Quiet, crisp and clear autumn days are perfect for exploring some of Scotland’s most spectacular scenery – especially with the promise of a wholesome meal and cosy room afterwards
Scotland has no shortage of walking trails, all within a stone’s throw of some of Scotland’s best foodie destinations. Here we present Scotland’s top 10 autumn walks for foodies, to inspire a season of outdoor adventures and culinary delights.
ISLE OF SKYE
- Coral Beach & The Three Chimneys
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.
- Explore the Isle of Lismore & The Pierhouse Hotel & Seafood Restaurant
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 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. 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.
- Inveraray Castle & Loch Fyne Hotel & Spa
Discover the historic town of Inveraray as you take a stroll along the western shores of Loch Fyne. Known for its spectacular seafood and stunning views, this little Argyllshire town is also home to Inveraray Castle, a Gothic ancestral estate, walking distance from the town. Home to the Duke of Argyll, Inveraray Castle has been standing on the shores of Loch Fyne since the 1700s and is open to the public for tours. The castle gardens span over 16 acres of ground and includes both formal lawns and flowerbeds as well as park and woodland making it the perfect area to explore with family.
Wonder back through Inveraray along to Loch Fyne Hotel and Spa to the Cladach Mòr Bistro for a spot of lunch or afternoon tea. Tuck into some of the local sourced produce, enjoy the open fires and warming setting before taking a dip in the hotel’s swimming pool or go all out and treat yourself to a luxury spa treatment. Retire to one of the hotel’s beautifully appointed suites before doing the whole thing again tomorrow.
- Glen Orchy & The Bridge of Orchy Hotel
Bridge of Orchy in Argyll is somewhat of a walker’s paradise. With five Munros on the doorstep, those more adventurous climbers are certainly well accommodated for. However, the village also sits on the famous West Highland Way, where if you cross the River Orchy over the bridge and follow the designated route signposts uphill, you will find excellent views over nearby Loch Tulla. Choose how far you would like to go along the route before turning back and following the path back to Bridge of Orchy Hotel. It is a little hilly, but the views at the top are worth it.
After a day of exploring, feast from Bridge of Orchy Hotel’s award-winning head chef David Hetherington’s hearty autumnal menu, inspired by Argyll’s natural larder. Afterwards, retire to the cosy bar and sample a single malt whisky or two – or why not try a bottle of Wheesht, Scotland’s first ever alcohol-free dark ale?
- Hermitage Wood & Gleneagles Hotel
Looking to stretch your legs without getting too out of breath? The rolling countryside surrounding the iconic Gleneagles hotel offers a fantastic choice of riverside walks and woodland trails. Head for Hermitage Wood where towering trees, water pools and roaring waterfalls await you just 40 minutes from the hotel. Managed by the National Trust for Scotland, this magical forest was originally designed as a pleasure ground for the Dukes of Atholl. Whilst it is beautiful through all seasons, the woodland is at its most spectacular in mid-autumn when all the trees are ablaze with colour. Perfect for all the family, including four-legged companions, this easy route takes around two and a half hours in total to complete.
There’s no better reward after all that exploring than a sumptuous meal in luxurious surroundings of the nearby Gleneagles Hotel. Tuck into the finest Franco-Scottish cuisine and soak up the glamorous buzz of a bygone era in Gleneagles’ newly-refurbished Strathearn restaurant – where the drama of the great outdoors meets the culinary theatre of traditional Gueridon service.
Gleneagles’ Birnam Brasserie serves Scotland’s most indulgent Sunday brunch on the first of every month, whilst Gleneagles’ team of pastry chefs create one of Scotland’s finest afternoon teas in the beautiful Glendevon room with magnificent views across the hotel’s grounds and the Ochil Hills.
- West Sands Beach, St Andrews & The Seafood Ristorante
Famous for the opening scenes of Chariots of Fire in the famous 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-renowned 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.
- Arthur’s Seat and Prestonfield House Hotel
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 House, 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.
- Falls of Shin & The Falls of Shin Visitor Centre
Whether you’re travelling the world-famous North Coast 500 or just seeking an autumnal excursion, the Falls of Shin is widely renowned as one of the best places in Scotland to view salmon leaping upstream. Every year, the salmon return from the open ocean, swimming up the Dornoch Firth and the Kyle of Sutherland to try and reach further up the River Shin to where they were spawned. However, before they reach their destination, they must pass the powerful torrent of water at the Falls.
Just a short walk from the car park and down a wooded track, a platform can be found making it the perfect vantage point to admire the salmon as they try to leap clear of the water. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing stroll or vigorous walk, the surrounding wooded area is littered paths holding a route to suit everyone.
After your walk, retreat to The Restaurant and Gift Shop and the Falls of Shin Visitor Centre, operated by the popular London restauranteurs Mac & Wild. The restaurant is the creation of Andy Waugh and Calum Mackinnon who took Mac & Wild back to its Highlands routes. Founded in 2018, the restaurant showcases the best of Scottish produce and serves meat sourced by Andy’s family’s business, Ardgay Game, located just six miles from the Falls.
- The Balgy Track & The Torridon
Explore the vast, natural playground of the Scottish Highlands surrounding one of the most remote hotels in the UK, and breathe in clean air, stride for miles through rugged wilderness and reconnect with the great outdoors. Situated on the popular North Coast 500, The Torridon offers an abundance of routes for both expert hikers and beginner walkers to challenge themselves and discover lesser-known spots, by themselves or led by an expert guide from Torridon Outdoors.
Directly from the five-star hotel, ramblers can follow the Balgy track along the side of Loch Torridon and around beguiling headlands, soaking up spectacular panoramic views of the water, and spotting seals and otters frolicking on the rocks and beaches below. The 4×4 track that connected Torridon and Shieldaig as a main road until 1964 allows walkers to spot a retro VW T2 car crash wreck from the trail, or pass the modern RIBA House of the Year 2018, an off-grid artist’s cottage with extraordinary architecture inspired by the natural landscape that surrounds it. The all-weather path continues until the Falls of Balgy, with captivating views of the water as it cascades down from Loch Damnh to the sea, with salmon and sea trout leaping, and sea eagles soaring up above.
After an invigorating afternoon traversing the 13km trail, The Torridon is a welcome respite for weary walkers sinking into a sumptuous seat with a wee dram in the oak-panelled Whisky Bar, choosing from 365 malts to sample. Simple plates of nature are offered in the newly-designed 1887, where head chef Paul Green pairs classic techniques with produce sourced from the hotel’s Torridon Farm and two-acre Kitchen Garden, elegantly showcasing the natural larder of the Scottish Highlands. Casual dining restaurant Bo & Muc, a few moments’ walk from the Main House in The Stables, offers heartier, wholesome dishes in a relaxed atmosphere, with traditional Scottish Fare, local ales and a crackling fire to warm the soul.
10.The Culbin Forest Hill 99 Trail and Golf View
Explore the diverse and ever-changing coastal forest of the Culbin Sands, just a handful of miles outside the picturesque Highland seaside town of Nairn. With the forest stretching for more than 8 miles along the coastline, there’s a lot to discover. Wind through the sandy pine woods and experience the views from the Hill 99 wooden tower looking over the dense canopy of trees and on to the sandy beaches of the Moray Firth.
Following your woodland walk, return to Nairn take a seat at the Hickory Bistro at the Golf View Hotel where you can enjoy a range of seasonal Scottish produce. As you dine next to panoramic views looking out to the Moray Firth, make sure to keep an eye out for dolphins, regularly spotted playing just of the coast.