Runners are spoilt for choice when it comes to trails and trail running in Scotland. You really don’t have to go far to find incredibly beautiful places and a variety of terrain – from flowing hard-packed trails, to steeper and more challenging options. In this article, the team share their favourite trail running spots situated within reach of each city / Run4It shop, for you to go and suss out!
Aberdeen ~ Fetteresso Forest
Fetteresso Forest is a huge expanse of forest stretching from Stonehaven to the Cairn o’ Mount road. It is a 20-30 minute drive south-west from Aberdeen city centre but is well worth the journey. There are upwards of 100 miles worth of hilly forestry roads and paths. It is not unusual to be out on the trails for multiple hours and not see another living soul. Perfect for some solitude for a long training run.
There are also some narrow single trails and mountain bike paths through the trees. This can make for some great fun exploring. You can even add in the climb up to the 543m high summit of Kerloch if you still want more elevation! You can map out a loop of more or less whatever distance you want without having to repeat any sections - check out sections of the Fetteresso Forest Marathon route for some ideas (this route covers barely a third of the total forest area)!
These forestry roads are almost all very well maintained, hard-packed and non-technical so a road-to-trail or general trail shoe would be ideal here. For all-round comfort HOKA Speedgoat, Saucony Peregrine. adidas TERREX Two Ultra PA, On Cloudultra. For speed: HOKA Torrent. adidas TERREX Speed Pro, Brooks Catamount.
Bridge of Allan ~ Ochil Hills
Right behind the Bridge of Allan shop is access to the Ochils, their local hill range. You can run up the popular Dumyat Hill which is 418m and has a paved path making it very accessible. Or if you fancy going more “off road” you can hit the grass and run to the top of Ben Cleuch which is 721m high and about 9 miles from our shop.
Joining up these hills are trail tracks ranging from very dry to very muddy and you can even drop down to Stirling University campus for a bit of wildlife spotting or add on Castle Campbell in Dollar 4 miles along from Ben Cleuch.
If you are keeping to the Dumyat paths a HOKA Speedgoat or Saucony Peregrine would be an ideal shoe choice. If you are venturing off the beaten path, it can get very wet and muddy, so a trail shoe with more aggressive grip such as the Inov 8 X-Talon or HOKA EVO Jawz would be better.
Dundee ~ Tentsmuir Forest
Tentsmuir Forest is one of the most attractive spots for trail running near Dundee and definitely a favourite across the Dundee team. Only a 10-15minute drive (or ~10k run!) from the city centre, Tentsmuir appeals to a huge number of runners from the Fife and Dundee area. Wherever you start your run, the paths and beautiful scenery follow one another. You can run on the beach, enjoy the incredible views over the Tay and spot the numerous seals near Tentsmuir point. Or you can stay in the forest and enjoy the big network of paths and tracks. From beach to forest, the number of route options is incredible: you can easily run a marathon without running on the same path twice.
The terrain is pretty flat and non-technical, making it accessible to all runners. The terrain is usually really good: it can be a bit muddy on the grassy single tracks in the forest, but most of the paths are dry or gravel. The beach sections are obviously softer which may require deeper lugs.
Edinburgh Lothian Road ~ Arthur's Seat
Arthur's Seat and the surrounding trails of Holyrood Park make for an unbelievable playground in a city centre location – it's pretty much a skatepark for trail runners. It offers a great variety of terrain, from flowing, non technical single track around the circumference of the park and through Hunter's Bog, to plenty of steeper and more challenging options, right up to a couple of straightforward but impressive scrambles.
The Tourist Path (when it's not heaving with tourists) and the routes over the Crags are some of the best runnable trails in the city, and are great training grounds for preparing to take on bigger hills and trails further afield.
For versatility: HOKA Speedgoat, Saucony Peregrine. Less technical trails: Nike Pegasus Trail, Salomon Sense Ride, On Cloudultra. For more technical spots, we'd recommend the Salomon Sense Pro, HOKA Torrent, Inov8 TerraUltra G270.
Edinburgh Maybury ~ Corstorphine Hill
Whilst Edinburgh is spoilt for trail running spots, the team at Run4It Maybury think that our local hill, Corstorphine Hill, has the most variety of trails on offer.
From compact rolling gravel roads to steep scrambly single tracks, open fields and dense woodland, this surprisingly large area has lots of path options which can be combined into a variety of loops, keeping things fresh and interesting.
Glasgow City ~ Kilpatrick Hills
Jump on the train from Glasgow City Centre, and within 25 minutes you're right at the foot of the Kilpatrick Hills (getting off at Old Kilpatrick Station in West Dunbarton), a well mapped range of small to medium hills, with gradual, well maintained tracks, plus plenty of steeper, more technical routes making the area ideal for both trail novices and fell running aficionados.
The views over the River Clyde and Erskine Bridge are unbeaten, and if you fancy a bit of a longer run you'll be rewarded with stunning panoramic views over Loch Lomond and the Trossachs.
The ground conditions are generally very good due to the stony paths, however areas around some of the reservoirs within the hill range can become muddy and boggy after heavy rain, so check how the weather has been before making your trip!
Glasgow Giffnock ~ Whitelee Windfarm (Eaglesham)
Whitelee Windfarm is a great location for trail running in the south side of Glasgow. Just a 10-20 minute drive from the Giffnock store, Whitelee is a fantastic option for a variety of runners. There are loops ranging from 1 mile all the way up to 30 miles/50 kilometres. Whitelee sports an unsurprisingly windy climate as well as great views of the Lochgoin reservoir. The trails primarily consist of hard-packed gravel and dirt which makes the terrain non-technical and ideal for beginner runners or runners who want to focus on building endurance.
Inverness ~ Littlemill (near Farr)
Alasdair from Inverness highly recommends Littlemill forest:
"One of the areas I frequently compete at orienteering events is Littlemill forest near Farr, about 10 miles south of Inverness in the Scottish Highlands. The area has a good mixture of paths and tracks making it suitable for trail and fell runners of all abilities. The area is also a prime location for orienteering due to the complexity of the terrain present. Littlemill forest is also ideal for trail runners looking for a relatively flat area near to Inverness. It is in close enough proximity where runners can combine a road run from Inverness to travel to the area. Additionally, the area is suitable for road runners and beginners looking to experience trail running for the first time due to the overall lack of undulating terrain.
Littlemill forest is also of major geological significance due to the presence of the eskers left behind by the last glaciation, approximately 10,000 years ago. These eskers only add to the beauty of the location when running through it.
On a personal note, I began running at Littlemill forest about 10 years ago when I first got involved in orienteering and have returned regularly. Since then the area has been a useful training ground close to home helping to prepare myself and club members for orienteering races further afield. The forest also plays host to many local and regional events every year giving the area a real variety of uses.
On the whole, Littlemill forest is a scenic area situated close to Inverness. The area provides running opportunities for trail runners and orienteers alike in a stunning area of the Scottish North Highlands. I cannot recommend it enough for those looking to indulge in trail running for the first time and also for those looking to run at a new location."
Trail running shoes
Trail shoes differ from road shoes in several ways, namely the level of grip and cushioning, the stack height and the fit. Wearing trail-specific shoes better equipped to meet the demands of (often uneven) trail and off-road terrain will make for a more enjoyable running experience.
There is such a variety of trail running shoes out there because the terrain and conditions you will encounter whilst out on the trail can be highly variable, with each surface requiring subtly different shoe characteristics for optimal performance and feel.
To learn about the differences between the vast array of trail shoes out there and determine the best model for you, check out our article, 'How to choose the right trail running shoes'.
Looking for advice on how to tackle the trails? Check out these trail running tips from James.