Scotland is a country of contrasts with a stunning coastline, open mountains and seemingly endless forests.
Covering an area of around 30,420 square miles, Scotland is one of the most beautiful and unspoilt areas of Britain. The country is also one of great contrast, with vibrant cities, a stunning coastline, acres of heatherclad moorland and hundreds of mountains and munros, aside from Robert Burns, golf, tartan and Bonny Prince Charlie! People can be forgiven for immediately conjuring up images of the Highlands, but there’s so much more to the country than the Cairngorms National Park. The Grampians, the Angus Glens and the forests of Galloway are also a walker’s paradise and mountain biker’s playground. Then there are the spectacular island groups off the coastline, each with a distinct character. The cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow attract shoppers and those interested in the arts. And then there are the championship golf courses of Arran.
‘The gateway to Scotland’, this area is a patchwork of hills and farmland in the east and moorland in the west, spattered with castles, abbeys and stately homes. The Tweed cuts through the area and can be easily enjoyed from the Southern Upland Way. The website www.visittweedvalley. co.uk lists many walking routes, rated by difficulty of terrain. There’s also the Borders Abbeys Way, a 64-mile route which takes in the ruined abbeys of Jedburgh and Melrose amongst others.
The coastal county of Fife is well worth a visit. Take life at a slower pace as you explore the quaint fishing villages dotted along the coastline or delve into the past with a trip to historic towns such as St Andrews or Dunfermline. With so many scenic walks and lots of pet-friendly pubs, attractions, and accommodation, dogs make the perfect travelling companions when visiting Fife.
With magnificent mountains and glens, enchanting lochs, and stunning islands, the Highlands of Scotland are a dog lover’s paradise. The area encompasses six smaller regions: Skye and Lochalsh, the Cairngorms National Park, Inverness, Loch Ness and Nairn, the North Highlands, Moray Speyside, and Fort William and Lochaber.
The Highlands are home to Ben Nevis — the highest mountain in the British Isles — the Loch Ness Monster, and are frequently used as a backdrop for major films including ‘Braveheart’ and the Harry Potter movies.
Dumfries and Galloway
There’s more to Scotland than the Highlands. The region of Dumfries and Galloway has stunning scenery, endless walking opportunities, and plenty of activities to keep you and your dog busy. Dumfries and Galloway is situated in the south-west of Scotland, and stretches all the way from Gretna Green in the east to the seaside town of Portpatrick in the west. So, make this the year you discover what Dumfries and Galloway has to offer.
Loch Lomond and The Trossachs
Some of the most stunning scenery in the UK can be found in the area around Loch Lomond and the Trossachs in western Scotland.
From breathtaking mountains and glens to tranquil lochs, the area has a plentiful history and inspired the famous poem ‘The Lady of the Lake’ by novelist and poet Sir Walter Scott, which was published in 1810.
Loch Lomond and th Trossachs National Park was Scotland’s first national park, comprising 720 square miles of mountains, glens, and lochs. Loch Lomond is the largest freshwater lake in mainland Britain.
Oban and North Argyll
The seafood capital of the world, this region offers walkers and their dogs miles of Forestry Commission maintained routes. From here you are relatively close to the Ben Nevis range, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs. You can also board a ferry to the Isle of Mull. The island has a long history but it’s found more recent fame as the set for the children’s television programme Balamory! From Oban you can also reach the Inner Hebrides: Coll, Tiree, Lismore and Kerrera.
The Forestry Commission
Across Scotland there are literally hundreds of Forestry Commission sites with mile upon mile of walks to enjoy. Details of the sites can be found at www.forestry.gov.uk/scotland
National Trust for Scotland
The Trust in Scotland plays a vital role in the preservation and upkeep of some of the sites which map together the intriguing past of this nation. The Trust cares for 26 castles, palaces and country houses, four battles sites and the birthplaces of four famous Scots. It also manages thousands of acres of open countryside, islands and one world heritage site. Visit the website www.nts.org.uk to find a destination close to the area you may be visiting.
The Scottish Access Code
Scotland operates an open access code to most land and inland water. Specific advice for dog owners includes: Do not take dogs into fields where there are lambs, calves or other young animals. Do not take dogs into a field of vegetables (unless you are on a clear path). Keep your dog on a short lead or under control around cows, horses and sheep. Keep as far as possible away from animals when walking through fields. During the bird breeding season (April to July) keep your dog under close control. Remove dog faeces if they foul in a public open place or where there is a risk to farming interests. Do not allow your dog to swim in reservoirs that are used for public water supply. For more information about the code visit www.outdooraccessscotland.com