Plan Your Own Adventure: 2018 Summer Calendar
From yoga to stone skimming and rock climbing to running clubs via Tough Mudder, we take a closer look at what Scotland has to offer in terms of adventure this summer
This country is packed full of events and places for you to start your own personal adventure. Here’s a small selection of what’s available in the summer of 2018, from learning how to repair a bike to some of the world’s most punishing races, via trampolines and a surprising number of zip lines.
Cycling in Scotland
The Bike Station
With locations in Edinburgh, Perth and Dundee, the Bike Station offers a one stop shop for buying reconditioned bikes, learning how to look after them (or have them repaired by the professionals) and general safety training for all ages. They’re local, environmentally conscious and generally a responsible place to start your bike owning journey.
Mountain bike specialists Dirt School offer courses all over Scotland – from main hub Glentress in the Tweed Valley to Fort William and Cathkin Braes – providing expert tuition with the simple ethos that your coach should have not just the paperwork but the riding credentials to match. They run courses for anyone from complete beginners wanting to ride safely, weekend warriors who want to improve their confidence and control, right through to riders who race at the top level internationally. If you’re thinking about throwing yourself down a near vertical mountain trail with only a bike between you and the dirt, maybe think about learning some skills from these guys first, eh?
Fort William World Cup
This annual event happens across a June weekend and features around 250 competitors from up to 30 countries (who’ve earned the qualifying UCI points) taking on the Nevis Range course. Described as ‘a gruelling rock strewn ribbon of bike-smashing dirt that drops 525m in 2.8km,’ participation is strictly for skilled riders only. Everyone else should come to watch the fearless at work, perhaps from the vantage point of a seat on the gondola. 2-3 Jun, day pass from £17.50
[Tweedlove Bike Festival]
Tweedlove Bike Festival
Now the UK’s biggest bike festival, Tweedlove have events throughout the summer celebrating the wealth of mountain and road biking opportunities this area of the Scottish Borders has to offer. They host races for all ages and abilities but the headline is the Big Tweedlove Festival Weekend (8-10 Jun) which features the Whyte British Enduro Championship on the Sunday.
With routes of 40 or 85 miles on offer, this mass participation cycling event has space for up to 5000 people to take in some of the finest sights of the Scottish Highlands – Loch Rannoch, Loch Tummel, combined with the demanding, twisting climb of Mt Schiehallion – on a closed road one May Sunday. Pitlochry, 20 May, from £37.50
Watersports in Scotland
Situated in the heart of the Cairngorm National Park, Glenmore Lodge is billed as Scotland’s national outdoor centre and offers a variety of courses and facilities geared towards training across a wide range of outdoor disciplines. Covering kayaking, canoeing, mountaineering, rock climbing, ski touring and mountain biking (and much more besides), this is a good place to head to find out how to explore Scotland’s great outdoors safely and responsibly.
Coast to Coast Surf School
Learn to surf! Located on Belhaven beach near Dunbar, Coast to Coast are well respected for their team of experienced instructors offering a range of lessons and courses in the sports of surfing, bodyboarding, stand up paddling and coasteering. They also run tours and trips to the most remote edges of Scotland’s beautiful and varied coastline.
Scottish Surfing Federation
Once you’ve learned the basics and generally got really into surfing, why not join the SSF? Surf’s governing body in Scotland, the SSF organise the national championships and work to safeguard the country’s marine environment. They also offer a range of advanced courses for members, whose benefits include liability insurance, the opportunity to compete in various championships and the chance to participate in protecting Scotland’s surf environment for future generations.
Races, triathlons and adventures in Scotland
Live out your childhood fantasies of Tarzan or Endor life with a treetop adventure featuring rope courses, zip lines and segways in three forest locations across Scotland – Aberfoyle, Crathes Castle and Glentress Forest, each within driving distance of Glasgow, Aberdeen or Edinburgh respectively – where you can retreat for team, family or solo adventures.
Tough Mudder have a reputation for building sadistically challenging obstacle courses to test the mettle of even the most resilient of outdoorspeople. There are no winners, neither literally nor figuratively – it’s all about the team work and pushing yourself to the outer limits of endurance. With obstacles involving electrocution, barbed wire, the engagingly named ‘Ladder to Hell’ and of course the omnipresent mud, this one is definitely not for the faint hearted. Drumlanrig Castle, 16 & 17 Jun, from £109
In slight contrast to the prior obstacle course, Rough Runner put an emphasis on fun, taking their inspiration from game shows like Fun House and Takeshi’s Castle rather than the CIA’s extraordinary renditions programme. Obstacles include sweeper arms, giant pigeon battles, big balls and The Travelator, and it all takes place in a lovely deer park next to the Forth. Hopetoun House, 18 & 19 Aug, from £49
Zip Trek Park
In case it wasn’t already obvious from previous recommendations, we’re really really into zip lining over here. Heading to Aviemore? Why not check out Zip Trek Park! Fly through the pine forest in the heart of the Cairngorms like a noble eagle, screaming as you go. Feel the peril escalate, building to a final half kilometre plummet at speeds of 40mph. Aviemore, from £30
Rat Race Edinburgh
Take part in a 55km ultra run without even leaving the comfort of your own city! Starting from the Royal Mile, the course weaves 55km through streets, alleyways, onto hills, up crags, past monuments, museums, Holyrood Palace, the Parliament and up and down 3000 feet of ascent and descent. That’s around the height of a Munro. Easy! 21 Oct, from £99
[World Stone Skimming Championships]
World Stone Skimming Championships
How lucky are we to live in the country that hosts the annual World Stone Skimming Championships? Taking place on Easdale Island far to the west this September, entrance is £5 for ‘adult ladies and men’, and £3 for ‘old tossers.’ The World Stone Skimming Cup is up for grabs, and runners-up will receive a solid slate medal. Easdale Island, 23 Sep
Ironman 70.3 Edinburgh
Widely regarded as one of the most difficult one day sporting events in the world, the Ironman is a triathlon for people who think triathlons are for the weak. This Edinburgh version includes a 1.2 mile swim at Preston Links, a 56 mile one loop bike course, and a 13.1 mile run within Holyrood Park before crossing the finish line. Sounds pretty straightforward. 1 Jul, from £220
And compared to CELTMAN! maybe it is? This extreme Scottish triathlon promises participants such delights as swimming 3.4km in cold, deep and jellyfish-infested Atlantic waters, biking 202km on often very windy Highland roads and running 42km over the Beinn Eighe mountain range which includes two Munros! Apparently this is all meant to happen on one day??? You get a blue t-shirt if you finish sooooooo… pretty much sold. What, registration is closed for 2018? Damn. Well, bear it in mind for next year.
