10 of the best extreme sports activities to try in Scotland
Featuring aqualining, rap running, bungee jumping, sky diving and off-road driving
Whether it’s jumping out of a plane, leaping off a cliff, or plunging down a river rapid in an inflatable armchair, Scotland has boundless possibilities for the adrenaline junkie in search of a hit. Better still, it has the best natural playground in which to do it. Here are some of our favourites.
Not likely to be confused with plaintive piano balladeer Aqualung, aqualining was launched just last month by Nae Limits in Perthshire. Essentially tightrope-walking over water, the warm-up includes wild swimming, plunge pooling and sliding, before embarking on the main event – combatting the world’s first commercial slack line over water. We recommend going as a gang, with the best Charlie Chaplin (circa Circus) impression getting a beer at the bar after.
Nae Limits, Ballinluig, near Pitlochry, Perthshire, 0845 017 8177.
Yes, yes we know. The tropics it ain’t. But Scotland has some of the most beautiful spots for jumping in and indulging in a spot of the wet stuff, whether its ethereal waterfalls or lush lochs – just don’t forget your wetsuit, depending on where you decide to take the plunge. We have many a favourite, but for the ultimate experience check out the Fairy (or Faerie) Pools in Skye. Nestled just near Glenbrittle at the foot of the Black Cuillin Mountains, this is pretty much as enchanting as Scotland’s wild swimming scene gets. Other top picks include the waters around Rob Roy’s cave near Inversnaid, and Firkin Point at Loch Lomond.
Various venues, see wildswimming.co.uk for more.
Whether you’re heading up or down, gorge scrambling offers the chance to see the world from some pretty unique point of views. There are a load of adventure companies to choose from, if you’re looking for some top-notch instruction and scene-stealing scenery, so opt for one with gorge heights and water speeds to suit your wants. Arran Adventure Company offers scrambling by the North Glen Sannox, just a short bus ride from Brodick.
Arran Adventure Company, Auchrannie Road, Brodick, Isle of Arran, 01770 302234.
Less a quick sprint round the block listening to Jay Z, more a variation on abseiling – rap running is more than just a pretty cool name. A twist on the abseiling norm – you descend the rock face facing forward. Nae Limits run afternoon sessions just outside Pitlochry. Though those keen to try their hands – and head for heights – indoors first could always head for a confidence building sesh at the ever brilliant Edinburgh International Climbing Arena, complete with 25m descent.
Nae Limits, Ballinluig, near Pitlochry, Perthshire, 0845 017 8177; Edinburgh International Climbing Arena, South Platt Hill, Newbridge, 0131 333 6333.
Those with serious wanderlust may well have tried cliff jumping in sunnier climes, but Scotland is far from shabby when it comes to offering up its own natural terrain from which to take the plunge. Often referred to as ‘tombstoning’ by its more diehard followers, cliff jumping is not for the faint of heart, with instructors on hand to talk you through exactly how to launch and enter the water. Essentially canyoning without the ropes, the folks at Freespirits offer a top jump of 40 feet for the truly brave, with amazing views of Loch Rannoch and the surrounding areas going begging to boot.
Freespirits, Kinloch Rannoch, Pitlochry, 01887 840 400.
As any bone fide adrenaline junkie will attest, the best thrills can come in the most serene of places, and that’s certainly the case with the UK’s first static bungee jump platform, the Highland Fling, hanging high above the wild waters of the River Garry, by Killiecrankie. Set 40m above the ground, the whitewater below only adds to an already awesome experience, though the 50mph leap gives you little time to take it all in.
Bungee Jump Scotland, Killiecrankie Visitor Centre, 0845 366 5844.
Leave your fear of doing an Ozzy Osborne at the door and chances are you’ll be whizzing through water, mud and woodland hills like a pro(ish) in no time. MadMax Adventures, just 10 miles outside Edinburgh in Kirknewton village, have a neat collection of Yamaha Grizzly and offer quad biking safaris around the local park and woodland trails. Alternatively, head further north in Perthshire, to Strathbraan close to Dunkeld, where Scottish Quads have over 50 quads and 1000 acres of farmland to use as your playground.
See Scottish Quads or MadMax Adventures for more info.
River bugging / adventure tubing
If you have the bugging prowess of this List writer, chances are your helmet and padding are going to come in very handy – but the adrenaline rush is more than worth it for the rough and tumble of the ride. Brought over to Scotland from New Zealand, you’re essentially white water rafting in a huge inflatable armchair, while thick webbed gloves protect you from the rocks below as you whoosh down the rapids of the River Tummel and River Tay. Look out too for a variation on the bugging theme, Adventure Tubing, with Nae Limits.
Check out Splash for River Bugging, Dunkeld Road, Aberfeldy, 01887 829706; and Nae Limits for Adventure Tubing, Ballinluig, near Pitlochry, Perthshire, 0845 017 8177.
Operating out of Strathallan Airfield, near the town of Auchterarder, Skydive Strathallan is a good shout for the adventure seeker with a head for heights. The popular outfit is open to newbies, and introduces and trains over 1500 beginners for their first jump every year, as solo jumps or tandem skydives. Those a little less brave can come and enjoy it as a spectator sport.
Skydive Strathallan, near Auchterarder.
Based just 10 miles south of Perth, the Scottish Off Road Driving Centre offers up an array of natural and man-made obstacles to tackle as you embark on arguably Scotland’s most challenging off-road playground. Nervous drivers need not apply, though hands-on training ensures you can make the most of the specially designed 4x4 experience.
The Scottish Off Road Driving Centre, Glentarkie Estate, Fife, 01337 860 528.