Family Adventure in Scotland This Half-Term Break
Acclaimed as Europe's outdoors capital, Scotland offers a range of activities for all ages, fitness levels and aspirations. These days Scotland is easily accessible from many areas of England and Wales, with flights direct to cities such as Glasgow, Edinburgh, Inverness and Aberdeen. Or why not travel by train?
For the family market there is also a wide choice of places to stay in Scotland. While some people choose to book into one place, such as a family-friendly hotel or a self-catering cottage, for a week or two, others will head off for a multi-center holiday staying a few nights in a youth hostel in one town, followed by a hostel in another location. Increasingly, many families are choosing to go by campervan, which offers the benefits of a combined living / sleeping / moving vehicle.
And once you've chosen your accommodation, your next step is to make a list of your favorite adventure activities. For wherever you are in Scotland there is a wide spectrum of exciting outdoors activities on offer. From coasteering on the Outer Hebrides, to kite surfing in Fife, to surfing on the Isle of Tiree, to canyoning in Perthsire, to gorge walking on the Isle of Arran, to vaoing on Loch Lomond.
Here we bring you a round-up of the best days out in Scotland for adventurous families.
River bugging: Take off in fast-moving water in a mini inflatable boat called a river "bug". It looks more like an armchair and offers great fun on-water opportunities to spin round, bounce off rocks and fall in! Wetsuits, buoyancy aids and helmets are provided. Minimum age is 16.
Who with ?: Splash White Water Rafting, Aberfeldy, Perthshire. tel: 01877 829 706.
WoW balls: Walk on Water in a WoW ball. To do this you climb inside the giant inflatable WoW sphere and then move off for a "roll" on the water's surface. The WoW balls go backwards and forwards, side to side and upside-down.
Who with ?: Boots 'n' Paddles, Kirkhill, Inverness. Tel: 0845 612 5567.
River Raiders: A multi-activity high ropes course takes adults and children on an thrilling adventure above the River Findhorn. The trip includes a zip slide, an abseil, rock climbing and a lot of laughing. Minimum age is seven.
Who with ?: Extreme Dream, Aviemore. Tel: 01479 812 466.
Forest safari : This is a great opportunity to introduce children to the wonders of the natural environment. During this LandRover Safari experience a ranger shows you how to get up close and discover wildlife tracks, trails, views and clues as you take a stroll into an ancient Caledonian Pine Forest. You might see red squirrel and roe deer.
Who with ?: Highland Safaris, Perthshire, at http://www.highlandsafaris.net
Whirlpool boat trip: Take the family for a spin in the world's third largest whirlpool known as the Corryvreckan. A boat trip to the Gulf of Corryvreckan, south of Oban, is wet and wild. Minimum age is five.
Who with ?: For boat trips check out Sea.Fari Adventures Oban. Tel: 01852 300 003.
Canoe Loch Lomond: Head off for your own mini adventure paddling a Canadian canoe and exploring the islands of Loch Lomond. Moor up to enjoy a picnic or to hike across one of the isles.
Who with ?: Can You Experience, Balloch, Loch Lomond.
Bag a crag: Learn the ropes on an outdoors climbing trip. The half or full-day sessions can be tailored to suit most ages and abilities, and take place at small crags near Edinburgh or in Fife.
Who with ?: Edinburgh International Climbing Arena (EICA), Ratho, near Edinburgh.
Stand-up paddle surfing: A cross between surfing and kayaking, Stand up Paddle Surfing (SUP) is a fun activity. You can try this on Tiree in the Inner Hebrides, starting with the calm and shallow waters of Loch Bhasapol, before progressing to the surf on one of the beaches on this isle. Hire and lessons available with Wild Diamond.
Who with ?: Wild Diamond, Tiree. Tel: 01879 220399.
Weaselling: Weasels are known for getting in and out of tight spaces. And now it's your turn. The fun activity sees grown-ups and kids wriggling, squirming and scrambling their way through an underground network of tunnels.
Who with ?: Boots 'n' Paddles,
Gorge walking: Jump into plunge pools, slide down big slippery rocks and duck beneath waterfalls as you explore a section of river. The limits to this action-packed adventure are only your imagination. Wetsuits, helmets and buoyancy aids provided. Minimum age is eight.
Who with ?: Arran Adventure Company on Arran. See www.arranadventure.com
Trailquesting: The thinking-family's mountain biking adventure combines the fun of off-road cycling with an orienteering style adventure. The goal is to score points by visiting hidden controls on a supplied map.
Who with ?: Arran Adventure Company, based in Brodick, have a permanent trailquesting route that is ideal for those aged over eight. See above for details.