Climbing and Extreme Sports
Scotland’s first dedicated indoor climbing centre, based in Edinburgh Alien Rock offers training from beginners up and the space to learn skills safely, indoors and away from the harsh realities of the Scottish weather. Alien One holds a large selection of roped climbing for all levels, while Alien Bloc nearby provides a bouldering centre with low walls and no ropes.
Edinburgh International Climbing Arena
Europe’s largest indoor climbing wall is situated at Ratho, just outside Edinburgh, and offers coaching for all ages alongside literally hundreds of roped routes and multiple rocks for practising your bouldering. You can hire everything you need to get started on site – remember it’s basically outdoors, so if you’re planning on climbing at any time but the height of summer (one week in May), take warm clothes. Climb start up course £50
Glasgow Climbing Academy
The Climbing Academy offers state of the art indoor bouldering facilities on Glasgow’s Southside, equipment, coaching from age 0 onwards, and even a lovely cafe. Membership is only £10 for life, and their Movement and Technique beginners bouldering course promises to be ‘probably the best 180 minutes you will ever invest in your climbing.’ From £7
[Foxlake by Tony Marsh]
Located 25 miles east of Edinburgh, Foxlake is home to Scotland’s first cable wakeboarding park. It’s also got rope trails, zip lines and segways – fun for all the family (wetsuits are available to ensure survival throughout the ‘summer’ months).
This purpose built 90 acre park in beautiful East Kilbride offers a wide range of indoor and outdoor sporting pursuits from Zone 54 – Scotland’s newest indoor skate park – to Air Space, a ‘spring-loaded urban playground’ of over 100 interconnected trampolines. They’ve also got a climbing centre, pool and some inexplicable golf.
War of The Thistles
Happening across two days in two separate locations, War of the Thistles is organised by Skateboard Scotland and brings together the majority of the Scottish skate scene for what is variously promised to be ‘gnarliness’ and ‘carnage.’ They’re also offering a £2000 prize, sponsored and unsponsored jams, shralper of the day and even a possible bonus prize for best Olympic uniform. Transition Skatepark in Aberdeen, 5 May; Unit 23 Skatepark, Dumbarton, 6 May, £10
Yoga, walking and running in Scotland
Explore yoga from a different viewpoint – quite literally – suspended in a soft fabric hammock above the ground. You’ll find classes from beginners onwards across the country, and if you particularly enjoy the aerial part, there’s a whole world of mid air movement to explore from silk work to trapeze.
Pilates Festival Scotland
This full day celebration of Scottish pilates takes place in Dunblane and brings together a variety of instructors for a packed timetable catering to all skill levels. Dunblane Hydro, 13 May, £85
Edinburgh Yoga Festival
This week-long programme aims to celebrate yoga in the city, providing teachers, students and studios with a chance to connect with the community. A not-for-profit event, all ticket sales are on a 'pay it forward' basis with funds going to the Edinburgh Community Yoga outreach projects providing access to yoga for vulnerable people. Serenity Cafe, 11-20 May, from £10 per session
[Great West Yoga Fest]
Great West Yoga Fest
A full day celebration of yoga in Glasgow’s West End, Great West Yoga Fest 2018 will (somewhat optimistically) be taking place in a private park. There will be kids’ yoga, chair yoga, hatha yoga, flow yoga, music, stalls, relaxation, meditation, massage, and activities for all ages. Under 12s go free, and tickets include at least one class. No dogs allowed, though. Queen's Crescent Park, 10 Jun, £10
An unparalleled resource if you’re looking to head out walking in Scotland, Walk Highlands provide maps and detailed descriptions of more than 2000 routes across the country including all the Munros. Offering essential guidance on considerations like required skill, equipment and bog level, it’s worth paying close attention to what they have to say. Remember a (plastic wrapped) hard copy is infinitely preferable to downloading onto your phone cos eh Scottish weather.
Mikkeller Running Club
Originally started in Copenhagen, the Mikkeller Running Club has chapters all over the world based on the ingenious concept of going for a run then drinking craft beer with people who also like running and drinking beer. The Glasgow gang meet at Dog House in the Merchant City every Wednesday at 6pm, while Edinburgh vary their route (more details here) but do like Mikkeller stockists the Hanging Bat.
National Three Peaks Challenge
Now you’re a seasoned mountaineer with invaluable training and experience, why not take on the somewhat insane challenge of Scotland, England and Wales’ respective highest peaks in one Wacky Races-style weekend scramble? Guided itineraries are available, and recommended for the not very experienced / those who question their ability to drive vast distances between climbing large mountains. Ben Nevis, Snowdon, Scafell Pike, dates throughout the summer