These walks won’t get your muscles defined, nor will they give you vertigo. Instead, these are four of my favourite wanders in different areas of Glasgow and the west, from city to coast. Alongside each stroll, I’ve suggested an eatery (because we all know that’s the best reward after a day of exploring!)
1. Loch Lomond and beautiful Balmaha
The tiny village of Balmaha is an ideal spot for an escape and a wander. On the quiet east coast of Loch Lomond, it’s nevertheless a hikers’ hub (walkers heading up Ben Lomond often stop here for some sustenance). Park next to the visitor centre and wander along the Millennium Trail, a short walk that takes you over a tiny hill and back along the shores of the loch. You’ll spot the island of Inchcailloch, boats meandering along the water, and the occasional fisherman on the beach. End with a homemade ice cream at Café St Mocha (or a cuppa if the weather’s not that hot).
2. Glasgow’s bohemian West End
Anyone who’s lucky enough to have studied at Glasgow University or has taken a stroll through Kelvingrove Park knows how beautiful this part of Glasgow is. Even without the proximity of Byres Road’s shops and cafés, this ‘dear green place’ is one of my favourite areas of the city. The River Kelvin cuts straight through the park, which is used by families, runners and school kids alike, and you can follow it back upstream towards the Botanic Gardens‘ huge hothouse. If exotic plants aren’t your thing, the surrounding architecture of the Oran Mor, University of Glasgow and Kelvingrove Art Gallery in the distance should stun you. And if not, head to Ubiquitous Chip for a slap-up meal that’s sure to shock your purse strings and your tastebuds.
3. The tranquil Crinan Canal
The roads of this tiny village are so small that visitors abandon their cars and walk. Vehicles aren’t the norm here: boats are. Crinan is at the ‘sea’ end of the Crinan Canal, and is arguably the most beautiful settlement on it. Watching the sailors manoeuvre in and out of the locks, the rigging of their ships making percussion-like sounds on the air, the odd duck slapping its wings on the water… it’s a complete escape, and feels like a million miles away from the city. If you’ve got a spare evening after wandering or cycling the towpath, spend the night at the Crinan Hotel, take in the marvellous coastal views and don’t miss the seafood either.
4. Wild Beinn Lora, near Oban
This could be a contender for one of the easiest Scottish hills to climb, and it still has amazing views. About 15 minutes from Oban, you can park just outside Benderloch village and head up the hill. Some parts of the path are fairly steep, but it’s not long before the forest gives way to amazing panoramas across Ardmucknish Bay and towards the Isle of Mull. Once you’re on the Beinn proper conditions can be fiercer, so wrap up warm with the appropriate gear and a rich hot chocolate at the Oban Chocolate Company when you come back down to earth.