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2020 Designated Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters

by Debra Bokur

Feb 3, 2020

Photo: Thomas Lukassek | Dreamstime.com

Destinations / Europe

Did you know in Scotland, a small loch (or lake) is called a lochan? There are more than 30,000 lochs and lochans across the country. Whether you fancy your sunsets over the shimmering surfaces or on a coastal horizon, you can indulge your preference in 2020 — designated Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters.


Visitors can take part in wildlife viewing, bird watching, long walks, ambitious hikes, fishing and a variety of watersports. Near the lovely village of Cannich in the Highlands, both Loch Affric and Loch Beinn a’Mheadhoin are beloved for seclusion and pastoral beauty, where hikes often reveal the presence of wild residents such as golden eagles and red deer.


Loch Muick in Aberdeenshire can be found within the royal Balmoral Estate, with views of the mountain of Lochnager and several scenic hill walks with varying levels of challenging terrain. For trout fishing, Loch Awe in Argyll is perennially popular. Ancient “crannog” dwellings were discovered here, and the ruins of an imposing castle built upon Innis Chonnell may still be marveled at. For possible monster sightings, of course, Loch Ness is the place to be. While the elusive and unpredictable Nessie may or may not be around, the area is a worthy destination for camping, fishing, hiking and lake tours.


Loch Muick in the Cairngorm National Park in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Photo: John Holmes | Dreamstime.com


With more than 6,200 miles of coastline, Scotland’s mainland beaches and collection of dramatic islands can also be an ideal place for a watery adventure. A few to consider: On the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, Tolsta Beach edges the crofting village of Tolsta near the island’s town of Stornoway. This particular beach is known for its swells and is a sought-after locale for surfers. On the Isle of Harris, Seilebost Beach is famous for clear waters, while St. Ninian’s Isle in the Shetland archipelago has a loop walk and a naturally occurring sand causeway that can be navigated on foot. Beneath the floor of a crumbling chapel on the island, a schoolboy discovered a treasure in 1958. Dating to early Medieval times, the hoard included bowls of silver, brooches and other silver jewelry and metalwork that can now be viewed in Edinburgh at the Museum of Scotland.


Watersports are yet another way to experience Scotland’s waterscape. Wakeboarding, diving, canoeing, kayaking, surfing, windsurfing, sailing and whitewater rafting are all popular pastimes. There’s even a dedicated Snorkel Trail in the northwest area of the Highlands.


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