A to Z of family adventure


Aqualining is a first for Scotland.

A fun-filled A to Z of some of the best outdoor and adventure activities to try with the family this summer.

As the Scottish summer holidays roll on, parents will be keen to find new and exciting things to do with the kids.

Luckily enough, Scotland is acclaimed as a leader in outdoors adventure and fun with a host of outdoors activities to try.

From easy-going to adrenaline-charged there is an adventure pursuit to suit your desires.

We bring you an A to Z of some of the top summer outdoors activities.

A is for aqualining: One of the newest adventure activities in Scotland, aqualining has its roots in slacklining. Slackliners practise balancing moves as they walk a tightrope line connected to two trees or similar. Aqualining takes the sport a step further with a slackline positioned over water.

The world’s first commercial aqualine is located 10ft above the white-water River Garry at Calvine Gorge in Perthshire. It is operated by Nae Limits.

B is for bugging: River bugs are inflatable crafts for one person. These boats are perfect for heading down river navigating white water cascades, eddies and rapids. This is a fun-filled activity that can be enjoyed by a range of ages and abilities although you do need to be comfortable in water. See Splash, near Dunkeld

Canyoning at Vertical Descent - Photograph: Daniele Carotenuto

Canyoning at Vertical Descent – Photograph: Daniele Carotenuto

C is for canyoning: Scotland’s beautiful gorges, including waterfalls and rivers, offer the perfect backdrop for this activity. Clad in a wetsuit, canyoneers are guided down canyons by a variety of means, including cliff jumping into water pools, abseiling, climbing and swimming. Gorges can be chosen to suit a range of abilities. See Vertical Descents

D is Deval karting: Hop on to the chairlift at The Lecht ski and summer mountain centre in Aberdeenshire. You collect your deval kart at the top of the hill and enjoy the ride down. Devals have a steering wheel and brakes but no engine and rely on gravity. They are suitable from the age of 10 to adults. See The Lecht

E is for eagle watching: An exciting new wildlife hub has opened in Appin, Portnacroish, Argyll. The project is a partnership between The View & Co Café and award-winning wildlife photographer Philip Price. Visitors can view live nest cameras to see white-tailed sea eagles, as well as barn owls and herons. See The View & Co.

Get up close to deer at Highland Safaris.

Get up close to deer at Highland Safaris.

F is for a Forest Safari: Introduce the kids to the delights of the natural environment during a Land Rover safari trek in the Perthshire countryside. You can expect to see red squirrels, roe deer and other forest wildlife. Head to Highland Safaris, at Dull, near Aberfeldy.

G is for gold panning: Highland Safaris also has a permanent gold and gem panning centre. Armed with a pan and a bucket of dirt, children and adults can scoop and swirl a panning flume to hunt for real and fool’s gold, as well as semi-precious gem stones. Whatever you find, you take home. Pop in to feed the young deer at the Red Deer Centre, too.

H is for hovercrafting: It’s not a car, boat or plane. There are no brakes, gears, reverse of wheels. Hovercrafting offers the thrills of skimming at speed across the ground on a cushion of air. Head to Craigluscar Activities, Dunfermline. www.craigluscar.co.uk

I is for ice climbing: Two ice climbing centres, Ice Factor at Kinlochleven, Highlands, and Snow Factor at Braehead, near Glasgow, offer the chance to try the challenging sport of ice climbing in the safety of a controlled and indoors environment. In fact, the Kinlochleven centre boasts the world’s biggest indoor ice wall. Some 500 tonnes of snow are used to create this facility with climbing opportunities ranging from easy-ish to extreme.

J is for jumping: Cliff jumping ranges from mini leaps to adrenaline-buzzing high jumps into deep-water pools. The activity most often takes place as part of a gorge walking or canyoning adventure. See Vertical Descents, Onich, Fort William, or Nae Limits, Perthshire.

K is for kayaking: Kayaking can be enjoyed in so many beautiful places, including rivers, lochs and the sea. For a gentle introduction head to a loch, such as Loch Lomond with Can You Experience at Balloch, where families can hire their own kayaks for a paddle around the sheltered lagoon.

