For most people, the images that get conjured up when you mention Scotland are incredibly vivid and unique. No other country comes close to this small dot on the map, because even though it is tiny, there is plenty to see and do. From tartan-kilted highlanders, Bagpipes, skiing, and the mysterious Loch Ness Monster, the tourist is spoilt for choice. With magnificent castles and breathtaking scenery, this is the country that is best seen on the move.
The Scottish ‘tour experience’ is second to none, and whether you are in search of famous battlefields, whiskey distillers or the many lochs, you will always be able to find solitude and tranquillity in the remote mountains and windswept beaches all within easy reach of your Scottish accommodation. Here are a few suggestions for ten outdoor activities that personify Scotland as a top destination.
1 The Assynt Camping and Canoeing Experience
The Northwest of Scotland provides visitors with some of the most dramatic and stunning panoramic views in Europe. You can feel the ancient rhythm of the terrain as the rocks in this part of the world are some of the oldest that can be found anywhere. Intimidating mountains rise out of the waterways and lochs, making this region ideal for canoeing and camping. The lucky visitors can pass their holiday paddling canoes between camp sites, and experience the diversity of wildlife. If they are very lucky, they might even catch a glimpse of an eagle soaring high in the sky.
2 The Island of Mull Whale-Watching Trip
The best place in Britain to see a whale is in the sea around the island of Mull. This is a popular tourist attraction, and the Minke Whale is the star of the show, although the occasional Orca makes a cameo appearance. This is a perfect break for any sea life enthusiast, and with the water brimming with porpoises, dolphins, and basking sharks, there is always something new to see.
3 Loch Ness
There is more to see and do on the shores of Loch Ness than trying to catch a glimpse of this mythical lake creature. However, there is nobody that fuels the legend more than the locals, who have all seen Nessie and are willing to tell you all about it. The Loch Ness Exhibition is a logical place to start if you are visiting this region, and Urquhart Castle is worth a look too. Even though the castle and the loch are the most visited outdoor attractions in Scotland, there is enough space for you to realise just how big Loch Ness is.
4 Ben Nevis for Softies
This may be the highest peak in Britain, but the Ben Nevis Tourist Path is not too challenging. Perhaps, if you follow a slightly less touristy trail called the Carn Mór Dearg Arête, you will appreciate better the magnitude of the climb. This is the finest ridge in Britain and delivers you to the top, where you can enjoy a drink and a snack before descending.
5 Deer Stalking
If you want to take some amazing snapshots of the famous deer of Scotland, then head for the Knoydart peninsula. You can get here by ferry or a two-day trek across the mountains. Either way, you are in for a treat when you arrive in this isolated and stunning area. As well as snapping the deer, you can pay a visit to what is the remotest pub in the UK. The Old Forge has a welcome for everyone.
Imagine white sandy beaches, and your mind drifts to the Caribbean. Imagine them without the sun, and you are in Eigg. This is a volcanic island close to the Skye. Apart from the amazing pristine white sand, there is wildlife and mountainous terrain to see and explore.
7 Mountain Biking
Scotland is a mountain biker’s paradise and has to be the best destination in Europe for downhill challenges. There are too many sites to mention, but everyone delivers an experience that is matchless.
8 The Ancient Forest
There is no forest in Britain older than the one in the Cairngorms. The Caledonian Pine Forest is ancient. The trees have some very unusual shapes, and the twisted pines stretch their branches far out over deep beds of juniper and heather. You can explore the forest alone or in groups, but if you want to see some of the wildlife go to the ‘hide’ in the forest of Rothiemurchus.
9 Scottish Style Dog Sledding
This is mainly a winter activity that is extremely popular. The sleds are on wheels if there is none of the white stuff but for authenticity the best way to experience this is on snow. The centre has almost 40 dogs, and they will pull you through forest trails and back home again. In a typically Scottish way, the kennels have been converted from whiskey barrels.
10 Sea Kayaking
If landing a boat on an uninhabited island and making a fire on the beach is your thing, then the Outer Hebrides is a good place to do it. There are 200+ uninhabited islands here, and you can explore them by kayaking until your heart’s content. No experience is required, and several companies offer guided kayaking tours.