Holidays in Britain are not always the first thing that comes to mind when people want excitement, or an adventurous holiday, or even just some time to get away. The UK wouldn’t be considered as the prime holiday of choice for many people but perhaps this is unfair as there are many great locations to visit and with the cost of living not showing any signs of slowing down, we should be considering spending our summers closer to home.
For some of us “southerners” in England (I’m from the Midlands), we ignore the opportunities available for fantastic scenic holidays practically on our doorstep. Of course that’s figuratively speaking but you get the gist! Scotland is a beautiful country and the Highlands in particular is one of the rare parts of the UK which has been relatively untouched. Mountains, rolling hills, miles of forestry and amazing wildlife all combine to create a picturesque environment that just captures the imagination once you see it.
But what if scenery isn’t your cup of tea? What if rolling hills isn’t your thing? Well, like with any good location there is always lots to do and the mistake is to think that just because it’s quiet, or scenically beautiful that you will be bored…far from it.
Take a look at this quick-fire list of some of the many things you can do whilst staying up in the “Bonnie” Highlands:
Picnic – Everyone loves a picnic. Wrap up some sandwiches and some Scotch-eggs (well you have to really don’t you?) and don’t forget the tartan rug!
Trekking & Walking – Walks in the Highlands is a real treat for photographers and anyone who loves great views. Don’t forget your hiking boots though and take a map!
Fishing –Scotland is well known for its high quality fish and that’s due to the natural waters and springs that run through the mountains and hills. Take your gear and scout out the best location for salmon because in Scotland even the most inexperienced fisher could score a big catch.
Golf – Scotland is also known for its impressive golf courses, including the St Andrews Championship course but in the highlands you could visit the Nairn Golf Club and the Castle Stuart Golf Links course for beautiful views and tricky holes to play.
Mountaineering – Different from hiking, mountaineering takes real dedication and is definitely not for a family holiday. But if you are adventurous and want to experience stunning views and a physical challenge, you can visit professional training facilities that offer training days to help prepare you for climbing the Cairngorm Coirries or Glencoe. It’s exhilarating, potentially dangerous but thrilling so if you are up for some excitement and a challenge, there’s no better activity.
Skiing – With the Winter Olympics underway now, you too can take up the challenge of skiing. With so many options in the Highlands for skiing, it’s the ideal activity for a day out.
Shooting – Not to everyone’s tastes but if you are intrigued by it and fancy testing your hunting skills there are plenty of on-site facilities in the Highlands to test your aim, whether it’s clay shooting, hunting or stalking expeditions.
Falconry – What a great way to connect with nature. Many falconry centres operate at certain times of the year (mainly the summer) but it’s a thrilling experience to be so close to these birds of prey and see them in action.
Cave Exploring – The Bone caves in Ullapool are a popular attraction and there are many caves dotted about Scotland. Organised trips are fascinating and you get to really see what’s underneath Scotland! (not for claustrophobics)
Canoeing –There’s nothing like canoeing through the many lochs and mountain regions, rivers and lakes of Scotland. If you like the water and you want to experience the outdoors other than walking everywhere, jump in a canoe!
Mountain Biking – There are some mountain biking facilities in the Highlands and most cater for enthusiasts and experienced riders who are looking for some off-road tracks or forest trails.
Star Gazing – It sounds soppy and sentimental but the truth is that because Scotland and particularly the Highlands is relatively untouched, there is less pollution in the hills and mountains and so the clarity of the night sky is something everyone should experience.
Camping – This is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea and it’s unlikely you’ll be making cups of tea either if you camp out in the highlands but there is something to be said for the gorgeous scenery and waking up to an early morning rising sun right outside your tent flap.
Swimming –We’re not talking skinny dipping but there are certainly enough swimming-approved lakes to take a dip in in the summer. Just don’t go diving into any rivers with “Loch Ness Monster” signs.
Water-sports – Jet Skiing – Jet Skiing is particularly fun as a couple and with plenty of established and approved water sports companies in Scotland to choose from, it’s a great activity for a day out.