There are many popular misconceptions about what the requirements are for a great adventure or activity holiday. For many people, the very notion of this kind of trip provokes images of daredevil young men and women, travelling to the far reaches of the globe and spending vast sums of money in search of the latest wild, heart-stopping activity.
While for the wealthy few this may be an option, there is also now a far more accessible, affordable (and no less exciting) destination to consider; and best of all, it is right on our doorstep here in the UK.
Scotland’s national tourist organisation has dedicated 2011 to promoting Active Scotland, and for good reason. The country’s abundant natural resources mean that there is any number of exciting adventure holidays available for people and families of all ages.
These offer people the chance to not only become more physically active (while enjoying the spectacular Scottish countryside in a new and invigorating way), but also to experience some of the outstanding activities that Scotland has to offer to any visitor seeking something a little out of the ordinary.
It is important to note that these holidays are now no longer the preserve of the sensation-seeking young. There are many activities based around Scotland that offer the chance for younger or older people to partake in action-packed adventures; and there are also plenty of opportunities for those travelling in a family group.
Scotland is a diverse country, not only in terms of population but also in the abundance of natural resources it has, and the activities on offer depend very much on the region of Scotland you choose to visit. From the Highland mountains in the north down to the rolling hills of the Borders in the south, there is a wide range of activities available to suit any thrill-seeking visitor and their party.
For family groupings, Scotland offers a particularly diverse selection of activities to make any holiday particularly memorable. Families with younger children may find that they can enjoy a half-day open canoeing expedition around the calmer waters of Loch Morlich near Aviemore or Loch Ard in Aberfoyle.
With all safety equipment provided and experienced guides on hand to ensure that both you and your children are perfectly safe, it is an exciting, adventurous and innovative way for your family to experience the beautiful countryside, wildlife, flora and fauna surrounding your chosen loch.
Many companies now offer adventure days or weekends for family groupings that take into account the relative ages within the group and can design your very own tailor-made package of activities. From gorge walking to raft building, ‘walking across the water’ in an inflatable ball to a family archery contest, there are a whole range of activities to suit families with children of all ages.
In contrast, if you are a family with older children who are more independent and perhaps more willing to indulge in an activity that sets the adrenaline pumping, there is a wide variety of suitable activities to choose from.
These include mountain biking at Laggan Woltrax, canyonining at Bruar Falls in the beautiful Perthshire countryside or perhaps most nerve-shredding of all, taking to one of the area’s faster-flowing rivers, such as the Tay, Findhorn or Tummel to experience the thrill of white water rafting.
It is also worth noting that an adventure or activity holiday does not necessarily mean that all the activities on the holiday need to be high-octane, thrill-a-minute experiences. Many youngsters or family members may wish to enjoy an activity that is enjoyable and active, but perhaps a little more aesthetic rather than athletic; for example, you could enjoy a forest safari around the Caledonian pine forests near Perth, tracking red squirrel and roe deer and taking an off road trip in a Land Rover.
Even if you are based in one of the major cities, it is worth remembering that many activities are still right on your doorstep. Glasgow is just a short drive from the beautiful Borders and the magnificent Loch Lomond, while Edinburgh sits in the stunning Lothian region and boasts its own indoor climbing centre, allowing participants to wall climb and even ice climb!
If you are an activity holidaymaker seeking something not quite so tame, then Scotland has plenty to offer even the hardiest of adventurers. Scotland is the only place in Europe, for example where thrill-seekers can experience river bugging.
Sat inside your own inflatable armchair (called a ‘bug’), you are released into the waters of the Tummel, Tay and Feshie rivers, bouncing down through some of the fastest-flowing white water in Scotland, through incredible mountain gorges and in breathtaking scenery.
Water lovers will also enjoy the scenery in Inchree Falls, just south of the famous Loch Ness and Fort William, where canyoning is hugely popular. This idyllic setting amid a verdant green backdrop, pine forests and stunning mountains is often one of the most popular activities, as the area has abundant water falls, plunge pools and cliff jumps making it one of the most heart-stopping and yet beautiful ways to spend a day.
Yet, there is so much more Scotland has to offer, from the plentiful skiing and snowboarding activities (in one of five ski resorts) that are so popular in the winter months, to walking and hikes among the beautiful forests and mountains of the north.
You could enjoy a day cycling in the rolling hills of the Borders, through some of the prettiest towns and villages in the UK, or head to the coast where surfing is growing in popularity. Or, why not head to the islands and visit some of the most isolated spots in the British Isles via your own kayak?
Scotland is an outstanding place for an adventure and best of all, it is right on our doorstep. It’s a country that offers outstanding natural beauty, and more thrills per minute than anywhere else in the world!