Autumn will be upon us any day now, it’s high time to plan walks and adventures for the season! In this article we’re sharing our favourite autumn locations in Scotland.
Continue reading to find ideas for beautiful short walks and spectacular photo locations to discover this autumn!
We’re sharing where to go to capture Scottish autumn in full glory and how to make the most of shorter days!
Enjoy & get out and about this autumn with our compilation of top short walks and photo spots for autumn in Scotland!
Incredible short walks to enjoy autumn colours in Scotland are:
1.The Hermitage, near Dunkeld
2.Birnam walk Dunkeld
3.Portknockie to Cullen
4.River Tweed walk, Peebles
5.Dalmeny Estate, near Edinburgh
6.Bracklin Falls, Callander
7.Loch Lubnaig, near Callander
8.Loch Katrine, near Callander
9.Tyninghame beach, near Dunbar
10.Glen Nevis, near Fort William
11.River Affric walk, near Loch Ness
12.Falls of Bruar, near Blair Atholl
13.Pentland Hills, near Edinburgh
14.Ochil Hills, near Alloa
15.Fairy Glen, near Rosemarkie, Black Isle
1.THE HERMITAGE, NEAR DUNKELD
Total time: 2 hours
The Hermitage is one of sites under the patronage of The National Trust for Scotland. This beautiful area offers a fine woodland walk along river Braan. During your visit to the Hermitage, don’t miss Ossian’s Hall located just at Black Linn Falls, a magnificent thundery waterfall, Ossian’s Cave at the far end of the walk, and the old stone bridge over river Braan. Apart from a fine family-friendly walk, The Hermitage offers great bird watching opportunities. Moreover, the area is famous for its old trees, some of the tallest in UK!
We recommend a walk along the right bank of river Braan, starting from this dedicated car park. Stick to the river and in no time you’ll arrive to a viewpoint to amazing fir trees towering on the other side of Braan. The trees are truly spectacular! Continue up the stairs and soon you’ll come to Ossian’s Hall, ensure to walk in (yes, the door is open!) to see Black Linn Falls in full glory! The little balcony of Ossian’s Hall is the best viewpoint to the waterfall! In autumn, the black rocks along the river beautifully contrast with oranges, yellows and reds of nearby trees.
Once you’re happy with the view of waterfall leave Ossian’s Hall and walk further along the river, it will take you to Ossian’s Cave, the furthest point of a marked walk. If you wish to extend the walk, feel free to venture further along the river to Braan Falls waterfall and viewpoint, gently uphill and surrounded by picturesque meadows!
In our opinion, The Hermitage is, by far, the best easy walk perfect for autumn in Scotland, hence it made it to Number 1 of our list!
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2.BIRNAM WALK, DUNKELD
Total time: 1.5 -2 hours (3-4 hours extended)
Another stunning walk, simply perfect for autumn starts from Dunkeld and follows river Tay. This near-flat trail is best accessible near Dunkeld bridge.
Join well-trodden path along the river, shaded by majestic oaks. The trail runs east for about 2 km as it comes to a small boat stop. We recommend returning the same way, along the river as it’s much nicer than the alternative- walking along the road. As the walk is shaded by amazing massive old oaks all the way along, it keeps to the river but at a safe distance, it’s perfect for whole family! The young ones will love the massive tree trunks and meadows along the way.
The walk can be finished off with a visit to Dunkeld, a historic town. There’s plenty to learn and enjoy in such picturesque small town!
A keen walker may want to extend the walk by hiking to nearby Birnam Hill 404 masl, which fits the autumnal theme perfectly as the trail winds thru lovely woodland.
3.PORTKNOCKIE TO CULLEN
Total time: 2-3 hours
Both, Portknockie and Cullen are charming seaside towns located along the Moray coast (north-eastern Scotland), only 3 km apart. The towns are connected by a fine coastal path and a beautiful white sand beach. The 6 km distance (there and back) can be easily covered within one day, just ensure it’s a sunny one! Picking a nice day for Portknockie to Cullen walk is essential as this is a coastal walk and the trail can be quite windy!
Short section of the route follows low cliffs and passes the amazing Bow Fiddle Rock (unmissable landmark near Portknockie!) the path then gently descents the cliffs to Jenny’s Well and caves to continue further along the Cullen Sands beach. If lucky, you may spot seals lazily resting on the rocks, at low tide!
4.RIVER TWEED WALK, PEEBLES
Total time: 2 hours
Only a short walk from Peebles town centre is another fantastic woodland walk along the river. This time we encourage you to take a walk along river Tweed in Scottish Borders. This peaceful trail will take you past ruins of Reidpath Castle and to the iconic historic stone bridge.
