Top Scenic Walks in South Scotland
The south of Scotland is a magical spot on the map, filled with hundreds of hidden jewels, centuries of fascinating history, and a spectacular landscape just waiting to be explored.
The region of the Scottish Borders and Dumfries & Galloway make up this magical area in Scotland. From coastal gems, family-friendly forest trails and hill clambers, to long distance walking routes and ancient trails with bucket loads of history, there are walks to suit everyone in South Scotland.
Dive into Scotland’s Year of Coasts & Waters in 2021 to explore our incredible landscapes, lochs, beaches, food & drink scene, and of course, our famous single malt whiskies.
Scotland is now operating a 5-level Covid-19 system on a local basis. This means different areas of Scotland will have different restrictions.
Find out what level each area is under and read more about the 5-level Covid-19 restrictions to plan and book ahead when considering your trip. You can search for businesses that are open, and Good to Go, where they have a Covid-19 risk assessment.
Dumfries & Galloway:
The Whithorn Way; Whithorn to Isle of Whithorn
The Whithorn Way is new addition to the Dumfries & Galloway’s list of incredible walks. Stretching 143 miles, this walking and cycling path lies on the westerly pilgrimage route to Whithorn, which was travelled by pilgrims for well over 1000 years. The route is split up into thirteen sections, each encompassing historic gems of South Scotland, so pick your favourite, or walk them all – it’s up to you.
Enjoy 8 miles of incredible views along the Whithorn to the Isle of Whithorn section of the walk. Along the way you’ll come across Iron Age Roundhouses, St Ninian’s Cave, ancient sites that were once World War II bases, and even Roman camps. Enjoy the magnificent coastal views of this cliff-top trail, and stop at the local pub or tearoom when you reach the Isle of Whithorn.
Whita Hill, Langholm
Head to the quaint spot of Langholm in Dumfries & Galloway, the perfect location for your walking endeavours. Situated between four hills in the valley of the River Esk, Langholm is home to Whita Hill, the best known of the rounded hills which cradle the town, and is topped by the massive Malcolm Monument. Wander along this 5-mile circular route by heading north up the glen before climbing to the summit. At the top you’ll be able to see the Malcolm Monument, a tall obelisk, which was constructed between 1835-1836 in honour of Major General Sir John Malcolm, a Scottish soldier, for his service to the country.
Criffel Circular Walk, New Abbey
Located in the small town of New Abbey, Criffel stands at 570 meters (1,870 feet) but appears much larger as it stands higher than any other hill around for miles. As you drive into Dumfries, you can see Criffel towering over the area, but once you’re in New Abbey start your climb by taking the Ardwall Path towards the coast. It’s here you start to get a sense for how imposing the hill really is. Follow the 12 km circular walk up Criffel where you’ll be met with incredible, scenic views of the region, coastal scenery, rolling landscapes and plenty of local towns and villages which you can explore later.
Mull of Galloway Trail
Venture to the southernmost tip of Scotland, the Mull of Galloway. Here you’ll be blown away by the magnificent lighthouse, bustling seabird colonies, dramatic clifftop scenery and stunning panoramic views of the south coast. Head along the trail which runs from the Mull up to Stranraer, and continues north along the Loch Ryan Coastal Path. Encompassing the coastal delights of both sides of the peninsula, with wildlife and attractions along the route to admire too, it’s set to be a delightful wander.
Grey Mare’s Tail and Loch Skeen
Grey Mare’s Tail is a magical spot in Dumfries & Galloway that features one of Scotland’s favourite waterfalls which plunges 60 m from Loch Skeen into the valley below. Wander along a choice of walks and trails, all of which boast breathtaking views and scenery, and make sure you keep an eye out for ospreys, peregrine falcons and even wild goats in the area too. Head off on the 4.5 km walk which takes you past the falls and up to the glistening Loch Skeen. The area is also a great place to spot the effects of glacial erosion on the landscape that have taken place over hundreds of years, and you can even search for fossils on ranger-led guided walks.
Walks in the Scottish Borders:
Head east into the Scottish Borders where you’ll be surrounded by centuries of tradition and history to explore amongst some of Scotland’s most beautiful scenery.
Bier Law Circular, Walkerburn
Follow along the forestry tracks of the Bier Law circular route, featuring spectacular views across the Tweed Valley. This walk is easier and shorter than the length may suggest, but make sure to carry a map with you as these forestry tracks can sometimes be disorientating. Along the way, make sure to stop off at the viewpoints to soak in the panoramic views over the region, as well as stopping by the interesting historical features too.
Berwickshire Coastal Path
Venture around the second highest coastal cliffs in Britain along the Berwickshire Coastal Path where your eyes will be blessed with magnificent coastal views and scenery. One of Scotland’s Great Trails, the path stretches for 48 km from Cockburnspath to the English border, and boasts dramatic cliff top features, including arches, stacks and crumbling castles, along the way. The area is also nationally and internationally important for seabirds, coastal flora and marine life. The path can be split up into four sections, each ranging from 6km – 19km, so depending how long a walk you fancy, there’ll be a section for you.
The Glen and Birkscairn Hill, near Traquair
You’ve heard of Munros, you’ve heard of Corbetts, you’ve even heard of Grahams, but have you heard of the Donalds? These hills are located in the southern regions of Scotland and range from 2,000 to 3,000 ft high. Birkscairn Hill is a popular Donald to climb and sits at 2,168 ft high. Start your walk by passing through the pretty village cottages and houses of The Glen and then begin your ascent to the top of the hill, which also sits on the north-eastern arm of Dun Rig, another scenic peak to tick off the list.
John Buchan Way, Peebles
The John Buchan Way is a popular walking route that connects Peebles to Broughton in the Scottish Borders, featuring an array of splendid hills and valleys along the way. This linear route stretches for 22 km along a well sign-posted trail, but it is still recommended to take a map along with you. The route is also named after one of Tweeddale’s most famous sons, whose story you can learn about in the small museum dedicated to his life on Peebles High Street.
Duns Law & Castle
Enjoy this short circular route through the Scottish Borders countryside with a relatively easy climb to the top of Duns Law, passing through the grounds of Duns Castle along the way. Wander through the peaceful woodlands, marvel at the panoramic views of the Cheviot Hills and over the town of Duns. On a clear day, take the short detour through the gate onto the hilltop to the orientation point, which offers information about the ancient fort in the area, as well as a guide to the view.
Find more walks in the Scottish Borders.
We hope this has inspired you to venture south and explore some of the best walks and routes in the area. What’s next? Why not wander along a relaxing wellness walk to escape the bustling cities? Indulge in a wellness break, treat the family to an active getaway, or explore the glittering dark sky parks in South Scotland.