During lockdown, there was a surge in dog ownership across Scotland. Many people viewed an extended period of time spent at home as the perfect excuse to take the plunge into life with a four-legged friend.

But, as these lockdown puppies grow up, owners might be struggling for inspiration about where to take them on a scenic walk, as the nearest patch of grass doesn’t quite cut it for active breeds. We have compiled a handy list of some of the most picturesque, dog-friendly walking routes across Scotland. Tail-wagging is guaranteed.

1.Primrose Hill, Loch Katrine

Most visitors to Loch Katrine will flock to the Trossachs Pier, admiring the

Sir Walter Scott Steamship and the information panels about him that are dotted along the water’s edge. Those who are more adventurous might decide to climb Ben Venue, the spectacular craggy Munro that rises above the water on the south of the loch. But those who are really in the know will avoid both the chock-a-block Ben Venue car park and the busy water’s edge, and climb high above the crowds on to Primrose Hill. This unspoilt, unpopulated hill sits opposite the loch from Ben Venue, offering a glorious – yet rarely seen – perspective of the famous Munro. Yet, although you will face a sharp climb at the start of the walk, Primrose Hill is a relatively easy route for both humans and dogs, even those who are still puppies. There are spectacular views over the Trossachs to be enjoyed at the top and, if you follow the path along the edge of the hill, it then descends via a quiet forest, which dogs will love to run around in.

2. Criffel Hill, Dumfries

While certain breeds of dogs have the energy to sprint up Ben Nevis and back down again, some dogs don’t quite have it in them to take part in the Munro-bagging craze currently sweeping Scotland. But there are plenty of less strenuous hills that offer these dogs – and their owners – the same sense of achievement and some excellent views. One of these is Criffel Hill in Dumfries, located near the village of Southerness. It isn’t very high, at only 569 metres, but it has the advantage of being the only real hill for miles around, meaning that it offers an excellent vantage point for admiring the Solway Firth. The path starts off with well-maintained gravel but it soon turns boggy and muddy as you near the summit of the hill. Your dog will inevitably love leaping through the heather and getting covered in mud, but you may enjoy it less so if you aren’t wearing suitable clothing or footwear.

3. Kelvin Walkway, Glasgow

The west end of Glasgow, with its myriad tenements and busy roads, isn’t exactly the ideal place to walk a dog. But, if you take a walk along the banks of the River Kelvin, as it carves through the heart of the west end, it feels like you are a world away from the bustle of the Scotland’s biggest city. Start in Kelvingrove Park and then head down beside the river along to Inn Deep, stopping for an optional pint if you fancy it, before venturing down alongside the river to the ruins of the North Woodside Flint Mill. A little further on you will see a charming

blue-and-white bridge which, if crossed, will see you emerge into the famous Glasgow Botanic Gardens. But if you fancy it you can continue on further, into some stretches of quiet woodland which most dogs will enjoy exploring on the hunt for a stick. There are

plenty of opportunities to cross back over to the other side of the river and make your way back out towards

Byres Road, but if you wish to you could follow this path all the way to Milngavie. This walk is particularly good for sociable pups, who are sure

to meet dozens of doggy friends on their way down the Kelvin.

4. The Whangie, Kilpatrick Hills, Stirling

It might only be just outside Glasgow, but the Whangie wouldn’t look out of place in a scene from Lord of the Rings. This unusual rock formation is found near the top of Auchineden Hill, a short, craggy peak that has a car park conveniently located at its foot. Dogs will love scrambling along the rocks of the path that curves along the side of the hill, though humans may have to take a little more care to avoid a twisted ankle on certain sections. It doesn’t take too long to reach the Whangie itself, where visitors can walk right the way through it via a large gash in the rocks, offering some excellent photo opportunities. If you’re feeling brave you can climb up certain sections of this rock (your dog will likely find this easier than you) to enjoy an impressive view over to Loch Lomond and beyond.

5. West Sands Beach,

St Andrews, Fife

Famed for being the filming location for the iconic running scene in the film Chariots of Fire, you might expect West Sands Beach in St Andrews to be heaving with pesky tourists. But, fortunately, the beach is big enough that it never feels too busy, particularly if you visit at low tide. Dogs can tire themselves out for hours on the huge sandy expanse and, if they’re brave, a splash in the North Sea. And, after all that exercise, you can both unwind at the dog-friendly Criterion Bar on South Street, which offers water bowls and biscuits for well-behaved pooches. For humans, there is an extensive range of Scottish beers as well as some seriously impressive pies.

