With the UK set to enjoy an Indian summer, with temperatures predicted to hit a sweltering 28 degrees in September, it’s a great time for families to make the most of what’s on their doorstep with a fun and sunny ‘staycation’ this half-term. With its rolling valleys, lush forests and serene lochs, Scotland is a wonderful location for a UK family holiday, especially for those looking for outdoor adventure. Scotland boasts the longest daylight hours in the UK, with four hours more sunshine every day than London, and from boats to bikes, there are plenty of ways for you and your family to discover the best of Scotland in the autumn sunshine.
The best way to explore the famous Scottish lochs is by gliding across them by boat. Canoeing is a hugely popular pastime in Scotland and is a versatile activity, appealing to children of all ages. Older children can enjoy the independence of paddling their own canoe (under the instructor’s supervision of course) and families can take a few days out on their canoes, camping on one of the 800 islands within Scotland’s waterways. Alternatively, families with younger children can try a canoe experience that takes a single morning or afternoon, paddling on the peaceful lochs and using glass-bottom buckets to discover the wildlife on the bottom of the loch.
Any families who’ve seen the recent Disney film Brave will love to try their hand at archery in one of Scotland’s magical forest settings. There is a choice of outdoor parks and activity centres throughout Scotland offering families the chance to try their hand at archery – a great sport for kids of all ages, with beginners having just as much luck as experienced archers. Many companies will provide everything you need for a fun session, providing their own targets, arrows and bows, all in safely monitored surroundings. All families have to bring is a long sleeve top and sensible footwear! A great choice of activity for families who like to get a little competitive, archery in Scotland will create wonderful lasting memories for any young Princess Merida or Robin Hood in the making.
Scotland has 2,100 miles of National Cycle Network which includes 500 miles of traffic-free cycle routes over railway paths, canal towpaths and forest trails. Whether you bring your own bikes or hire from a centre, cycling is a fantastic way for families to make the most of Scotland’s breath-taking countryside. By packing a picnic, it’s a simple way to keep the family entertained all day on a small budget, and it’s a great choice if you’re with children of different ages. Hire centres offer everything from child seats for under three’s, to pull along trailers and ‘tag-a-long’ tandems for kids under seven. Families can feel safer cycling on the quieter country roads and traffic-free paths, although there are dedicated lanes and paths in many of the cities and towns.
Scotland’s forests and woods are the perfect way to take a break from fast paced city life. Argyll Forest next to Loch Long and Strathyre Forest close to Ben Ledi are beautiful protected parks, top choices for a relaxing walk under green canopy. Forest walks are a great way to teach children about the UK’s wildlife, with the chance to spot birds of prey like ospreys, peregrine falcons and white-tailed eagles, through to red squirrels, red deer and even beavers swimming in the slow rivers and lochs. Forest Holidays offer guided walks through Argyll and Strathyre with their expert Forest Rangers. Kids will love learning about the different plants, how to track wildlife and even fun forest survival tips.
For children over 10 years, Go Ape is an incredible outdoor experience that will get both adult and kids’ hearts pumping. With three locations around Scotland near to Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Glasgow, Go Ape will test your strength, bravery and ability to laugh at yourself! The tree-top challenges include zip-wires, high-wires, Tarzan swings and bridges, all supervised by the Go Ape safety experts. Go Ape is a great way to enjoy the views of the forest canopy from an exhilarating new perspective and is lots of fun for daredevils of all ages.
Where to stay:
Forest Holidays is perfect for a family break in the UK with two sites nestled in the forests of Argyll and Strathyre, each offering a choice of luxury cabin accommodation. Protected by the Forestry Commission, these forests are amazing examples of the beautiful and wild Scottish countryside and both boast an ideal location next to lochs.
The Argyll site is perfect for an outdoor family adventure, with facilities for canoeing, archery, cycling and a discount for guests to use at the Go Ape centre near Glasgow.
Strathyre is a wonderful site for a forest retreat, with a cycle centre and miles of woodland trails.
Ever been to Scotland with your kids? What else would you recommend?