Peebles looks stunning in autumn, surrounded by small rolling hills in autumnal oranges and yellows, walk along the river is calming and very quiet as it follows a well-trodden path along river bank. This simple map will help you plan your autumn walk in Peebles.
Why not enjoy the afternoon in picturesque Peebles? There’s so much to see and do in the area; including historic landmarks, and viewpoints like Manor Sware or Ven Law!
5.DALMENY ESTATE, NEAR EDINBURGH
Total time: 2-4 hours
Parks, estates and other quiet areas are plentiful around Edinburgh. They all attract walkers, cyclists and outdoor enthusiasts. One of the best ‘estates’ for walking is Dalmeny Estate, located at the western edge of Edinburgh. The estate is home to endless woodland tracks, a Cramond to South Queensferry coastal trail and national cycling route 76. These trails wind among old trees and are perfect for autumn walk/ride which will be enjoyed by the whole family. Due to density of trails in Dalmeny Estate you can pick a route as long as you like, and as quiet as you need! Ensure to keep your dog on leash at all times, as there’s plenty of livestock grazing on the estate’s meadows and pastures. Look out for birds of prey circling high above, their cries can be heard throughout the estate.
Sights and spots not to miss during your walk in Dalmeny Estate are Dalmeny House, Barnbougle Castle, sandy beach near Peatdrought Bay (also a great viewpoint to the three Forth Bridges), Eagle Rock (ancient Roman site), and (not exactly at the estate, but a bit further) Forth Bridge – UNESCO listed Victorian state-of-art rail bridge! The best access points to Dalmeny estate are Cramond Brig (now Miller & Carter Stakehouse) and South Queensferry (Longcraig Road).
6.BRACKLIN FALLS, CALLANDER
Total time: 2-3 hours
This lovely circular walk will take you thru picturesque woodlands over Callander and pass the amazing Bracklinn Falls along the way! Located at the outskirts of Callander the walk is easily accessible (with dedicated car park) and is suitable for whole family, however keep a close eye on your bairns near the river and on the bridge! Leaving the car park, a well made track will take you to the Bracklinn Falls bridge, cross it and turn left, a path runs along the river, thru spruce and fir woodland. This walk is especially nice during autumn as the initial section of the trail crosses beech woodland, its leaves coloured yellow, brown and red. Also, the length of Bracklinn Falls walk is perfect for short autumn days, warmth of the forest keeps the ground frost-free most of the year.
Why not finish off the walk in one of Callander’s cafes? They’re plentiful and quite good!
7.LOCH LUBNAIG, NEAR CALLANDER
Total time: 0-2 hours
We believe that Loch Lubnaig is one of the most scenic lochs in Scotland! The loch is conveniently located along main tourist trail, road A84, just past Callander. Although we can’t recommend any specific walks along Loch Lubnaig, it’s hilly surroundings and woodlands make it the most spectacular location for autumn photographs. The best time of day to catch autumn at Loch Lubnaig is morning.
Try a morning visit to the loch (8-9am) to see it snug in mist, which reveals colourful woods just over the shores as it slowly lifts. Very often the loch is mirror-like and the autumnal reflections are simply mind-blowing. Stop at one of several viewpoints along Loch Lubnaig and explore endless possibilities of photo shooting in the area.
One of the viewpoints can be found here: car park.
8.LOCH KATRINE, NEAR CALLANDER
Total time: 1-3 hours
Yet another stunning location near Callander! Loch Katrine is well known among Scottish walkers and cyclists, as it offers miles of traffic-free track along the shores, you’re totally free to decide how much time you would like to spend at Loch Katrine, but one thing for sure- you’re going to enjoy it! The vicinity of Loch Katrine are hills partially wrapped in dense woodlands (Ben A’an, Ben Venue). The unique features of the loch are small islands at the eastern end (near visitor centre).
The best way to explore Loch Katrine area is a cycling trip, however if you’re a keen walker, the traffic-free track along the loch is perfect for a family walk (also disabled-friendly as it’s paved). The best access point to Loch Katrine is the car park at visitors centre (a café, bike hire, steam ship cruises), daily parking charge applies.
If you enjoyed a walk near Loch Katrine, why not hike to Ben A’an, one of the best viewpoints in Scotland! In exchange for 1.5 hours climb you’ll enjoy mind-blowing views over the loch and to nearby mountains! The hike is quite short, but steep in places, despite being unmarked, the trail is clear and easy to follow. All you need to know about a hike to Ben A’an.
