9 of Scotland’s Best Weekend Adventures

 

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Neist point Lighthouse, The Isle of Skye.  Loic Lagarde

As great as it is to dream up expeditions and trips in faraway places, the reality is that they take a lot of planning and a fair amount of cash. But do all adventures have to be far away and cost the earth? No they do not. So here are some proper adventures that you can do this weekend, next weekend; tomorrow. And they won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

First up: Scotland!

If you haven’t dedicated a trip to the Highlands or Islands of Scotland before, you’ll be very pleasantly surprised as to how much fun you can have- arguably more so than a more expensive trip further afield. There are some absolutely amazing places to explore in Scotland, and all just a train ride away if you’re in the UK. Take a look at these 7 adventures that can be done in a short trip and do something epic with your weekends.

1.Munro Bagging

A Munro top is a summit over 3,000 feet, and there are 282 Munros in Scotland. (Scottish Mountaineering Society, 2012.) This sounds like a lot, but there is a list of over 5000 Munroists who have completed all 282, which is believed to be still short of the real number. Once you have bagged one, you could have yourself a new hobby! Notable Munros include Ben Nevis,  the highest point in the UK, but that isn’t necessarily the best climb. Try Buachaille Etive Mor near Glencoe (below), one of the best loved of the Munros, and a good 6-7 hour climb.

Get your list out and start ticking them off.

 

2.Island Hopping.

Scotland has over 790 offshore Islands, spanning Orkney, Shetland and the Inner and Outer Hebrides. These islands are host to some of the most incredible beaches and scenery in the UK and it’s an absolute treat to be able to explore them. Every Island has its own different charm, and while it’s clearly tricky to fit many into one visit, it’s possible to hop between them fairly easily via the Cal Mac ferries. The outer Hebrides (Harris, Lewis, Uist, Barra to name a few) are strikingly different from the mainland with their bright white beaches and turquoise water, so if its a real change of scene you’re after, head to the West. While it takes a while to get to some of these islands, some of them have their own tiny airports to whisk you back to the city if you only have a short time.

If you need inspiration for what to do on the islands, think hiking, sea swimming, camping, surfing, whisky drinking… the list goes on.

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Heaval, Isle of Barra (Photo : Odysseon)
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Isle of Harris (Photo: Odysseon)
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Castlebay, Barra (photo: Odysseon)

3.Walk The West Highland Way

Stretching 151km from Milngavie on the edge of Glasgow to Fort William at the foot of Ben Nevis, the whole route offers an amazing tour of the West Scottish Highlands.This one could take longer than a weekend if you want to complete the route, but it can also easily be done in short segments. Take your tent or stay in B&Bs or bothies (see next) and you’ll never want to leave.
Check out this Guide to the West Highland Way for more info.

 

Planning! #westhighlandway

A post shared by Steven Hendrie (@stevenhendrie22) on

4.Stay in a Mountain Bothy

This goes hand in hand with the West Highland way, but as there are Bothies and tracks all over Scotland it deserves to be an adventure in itself. For those unfamiliar with bothies, they are little huts or cottages open to the public dotted all over Scotland, and your perfect solution to sleeping out in the wild without having to lug a tent around on your back. Regardless of whether you want peace and quiet or a wild weekend away with a bunch of pals, a bothy is definitely an experience you don’t want to miss.
Find a list of bothies and guidelines on how to use them here.

 

5.Wild Swimming

Wild swimming has made something of a comeback in Scotland in recent years. Although there’s no denying the fact that the water will not be warm at all, there’s nothing like a bit of brain freeze to wake you up in the morning! There are some stunning spots both off the coast or in one of the hundreds of lochs  (here is a list of some of the best) and on a sunny day the experience can actually be quite pleasant.  If its too much to bear you can always don a wetsuit like this chap.

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Loch Leven, Glencoe. Photo Glencoescotland.com

6.Mountain Biking

The bonnie landscapes of Scotland provide endless amazing routes for mountain biking. Trails vary hugely in length and level of difficulty, so consult a source like this to keep you right, where you can download all the GPS routes to your phone. A classic is the Glencoe to Kinloch route, which descends over the West Highland Way and the ‘Devils Staircase,’ or try Ballater or Torridon to find the most remote trails. Equally there are also specially designed trail centres where you can bike all day long, coming back to the same spot at the end.

 

7.Surf or Windsurf on Tiree

It might not have the temperature of San Sebastien, but the Isle of Tiree is a widely popular spot for surf lovers. The island  picks up swell from the North Atlantic systems and can produce waves from barreling powerful beach breaks to long peeling longboard waves, often on the same day! Like most of the Inner and Outer Hebrides, the white sandy beaches here are pretty breathtaking.  Get Tiree on a good day and you’ll feel like you’re in the Hawaii (almost.)

If you’re keen to learn, watersports companies like this one will sort your accommodation and lessons out for you.

Marti grabbing a nice little peeler #surftiree

A post shared by Surf • Yoga • Life (@surfyogalife) on

 

8.Sea Kayak and Camp

There is no greater feeling than packing all your camping supplies into a kayak and paddling off into the wilderness for a couple of days. As explained in Island Hopping, the Scottish coast is truly stunning, and having your own freedom to explore and camp wherever you wish is pretty special. There are several companies who can take care of organising your gear and route for you, such as this one.

Overnight-Camp
Photo by Rockhoppers.com

9.Road Biking

If you’re a keen cyclist, Scotland is extremely well connected by cycle paths and you can cover a lot of ground in a short trip. Cycling is definitely one of the best ways to properly see the country and to make sure you don’t miss anything. This particular route would definitely take you a bit longer than a weekend- but still deserves a mention. The north Coast 500 starts and ends in Inverness, and, as the name suggests, is just over 500 miles of coastal road taking you on a complete tour of the North of Scotland.  It takes the average cyclist about nine days to complete, with stops of course. This itinerary gives you a good outline of how far you can expect to get each day, and good places to stop over night.

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If you reckon 500 miles is ridiculously long, check out this guy who did the whole thing without stopping!

 

Hopefully this has given you some inspiration for a long weekend or short trip sometime in the future. A good time doesn’t have to be a long time!

Some of the Odysseon team will be heading up to the Isle of Skye this summer to try out all the adventures that can be had up there, so stay tuned for our posts on what we find. In the meantime, feel free to let us know what you have been getting up to in the UK on Instagram (#odysseon) or Twitter @odysseontravel.

To check all out our latest trips and expeditions, head to www.odysseon.com.

✌️

 

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4 thoughts on “9 of Scotland’s Best Weekend Adventures

  1. I wouldn’t recommend the NC500, at least not the whole route.

    I cycled it with 2 friends in 4 days and whilst the first 3 days were fine the A9 south to Inverness is really not recommended for cycling on. I cycle thousands of miles a year and did not enjoy this part. Absolutely horrible road, narrow, full of large vehicles and speeding cars. Find an alternate route south.

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      1. Hi!

        The first part of the route from Inverness round the coast to JOG is great. Tough going, but lovely. You could take the train south from Thurso easily enough.

        Another good option would be to take the train from Glasgow to Oban (make sure to book a space for your bike on the train) then take the ferry to Barra. From Barra, you can take another small ferry to Eriskay then cycle all the way to North Uist. Then take a ferry to Skye, cycle round Skye to Armadale, then take a ferry to Mallaig.

        From Mallaig you could take another train back to Glasgow or explore southwards to Acharacle and Ardnamurachan lighthouse (the westernmost point of the mainland British Isles). Lovely and quiet roads.

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