Get the train. Go for a walk.
Few things are as enjoyable or rewarding than a walk in the beautiful Scottish surroundings. Whether you choose to lace up the walking boots for a multi-day route, a day’s escape from the city, or a sunny afternoon along the canal, going by train keeps things simple.
Need a few hours in the countryside? Try a section of the Forth and Clyde Canal. Or how about striding into a remote wilderness? Pick a section of the West Highland Way and use the scenic West Highland Line to get you there and back.
Our pick of the best walking routes
Don’t have time to pore over a map with a magnifying glass? We’ve done the hard work for you. Here are a few ideas to get you going.
Always remember to stay safe and be prepared. If you're heading out on the hills or to remote areas, pack waterproofs, a map and compass. And a flask of hot coffee, of course.
The east shore of Loch Lomond
Balloch to Arrochar & Tarbet (8 or 15 miles)
Forests, beaches, and a freshwater dip.
Hike 8 or 15 miles along the east shore of Loch Lomond – with brilliant views across the loch, and plenty of opportunities to dip tired feet in the cool water.
Catch a train to Balloch, and hop on a ferry across the loch to Balmaha or Rowardennan. From there, walk north to Inversnaid (15 miles from Balmaha, 8 miles from Rowardennan) – it’s a surprisingly challenging section of the West Highland Way, as the path meanders alongside the loch. From Inversnaid, catch a boat to Tarbet. Fill up on cake at one of the cafes in Tarbet, then it’s a 15 minute walk to Arrochar & Tarbet station, for the train back to Glasgow.
- Buy train tickets to Balloch
- Balmaha to Rowardennan route description
- Rowardennan to Inversnaid route description
- Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park walking information
West Highland Way
The West Highland Way starts at Milngavie, just north of Glasgow, skirts the shores of Loch Lomond, crosses Rannoch Moor, and climbs the Devil’s Staircase before its end at Gordon Square in Fort William. The train links up neatly with the route at Milngavie, Crianlarich, Tyndrum Lower, Bridge of Orchy and Fort William.
Crianlarich to Tyndrum (6 miles, 3-4 hours)
A day of relatively easy walking through glens, with outstanding views of the north Trossachs mountains. There are good tracks and paths to follow – pick it up to the west of Crianlarich, and follow it all the way to Tyndrum Lower station for the train back.
Tyndrum to Bridge of Orchy (7 miles, 3-4 hours)
From Tyndrum Lower station the path takes you through stunning Highland landscapes with moderate ascents and descents. The route follows the Old Miltary Road up Glen Orchy, with views of the Gleann and Horseshoe railway viaducts along the way. Catch your breath and the train from Bridge of Orchy station.
One of the most remote and stunning landscapes in Europe, Rannoch Moor is a wild stretch of blanket bog, rivers, and lochans. Take the West Highland Line and you’ll travel high over the moor – for 23 miles and climb over 1,300ft.
Corrour station was made famous in the film Trainspotting, but it also makes a perfect start for a day’s walking on Rannoch Moor. The station has a great café (open Easter to October) and there's a youth hostel at Loch Ossian too, about a mile from the station.
Forth & Clyde and Union towpaths
A stroll along the canal path takes you through a surprising variety of landscape and habitat. And there are lots of options for getting the train to a good bit: try Bowling, Singer, Westerton, Falkirk High, Polmont, Linlithgow or Kingsknowe.
Partick to Bowling (11 miles)
From Partick station join the Kelvin Walkway, then join the Forth & Clyde Canal towpath at the Kelvin Aqueduct. The canal passes several stations on the way to Bowling, so you can easily shorten the route.
Linlithgow to Falkirk (9 miles)
From Linlithgow station it’s a short distance to the Canal Basin where you join the towpath and head west. The route is wonderfully rural – and a great place to spot wildflowers. You’ll also come across two of Scotland’s canal engineering masterpieces: the Avon Aqueduct just before Polmont, and the Falkirk Tunnel. The aqueduct is Scotland’s longest and tallest, an impressive set of arches striding over a deep valley – and the tunnel, just outside Falkirk, is Scotland’s longest canal tunnel at 630 metres long.
Falkirk Wheel (4 miles)
Get the train to Falkirk High station and follow signs to the Union Canal towpath. The Falkirk Wheel is an easy two-mile walk through a peaceful, semi-rural area with great views across the Forth Valley. There’s a good café and shop at the wheel. For the more adventurous, you can cross the Forth & Clyde Canal at The Wheel and follow the towpath for four miles to The Kelpies. From here you can either retrace your steps or catch the bus back to Falkirk High.
Fife Coastal Path
From North Queensferry, Kirkaldy or Aberdour to Crail, St Andrews and on to Leuchars.
North Queensferry to Burntisland (11.5 miles)
Start in the shadow of the iconic Forth Bridge at North Queensferry. From the station turn right, then left and head downhill to join the path. The route takes you along beautiful stretches of coastline, as well as charming towns like Aberdour – with its art galleries, lovely cafes, harbour and sandy beach.
There’s a lovely walk from Aviemore to Boat of Garten, through the forested fringe of the Cairngorms National Park – with great views of the mountains. The route is around six miles long, and you can get the Strathspey Steam Railway back. All aboard!
Borders Abbey Way
Take the Borders Railway to Tweedbank and walk east to Kelso or south to Selkirk or Hawick. Then catch the bus back to Galashiels, for the train to Edinburgh.
Melrose to Selkirk (11 miles)
Tweedbank station is on the walking route, one and a half miles from Melrose, and nine miles from Selkirk. The route runs close by the station, next to the River Tweed. It makes for a good rural walk through typical Borders countryside, farmland and riverside. You’ll pass Abbotsford House, the home of Sir Walter Scott and worth stopping for. Then the path rises up to Cauldshiels Loch, from where it follows an old drove road to Selkirk.
Accommodation offer - get 10% off with SYHA
We've partnered with Hostelling Scotland to offer a 10% accommodation discount when you travel with ScotRail and book one of Hostelling Scotland's network of over 60 exceptional youth and affiliate hostels.
Ways to save - travel passes and discounts...
- Spirit of Scotland Travel pass : travel across Scotland over 1-2 weeks by train, ferry and coach
- Highland Rover : explore the North and West Highlands over a week by train, ferry and coach
- Rail & Sail : combine train and ferry travel into one ticket for more convenience and better value
- Kids for a Quid: travel off-peak and for every paying adult, up to four children aged 5-15 can travel for £1 each
- Railcards : see if you could save with a national or regional Railcard