Active Scotland Insider Tips

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Stevie Christie - Owner of Wilderness Scotland

Stevie lives in the Highlands where the great outdoors is on his doorstep. Stevie's company Wilderness Scotland is an award-winning tour operator which specialises in unforgettable outdoor experiences. Opportunities to explore Scotland's unspoilt nature are as diverse as the Scottish landscapes. You can hike, bike or explore the coast in a kayak, take the Munro challenge (282 Scottish mountains that are over 3,000ft high) or simply take a relaxing walk along a lochside. When asked for his recommendations for a short break in Scotland, Stevie's answer is quite simple: "Change your plans and stay longer!"

Stevie Christie
Assynt beaches

Stevie from Wilderness Scotland recommends a trip to Assynt in the northwestern Highlands. "Fantastic mountain scenery, the beautiful Summer Isles for sea kayak tours and several truly stunning beaches. I recently got married at one of the beaches in Assynt! As soon as you head north from Ullapool and reach Assynt, you have the feeling you're off the beaten track, even if you live in Scotland," says Stevie.

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A walk on the cliffs of Rackwick Bay
Isle of Hoy, Orkney

A well-trodden path climbs the northern slopes of Rackwick Bay and leads up to a cliff where you will be met by great skuas. Don't miss the opportunity to look along the cliffs to the 'Old Man', a stunning rock rising from the sea. Only the best rock climbers manage to scale Old Man, but almost anyone can go on the magnificent moorland hike to catch a glimpse of the rocks!

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The Old Man of Stoer
Old Man of Stoer, Skye

Anyone who stops on the coastal road from Lochinver to Rhu Stoer Lighthouse can take a short hike from here to the spectacular sea stack The Old Man of Stoer. Allow about 2 hours for the route, which takes you past incredible caves, arches and cliffs occupied by numerous seabirds.

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Beautiful view from Yair Forest
Yair Forest, Scottish Borders

Yair Forest in Selkirk in the Borders region is very close to the River Tweed - you can enjoy beautiful views on the countless hiking trails here. The Southern Upland Way leads up to the famous Three Brethren at the top of the forest.

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Caroline Warburton - Wildlife Expert

I'm Caroline, I am an expert in Scottish wildlife. I love the outdoors, and protecting the environment is close to my heart. My passion all started when I started working on the Isle of Mull as a guide on a whale-watching boat, and it grew from there! I worked in wildlife tourism in Scotland for over a decade so I feel incredibly blessed to have made Scotland's nature and wildlife my day to day occupation. I love nothing better than to go off on a wildlife expedition, I always learn something new!

Caroline Warburton
A walk in the Cairngorms National Park
The Cairngorms National Park

The Cairngorms National Park offers fabulous opportunities for hiking, climbing and wildlife watching - in fact for any kind of outdoor activity or adventure. It is the largest national park in the UK, with four of the five highest mountains. 25 percent of Britain's endangered animal and plant species, including the Scottish wildcat, can be found here.

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Stac Pollaidh - a geological wonder
Stac Pollaidh

Stac Pollaidh mountain, at a height of 2,008 feet, looks like a fairytale fortress and viewed from below appears quite awe-inspiring. Although the absolute summit requires good climbing skills, almost anyone can make the climb almost to the top, to the main ridge, and the views are well worth the effort. Situated on Scotland's northwest coast, this mountain is one of Caroline's favourite places.

Gary Forbes - Professional golfer

Gary is a lucky man. He has turned his hobby into a career and is the club pro at Murcar Links, a championship standard golf course north of Aberdeen. Here he gives lessons, sells golf products and takes care of the members as well as visitors from around the world. They come in droves to meet the challenge of the picturesque but by no means easy-to-play course. Gary recognises his fortune in being able to go to the same place both for work and leisure, but Gary is far from resting on his laurels. "It is impossible to be satisfied with your own play when your toughest opponent awaits you in the bathroom mirror every morning."

Gary Forbes
Golf paradise in Machrianish
Machrihanish Dunes golf course

Near Campbeltown, but on the Atlantic side of the Kintyre Machrihanish, is a small village with a famous golf course. The first hole on the Machrihanish course has even been named by top PGA golfers as the "best first hole in the world"! The course is very challenging and is becoming well known among golfers from around the world, particularly those from the United States.

