Beyond Mountains: Enjoy water sports on your Scotland holiday

Everyone knows that the Cairngorms National Park and surrounding areas are great destinations for walking, hiking and mountain climbing. But what if you want a little bit more variety to your active holiday? Or if you are into water sports specifically? Have no fear: this part of Scotland is an excellent destination for water sports and activities of all levels of difficulty. Whether it’s kayaking on a calm loch or relishing the fast pace of a mountain river, there’s plenty to do to satisfy your craving for a water-based thrill!

Kayaking and canoeing

Scotland is one of the world’s best places for kayaking and canoeing, with its great variety of water features. A great starting point is the majestic river Spey, the third longest and fastest-flowing river in Scotland. There are plenty of guided kayaking and canoeing tours on offer, some of them including visiting whisky distilleries and dining. With parts of the river offering safe and shallow waters, this is also a great option for complete beginners. For a sea kayaking experience, head to Ullapool or the Summer Isles coastline. With a well-developed kayaking tour industry, these spots offer exciting options for kayaking with fishing, or ‘survival’ tours where you can learn foraging skills as well as enjoy the water.


The Summer Isles are also a top spot for sailing. With its own sailing school and typically calm waters, this is a perfect place to hone your sailing skills. If you are already experienced and want to bring your own boat, there are lovely sandy beaches for launching dinghies, or the concrete launching slip at Old Dornie for larger boats. And if you are up for something more relaxing, pleasure cruises around the Isles are available, offering the opportunity for watching seals, dolphins and other wildlife.

Whitewater rafting

One of the most thrilling experiences to be enjoyed as part of your active Scotland holiday, whitewater rafting involves plenty of splashing and speed! The Cairngorms have multiple river locations for this popular activity, including the Spey and the Dee in the north, and the Tay in the south. While some spots are best in the spring when the mountain water is melting, others, especially the Findhorn, are perfect all year round. With lots of guided tours offering full equipment and transport, this is a terrific activity suitable for the whole family.


Stand up paddleboarding is a relatively new water sport that is becoming very popular. Combining elements of kayaking and surfing, this is a great activity if you feel like doing something a little bit different. The Cairngorms National Park has several spots that are suitable for enjoying this activity, but Loch Morlich probably is the best one. With its glorious sandy beach and vies of the Cairngorms and Glenmore forest, the tranquil and clear waters of the loch are great for exploring this exciting new water activity. Lessons and equipment are available. The on-site boathouse provides changing facilities and The Boathouse Café offers refreshments – and a stunning view!

Wild swimming

For those wishing to really feel one with nature, there is no better activity than wild swimming. And Scotland doesn’t disappoint when it comes to a selection of stunning locations for this activity! If you’re feeling adventurous, head north from the Summer Isles and discover the breathtaking white sands and turquoise sea waters of Achmelvich, sheltered from the wind by cliffs. Or head into the Cairngorms, for wild swimming spots such as Stuffer’s Pool and Loch an Eilein, which boasts calm waters and a picturesque ruined castle. Loch Caoldair, in the western part of the Cairngorms, provides a unique swimming experience, completely hidden by surrounding woodland. It is easily accessible, located only a mile from the road and three miles from Laggan village.

What better way to relax, recharge, and refresh than to take part in some these water-based activities in Scotland? A self-catering accommodation option with us gives you the full flexibility to pursue any of the water sports that take your fancy, including overnight kayaking tours and full day trips to the more remote locations. With so much more to this area of Scotland than just mountains, why not book your wild getaway today?

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