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pub walks in Scotland

Pub walks in Scotland: the best way of relaxing after a walk, no matter how hard or easy it may have been

Top 6 pub walks in Scotland (focused on the Highlands)

Pub walks in Scotland with good quality craft beers to round off the day would not have been easy in the past. Though Britain is rightly famous for its pub culture, but pub walks in Scotland are not a widely known phenomenon. We can probably attribute this to our Presbyterian heritage. The image of the Presbyterian minister breathing fire and brimstone and going on about the evils of drink and merriment have a lot to answer for.

10 years ago, beer aficionados moaned about the lack of craft beers. Fortunately all this has changed around completely now and we’re spoiled for choice, particularly in the Cairngorms. Those pubs which have maintained their traditional links with brewing and good food are doing very good business. Many of them are in fabulous walking country. We’ve picked out 5 of the best for you to explore on your way round Scotland. You’ll also be pleased to know that we’ve included some of these gems on our hiking tours, like the Highland Extravaganza.

 

1. The Old Bridge Inn

On the banks of the river Spey, looking out over the Cairngorms, the Old Bridge Inn is one of the best pubs. They stock beer from the local brewery (Cairngorm Beers) many of which are on tap. They also have an amazing varied menu and serve both pub meals and restaurant fare. If you have a large group, booking is advised.

pub walks in Scotland

Classic view into the Cairngorms from the Rothiemurchus estate

Recommended walks:

  1. From Boat of Garten: Follow the Speyside Way from Boat of Garten to Aviemore, past the golf course to the doorstep of the Old Bridge Inn (6 miles). This is a great family route, relatively flat. The route can be extended after or before lunch to explore some of the Rothiemurchus estate. If you time your day right, you could also combine your exploration with a ride back on the Strathspey Steam Railway; the more mundane option, would be to hop on the local bus back to Boat if you have explored too far around Aviemore.
  2. This walk also lends itself to family cycling and can be extended through to Glenmore to enjoy tea and cake at the Red Squirrel cafe. This would be potentially a linear route, depending on the capabilities of your party. Alternatively check with Scot Mountain Holidays for a transfer to Glenmore, walk/cycle the Old Logging Way to the Old Bridge Inn, then follow the Speyside Way back to Boat of Garten.
  3. Inverdruie to Loch an Eilean

Check out our self-guided mountain biking holidays which include some of these routes.

2. Cairngorm Hotel or the Winking Owl

Both the Winking Owl and the Cairngorm Hotel are in central Aviemore, on the main street. The Winking Owl is now owned by Cairngorm Brewery and its primary focus is on serving good quality food and beer. The menu is typical pub fare but is nicely presented and offered with a range of Cairngorm beers. The atmosphere is relaxed.

The Cairngorm Hotel is directly across the road from the railway station. It can get extremely busy, particularly when there are sporting events on. Don’t expect a quiet romantic meal.

pub walks in Scotland

Relaxing in the Cairngorms while out on a family walk

Recommended walks: Craigellachie Nature Reserve

3. The Moulin Inn

The Moulin Inn is a hotel but also a pub. It is extremely popular with walkers as it is at the bottom of the popular route suggested below. It is not be be missed if you are in the Pitlochry area as there is not much else in Pitlochry to write home about, apart from the tearoom. There is usually a comfortable, glowing open fire welcoming guests and the menu is quite comprehensive. We recommend the lamb shank and the raspberry crumble!

Hogmanay Scotland

Relaxing with a pint (brewed on the premises) at the Moulin Inn

 

pub walks in Scotland

Ben Vraikie above Pitlochry

Recommended walks: Ben Vraikie

For other suggestions in the Pitlochry are try WalkHighlands.

4. Applecross Inn

Rightly famous for their seafood, the Applecross Inn is in a beautiful setting, surrounded by the stunning peaks of Wester Ross. The inn also offers great views across to Raasay and Skye, if it is possible to sit outside without being pestered by the midges. The Inn offers an award-winning menu, using high quality local produce like venison, alongside the seafood. It’s also a great destination for sea kayakers. Judith and her staff are also rightly proud of the Gold green tourism award and are open all year round.

pub walks in Scotland

Stunning scenery of Torridon

Recommended walks:

An easy walk between two beautiful sandy bays with great views of Raasay, Skye and Rona. The walk can be done in either direction or as a return walk – the time and distance given are for one way.