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Magnificent golf at the Murcar Links
Murcar Links golf course

For an unforgettable golf experience, Gary recommends the seventh hole of Murcar golf course in Aberdeen - his favourite hole on his home course. Murcar Links attracting more and more visitors and no wonder - in addition to a championship course, the facility includes a driving range and a 9-hole course, so there is something for players of all levels!

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Kevin Reid - Technician at Strathisla Distillery

I’m Kevin, I work at Strathisla Distillery, a picturesque distillery on the famous Malt Whisky Trail in Speyside in the Highlands of Scotland, the only trail of its kind in the world. My job at the distillery is to operate all aspects of the distillery process from ordering the raw ingredients to dispatching the final product. I love living in the Highlands and I enjoy the quiet life. I am passionate about the outdoors and spend as much time as I can in the Scottish mountains where we have the best scenery in the world.

Kevin Reid
Bag a munro!
Climber atop a munro

Kevin is an avid hill walker and recommends hiking up one of Scotland’s many hills and mountains to admire the spectacular views. Why not “bag a munro” during your trip to Scotland? A munro is a mountain with a height of over 3000ft. If you are interested in a more leisurely hike, Scotland has routes to suit all levels.

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Wild camping
Wild camping

May is a great month to explore Scotland’s countryside and embarking on an adventure. “If the weather is right you can get a nice sunny day but still have plenty snow in the hills….the best of both worlds. It’s also the month to get the tent out for wild camping!”

Jamie Barr - Highland Games athlete

Jamie is a man of few words. At 6ft 3in and 265lb, he prefers action. Competing in the world's elite Strong Man competitions, he has won Scotland's Strongest Man, Great Britain's Strongest Man and Europe's Strongest Man, to name but a few. However, his passion is really for Highland Games. "To pull a truck is hard. To toss a caber, however, requires much more than just strength." Jamie is rightfully proud, not only of his numerous titles but also of being a part of this living tradition.

Jamie Barr
The Fife coastal path
Fife coastal path

A hike along the 150km of Fife coastal path leads through beautiful landscapes and charming villages. The path is particularly nice in September, when the leaves change colour - choose your travel time accordingly!

Adrian Shine - Loch Ness expert

Adrian is a man on a mission: to unlock the secrets of the depths of Loch Ness. As head of the Loch Ness Project, he has published books on the scientific, biological and archaeological importance of the famous loch. He has collaborated with researchers from over 20 universities and developed new, innovative research tools and techniques. After visiting the award-winning Loch Ness Exhibition, designed by Adrian, everyone is excited about what is probably hidden down there in the depths of the lake. Solving this mystery has become Adrian's life's work. "I came to conquer its secrets, but the place has captured me instead."

Adrian Shine
Glen Affric - a walk on the wild side
Glen Affric

Adrian loves hiking in remote, pristine areas. Glen Affric, for example, offers some of the most beautiful forest trails in the Highlands - including an ancient tree population and a variety of animal species. A great place to escape everyday life, relax your mind and soul and indulge in your own thoughts.

Mysterious Loch Ness
Mysterious Loch Ness

Marine biologist Adrian has already spent thousands of hours on Loch Ness wrestling the secrets of the loch from its depths. "The Loch is always changing, depending on how the sunlight falls on it," says Adrian. "I love the early evening hours, the moment at dusk when the pink and blue sky plunges into the lake with a magical light."

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Beautiful views on Beinn a' Mheadhoin
Beinn a' Mheadhoin

Loch Beinn a' Mheadhoin in Glen Affric in the Scottish Highlands is impressive throughout the year, but especially in autumn. Although there are no marked trails, you can enjoy the beautiful views on a walk by the lake or along the steep path by the river Allt na Imrich. Longer walks are available throughout Loch Affric.

Duke of Argyll - Chief of Clan Campbell

The relatives of the Duke and Duchess could easily populate a small country. There are estimated to be around 5 million members of Clan Campbell worldwide and the 13th Duke of Argyll is the Clan Chief. He is also a whisky ambassador and owner of Inveraray Castle, on Scotland's west coast. During the summer, the estate employs a staff of 150 employees. Despite their busy schedule the Duke and Duchess enjoy their work: "For us, our work is both a gift and a responsibility."

The Duke of Argyll
Inverawe Forest by bike

Enjoy a bike ride through Inverawe Forest near Oban. "What a fantastic day out! At this time of year, there is nothing better than being out in nature," say the Duke and Duchess. "The colours and the many different shades are simply stunning!"

