With the year drawing to a close and Hogmanay just a few days away, no doubt many of us have started thinking about the New Year’s resolutions we’ll be making or breaking in 2014. Rather than promising to cut down on the Mars Bars or swearing you’ll give up car crash TV, why not set yourself a few fun challenges for next year? We’ve knocked up a little list of New Year’s resolutions to get you started, each one with a Scottish twist.
Bag your first Munro – Scotland is home to 283 Munros, mountains with a height of over 3000 ft. If you haven’t already done so, 2014 could the year you bag your first one: start off with Schiehallion or Ben Chonzie, both in Perthshire, or Ben Vorlich in Stirlingshire for challenging walks and great views. Just be warned, it’s an addictive business – once you’ve climbed one, you might not be able to stop!
Try a new sport – When it comes to sport and outdoor activities, Scotland is one big playground. Try your hand (and feet) at something new this year: surfing in the Outer Hebrides, whizzing down the slopes at one of five ski centres, a few holes in the home of golf, St Andrews… take a look at the sports included in the XX Commonwealth Games for inspiration.
Discover Scotland’s literature – According to a poll by LA Fitness, ‘read more books’ was the most popular resolution of 2013, so why not add some Scottish literature to your list? My favourites include Buddha Da by Anne Donovan, a heart-warming novel about a Glaswegian father who becomes a Buddhist, and Ali Smith’s Girl Meets Boy, a retelling of Ovid’s myth of Iphis set in Inverness. Throw in classics by Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson and you should have enough to keep you going until 2015!
Learn a new skill – Many of Scotland’s universities run short courses for kids and adults in July and August. They’re a great way to stay productive during the holidays, and there are dozens of subjects to choose from: have a go at writing your first film script or exploring Scotland’s geology at the University of Edinburgh, get creative with art & design classes at Edinburgh College of Art, or try costume design or stage lighting at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow.
Run a marathon – This one has been on my resolution list for ages; so far I’ve barely got past tying my laces, but I’m determined 2014 will be the year to change that! Scotland keeps runners on their toes with a wide range of half and full marathons throughout the year, each with wonderful scenery to admire as you race – challenge yourself to the Edinburgh Marathon or half marathon on 25 May, the Callanish Stones Marathon on 2 August, or the Loch Ness Marathon on 28 September.
Get walking – If you prefer to take things at a more leisurely pace, get active on one of hundreds of waymarked walks around Scotland. The John Muir Way, named after the Scottish-born naturalist who established some of America’s best-loved national parks, opens in April to offer walkers a long hike through stunning scenery. Another firm favourite is the famous West Highland Way, which sees some 30,000 walkers trek all the way from Milngavie to Fort William each year.
Pick up another language – Gaelic is Scotland’s oldest living language and is still spoken by around 58,000 people today. Sabhal Mòr Ostaig on the stunning Isle of Skye runs short courses for learners of all levels in April, July and August, often welcoming Gaelic enthusiasts from over 20 countries. If you’re looking to improve your English, you’ll find dozens of courses in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Perth, Aberdeen and other locations to help you brush up – don’t worry, our accents aren’t as strong as you might think!
Visit Scotland – Last but not least, make this the year you visit Scotland! 2014 is going to be a year like no other, with the XX Commonwealth Games, the Ryder Cup, the MTV EMAs and a host of special Year of Homecoming events promising twelve months of brilliant moments. Whether you’re stepping onto Scottish soil for the first time or have lived here your entire life, get involved and discover something new about this remarkable country.
Do you have any more resolutions to add to the list? Share your aims for 2014 in the comments below, and keep us updated with your #brilliantmoments throughout the year on twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Happy New Year, and all the best for 2014!