Our favourite autumn walks
We asked our colleagues at Paths for All about their favourite spots for an autumn walk. Ian, Steven and Carl shared their top places for a seasonal stroll.
Ian, Senior Development Officer, told us about a favourite stroll along the Fife Coastal Path.
"One of my favourite walks is the Fife coastal path between Dalgety Bay and Aberdour. I’ve lived in Fife since 1998 and walked there at least once a week over that time – in all weathers and throughout the year.
It’s on our doorstep and holds lots of memories of walks as my kids grew up. They are all in their twenties now but will often join us for a walk when they are home.
It’s mostly through farmland and woodland on a surfaced path with views over the Firth of Forth to Edinburgh, Inchcolm and Inchmickery – but you can take detours to beaches and through lovely woods where tree climbing is an option. Often you hear seals calling from rocks offshore.
Over the summer it’s a good place to pick cherries, raspberries, and brambles. Roe deer are a regular sighting.
There’s human interest too. The route was originally one of the drives to Donibristle House – home of the Earl of Moray – which is why it is lined with fine old trees. Nearby is St Bridget's Kirk – built in the 1100’s.
At Saint Colme House there is an old icehouse by the path – used to store perishables before fridges were a thing. You also pass the Braefoot terminal – that loads liquid gas onto tankers. The Monk’s Cave near the terminal was used as a storehouse by the monks that lived at Inchcolm abbey.
At several points there are artifacts from both world wars – gun batteries and barrack buildings at Braefoot and Charles Hill. Part of Dalgety Bay is built on what was an airfield from 1917 to 1959 – some of the buildings are still in use in the industrial estate.
Finally, Aberdour has two great beaches – Black Sands and Silver sands – if you fancy a dip or building a sandcastle."
Steven, Communications Officer at Paths for All, recently returned to a favourite childhood woodland walk.
"In May 2022, I rediscovered the delights of Backmuir Wood, managed by Woodland Trust. I previously visited as a child nearly 15 years ago. Located just outside Dundee on a bus route, the woodland has become my haven for nature connectedness, mindfulness and reset. The woods boast a nine-kilometre network of well-managed paths throughout the woods offering a generous 1-2 hour walk. Soaking up spectacular views over the Sidlaws, across the Firth of Tay to West Lomond and along the Carse of Gowrie are often my focal point of reflection.
A beautiful mix of broadleaves, conifer and open glades, the wood is very rich in biodiversity – I’ve regularly seen roe deer and squirrels; been left curious and searching for the elusive great spotted woodpecker and watched buzzards soaring overhead.
Sensory connection is most important, though – spending the valuable time appreciating the change in colours as we move through autumn, the darkening tree tunnels in twilight, the descent of silence during intermittent rainfall, the call of birdsong or nature’s melodies as the winds wend through the canopies. No two walks have been the same, and there will be many yet to come."
Carl,Senior Development Officer, describes the local walk he discovered during lockdown.
"I live just north of Glasgow at the foot of the Campsie Fells where there are lots of paths and walks to explore, so it’s hard to choose a favourite. I think though, the walk we now refer to as the lockdown walk is one that has become particularly special for me.
Like many people, walking played an important role in getting us through the various lockdowns and all the challenges that went with them. The lockdown walk provided us with the opportunity to get a change of scenery and have some time to talk and decompress away from our screens and devices.
Since then, I do this walk most days at lunchtime or after work with the family or Nia, our 2 year old cockapoo. The route goes through our local park and playing fields and then down to a meadow next to the burn that runs through our village. From there, we walk through a field, across the old railway line, now a fantastic shared-use path, and up a wooded hillside to the John Muir Way where we return home via the little wooded glen that comes out at the end of our street.
Door-to-door it takes less than 30 minutes, but it has so much variety and I’ve been inspired by the blog posts my colleagues have written for us over the years to really slow down, engage the senses and notice the world around me.
Walking the same route, you really get a sense of the seasons changing, and the birds, plants and wildlife that live on our doorstep. I know to look out for dippers fishing in the little rapids where the burn narrows, in spring the primroses appear along the old railway cutting, swallows strafe the field for insects in summer and just now amazing funghi pop up in the cool, shady dampness of the little glen.
I think there is a real magic to be found in connecting with nature and all the more-so if it’s right on your doorstep."