The Scottish Coast to Coast Walk stretches 128 miles from Oban to St Andrews, crossing the heart of Scotland. It was devised by Brian Smailes who has published a route description and other essential information in the book you can purchase via Amazon using the link on this page.
Note that the Coast to Coast walk is NOT waymarked. There is a general route description on this page. When used with the rest of Undiscovered Scotland it will give you a clear idea of what the Coast to Coast walk and the places you will be passing through are like. But you will need Brian Smailes' book, plus the relevant Ordnance Survey maps (listed on the right) and knowledge of how to use them, in order to complete the walk.
The route uses tracks, paths and minor roads wherever possible, though Sections 2 and 3 in particular do involve a fair bit of walking alongside main roads. Section 4 involves climbing to nearly 2000ft as you cross from Glen Orchy to Balquhidder Glen; so you need to be prepared for that, too. The route was designed by Brian Smailes to be walked from West to East, with the prevailing weather coming from behind you, and we adopt that approach in the description here.
The side column gives links to useful resources. The route description below is broken into nine sections, each of which might make a reasonable day's walking: and each of which contains links to further information on Undiscovered Scotland. We have strayed from the original route once, in suggesting a diversion into Cupar for a night's accommodation. But the length of each day's walk is very much up to you. The sections used here are not the same as those used by Brian Smailes, and you will want to take your own approach to planning that suits your own level of fitness.
The Area Pages provide links to accommodation providers and other businesses. The Feature Pages each contain detailed background information and a collection of images about particular places or attractions on the Coast to Coast walk or near it.
Section 1: Oban to Taynuilt, 12 Miles
The starting point for this walk is in Oban, and as with all coast to coast walks you are recommended to touch the sea before setting off. The first section is along an unclassified minor road named in Oban as Glencruitten Road. To get to it you head south along Combie Road, the main road that forms the A816 to Lochgilphead. When you get to the Kilmore and Oban Parish Church you turn left into Glencruitten Road, and you are on your way.
The undulating minor road takes a route through Glen Lonan and eventually emerges at the cross roads by the Taynuilt Hotel, with Taynuilt's main street leading off on the opposite side of the A85. Accommodation in and around Taynuilt can be found via our Oban & Lorn area pages (as can accommodation in Oban itself for the night before the start).
Section 2: Taynuilt to Dalmally, 13 Miles
From Taynuilt you head north past the railway station, passing fairly close to the Bonawe Iron Furnace and the narrow road leading to the pier on Loch Etive. Then it's across the River Awe by the footbridge and along the old military road to the A85.
The next stretch of the walk is alongside the A85, through the Pass of Brander and past St Conan's Kirk en route to Lochawe. Beyond Lochawe you pass the track leading to Kilchurn Castle before eventually arriving in Dalmally. Accommodation in and around Dalmally can be found via our Oban & Lorn area pages.
Section 3: Dalmally to Tyndrum, 13 Miles
Section 3 follows the line of the A85 once more, sometimes walking alongside it, though also following two stretches of the old military road through the forest north of the main road. This brings you to Tyndrum. Accommodation in and around Tyndrum can be found listed on the Stirling & Central Scotland area pages.
Section 4: Tyndrum to Balquhidder, 18 Miles
Beyond Crianlarich you follow the line of the A85 for six miles, sometimes alongside the road, sometimes on the old railway track parallel to it. You then have a complete change of style and scenery as you follow the old track that leads from the A85 at Ledcharrie to Balquhidder Glen. This climbs to nearly 2000ft and is in many ways the most challenging part of the whole route. Accommodation in and around Balquhidder can be found listed on the Stirling & Central Scotland area pages.
Section 5: Balquhidder to Comrie, 18 Miles
From Balquhidder you take the minor road to the Kingshouse Hotel on the A84 before turning left to follow the line of the main road to Lochearnhead. From here you follow the disused railway parallel to and above the line of the main A85 road alongside Loch Earn. This takes you past St Fillans. The onward route to Comrie is via more railway track and minor roads. Accommodation in and around Comrie can be found via our Perthshire area pages.
Section 6: Comrie to Dalreoch Bridge, 18 Miles
From Comrie you take a cross country route along forest tracks and parkland to the south west of Crieff as far as Muthill. From Muthill the route heads slightly north of east, picking up and following the line of an old Roman road before coming past Gask House to the bridge over the River Earn at Dalreoch Bridge (which the route does not cross). Accommodation in the area can be found via our Perthshire area pages.
Just south of Dalreoch Bridge is the main A9, about 10 miles south west of Perth, while two miles further south is the village of Dunning. both can provide accommodation options. This is one of those occasions when you might wish to consider extending your accommodation options by taking public transport or hitch-hiking to a convenient centre, before returning to pick up the route in the morning.
Section 7: Dalreoch Bridge to Abernethy, 14 Miles
The route from Dalreoch Bridge takes you west before crossing the River Earn on the B934 and proceeding through Forgandenny via fields and tracks to Bridge of Earn. More tracks take you on to Abernethy. Accommodation in and around Abernethy can be found via our Perthshire area pages.
Section 8: Abernethy to Cupar, 15 Miles
The route from Abernethy to Lindores passes south of Newburgh. It has cross country and minor road stretches after setting off on the line of the A913. You then take to the hills, climbing Dunbog Hill and later Mount Hill, complete with the Hopetoun Monument which you pass a little to your north.
The route then ambles across country, passing near Foodieash within about a mile of Cupar, to your south. A diversion into Cupar makes the day's walk about 15 miles and provides an ideal place to stay for the last night on the walk. Accommodation in and around Cupar can be found via our Kingdom of Fife area pages.
Section 9: Cupar to St Andrews, 11 Miles
From Cupar you retrace your steps to Foodieash before following the route of the Coast to Coast walk along tracks to Darsie Mains, where you cross the River Eden before picking up more tracks to Strathkinness. From there the last few miles are along a minor road before you reach St Andrews, complete with its attractions including the Castle and Cathedral. Accommodation in and around St Andrews can be found, unsurprisingly, via our Kingdom of Fife area pages. And don't forget to dabble your toes in the sea before departing for home...
Visitor InformationThe walk on this page is based on:
The Scottish Coast to Coast Walk: Brian Smailes (February 2000).
Maps: The Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 maps of the areas crossed by the Coast to Coast Walk are Landranger maps 49 50, 51, 57, 58 and 59.