Hiking is a great family activity, offering breathtaking scenery, fresh air and exercise. One of the best places to take your family for exciting hikes is in Scotland. It is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places to explore, with its steep mountains, lush landscapes and rugged shoreline. There’s something about the landscape in Scotland that just makes you want to get out and enjoy it, especially when the weather is nice. As soon as the temperatures start to warm up and the sun peaks out, those mountains and valleys just start calling to you until it feels criminal to be inside and not out exploring some creek, loch or mountain top.
Get ready for your hiking adventure by preparing enough the right snacks to take on your trip and have plenty of water. Also, make sure you have the right gear to keep you safe from the elements. This is Scotland, and as with any mountain trekking, you need to be prepared that the weather can change. It can get damp and chilly on your hike, so having that extra layer of weatherproofing that will keep out water and wind can keep you all comfortable while you explore the trails. Berghaus jackets are a great example of the style of jacket you’ll need for hiking in the often fickle Scottish climate.
Here are some great family friendly hiking spots inspire your planning:
This spot in Balmaha is a great place to take the entire family, particularly families with younger children. It is not too long or strenuous with a summit of just 350 meters. Once you reach the top, you get to see a magnificent view of Loch Lomond and the mountains. There is also a children’s play area at the bottom and restrooms. After your hike, you can take the family over to the Oak Tree Inn for a snack or lunch.
Bennachie, near Aberdeen, is a very family-friendly spot to spend a day. Before your hike, take the kids to the Bennachie Center to learn about the area’s history and the people who lived and worked there. Be sure to pick up a map at the Center and ask for advice on the best walk. There are nine distinctive tops for the hill if you want to try some summit hikes. The two tallest summit walks, Mither Tap or Oxen Craig, are quite challenging and you’ll want to check the weather conditions before setting out. Even if the weather is nice when you start out take all weather outdoor clothing with you and good hiking shoes. The view from the top is certainly worth the effort!
For something less strenuous, take the kids along the forest trails. Grab some paper and crayons for the Discovery Trail where there are several rubbing posts set up along the way for children.
Just a short drive from Glasgow is Scotland’s largest regional park. The park offers a range of hiking trails through different settings, from woodlands and hills to beaches. The Parkhill Woodland Trails offer families a shorter trek that lasts about two hours. You can choose the Johnshill Loop, the Woodland Trail or the Hill Trail. After your hike, you can all wind down with a trip to the Visitor Center to explore exhibits on history and wildlife, laze around a loch to enjoy a range of family activities or head to the beach.
Hiking is an exhilarating way to spend a day with your family. You get to see Scotland in a whole new way with the amazing scenery. You get the benefits of exercise and fresh air, and it usually costs you nothing more than the time it takes to complete your hike.
Some tips for keeping your kids happy on your adventures:
- Make sure they wear boots or trainers for the hike.
- Have an all weather jacket in case it rains. Ideally it should be able to cut out the wind as well.
- Bring snacks and plenty of water. It’s not a bad idea to have a few treats hidden away to use as an encouragement.
- Choose routes that will have something to interest them (rocks to climb, animals to see, waterfalls or caves to explore). Be prepared to work hard to engage them at times. Their interest levels will waver and you might need to re-engage them or come up with games to get them back on track.
- Allow for detours. For you, getting to the top or hitting that 6-10km mark might be the goal. For the kids, climbing that cool tree they see ahead, detouring to explore a seemingly insignificant cranny that they call a ‘cave’ or sitting for two minutes to collect rocks is going to be the absolute highlight of the day. Ensuring a successful family hike often isn’t about getting to the end. It’s about learning when you can dismiss the kids desire to stop and check things out in order to get to your end goal and when you need to cater to their whims and let your ‘mission’ take second seat for a few minutes so that everyone gets to the end happy.
- If you are going on a long hike and you don’t know the trail well, it’s not a bad idea to have a map or a cellphone in case you get lost.