One of the few benefits of lockdown was that it encouraged many of us to take up exercise in a way that we hadn’t previously. And with gyms and fitness centres closed, those who wanted to exercise couldn’t do much else other than pick up a pair of trainers and go for a run. But if lockdown has sparked a newfound love of jogging within you, then the chances are that by now you are looking for a new route to tackle. Good news, then, as we’ve rounded some of the best running spots across Scotland – for both beginners and experienced athletes

Clydeside Path, Glasgow

Particularly for those who are new to running, a route that follows even ground usually tends to be preferable. Traffic-free and flat, the tarmacked path along the River Clyde could, therefore, hardly be more ideal. Add in some great scenery of the Finnieston Crane, the SSE Hydro and both the Squinty and Squiggly Bridge, and you’ve got a winning recipe for a running route. You can start at the spectacular Riverside Museum in Partick and then just keep going: as far as Glasgow Green, or even all the way to Cambuslang if you are aiming to hit the half-marathon mark (or work at our printing plant). There are plenty of bridges to cross if you want to lengthen your route or create a bit of variety, with some runners trying to cross as many as they can as part of a fitness challenge. One word of warning though: there are lots of cyclists that also use this narrow path, so you are best to keep any music you are playing to a low volume in order to hear them approaching from behind you.

Dean Village and the Water of Leith, Edinburgh

One of the best things about running is that it often leads you to discover new places. And what better place to discover than this curious, postcard-perfect ‘village’ located right in the heart of Scotland’s capital city? Starting in the centre of Edinburgh, it doesn’t take long to reach Dean Village, with its charming collection of 19th century cottages and brightly painted houses. You can run down towards the river – stopping to take some Instagram-worthy photos – before continuing along the Water of Leith path as far as you feel like. You can head out of the city centre towards Balerno and Currie or in the opposite direction towards Leith itself, where you will be spoilt for choice with trendy cafes and coffee shops in which to get yourself a post-run treat.

Stirling Marathon Route, Stirling

Keen runners will have found 2020 to be a highly disappointing year, with almost all organised races being cancelled or postponed. But just because these events aren’t formally happening doesn’t mean that you can’t recreate them on your own. The Stirling Marathon route is an excellent mix of urban and country landscapes and, while we aren’t suggesting you necessarily tackle the whole 26 miles, running part of the route will be well worth your while. The organisers describe the route as ‘running through history’, and it certainly offers some notable landmarks: the Wallace Monument, Stirling Castle and even Andy Murray’s gold post-box. It begins in the centre of the city, near the castle, then leading out to the lovely village of Doune with its own historic castle. You can then go from Doune to Dunblane – spotting the famous Olympic post-box while you are there – then heading through Bridge of Allan and back to the city via the Wallace Monument. Obviously you won’t benefit from road closures if you tackle this route on your own, so be very cautious of traffic and make sure to keep your wits about you. But, if this run does prove to be a hit, then entries are open now for the real thing, being held on Sunday 9 May 2021.

Tarbat Ness Lighthouse, Portmahomack, Easter Ross

Boasting the position of third-tallest lighthouse in Britain, the red and white stripes of Tarbat Ness Lighthouse are an iconic sight for visitors to the Tarbat Peninsula. Try running from the village of Portmahomack to the lighthouse and back: the route takes in some stunning beaches, sea views and even a medieval fortress (Ballone Castle). If you’re lucky, you might see some sea life too.

Southerness Beach, Dumfries

This wide, sandy beach is a runner’s paradise. It is quiet enough that you will have place mostly to yourself, yet it falls within the Solway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and offers some wonderful views out towards Cumbria and beyond. You can even spot dolphins or seals in the water, which might distract you from any aches and pains that you are enduring on your run. But with miles of soft sand to run along, any running impact injuries aggravated by running on tarmac will be eased along this lovely beach. And if you finish your route in Southerness village itself, there is a great traditional fish shop where you can get a hearty meal to replenish all the calories that you’ve burned.

Old Deeside Railway Line, Aberdeen

This path runs all the way from the centre of Aberdeen out to Ballater in the Cairngorms – so we certainly wouldn’t advise running the full thing. But what you can do is choose one of its many picturesque sections and tackle that instead: with stretches like Drumoak to Banchory (just over 10km) or Aboyne to Ballater (slightly longer at 17km). Being built on the bed of the disused Deeside Railway Line this path is mercifully flat, with very few gradients to deal with, but that doesn’t make it boring. Joggers will enjoy views of historic monuments, fields of highland cattle, rich woodland and swathes of Scottish heather, depending on which part you join.

River Ness, Inverness

Tourists are always drawn towards Loch Ness, with its dramatic beauty and tales of monsters, but the unassuming River Ness is just as worthy of a visit (or a jog). Running through the city and beyond, the river has an accessible path alongside it that is popular with runners and cyclists alike. There are various bridges to be crossed if you want to extend the route, with the option to explore the charming Ness Islands further up the river – which form a 5km route if you do a loop around them. The suspension bridges that lead to the islands can be popular with runners, but the River Ness path is wide enough that social distancing can be maintained with reasonable ease. If you are feeling particularly fit you can keep going beyond the river path towards the Great Glen Way, or along the Caledonian Canal.

Maidens Beach to Culzean, Ayrshire

Troon and Prestwick might get all the day trippers heading ‘doon the watter’, but the unassuming village of Maidens highlights some of the best bits of the Ayrshire coast. Despite being within a stone’s throw of Turnberry golf course, Maidens is largely untouched by tourists and is a great place to enjoy a seaside jog without being disturbed by screaming families or wayward dogs. You can start by heading north on Maidens beach before turning right to follow the coastal path towards Culzean Country Park. This path will offer you some excellent coastal views before leading into some charming woodland in the grounds of the castle- from there you can explore the Swan Pond, the courtyard of the castle and the expanse of the country park. There’s even a herd of llamas to be found in a field within the Deer Park, which are sure to cheer you up no matter how tired your run has made you.

Rouken Glen Park, Thornliebank, East Renfrewshire

This deceptively large park offers a great variety of routes for all levels of runners. Those who are just starting out can tackle a few laps of the Rouken Glen Boating Pond – a flat and short route – before rewarding themselves with a hot drink from the lovely Boathouse cafe. But those who want to go further can head from the pond into the thick woodland beyond, exploring picturesque waterfalls and a ruined mill, before emerging out on to the park’s large swathes of grass (ideal for killing an extra few kilometres). There are plenty of inclines within Rouken Glen that offer the opportunity to do hill sprints, as well as outdoor fitness equipment that is perfect for a cool-down muscle workout.

Montrose Basin, Angus

If you are a birdwatcher and a runner, then this is the place for you. The Montrose Basin is home to over 80,000 migratory birds that can be spotted throughout the year: including pink-footed geese, kingfishers, Arctic terns, knots and sedge warblers. Its flat terrain will appeal to novice joggers, but at 11 miles in total it offers a decent workout for more experienced runners too. If you want to finish your run at the Montrose Basin visitor centre, it offers a great place to find out more about the wildlife as well as picking up a light refreshment. But be warned, due to Covid-19 you must pre-book a time slot at the visitor centre should you wish to go there.

More great run ideas tomorrow