Visceral Thrills

21 September 2017

surfer

Photo: Surfing at Clachan Sands

Scotland is many things to many different people. For some, the appeal is history, for others the landscape is the draw, but for the active holidaymaker there is a wealth of attractions of a more visceral kind.

White water rafting is a brilliant challenge for autumn and winter. Some sports require dry weather but rafting is actually way more fun when it rains. Let’s face it, you are going to get wet anyway but after a period of prolonged rain the main rivers run faster and rapids are more technical. It’s a bit of a wo/man vs nature battle to overcome what the river throws at you and still come out the other side smiling. Loch Tay in Perthshire is one of the top venues in the country with a number of companies offering rafting trips as well as white water kayaking. Big groups or solo adventurers can be accommodated and transport from the finishing point back to the start is usually provided. After a rewarding day battling the elements a wood burning stove and a dram is the perfect welcome home. Strathlyon Cottage just outside Aberfeldy has comfort and luxury and is close to a distillery as well as all the outdoors action.

For a quick adrenalin shot then how about strapping yourself into a bungee catapult at Laagan Outdoors in Dumfries and Galloway. Also known as the human slingshot, this is the biggest in the world and can launch people at speeds of up to 70mph for around 80 metres. They also have one of the most impressive zip wires in Europe, which is an incredible 820 metres long. The set-up is child friendly and can also accommodate large groups. If you need to calm down after all of that then how about retreating just down the coast to the serenity of Craigie Knowes, a Victorian villa with spectacular sea views to help you unwind after the day’s highs.

Surfers often reflect on the feeling of being at one with their environment. Rather than attempting to overcome their surroundings the sport is more about cooperation with the natural elements. It can be a spiritual experience as well as an elemental one. The Atlantic swell that breaks over the Hebrides provides a number of the country’s finest spots for catching a wave. The beaches here are white and sandy and visiting surfers often find they have the entire coastline to themselves, a stunning contrast to the queues for waves that are common in popular surf spots in the south of England. A good wetsuit will protect against occasional chilly temperatures (although hardy locals surf all year long) and board rental and tuition are available from two different companies in Stornoway. The above photo was taken from the beach not far from Clachan Sands Cottage, a brilliant place to base yourself for touring the islands and with a hot tub for kicking back in after a day in the water.

Off piste, whether it be back country snowboarding or ski touring is one of the best ways to experience the thrills of the white stuff without the crowds. It’s most skiers dream to carve fresh turns on a virgin slope and with the advent of modern touring equipment it is now easier than ever. In recent years the snow cover in Scotland has been unpredictable so it makes sense to have the flexibility to go wherever the conditions are best. It’s also a huge challenge compared to just going up and down a well-groomed resort slope, it requires a whole new set of skills and should not be attempted by unaccompanied novices. The rewards for the intrepid are, however, majestic. The joy of ascending a remote Munro in perfect isolation and the thrill of picking your line on the descent is truly sublime. Drumrunie is in an ideal location for accessing the snow covered peaks of the Cairngorms. There are over 50 Munros within striking distance so you can maximise your chances of finding favourable conditions. If all else fails it is only a 15 minute drive to the nearest chairlift at Glenshee.

Call LHH now to help us plan your next visceral thrill. Let us find you an adventure holiday destination with a difference or maybe just a quiet corner to get away from it all.