6. Dores and Aldourie Castle, Loch Ness

The mystical beauty of Loch Ness makes it a wonderful place to visit at any time of year. But now the summer tourists have mostly cleared away,

it is a great opportunity to explore the loch with your four-legged friend. There is a great walk that begins from the Dores Inn on the loch’s northern edge, leading through a woodland

path that offers some excellent views out on to the water. You can take a detour to catch a glimpse of Aldourie Castle, a grand structure that dates back to the 16th century, before the path leads inland through some lovely stretches of forest and open fields. When you are finished, you can take your dog for a trip on one of the Jacobite boat cruises that sail out across the loch: with dogs welcome on board the Reflection, Contemplation and Inspiration tours. Just make sure to keep them away from Nessie…

7. Burn Anne Trail, Galston, East Ayrshire

If you are heading for a dog walk in Ayrshire, you might presume that it’s best to go to the beach. But, although Ayrshire is famed for its coastline, it also has some excellent walking routes inland- particularly around East Ayrshire. Head for the village of Galston to explore the Burn Anne Trail, which takes in the peaceful Burnhouse Brae Wood, a perfect doggy playground that stretches for more than 15 acres. 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 reasonably close just in case.

8. Lunan Bay, Montrose, Angus

One of the best beaches in Angus – if not the country – Lunan Bay is well worth a visit. If you start at the signposted car park you can head to the northern part of the beach and enjoy 4km of glorious sands. If you follow it right to the end there is a sea cave that your dog will love sniffing about in- but be careful not to get trapped inside by the tide. From

there you can make your way back to the car park via some great grassy dunes that rise along the edge of the beach. But if you’ve got an energetic pooch that still isn’t tired by the time you reach your car, there is the option to then visit the southern stretch of the bay via the hamlet of Lunan and the ruins of the “Red Castle”, which dates back to the 1400s.

9. Strathkelvin Railway Path, East Dunbartonshire

While the town of Kirkintilloch is relatively urbanised, it offers a springboard into some lovely countryside walks. One of these is along the disused Strathkelvin

Railway Path, a narrow woodland track that leads all the way out to the beautiful village of Strathblane in Stirlingshire. The route is almost

all flat, so offers a perfect route for either puppies or older dogs who

are past the peak of their fitness.

The path runs alongside a gentle

burn – which water-loving dogs

will enjoy jumping in and out of to retrieve balls or sticks – as well as some sections of open field and woodland. You can join the route at several other stages, such as Milton of Campsie or Lennoxtown, but it is on the approach to Strathblane that the scenery really becomes striking. The path leads through a postcard-perfect valley, passing through fields of Highland cattle, before taking you round the foot of the volcanic plug of Dunglass.

10. The Hermitage,


This charming walk offers a variety of terrain to please both dogs and humans alike. Begin at the Hermitage car park and then head through some lovely Perthshire woodland before you reach a dramatic waterfall over the River Braan. The path then continues past Ossian’s Cave – an artificial cave added to the landscape in 1785 – before emerging out on to a pretty field and leading on to a bridge overlooking a spectacular gorge. Dogs will love running around the woodland but it is wise to keep them on a lead near the fast-moving water.

11. Tyninghame Bay, East Linton, East Lothian

This clean, expansive beach is very popular with dog walkers- but fortunately it never gets overly crowded. Start at the Tyninghame Links car park and follow the path through the woodland until you reach the sand dunes (or dog’s paradise) 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. Your four-legged friend will love the thrill of having so much sea, sand and woodland to explore: expect some doggy snoring on the drive home.

12. Loch Venachar Circular Walk, Callander

Often overlooked by tourists, Loch Venachar is surely one of the most spectacular lochs in Scotland. This circular walk showcases the very best of it, with breathtaking views on offer during almost all of the 7km route. Start at the public car park on the south shore of the loch and follow the path as it climbs above the water, where you and your dog will (fortunately) have the place mainly to yourselves. The forest to the left of the path has been felled, so you can take a slight detour up the hill to get an uninterrupted view of Ben Ledi across the water. From there, follow the path along through a section of woodland before emerging into a charming lochan hidden in the trees. The path then eventually winds back downwards to the edge of the water, providing a glorious view down over the loch as you go. Undoubtedly one of the best walks in the central belt.

