Island AdventuresEvery one of Scotland's many hundreds of islands that dot the seas and lochs offers stunning scenery and a wonderful 'get away from it all', restful atmosphere. And whether it's one of the larger, inhabited islands situated off-shore or a tiny loch isle boasting a multitude of bird and wildlife, you will find a huge opportunity for exploration, discovery, adventure and active pursuits.
It's the chance to get off the beaten track that appeals to many, or the opportunity for a spot of island hopping. A popular way to explore one of several islands such as Bute, Skye, The Outer Hebrides and Orkney is by bike. Simply pop you bike on a ferry from the mainland before rolling off on arraival at the islands, to discover a network of quiet roads.
At cycling speed you are treated to a wealth of scenic and wildlife spotting opportunities such as the blooming wild flowers of the beach-lined machair on sunny Harris, otters at Berneray on North Uist and the wonderful panorama of sparkling blue sea and green and gold fields as you crest a hill on Orkney.
Leisurely pursuits in stunning Scottish scenery
Flatter islands, including Islay and Tiree are made for cycling. A leisurely two-day pedal takes you to all of Islay's famous whisky distilleries. Cyclists on Tiree will be bowled over by the endless beaches and the butterflies, dragonflies and rare bumblebees that inhabit machair.
A host of atmospheric glens and valleys boasting wild off-road mountain biking trails provide the scene for a more energetic island adventure. On Skye the epic and Wild Glen Slighachan pass offers a challenging one-day outing or could be split into two days for those who want to enjoy a more leisurely trip coupled with an overnight stay.The gem-like island of Kerrera, across the narrow sound from Oban, provides the setting for an enchanting off-road cycle. A circular track heads from Horse Shoe Bay via Ardmore and while rough in places and occasionally hilly the effort is more than rewarded with stunning views, including Lismore and the Firth of Lorn. A trip to islands such as Arran and Tiree also offer the chance to take a unique view of the scenery and wildlife. Try canyoning in the treelined glen of North Glen Sannox on Arran or kitesurfing above beach-endowed Tiree.
The Scottish shoreline provides eye-candy for the soulMany Scottish islands boast a unique and wildlife abundant shoreline. For the best views try the up close and peaceful pursuit of sea kayaking. A paddle along the coast of Arran offers a chance to spot seals, porpoise and seabirds. Warmed by the Gulf Stream, the waters around the Isle of Mull offer sightings of Minke whales, dolphins and even basking sharks. More experienced paddlers will relish the opportunity to pack up their crafts with provisions and camping gear for a week long island-hopping extravaganza. There are so many beautiful islands to choose from but the Summer islands, off the north-west mainland, the long and glorious coastline of the Outer Hebrides with its dazzling white beaches and myriad wildlife are to be recommended.
It's easy to understand why so many people visit Scotland's idyllic islands - and then never want to return home.
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