5 Best Coastal Walks in Scotland

Sandwood Bay in the northern Highlands, Scotland. Donna C Green
By Felicity Martin, Colin Hutchison & Patrick Thorn

Our book Best Walking Trips in Scotland goes beyond the trails to let you discover the best of Scotland's magnificent landscapes. Here we highlight five paths that take you close to the water's edge and stunning scenery.

Photo Caption: Sandwood Bay in the northern Highlands, Scotland. Photo by Donna C Green/Flickr.com.
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Outside Fife, Scotland. David Shand
Follow the prettiest section of this long-distance route on a path that links the charming fishing villages of the East Neuk. This eastern corner of the Kingdom of Fife juts out into the North Sea and has sandy bays and rocky shores frequented by seals and seabirds. As well as wildlife, the area has a rich history, with landmarks such as St. Fillan's Cave and the saltpans and windmill at St. Monans.

Photo Caption: Outside Fife, Scotland. Photo by David Shand/Flickr.com.
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Sandwood Bay in the northern Highlands, Scotland. Donna C Green
You don't walk to Sandwood Bay, you make a pilgrimage there. Such is its iconic status that many consider a visit almost a spiritual experience. It's not hard to see why it's so special-a great arc of pristine sand framed by sandstone cliffs and a sea stack, arched over by an enormous sky.

Photo Caption: Sandwood Bay in the northern Highlands, Scotland. Photo by Donna C Green/Flickr.com.
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St. Abb's Head, on the Scottish coast. Bex Ross
This famous headland is not only one of the finest on Britain's east coast, but it is also an excellent place to see nesting seabirds. The visitor center will help you tune into the flora and fauna to look out for as you follow the narrow path above dramatic coastal cliffs. Other sights include a lighthouse, secluded bays, and the surrounding patchwork of serene farmland.

Photo Caption: St. Abb's Head, on the Scottish coast. Photo by Bex Ross/Flickr.com.
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The town of Portpatrick, Scotland. jillyspoon
Head across to the southwest tip of Galloway for another rewarding cliff-top walk. This time you look out west to the distant coastline of Ireland. Starting from the picturesque fishing village of Portpatrick, this walk passes above cliffs with colonies of nesting seabirds on its way to scenically sited lighthouse

Photo Caption: The town of Portpatrick, Scotland. Photo by jillyspoon/Flickr.com.
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Carradale Point, Scotland. Bruce Cowan
For sheer diversity of coastal views and wildlife, this walk is hard to beat. Wild goats live on Carradale Point, and you could see any size of marine mammal from a seal to a minke whale (the coast is also visited by basking sharks). The route takes in two beautiful and very different beaches-a vast stretch of golden sand and a perfect little cove with turquoise water-while the jagged mountains of the Isle of Arran are a constant presence offshore.

Photo Caption: Carradale Point, Scotland. Photo by Bruce Cowan/Flickr.com.
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