The Scottish Highlands have been hailed as Europe’s go-to place for adventure travel, in a new trends forecast by Condé Nast Traveller magazine.
“A sweep of visionaries are shaking up the Scottish Highlands,” says the publication, pointing to new launches in the region, including Scandi-Scot hideaway Kyle House, and a lavish makeover of coaching inn The Fife Arms.
“Travellers walk the earth to find monumental landscapes, a sense of complete isolation – yet relatively few go looking in their own back yard,” continues the blurb.
“Perhaps when Britain leaves Europe in March 2019, that will change, and we will finally head for the Highlands, our own true wilderness, for our country kicks and skiing breaks.”
Whether you’re coming from Britain, Europe or further afield, there’s an undeniable romance to the rugged landscapes of Scotland.
Nowhere else on earth will you find its singular fusion of brooding peaks, heather-filled hills and serene, glassy lochs.
And, while Brits haven’t typically thought of Scotland as an adventure option, it could be that we’re finally catching on to its vast potential.
Because here lies a country that positively brims with opportunities to explore, escape and push your limits.
Here’s five reasons to visit in 2019 – and if you’re joining us from beyond the UK, remember that you can extend Flash Pack’s Scotland stopover with our other Europe adventures, including hiking a glacier in Norway, cooking in Sicily and more:
The craggy peaks and troughs of Loch Laggan, in the central Highlands near Dalwhinnie, are your adventure playground for the day in this heart-pumping foray.
Send your adrenaline radar spiking as you clamber over a tapestry of waterfalls, pools and natural rock flumes, battling the elements and supporting one another as you work to keep your balance.
You may get freezing cold and wet, but the whole experience will leave you pumping in a quite primordial way.
The best kayaking around
Kayaking doesn’t just hit its prime in Canada: it’s rather wonderful in Scotland, too.
Head for the River Spey, a glorious salmon-filled waterway that snakes its way through Cairngorms National Park, and paddle in a serene world of woodland, wide skies and thickets of hawthorn.
You may pass the pine trees of Rothiemurchus forest on this gentle downstream mosey, or maybe you’ll spot one of Scotland’s famous riverside distilleries. If you time it right, you can rock up in a lively little town like Aviemore for a rewarding bite to eat.
In his classic book In Search of Scotland, travel writer HV Morton describes “mist, wind, rain, the cry of the curlew and the slow clouds above damp moorland”.
“That is the Scotland that even a stranger learns to love,” he notes.
You can only fully understand this observation when you throw yourself into the heart of the Scottish landscape: and surely, there are few finer places to take a hike.
The summit of Cairngorm is a must-try, as you summon up that inner fire to reach heights of over 4,000 feet. Drink in vast, rolling panoramas as you wander your way up, keeping an eye out for native fauna including golden eagles and roaming deer.
Cool places to stay
Unlike England and Wales, wild camping is legal in Scotland, opening up this vast and incredible landscape to all would-be explorers with a glimmer of adventure in their soul.
And obligingly, the government even lends an extra hand by letting you stay at bothies; free and ancient cottages or mountain huts that are scattered all over the countryside.
If camping isn’t your thing, there’s plenty of other options, too. You might want to bed down in a Highlands estate, for example, or a far-flung lighthouse.
On Flash Pack’s Scotland getaway, we finish our adventure in style at a real-life castle (above) overlooking Loch Faskally and Ben Vrackie mountain. Just for added kicks, there’s a pool, steam room and spa on-site, too.
All the whisky
A wee dram of whisky puts the world to rights, and you’re in exactly the right place for it.
Scotland’s golden nectar is best appreciated with a visit to the picture-perfect Dalwhinnie Distillery, the country’s highest whisky brewer at at 1,164 feet above sea level.
Here, you can sample the beloved Highland Single Malt Whisky, known for its sweet honey and vanilla notes, paired with homemade chocolates.
Relish the rich, comforting glow of the malt working its magic and toast to the beauty of being.
Images: Flash Pack, Shutterstock, Visit Scotland