Five of the best adventure holiday ideas in Scotland

Monday, 3rd August 2020

Will Gray

scotland highland cow and calf perthshire istk

If you’re planning a UK holiday and want something more exciting – and less crowded – than a beach break, set your sights on Scotland. The Highlands and Islands are full of adventure potential with built-in ‘natural isolation’, whether you’re looking for a walk on the wild side, a cycling or sea kayaking tour, a chance to witness an avian spectacle or a winter break in search of wildlife and dazzling night skies.

* All of the group trips listed below can be operated privately on your preferred departure dates, keeping all the benefits of hand-picked accommodation and expert local guides.

scottish highlands glencoe view istk

1. Wilderness walking

A hiking holiday is the perfect way to immerse yourself in the rugged wilderness of the Scottish Highlands. Imagine standing on a remote peak – perhaps all to yourself – soaking up panoramic views of heather-clad hills and sun-spangled lochs. The walking opportunities are almost endless, which is why an expert-led hiking tour is the way to go. Not only will your local guide lead you on lesser-known hikes with amazing views, but you will also gain a fascinating insight into the geography, wildlife and culture of the places you visit. Our favourite Scottish hiking destinations include the Argyll Peninsula, Cairngorms and Glencoe.

Experience it for yourself: Wilderness Walking: Argyll and the Isles
Small-group hiking tour on the Argyll Peninsula and islands of Jura and Islay

sea kayaking scottish highlands torridon

2. Sea kayaking

Scotland is one of Europe’s top sea kayaking destinations. Imagine paddling across a sheltered loch, surrounded by an amphitheatre of mountains, or exploring the maze of islands on Scotland’s west coast, discovering deserted sandy beaches or gliding silently past an otter feeding on the kelp-covered shore. The spectacular Torridon region in the Northwest Highlands is the perfect spot to hone your kayaking skills with an expert guide. Our small-group sea kayaking adventure, based at a friendly Highland inn on the shores of Loch Torridon, is suitable for beginners.

Experience it for yourself: Sea Kayaking: The Scottish Highlands
Small-group sea kayaking holiday exploring the coastal scenery of Torridon

cycling arran islay jura open road

3. Cycling

The smaller islands of the Scottish Hebrides are ideal for a cycling holiday: quiet roads, sublime scenery and no shortage of excellent accommodation and food. Using local ferries to island-hop between Arran, Islay and Jura, our small-group cycling tour is accompanied by a support vehicle which also transports your luggage to each overnight stop. Arran has everything from caves and castles to standing stones and a stunning coastline; Islay is renowned for its wildlife and whiskey distilleries, while Jura has fascinating ancient sites and dramatic mountain vistas. The trip also includes a boat trip to visit the famous whirlpool in the Gulf of Corryvreckan.

Experience it for yourself: Road Cycling: Arran, Islay and Jura
Small-group tour, suitable for anyone with reasonable fitness who enjoys cycling

scotland puffin landing shetlands istk

4. Autumn birdwatching

Home to species ranging from the garrulous capercaillie to the glorious golden eagle, Scotland is a magnet to birdwatchers year-round. But autumn heralds a particularly dramatic event in the birding world. Migrating south from Greenland at the end of summer, some 18,000 barnacle and white-fronted geese flock to Islay, turning the island’s fields black and white. Brent geese, whooper swans and redwings join the feathered masses – constantly wary of Islay’s hen harriers, sparrowhawks, peregrines and golden eagles. An autumn sojourn on this beautiful Hebridean island allows you to witness one of the UK’s most spellbinding wildlife spectacles.

Experience it for yourself: Wildlife Adventures: Autumn Wildlife Islay
Small-group tour, based in cosy accommodation and including a visit to a whisky distillery

winter wildlife red deer stag winter istk

5. Winter wildlife tracking

When the first winter snows dust the peaks of the Cairngorms and swirl through the ancient Caledonian pine forest, it signals one of the best times to search for elusive Scottish wildlife. Tricky to spot in their white winter plumage, ptarmigan use their feathered feet as snowshoes. Crested tit and snow bunting fuss through the pine trees, while golden eagles soar overhead. Mountain hares are on their menu – just one of the rare mammals found in the UK’s largest national park. Set out with a local guide and you may also spot red squirrel, pine marten, red deer and, if you’re extremely lucky, a Scottish wildcat. On a clear night, train your binoculars on the night sky to spot stars, planets and constellations undimmed by light pollution.

Experience it for yourself: Wildlife Adventures: Winter wildlife
Small-group tour exploring Cairngorms National Park and its wildlife

Feeling Inspired?

Talk to us about our new partnership with award-winning specialists, Wilderness Scotland. Focusing on the wonder of our home shores, we are delighted to be able to offer a collection of specially curated holidays. All Discover the World clients booking a holiday with Wilderness Scotland will be given an exclusive 10% discount code to spend on Haglof’s high quality outdoor gear and clothing. To find out more, submit a query online.

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