Survival in the Scottish Highlands: Adventure Travel at its best: Part 1

The Scottish Highlands, known for its mountainous terrain bound by run off streams and rivers meandering through the valleys, its a very sparsely populated part of the United Kingdom. Often identified as Whisky country with a reputation as having some of the best fly fishing in the world, as well as very popular with sport hunting and “getaway” rustic style country lodges. It offers travellers an amazing opportunity at its pristine beauty while at the same time a more challenging “off the beaten path” adventure. Bear Grylls’ Survival Academy(BGSA) provides a rare chance to the lucky but daring adventurous people who want to challenge themselves in a harsh unforgiven environment by living off the land in a survival type setting from Bear Grylls’ hand picked expert survivalists. The 6 day extreme survival course takes place in the Alladale Wilderness Reserve(57.8700 N, 4.6334 W) north of the city of Inverness in some of the most beautiful untouched remote isolated wilderness in the United Kingdom, if not all of Europe. A personal empowerment very challenging week in the Highlands living off the land, learning to survive using survival techniques, sleeping on the cold ground in the Scottish sodden autumn under make shift lean-to shelters, eating virtually nothing aside from what you can catch, trap or forage……WOW!! who wouldn’t want that??? . I had signed up for that and wouldn’t change a thing except to say I wish it was longer than 6 days. The spectacular beauty of this place while virtually being untouched by man in today’s world is so rare and often under-appreciated. If you truly love nature you will find the beauty in it anywhere but little did i know the scope of what I was about to venture out into was gonna be filled with such breathtaking views often only seen in pictures of magazines.

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Travelling has always been a passion of mine and with so little time fighting the grind of everyday office life, the chance to experience this type of travel had sparked an interest in me that will remain until I’m no longer physically able. It offered the possibility of being witness to the amazement of the Scottish landscape and physical adventure travel that most vacations before this really hadn’t. Day excursions were usually the norm when it came to the “adventure” of time away from the daily work schedule, but without the feeling of accomplishment when away from the office it just didn’t feel like the vacations I really wanted or needed. As the opportunity presented itself I had decided to take the plunge and embark on this chance of a lifetime travel adventure that would see me going alone. Travelling alone as I soon found out is “soul therapy” as it creates an independence in a person like nothing else, complete self reliance. If chicken soup is good for the soul then splurging on an overseas wild adventure alone couldn’t hurt.!!?? I’ve realized you cant always wait for people in your life to accomplish the things you consider important and critical to your overall happiness. Travelling will push you away from your comfort zone and expand your mind but you need to experience cultures in a variety of locations for this to happen. This gives a person perspective in life and part of the beauty of visiting many different places. It’s hard to understand the world if you don’t see the world. Get out of your bubble and embrace it. Life is too short to wait for others to tag along, everyone has their owns dreams. Don’t tell people your dreams, show them!.

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For good reason many areas of the Scottish Highlands are off-limits for the recreational vacationer. Vast expanses of the “true” highlands are protected wilderness areas, or privately owned reserves. Aggressive government programs have intervened to help manage and restore tree growth regeneration in the valleys to prevent soil degradation, as well as plans initiated to reintroduce native animals to the region, with goals of increasing biodiversity no longer present in the region. This project is currently the U.K’s largest rewilding population which includes introducing Wolves back into the region, which for the time being have been put on hold until further research can be conducted on the sustainability of the packs and their food sources. Some of the United Kingdoms rarest breeding pairs of Golden Eagles nest within the reserve creating joint projects monitoring their populations with very strict guidelines on the proximity people are allowed near their nesting sites. Less than 500 breeding pairs currently exist in all of Scotland, and most are carefully monitored and tagged for research. The privilege of experiencing travel to this area was not fully appreciated until weeks if not months after leaving Scotland. It’s become an honour and I feel extremely lucky that I had been there in that capacity.

Arriving in Inverness 3 days prior to the journey into the Highlands I wanted to have a few days to relax and enjoy this quaint little city and see what it had to offer. It was also suggested arriving a few days earlier to acclimatize to the unpredictable Scottish weather, as other team members would possibly arrive from very different climates and could result in being very uncomfortable if one had arrived and immediately had to deal with the elements. The expedition was gonna be difficult enough without the weather playing a bigger part than it already is and arriving early couldnt hurt. Coming from Canada with a very similar climate I didn’t expect the weather to be a major factor for myself but I wasn’t taken any chances.

