Scotland's adventure playground offers a wealth of exciting and active pursuits to suit the desires of all kinds of families. Aside from the fantastic landscape, the beauty of Scotland for families is accessibility. Within a short drive or train journey of the cities or major towns, there is a host of outdoor companies and activities to suit every variety of adventure-seeking family.
Family activities for every adventurer
Of course, not every family will be looking for the same thing. While a family with young children might consider a half-day of open canoeing at the edge of a tranquil loch, such as Loch Morlich, near Aviemore, and Aberfoyle's Loch Ard, a big enough adventure, a family group with teenage kids is more likely to be looking for something a little more daring, perhaps mountain biking at Laggan Woltrax, near Kingussie; canyoning at Perthshire's magnificent Bruar Falls; or white water rafting on one of Scotland's fastest-flowing rivers such as the Tay, the Findhorn or the mighty Tummel.
Adventurous days out
With this in mind, many outdoor companies offer bespoke activity days or weekends. Taking into account age, abilities and adventurous aspirations they can put together a schedule of activities. With numerous pursuits to choose from, you and your children could find yourselves gorge walking in pretty Achlean Gorge, Rothiemuchus, or building a river raft in the morning before an afternoon spent 'walking on water' in a giant inflatable WoW ball or competing in a family archery contest. Fun is always the key to adventure activities in Scotland but safety is also of paramount importance. The best companies and instructors adhere to strict safety guidelines according to the independent watchdog, the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority.
Adventure for the mind and soul
Adventure doesn't have to mean high-adrenaline as there are many activities that also incorporate more cerebral pleasures, such as wildlife spotting. Younger families can enjoy a Forest Safari that includes an exciting trip off-road in a Land Rover before heading on foot in Perthshire's ancient Caledonian pine forest in search of the tracks and clues of red squirrel and roe deer.
While an organised activity or safari is guaranteed to be fun for all the family, Scotland also has a wealth of family-friendly facilities where you can simply turn up and have a go. For example, hire your bikes at one of the mountain bike centres of the award-winning 7stanes in Southern Scotland and explore a network of waymarked off-roads trails or, in winter, try skiing at one of Scotland's five ski resorts.
Alternatively Scotland boasts some of the world's best indoor climbing centres, including centres near Edinburgh and Kinlochleven, which offers both wall climbing and ice climbing. There's a surprising range of great family activities close to our main cities. Karting, available near Glasgow, caters for all ages of karting fans and also has a unique tournament-style paintball arena.
No wonder so many families return to Scotland for an action-packed holiday year after year. Find out what happened when travel writer Robin McKelvie took his daughter to the island of Cumbrae for a family adventure in our Grab a Glen travel diary.
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