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Kiting In The Highlands

Wind—the Scottish Highlands gets a lot of it!  That makes it the perfect place to get in a little power kiting.  Power kiting, also called traction kiting, is an extreme form of kite flying.  No small child’s play here, power kiting in the Highlands is an extreme sport which requires skill, technique, and endurance.  Plus, it’s fun!  For an active adventure that has you tapped in to the sometimes wild weather of the Scottish Highlands, give power kiting a try and see what you’ve been missing.

Power or traction kites are large kites that are meant to give pull to the user.  Power kites are usually used in conjunction with another activity such as boarding or buggying, but they can be flown by themselves just for the fun of it.  They come in three main kinds—foils, leading edge inflatables, and supported leading edge.  The person flying the kite has control over it by hanging on to handles or bars, and there are anywhere from two to five lines.  Once you have the grasp of flying the power kite, you may want to look at even more extreme sports such as kite buggying, kite boarding, kite skating, kite jumping, and ski kiting. 

Power kiting in the Scottish Highlands is another one of those extreme sports which is best to engage in first through lessons.  Scotland even sports the Scottish Power Kite Association which is a clearing house for kiting events, training, and yes, insurance.  Currently, there are active power kiting centres in Caithness, at the very northernmost point of the Scottish mainland, Tyree, and Barra.  Traction Kiting is dedicated to promoting kiting in Scotland, and they can put you in touch with lessons around the Highland area.  Can You Experience company at Loch Lomond runs power kiting activities for groups and individuals so you can get a taste of what it’s all about. 

One of the first things to consider when power kiting in the Scottish Highlands is location.  This is why kiting often takes place on relatively remote beaches.  People engaged in power kiting should endeavour to avoid flying near buildings and trees—for obvious safety reasons but also because of the added unpredictability of the wind that these objects can create.  The best place, then, is on a beach, preferably with hard-packed sand.  Parks and fields are okay, too, but watch out for obstacles, uneven ground, and pedestrians.  Losing control of your kite happens fairly often, especially when you are just starting out, so you don’t want to be a hazard or danger to anyone else.  Launching your kite is another thing to consider.  It is quite technical, actually, and generally requires two people; although, there is a method for launching a power kite single-handedly.  Finally, consider whether you have the strength to handle a power kite.  These kites are designed specifically to pull on the flyer, which means that you could find yourself being dragged along the beach or through a field.  Which is also the object of the game for many power kiting enthusiasts! 

Power kiting is considered a leisure activity, and you can’t compete in this sport unless you add some element to it, such as kite buggying, in which case you can race competitively.  Nevertheless, it is an extreme sport and not for the faint-hearted.  Power kiting is a great form of exercise, though, and it will give you a good workout.  Power kiting is also something that can be done year round, although you should expect it to be quite chilly on Highland beaches in the wintertime. 

Power kiting has really taken off, so to speak, in the Scottish Highlands and it is not unusual to spot adventure-seekers out on the beaches wielding a traction kite—more often than not, attached to a buggy or board.  Even the RAF is involved in power kiting, so if you decide to try this sport, you are in good company!  If you get the opportunity, go to a power kiting spot and watch the experts.  Then, sign up for a lesson, or head down to Loch Lomond for a 2 ½ hour taster course in power kiting.  It’s a great way to get out and enjoy the wind and weather of the Scottish Highlands!