19 Life-Changing Wild Adventures Everyone Must Try In Scotland

Unleash your inner Bear Grylls with this guide to Scotland's wildest, greatest, and most epic adventures. H/t Wild Guide Scotland.

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1. Go stand up paddleboarding with dolphins in Moray.

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The Moray Firth is home to a resident pod of dolphins, and while sightings and up-close encounters aren't guaranteed, they're certainly very likely. Suds Surf School hire out stand-up paddleboards if you don't have your own, and you can get a lesson from their expert paddlers if you're a beginner.

2. Wild camp beside Suilven in the west of Sutherland...

Flickr: 127130111@N06 / Creative Commons

In Scotland, you're allowed to pitch a tent almost anywhere, including the summit of mountains. 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, and make sure you take plenty of supplies.

3. ...or try hammock camping instead.

ddhammocks.com

These lightweight but durable hammocks double as warm sleeping bags. Simply sling them between a couple of trees and voilà: you're all set. It can be hard to find hammock-friendly camp sites in England, but in Scotland, as with other forms of wild camping, there are very few restrictions.

4. Mush sled dogs through the Cairngorms.

sled-dogs.co.uk

This welcoming, knowledgable centre in the heart of the Cairngorm mountains is the only hands-on, public sled-dog location in the UK. Visitors can guide a team of enthusiastic dogs along a series of winding, scenic trails through the forest, and hang out for selfies and cuddles afterwards.

5. Explore subterranean tunnels on Rum.

Wild Guide Scotland

The porous coastline of the pretty isle of Rum is dotted with tunnels and caves. Bagh na h-Uamha ("bay of the cave") is a good place to start, or you can speak to Rum's Community Ranger who'll be able to highlight safe spots to explore. The Grampian Speleological Group are a great source of information too.

6. Paraglide across the peaks of Arran.

flyingfever.net

Flying Fever is a friendly paragliding school based on the Isle of Arran, not far from Glasgow, and offers tandem flights across the island with an instructor. One of the most incredible flights takes place from the highest point of the island: Goatfell, a 874m-high conical mountain with panoramic views across Brodick Bay.

7. Go whale watching on the Isle of Mull.

mckinlaykidd.com

You don't have to go to Iceland or Canada to spot a cetacean: minke whales visit the Isle of Mull in the summer months, and this mutually beneficial sea life survey tour asks for a little help with data collection (and a small fee) in return for your trip. If you're lucky, you might see some porpoises as well.

8. Steer a raft down the raging Findhorn.

aceadventures.co.uk

The middle stretch of this Highland river is full of rocky, foam-flecked water and exciting drops, making it a great spot for a bit of white water rafting. Local company Ace Adventures can guide you past various dramatic rapid clusters, with names like Sleeping Whale, Dragons Tooth and Carnage Corner.

9. Pilot a sea kayak through Spar Cave on Skye.

seatoskyexperience.co.uk

This exciting cave tour is one of local company Sea to Skye Experience's most popular kayaking trips. You paddle along the Elgol Peninsula from Kilmarie, stopping off for a while to explore a dramatic sea cave filled with stalagtites. You'll also get spectacular views of the surrounding Cuillin hills as you travel along.

10. Trek the breadth of Scotland on horseback.

highlandsunbridled.co.uk

This trail riding centre based in Tain near Inverness offer amazing riding trips across Scotland, including a seven-day trek from coast to coast, starting in Brora in east Sutherland and ending with a gallop on the beach on the west coast. The company also offer shorter half day and day-long rides as well.

11. Go wild swimming at Clachtoll Beach in Lochinver...

Flickr: leith / Creative Commons

The serene, crystal-clear turquoise water in this secluded bay is surrounded by small rocky outcrops, making it a great place to take a brave plunge into the sea. The water is damn cold though, so unless you're pretty hardcore you might want to wear a wetsuit. Once you're used to the chill, you'll feel like a real adventurer.

12. ...or inside Fingal's Cave on the isle of Staffa.

Wild Guide Scotland

This stunning basalt column formation on the uninhabited Scottish island of Staffa is a magical spot to take a dip. Various cruise and charter companies offer trips to Staffa from the mainland, you can find out more here. It's well worth the day out.

13. Visit the great ganneteries of Hermaness.

shetland.org

Muckle Flugga in Shetland is the most northerly place in the UK, and it's home to the mighty cliffs and sea-stacks of Hermaness, home to a vast number of gannets, Britain's biggest seabird. They have a wingspan of up to six feet, and watching them plunge through the air and into the sea is a truly amazing sight.

14. Hike through the "true" wilderness.

Flickr: tedandjen / Creative Commons

Fisherfield, also known as the Great Wilderness, is a huge, mysterious, and remote area in Wester Ross, home to secretive Scottish wild cats and deer. It takes three days to hike across it, and the only accommodation on offer is a semi-ruined bothy, so it might be a good idea to take a tent (or a hammock).

15. Paddle a tandem canoe through the Great Glen.

adventuresbydisney.com

Everyone should visit Loch Ness at least once, and what better way to see it than from the water itself? These spectacular bespoke tours through the Great Glen include canoeing on Loch Ness; you should ask to paddle past historic Urquhart Castle if you have enough time. Watch out for monsters though.

16. "Hunt" wildlife with your camera at Glenloy.

glenloywildlife.co.uk

This beautiful old lodge near Fort William sits in the heart of wildlife-rich countryside, full of eagles, red deer, otters, seals, pine martens, and more. Tours are led by trained biologists Jon and Angela Mercer, and go at a pace that allows wildlife fans and photographers to spot as many animals and birds as possible.

17. Explore secret Highland mountain trails by bike.

wild-adventure.co.uk

Scottish mountain biking expert Graham Moss has teamed up with tour company Wilderness Scotland to offer an amazing trip into the wildest parts of the Highlands. His seven-day coast-to-coast ride was voted one of the trips of the year by Outside Magazine. It's not for the faint-hearted, but it's certainly epic.

18. Get up close and personal with basking sharks.

baskingsharkscotland.co.uk

Basking sharks are huge but harmless migratory animals who spend their summers chilling out in the crystal-blue waters of the Inner Hebrides. Basking Shark Scotland runs boat tours from April to October, and guests can either swim alongside the sharks, or just relax and watch these gentle giants from the boat.

19. Go on a zip line "trek" through the forests of Aviemore.

zippark.co.uk

Or, if none of those things sound exciting enough for you, why not take a zip line tour through one of the highest pine forests in the country? Aviemore Zip Trek Park is the first of its kind in the UK, and takes you for an exhilarating* 2km aerial ride down the mountainside. Bet even Bear Grylls wouldn't have the guts to do that.

*Terrifying.

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