Whatever the Weather

22 February 2018

west beach berneray (1000 x 750)

Photo: West Beach, Berneray/Kai Tang, Thailand by Scotproof via CC

The weather! What else would we talk about if we couldn’t obsess over forecasts, conditions, highs, lows and in-betweens? As Scots it is our national obsession, something that unites us whether we are grumbling about it, celebrating it or just getting on with it. For sure, you have to be flexible when planning days out in Scotland but there is almost never any time of year when you absolutely have to stay indoors. Here is a quick guide to some of our favourite outdoor activities, something for every part of the country and any weather eventuality.

“Today’s rain is tomorrow’s whisky” – Scottish Proverb

Naturally optimistic Highlanders refer to rain as liquid sunshine but for those sporty types who enjoy paddling, in particular white water kayaking, then it is manna from heaven. Paddlers are prepared to get wet anyway, but, when it rains, the volume of water in streams and rivers increases, making conditions much more appealing. The Tay is a brilliant venue for water-sports with a number of companies in Aberfeldy offering rafting trips and kayak rental all year round. Strathlyon Cottage is just a few miles away and would make a great base for an adventure holiday (and there is also a distillery to visit).

“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing” - Alfred Wainwright

Never has this been more true than in the North of Scotland. When the wind howls and the waves crash on the shoreline, it’s the perfect time to go for an invigorating walk. Sandwood Bay is without a doubt one of the most scenic places to visit in the north but it is actually more impressive in challenging conditions. The sea cliffs off the north-west bear the brunt of the awesome power of nature and watching them get battered by the force of the Atlantic is a thrilling and elemental pleasure. With modern day outdoor gear being so much more effective than in Wainwright’s day there is really no reason for anyone to be cold or wet on a day out. An Nead has fabulous views over Quinag, especially in stormy weather but nothing compares to actually being outside in it. Wrap up and experience it for yourself, just remember, bad weather always looks worse through a window.

 “Cast not a clout till May be oot” – Traditional Scottish saying

It has been an absolutely bumper season for snow-sports in Scotland and it doesn’t look like it’s going to end anytime soon. The main ski resorts have seen some of the best conditions for years and ski tourers have managed to explore swathes of the country that are only rarely accessible. At this rate the above proverb which translated basically means “Don’t discard your winter clothing until the end of May” could not be any more apt. The extended cold spell has also done wonders for some of the lesser known ski venues in the country. Lowther Hills Ski Club in the Borders has traditionally not got the same attention of the more famous northern resorts, mainly due to unpredictable conditions but this year has been exceptionally busy due to amazing snow cover. It’s just over an hour’s drive from Westerkirk Mains so you can have a day out on the piste and be back in the comfort of this historical Borders riverside property by the evening.

 “I love summer in Scotland. It’s my favourite day of the year” - Billy Connolly

When the sun shines on a Scottish beach it truly ranks alongside the most photogenic in the world, something that was highlighted a few years ago when Thai tourist authorities were caught out for using photographs of a Berneray beach to promote their tropical island getaways. It’s hardly a surprise really when you have white sands here to rival the Caribbean, gin clear waters like the South Pacific and panoramic views more stunning than the Copacabana. For the most appropriate activity for a sunny day down the beach, how about something like beach volleyball? The only problem may be finding enough people on the beach to make up a team. If all else fails, a picnic of lobster tails and a rum punch will compensate for the lack of palm trees and coconuts. The above mentioned Berneray beach can easily be visited from Clachan Sands Cottage on North Uist, rather than being a special must see destination it’s just one of many similar beaches on the Uists. Visitors really are spoilt for choice.