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11 Amazing Outdoor Activities to Do in Scotland

Paddleboarding with Basking Shark Scotland at Ganavan Bay, Argyll & The Isles

Scotland is a treasure trove when it comes to exciting outdoor activities. No matter your age, level of fitness or how adventurous you feel, there’s no limit to the ways you can explore our landscapes, waterways and coastline.

Whether you are in Scotland’s largest city or the middle of the Highlands, there are a myriad of new and exciting experiences waiting for you to try outside.

Now that lockdown restrictions are starting to ease, there has never been a better time to reconnect with Scotland’s natural beauty while enjoying some invigorating outdoor activities. Just make sure you do so with care and respect. Watch our new video and learn more about the ways you can experience sustainable and slow travel in Scotland.

Scottish Wildlife Safari

Location: Langholm, Scottish Borders

Wild Eskdale offers a Scottish safari with a difference. Get picked up in a 4×4 Land Rover and venture out into the wilds of the Scottish Borders to see a breath-taking array of creatures great and small. Head to the undulating Langholm Moor, a protected Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) to catch sight of birds of prey overhead including peregrine falcon, short-eared owls, and maybe even golden eagles. On the ground there’s the chance to see other incredible wildlife from wild goats and wild deer to hares and the iconic black grouse lek. You’ll also explore the area’s woods and rivers where you might be able to spot kingfishers, grey herons, otters, great spotted woodpeckers, and many other lesser-known species.

Scotland’s Tallest Swing

Location: Loch Ken, Dumfries & Galloway

Sailing, stand-up paddleboarding, windsurfing, kayaking, archery; when it comes to outdoor adventure, Galloway Activity Centre has it covered. Now it has unveiled a new addition to its roster of adrenaline-pumping activities: Scotland’s tallest swing. Rise up to 40 ft above the ground, safely strapped in a harness attached to a large pendulum. Then simply release the cord and fly through the air, surrounded by a bird’s eye view of the Galloway Forest Park. If you’re nervous of heights, don’t worry. Visitors can choose the height that they feel the most comfortable with.

Tree Climbing

Location: various locations

There are plenty of tree-top adventures to be had around Scotland including three Go Ape locations and the Tree Top Trials at Craufurdland Estate. But only Wild Tree Adventures allow you to safely ascend from the base of the tree and reach commanding heights of up 100 ft using specially designed climbing equipment. Suitable for the whole family, you can climb at your own pace, pausing every so often to look down and marvel to see how far you’ve come, and admire the bird’s eye view from the canopy.

Coasteering

Location: Belhaven, Dunbar, East Lothian

You won’t find a more invigorating seaside activity than coasteering. Clad in a wetsuit and helmet, explore where the sea meets the coast – the intertidal zone – by scrambling over and hopping across rocks, and diving into the waves below. Suited to everyone, your coasteering adventure can be as tame or exhilarating as you like. With outdoor adventure company Ocean Vertical you can explore this special environment safely. Swim to tidal islands, scale rocks and cliffsides by hand, and get up close to gannets, seals, and puffins. You might even get to see dolphins!

Wakeboarding

Location: Glasgow

Wakeboarding is best described as snowboarding or skateboarding on water. Basically, it’s the cool alternative sport to water-skiing. Try it at Glasgow Wake Park, a system 2.0 wakeboard park located in the city centre at the Port Dundas Canal. Instead of being pulled by a speedboat, qualified coaches will show you how to glide across the water using the mechanical cable system. Once you get the hang of it, you can board for as long as you want as the cable system swings you round at the boundary of the basin. Before long you’ll be dodging the floating obstacles and perfecting your signature trick move. The wake park shares the first-class facilities of Pinkston Watersports where you can also check out Scotland’s only artificial whitewater course.

Bushcraft Adventures

Location: various locations, Ayrshire

Learn the art of survival in a forest setting with a bushcraft course led by an accredited instructor. Get to grips with life-saving skills such as foraging, making fire, constructing a shelter from natural materials, and orienteering which will teach you how to properly read a map and use a compass. You can also opt for an action-packed day in the forest which combines bushcraft skills with the noble sport of archery. After learning how to wield a bow and arrow and throw an axe with Adventure Carrick you’ll feel prepared for anything!

Paddle Boarding

Location: Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire

Paddle boarding – sometimes referred to as SUP (stand-up paddle boarding) is a water-based pastime which has exploded in popularity in recent years. Find out what the fuss is all about with a lesson or tour with Stonehaven Paddleboarding. Explore the caves and coves of this stretch of Aberdeenshire coastline and take in the awesome sight of Dunnottar Castle from the sea. Paddle boarding can be enjoyed anywhere there is water, so you can also opt for tours and lessons along the region’s rivers, canals, and lochs. Paddle boarding is also a fantastic group activity that can be enjoyed while practicing social distancing. Join in the fun at a SUP Social event, weekly group paddles held throughout the year for those who have completed a beginner lesson or tour, or for those that are already competent paddlers. Join the Facebook group for more details.

Geocaching

Location: Aberdeenshire

One of the most fun and challenging ways to explore the outdoors is geocaching. Best described as a high-tech treasure hunt, it involves navigating from one location to the next using coordinates received via GPS devices or smartphones to find a virtual or real-life prize or cache. The Explore Royal Deeside Geotour has up 20 caches scattered across Royal Deeside waiting to be discovered. From the shores of serene lochs to the grounds of grand estates, see what you can unearth in some spell-binding locations. You can find more locations across Scotland by downloading the app from Geocaching.com

Highland Games Academy Scotland

Location: Stirling and Highlands

Have you ever dreamed of competing at an authentic Highland games? Or maybe you’re completely clueless as to what’s involved in the caber toss or hammer throw? At Highland Games Academy Scotland, whatever your age or strength, you can learn all there is to know and try your hand at these traditional Highland sports; all while dressed in a traditional kilt. This summer you can also opt for the fantastic new week-long athlete training course. You’ll receive expert coaching from a professional heavy athlete alongside tours to historic distilleries and castles, days out at two world-famous Highland games, and even a curling lesson with an Olympic medallist.

Power Boat Cruises

Location: Caithness, Highlands

Take a wild ride aboard the Geo Explorer, a 10-meter rigid inflatable boat (RIB) with Caithness Seacoast, and cruise the coastline around Caithness at speeds of up to 30 miles an hour.  On an exhilarating boat tour, enjoy the views from the water as you take in castles, sea caves and stacks, picturesque harbours, and lonely lighthouses. There’s also a high chance you’ll be able to spot a variety of wildlife, from colonies of terns, puffins, and other seabirds, to pods of dolphins and even whales.

Sea Kayaking

Location: Shetland

Shetland boasts one the most dramatic coastlines in the world. To truly experience its majesty and beauty, explore in a sea kayak. With Sea Kayak Shetland, you can paddle into tranquil coves, discover remote islands, secret beaches, and really appreciate the scale of towering sea cliffs, sea stacks and more. You might also be able to explore inside one of Shetland’s defining geological features, the vast and complex sea caves which puncture the coastline. Savour the incredible experience of gliding into these huge structures, some measuring hundreds of meters in length, as shafts of light illuminate the crystal-clear water below.

Can’t wait to get active in Scotland’s great outdoors? Find out more about the adventure sports and adrenaline activities you can experience in Scotland.

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