9.TYNINGHAME BEACH, NEAR DUNBAR
Total time: 1-3 hours
Tyninghame Beach, also known by locals as Ravensheugh Sands is one of the lesser known sandy beaches in East Lothian region. Located only a short distance from Dunbar it’s a fantastic destination for a walk during autumn. The trail to the beach runs thru a wonderful beech forest, the beech leaves turn yellow, red and brown and are stunning!
The dedicated car park is located at the edge of the woods and only approximately 500 metres from the beach. One of the most unique features of Ravenshugh Sands is a basalt half-stack and St.Baldred’s Cradle – a mini-peninsula, where you can see half-formed basalt columns! The beach is framed by small dunes, however a keen eye will spot interesting rock formations along the coast! The sandy beach is worth a visit even at high tide, and the day spent at Tyninghame beach will be one to remember!
11.AN STEALL WATERFALL, GLEN NEVIS, NEAR FORT WILLIAM
Difficulty: easy (care needed)
Total time: 2-3 hours
Glen Nevis is incredibly popular with hikers and all kinds of outdoor enthusiasts! No wonder, it’s a door to Scottish Giants, trails to many majestic mountains start at the glen, most importantly a trail to Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in UK!
The glen stretches for miles and is home to Water of Nevis river, a limestone gorge and in the upper part An Steall waterfall. Due to its length, this unmissable Scottish glen is perfect for a bike ride; exploration by foot is recommended at specific sections only, as there’s no footpath along the single track road.
We recommend coming to the very end of Glen Nevis (upper Glen Nevis car park) and hiking along the river. Please don’t be discouraged by warning signs at the trail, indeed a slip down the slope, to the rocky gorge could end fatally, but with a bit of care and common sense applied thousands of walkers managed to visit the waterfall and safely return! Initial section of the trail is rocky and can be slippery in places, therefore it’s essential to take extra care along the way, if you’re accompanied by the young ones, ensure they’re supervised at all times.
The path rises and falls gently, to finally come to a spacious meadow. You’ll be able to see the waterfall at the far end! Apart from the waterfall, this part of the glen is home to a rope bridge. Many dare to cross to the other side of river Nevis, but it’s not an easy tasks as the bridge consists of only 4 ropes, two used as ‘handholds’ and two clipped ropes to walk on. Of course, the ropes are far from stable while you’re on it, they bounce and wobble, which considerably adds to the challenge of crossing the river! Give it a try while in Glen Nevis, it’s the only rope bridge in Scottish hills!
Autumn is especially beautiful in Glen Nevis, birch trees turn yellow as they guide dozens of cascades on the river, heathery slopes of nearby mountains turn vivid purple, an amazing, colourful sight!
11.RIVER AFFRIC WALK, NEAR LOCH NESS
Total time: 1-2 hours
Glen Affric is a true hidden gem of Scottish Highlands! The glen stayed off tourist radar due to its proximity to Loch Ness which fame overshadows all other stunning locations in the area. Nonetheless the glen is especially spectacular in autumn, as surrounding mountain tops can be snow-dusted while the bottom of the glen still enjoys heather in bloom, incredibly vivid purple! The evergreen Scots pines beautifully contrast with colourful foliage, making otherworldly impression. The glen offers a full day, 20 km hike, however for short autumn days we recommend the ‘river Affric walk’, discover the essence of the area! The trail follows river Affric, winds between mighty Scots pines and thru bushy headers in most beautiful colours! The 1 mile walk can be extended by visiting viewpoint to Glen Affric, at the opposite side of the car park. It’s only a short climb, don’t miss it!
12.FALLS OF BRUAR, NEAR BLAIR ATHOLL
Total time: 2-3 hours
Falls of Bruar is a series of small waterfalls on river Bruar Water, easily accessed from the large car park at the House of Bruar country shop. Some of the waterfalls are hidden in a gorge, but at least 3 or 4 are well visible from the trail that sticks to the river, and a couple of stone bridges. Initially a beech woodland changes the character and into fir/spruce forest further up the river, with abundance of wild mushrooms. During your exploration of Falls of Bruar you’ll enjoy a quiet path, peaceful ambience and truly autumnal scent of the forest –the mushrooms! Ensure to keep to the path and stay away from the gorge edge, to stay safe! Several viewpoints along the way will help you enjoy beauty of the walk, stunning waterfalls hidden in the forest.
Why not visit the restaurant at House of Bruar after the hike to warm up with hearty food?!
