The month of May is – usually – bright and blustery, making it an excellent time to plan some fun on our seas, shores, lochs, and rivers. Fittingly, it’s also officially National Watersports Month, so we thought we’d give you an overview of some of the brilliant activities you can try on the water in Scotland.
With the thousands of miles of unspoilt coastline, pristine blue waters and over 800 enchanting islands waiting to be discovered, Scotland is the ideal place to up-anchor and set sail. One of the most spectacular areas for sailing is the MalinWaters, an area covering the shared maritime waters of north west Ireland, Northern Ireland and western Scotland. There are 4,800 berths and marinas along the west coast of Scotland, and if you’re new to sailing, there is a great spread of locations where you can learn, including Troon in Ayrshire, Oban in Argyll and the Isle of Skye.
Next month, you can join in with the Royal Yachting Association’s (RYA) Push the Boat Out event, a weekend of open days held across the country on 17 – 18 May. Have a go at sailing with the guidance of experienced sailors at clubs in locations such as Broughty Ferry and Forfar in Dundee & Angus, Lochgelly in Fife, and Stromness on Orkney.
Kayaking & canoeing
Sea kayaking is an increasingly popular sport, and the bays and shorelines of our islands offer the perfect setting to get to grips with this activity. In the Firth of Clyde, Arran’s coastline is defined by calm, sheltered inlets. From atop a kayak in the waters around Barra in the Outer Hebrides, you can take in views of long white sands and expansive crystal clear seascapes. Often sealife, such as dolphins and basking sharks, can be spotted while out on a paddle.
Other favourite spots for kayakers include the coast of Arisaig, which is part of the 500 km long Scottish Sea Kayak Trail, and nearby sea loch Loch Moidart, both in the West Highlands. To get an idea of what you could expect, read The Independent reporter Andrew Eames’ account of his exhilarating kayak trip.
Inland, there are plenty of beautiful spots where you can kayak. The River Spey is considered by many as being one of Scotland’s classic paddles, while in Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, Loch Lubnaig is a great choice for both beginners and enthusiasts, being open to non-motorised water activities all year.
For National Watersports Month, Go Canoeing has set a challenge. Every Mile Counts is an attempt to get people across Britain to collectively paddle 11,073 miles – the total distance around the UK’s coastline. Taking place from 24 May – 1 June, it’s a great excuse to plan an afternoon of canoeing or a kayaking adventure in Scotland so don’t forget to contribute to the challenge and register your miles!
Other activities on the water
Don a wetsuit and try windsurfing in some remarkable locations – get tuition on Loch Ken in Dumfries & Galloway with Galloway Activity Centre, or head to Tiree in the Inner Hebrides and experience it with Wild Diamond.
Coldingham Bay in the Scottish Borders and Thurso in the north east Highlands offer excellent conditions for surfing, and equipment hire and lessons are available, too. Or, for something more unusual, have a go a cable wakeboarding at Foxlake Adventures in East Lothian.
If you’re keen to experience diving, then why not try it in the Scapa Flow and see astonishing shipwrecks on the seabed around Orkney? Lonely Planet has hailed it as one of the best diving sites in the world.