Cool Down

08 June 2017

fairy pools

Photo: Fairy Pools by Gary Craig via CC

Last week saw temperatures soar in Scotland with many places enjoying their hottest day in years. In a remarkable turn of fortune the Highlands were bathed, for a few days at least in positively tropical conditions and were the envy of the Mediterranean. It can still come as a surprise to many and catch you unaware so here are our top suggestions for how to cool down on holiday. It doesn’t happen very often but sometimes the heat in Scotland can actually get too much.

On hot days it is important to hydrate if you are out in the sun. If you are hillwalking for example you should carry at least a litre of water with you. After a day out in the baking sun however some tepid water will not refresh nearly as much as in ice cold beer. Inver Lodge sits right in the heart of the Cairngorms for brilliant access to the hills but has the novelty of having its own bar. Arrange a keg in advance of your stay to ensure that there is always a cold one waiting for you on your return. Not only is it cooling and relaxing but you feel like you have earned it while at the same time not having to worry about driving home afterwards.

For family members not old enough to enjoy a cold beer then surely the next best thing must be ice cream. After playing in the sun then what could be better than finding yourself in an ice cream factory where organic milk from the dairy next door is blended with traditional fruits and flavours. The Cream o’ Galloway visitor centre is just that, an outdoor activity centre as well as the ultimate location for frozen indulgence. Choose from over 19 flavours including crannachan, whisky and honey or elderflower and gooseberry. Craigie Knowes is just a short drive away and has a massive glass conservatory with sea views for when you just can’t take any more sunshine.

One of the tried and tested ways to cool down in a heat wave is to jump in a loch. Scotland is blessed with an abundance of wild swimming opportunities, rivers, streams and pools are easily accessible and usually the perfect temperature for a dip. The Fairy Pools on Skye are one of the most famous natural spots to dive in. It is customary after hiking on the Cuilin mountains to ease your tired limbs by standing under one of the mini waterfalls but it is also only a short walk from the road to have a dip in the crystal clear waters. Don’t linger under the falls for too long lest you replicate that childhood sensation of having your head implode after eating too much ice cream in a hurry. Saltwinds is light and spacious, with a location that makes it easy to visit the Fairy Pools, the mountains and any of the best Skye beaches.

When it gets really scorching then doing any kind of sport can be draining but one of the best activities for an afternoon in the sun is sea kayaking. Out on the water the temperature is usually a bit cooler than the beach and you can paddle around the coast looking for sheltered bays and inlets. Getting wet, well that’s just part of the fun. Shore House sits right by the water which makes launching a kayak a breeze, a brilliant trip would be to go round the nearby Longa Island which seems so tantalising close as you step out of the house and onto the beach.

To be honest a convertible is not the most practical car to own in Scotland, however practicality is almost irrelevant when the sun is out and you are cruising down the NC500. It’s like being in a glamorous Hollywood movie from the 60s, having the rush of the wind cool you off and ruffle your hair as you drive up the rugged coastline. Forget driving just to get somewhere, this is motoring just for the hell of it with fresh air instead of air con and single-track instead of motorway. An Nead sits right on the most scenic part of the route and has a hot tub that can be repurposed as a cold plunge for summers like this.