A short hillwalk taking advantage of a start at over 2000 feet. Sgurr a Chaorachain is a Corbett summit, and though easy to reach has very dramatic mountain views.

5. The Clachaig

is deservedly recognised as the home of Scottish mountaineering. The food is top quality and the welcome warm. You will almost always find walkers and climbers relaxing here. The Claichaig prides itself on its friendly atmosphere, its range of real ales and its live music. Check their website for details of whats on during your visit to the area.

Recommended walks:

  1. Loch Achtriochtan & lower Glen: this is one of the most photographed views in Scotland. The beautiful lochan surrounded by the majestic peaks of Glencoe is a truly spectacular setting.
  2. or for a bit more than a family walk/ a morning out before your pub lunch – Glencoe is rightly famous for its mountain walks
  3. If you want to spend longer exploring Glencoe do check out the various options on WalkHighlands where all the routes are graded according to length and difficulty
  4. Bidean Nam Bian (moderate to challenging) – mountain walking experience required and good navigation skills or book a guide.
  5. A wee bit further on and best attempted on a good day: The Buckle

Further reading:

https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/getoutside/local/loch-achtriochtan-highland

https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/getoutside/guides/top-5-short-hikes-in-scotland/

6. The Sligachan, Skye

Another popular walking pub with an associated campsite like the Clachaig. Unfortunately the position of the Sligachan doesn’t really lend itself to gentle half-day circular walks (the Cuillin are in the way), but the situation is so fabulous that really even if you walk out and back along the same path, you’ll still get the most stunning views that Skye has to offer.

Skye Munros

Sunset over Am Basteir from Sligachan on the Isle of Skye during the Skye Munros itinerary

Recommended walks: 

  1. Part of the Skye trail
  2. Fairy Pools – not exactly on the doorstep and becoming way too popular to enjoy any peace and quiet (plus parking is an issue these days) but still worth going if you can visit off season.
  3. Further options from WalkHighlands

Optional extra:

Dores Inn

A gem of a pub with plenty of outdoor seating on the south shore of Loch Ness. You can even dabble a toe in the Loch if you want right from the car park. A traditional pub concentrating on serving food and drink. There is a good selection of beers and food. Sunset dining with a view over Loch Ness is recommended, but it is also a great lunch stop too.

Recommended walks:

  1. Part of the South Loch Ness Trail: the route north will take you into Inverness. In theory you could get to Dores on public transport from Inverness and walk back along the South Loch Ness Trail (7 miles). Then no one needs to be designated driver.
  2. Routes from Foyers, a wee bit further down the Loch
  3. Aldourlie Castle circuit 

Do you know of any great walks which start and finish at pubs in the Highlands? Please get in touch with your recommendations.

If you’d like to go guided on a walking holiday in Scotland please don’t hesitate to contact us for dates, prices and opportunities.

For a full list of all the trips available with Scot Mountain Holidays: cycling/biking, walking/hiking and family adventures – check out the home page

Outlander: Jacobite walks in the Highlands – Ruthven Barracks and Glen Tromie

Even today, many walks in the Highlands of Scotland have a historical focus. Ruthven barracks stands abandoned on a hill surrounded by the nature reserve of Insh Marshes. It serves as a monument to the last major civil uprising and pitched battle on British soil. It witnessed both Jacobite success and Jacobite failure. This is where the last remnants of the Jacobite forces regrouped after the battle of Culloden, preparing the make a last stand – only to hear that they had been deserted by their commander in chief – Bonnie Prince Charlie.

Outlander walk in the Highlands

Ruthven Barracks – a redcoat stronghold in the heart of Jacobite country, destroyed by Jacobites in 1746

The barracks were built after the 1715 rising to control the Highlanders but were attacked and taken by the Jacobite rebels led by Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745. The site itself has a much longer history than this but there is not much evidence now of it’s previous history.

