Staycation: Scotland is open for outdoor adventures and nature getaways this winter

It’s true. Winter in Scotland can be cold, dark and dreich – and long.

But that’s no reason to lock the doors, hunker down and go into hibernation until spring.

If Covid-19 has taught us anything, it’s the health benefits of getting outside in nature – for both physical and mental well-being.

And there’s no need to wait for sunny weather before planning your next foray into the great outdoors.

There are countless inspiring adventures out there waiting for Scots right now.

How about night snorkelling around the islands off Scotland’s west coast?

Perhaps you fancy having a go at stand-up paddle-boarding or mountain-biking, surrounded by some of the country’s most spectacular scenery.

Or maybe you’ve always wanted to see otters, beavers, pine martens, dolphins or eagles in the wild, dive on a shipwreck or learn bushcraft skills.

Watersports such as kayaking and stand-up paddle-boarding are available at various locations across Scotland.Picture: Beyond Adventure

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All this and much more is on offer across Scotland, gathered together in a new winter timetable prepared by tourism organisation Wild Scotland.

A wide range of opportunities make up the list – from stargazing at dark sky discovery spots and winter wildlife watching with expert guides to winter mountaineering expeditions, hot tent wild camping and conservation or action holidays that exercise the mind as well as the body.

The list of activities is designed to satisfy the need for freedom and adventure as Covid continues to influence lives, and to support Scottish businesses to stay open during the off-season months.

Scotland is open this winter for everything from mountain-biking and pony-trekking to wild camping and star-gazing. Picture: Andrew Weild/Scot Mountain Holidays

The timetable will be available to view online via Wild Scotland, which represents wildlife, adventure and activity tourism operators across Scotland, and carries information on how to respect nature and holiday both responsibly and sustainably this winter.

Doug McAdam, Wild Scotland chairman, said: “Scotland in the winter can be simply breath-taking, but many are put off by the wild weather that we typically get each year.

“With international travel uncertain and local lockdowns across Europe, we have developed a diverse range of activities to provide unforgettable, safe adventures and allow both visitors and locals alike to experience Scotland as they’ve never experienced it before – no matter the weather.

“We know winter can be a tough time of year for many mentally, particularly right now with Covid continually dominating the headlines.

Adventurous folk can try something really different - such as night snorkelling off the Argyll coast or diving on shipwrecks in the Clyde. Picture: Shane Wasik/Basking Shark Scotland

“But the short, sparkling days and long, cold nights are perfect for these activities – perfect to explore open spaces, meet new people, connect with nature and escape the everyday stress.

“It’s a scientific fact that exposure to daylight is essential to well-being and mental health; something that is well understood in countries in northern latitudes with very limited daylight in winter, where people know the importance of being outdoors and maximising daylight exposure.

“Scotland is a destination that can be enjoyed all-year round, particularly with the wealth of warm and quirky places to stay.

“We’re certain this year will be our wildest winter yet.”

The campaign is being spearheaded by Wild Scotland, which champions the sustainable wildlife, adventure and activity tourism sector to create meaningful and lasting environmental and social change.

There's no excuse for not getting about and about this winter - tourism organisation Wild Scotland has created a new seasonal timetable of outdoors experiences and getaways on offer across Scotland. Picture: Ocean Vertical

Around 140 Scottish businesses are members, with almost 50 open this winter.

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