What are the Best Outdoor Activities In Scotland?
Are you looking for the best outdoor activities in Scotland? For the adventure seeker Scotland is spectacular, accessible and incredibly diverse for a small country.
Whether you are looking at getting into mountaineering, seeking the best hillwalking areas in Scotland, or exploring abundant outdoor water activities, there's an adventure out there for you.
Did you know?
Did you know Scotland has 6160 miles of coastline and 282 mountains over 3000 feet! [Known as Munros]. And on top of that, the "right to roam" gives responsible access to most of these stunning locations and wild landscapes.
In this short blog we are going to explore some of the best outdoor activities in Scotland, and a few things to help you get the best from your adventure in Scotland.
The best Hillwalking Tours In Scotland
In the warmer months from May to October Scotland is blessed with hundreds of miles of hillwalking opportunities, from hillwalking for beginners to more advanced and challenging hillwalking in spectacular scenery.
You should also always be aware of safety during hillwalking in Scotland, even if it is the summer. The weather can change from sunny and warm with great visibility, to horizontal sleet and mist within a very short space of time.
Be sure to always check the Mountain Weather Information Service https://www.mwis.org.uk and have the right hillwalking kit list. This must always include spare warm clothing, full waterproofs and the appropriate footwear.
If you are a beginner we would also strongly recommend you invest in professional advice and use a mountain guide company, you can see some great hillwalking tour options here;
Where to go hillwalking?
Where to go? It’s hard to know where to start – you really could spend a lifetime hillwalking in Scotland! The Cheviot Hills in the Scottish boarders are remote, wild and full of history. The Lomond and Trossachs National Park has dozens of mountains for hillwalking and is easily accessible from Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Looking further north there is the Glen Coe region, and its many iconic peaks including Buachaille Etive Mor, perhaps one of the most photographed mountains in Scotland. For guided hillwalking tours in Glen Coe you can see details here; https://www.oceanvertical.com/adventures/glencoe-mountaineering-experience
There are also hillwalking tours in Scotland when you can spend the night out high up in the mountains for a totally unique adventure. These are accessible and can easily fit into your weekend. You can see details here; https://www.oceanvertical.com/adventure-category/overnight-adventures
The Cairngorms offer big hillwalking days with the Cairngorm Mountain ski centre car park offering a great starting point. This is a vast area of over 1000 km2 and has the UKs second highest summit in Ben Macdui at 1309 meters.
The Cairngorms are magnificent, and also renowned for fierce weather. The highest wind speed in the UK was recorded here at 176 mph, so plan your hillwalking day carefully.
The Western Isles of Scotland offer a lifetimes worth of hillwalking adventures. Perhaps one of the most magnificent is the Isle of Skye with the world renowned Cuillin Hills. This is serious mountain terrain covering an area of over 220 km2. It’s also the UKs most challenging mountain range, so if you are a beginner to hillwalking be sure to look up a local guide for advice.
Sutherland sits at the far north west of Scotland, and is one of the most sparsely populated corners of Europe. Over 5200 km2 of moorland, rocks, lochs and mountains. It’s simply breath taking. Perhaps one of its most iconic peaks is Suilven, “The Pillar” in Assynt.
For a once in a lifetime hillwalking and wild camping experience you can join a guided tour into the wilderness and summit Suilven. You can see full details here; https://www.oceanvertical.com/adventures/assynt-overnight-experience
Winter Mountaineering Courses In Scotland
If you have gained experience hillwalking in Scotland in the warmer months, you might now want to make the exciting step towards winter mountaineering in Scotland. This opens up a whole new world of possibilities between November and April.
Winter mountaineering in Scotland is a serious undertaking and the rewards are immense. World famous mountain ranges such as Glen Coe and the Cairngorms are there to be explored in breath-taking winter landscapes. Careful planning and safety should always be your number one priority if considering winter mountaineering.