The walk: Ruthven Barracks as one of many walks in the Highlands

Stage 1:

Park in the parking area for Ruthven Barracks. At the top of the car park there is a farm gate which you need to go through to access the track. Follow the track up and bear right behind a stone wall, following the grassy track upwards.

walk Highlands

Looking back from the track leading to Glen Tromie from Ruthven Barracks

Stage 2:

Continue ahead as the track heads upwards and passes between 2 small hills. When you see the track heading towards the right to a ruined house, continue straight ahead passing a tree on the right. At this point you’ll need to go through a wooden farm gate before heading onto the open moorland ahead. Follow a wee path, much less distinct than the previous track. The path will continue across grassy and heathery ground to a more distinct tract rising diagonally across the wee hill opposite. The ground here can sometimes be wet.

Stage 3:

Cross a small stream here on the stepping stones and join a wider path heading up the hill and slightly to the right. The path climbs gently but doesn’t quite reach the summit of Beinn Bhuidhe (yellow mountain). You’ll get a good view of Kingussie behind you from this point.

For a relatively short distance here the path is very boggy and waterlogged. If you manage to bypass it without getting wet feet, you’ll be doing very well. The boggy ground seems to cover the whole area. You’ll also probably need to keep to the heather at the side of the path in places in order to keep your fft dry. After a while the path will more indistinct but is marked by a series of stone cairns. At this point you’ll pretty much be at the high point and will have views down the other side of the hill you’ve been climbing.

Stage 4:

Just before you go into the Woods of Glentromie, you’ll have to climb a high stile over a deer fence.

walk in the HIghlands

Crossing the stile over the deer fence

Cross this stile and follow the path into the woodland, which makes a nice change from the moor and heather you’ve been walking through up until this point. The path weaves downhill and can be wet at times. You’ll also need to bypass a couple of fallen trees at points.

walk in the Highlands

One method of crossing the fallen trees – they are much easier to cross but if you’re 8 you have to climb!

Eventually the path reaches a smaller stile and then goes left and crosses a larger stile to emerge onto a road. Turn left and follow the road past a house and over the River Tromie.

Following the Badenoch Way

Stage 5:

After the bridge turn left and follow the road down Glen Tromie eventually reaching the B970 at Tromie Bridge.

Turn left at the road and cross the bridge. Immediately turn right through a wooden gate into the RSPB reserve Tromie Bridge Meadow. This makes up part of the long distance route, the Badenoch Way. This section of the route follows markers with white circles. The route follows a grassy track through woods and then around the edge of the meadow next to the River Tromie.

walk in the Highlands

Entry gate to join the Badenoch Way and the nature walk close to Tromie Mills.

Tromie Mills, a very well-kept distillery is visible on the other side of the river, but you never really get a good enough view from the path for a particularly good photo.  Climb up a gentle bank and pass through a kissing gate marked nature trail. Follow the path next to a wall and then turn left uphill following the white markers.

Stage 6:

You’ll cross some sparse birch woods with heather underfoot on a clear path along a small ridge. It’s a delightful section of the route. Keep following the white circular markers and pass through another kissing gate.

Turn right at a small marker post and then cross a vehicular track and go through a small gate. Continue on the path and pass through another gate and you soon reach a sign where you can make a diversion to a good viewpoint and picnic area.

To continue on the trail turn left at this sign and follow the path as it contours along the edge of the higher ground above the Insh Marshes. It passes through a gate and over a footbridge just after the diversion down to Invertromie Hide. Just before the carpark there is an information centre about the birdlife on the reserve. Continue down to the parking area and turn left and left again to emerge onto the B970.

walk in the Highlands

Ruthven Barracks up close and personal

Scot Mountain Holidays option:

If you are following this route as part of our self-guided itinerary (it is not currently one of the selected routes but is an optional extra), we will arrange to pick you up at this car park at the designated finish time and return you to Fraoch Lodge for tea and cake before relaxing and enjoying a lovely evening meal with us.

at Fraoch Lodge

Everyone loves an open fire, almost as much entertainment as the TV

If you are walking this route independently you will still have a hike of 1km along the road back to the Ruthven Barracks car park.

 

Further reading

The history of Ruthven Barracks

http://www.castlesfortsbattles.co.uk/highland/ruthven_barracks.html

http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/kingussie/ruthvenbarracks/

https://www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/ruthven-barracks/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/scottishhistory/union/trails_union_ruthven.shtml

 

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