By Gabbi Armstrong
Communications Project Manager for the North Coast 500
Published: 4th July 2018

Retreats and expeditions

Sometimes, booking a quick activity isn’t quite enough to satisfy our appetites for adventure. Luckily, the North Coast 500 route offers plenty of opportunities for travellers looking to get off the beaten track and spend some quality time with nature. In this post, we’ve outlined several of our favourite retreats and expeditions to help you make the most of your time in the Scottish Highlands.

Alladale Wilderness Reserve

Take at least three days out of your schedule to make the most of Alladale Wilderness Reserve. This spectacular 23,000-acre wilderness is only an hour-and-a-half’s drive from Inverness, offering a range of activities and accommodation options to create a tailor-made stay. Choose from the estate’s luxury Victorian lodge complete with private chef, or opt instead to get closer to nature and back-to-basics at the remote Deanich Lodge. Activities on offer range from action-packed hiking trips, 4×4 tours and fly fishing, to leisurely whisky tastings and beauty treatments. Choose to do as little, or as much, as you like. With so many retreats on offer – choose between their Bear Grylls Survial Academy, Wim Hoff, conservation, yoga and a foodie photography retreat, there is something for everyone. For more information on their retreats, read their blog.

Photo: Alladale Wilderness Reserve

ACE Adventures & Hideaways

If you’re looking for a yoga retreat with a difference, ACE Adventures & Hideaways is the place for you! Located by Forres, just a short drive from Inverness, Ace Adventures’ yoga retreat is the perfect opportunity to unwind prior to, or immediately after, your North Coast 500 trip. Brought to you by Bliss By Robin, connect your mind and body at this immersive retreat, where you’ll use a combination of yoga, meditation and adventure activities to enhance your personal wellbeing.

Take a little more time…

If you have a few days to spare, why not spend a little more time on a longer expedition? You’ll gain a far deeper understanding of the incredible landscapes which make up the Scottish Highlands, and feel as though you’ve returned from a proper adventure!

Stay at The Torridon Hotel and book a place on one of their full adventure experience packages, including Munro bagging – or, during the colder months, take part in a winter skills course with Liquid Footprints. There’s something for everyone!

Photo: Liquid Footprints

Canoe/ Kayak + Wild Camp Expedition

Tie in a trip to the Isle of Skye with Sea Kayak Plockton where you will explore the island’s dramatic, remote and inaccessible coastline while wild camping during the three day expedition.

Choose from a tailor-made expedition with Hamlet Mountaineering or Liquid Footprints, allowing you to canoe along Loch Veyatie and hike Suilven – or venture off the North Coast 500 route altogether and tackle Aonach Eagach in Glencoe, or Skye’s famous Cuillin ridge.

Photo: Hamlet Mountaineering, Suilven

A spot of fishing

Whether you just have a few days to spare, or a full week, join TroutQuest on a guided fly fishing excursion. Offering guided fly fishing for salmon and wild brown trout in lochs and rivers throughout Ross-shire, TroutQuest also specialises in custom-designed fly fishing courses for beginners – perfect for those looking for an introduction to the sport.

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Photos: TroutQuest

If salmon fishing is where your interest lies, a stay at Forss House ticks all the boxes for a memorable experience. The River Forss winds its way around the hotel, with salmon fishing season running from late March until mid-October each year. You’ll find a range of sea pools and beats to suit the novice right through to the expert, all within a short walk from the hotel.

Deer stalking

Photo: Ben Damph Estate

Try your hand at something a little different with deer stalking at Glencanisp and Drumrunie estates. Organised through the Assynt Foundation, the mountains of Suilven, Canisp, Cul Mor and Cul Beag form the backdrop to your adventure, led by experienced and knowledgeable deer stalkers. This annual cull is part of the estate’s land management program, which is carefully balanced to benefit us and the environment.

Likewise, Ben Damph Estate can organise deer stalking and rough shooting experiences by arrangement, with the magnificent Wester Ross scenery making for a memorable day on the hills.

Get creative

As well as offering exclusive retreats and expeditions for those who like to get out and about into the Sutherland hills, the Assynt Foundation is the perfect getaway for creative types. The eco-friendly, newly-built Glencanisp Studio is available for photographers and artists to use for creative projects, while staying at Glencanisp Lodge.

Train to learn a new skill

Located by Forres, just a short drive from Inverness, ACE Adventures & Hideaways is the perfect retreat for those who have completed, or who are just about to begin, their North Coast 500 adventure. Why not book their International Rafting Federation (IRF) Guide Training, Assessment and Instructor Workshop? You’ll learn the basics of raft guiding with the most widely recognised white water rafting guide qualification in the world. You’ll return from holiday with a new qualification and have a fun experience in the process.

Photo: ACE Adventures & Hideaways, White Water Rafting

Volunteer at Forsinard Flows

Forsinard Flows is the largest RSPB nature reserve in the UK – with plenty of opportunities for groups of friends and families to get together and join a residential volunteer course later this year. As a group, you’ll assist with the RSPB’s habitat restoration and monitoring programme within this beautiful part of the North Highlands. Dates run from mid August until late October and places are limited, so don’t delay in booking!

Photo: Neil Cowie, Forsinard Flows Reserve

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