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Kayaking




kayaking.jpgKayaking is an exciting sport and the Scottish Highlands contain some of the most spectacular places to Kayak. Whether you are looking for an easy river or the wildest white water experience the rivers and lochs throughout the Scottish Highlands offer a thrill for all.

Water is everywhere in the Scottish Highlands, and one of the most popular activities which allows you to enjoy it is kayaking.  Seacoast, lochs, and rivers provide a diverse range of kayaking opportunities, and there are all kinds of ways you can access them.  Imagine paddling through sea lochs, freshwater lochs, and coastal waterways, enjoying spectacular views, varied marine life and birds, and fresh, bracing air.  Chances are, you will pass historic sites and castles, reminding you of the rich history and tradition that permeates all of the Scottish Highlands.

In Scotland, the word canoe generally refers to a kayak, whereas American or Canadian canoe refers to the open boat, single paddle canoe that foreign visitors will be familiar with.  A kayak is a small, covered boat in which the paddler sits under cover of a spraydeck, and the paddler uses a double-bladed paddle.  In the kayak, the paddler sits facing forward with legs out in front.  The paddler is kept dry on the lower half of the body by the spraydeck, which attaches to the edges of the cockpit.  In most kayaks, this allows the paddler to roll, or capsize and right the boat without any water getting into the cockpit, or the paddler to be ejected from the boat.  Kayaks are usually for one person, but there are larger varieties, as well. 

There are basically three types of kayaking:  white water, flat water, and sea kayaking.  White water kayaking involves navigating swift-running rivers and negotiating falls, drops, and whirlpools.  Flat water kayaking takes place in large bodies of calm water.  The myriad lochs of the Scottish Highlands are perfect for this type of kayaking.  Sea kayaking is just that—kayaking in the sea, sea lochs, firths, or sounds.  People from all walks of life enjoy kayaking, and there are plenty of opportunities for it here in the Highlands of Scotland, whatever your level of experience.  Kayaking is a great way to get out and enjoy the outdoors, generally considered both fun and easy, and a good way to get a low-impact aerobic workout.  Paddling a kayak allows you to be immersed in nature, alone or with friends, and lets you get a bit of exercise at the same time.  Choose to go kayaking for either adventure and thrills or peace and tranquility, or a mix of both. 

In Scotland, there is a Sea Kayaking Trail.  It is the first of its kind in Europe.  This long-distance trail runs north from the Isle of Gigha off the Kintyre Peninsula all the way to the Summer Isles near Ullapool.  There is a guidebook available for this trail, and it has been subdivided into sections, so you can make the entire journey or just part of it.  There are also many organizations, tour operators, and outdoor centres which offer kayaks for hire, trips and tours, and kayaking lessons here in the Scottish Highlands.  Sea Kayak Highlands, out of Arisaig on the west coast of the Highlands, offers kayaks for hire by the half day, day, multi-day, or week.  They are in a perfect location for you to paddle out to a remote island, go exploring for a few days, or just meander slowly and leisurely along the shoreline or on a loch.  Northwest Sea Kayaking, based in the Ullapool area, runs all kinds of fantastic trips from day and half-day to a week or more.  They offer courses for beginners and intermediate kayakers, and they even hold sales of the previous year’s equipment—great for those looking for a kayak bargain.  Highland Ascent is another trip operator on the west coast of the Scottish Highlands and they run both sea kayaking adventures and river kayaking.  They will take you along the coastline so you can explore the caves and sea stacks which are seen best by this mode of travel.  Highland Ascent is located in Garve, Ross-shire, and they are a multi-activity centre, so you can combine kayaking with other outdoor activities such as hillwalking and mountain biking.  They will arrange camping trips, as well.  The centre runs courses for those looking to improve their skills, and they offer training for river kayaking on the River Ness or the River Spey. 

Full On Adventure runs kayak trips on the eastern side of the Scottish Highlands, giving you the chance to paddle Loch Ness and the Moray Firth.  This is a “no experience necessary” trip, so beginners can get out there and enjoy the beautiful Highlands as well as anybody.  They also run river kayaking tours for those looking for the challenge of white water kayaking.  Finally, they will take you along the stunning west coast for some of the best sea kayaking in the world.  Boots-n-Paddles, who bill themselves as a mobile adventure company, operate out of Aviemore and Inverness.  They have kayak rentals available, and will also put together tours, day trips, and holiday packages for you, both with sea kayaking and flat water kayaking.  Can You Experience Co hire canoes and kayaks on the beautiful Loch Lomond for those who wish a leisurely paddle amidst stunning surroundings.  This is just a smattering of the many outdoor and adventure centres all throughout the Highlands of Scotland which provide courses, trips, and holidays in kayaking, as well as kayak hire. 

The sport of kayaking is becoming more and more popular in the Scottish Highlands.  It is a great way to experience the beautiful scenery and wildlife of the region while maintaining a peace and tranquility which comes only from the remote location.  You can paddle alone or with groups, and kayaking is available for all skill levels.  See the Highlands like you’ve never seen them before as you paddle the lochs, rivers, and rugged coastline of the north of Scotland.  Book a course, go on a daytrip, or hire a kayak and paddle round the loch.  Whatever type of kayaking you enjoy, and whatever type you would like to try, it is available here in the beautiful Scottish Highlands.

Kayaking in the Scottish Highlands is simply breathtaking, you will be able to experience the raw power and absolute beauty of the landscape and scenery in an incredible way.

Kayaking in the Scottish Highlands is taught by many schools and activity centres so you can be certain that you are fully capable before taking to the open water and hitting the larger white water rapids.

Many schools encourage travelling and kayaking in larger groups for safety reasons, and you will also develop a unique kinship with your fellow kayakers and rafters. This extreme sport is open to people of all ages and all abilities.
   

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