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15 Scottish walks with cosy pubs and hotels offering delicious food

Quiet, crisp and clear winter days are ideal for exploring some of Scotland’s most spectacular coast and countryside scenery – especially with the promise of a heart-warming meal or a cosy room after a day exploring.

Published: December 31, 2021
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Scotland has no shortage of walks and trails, all within a stone’s throw of some of our best foodie destinations.

Here is a selection of Scotland’s top winter walks for foodies, including the Isle of Skye, North Berwick, Argyll, Ayrshire, Fife, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Perthshire and the north Highlands/North Coast 500.

Isle of Skye

Coral Beach and The Three Chimneys, Colbost, Dunvegan

Coral Beach is one of the most unique beaches on the Isle of Skye. Formed from crushed white coral like seaweed, the picture perfect tropical blue seas make the Coral Beach a truly magical location.

Head along to the north of the island to the small crofting community of Claigan, a short drive away from Dunvegan Castle, before meandering along the farm track down to the beach. Coral Beach makes for the perfect weekend ramble before a spot of lunch.

Just a few miles along the road from the Coral Beach lies The Three Chimneys at Colbost, part of The Wee Hotel Company.

Serving the best of the Isle of Skye, The Three Chimneys has established itself as a multi-award-winning destination dining experience for more than thirty years.

The restaurant with rooms, set in a classic crofters cottage, is renowned for its hyper-local sourcing, bringing Orbost Farm beef, rare-breed Iron Age pork and wild venison to the table. Be sure to warm up with an aperitif in the cosy House-Over-By before dinner time.

Argyll

Explore the Isle of Lismore and The Pierhouse Hotel & Seafood Restaurant, Port Appin

Just a short ferry away from the mainland lies the Isle of Lismore or Lios Mor – meaning the ‘Great Garden’ in Gaelic.

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Lismore is a 10 mile long Inner Hebridean island situated at the very South end of the Great Glen.

Known for its beauty and tranquillity, Lismore is a 10 minute ferry journey from Port Appin making it very popular with day-visitors.

Explore the rugged coast line, hike to the peak of the island’s highest hill or simply wonder through the island’s rich heritage.

Conveniently located right by the Port Appin ferry terminal is The Wee Hotel Company’s Pierhouse Hotel & Seafood Restaurant, a welcome retreat for weary legs.

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Tucked away on the shores of Loch Linnhe, The Pierhouse has quickly gained the reputation as one of Scotland’s finest seafood restaurants, and with langoustines, lobsters, mussels and oysters really coming into their own during the autumn and winter months.

From local rope-grown mussels steamed in garlic, to oysters freshly harvested from Loch Creran and grilled with smoked bacon and Mull cheddar, The Pierhouse’s ethos is all about simple food, cooked to perfection.

Ayrshire

The Smugglers’ Trail and Old Loans Inn, Troon

The west coast is home to some of Scotland’s most stunning scenery and what better way to explore it than the historic Smugglers’ Trail which leads from South Beach, Troon, and crosses ancient woodland with views over the Firth of Clyde and out to The Isle of Arran.

The age-old route was once used to transport tea, brandy, rum and tobacco from the boats arriving at Troon shore to the mainland.

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The trail has a number of points of interest including the Royal Troon Golf Course, known worldwide for hosting the Open Golf Championship, and Dundonald Castle, built in 1371.

After walking in the footsteps of your predecessors, enjoy a well-deserved lunch at Troon’s Old Loans Inn where the Sunday lunch menu boasts a full roast with all the trimmings and the main menu offers a range of dishes from light bights to braised Scottish beef pie.

The former 18th century coaching inn is now a cosy country pub, restaurant and award-winning boutique hotel with a crackling fire in the lounge to warm up after a day of exploring.

Perthshire

Hermitage Wood and Gleneagles Hotel, Auchterarder

The countryside surrounding Gleneagles offers a fantastic choice of riverside walks and woodland trails.

Head for the Hermitage’s iconic trees, water pools and roaring falls just a short distance from the hotel and follow in the footsteps of Wordsworth and Mendelssohn who drew creative inspiration from the area’s dramatic landscape.

This patch of forest managed by the National Trust for Scotland was originally designed as a pleasure ground for the Dukes of Atholl and is beautiful through all the seasons.

An ideal walk for all the family – including dogs – this easy woodland circular route takes around 2½ hours.

After your winter stroll, retreat back to the fireside at Gleneagles’ Century Bar for a bite to eat and perhaps a cocktail from the ‘Glorious Outdoors’ menu.

The Century Bar menu features more than 120 single malts, vintage champagne by the glass, cocktails, carefully selected wines, and a selection of local and international beers.

Fife

West Sands Beach and The Seafood Ristorante

Famous for the opening scenes of Chariots of Fire in the seaside town of St Andrews, you will find two miles of uninterrupted, white and sandy beach; West Sands.

