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12 great outdoor activities to try

Written by Fiona

January 04 2017

Is 2017, you year to try a new outdoors activity? Apparently, a rising number of people, both adults and children, say they are keen to try a new outdoors adventure activity.

And the number of different activities continues to grow as providers think up ever more fun and rewarding ways to explore and enjoy the Scottish countryside.

Why not pledge to make this year the one to try a new adventure, or two?

Here are 12 great outdoor activities to try in 2017.

1 Wake surfing

Wakesurfing is new for Scotland and sees participants surfing an endless wave created by a speedboat.

After getting up on the wake, typically by use of a tow rope, the surfer then drops the rope and continues to ride the wave.

Wakesurfers use special boards designed specifically for boat wakes.

Age: From 10.

Contact: Try the exhilarating sport with Loch Lomond Wakeboard at www.lochlomondwakeboard.com

2 Human slingshot

Scotland’s only Human Slingshot is located at Laggan Outdoor Centre in Dumfries & Galloway.

It looks like a huge catapult and the human is fired into the air after being pulled back in the strong, elastic sling by a 4×4 vehicle.

You can reach speeds of up to 60mph, depending on your weight, and participants describe the feel of the acceleration as “unbelievable”, “like nothing else”, “bonkers”, “stomach churning” and “exhilarating”.

You can enjoy being “fired” over the Galloway countryside several times in one session.

Age: From 16. Minimum weight 50kg, maximum weight 95kg.

Contact: www.lagganoutdoor.co.uk

Also see the video of me on the Human Slingshot

3 Everesting

Everesting in the Tak ma Doon.

The aim of Everesting is to cycle the total height of the world’s tallest mountain at 29,028ft, (8848m) on a hill of your choice anywhere in the world.

In the purest sense, you should record the repeated ascent that takes place over one non-stop ride.

However, you could also set your own Everesting goal of climbing the height of the world’s tallest mountain over a month or even a year.

Simply keep a tally of the height gain and when you reach 8,848m you’ve “Everested”.

See Cyclist Everests on the Tak

Age: All.

Contact: See www.everesting.cc

4 Bushcraft

Have you ever been inspired by TV’s Ray Mears? Or wondered how he knows so much about nature and survival?

While few of us will never need to rely on bushcraft skills in the great outdoors, it’s fun to learn how.

Bushcraft sessions and courses teach you back-to-basics techniques, such as starting a fire without matches, sourcing fresh water, foraging for food, building shelters and tracking animals.

Ages: All

Contact: Search for bushcraft courses on-line.

5 SUPs

SUPS with Wilderness SUPS Co.

SUPs is short for Stand Up Paddle Boarding. It’s one of the newest ways to travel on water and fairly easy to learn.

The boards are large and buoyant. Participants stand up on the board and propel themselves over the water with a single long paddle.

The view from the SUP is amazing because you can see straight down into the water and out across the water and landscape.

Paddle boards can travel on lochs, rivers, canals and the sea.

Age: From 8.

Contact: Search for SUPs providers on-line.

6 Wild swimming

Scotland’s Outdoor Access Code allows you to swim outdoors in a huge variety of lochs and rivers, or you could swim in the sea.

Unless you are very brave, a wetsuit is recommended and it’s a good idea to wait for the water to warm up a little in the summer months.

Go swimming with others for safety and make use of a brightly coloured open water swim float so you are more easily seen in busier waterways.

If you fancy something a bit different book a swimming with seals or basking sharks outing with Basking Shark Scotland.

Ages: All (but it does depend on ability and confidence).

Contact: www.wildswimming.co.uk and www.baskingsharkscotland.co.uk

7 Fat biking

Fat biking is like mountain biking but on fatter tyres. Fat bikes do not have suspension forks, instead the “fattened up” tyres – and low air pressure in the tyres – create the suspension for comfortable off-road riding.

Because the tyres are wider – up to five inches – and softer, they offer great traction in mud, snow, sand and over tree roots and rocks.

Many people find their off-road cycling skills are greatly enhanced by riding a fat bike.

Ages: All.

Contact: Many bike hire centres loan fat bikes or you can buy from most cycle retailers.

8 Ski touring

Another fast growing activity, especially in Scotland, ski touring involves ascending, as well as descending, snowy hills and mountains.

“Skins” – a length of grippy fabric – are added to the base of the skis to aid grip, while the heels of the boot are freed, for the sliding-style walk uphill.

When you want descend, you remove the skins and affix the boots so you can ski downhill as normal.

Ski touring in Scotland requires a reasonable level of fitness, good navigation skills and the ability to cope with changeable snow and weather conditions.

If you are new to the activity it is worth going with a guided group first.

Ages: All (if you are a competent skier already).

Contact: Look on-line for ski touring guides or you can hire or buy the kit including skis, boots, skins and poles.

9 Camera stalking

Stalk red deer with a camera in your hand instead of a rifle. The activity requires stealth and patience but the rewards are fabulous close-up photos of one of Scotland’s iconic land mammals.

A few Scottish estates offer camera stalking at set times of the year. A skilled guide will show you how and where to go for the best photo shoots.

Age: Adult.

Contact: Check out www.eaglebrae.co.uk, www.wildhighlandtours.co.uk and www.lochvisions.co.uk

10 Trig bagging

A trig is short for “triangulation” point, or pillar. These concrete pillars were installed as part of one of the world’s most important 20th century map-making projects, the Retriangulation of Great Britain.

Between the 1930s and 1960s, many thousands of trig pillars were positioned across the British Isles and used to map the country to create the Ordnance Survey (OS) maps we use today.

These days, people “bag” trigs by walking to them and ticking them off a list of more than 6,000 existing pillars.

To go trig bagging, locate a trig point on a map – it’s a small triangle with at dot at the centre – and then walk to this point.

Age: All

Contact: See trigpointing.uk and www.haroldstreet.org.uk/trigpoints/

11 Microadventuring

A microadventure is described by the inventor Alastair Humphreys as “an adventure that is short, simple, local, cheap – yet still fun, exciting, challenging, refreshing and rewarding”.

Al’s aim is to inspire more people to spend time outdoors for the benefit of their physical and mental health.

Most microadventures are for one night and take place locally, such as in nearby countryside, on a hill, in woodland, a park or in your back garden.

To remain less conspicuous bivvy bags or hammocks are recommended rather than tents and it’s vital that you behave responsibly when sleeping wild.

Age: All.

Contact: For information about safety and legality see www.alastairhumphreys.com/legality-and-safety-of-sleeping-wild/

12 Segway safari

Segways are one of the newest ways to get off the beaten track to explore the countryside and spot wildlife.

The quiet two-wheel vehicles are battery powered and said to be very environmentally friendly.

Kids and adults can “drive” the stand-up vehicles and many outdoors centres and hotels now offer guided Segway tours and safaris.

Age: All (with a minimum weight of about 6st).

Contact: Look on-line for Segway providers in Scotland.

What will you try first? Also see Make 2017 your year to try new outdoor activities.

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