13. Cairndow, Loch Fyne, Argyll and Bute

The village of Cairndow is a great base for any number of walks around the banks of the lovely Loch Fyne. 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. The gardens are famed for their beautiful collection of rhododendrons, as well as one of Europe’s biggest conifer trees, but any children who are visiting will probably prefer to embark on the famous Ardkinglas Gruffalo trail. 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.

14. Kirkhill Forest, Dyce, Aberdeen

There are few things worse than the smell of a wet dog, not to mention the hassle of keeping them away from clothing or furniture when they decide to shake themselves off. But unfortunately, in Scotland rain is unavoidable, making dog walks a bit trickier as we head into the winter months. Kirkhill Forest in Aberdeen provides a pretty good route if you are trying to keep dry, with its extensive canopy of trees helping to keep out some of the worst of the rain when wet weather does appear. Being a woodland, there’s an abundance of sticks to be found, too, so your dog should be quite satisfied with a walk around this peaceful area.

15. Falls of Shin, near Achany, Lairg, Sutherland

The Falls of Shin is famous for its leaping salmon: who swim up the Dornoch Firth and the Kyle of Sutherland to return to the spot where they were spawned at the top of the River Shin. The only thing that stands in their way is this thundering waterfall, leading many of the fish to fail in their first attempts and flap around rather comically. You can watch the drama unfold from a special viewing platform, which is reached via a rather lovely woodland walk that starts at the designated Falls of Shin car park. There are four separate paths for you and your dog to explore- but just make sure they are on a tight lead near the falls in case they try to jump in after the salmon!

16. Blackford Hill, Edinburgh

Most visitors to the capital will try and tackle Arthur’s Seat, the ancient volcano which rises dramatically above the city centre. But if you want a more peaceful walk then try Blackford Hill, near Morningside, which offers just as good a view with far less people at the top. You can look out over the castle, the Old Town and Arthur’s Seat itself, with the summit of the hill proving a great location to snap a picture of your pooch. You can then descend back down and visit the Hermitage of Braid: a pleasant wooded glen which features a gentle burn for your dog to have a splash about in.

17. Whitelee Windfarm, Eaglesham

The 200 wind turbines of Whitelee Windfarm can be spotted from various points across Glasgow. But if you want to see them up close, the windfarm is open to visitors (and dogs) to walk around and admire the sheer power of renewable energy, with 539 megawatts of electricity produced there. There are more than 90km of mainly traffic-free trails, giving you the peace of mind to let your dog roam freely- bar a few horse riders that you might encounter along the way. Its visitor centre is currently closed as a result of coronavirus, but the windfarm is still well worth a visit.

18. Westport Beach, Campbelltown, Mull of Kintyre

There is plenty going on to keep dogs busy at this ruggedly beautiful beach. There are lots of waves to splash about in -thanks to its position on the windy west coast- with over six miles of sand to explore alongside the extensive Machrihanish Dunes, a designated site of scientific interest. And when the tide is right, rock pools will form at the far end of the sands: perfect for inquisitive four-legged explorers.

19. Speyside Way, Aviemore, Cairngorms

The dog-friendly Old Bridge Inn, one of the most popular pubs in Aviemore, provides a perfect starting point for this walk along the Speyside Way. The pub has a seasonally changing menu with some seriously good food, while there is a selection of more than 100 malt whiskies to warm you up before you head out. From there, you can follow the route along the old railway line and the banks of the Spey, heading through rich woodland that any dog will enjoy exploring. You can enjoy glimpses of the mountains at various points on the route, with the Speyside Way continuing on right through the Cairngorms National Park all the way up to Buckie on the edge of the Moray Firth. But be warned- you are not recommended to bring your dog along the stretch between Ballindalloch and Cromdale due to the presence of cattle.

20. Duchess Wood, Helensburgh, Argyll and Bute

This local nature reserve, the only one within Argyll and Bute, is a paradise for dogs. They will love sniffing around the flowers, searching for sticks and chasing birds; while you will enjoy soaking in the wildlife from the comfort of the wood’s well-maintained paths. This facility only reopened in February after being closed for nearly eight months for some much-needed improvement works. Potholes were filled in in the car park, overhanging branches have been cleared, fences have been repaired and foliage has been cleaned up and cut back- making now the perfect time to visit.