Much as you might love your dog, it can be tempting to give them their daily walk round the nearest patch of grass and be done with it. But if you want to really exercise your four-legged friend (and yourself) then Scotland has plenty of picturesque dog-friendly routes. Here’s 15 of the best.

1. Balnakeil Beach, Durness, Sutherland

Beaches are a dog’s paradise. Water to splash in, expanses of sand to run rings round and lots of sticks to be discovered. Balnakeil Beach, in Scotland’s far north, is one of the best dog-friendly beaches in the country: with turquoise waters, dramatic headlands and unspoilt views across the horizon. It is relatively quiet, even in good weather, so your dog should have plenty of space to run wild and explore the beach and nearby sand dunes. A word of warning though- if you want to go on further to the northern part of the beach then the path cuts across grazing land, so your dog will need to be on a short lead.

2. Cairndow, Loch Fyne, Argyll and Bute

The village of Cairndow is located in an enviable position at the head of Loch Fyne, offering a great starting point for walks around the loch. But as well as the idyllic lochside, Cairndow is also home to Ardkinglas Woodland Gardens, a beautiful, but suitably varied, private garden that welcomes dogs on a lead. And if all that wasn’t enough, you can finish your visit with a trip to the nearby Fyne Ales brewery, which has a cosy beer bar that welcomes dogs with open arms. They are even allowed to sit up on the seats.

3. Tyninghame Bay, East Linton, East Lothian

Some dogs love the beach, some dogs love the woods. But why make them choose: the delightful Tyninghame Bay has both. Start at the Tyninghame Links car park and follow the path through the woodland until you reach the sand dunes (or dog’s playground) of Ravensheugh Sands. You can then take in the splendid views of Tyninghame beach -which is mercifully quiet compared to its neighbour at North Berwick- before turning onto a track that leads you back to the car park.

4. The Old Course at St Andrews, Fife

Iconic, revered, and host of the revered Open Championships, the Old Course at St Andrews might not seem like a place for dogs. But they are in fact allowed on the course -provided they are kept on leads- and the Old Course’s lengthy fairways can actually offer a great place for a dog walk with a difference. It is best to visit on a Sunday, when the course turns into a pseudo-park for local people. No golf is allowed, children play in the bunkers and dogs are able to wander round without the distraction of balls flying overhead.

5. Linn Park, southside of Glasgow

If you have a sociable dog that likes making friends, then Linn Park is the place for you. You will be certain to meet plenty of furry friends on your way round the 200 acres of woodland, waterfalls and grasslands- with even several hours of walking not enough to see the whole thing. The White Cart river even runs through the heart of the park, offering plenty of opportunities to throw sticks into the water for your dog. And if you exit the park at its Northern gate, you can stop off at the dog-friendly Old Smiddy pub to reward yourself with a well-earned drink.

6. Burn Anne Trail, Galston, East Ayrshire

A popular walk among locals, the Burn Anne Trail leads through country roads and woodlands up to a great vantage point above the village of Galston. Although the path features some climbs it isn’t too taxing, with most dogs (and humans) able to manage it with relative ease. Start in the car park across from Barr Castle, before heading towards Burn Anne and into the woodland beyond. From there, the path meanders through the trees and meadows before reaching fields that offer a clear outlook over the countryside- even seeing as far as Ben Lomond on a good day. There are fences that separate the wildlife in the fields from the marked path, but it pays to keep your dog close just in case.

7. Westport Beach, Campbeltown, Mull of Kintyre

This ruggedly beautiful beach has plenty to keep dogs busy. It stretches for over six miles, with the biggest sand dune area in Argyll, and its position on the windy west coast of creates an abundance of waves to splash in. And when the tide is right, rock pools will form at the far end of the sands: perfect for inquisitive four-legged explorers.

8. Callander Crags, Callander, Stirling

This walk might involve a bit of a steep climb, but it is well worth it for the views at the top. Provided that you and your dog are fit enough, start at the Callander Crags car park and follow the signposted path through the woods, climbing up steep stone steps to the top of the crags. From there, take a short detour to visit the Jubilee Cairn -a stone monument erected for Queen Victoria – where you will enjoy glorious views of the rolling hills beyond.

9. Pitlochry Dam and Salmon Ladder, Pitlochry, Perthshire

Spring is the best time to visit the ‘Salmon Ladder’ at Pitlochry’s Dam, as the fish are most likely to be swimming upstream. But, with your dog likely to be uninterested in watching fish, the dam also provides a starting point for a picturesque Perthshire walk. From the Port-na-Craig bridge head to the top of the dam and then on to Loch Faskally, where they should enjoy paddling in the water.

10. Templeton Woods, Birkhill, Dundee

The 150 acres of Templeton Woods has several different marked trails to follow. But if your dog wants to run free, there is plenty of space for them to do so- and plenty of sticks to pick up along the way. If the sun is shining, then there is also a large picnic area with barbeques near to the main entrance.

11. Loch Leven Heritage Trail, Kinross

This 12-mile trail goes right around the circumference of Loch Leven, but if you don’t feel up to the whole thing then it is equally pleasant to do in stages. There are spectacular views of the Lomond Hills and Lochleven Castle on offer, but your dog is likely to enjoy the variety of farmland, woodland and sandy lochside on the way round.

12.Kirkhill Forest, Dyce, Aberdeen

There are sticks galore in Kirkhill Forest, with the extensive woodland proving popular with dog walkers, mountain bikers and families. A word of warning though: the forest gets boggy pretty quickly when it rains, so keep your dog at arm’s length when they shake off.

13. Kingsbarns village circular, East Neuk of Fife

The East Neuk is one of the loveliest corners of the Scottish coastline, with each small fishing village as lovely as the last. Kingsbarns might be best known for its immaculate links golf course, but also has a great circular walk on offer for those in the know. Start in the village then head down to the Cambo Sands beach -where your dog is sure to love getting into the sea- before making your way back to the village via the Cambo Estate.

14. Milngavie Reservoirs, East Dumbartonshire

Two adjoining reservoirs – Mugdock and Craigmadddie – provide a flat, pleasant dog walk circuit that proves particularly popular with local residents in the summer evenings. You can walk three miles round one reservoir, or six if you want to do both, with woodlands at the edge of the Mugdock Reservoir if you want to extend your walk further. And when you finish, you can head to the dog-friendly Bulland’s Coffee House on Milngavie’s Mugdock Road afterwards.

15. Knockman Wood Circular, Newton Stewart, Dumfries and Galloway

This circular loop is only three miles round, so is a great way to ease yourself into more challenging walks. It follows a quiet singletrack path into some ancient oak woodland, where you might spot some rare birds and butterflies among the many trees.

 

Read more articles in our dog-friendly Scotland series:

HeraldScotland:

​Dog-friendly cafes

HeraldScotland:

Dog-friendly pubs

HeraldScotland:

Dog-friendly hotels