By air, by sea or by land - the natural wonders of Scotland are there to be conquered. Take on the Munro Bagging challenge for testing terrains and eye-popping landscapes, battle the rollercoaster rapids of the River Tay, or try your hand at the wild sport of coasteering - no matter what, the extremities of the Scottish environment will no doubt make for a demanding and rewarding ride.
In case you didn’t know, a “munro” is a Scottish mountain with a height of over 3,000 feet - if you manage to reach the summit, you might say you’ve “bagged it”, and for good reason, too. From the formidable boulder fields of Schiehallion to the sweeping landscapes and high altitudes of Ben Chonzie, Buachaille Etive Mor and Mount Keen, the 282 munros of Scotland are as physically challenging as they are beautiful.
Hidden away in the historic county of Perthshire, the rollercoaster rapids along the River Tay remain a hot location for the wild at heart. Being the largest river in Scotland to offer white water rafting, the River Tay boasts a wide range of rapids for beginners and adrenaline junkies alike. Ride downstream for an adrenaline-fuelled 6 hours, through stunning wildlife and heavy waters, paddle in hand, helmet on head, and heartbeat racing.
Along the wild, craggy coastline of East Lothian hides an adrenaline fuelled adventure. Coasteering is one of those sports that seems to defy reason; see a cliff, jump off it. Feel the rush as you plunge through the salty spray into the cool water before climbing up the rocks to do it all again – and although it feels unnatural, it is certainly a thrill. Head for Coast to Coast Surf School to try your hand at this wild practice.
An unlikely fusion of go-karting and sailing, ‘land yachting’ is a popular fixture of St Andrews’ West Sands in The Kingdom of Fife. With the sea-breeze as your motor, speed along this lengthy stretch of beach; race against your friends or just take it for a spin and discover the beauty of the coast. Other activities here include surfing, kayaking and ‘zapcatting’ - a means of shooting across the water on high-speed catamarans.
In the depths of the Argyll coastline lies a treasure-trove of aquatic wonders. Between the vibrant coral reefs along the Firth of Lorn conservation site, the Corryvreckan whirlpool, the ethereal glow of the kelp forests, and the S.S Breda shipwreck - this is a site of deep-sea majesty. For marine life, too, the Spring and Summer months bring a fascinating host of Neptunian creatures, including minke whales, grey seals and basking sharks.
Visit the uninhabited island of Staffa in the Inner Hebrides for Fingal’s Cave, a true masterpiece of the ancient world. Formed of hexagonally-jointed basalt columns (the result of a centuries-old lava flow) it’s often called ‘the melodious cave’, due to the deep echoes of swirling ocean inside - a known source of inspiration for artists and poets. Indeed, for the ghostly sense of the occult alone, a trip to Fingal’s Cave is truly one for the bucket list: an existential adventure through time forgotten.
Take to the skies for a dramatic, panoramic view of the Isle of Arran, known as Scotland in miniature. A short hillside run will see you lifted up in your very own paraglider. Whether you conquer the sport for yourself on a crash course, book an introductory session, or take a one-off tandem flight with an instructor, there’s no better way of seeing the black lochs, wild moors, and heart-skipping hillsides for all their green and golden brown splendour.
Experience the rolling hills, ancient trails and vast forests of the Cairngorms National Park the old-fashioned way: on horseback. With a variety of stables across the region, including the excellent Newtonmore Riding Centre, riders can choose between relaxing treks, challenging hacks and professional 1-to-1 lessons. With the luscious backdrop of sweeping mountainscapes, the rich, and varied terrain truly is a rider’s paradise.