Inverness is the main starting point for most boat tours along Loch Ness that search for the mythical sea creature Nessie of Scottish folklore. Most people come to the city for this reason as its a major tourist attraction for the region and i couldn’t venture this far north without doing this excursion and seeing for myself. A very enjoyable scenic 6 hour boat tour starting at the mouth of the River Ness it worked its way through Loch Dochfour all the way to Urquhart Castle ruins, one of the largest in term of area in all of Scotland. The medieval fortification strategically played a critical role in the Scottish wars of independence during the 14th century, following this period had been used as a royal castle. Sitting on a rocky peninsula headland considered to be one of the most beautiful pieces of land along Loch Ness, today it’s one of the most visited sites in all of Scotland.

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Although I didn’t see Nessie, the boat tour and the few days spent around the city was the perfect prelude to the adventure travel that was ahead of me. Inverness had a charm only a small city can offer with unmatched hospitality and a neighborhood-like friendliness. From fine cuisine with gourmet menus’ to pub food and international themed restaurants, the city has it all and was a very warm welcoming place. It was the calm needed before the upcoming expected storm. This was time well spent and a great experience but I was anxious and ready for the real fun to begin.

To be Cont’d……

ENIGMA

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56 thoughts on “Survival in the Scottish Highlands: Adventure Travel at its best: Part 1

  1. As a Scot who now lives in France but visited Inverness earlier this year I enjoyed this very much.
    One small but crucial point, sir.
    Scotland produces Whisky.
    Add an ‘e’ and it comes from Ireland or the USA.
    Good luck on your travels, and thanks for visiting Sound Bite Fiction..

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I love Scotland, Highlands and Lowlands. I have been there twice when young, hitchhiking, the first time 3 weeks and the second time 6 weeks. We made it as far north as Elgin/Bonar Bridge/Shin falls/Carbisdale Castle, then the traffic thinned out too much. If nothing goes wrong, we plan to go this year with the motorbike.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thanks for visiting and following my blog. I read your piece about Inverness with interest – for six months I lived along the coast in Rosehearty, just a big further along the coast from Fraserburgh. The scenery is wonderful BUT I have lived for 40 years in Australia after travelling there in 1972 and the Scottish cold really did me in! That’s why my stay ground to a halt after 6 months. The locals started sunbaking in 16C while I was still rugged up in thermals, thick sweaters and heavyweight trousers! I read your account of your adventures – and shivered! I’m now in North Cyprus with regular summer temperatures around 36-40C in the summer, much more bearable than the cold in Scotland. But the scenery is really spectacular, it’s a beauitful country – just move it a bit further south and I’ll be a happy camper!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. My gosh you were incredibly fortunate to have such great weather when you toured Scotland. I haven’t toured much of northern Scotland except Loch Ness and the River Ness. We so loved the people there. Traveled to 39 countries and thought the Scottish were the most friendly and generous of them all! But I remember walking across St. Andrews Golf Course while my golf pro hubby played and imbibing in a little “pick me up” to stay warm. The wind blew sideways.

    Oh and before I forget, thanks so much for finding and following my blog. It’s an honor! I’m sure you had your choice of diverse foods in your travels! Perhaps someday I can think of a way to have you guest blog about nutrition in other countries, especially the Mediterranean diet. (Do you mind if I follow you via Facebook or Twitter? Somehow when I follow they all come to my inbox and I wouldn’t want you to get “lost” in the countless letters I receive daily. 🙂 Blessings for safe travels,

    Liked by 2 people

  5. One of my very good friends is from Scotland so I have heard a lot about it from her. It’s lovely to see photos from some of the areas she has told me about. It looks stunning. Enjoy your travels. And thank you for the follow.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Thanks for the ‘follow’! And for sharing fantastic nature from the beautiful Scottish Highlands!
    Welcome to my blog! Here you’ll find nearly 7 000 ‘full screen’ pictures from Norway. Please enjoy!

    Liked by 2 people

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