Perfect for a leisurely stroll by the sea, and only fifteen minutes’ walk from the town centre, West Sands is backed by sand dunes and the world-famous Royal and Ancient Golf Course.

It is no surprise that West Sands is an award-winning beach and provides a significant area of conservation for plants and animals, which is why it is important for visitors to stick to the designated footpaths in place.

After working up an appetite with all of that sea air, visit the stunning Seafood Ristorante which overlooks the beach behind the Royal and Ancient Golf Club.

The restaurant has amazing panoramic views over St Andrews and West Sands beach, with a menu mainly inspired by its coastal surroundings.

Choose from a plethora of seafood delights from around Scotland including Cumbrae oysters, Orkney scallops and Anstruther Lobster.

Fife Coastal Path and Fairmont St Andrews

Photos by: Grant Anderson - www.grantanderson.me / @grantandersondotme

Completed in 2002, the picturesque Fife Coastal Path runs from Culross through St Andrews and northwards on to the Tay Bridge. The path has seven different sections which offer exceptional views of Scotland’s east coast.

Guests of Fairmont St Andrews can join the walk from the path near the Golf Clubhouse and stroll into the town of St Andrews which takes approximately 1½ hours, or alternatively, take a right on the path and head towards nearby village Kingsbarns.

Sturdy shoes are recommended, and Fairmont advises guests to check with the Concierge team before setting off because it is a tidal path. Guided coastal walks can also be arranged in advance with the Concierge.

Warm up with cosy hot chocolates, a selection of home baking and sweet treats at Fairmont’s Kittocks Den Coffee Shop.

For something more substantial, a range of seasonal dishes have been added to the menu at the resort’s Mediterranean-Italian restaurant, La Cucina, including ‘tagliatelle all’agosta’ and ‘capesante subacquee’ with locally-caught lobster, langoustine and scallops.

Pitenween to Elie and The Ship Inn

Blow off the cobwebs and enjoy a six-mile walk along Fife’s Coastal Path from Pitenweem. The walk will take you past the tiny harbour of St Monans and the remains of Newark and Ardross Castles.

It also passes Lady’s Tower, which was built in 1760 for Lady Jane Anstruther who used it to shelter when she changed for her daily swim.

The Ship Inn is an ideal spot to spot and enjoy pub grub, live music and the stunning views over Elie Bay.

Those looking to make an overnight trip can check into one of their seven stylish coastal themed bedrooms.

West Sands Beach and Rusacks

The vast sandy beach is one of the finest in Scotland and perfect for stretching your legs during the winter and another place to stop for a hearty meal is at the newly re-opened Rusacks Hotel.

Start off at the Bruce Embankment behind The Scores where you’ll have a fine view of the beach.

You can walk along the beach and dunes for some way, passing through the Eden Estuary nature reserve before heading back down the track towards the famous Old Course golf course and into the One Under Bar.

Guests can enjoy pub classic such as haggis fritters with Arran mustard mayo or the One Under beef burger with Monterey jack and pickle followed by old-school desserts like their marmalade steamed pudding with Drambuie custard.

If you're not driving, why not try a dram from their vast collection of single malt whiskies?

St Monans to Lower Largo and The Crusoe

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The Crusoe is perched on the edge of Lower Largo pier overlooking the beach and is the perfect spot to relax and enjoy an array of pub classics and Scottish seafood.

The cosy atmosphere and tasteful renovation have transformed this venue from tired and lacklustre interiors to a contemporary seaside nook to eat and unwind.

The Crusoe has a footprint in the bar which supposedly belongs to Alexander Selkirk, the real-life pirate and desert island adventurer who inspired Daniel Defoe to pen Robinson Crusoe in 1719.

In the present, Chef Ross Traill is enjoying exploring the amazing producers on the doorstep, including taking just 20 steps to pick up the lobster, crab and mackerel from the pier to feature on the menu alongside beautiful game from Teasses Estate. They are also currently offering a takeaway menu for collection.

Edinburgh

Arthur’s Seat and Prestonfield Hotel

Photograph David Cheskin.

No trip to the Scottish capital is complete without a climb up the iconic Arthur’s Seat.

Sitting above the city of Edinburgh, Arthur’s Seat hosts spectacular views looking across the Lothians, over the Firth of Forth and out towards Fife and roughly takes just over an hour and a half to complete.

Set in Holyrood Park, let the fresh air take your breath away as you sit over 250 metres above the city on what is now an extinct volcano.

Described as a hill for magnitude, a mountain in virtue of its bold design, Arthur’s Seat is a popular route for both Edinburgh residents and tourists alike.

As you descend from your climb, take note of the historic five-star boutique hotel, Prestonfield, that lies on the east side of the hill.

Built in 1687 by architect Sir William Bruce, Prestonfield sits in its own private grounds within the city, creating relaxing and tranquil environment in the centre of the capital.

