January can feel like a long month for us all as we say goodbye to the festivities for another year. But January doesn't need to be so blue, not when Scotland has so much stunning scenery to offer this wintry month. Don't worry, you don't have to be an expert hillwalker with knowledge of winter walking, there are plenty of short and easy routes waiting to be discovered around the country.
We've rounded up some great and simple walking routes and trails, including loch view walks, city routes and trails perfect for a family day out. Here are our top 5 picks for January walks in Scotland:
1. Loch Ossian Circuit
Distance: 8 Miles, Time: 4.5 - 5.5 Hours
The circuit around the remote Loch Ossian in Rannoch Moor can be done in one day leaving from our Loch Ossian Youth Hostel located right on the edge of the loch. Good forest road all the way round means this gentle walk can be taken at a laid back pace. Along the way you'll be treated to stunning mountain views, with the loch surrounded by mighty Munros and Corbetts.
2. Calton Hill, Edinburgh
Distance: 1 Mile, Time: 1 - 1.5 Hours
It may be in the bustling capital of Scotland, but Calton Hill offers a peaceful walk with beautiful views reaching over the entire city. With numerous monuments and buildings on route, there is plenty to discover, including the 1813 Dugald Stewart Monument. Just a 10 minute walk from our Edinburgh Central Youth Hostel, this is a great way to spend an afternoon in Edinburgh with friends or family.
3. River Nevis, Glen Nevis
Distance: 2.75 Miles, Time: 1 - 1.5 Hours
This easy walk explores lower Glen Nevis, following the river bank and returning through the forest. Starting from the bridge which crosses the river just outside Glen Nevis Youth Hostel, during the walk you'll be able to take in views Mamore mountains and of course the main attraction - the magnificent Ben Nevis.
4. Signal Rock, Glen Coe
Distance: 1.5 Miles, Time: 1 - 1.5 Hours
Glen Coe attracts hillwalkers all year round, but this walk around Signal Rock is one of the few short walks in the area. Starting from the car park in the visitor centre just 10 minutes walk from Glencoe Youth Hostel, you'll know you're on the right path when you spot views of the beautiful Calchaig Gully. As you walk through the woodland in the central part of the Glen you'll reach the foot of signal rock you'll be able to stop and explore the place that the head of the Glencoe MacDonalds would address his clan!
5. Craigellachie, Aviemore
Distance: 3.25 Miles, Time: 2.5 - 3 Hours
Craigellachie is a nature reserve with several lochans, beautiful birchwoods and excellent views of the Cairngorms. The uppermost section can be cut out for a more laid back walk but for those who climb to the top, you'll be rewarded with fantastic views! The walk gives you a chance to get a glimpse of the wild Cairngorms and perhaps spot a peregrine falcon. All of this can be found right outside Aviemore Youth Hostel, make sure you visit the National Nature Reserve (NNR) display inside the youth hostel to find out more about the trails, and take a look into a peregrine nest on the webcam.
Make sure to plan!
All of the above routes are considered suitable for inexperienced walkers but always make sure you know your route well before heading out and always let someone know which route you will be taking. Scotland’s winter weather can be unpredictable, so be sure to check the weather reports in advance. Happy walking!
Biography for SYHA Hostelling Scotland
Scotland's best known network of youth hostels in stunning city & rural locations. Go on a #SYHAdventure! As a not-for-profit organisation, we encourage guests to join SYHA Hostelling Scotland, which is free to everyone under 16 and students in full-time education. Members enjoy a range of exclusive benefits including dual membership of Hostelling International, providing access to more than 4,000 youth hostels in over 90 countries worldwide. Membership and guest overnight income supports our charitable youth programmes and the maintenance of the hostelling network, particularly in rural Scotland.