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Windsurfing on the island of Tiree
Windsurfing Tiree

Scotland's sea wasn't only made for fishing, ferries and leisure cruises! The world's windsurfing elite compete in Britain's most renowned windsurfing competition, the Tiree Wave Classic. The Duke and the Duchess, who regularly holiday on the island, are often among the spectators as the competitors speed across the Atlantic.

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Hazel Campbell - Painter

Hazel finds inspiration on her doorstep since her favourite subject is the landscape of Dumfries and Galloway. "Look around you, art is already there, all you have to do is to get it onto canvas!" Southwest Scotland has inspired many renowned artists - for example, Hornel, one of the Scottish Colourists, who helped establish the town of Kircudbrigh's reputation as "The Artists' Town". As with the works of her predecessors, Hazel's paintings reflect a fascination with the variety of colours through the changing seasons, the play of light and the unique atmosphere of her home region. Hazel is an enthusiastic participant at the annual Spring Fling Arts Festival, where studios and art workshops open their doors to inquisitive visitors.

Hazel Campbell
Dalbeattie Forest on foot or by bicycle
Dalbeattie Forest

Dalbeattie, Dumfries & Galloway Forest was planted in the 1920s and now extends six miles south of the village of Colvend. There are great walks in the woods here and it also has one of the most popular mountain biking centres, 7stanes.

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Howie Nicholsby - Contemporary kilt designer

I’m Howie, owner of 21st Century Kilts in Edinburgh. Kiltmaking has run in my family for three generations – when I started 21st Century Kilts when I was 18, I knew I had found my calling! My kilts all have a contemporary feel, while still respecting the traditions of kiltmaking handed down from my father. I live in Edinburgh – I really love this city as it has a really international feel, and during the festivals it can feel like the most popular place on the planet! It’s great to be a part of it all.

Howie Nicholsby
A walk by the waterfall of Dunkeld
Waterfalls in Highland Perthshire

The Hermitage & Black Linn Falls in Dunkeld, Perthshire, is popular with locals and visitors for walks. The route leads past trees which are among the highest in the UK, as well as a magnificent Victorian building perched just above a roaring waterfall, offering breathtaking views. Those who wish to can extend the walk to Rumbling Bridge and Craigvinean Forest, a park located further up the main road.

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Enchanting North Berwick
North Berwick

North Berwick is an attractive seaside resort and a port town, located on the south side of the Firth of Forth, where the estuary meets the North Sea. Wander around the charming harbour, where you can roam the sandy beach or climb up North Berwick Law, a 187m high volcanic rock which is located just south of the city.

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Guy Grieve - Owner Ethical Shellfish Company

I’m Guy, I am the founder, along with my wife, of a fishing company that is guided by an ethic of respect for the marine environment. I dive fish for King Scallops off the coast of the Isle of Mull. What I love most about my life in Scotland is the nature here and this makes me happy. Our island home is like a boat on the great Atlantic. This is Britain’s last great wilderness yet the human history is rich and I find it fascinating seeing the marks left on the land by our ancestors.

Guy Grieve
Hiking off the beaten track

Guy recommends heading out to explore the great outdoors on a hiking trip in Scotland “Come with a good pair of worn in hiking boots and some good weather proof clothing and head right off the beaten track.”

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Julie Trevisan Hunter - Whisky expert

For Julie, the 'water of life' is her life. Julie is one of a select circle; a Keeper of the Quaich. The title honours those who have made ​​an outstanding contribution to the international marketing of Scotch whisky. Julie began her career as a guide at the Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh's Royal Mile and today she is the Marketing Manager of the 5-star visitor attraction which, with 3500 different bottles, houses the world's largest collection of Scotch whisky. Julie sees this variety as being the secret to the success of the Scottish national drink. "Everybody is different, but there is something in Scotch whisky that appeals to us all."

Julie Trevisan-Hunter
East Lothian by bike
biking East Lothian

Take a trip to the flattest part of Scotland, East Lothian, where cycling really is fun! There is a beautiful route called Castles and Beaches running alongside historic castles, which are now private homes, as well as a few ruins. A tour that really sparks the imagination!