Lending itself perfectly to a well-deserved treat following a hike up Arthur’s Seat, Prestonfield offers lunch and dinner as well as a decadent afternoon tea.

Dine outside surrounded by the house’s resident peacocks or inside amongst antique treasures collected by owner James Thomson.

Union Canal and the Bridge Inn

Stretching all the way from Edinburgh to Falkirk, the Union Canal towpath offers a picturesque route for people of all ages.

You can walk (or even cycle) from Fountainbridge along the Union Canal, through Edinburgh’s leafy western suburbs out into beautiful countryside.

Seven miles into the journey sits The Bridge Inn in the pretty village of Ratho located right on the canal banks.

The Bridge Inn offers open fires with a wide variety of interesting ales, beers, wines, whiskies and gins as well as an extensive cocktail list created by the knowledgeable bar team.

The menu features seasonal pub food using vegetables grown in the pub’s own walled garden by in-house gardener David, as well as home-bred pork, which offers delicious pork crackling.

The Bridge Inn is opened daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner from 9am and is currently also offering a takeaway menu.

North Berwick

North Berwick to North Berwick Law and The Lawn restaurant

No need for hiking boots, the North Berwick Law is an easy climb to the top of the hill for stunning views of Edinburgh, the Pentlands and Arthur’s Seat, along East Lothian coastline, and out across the Firth of Forth to Fife in the distance.

The hill was once part of a volcano, with the hard rock resisting erosion from glaciers during the ice age and watching over the pretty seaside town of North Berwick. The summit has a trig point and set of replica whale jawbones.

Executive Chef Chris Niven heads up the team at The Lawn restaurant at Marine North Berwick, serving a seasonal a-la-carte menu designed around flavour and simplicity; the focus is on the best ingredients from East Lothian and the surrounding area, served in a relaxed setting.

Diners can enjoy with Loch Fyne oysters, truffle mac and cheese or steak frites with chimichurri.

The Victorian-era Marine North Berwick is considered a jewel in the crown of Scotland’s Golf Coast.

Occupying a prominent position in the much-loved seaside spot, it has hosted generations of golfers and holidaymakers since 1876 who came for the fresh air and water.

Now, revamped as part of the Marine & Lawn collection of distinct hotels, the landmark has been restored to its former glory, with a sophisticated grandeur for the 21st century.

Glasgow

Kelvingrove Park and Eusebi Deli & Restaurant

The epitome of a traditional Victorian park, Kelvingrove Park is 85-acres of escapism from the busy city, situated in the west end of Glasgow.

Located on the banks of the River Kelvin, a stroll round the park throughout the winter months is the perfect place to admire the changing tones of the trees and the stunning architecture which surrounds the world-famous Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.

With multiple paths and trails, spend an hour or so leisurely strolling and exploring before returning to Eusebi Deli & Restaurant on Park Road, where a big, cosy, food hug awaits.

The menu has just been refreshed for the autumn and winter months, so expect seasonal delights like roasted black figs with gorgonzola and honey, slow-cooked ox cheek ragu, roast pumpkin dressed with pine nuts and chilli and Isle of Gigha halibut, pan roasted and served with a celeriac puree and autumn girolles.

North Highlands and the North Coast 500

The Ness Islands and Ness Walk Hotel on the North Coast 500

The Ness Islands on the North Coast 500 make a wonderful dog-friendly walk, right in the centre of Inverness.

A set of islands, connected by Victorian Bridges, which are great for wildlife walks, and a little haven of tranquillity in the city centre.

Have a rest on the carved bench sculptures and take in the surrounding towering pine trees and fast flowing rivers before heading to the banks of River Ness for a five star luxury dining experience at The Ness Walk Hotel.

Whether it’s Scottish wild halibut or Speyside fillet steak, treat yourself to a five-star meal in the hotel’s 19th century Torrish restaurant.

If you’ve still not had enough of the outdoors then enjoy a dining experience on the river banks in Bruach, the hotel’s outdoor bar and bistro, equipped with heaters and fairy lighting for the ultimate snug dining experience.

Morven Hill, Caithness and Mackays Hotel on the North Coast 500

For those interested in hill bagging, look no further than Morven Hill on the North Coast 500.

This is the highest point in Caithness and, of course, the views are spectacular.

For all you animal lovers out there, take part in guided walks through protected reserves in Dunnet Head and Forsinard Flows.

Mackays Hotel in nearby Wick is one of the north Highlands’ most iconic hotels and is situated on the “shortest street in the world”, Ebenezer Place.

The family-run hotel has been providing hospitality and a warm welcome to guests for over six decades.

Mackays Hotel’s acclaimed No.1 Bistro restaurant showcases the best of Highland food and drink, including Mey Selections beef and lamb

Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind writes for The Scotsman on all things food and drink related as well as hosting Scran, The Scotsman's food and drink podcast.

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