Off The Beaten Track
There's plenty of adventure to be had here on Scotland's west coast, especially if you know where to look for it. Here we take a look at some of the best off the beaten track experiences. There's something for everyone, from beginner to outdoor pro'. Who better to explain more about the options than our hard photographer Rachel Keenan - who travels the length and breadth of the network, capturing its beauty on our behalf.
The island of Lismore lies off the coast of Oban. It's ten miles long and with just 170 inhabitants, it is both tranquil and unspoiled. Each side is framed with beautiful coastal and mountain scenery. Take a Land Rover tour of the island with Explore Lismore and see parts that would otherwise be fairly difficult to get to. You'll be under the supervision of a local guide, with the option of taking the two-hour trip, half or full day option. It's the perfect introduction to island life. You'll learn about the community and visit the coastal village of Port Ramsay, tucked away in a secluded bay with superb views of the Great Glen. You'll also take in the Cathedral church, named after
the saint who founded a monastery on the island - once a major centre of Christianity in Scotland. There's also a chance to learn about the medieval gravestones and island's Iron Age Broch. As with much of the west coast, the history is incredible. There's also the option of seeing Castle Coeffin - the ancient MacDougall stronghold, built on the site of a Viking fortress. You can be packed off with a delicious picnic - including produce from the island's 'Dutch Bakery'. Depending on which tour you choose, there will be some walking involved - but it's the perfect introduction to the outdoors for all abilities. For more information visit: Explore Lismore
Experience an adventure - Skye style
Skye's the perfect location for adventure.You can build an action-packed day out with the family that takes in all sorts of new activities. Or, if you're looking for something a little more challenging for the more experienced outdoor type - then consider taking on a Skye Adventure. Skye Adventure will help you put together a day out suitable for all ages and stages - from coasteering, to gorge walking and rock climbing, all taking place on the striking island of Skye. After many years traveling here, I think it's the perfect playground for outdoor enthusiasts of all levels. Go Coasteering at Kilmaluag Bay, explore the coastline peppered with tunnels stacks and jumps into deep water. Or take a guided walk of the Red Cuillin, climbing to a summit that will reward you with the views that Skye is so famous for. On the way back, cool down by jumping into the pools of the Allt Daraich, or visit an Alpine Corrie in the Black Cuillin - wild swimming with warm wetsuits in other worldly scenery is bound to be one of the most memorable experiences you can have in this part of the world. Since all equipment is provided, there's the option of turning it into an overnight camping trip - sleeping on top of one of Skye's most famous mountains, under the stars, and surrounded by remote lochs and glens - just you and yours, your guide and the elements - and maybe a decent camp fire to help keep the elements at bay. For the hard core and experienced adventurers amongst you - Skye Adventures also offer some of the best guided mountaineering challenges in the UK. You could take on a two day trip, with an overnight bivouac on the ridge - you'll walk ridge sections, scale fairly large drops, tackle crux sections like King's Chimney - it's both very physically and mentally demanding, which is why you need to go with the experts, but what a feeling it will be when you've completed it. The only thing to ponder then is - what's next? For more information, visit: Skye Adventure