There is much more to Scotland’s sports scene than first meets the eye.
When people think about Scottish sports, golf is probably the first thing to come to mind. But did you know that, from mountain biking to kayaking, Scotland’s landscapes offer a unique backdrop to the alternative sports community. We spoke to a few popular figures in some of Scotland’s lesser-known sports to find out how people in Scotland like to keep active.
Reach new heights when bouldering
Max Milne is one of Scotland’s most exciting names in the world of rock climbing In early June 2022, he made the podium in 2nd place at Brixen, becoming the first Brit to secure a medal in the men’s Bouldering World Cup since 2007. He specialises in bouldering - a version of rock climbing without ropes or protection in the rock where climbers are instead protected by mats to cushion their falls.
It is one of the most natural ways to climb and it allows you to focus on doing cool moves as opposed to making sure you are safe
Max told us a little bit about how he first got into bouldering (and why you should give it a go too!)
“I went to Transition Extreme in Aberdeen when I was 10 as I used to climb anything and everything so it made sense to give climbing a proper go! Luckily my instructor spotted my talent.
"Bouldering is so much fun! It does not matter your ability, there is always something to do and get psyched for and it is such a fantastic community that you can make friends for life doing an awesome sport.”
And why does Max think Scotland is a great place to give bouldering a go?
“There are plenty of places to give indoor bouldering a go throughout Scotland with new walls opening all the time and when you are ready to give it a go outside then you have some of the best landscape in the UK to climb in so you will be guaranteed to have an amazing day out.”
Test your balance with Surfskate
Surfskating is a very new sport to grace Scotland’s shores. It has drawn many people who have never ridden a surfboard, skateboard, or snowboard to give this new modality a try.
Surfskates are very similar to normal skateboards but the front truck rotates much more on its axis, which produces a turning style that is more similar to surfing.
Sebastian Jimenez is founder of the east-coast-based Surfskate Academy, we asked how he would convince a newcomer to try it out.
If you are a surfer, training on land is key to improving your surfing. And if you don't have any experience with skateboarding or surfing, it's not a problem. We start step by step in a safe way with continuous progress. Plus, Surfskating is easier than normal skateboarding. Movements are much smoother and more predictable, the wheels are higher and softer and after a few coaching sessions you will feel like you are floating on wheels.
Of course, we also wanted to know why he thought Scotland has such a thriving Surfskate community?
“First of all, Scotland is a beautiful country surrounded by beaches with good waves, good skateparks, stunning country roads, and beautiful historic streets. Scotland is a country to explore and to enjoy being outside.
"Both Scotland’s surfers and Scotland’s skaters are very passionate people. You will never be alone when you go to the water or a skatepark and you will always have someone to share your experience with and make new friends.”
Wind down with wild swimming
If you prefer to take your exercise at a more leisurely pace, then perhaps wild swimming should be your sport of choice. Wild Swimming can be done in any body of water, the sea, rivers, lochs, and lakes. It can help you feel at one with nature, reap the benefits it gives and to explore new places, cool down after exercise, or prompt the body into some deep, meditative breathing.
Anna Neubert-Wood is the founder of Wander Women, an organisation that helps people get into nature with activities such as wild swimming, forest bathing, fire making, and meditation. We asked her how she got into wild swimming.
Since I was a child, it has always been a big part of my family's explorative way to get to know new places - wherever we went, we connected with the local waters, to cool down after long hikes, to play in the sea, or build dams in a river. I re-discovered the joys of wild swimming again in Scotland, once I had my children. Now I share it with many women as part of my business WanderWomen's nature and eco-therapy offering.
What does she think makes Scotland a good place for wild swimming?
“Scotland has the most stunning scenery in the world. It varies so widely, and I believe that being in any body of water gives you a new view of things, and colours, textures, and nature look even more stunning. Even rain looks amazing from within the water! We are lucky to be spoilt here with so many different bodies of water. As humans, we are much stronger than we think (my favourite mantra!), and our bodies are amazing at what they can do. Wild Swimming is for everyone and everyone should give it a go. It's a good kind of addiction. Just be safe, and take care, know your spots and be mindful of the beautiful places, leave no trace but footprints, and look after yourself. That way, nature will look after you!”
Find out more about the best ways to spend your downtime while living in Scotland at Scottish Lifestyle and Work Schedule | Scotland.org.
If you want to include some of these exciting activities to your holiday plans, you can get all the information you need at VisitScotland - Scotland's National Tourist Organisation