Where to hit the trails this Easter?

Given the recent snowy weather it comes as a bit of a shock to realise that the Easter holidays are upon us already. That said, signs of spring are cropping up all over the place: yellow and purple crocuses spearing through green grass; a joyful cacophony of morning birdsong; that feeling of warmth from the sun – so different to its bright but chilly winter rays.

With winter still gripping the hills this is a great opportunity to explore lower lying trails. Scotland has a wide range of paths and tracks to explore, many of which are easily accessible from our towns and cities. Here are a few suggestions of places to go exploring these Easter holidays.

Mugdock Country Park

Early spring on the Mugdock trails

Early spring on the Mugdock trails

Only a few miles north of Glasgow city centre and easily accessible from Milngavie railway station (follow signs to the West Highland Way). Mugdock has an extensive network of signposted paths enabling routes of all lengths. The terrain is a mixture of woodland and open moors with views of the Campsie Fells. Circumnavigate the loch, take a break to wander round the ruined Castle, or discover unsigned paths that twist and turn through Mugdock Wood.

Gullane and Aberlady Bay

Lots of options for running along the beach or through the dunes

Lots of options for running along the beach or through the dunes

There is something uplifting about running across a vast expanse of sand next to the sea. Aberlady Nature Reserve on the East Lothian coast not only has an incredible beach but also a wealth of grassy tracks and paths through the dunes. If you’ve a hankering to try barefoot running Aberlady Sands are a great place to start. In last year’s heatwave I’d have been recommending a post-run dip in the sea but this year only the hardiest souls will think that’s a good plan! Public transport by bus to either Aberlady or Gullane. Small car park at Aberlady or large beach car park at Gullane Bents.

The Hermitage

The Hermitage isn't looking quite this green and leafy at the moment! Still great trail running.

The Hermitage isn’t looking quite this green and leafy at the moment! Still great trail running.

Near Dunkeld and easily accessible from the railway station is a Georgian fantasy woodland. Despite advertising widely, the Duke of Atholl failed to find a permanent resident for his purpose built Hermitage. Today the short return trip to Ossian’s Hall is a popular walk but runners will find extended entertainment by continuing up the river to cross Rumbling Bridge. On the far side of the river follow waymarkers back down through the woods to Inver car park which can be linked back to the footbridge at Ossian’s Hall. (There is a charge to park at the NTS Hermitage car park.)

Normally, my list of recommended places to go holiday trail running would include the fantastic trails at Glenmore around Loch Morlich and the Rothiemurchus Estate. This Easter, they are still recommended… for cross-country skiing. The Glenmore Cross Country Ski Machine is out & about this weekend!

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