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In focus: The Outdoor Capital UK

Written by Fiona

November 24 2015

If you watched the recent promotional film that I presented for the Outdoor Capital UK you’ll already know how much I love this area. See this blog. You can tell from my on-screen chat that I am genuinely passionate about how much there is to see and do.

Of course, I also like many other areas of Scotland and there are lots of outdoor highlights in every region, but I was surprised to discover, when I was put on the spot in front of the camera, how much I know and really do enjoy about visiting the Outdoor Capital UK. Let me tell you a bit more about what’s so great about the region. #outdoorcapitaluk

Geographical breadth


The town of Fort William – the largest in the Highlands – and the UK’s tallest mountain of Ben Nevis sit at the heart of the Outdoor Capital UK. The main smaller areas of this western Highlands region include The Great Glen and Glen Spean, Fort William and Glen Nevis, Glencoe and Loch Leven, Ardnamurchan, Mallaig & the Road to the Isles, as well as Knoydart.

There is a long and varied coastline that is deeply indented by sea lochs, such as Loch Linnhe, Loch Nevis, Loch Sunart and Loch Ailort. Talking of lochs, there are plenty of land locked waterways, too, including the lochs of Eilt, Shiel and Leven. The region also includes the small isles of Canna, Rum, Eigg and Muck.

Th huge variety of landscape continues with high-rise mountains, moorlands, forests, rolling hills, rivers and canals.

Landscape wonders

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A journey to, and within, the region is usually breath-taking. No matter what the weather, there are incredible views to see. I love it when:

  • The clouds hang moodily over the tops of the mountains
  • When autumn paints the scenery a rich palette of bright colours
  • When the day is filled with sunshine and blue sky
  • When winter covers the land in white and sparkles
  • When spring brings a wealth of fresh greens to the scenery.

You get the picture!

With Ben Nevis towering to 1,344m and almost 70 other mountains with a summit of more than 914m (which means they qualify as Munros), there is plentiful high ground to enjoy. There are also magnificent glens, wild moorlands and fabulously remote places to explore.

But the Outdoor capital UK also boasts more accessible outdoor landscapes, too, with easy-to-walk hills, valley trails, gorges and sheltered lochs and shoreline.

 Lots to do

Boat trip on Loch Linnhe

Boat trip on Loch Linnhe

The list of outdoors activities is almost endless. Walking is one of the biggest draws of the Outdoors Capital UK with routes for all. There’s great climbing routes – including world famous routes on mountains such as Ben Nevis and Buchaille Etive Mor – as well as mountain sports, cycling and mountain biking, snow sports, golf, water sports. Take your pick!

Via Feratta next to the Grey Mare's Waterfall, Kinlochleven.

Via Ferrata next to the Grey Mare’s Waterfall, Kinlochleven.

Something for all

While the Highlands region has a world-acclaimed reputation for attracting the most experienced mountaineers, climbers, sea kayakers, mountain bikers and adventurers, it is also a destination where newcomers to the outdoors and young families can immerse themselves in an outdoors adventure.

Waking the Ring of Steall.

Waking the Ring of Steall.

Canals, with still waters and flat towpaths; easily accessed lochs to walk around; ski resorts that cater for all abilities, including new-comers; hills that can be summitted in an hour or so; and mountain bike trails centres with graded purpose-built routes. There is a wealth of things to do for beginners through to experts.

Easy going mountain biking on canal towpaths.

Easy going mountain biking on canal towpaths.

For families

The growing market of outdoorsy families are well catered for in The Outdoor Capital UK. As well as the more traditional activities of walking and mountain biking, you can experience a high wire adventure, traverse a via ferrata , try canyoning or sea kayaking, take a Jacobite steam train (nicknamed the Harry Potter trip) go white water rafting or river bugging and spot wildlife on a safari or on a fabulous boat trip.

As wild as you want

Wilderness area of Knoydart.

Wilderness area of Knoydart.

As I said there is an adventure for all. If you like mountain biking you can:

  • Head off with a map and compass to explore remote singletrack
  • Tackle the black-graded downhill routes at Nevis Range
  • Ride a graded trail at a purpose-built mountain biking centre
  • Or cycle beautifully flat “can’t get lost” canal towpaths.

It’s the same with walking: There are wild places to explore or waymarked routes. You can camp in a campsite, stay in hostel or pack a lightweight tent and head off for a remote overnight without another sole within miles of you.

Easy accessibility

Arrive by car, train, bus, on a bike or on foot. You can even come by kayak or canoe. But however you come you’ll take a journey though some of Scotland’s most amazing scenery. See my Outdoors Capital UK diary for more details. I talk a lot about arriving in the region!

Places to stay

From five-star luxury to wild camping and everything in between, there is an accommodation option to suit all budgets and comfort levels. You can enjoy your overnights solo, as a couple, as a family or with a big group of friends. I have chosen some of my favourite places to stay in the Outdoor Capital UK.

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