You may know that at Canine Cottages, we have our very own mascot Trip, who puts his seal of approval on everything we do. He is the voice of every dog - the one who will give us a friendly nudge when we humans get it wrong. When we think for example that we have found the most beautiful view, he is quick to point out that perhaps a Dachshund won’t be able to see it, and if we have found an amazing long mountain walk, he’ll suggest that little legs or older legs may not be able to keep up.
Trip has compiled a long list of excellent (and rather demanding) ideas, and we have tried to include as many of these as possible in our guide to Scotland Walkies. Together we’ve compiled a list of some of the best places to visit on your trip to Scotland, where rugged mountains and glens can only try to compete with the enchanting lochs and parks.
We suggest sitting down with your pooch, having a read through our guide and planning your trip with the most spectacular walkies that Scotland has to offer.
CLIMB EVERY MOUNTAIN - A CHALLENGING DOG WALK
Ben Lomond, West Dunbartonshire/Argyll and Bute/Stirling
One of Scotland’s most popular summits and its most southerly Munro, the dignified and mystical Ben Lomond will be sure to draw you in with its wild beauty.
For fit dogs with equally fit humans who want to reach the peak, the best place to set off is the Rowardennan car park on the eastern shore of Loch Lomond. Follow the path behind the centre and climb through the great oak woods, following the uphill path through a clearing. Soon you will see a peek of Loch Lomond and at this point be careful as livestock graze here. As you continue and near the final ascent, bear in mind that there is a steep climb, so it may be wise to stop and rest a while.
"The whole area retains the feel of the wilderness that Rob Roy experienced many centuries ago..."
Once you get up to the summit, you will be rewarded with spectacular views across Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. The glacial loch is absolutely beautiful but the whole area still retains the feel of the wilderness that Scotland’s famous outlaw Rob Roy experienced many centuries ago; you will really feel that you are in proper walking country here!
In terms of difficulty, the trail up is pretty even and well-used; to get back down you can use the same path or there is another route down the Ptarmigan ridge which makes the walk completely circular. It can be muddy and rocky in places however, so this is worth taking into consideration when choosing your route.
If you reach the summit, you may want to sit with your human to reflect on your life – this may be a good time to negotiate extra nightly Bonios while they are gazing across the beauty of this landscape and not concentrating on what you are saying. There are also lots of sheep around so control yourself.
Best for: Very fit dogs used to climbing. It is a long walk up to the top so only take dogs who are up to it. The walks around the loch however are gentler so most dogs would be able to cope with this.
Additional information: The climb takes about five hours and rises up to the summit of 974 metres. Ben Lomond is open all year, daily and is free but the car park is £3 per car at Rowardennan car park.
Other similar walkies:
- Beinn Chabhair – not too difficult, this walk has an easy start but can get rocky at the top.
- Ben Challum – a very straightforward munro, great for most dogs.
- Ben Vorlich – a gradual climb with lovely views over Loch Earn.
IT’S A BEACH LIFE - A COASTAL DOG WALK
Luskentyre, Isle of Harris
If your pooch is hinting about a tropical holiday on a desert island but you are saving that for a significant other, head to this iconic, wild unspoilt beach in the Outer Hebrides, which is a close second. Green rounded hills dotted with pink rock, creamy white sands stretching out to sparkling aquamarine seas and golden eagles swooping down from Ben Luskentyre will make this picture-perfect beach a real treat.
Whatever time of year you go, you are greeted with the most wonderful light that is perfect for taking hundreds of photographs of your dog being amazing. Remember to take a ball and frisbee for your pooch to give him some paddling time in the shallow waters.
Ignore the frisbee. The light is really good here, so make sure that your human gets lots of close-ups of you to put on Instagram for your friends at home. Make sure that your chin is tilted up for the best possible angle and if possible, that there is no better-looking pooch in the picture.
Best for: Dogs who love to feel the sand between their paws and the wind in their fur.
Additional information: Dogs are allowed here all year round at no cost and there is free parking.
Other similar walkies:
- The award-winning beach of Loch Morlich is heaven for dogs who love a long beach walk.
- Sandwood Bay is one of the most beautiful walks and perfect for beach-loving pooches.
- Sanna Bay gives amazing views of the Isles of Rum, Eigg, Muck and Canna and you may spot dolphins or whales in the water.
I CAPTURE THE CASTLE - A CIRCULAR DOG WALK
Castle Fraser, Aberdeenshire
The grounds of this fairy tale castle offer a variety of easy trails, perfect for dogs of all types. You will traverse a mixture of parkland, farmland and woodland on your travels, though we suggest the two waymarked walks on the estate if you don’t know the area - they give you the most spectacular views over the surrounding countryside. The Alton Brae Trail is a lovely easy trail of 1½ miles, though unsurfaced with some slopes and it is about an hour in length. You will be treated to a rather impressive approach to the castle through the Broad Walk of sycamores, and in the woodland areas you will see a variety of wildlife including long-tailed tits.
