Explore Scotland’s great outdoors with the cosy room and warm meal guarantee
The arrival of winter doesn’t mean you need to wave goodbye to the great outdoors. Quiet, crisp and clear winter days are perfect for exploring some of Scotland’s most spectacular coast and countryside scenery – especially with the promise of a wholesome, heart-warming meal and a cosy room after a day exploring.
While Munro-bagging at this time of year might be a little too ambitious for some, Scotland has no shortage of shorter and more gentle winter walks, all within a stone’s throw of some of Scotland’s best foodie destinations.
Here is a selection of Scotland’s top 10 winter walks for foodies, including Isle of Skye, Argyll, Ayrshire, Bute, Arran, Perthshire and the Highlands.
ISLE OF SKYE
Coral Beach and The Three Chimneys, Colbost, Dunvegan, Isle of Skye
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 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.
Explore the Isle of Lismore and The Pierhouse Hotel & Seafood Restaurant, Port Appin, Argyll
Just a short ferry away from the mainland lies the Isle of Lismore or Lios Mor – meaning the ‘Great Garden’ in Gaelic. 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 coastline, hike to the peak of the island’s highest hill or simply wander 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. 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.
For the first time, The Pierhouse is included in the Michelin Guide for UK and Ireland 2021.
The Smugglers’ Trail and Old Loans Inn, Troon, Ayrshire
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. 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.
Hermitage Wood and Gleneagles Hotel, Auchterarder, Perthshire
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. The perfect walk for all the family – including those with waggy tails – this easy woodland circular route takes around 2½ hours.
After your winter stroll, retreat back to the fireside at Gleneagles’ Century Bar for a sumptuous bite to eat and perhaps a cocktail from the ‘Glorious Outdoors’ menu – drinks that are rich, spirit-driven and herbaceous, just like the surrounding Perthshire countryside. The Century Bar menu features more than 120 single malts, vintage champagne by the glass, cocktails, carefully selected wines, and the very best local and international beers.
West Sands Beach and The Seafood Ristorante, St Andrews, Fife
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, Fife
Completed in 2002, the picturesque Fife Coastal Path runs from Culross through St Andrews and northwards onto the Tay Bridge. The path has seven different sections which offer exceptional views of Scotland’s majestic 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 the 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 has 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.
Arthur’s Seat and Prestonfield Hotel, Edinburgh
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 dedicant afternoon tea. Dine outside surrounded by the house’s resident peacocks or inside amongst antique treasures collected by owner James Thomson.
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 around 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 & 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 unique 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.