The Crags, Callander

This hike gives you a sense of Scotland’s split personality. To the east, you can make out Grangemouth’s petro-chemical plant and the flatlands of the carse, to the north, the mountains of the southern highlands.

Park at the Callander Crags car park and begin by walking up the forestry road across from it before veering right up the hill after around a quarter of a mile. There has been a lot felling in recent years and the path takes a new route, although it is fairly easy to follow. You could take an OS map, but it’s not really necessary.

Basically, you walk to the top of the crags, then follow the path along the top for around a mile, before descending back to Callander main street. You will pass through stands of magnificent beech trees and windblown spruce with wild moorland to your right. There are sheep there but they are fenced off.

The walk is steep in places, especially on the section that takes you on to the top of the crags and is only suitable for fitter walkers. The weather can be wild at the top, especially the wind, so it’s worth wrapping up well. The walk will take between two and three hours.

Garry Scott

Largs Promenade

You won't need fancy boots or a rucksack, though a wind and waterproof jacket and trousers can often be essential for surviving this daunder along the jewel in the Clyde Coast’s crown, whatever the season. And unlike many excursions it’s impossible to get lost.

Easily accessible via car or train (or boat, if you're that way inclined), the broad ribbon links Aubrey Crescent in the north end of the town with Largs Yacht Haven in the south, making a four-and-a-half mile round trip.

On a crisp winter’s day there are fewer better ways to put colour in your cheeks, hence the prom's popularity with solo strollers, young families, dog walkers and the many retirees who populate the town.

Whichever way you tackle the route you’re never far from history – whether the blonde sandstone villa Vanduara, where key decisions over the D-Day landings were taken, or the Pencil, a monument to the 1263 Battle of Largs – and while the seafront has changed hugely since this correspondent was a boy it retains a large measure of impregnability, not least in the well-cared-for churches that dominate the town and the many grand properties which have stared impassively out to Cumbrae and beyond since the Victorian era.

Sean Guthrie

Cumnock to Dumfries House, Ayrshire

The great joy of this walk? The constant contrasts: urban and rural, river and woodland, past and future. Start at the leisure centre on Auchinleck Road in Cumnock before following the path to the River Lugar.

Cumnock is the capital of Ayrshire's industrial history and you'll see plenty of evidence of it, including the hoist of the former Barony mine on the horizon, like a giant letter A.

Keep following the path and you'll weave through woodland, before reaching the Dumfries House estate, which was saved by Prince Charles. Keep to your right and you'll pass the small colony of geese (visitors may be honked at).


At the top of the road, turn left and you're at the long, straight Duchess of Rothesay Avenue; the road in Oz was yellow; this one is bright, bright red and next spring might be a good time to see it: 400,000 daffodils were planted here last year.

Keep going and the path will take you back through the estate and you can follow the river back to your starting point.

Mark Smith

The Whangie, near Drymen

SURELY one of the best things about Scotland is the fact that even when you live in a big town or city, you are never far away from proper hills and countryside.

This comes in particularly useful during the festive period, I always find, when cabin fever is prone to get you down. It's becoming something of a seasonal tradition for me to do a walk up the Whangie, that funny-sounding rock feature in the Kilpatrick Hills, near Drymen, that offers wonderful views towards Loch Lomond, the southern highlands and the Campsies.

Legend has it that the 100m stone corridor, which forms part of the walk up to Queen's View, was created by the devil when he flicked his tale in delight, though geologists dispute this and insist an earthquake or glacier is more likely responsible. The strange eeriness of the rocks – which youngsters love to run through – adds genuine wonder to the very doable walk up the grassy hill.

At the summit, there's a cairn to mark the spot, and as you survey the lochs and glens below, the dark mountains in the distance, at this time of year I always feel fortified and ready to face the new year.

A dram or hot chocolate in the cosy Burnbrae on the way back, in nearby Milngavie, has also become part of the tradition. I can't think of a better way to spend Ne'er Day.

