Monthly Archives: December 2016

Crammond Island, Edinburgh

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Total distance –  8.6 Kilometres

Ascent –  50 metres

Walking conditions – Well-defined footpaths, tracks and a single track roads. No difficulties.

Time required – 2.5 to 4 hours

Nearest town – Edinburgh

Barnton and Crammond are two of Edinburgh’s leafiest suburbs. So it should come as no surprise that the scenery is marvellous. This is particularly the case along the River Almond and out into the Firth of Forth. Fortunately for us outdoor types there are no high walls nor electric gates to keep the peasants out, so we can wander freely in this land of captains of industry, well-known authors and other privileged types.

There are a number of places you can park near to the River Almond with varying distances to Crammond Island. We chose to park beside a play-park just off Brae Park because the kids wanted to play, there was good parking and it allowed for a good stroll along the banks of the River Almond. Either way, make your way to the River Almond (East bank) and head north along the well-defined footpath. Continue along past Crammond Boat Club and soon after that, you’ll arrive at Crammond Beach. You’ll see the Firth of Forth together with the causeway leading to Crammond Island, and in the summer months, an ice cream van as well.

The flat concrete causeway to Crammond Island is about 1.1 Kilometres long and you’ll be across it within 15 minutes. But before you continue please note that the causeway will be completely submerged at certain times of the day so make sure you know when the tide will be going in or out. There are notices at the causeway providing information on this. If all is well, walk straight across and onto Crammond Island. There are military fortifications immediately to your front dating back to World War 2. It’s also well worth taking the path to the other side of Crammond Island where there are more fortifications. This is a lovely short walk along a dirt footpath through undulating grassy terrain with brilliant views of the Firth of Forth.  Please note that there tends to be a lot of broken glass at these fortifications. This is largely due to hedonistic teenagers partying overnight, so best to keep a hold of the children here.

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Helensburgh to Rhu Circuit, Argyll and Bute

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Total distance –  8.2 Kilometres

Ascent –  220 metres

Walking conditions – Well defined dirt footpaths and forest tracks. Some walking on pavements beside roads. No difficulties.

Time required – 2.5 to 4 hours

Nearest Town – Helensburgh

The fire at the Glasgow’s School of Art may well have destroyed some of Charles Rennie MacKintosh’s greatest work, but certainly not all of it. I’m reliably informed that Hill House is a shining example of the genius of Charles Rennie MacKintosh, but more importantly, it is the starting point of a delightful walk from Helensburgh to Rhu which provides fantastic views of the Firth of Clyde for most of the way.

Start at the footpath next to Hill House which is heading in a WNW direction. Continue on this path for about one Kilometre. Take the second footpath on the right (don’t take the first path that travels along the tree line up the hill or you’ll probably end up in Loch Lomond) for around 300 metres then go left. The path will now take you on a very gentle descent for about 1.5 Kilometres down to Rhu. This provides fantastic views of the Gare Loch and the Firth of Clyde. After you’ve wound your way through the residential area walk along the shoreline for about half a Kilometre when you’ll see a swing park and public toilets right next to the water. This is an ideal place to stop for a sandwich. It’s probably best to then double back about 100 metres into the residential area then ascend up through Duchess Wood to meet the footpath you started on, then make your way back across to Hill House.

Make sure you take the time to go for a wander around Helensburgh Town Centre. It’s got a large pier which is a fantastic spot to get tucked into a tasty Helensburgh fish supper!

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Crail to Anstruther, Fife

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Total distance –  6.5 Kilometres

Ascent –  50 metres

Walking conditions – Well defined dirt footpath. No difficulties.

Time required – Around 1.5 to 2.5 hours.