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Robert Ballantyne - Battle re-enactor

I'm Robert, I am a living history presenter and battle re-enactor, I teach history to tourists and school children whilst in period costume. I make all of my own costumes, trying to respect the techniques and materials as close as possible to the originals. Scotland is a beautiful country with stunning mountains, lochs and glens, and I try and escape to the great outdoors every opportunity I have. I am a very proud Scot and I feel lucky that I live Scotland’s history and heritage every day, through my work, my study and my craft.

Robert Ballantyne
Hiking in the Highlands
Hiking in the Scottish Highlands

A trip to the Highlands is a must, you will be amazed by the diversity of the landscapes. According to Robert, “you really cannot say you have seen Scotland without experiencing our lochs, mountains and glens”.

Lady Claire Macdonald - Scottish food ambassador

Lady Claire has a very busy schedule. She is the author of several best-selling cookbooks and holds lectures around the world. She appears in numerous television and radio broadcasts, delivers cooking courses and is also the chef at the award-winning Michelin-star Kinloch Hotel on the Isle of Skye, which she runs with her family. Despite all this success, the mother of four has kept her feet firmly on the ground. "With all the fabulous Scottish natural produce, it doesn't really take much to prepare some delicious dishes and I want to share the experience with people."

Lady Claire
Active in Achiltibuie
Achiltibuie, Highland

North west of Ullapool on the Coigach peninsula is the old fishing village of Achiltibuie with a view over the Summer Isles. A variety of activities is on offer here, ranging from sightseeing and bird watching to sailing and clifftop walks or fishing trips. You can savour the excellent local cuisine in the two pub-restaurants in the village.

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A great view from Neist Point
Neist Point

For beautiful walks on the Isle of Skye, Lady Claire recommends Neist Point, the most western point on the island. Follow the road until it ends at the car park and then go down to the lighthouse. The view is really fabulous and in June you can often see Minke whales here.

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Sheila Fleet - Jewellery designer

I’m Sheila, I’m a jewellery designer. My designs reflect the beauty of the sea, the sky, and the colours of the landscapes of my home island of Orkney. Perhaps my greatest source of inspiration is the rich heritage and archaeology of the island, especially the Neolithic Heart of Orkney World Heritage site including the mysterious Ring of Brodgar and the surprisingly well-preserved Stone Age village of Skara Brae. I am fascinated by the history and the legends of the island and my creations incorporate symbols from over 5000 years of Scottish history, from the Neolithic through the Pictish era and the times of the Vikings and Celts.

Sheila Fleet
The magical island of Hoy
Isle of Hoy, Orkney

Anyone who loves nature and spectacular scenery will be thrilled by the island of Hoy in the Orkney archipelago. Hills and stunning sea cliffs offer excellent opportunities for hiking. The west coast in particular is spectacularly beautiful. At 481m high, Orkney Ward Hill is the highest point and the Cuilags (433m) can be seen from almost all parts of Orkney.

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Bathing at Kiloran Bay
Kiloran Bay, Colonsay

The island of Colonsay is perhaps the quietest and most remote location in the Inner Hebrides. The finest sandy beach on the island, the breathtaking Kiloran Bay, is in the north. The crescent-shaped bay stretches for more than 1.6 kilometres with its golden sand. The crystal clear, calm waters around the island are ideal for swimming and are refreshingly cold almost all year round.

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Ann Miller - Whisky Expert

Ann works at Strathisla Distillery, one of the distilleries on the famous Malt Whisky Trail in Speyside. She spends her days explaining the fascinating process of making and maturing Scotch whisky and showing guests around the distillery. She also spends her time in other distilleries in Scotland, such as Aberlour and Glenlivet. Scotland’s natural larder plays a very important role in Ann’s life, particularly when pairing quality Scottish ingredients with Scotch whiskies which complement their flavours. Ann loves the variety that Scotland offers her. No matter where you are in Scotland, Ann tells us that “the distances are manageable, the contrasts are stimulating, the welcome is always warm, and the people are always friendly”.

Ann Miller
Cairngorms National Park
Cairngorms National Park

Ann recommends exploring the Speyside region, which incorporates the Cairngorms National Park, a real natural playground: “You can fish for salmon, ski, visit castles, walk in the hills or along a beach, enjoy nature and wildlife and more. Afterwards you can enjoy the local hospitality in hotels and guest houses, quality food in pubs and restaurants and find opportunities to enjoy live music.”

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