A strikingly beautiful country filled with a rich sporting history and an abundance of natural resources to explore, Scotland lends itself to outdoor adventures of all types. What better way to celebrate what Visit Scotland, the official tourism office for the country, has coined the “Year of Homecoming” than to get out and experience some of Scotland’s most unique, exhilarating and historic outdoor activities? Whether travelers are looking for relaxed pursuits like golf and road biking or the all-out adrenaline rush that comes with gorge scrambling and off-road driving, Connoisseurs Scotland properties offer a pursuit to fit any guest’s passion.
Located in the Scottish Highlands at the foot of Liathach Mountain and the shores of Upper Loch Torridon, The Torridon hotel is a natural fit for travelers seeking unique outdoor adventures on both water and land. Gorge scrambling—unquestionably one of the most thrilling adventures offered at The Torridon—is a uniquely British pursuit that involves traveling through a steep sided gorge, following the course of the river or lake by various ways and means. This can involve sliding or swimming down rapids, floating down fast-flowing chutes and waves, climbing beside waterfalls and, of course, jumping off adrenalin-pumping ledges into deep pools. A trained gorge guide outfits guests with buoyancy aids, wetsuits, wet socks and helmets. Full- and half- day excursions are available for adults and children over the age of 10.
Opportunities to try traditional Scottish “country pursuits” abound at the Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire. Hunting enthusiasts and dog lovers alike will want to experience Gleneagles’ Gundog School, the first of its kind in the world. Working with the school’s own Labrador retrievers, guests learn how to handle a trained gundog, beginning with basic obedience and simple retrieves. The more advanced “fieldcraft lessons” teach guests to handle a dog over a rustic agility course, with “pheasant flushes,” “rising duck” and “rabbit retrieves” over rustic obstacles and in water. This unique school takes its inspiration from Scotland’s great sporting heritage, where Labradors, spaniels and other breeds have, for many centuries, accompanied sportsmen and women in the field. A variety of packages and lessons is available.
Exploring the wild beauty of the picturesque Southwestern region of Scotland should be at the top of the list for guests at Knockinaam Lodge in Dumfries & Galloway. This region, famed for its stunning landscapes and rugged coastline, lends itself to walking and hiking. More than 1,300 miles of marked trails take visitors along coastal and forest trails, through open moorland or in and around towns. Nearby Galloway Forest Park encapsulates 24 named peaks above 2,000 feet, with ranges such as the Rhins of Kells, the Minnigaff Hills, the Awful Hand and the Dungeon Hills. The Merrick, rising up above Loch Trool, is Dumfries & Galloway’s highest peak at 2,765 feet, and forms the “forefingers” of the Awful Hand range. On a clear day, views from the top of the Merrick include some Highland ranges, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man and the Lake District. Other outdoor activities available at Knockinaam Lodge include clay pigeon shooting, fishing and golf.
Connoisseurs Scotland’s collection of 28 luxury accommodations includes city-center properties; country house hotels; exclusive-use properties; Scotland’s only destination health spa, Stobo Castle; the ultimate luxury train, The Royal Scotsman; and the only cruise ship in the world with a Royal Warrant from HM The Queen, The Hebridean Princess. Seven of the members boast Michelin-starred restaurants, including the only two-starred restaurant in Scotland, which is found at Gleneagles.