Everything’s an adventure when you’ve got small children. This exact thought occurred to me when I was jumping around excitedly on the top deck of the scheme bus from Anstruther to Crail trying to get a great family snap because it’s been a while since I’ve been on a bus. I then briefly re-considered my complete over-reaction to being on a bus, before taking another dozen photos.  Personally, I can’t think of a better plan than to jump on a bus only to walk all the way back to where you got on the bus. Especially if you’re at a particularly nice part of the Fife Coastal Path. Not to mention the bus stop being right next to an award-winning chippy, so the reward of a Fish Supper is on the cards.

From the bus stop in the centre of Crail, make your way towards the coast. You can’t miss it. We went down to the water right in the centre of town. however, the rocks and boulders were quite awkward to walk through so it’s probably best joining the coastal path at the Southern end of the town. The walk on the well-defined footpath is really straight forward and it’s just a case of following it back to Anstruther and you’re beside the sea the whole time. Highlights include some the very distinct rock formation that is known as ‘The Coves’. There is also a picture perfect play-park which is ideal for the kids just as you’re walking into Anstruther.

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Bracklinn Falls, Callander, Perthshire

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Total distance – 5.4 kilometres

Ascent – 170 metres

Walking conditions – Well defined dirt footpaths and forest tracks. some walking required along a single track road.

Time required – Around 2 to 3 hours.

Nearest town – Callander

Callander is a very busy town and for good reason. It’s a great place to visit with a nice little square next to the main road…..and a brilliant chippy. You can also feed the swans and ducks at the river Teith. Callander is also one of Scotland’s great outdoor centres, and as such there are a multitude of nearby walking routes for every range of ability. Bracklinn Falls is a stone’s throw from the town centre and is a great little circuit full of character.

Start from the well sign-posted Bracklinn Falls car park. Walk east for about 700 metres along the easy going footpath that winds down to the Keltie Water and to the spectacular Bracklinn Falls. Take photos, have a sandwich then cross the bridge and head in a generally northerly direction up a fairly steady gradient for about 1.5 Kilometers until the terraine starts to level off and you reach the end of the wooded area. You’re now on open ground above much of the surrounding area so the views are absolutely fantastic. If you’re really lucky, a couple of hundred metres ahead you’ll see a picnic bench and there’ll be nobody sitting there. It’s undoubtedly the best seat in the house! Continue along the track down to the bridge over the Keltie Water. Turn left onto the single track road which takes you directly back to the car park.

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The Antonine Wall, the Auchinstarry Circuit, North Lanarkshire

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Total distance –10.2 kilometres

Ascent – 220 metres

Walking conditions – Well defined dirt footpath and tarmac cycle path. No difficulties.

Time required – Around 3.5 – 5 hours.

Nearest town – Kilsyth

What have the Romans ever done for us? If you’re a Monty Python fan you’ll know that there’s a long list of things that the Romans have done for us. What wasn’t mentioned in the Life of Brian however, were the numerous great walking routes for outdoor enthusiasts that the Romans built. The Auchinstarry Circuit is just one of them.

Start at the Auchinstarry car park which is just south of Kilsyth. Take a left from the car park and walk for about 200 metres and then turn left onto the Forth and Clyde canal path before the road crosses over the canal. Walk for about two Kilometres along the canal path. Cross the road bridge over the canal and follow the signed footpath up the slope of the hill. Veer right and that will take you up onto the higher ground. If you keep to the highest points along this broad ridge you’ll see signs of the wall together with tourist information. The path then drops down to the north end of Croy and then leads you across the road (the B802). Maintain the same westerly direction and after about one kilometre you’ll come to a very well preserved part of the Antonine Wall which then leads up to the top of Castle Hill. This provides a wonderful view of the surrounding area. The path then takes you on to Barhill Fort, down to Twechar, then a 2.5 Kilometre walk along the canal and straight back to the Auchinstarry car park.

The great thing about stopping at Auchinstarry is that when you’ve finished watching the rock-climbers on the quarry walls you can cross the road and go to the marina and visit the Boathouse for a good feed or some refreshments. The decked area is a fantastic spot and the wasps in attendance are friendly. Well, none of us got stung.

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