The weather will always play a key factor, and you can see details on this below in this blog. What to wear and pack for winter mountaineering, and your winter kit list is also fundamental. You can read more about this in detail here; https://www.oceanvertical.com/blog/what-to-wear-and-pack-for-winter-mountaineering-in-scotland
We would also strongly recommend that if you are new to winter mountaineering you consider joining a winter mountaineering course. This will help you better understand planning, safety, the weather, and skills with an ice axe and crampons. You can read more about winter mountaineering courses here; https://www.oceanvertical.com/adventure-category/winter-mountaineering
If you would like to book into a winter mountaineering course for winter 22/23 in Glen Coe, focused on beginner and intermediate level you can see details here; https://www.oceanvertical.com/adventures/glencoe-winter-ascent
Please keep scrolling and read on Folks!
Mountaineering Weather Forecast Scotland
Much of Scotland is wild, remote and rugged, it's what attracts visitors from all over the world every year. This beautiful and unique landscape also has its own unique Scottish weather, which can change in an instant.
It's not unusual to experience sun, wind, rain, sleet and snow all on the same day, so being prepared and informed is super important in Scotland when hillwalking and mountaineering.
If you are planning on being out in the mountains at any time of year we strongly recommend you look at the Mountain Weather Information Service https://www.mwis.org.uk as part of your planning. This is an invaluable resource and gives an accurate three-day forecast for hill walkers and mountaineers in Scotland.
You can read more about the mountain weather forecast and safe planning for mountaineering in Scotland here: https://www.oceanvertical.com/blog/10-top-tips-for-winter-mountaineering-in-scotland
Surfing Lessons in Scotland
With so much coastline Scotland is a great destination for surfing. Some of the best surfing beaches in Scotland can be found on the north coast and on the western islands such as Tiree, which picks up swell from the North Atlantic systems.
But of course you don’t need to go that far to find great surf and surfing lessons in Scotland. Surfing in Scotland’s east coast is super accessible. Belhaven bay, by Dunbar, is one of the best surfing beaches in Scotland and is just 40 minutes from Edinburgh. You can see details of surfing lessons here; https://www.oceanvertical.com/adventures/surfing-scotland
You can also check up on the surf conditions by checking out Magicseaweed; https://magicseaweed.com/Southeast-Scotland-Surfing/95/ This is a great site and will let you know exactly what the surf is doing.
Outdoor Water Activities In Scotland
With 6160 miles of coastline and over 30,000 fresh water lochs, Scotland is a great place for water sports activities. Here we explore two of the best outdoor water activities in Scotland; Paddle boarding [SUP], and Coasteering.
Paddle boarding [SUP]
Stand up paddle boarding is the perfect way to experience remote and wild Scotland, both from the sea and fresh water lochs.
Paddle boarding is now hugely popular, and there are many places to hire equipment or join in organised paddle boarding lessons with a professional adventure company.
If you are new to paddle boarding and thinking of getting out onto the sea we would recommend you invest in a paddle boarding lessons to better understand safety and the best technique.
You can see details here of different levels of paddle boarding lessons just 40 minutes from Edinburgh; https://www.oceanvertical.com/adventure-category/paddle-boarding
What is coasteering? That's a very good question! It's like mountaineering, except in a wetsuit, on the rugged coastal zone exposed at low tide.
Coasteering is a journey into the tidal impact zone - that's the inaccessible marine environment that only becomes exposed at low tide. It involves climbing, swimming, scrambling and jumping; it's totally unique and incredibly exciting!
Low tide exposes a hidden world of rocky inlets, new islands, tidal pools, kelp beds and beautiful marine life. It's all there to be explored and experienced, using specialist equipment and expert guides.
To get a detailed understanding of "what is coasteering?" you can read more here; https://www.oceanvertical.com/blog/what-is-coasteering
And if you are in East Lothian, and want to experience the thrills of coasteering just 40 minutes from Edinburgh, you can book in here; https://www.oceanvertical.com/adventures/coasteering-scotland
About Ocean Vertical
We care deeply about wild Scotland, and are here to share our passion for adventure in the natural world.
We are also here to educate and help, so please Folks reach out with your questions and ideas. Together we can help protect our last remaining wild places.