13.PENTLAND HILLS, NEAR EDINBURGH
Total time: 2-4 hours
I think that Pentland Hills are already a familiar location to our readers! The hills at the southern edge of Edinburgh are a fantastic location for walking any season, however as many hills lower slopes are covered by heather, The Pentlands are autumn-perfect! Not only you can roam the hills and enjoy colours of autumnal heather all over nearby hills, but also you can pick a path that will take you directly thru the amazing purple foliage!
Despite covering a relatively small area, The Pentlands offer countless hiking trails and fine paths, so how would you know which one to choose for your walk? Don’t worry, we’re just about to give you 2 examples of amazing walks!
Turnhouse Hill from Flotterstone car park. Views along this trail are truly stunning. Having left the Flotterstone car park follow a paved track for approx. 10 mins. Soon you’ll come to a gate, go thru it and look out for signposts to Scald Law. Turnhouse Hill is the first hill you see, directly in front of you, with a bunch of trees half way up. Top of Turnhouse Hill is unmarked, but you’ll have no problems identifying it. Continue along the broad ridge and walk down to a metal gate in a saddle, before the next climb along the ridge. Cross the gate and look out for a path that runs downhill alongside a low stone wall. This is your way down and a path thru some of the most beautiful heather bushes in the area! Once you descent to a paved track, turn right and walk back to the car park.
The other autumn-perfect walk runs from Harlaw car park, along the foot of Black Hill and returns to the Bawelaw car park, and further to Harlaw, along the reservoirs. Black Hill was named after the dry heather bushes that cover most of it. The bushes are dry and black most of the year. However in autumn the hill comes to life with vivid colours and fresh heather!
14.OCHIL HILLS, NEAR ALLOA
Total time: 2-4 hours
Ochil Hills are a range located approximately 20 miles north from Edinburgh. The Ochils have a distinctive shape rounded and gentle and can be seen from many miles around. The hills can be easiest described as a long ridge seen over the horizon while driving along river Forth (M9 Edinburgh-Stirling), this is the best view of Ochil Hills range! The hills are divided by short sharp glens, some of them famous for their beauty! Why not explore two of the most interesting glens in The Ochils, Dollar Glen and Alva Glen. In both cases the walk is quite short, but can be steep in places.
How to visit Alva Glen in Ochil Hills: walking trail to Alva Glen starts from a dedicated car park in upper Alva village, and is signposted. As soon as it comes to the woodland, you’ll find a small waterfall. Continue along the well-trodden path which sticks to the stream. It can be muddy in places byt generally it’s in good condition. Soon the trail leaves the woodland and comes to the open space, on higher ground as it follows left side of a narrow glen. At the end of Alva Glen you’ll come to a safety barrier and a little gate, cross the gate and descent slightly to a small cave where the stream comes from. Retrace your steps back to the car park.
Dollar Glen, on the other hand, offers historic features, apart from nature and a calming walk. At the top of Dollar Glen you’ll find Castle Campbell, a small castle with prominent tower. The castle is open to visitors and we recommend paying a visit and climbing to the top of the tower, the view is amazing! Not only you’ll see the glen down below, but also it will bring you closer to the broad ridge of Ochil Hills, to have a better overview. To get to Dollar Glen and Castle Campbell drive to the dedicated car park in upper Dollar village. Although it’s possible to reach the castle along the paved road, we recommend taking a signposted nature trail which will take you to the castle via woodland and along a stream. Explore the area and find the best viewpoint to Castle Campbell, find a narrow black-rock gorge. There’s so much to find in Dollar Glen!
15.FAIRY GLEN, NEAR ROSEMARKIE
Total time: 2-3 hours
Fairy Glen is a delightful short walk thru woodland, along a stream that will take you to two waterfalls along the way. The walk is suitable for the young ones and they will enjoy the everchanging character of the forest and small obstacles along the way (stone steps, log steps, foot bridges, stepping stones). The route is almost perfectly flat and follows a clear path. You’ll find small pools at the waterfalls, it was believed that dressing the pools with flowers will guarantee the fairies will keep the water supply clear for the village. But, please don’t be tempted to throw anything into the pools nowadays! Watch the young ones, especially at the pools as the banks can be slippery with mud.
One short section of the walk is secured with rope and a hand rail – a brief crossing over a short steep slope. Take extra care, but don’t be stressed about it, the rope and hand rail are very helpful. You’ll come across two waterfalls along Fairy Glen, both look especially beautiful when surrounded by trees in autumnal attire.
Retrace your steps to the car park.
Don’t hesitate to let us know which ones you enjoyed the most and if you think we should add more ideas! What are your favourite autumn walks in Scotland?