Land Yachting with Blown Away

Land Yachting with Blown Away

L is for land yachting: Combining the grace of sailing with the buzz of motor racing, land yachting offers a fantastic way to zoom across the ground or sand. Why not challenge your friends and family to a land yachting race? Blown Away Land Yachting Experiences is the place to head.

M is for mountain biking: Scotland is acclaimed as Europe’s premier mountain biking destination and offers an exciting outing on cross country trails or downhill routes. There is a trail or trail centre to suit all ages, fitness levels and ability. Some of the best can be found at the Forestry Commission’s 7stanes network of centres in the Borders. Also check out Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland.

N is for Nordic Walking: Get fit and see the countryside on a Nordic Walking trek. The activity utilises a wide range of muscles and claims to help with weight loss, toning and endurance. For expert adult tuition try Breathing Space Outdoors, Comrie, Perthshire.

O is for orienteering: Many of Scotland’s public parks have a permanent orienteering course for have-a-go adventurers. All you need is a map, a compass, energy and the determination to tick off all the checkpoints. This is a cheap way to wear out the kids with something fun and educational. To find out more see Scottish Orienteering.

P is for paintballing: Paintballing comes in all shapes and sizes and is a  great way to enjoy family time, especially if you fancy letting off some steam and having a wee battle of parents versus kids. See the Bedlam Paintball, Skirmish.

Q is for quad biking: Jump on to a quad bike and be transported across the rugged countryside in style. Motorised quad bikes are a cross between an off-road car and a scambler bike, with four wheels and are the perfect way to travel countryside tracks. Try a quad bike trek on the Rothiemurchus Estate, near Aviemore.


Pony trekking for all the family.

R is for riding: Or more specifically, pony and horse riding. Scotland boasts a host of pony trekking and riding centres. You can enjoy easy-going treks with all the family or take on longer cross-country rides.  Wester Dowald near Crieff in Perthshire and Castle Rednock Trekking in the Trossachs are just two to be recommended in Scotland.

S is for surfing: There is little to beat the moment that you first stand up on your surf board and feel the strength and speed of the wave as it takes you smoothly towards the beach. However, to get to this point you’ll need a few lessons. High quality family surf lessons can be found at Coast to Coast Surf School at Belhaven beach near Dunbar in East Lothian.

T is for tank driving: Children aged nine to 14 can take on a Cadet Tank Driving adventure where they  learn to drive a Combat Engineering Tractor using periscopes. For older kids and adults there’s a full-on Tank Driving experience. Head to Tank Driving Scotland at Auchterhouse, Dundee.

U is for underground weaselling: Wriggling, scrambling and squirming like a weasel, participants enter an underground labyrinth of tunnels, voids and tight spaces under a jumble of vast boulders. You’ll frequently pop up into the daylight before exploring the next chamber. It’s a great activity for all the family. See Boots ’n’ Paddles in Inverness-shire.


The new Via Ferrata course in the Scottish Highlands.

V is for Via Ferrata: The first of its kind in Scotland, the Via Ferrata course is located high up in a gorge near Kinlochleven, Highlands. Climbing ladders and walking bridges attached to the rock face, a 500m journey accesses a dramatic bedrock amphitheatre. The neighbouring 90m waterfall, Grey Mare’s Tail, adds excitement and water spray to the activity. Vertical Descents offers guided via ferrata trips.

W is for Wow Balls: Have you ever wondered what it would be like to walk on water? WOW Balls offer this amazing experience. Climb inside a giant inflatable sphere and once you’ve been sealed in you can move around on the water. You’ll enjoy moving backwards and forwards, side to side and most probably, upside-down. Boots ’n’ Paddles is the place for all ages to give this a go.

X is for Xtreme Karting: This is your chance to go wild on the tracks at the indoor karting centre in Larbert, Falkirk. The challenging circuit offers the ultimate test of your rubber-burning skills. See  Xtreme Karting.

Y is for yachting: Great for all the family, yachting – or sailing – is a superb hands-on adventure. You could learn the ropes in dinghies at sportscotland National Centre Cumbrae or on a full-scale yacht master’s course. See RYA Scotland.

Z is for zip lining: Head to the Zip Line Park Aviemore for a 1.5km journey through the fabulous scenery of the Scottish Highlands. You’ll whizz down a beautiful gorge and zip line all the way to the bottom going from one zip slide to another under the safety of a zip instructor. See G2Outdoors.

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