Adventure in the Highlands

Paul Easto of Wilderness Scotland opens the door to discovery in the Scottish Highlands.

Scotland has an abundance of places to explore on foot. Whether it be hiking to a summit, or wandering along a coastal path – there is something to sate any boot-wearing traveller. So it’s not surprising that our most popular activity is walking. We currently offer 12 walking holidays across the Highlands and Islands with a range of difficulty, starting from easy (green) to moderate (blue). The blue trips incorporate more challenging ascents and also cover longer distances.

An activity that is growing in popularity is road cycling. Road cycling is definitely becoming the sport of choice amongst the growing community of young professionals. Road cycling better suits the trend for fast-paced, energetic and health orientated lives. Perhaps, like walking, part of the appeal of road cycling lies in the ability to just get out and do it. With both road cycling and walking you can set off from your front door without the need to get yourself and your mountain-bike, kayak or canoe to the location where you are going participate in your chosen activity. We have successfully run 4 different road cycling holidays over 2015 and have plans of including two new tours for 2016.

You get a unique perspective of the world whilst sea kayaking. Sitting so low down on the water is a unique experience you get to explore hidden nooks and crannies along a rugged coastline or spot seals and sea otters relaxing in a bay. We have 10 sea kayaking holidays currently available. We’ve got accommodation based or expedition style depending on how adventurous and away from it all you want to go.

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There are several reasons for people wanting more adventure and it varies of-course for each traveller. There is a definite increase in demand for experiential travel and fully immersing oneself in a place. People want to get away from their normal life and really connect with the environment, history and culture of a new location.

People want to experience more activity and nature on their holidays. This lines up with the general trend for more active and more healthy lifestyles. Many people feel that it’s good for their mental health to get outside and experience the outdoors. Adventurous activities are a good way to do this.

Beach-walking-2321There is also a larger desire for rewarding experiences. Engaging in an adventurous activity may make people feel as if they have accomplished more on their holiday. Trying something new, improving skills or challenging yourself beyond your normal comfort level are all part of adventure travel and it’s great when customers get to climb a peak they’ve always wanted to do, or cover longer distances than ever before on one of our trips.

However, adventure means something different for each person. This is why we offer a wide range of activities over varying levels of difficulty and with different levels of comfort. For those who really want to immerse themselves in the adventure experience could go on a sea kayaking expedition. Spend the day kayaking to a new location and in the evenings cook freshly caught fish in a fire before camping under the stars. Alternatively, we could take you for a walk in the snow covered highlands before returning to comfortable accommodation, hearty meals and roaring fires.

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A lot of our tours take people to the peripheries of Scotland where tourism is an essential part of the economy. Staying in family-run B&Bs, meeting local people, eating fresh and locally sourced food and seeing the landscapes that has shaped the community all helps build a deep cultural connection.

Adventure tourism has thus also risen in popularity for ethical reasons. Tourism has always played a large role in preserving and maintaining heritage, local culture and the environment. In Scotland we actively use it to help protect the wild places that people come to see. People consciously travel on eco/green tours to enjoy and help protect beautiful places in the world, satisfied in the knowledge that money spent there benefits the local community and environment.

The landscape is incredibly diverse in the Highlands. In the North West Highlands for example, you have the unique geology of Assynt and Capewrath. Here you can find sandstone monoliths dotting the isolated landscape, elaborate cave networks in limestone valleys and impressive sea stacks on the coast.

Mountain-biking---Simon-Coker-2323On the West Coast you can kayak between beach fringed skerries and seal colonies by Arisaig or you’ll find yourself amongst the terraced hills of Torridon that glitter in the sunlight. The Highlands are also home to two National Parks. Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park and the Cairngorms National Park are both places of dense forest and thriving wildlife with lots of opportunity to stay and visit. There is something to do in every corner of the Highlands, and most of it is freely accessible to all. With Scotland’s access laws, you’re pretty much free to walk, bike, kayak, canoe and climb your way across these magnificent landscapes.

The weather in Scotland is notoriously unpredictable, and we always recommend clients to bring the right clothing for any weather eventuality. Our clients get extensive kit lists that cover necessities such as layers, waterproofs and appropriate footwear. Rain and wind doesn’t need to ruin a day out, it just adds to the adventure. You’ll often find our clients smiling the broadest in absolutely dreadful weather! If you are properly prepared for it, the weather shouldn’t stop you from getting out and about.

At the risk of sounding cheesy, people considering visiting Scotland should be prepared to have their minds blown away by the awesome beauty of the Scottish Highlands and Islands. We hear time and time again from our customers that Scotland has exceeded expectations with our wild landscape, our friendly locals and even Scottish cuisine!

 

Wilderness Scotland was co-founded in 2001 by Paul Easto and Neil Birnie. The idea stemmed from wanting to share their passion for Scotland’s wild places with people in the UK and around the world. With that as a driver, they both gave up their respective careers in law and surveying to set up the business. wildernessscotland.com

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