Scotland has an large network of signposted cycling routes and off-road
trails for mountain biking. On country roads there is often
little traffic. Bicycle hire and cycling tours are available throughout.
One of the more popular equestrian activities is pony trekking
on the native Scottish Highland pony. Beginners can try a 1 or
2 hour trek, while experienced riders may choose for a full day
or week-long trek. Further information can be obtained from The
British Horse Society (Scotland), Woodburn Farm, Crieff, Perthshire
PH7 3RG (telephone: (01764) 656 334; e-mail: email@example.com
Visiting anglers must usually have permission in the form of a
permit, available from the local tackle dealer, fishing club or
estate. Local tourist offices can supply more details on fishing
in their area, the cost of permits and where to get them. There
is no closed season for coarse fishing, though the rule
is rod only and it is forbidden to use two or more rods simultaneously.
Scotland is one of the world’s best places for salmon
fishing. The closed season for salmon varies from river to
river, but is generally from 1 November until 10-15 February (visitors
should check with the tourist offices).
Fly fishing is the most accepted and traditional form of
fishing for salmon. There are also great opportunities for trout
fishing. Glacial lochs are home to the elusive Char, found
in deep water. Boats and guides can be hired from hotels and angling
clubs. The closed season for brown trout is from 7 October until
14 March (both days inclusive). Sea angling can be done
along the coast, where boats and bait are supplied by local tourist
offices and fishing clubs.
Scotland, where golf was invented, is home to the world’s
most famous golf courses, notably the Old Course at St Andrews
– the historic ‘home of golf’. Scotland has
some 500 courses. Further Open Championship courses can be found
in Carnoustie, Muirfield, Royal Troon and Turnberry. There is
also an abundance of world-class courses, such as Blairgowrie,
Downfield, Murcar, Nairn, North Berwick, Royal Aberdeen, Royal
Dornoch, Southerness and Western Gailes. There is also a fine
selection of natural links courses in the outlying areas. For
details of golfing holidays, membership and golf courses, contact
VisitScotland (see Contact Addresses section).
The most popular spectator sports are rugby and football,
while the annual Highland Games (see Special Events in the Social
Profile section) also attracts many visitors.
Walking and hiking
The variety of scenery – from rocky peaks, moorland and
rolling green hills to glens, lochs and wild coastlines –
makes it ideal for walking. The large network of trails is steadily
growing. Short-distance walks can be completed in a day. For advice
on the best routes, contact VisitScotland. The best-known long-distance
walks are the three ‘official’ trails:
West Highland Way (the busiest, 150km or 95 miles from Milngavie,
north of Glasgow, to Fort William, passing through some spectacular
Highland scenery, and strenuous in the second half);
demanding Southern Upland Way (Britain’s first official
coast-to-coast footpath, 340km or 212 miles, from Portpatrick
to Cockburnspath, passing through moorland, conifer plantations
and crossing a few major rivers);
Speyside Way (a lowland route, 70km or 45 miles, from Spey Bay
to Tomintoul, along one of Scotland’s most famous salmon-fishing
rivers, the Spey).
There is free access at all times to the areas owned by the National
Trust for Scotland (marked ‘NTS’ and ‘FC’
on Ordnance Survey maps). Most of the rest of the land is owned
privately and, though Scotland is known for ‘free’
land access, walkers may be asked to alter their routes during
the deer stalking and grouse shooting seasons (from mid-August
to 20 October, and from 12 August to 10 December respectively).
Visitors camping in the wild are required to ask the consent of
the landowner. In addition, respect of the environment and wildlife
is essential and visitors may read the Scottish Natural Heritage
booklet, Care for the Hills, for advice.
There is 2560km or 1600 miles of coastline and thousands of lochs
and rivers. Inland, canoeing can be practised on tranquil
lochs or whitewater rafting on wild river. Along the coast,
an established sailing and yachting industry with
modern marinas features a range of sailing and boating facilities.
Canal cruises are also possible, most notably in the Crinan
Canal, which links the Clyde and the West Coast of Scotland; and
on the 96km or 60 mile long Caledonian Canal, with the option
to charter a yacht, motor cruiser or a hotel barge. For more information
on watersports, marinas, harbours and moorings, contact Sail
Scotland Ltd, PO Box 8363, Largs, Scotland KA30 8YD (telephone:
(01309) 676 757; fax: (01309) 673 331; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Golden eagles, red deer, peregrine falcons and wildcat are some
of the creatures inhabiting the mountainous regions, while the
lower slopes of the central Highlands offer a sanctuary for red
squirrel, capercaillie, crested tit, Scottish crossbill and pine
marten. Wild salmon, trout and otter can be found in the abundant
and spectacular lochs, one of which – Loch Ness –
is also the mythical home of ‘Nessie’, the
famously elusive Loch Ness monster.
Scotland has five ski resorts: Cairngorm, Glensee, Glencoe,
The Lecht and the Nevis range. Snowfall varies to the altitude
and is most consistent (particularly between November and May)
in the Nevis range or Braeriach, in the Cairngorms. Snowboarding
is also possible at all five resorts. Mountaineering and
climbing expeditions (including guides) are widely available.