Marianne Taylor

The Necropolis, Glasgow

On a clear day the views are superb and it is rare I meander through the quiet paths without discovering something I haven’t seen before.

The Necropolis, a sprawling 37-acre Victorian cemetery to the east of Glasgow Cathedral, is the final resting place of more than 50,000 people.

Rather than crossing the bridge from the cathedral and entering that way, go to the gate at the south-west corner, just before Wishart Street intersects with John Knox Street.

Follow the path as it gradually climbs, then grows steeper, towards the summit of the hill where many of the larger monuments are clustered. Around the outer edges, mature trees line the route including oak, silver birch, sycamore and maple.

The Necropolis is home to tombs, sculptures, marble busts and Art Nouveau portrait panels. The pedigree is impressive with many designed by leading lights of architecture such as Alexander “Greek” Thomson, John Bryce, David Hamilton and Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

Look out for the memorial to Wee Willie Winkie poet William Miller and the stunning Archibald Douglas Monteath Mausoleum, a circular temple building with elaborate stone carvings. You can walk round in 20 minutes or stay for several hours.

Susan Swarbrick

The Forth and Clyde Canal/Union Canal, Falkirk

You can cross countries, cross continents, to find a good walk. Or you can just the front door. I tend to the lazier version. Up, round, down, up again, a scramble and a slither onto the bank and there is the Forth & Clyde Canal racing on ahead of me up to Lock 16 and beyond. Beyond being the Falkirk Wheel.

This morning, it’s December and icy. Normally the path along the canal is a dogwalker and cyclist’s motorway. But today there is just me and a cat braving the Mary Berry-deep glaze.

Cirrus and contrails apart, the sky burns blue as I slip and slither along to the swing bridge that takes me across to the Wheel. It’s too early to stop for a coffee (the centre opens at 11am in the winter months) so I crunch up the hill. Behind me the Ochils glow wedding cake white.

Turn right and I could walk to Roughcastle where Roman centurions guarded the Antonine Wall against those rough boys from Stirling and Bridge of Allan. But normally I cut through the Roughcastle Tunnel and climb up to the Union Canal, “the midpoint between Glasgow and Edinburgh” a sign notes.

This is my favourite bit of the walk. Tamfourhill and the train line on one side, moors, sheep and empty sky the other. By now my mind has usually emptied and I’m into the rhythm of walking. On good days, I think, I could walk on to Linlithgow. Maybe even Edinburgh. The Union canal ends not so very far from the Filmhouse after all.

But usually I don’t quite make it as far as Falkirk High. An hour outside is long enough, right?

Teddy Jamieson

A West End Wander

AS the freshly-polished Chelsea boot emerges from front door, it will automatically point itself in the direction of Byres Road, the west end of Glasgow’s melting point of bohemians and back-room artists, students and those who have studied life for a very long time.

The stroll is easy because it’s downhill, and fun. It will take me past Kevin Bridges’ house, and I’ll smile; a reminder of the parties enjoyed by twentysomthings, the things you can’t do (or are no longer invited to do) thirtysomething years on.

I’ll think of the two Celtic player neighbours, two fit young supermen, and grin thinking of days of yore (a generation ago) when players wouldn’t be having porridge and berries for breakfast. (More likely superlager.)

I’ll walk past Alisdair Gray’s flat with its paint pots in the window sill, past the new flat Craig Ferguson has acquired and along the way sneak a peek through widows of the student flats, with the blu-tacked posters on the walls, nowadays of favourite films (whatever happened to Che?)


And I’ll grin at the sight of the middle-aged cyclists, out to try out their Santa-brought Lycra top which is always too tight, but thankfully delusion helps deny the reality. At the bottom of the hill, Byres Road, as always, will be alive and buzzing.

And so to Oran Mor, a pub/theatre/restaurant space that proves to be a meeting place and a comfort centre for the displaced; the actors, journalists, writers – anybody who seek company, single shot lattes and the requisite sympathy required on the realisation life has shortened by another year.

But with that, a sturdy reinforcement that the New Year will be a great one.

Brian Beacom