Scotland benefits from beautiful scenery, many hills and mountains to explore, as well as stunning wildlife and spectacular walking routes and trails. With the arrival of summer – and plenty of sunshine in Scotland – visitors need not look far for their next adventure.
Discovering lost worlds…..
Burn o’Vat, Aberdeenshire – Visitors can climb through the rock (approach with care) and witness this remarkable natural feature in the landscape. As the area warmed around it 14,000 years ago, the ice sheet began to melt, resulting in a torrent of meltwater that carried with it debris previously caught up in the glacial ice. It is thought that a rock became lodged in a small hollow on the river bed, causing the meltwater to flow around it in a spiralling motion. This caused the bed underneath the rock to erode over a long period of time. Quite the spectacle! (Free to visit).
Alternatively, experience Fort William with Vertical Descents. As the Outdoor Capital of the UK, Fort William offers some of the best outdoor experiences possible. Its towering mountains, deep glens and fast flowing waterfalls make it the perfect place to try canyoning (prices vary).
Finally, visit Staffa by boat and see Fingal’s Cave. This little island (½ mile long and ¼ mile wide) off the west coast of Scotland looks like it may be from a different planet. Its hexagonal columns were formed millions of years ago by volcanic eruptions and a vast blanket of lava that spread into the Atlantic Ocean. Years of waves crashing against these columns created the magnificent Fingal’s Cave. (Staffa Tours depart Iona and Fionnphort on the Isle of Mull; Priced at £70 per person for a 6 hour trip).
Taking to the ropes….
Hike to the Steall Waterfall via a wire rope bridge. The fabulous Steall waterfalls are featured in the movie Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005) and can be reached via a half hour or so hike from the Nevis Gorge car park. The hike includes rocky areas and negotiating carefully the single foot wire rope bridge when crossing the river. There is a clear, well-walked path throughout, but it is very rough and rocky with steep drops and good footwear and care is needed, (free to visit).
Have fun at Go Ape; With courses designed to be accessible for mixed abilities and age groups, Go Ape offers a fun and challenging day out. Go Ape Aberfoyle is home to Scotland’s longest dual zip wires, whilst Go Ape, Glentress Forest, Peebles also boasts massive solo zips over a lake, all whist soaring 50m above the valley below. Go Ape Dalkeith, Edinburgh is the company’s newest location and the only one in Scotland to feature activities for children under 10. (Prices vary).
“Get your motor running….”
Harley Davidson UK – the Experience Tour; Crianlarich, 19 August 2023
The Experience Tour – which gives people the chance to ride a new model Harley-Davidson motorbike – is happening across the summer throughout the UK at some of the most popular biker locations across the country including this one in Crianlarich in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. Those who are new to the world of Harley-Davidson and would like to experience this pioneering two-wheel transportation brand can book their place via the dedicated webpage (price on request; once booked, a full, valid motorcycle licence, helmet and riding gear are required in order to take part).
For anyone who has ever imagined exploring Scotland by motorbike, but unsure how to go about it, Bikerbnb Adventures can help. Their dedicated team of experts can plan a road trip including a guided motorcycle experience that covers roughly 1,000 miles across the north of Scotland over five days. The Highland Scramble, a curated events series, features not only the best riding that Scotland has to offer, but also the best food, drink and motorcycle-friendly accommodation. Self-guided tours also available (prices vary; for example the North Coast Traverse, 14 – 19 September 2023 costs from £1,600.00 per person).
Where to see reptiles in Scotland:
‘Meet’ the reptiles at Edinburgh Zoo; these include the corn snakes. Corn snakes are slender, orange or brown-yellow snakes with a pattern of large red blotches outlined in black down their backs. They are native to the eastern United States but are most abundant in Florida. Also see the milk snake; Brightly coloured and strikingly patterned, milk snakes are nonvenomous snakes found throughout North and South America and Canada. They are often confused with dangerous copperheads or coral snakes, but milk snakes pose no threat to humans. (Admission to Edinburgh Zoo is £24.75 per adult; child £15.70; concession £22.50; advance booking is recommended).
Check out Amazonia at M&Ds, Motherwell, Lanarkshire with a chance to get up close and personal with some animals including snakes, lizards, tortoises, creepy crawlies and more… Handling sessions are only £1.25 per person (under 3’s are free), with sessions lasting approximately 20-30 minutes. Tickets are only available to purchase on the day of your visit at Amazonia’s reception, on a first come, first serve basis per session, due to a limited capacity in the room (20 visitors per session), so please enquire and book on arrival.
Rosslyn Chapel in Midlothian has been linked to everything from the Knights Templar to the lost ark of the covenant and the Holy Grail. (Admission prices: £9.50 per adult; concession £7.50; children free)
Doune Castle, near Stirling, is famously where Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) was filmed and is a favourite with movie fans and history buffs alike. (Admission prices: £10 adult; concession £8; child £6; family tickets available).
Visit Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, Glasgow. Explore 22 galleries and discover everything from art to animals, Ancient Egypt to Charles Rennie Mackintosh and so much more (free to visit).
Explore Scotland’s ancient capital and newest city, Dunfermline. The city is strongly associated with King Malcolm III “Canmore” and his queen Saint Margaret, and during their reign, the town developed as a centre of political power, becoming an important place of residence for Scottish Royalty.
Scotland is home to many historic landmarks from the Jarlshof Prehistoric and Norse Settlement in Shetland to Abbotsford in the Scottish Borders. Scotland is also home to 13 UNESCO World Heritage designations and has the world’s first UNESCO Trail. Visitors planning a trip can check out Scotland’s accessible castles and battlefields at Euan’s Guide, explore the many wonderful sites of Historical Environment Scotland, as well as planning an historical trip with the Natural Trust for Scotland.
Braving the rapids:
Check out River Wild Adventures in Newtonmore for white-knuckle adventures (along with the safety instruction and proper gear). In addition, Nae Limits in Perthshire has a range of white water rafting options for beginners and extreme thrill seekers alike and ACE Adventures offers white water rafting trips in various locations, including on the rivers Findhorn, Tay and Tummel.
Join a dig…..
Scotland is a great place to get lost in archaeological facts and findings. Visitors can even give up some of their holiday time to join a dig. Dig It! in Scotland has many events for all abilities. For example, in Orkney, one of the UHI Archaeology Institute’s flagship excavations began at South Ronaldsay in 2006, revealing a large Iron Age broch (c100BC-AD200) and structures dating from the Iron Age through to the Norse period. In June and July 2023, during the excavation period, the site will be open to the public on weekdays from 10am until 4pm. For more information – and for details of other digs – go to www.digitscotland.com/archaeological-digs-in-scotland-2023-edition/