Another easy trail is the interestingly named Miss Bristow’s Trail, named after the lady who designed it, with the same sort of length and terrain. Beautiful wildflowers wave in the breeze as you pass by and in the spring and summer, bluebells, foxgloves and anemones light your way. These walks are really lovely and very different from the rugged terrain of the mountains.
If you are an Afghan Hound, let your hair down at the Rapunzel-style tower, complete with turret. A handsome dog may come and get you and whizz you away for a better life. Disclaimer: you are not actually allowed to do this so don’t blame me if you get caught.
Best for: All sorts of canines, but especially those who like a good nose in the woods and are not up for hurting their paws on rugged mountain trails.
Additional information: Castle Fraser is open all year, daily and admission is £10.50 for adults/concessions £7.50. Car parking is £2. Dogs are allowed in the grounds of the castle but need to be kept on leads near the children’s play area and in the courtyard.
Other similar walkies:
- Crathes Castle – with 240 acres of woodland and country, this is a gorgeous dog walk.
- Fyvie Castle – straight out of an Austrian fairy tale with 49 hectares and a loch walk.
- Newhailes – more a huge house than a castle, this has lovely woodland strolls and is really dog-friendly. Dogs even have their own gallery on the house’s Facebook page!
ADVENTURE HOUNDS - A SCENIC DOG WALK
Though it sounds like it should be in the sunny climes of Spain, Torridon couldn’t be further away with its majestic and rugged terrain. With some of the most spectacular mountain scenery in the UK, it is an ancient and mountainous wilderness. There are five of the National Trust for Scotland’s Munros here, so you will be spoiled for choice – two of which are Beinn Alligin which stands at 3,230ft and Liathach which peaks at 3,456ft.
A paradise for climbers and hikers, you may spot a red deer on the misty hillsides in the morning or the iconic Highland cattle on the estate farm, though be careful to keep dogs under control and on a lead around livestock. If your canine has really decided that mountain life is not for them, the upper shores of Loch Torridon is the perfect place to stop and have a rest or share a light picnic with your pooch – the lower level walks give you a great view of the Highlands. Try the Two Corries which take you into an amazing mountain pass between Liathach, Beinn Alligin, Beinn Dearg and Beinn Eighe.
"A paradise for climbers and hikers, you may spot a red deer on the misty hillsides in the morning..."
For a different type of adventure, which you can fit in between walkies, hop aboard a vintage steam train journey through the Highlands, through the Cairngorms National Park. Dogs are welcome, but not in first class or the dining areas, and travel completely free. Or hop aboard a cruise on Loch Ness where you can look out for the monster! There are trips across the Loch and through the Caledonian Canal which well-behaved pooches are invited on.
If you are called Nessie, don’t go on the boat trip, it may not turn out well for you. And as for the train – not allowed in first class? Such indignity. I refuse to even comment (sniff).
Best for: Dogs with a real sense of adventure who don’t suffer from sea-sickness.
Additional information: Torridon is open all year (the countryside centre is open April-September only) daily and admission is free. Costs vary for the steam train and Loch Ness cruise.
Other similar walkies:
- The Hermitage – a spectacular waterfall, a charming folly and beautiful woodland.
- The Nevis Range mountain gondola allows you spectacular views of the Highlands.
- The Isle of Skye – lovely dog-friendly attractions and enchanting scenery.
PARK LIFE - A GENTLE DOG WALK
Culzean Castle and Country Park, Maybole
If your dog prefers a bit more park than mountain in their walk, they will certainly enjoy this gorgeous park and rugged coastline. This magnificent opulent castle and country park on the rugged south Ayrshire coast has a multitude of wonderful walkies for a pooch who loves a day out and there are acres of parkland that just beg you to spend a day there together. It’s not all about the castle, there are also a multitude of secret follies to explore as well as Swan Pond and the cliffs.
Another similar one is Glenmore Forest Park which is the most enchanting place to walk – with ancient woodland leading down to glacial lochs, every dog will find something to gets their nose into here! Set in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park, it is part of a national nature reserve and has marked trails, so it is easy to navigate.
There are some lovely swans in the Swan Pond which I understand you may wish to befriend, but this isn’t a good idea. Don’t embarrass yourself by being the dog that has to be escorted off the premises.
Best for: The more refined dog who enjoys opulent surroundings and perhaps some walking in between looking magnificent.
Additional information: The Country Park is open all year but with limited facilities between November and March.
Other similar walkies:
- Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park – lots of brilliant walks and a great dog-friendly pub only ten minutes away in Lochwinnoch village.
- Dean Castle Country Park – a lovely river walk with lots of outside seating for picnics.
- Eglinton Country Park – over 400 hectares of walks for all manner of dogs.
Find these perfect Scottish walks on the map below.
We hope that you and your pooch have enjoyed our selection of wonderful walkies. If you need somewhere to stay, why not look at our selection of dog-friendly cottages in Scotland?