Summer is prime trail-running season! So we asked our trail-loving team members to reveal their favourite spots for an off-road run in stunning Scotland.
Work your way through these routes before the darker nights set in…
Whitlee Windfarm Loch Loop
Distance: 8 miles
Start/finish: Whitelee Windfarm Visitor Centre
Terrain: Undulating Land Rover track
Toughness: Easy – perfect for a first trail run!
Ascent: Approx. 160 metres
Navigation: Easy – signposted
Description: This route always throws the best the Scottish weather at you: high wind, sideways rain, perfect sunshine or a mix of all three. So despite the easy route to follow and low level of climb, every run brings new challenges and new beautiful vistas! A brilliant route to dip your toe into trail running.
Jordan, Run4It Giffnock
Mugdock Country Park
Distance: As long or as short as you wish!
Start/finish: Milngavie Train Station
Terrain: Something for everyone really with a great mix to suit any taste. It can be almost flat on hard-packed forest roads and paths or, at the opposite end of the scale, steep and technical ascents and descents on single track and/or rocky trails.
Toughness: Easy, Hard or anything in between!
Ascent: As flat or as steep as you wish!
Description: Situated as it is at the very start of the West Highland Way, Mugdock Country Park provides massive scope to seek out any number of fantastic trails – some well-worn, some a bit more off the beaten track. Within the park itself, there are all sorts of hidden gems, so it’s well worth heading out and exploring, safe in the knowledge that you’ll never be far from waymarked paths and trails, all of which provide directions to a few notable reference points in the park. If you want to rack up the longer miles, then the West Highland Way itself runs right through the park and offers great running on solid paths, with the easiest navigation you could imagine – follow the wee thistles on the brown posts!
Within the park there are some wonderful viewpoints… look North and Ben Lomond and the Southern Highlands loom, with the great little peak of Dumgoyne closer at hand, towering over the Glengoyne Distillery. Whilst to the South there are some fantastic and wide-reaching views across Glasgow, with the hills of Lanarkshire beyond (see if you can pick out Tinto!). And within the park, there are castles, Lochs, World War II ruins and a great visitor centre to have a look around while enjoying a mid-run coffee and cake!
Scott, Run4It Glasgow City
BRIDGE OF ALLAN
Distance: 13 miles
Start/finish: Run4It Bridge of Allan
Terrain: Mix of forest trails and mountainous single track
Ascent: Approx. 1,200 metres
Navigation: Moderate (Hard in bad weather)
Description: My favourite route before a Saturday shift in the shop. It starts with a steep climb out from Bridge of Allan along fast technical forest trails, before bursting out on to the Witches Crag which provides a stunning view out across the Forth Valley. From there you leave the woods behind and ascend Dumyat by the standard west to east route. Once on the Summit you turn north west and follow the ridge until it drops off the mountain heading northwards towards the reservoir where you drop into the glen and cross over a burn and follow the track to the ruin of Jera cottage. From there you follow the winding trail known as the Postmans Track all the way back down to Menstrie. Once there you the head straight back up Dumyat and then follow the route straight back to the shop.
Tom, Run4It Bridge of Allan
Distance: 5 miles
Start/finish: Cairnmuir Road / Kaimes Road Car Park
Terrain: Mix of hard packed mud single track, gravel paths, forest walkways and grass with lots of tree roots!
Ascent: 290 metres
Description: I spent 18 years growing up in Cairnmuir Road so I know Corstorphine Hill like the back of my hand. It makes a big difference when you know you can’t get lost! It provides something for all abilities of trail runner, with fast and technical section options. You run past Corstorphine tower, Murrayfield golf course and Edinburgh Zoo! There are not many places in Edinburgh where you can run, turn a corner and find yourself side by side with a zebra (there’s a fence but you certainly get up close and personal if you run during the day). The sound of the lions roaring also adds a bit of urgency to your pace!
I lead a group trail run here every Monday night at 7:30pm for all levels. Follow me on Instagram @g_s_fitness to find out more and come along for a taster!
Graeme, Run4It Maybury
Binn Hill/ Kinnoull Hill
Distance: 8 miles
Terrain: Mixture of farm track and technical singletrack
Ascent: 250 metres
Navigation: Easy (Moderate in bad weather)
Description: This is a great loop, taking in some varied terrain and Methven Loch (the hidden Loch). A little gem of a run, close to home.
John, Run4It Dundee
Distance: Numerous routes and distances available. My favourite is a 10k circular with 600m climbing – repeat as many as times as you wish!
Start/finish: Bennachie Visitor Centre
Terrain: Mostly runnable paths with some sections of technical, rocky terrain.
Toughness: Moderate – initial gruelling climb and then undulating.
Ascent: 500-800 metres depending on route
Navigation: Easy – although I have managed to run different ways back every time!
Description: Nearest place to the Granite City to get some good climbing in and loads of different routes to vary the run.
Will, Run4It Aberdeen
Distance: 10 miles
Start/finish: The Park Cafe at Hazelhead, follow the Saturday morning parkrun route following signs to Countesswells woods, doing as big of a loop around Countesswells as you wish!
Terrain: Hard pack trail, not very technical, undulating in parts.
Ascent: Max. 180 metres
Description: Great for getting some fun and scenic off-road marathon miles, just a short distance from home. Largely quiet and on a sunny day fantastic views of the city!
Lucy, Run4It Aberdeen
Distance: 12 miles
Start/finish: Aberdeen to Tyrebagger via the Airport. Track to loop of Tyrebagger across to Elrick, skirting the golf course and track back through SAC (Scottish Agricultural College) at Craibstone.
Terrain: Mix of road, rough track, forestry road and narrow rooty track.
Toughness: Moderate – predominantly climbing in first half then fast downhill in 2nd
Ascent: 200 metres
Description: A great route for a testing Sunday run. It’s out of bounds temporarily due to AWPR construction, but definitely a route worth trying, once the project is complete.
Nick, Run4It Aberdeen
Distance: 8 miles or longer
Start/finish: Run4It Inverness
Terrain: Mixture of forestry road and mountain bike tracks, sections of technical terrain.
Ascent: 280 metres
Description: Follow River Ness along Ness Walk and Bught Rd to reach the Botanic Gardens. Cross the main road and join the canal footpath. After approx. 100 metres cut left onto a dirt track path which skirts past a golf course and a housing estate. Follow the track as it steepens and climbs through an old pine and larch forest to the summit of Dunain Hill. Stop to enjoy views of the Cairngorms along the Great Glen Way and across Moray Firth before making your way back down with panoramic views of Inverness before you.
Emma, Run4It Inverness
Location: Cairngorm Mountain
Start/finish: Funicular Car Park
Distance: Numerous options however the most direct route is 4 miles up to the top and back.
Terrain: If using the ‘Windy Ridge Path’ or access path reasonably well graded path with a couple of stone steps on the windy ridge
Ascent: 600 metres
Navigation: Easy, just keep going up on the path until you can’t go up anymore!
Description: I think the picture says it all, on a clear day the views are amazing. It usually a bit windy up the top so despite the weather always go prepared for changing weather and temperature. If the weather isn’t as nice there are far better places to be but if it’s still very useful for a good hill session.
Ryan, Run4It Inverness