the Firth of Forth that stand out because you can see the Bass Rock, which is iconic of East Lothian. I feel quite emotional when I see it because it is too beautiful and looks so different depending on the light and angles.

It reminds me of being a child, coming down from Edinburgh and into East Lothian where you would see the Bass Rock and I knew I was almost at my granny’s.