True Highlands Blog
As traditional a Christmas ritual as turkey and stuffing, is the groan of the after effects on Boxing Day. Fortunately the Highland landscape has amazing restorative powers and so we present you here with a suggestion from each of our areas for a gentle walk to re-energise you. These are not epic adventures, just ideas for a stroll to get you out of the house, clear the head and burn off some of these turkey calories.
North West Sutherland
Just a mile west of Durness, this long, white, crescent beach faces north and can be windswept and desolate. All the more reason to visit mid-winter. Stay till the evening as it is also renowned for its colourful sunsets.
Caithness, North East Sutherland, Orkney & Shetland
The most northerly point in mainland UK is fantastic for bracing sea views. A trail takes you around the cliff tops where you can look out to Orkney and spot numerous species of birds. A complete circuit of the peninsula takes about 5 hours, but you can park pretty close to the lighthouse so a wee wander out and back is enjoyable without having to commit to the entire circuit.
Wester Ross & the Outer Hebrides
A great place for a bracing winter stroll. The Atlantic pounds this scenic Lewis beach so it is maybe not the best spot for that invigorating swim you have been contemplating, but if surfing is your thing then bring your wetsuit as the breaking waves here are spectacular.
Mid & East Sutherland
If you really feel the need to get wet then Dornoch beach is probably one of the safest locations. A SEPA designated bathing area it is easily reached from the town itself and offers a series of paths just above the shoreline for those not so foolhardy. There are a number of options close by in the town for post swim revival.
Skye & Lochalsh
The most northerly point on Skye is accessed by an amazing clifftop walk that takes about 4 hours there and back. There is a small bit of scrambling and, although not technical, you will need a head for heights. The reward is spectacular views over the Minch and if you are lucky you may spot dolphins, whales and sharks.
Black Isle, Mid & Easter Ross
The intriguing monument atop this hill, clearly visible from the A9, offers amazing views over the surrounding area with comparatively little effort. There is a signposted car park on the road to Boath and from here you can reach the top by a forest track in less than an hour.
Inverness & Nairn
Miles and miles of sheltered sand dunes are the attraction here. There is a car park and toilets in addition to way-marked trails and a viewpoint. This is also an RSPB reserve where you can spot rare waders and geese but if you want some solitude the beach stretches so far it is very easy to find.
This is a short walk over fields and farmland to the impressive medieval ruins of Auchindoun castle. It’s a child friendly ramble on a well signposted path and the atmospheric setting is a great spot to meander around for an afternoon.
Fort William & Lochaber
An interesting circular walk that is wheelchair and child buggy friendly. In the 19th century in order to alleviate the homesickness of his Canadian wife, Lord Strathcona had the area planted with native North American trees. The loch today resembles a scene from the Canadian Rockies and is particularly attractive in winter.
The Abriachan Forest Trust is a social enterprise set up by the local community here in 1998. This has led to the development of spectacular walking and biking trails with the emphasis firmly on things being family friendly. All the trails are clearly waymarked from the car park.
Ardnamurchan & Mull
Calgary Art in Nature
The aim of this amazing project is to site pieces of sculpture within the woodland at Calgary that will provoke & enlighten a general awareness of art in nature. The sculptures themselves are very impressive, the woodland walk child friendly and the café at the end superb. It is also just next to one of the best beaches on the island.
Aviemore & The Cairngorms
If the hangover is so bad that swimming to an island castle seems like a good idea then penitents should head to Lochindorb. Drive down one side of the loch where you can see the ruins of the Wolf’s lair and park in a layby. When the ridiculousness of the scenario ahead of you becomes apparent then don’t worry, there are plenty of less adventurous walking alternatives nearby.
Argyll, Arran, Jura & Islay
Big Strand – Islay
At seven miles long this is Islay’s longest beach so there is little chance you won’t be able to find a spot all to yourself.
The best way to appreciate the Isle of Canna is the hike along the cliffs by the shoreline up to this vantage point. Fierce winter weather only adds to the majesty of the views along the coast.