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    21 Life-Changing Things Everyone Must Do In Scotland

    You need to add "swim with seals" to your bucket list right now.

    1. Cycle through the Outer Hebrides.

    Lukasz Warzecha / Wilderness Scotland / Via
    Ben Thorburn

    Wilderness Scotland

    Wilderness Scotland

    Scottish tour company Wilderness Scotland offer a tour of the Hebrides that guides cyclists across nine islands, including Barra, North Uist, Harris, and Lewis. Or you could just head there with a bike and make it up as you go along.

    2. Walk the West Highland Way.

    Flickr: bartvandorp / Creative Commons

    This 96 mile walking route runs from Milngavie near Glasgow all the way to Fort William in the Highlands, passing through iconic areas like Loch Lomond, Glencoe and Rannoch Moor as it goes. More info here.

    3. Take a whale and dolphin watching trip in Torridon.

    Hebridean Whale Cruises

    Minke whales and dolphins are a familiar sight in the Minch: A strait that separates the north-west Highlands from the Inner Hebrides. The only resident pod of orcas in the UK pay the occasional visit too. Hebridean Cruises offer whale watching trips.

    4. Spend a night wild camping.

    Flickr: black_friction / Creative Commons

    In Scotland, you're allowed to pitch a tent almost anywhere. Wild camping is a great way to explore remote areas, but make sure you follow the guidelines in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code if you head into the great unknown.

    5. Paddle the Scottish Sea Kayak Trail.

    Wilderness Scotland / Via
    Wilderness Scotland

    Wilderness Scotland

    The Scottish Sea Kayak Trail is the first of its kind in Europe and stretches from Gigha in the south to the Summer Isles in the far north. Wilderness Scotland run a trip that takes in the entire trail, with kayaks and all equipment included.

    6. Get your climb on.

    Flickr: alpiniste / Creative Commons
    Flickr: alpiniste / Creative Commons

    Scotland's mountains have some fantastic climbing routes, but it's best not to scale an icy crag on an actual mountain until you've had some training. This indoor ice climbing wall in Glasgow is a good place to start.

    7. Watch ospreys on Loch Garten.

    Flickr: craigoneal / Creative Commons

    Ospreys became extinct in the UK in the 19th century, but a pair of birds arrived at Loch Garten in 1954 and the species slowly recolonised Scotland. The RSPB run Loch Garten as a reserve, and visitors can watch the rare birds through telescopes.

    8. Hitch a ride on a dog sled.

    Flickr: 28596900@N00 / Creative Commons

    Nestled in the heart of the Cairngorm mountains is the only daily working sleddog centre in the UK. Visitors can guide a team of enthusiastic dogs along a series of winding, scenic trails through the forest. More info here.

    9. Bag a Munro

    Flickr: totspurjohn / Creative Commons
    Flickr: gerald-davison / Creative Commons
    Wilderness Scotland

    No visit to Scotland is complete until you've "bagged a Munro": The name given to Scottish mountains that are over 3000 feet high. People who managed to climb all 282 Munros in Scotland are known as "compleaters".

    10. Try your hand at land (or sand) yachting.

    The historic Fife town of St. Andrews has a wide, smooth beach that makes it perfect for land yachting. On a windy day, these "yachts" can reach speeds of up to 60mph. St. Andrews-based company Blown Away offer training and gift vouchers.

    11. Spend a day sliding and swimming through canyons.

    Scotland is a fantastic place to try canyoning as it's filled with beautiful glens, fast flowing rivers, and narrow gorges. Don't go it alone though or you might get injured: You should enlist the help of a professional company.

    12. Sail around the Small Isles in a vintage yacht.

    Wilderness Scotland

    Wilderness Scotland

    Wilderness Scotland

    Wilderness Scotland own a beautiful, 75 year old wooden yacht that they use for tours of the Small Isles: A small and incredibly scenic series of islands in the Inner Hebrides. They also visit the Isle of Skye and the remote Knoydart peninsula.

    13. Take a helicopter tour of Edinburgh.

    Flickr: topaz-mcnumpty

    Edinburgh-based helicopter company Experee offer a breathtaking flight over the Forth bridges and some of Edinburgh's most iconic landmarks for £79. It really is a magical way to see the capital.

    14. Hone your photography skills.

    Wilderness Scotland

    Wilderness Scotland

    Flickr: arg_flickr / Creative Commons

    Scottish landscape photographer Colin Prior (yes, the guy from all those gift shop postcards) runs a photography course in Assynt in the north-western highlands, an area known for its excellent light and scenery.

    15. Hit the slopes.

    Flickr: bensutherland / Creative Commons
    Flickr: tessawatson / Creative Commons / Creative Commons

    You don't have to head to the Alps to go skiing or snowboarding: Glencoe, Glenshee, Aviemore, and the Cairngorms have good snow from Christmas/New Year to April. You can find out more here.

    16. Take part in the Common Ridings.

    Flickr: missmass / Creative Commons / Creative Commons
    Flickr: missmass / Creative Commons

    The Common Ridings are a series of events that take place in the Scottish Borders every year that see hundreds of horse riders come together to gallop around each town. Local riding stables will lend you a horse if you don't have your own.

    17. Paddle an open canoe along Loch Ness.

    Wilderness Scotland / Via

    Everyone should visit Loch Ness at least once in their lifetime, and what better way to see it than by canoe? This spectacular tour through the Great Glen includes some canoeing in Loch Ness. Watch out for monsters.

    18. Play a round of golf in Gourock.

    Flickr: easylocum / Creative Commons

    St. Andrews might be the "home of golf", but if you're looking for a truly scenic course then you can't go wrong with Gourock, which sits right on the River Clyde with views out to the Ayrshire hills. Expect to lose a few balls in the water.

    19. Cruise the Crinan canal on a vintage steam boat.

    Vic 32 is a beautiful 1943 steam ship, or as the owners describe her: "A firey, smokey, living museum." Week-long cruises depart from Ardrishaig in Argyll and Bute and take in the stunning Crinan Canal built over 200 years ago.

    20. Get an eagle-eye view of the Isle of Skye.

    Loch Lomond Seaplanes don't just stick to the Trossachs: You can also charter an air tour of the Isle of Skye. At £129 for 70 minutes it's not that cheap, but can you really put a price on such an awesome selfie opportunity?

    21. Swim with seals in the Sound of Mull.

    Flickr: mrpattersonsir / Creative Commons
    Flickr: jovamp / Creative Commons
    Flickr: stevearis / Creative Commons

    Forget swimming with dolphins: Swimming with seals is far more fun. Gift Experience Scotland run a "seal safari" through the Sound of Mull, with time set aside to swim with the seals in a sheltered bay if you'd like to get closer.

    Or – if you don't like boats, planes, photography, seals, dogs, horses, or sport – you could always just go for a quiet stroll instead.

    Flickr: aigle_dore

    Scotland: Effortlessly life-changing since 843 AD.

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