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Exploring wilderness areas is brilliant for children, it gives them an opportunity to learn more about the natural world as well as the sense of roaming free. Scotland is blessed with an abundance of wild areas, some of which are very accessible. Here are some of our favourites for experiencing with children of different ages.
Your first experience of climbing a mountain will always be a special memory. In Scotland there are hundreds to choose from, from the most challenging Munros (mountains over 914 metres high) to easy strolls up to scenic viewpoints.
Peaks like in the inaccessible pinnacle on Skye are not really suited to beginners but something like Stack Polly on the west coast would make for a great character-building expedition. It’s not a Munro but the way it shoots directly out of the barren landscape and the views you can get from the top belies its lowly height categorisation (it’s technically a Graham being just over 500 metres).
The way up is never too steep or technical although a traverse of the ridge at the top, which can be avoided does offer some exposure. A short drive up the coast from here will take you to the family friendly retreat of Seahorses. It has epic views over Eddrachilles Bay and the mountain of Quinag which is also a stunning day out although considerably more challenging than Stac Polly.
A hidden waterfall by some remote cliffs in the middle of nowhere is usually enough to entice the most adventurous kids into a mini adventure. The Falls of Glomach are one of the tallest and most isolated in Britain and are reached by a brilliant 6 mile hike. The path here is good but remember this is wilderness, and from embarkation to return you might not see another soul or precious little signs of civilisation. It’s a grand day out and a fantastic way to foster appreciation of the natural world in curious children.
Taigh na Carr sleeps 4 and is a wonderfully modern retreat just a short drive from here. It blends perfectly with its rural surrounds, has great views over the 5 sisters of Kintail and is just a stone’s throw from the edge of Loch Duich.
To inspire children to truly appreciate the beauty of the natural world it helps for them to see some of its most impressive inhabitants up close. The North Harris Eagle observatory is only a 2 km walk from the road, so quite manageable for even the smallest legs. This is an attractive timber hide with large windows commanding spectacular views up Glen Meavaig and is the only purpose-built viewing facility for golden eagles in Scotland. The resident pair of golden eagles are the main attraction here but sea eagles are also regularly seen in the area, particularly during the autumn and winter when they frequent the glen in search of deer carrion and salmon.
A pair of merlins usually breed in the glen and buzzards and kestrels are often seen at the start of the track. The car park for the observatory is located on the road to Hushnish. If you follow this road right to the end you will get to Katie’s Cottage, a magical beach side escape that is ideal for families. There are heaps of walks in the area and the beach is practically at the bottom of the garden.
Nothing feels like interacting with the wilderness more than a wild swim in a remote loch. It’s the combination of the logistics, the effort to get there and the sensory stimulation of immersion that make it so rewarding.
A calm loch with shallow access is confidence building and makes for a great introduction to wild swimming for less experienced youngsters as there are not likely going to be currents and waves to worry about. An Lochan Uaine (The Green Loch) gets its name from the stunning colour of its water. It’s a short hike on a decent path to get here from the end of the road at Glenmore and there are steps going down from the path to the waters edge making access easy. It really feels like you are right in the heart of the Cairngorms here.
The Press House sleeps 8 and is a brilliant family destination for easily accessing all the activities of the Cairngorms, for outdoorsy children, there really is no better place in Scotland.