One of the
most popular pastimes in Britain is walking and arguably the best walks
catering for all levels of ability and interest are to be found in Scotland.
From gentle ambles along forest trails and dramatic coastal walks, to
the more strenuous but rewarding heights of mountain climbing, Scotland
is second to none.
Fans of gentler
walks will appreciate the good choice of well-prepared, sign posted forest
walks and nature trails. The Queen Elizabeth Forest Park for example,
encompasses a wide area east of Loch Lomond, taking walkers along loch-side
and woodland trails. Further to the north is the Abernethy Forest, where
at Loch Garten, you can view the famous nesting ospreys.
In the South
of Scotland, the Galloway Forest Park is Scotland's second largest forest
and presents as wide a range of terrain, forest and wildlife as you will
find anywhere, from rolling deciduous woodland, often at its most spectacular
in spring and autumn, to rugged conifer-clad slopes. The Forestry Commission
makes it easy to get the most from a walk through the woods here, with
well signed trails on all aspects of the forest's life.
If you prefer
a walk lasting several days, consider one of the long distance trails.
The ever-popular West Highland Way stretches 95 miles from the northern
outskirts of Glasgow to Fort William, in the shadow of Ben Nevis, Britain's
highest mountain at 4,406 feet.
Way in the Grampian Highlands and Aberdeen is a more straightforward 42-mile
trail, tracing the route of the River Spey from Tomintoul on the fringe
of the Cairngorm Mountains to the sea. At 212 miles, the Southern Upland
Way is Scotland's longest path and Britain's first coast-to-coast route,
running from Portpatrick on the south west coast to Cockburnspath on the
of us less inclined to spend several days on our feet, sections of the
paths can be followed for a few hours or a whole day. You will also find
accommodation (camping, bed & breakfast and guesthouses) all within easy
distance of the Ways where you can rest your feet, exchange tales with
other walkers and pick up a few tips on what to look out for.
are one of the last wilderness areas of Europe and without doubt the most
spectacular walking country for everything from half-day walks to strenuous
long hikes. There is a relaxed attitude to walkers who wish to experience
wild, off-trail walking, although you need to check locally for information
during the grouse and deer-shooting season. It's worth taking time to
find out about the Country Code but if you take nothing but photographs
and leave nothing but footprints, you won't go too far wrong.
mountains may seem like hills but the rapidly changing weather demands
respect from even the most seasoned mountaineers and a high level walk
is a serious proposition at any time of year. A day walk requires proper
supportive walking boots, a full set of waterproofs and most importantly,
if you are without a guide, a map and compass with the knowledge of how
to use them properly. Scottish mountain-weather can change both quickly
and dramatically. What starts as balmy sunshine can often end as horizontal
rain so hikers are advised to check the forecast (for walkers and mountaineers)
before setting off and of course to leave word of your impending route.
Next to walking,
cycling is probably the best way to get to know the countryside and many
visitors to Scotland bring their own bicycles. Mountain bikes are useful,
as they are ideal for covering rough terrain. You can hire bicycles very
reasonably from about £10.00 to £20.00 per day, while the price comes
down significantly if you wish to hire for several days. Visitors can
quite simply take a map and plot their own routes along small country
roads but with a little planning; one can sample the finest of routes,
which are ideal for the cyclist. One should check with local Scottish
tourist offices to plan the optimum route.
pony trekking is another ideal way to enjoy the countryside and to get
a completely different perspective on it. It is truly amazing just how
different life looks from the saddle. Indeed, pony trekking actually originated
in Scotland so you can rest assured that the Scots know how to do it properly.
from approximately £30.00 to £35.00 for a full day in the saddle. Beginners
will find tuition and supervision readily available in most areas, as
riding stables are commonplace both in the country and the towns. Centres,
which are approved by the Trekking and Riding Society of Scotland, ensure
a safe and memorable experience. Again, visitors are advised to check
with Tourist Information Centres for local riding facilities.
At a glance,
you will notice that Scotland is almost surrounded by water, criss-crossed
by rivers and its coast ragged with sea lochs. It is certainly little
wonder then that organising a day's ideal fishing is easy.
on certain prime Scottish rivers may be expensive but there is no problem
finding salmon and brown trout fishing at affordable prices on peaceful
lochs and rivers. Visitors should take note that fishing permits are required
in Scotland and these can be obtained from hotels, tackle shops, local
grocers and post offices for as little as £5.00 per day.
4,000 miles of coastline, the catch of every avid fisherman's dreams lie
waiting in the waters of Scotland. Whether from the shore or from a boat,
you'll find the seascape as equally satisfying as the daily catch.
the traditional sailing and canoeing activities, one can also enjoy windsurfing,
water-skiing, white-water rafting and sub-aqua diving to name but a few.
There are sailing schools, diving schools and activity centres all around
the country, where you can learn the various arts, take part and most
importantly enjoy the numerous activities on offer.