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Friday, September 16, 2011

Year of Active Scotland, Argyll and Ayrshire


The world famous charms of the West Highlands and the Hebrides are well known, but what about the rest of Scotland’s western fringes? Argyll and Ayrshire are packed with all manner of active pursuits for even the most demanding of corporate and incentives groups, as I discovered when I headed to the wild west. Here one minute delegates can be playing a round of golf on one of the globe’s most famous courses, the next kayaking in the Atlantic and then finish the day bashing through the waves on a luxury catamaran.

First up for me was a good old hike in Argyll. Not any old hike as I delved deep into the Trossachs, immediately seeing why they are eulogised as the ‘Highlands in Miniature’. I hiked through the swathes of native Caledonian forest that grace Glen Finglas, a spectacular glen much beloved of writer Sir Walter Scott and painter John Ruskin. Local firm Great Time Scotland (www.greattimescotland.com) offer what they say on the tin with great guided walks to this remote glen, lochside strolls or hill epics. Well versed in the needs of corporates they can also lay on quad biking, clay pigeon shooting and fishing.

I’m a big mountain biker and there are myriad trails that burn off through the thick forests of the Trossachs and elsewhere in Argyll too. Go Country (http://gocountry.co.uk) specialise in taking groups out biking from their base on scenic Loch Ard. They cater for groups from 10 to 100 on packages such as ‘Thrill and Chill’, with other activities including raft building, paintball, cliff jumping and gorge walking.
Heading south it was time to venture into Ayrshire, the rich fertile land of rolling hills and rugged coastline that produced Scotland’s national bard, Robert Burns. Two of Scotland’s five British Open Championship courses await here – Royal Troon and Turnberry. It was to Turnberry and its famous resort (www.turnberryresort.co.uk) I headed. Playing a round here is unforgettable as the courses swim in golfing legends, while sweeping sandy beaches, that iconic lighthouse and the unmistakable rock stack of Ailsa Craig provide an unbeatable backdrop.

Being so close to the ocean I was desperate to get wet and I snapped up the chance to take to the waters off the charming wee isle of Cumbrae. It is home to the Sportscotland National Centre Cumbrae (www.nationalcentrecumbrae.org.uk), which offers everything from tuition in dinghies through to full blown multi-night adventures aboard their yacht. They have overnight accommodation for groups on Cumbrae too.
I also checked out 7 Degrees West (www.7degreeswest.co.uk) and their luxury catamaran yacht, Dualist. Cruising around as the sun sets over the isles with a wee dram in one hand and a freshly shucked local oyster in the other is ideal for corporate and incentive groups looking to live the high life at sea. One of their most interesting tours is across to Arran and Holy Isle. Here attendees get the chance to meet the inhabitants of the super chilled Buddhist community who own this picturesque isle.

Across on the island of Arran proper, an oasis that justifies its ‘Scotland in Miniature’ tag as it boasts both Highland and Lowland scenery, the Arran Adventure Company (www.arranadventure.com) awaited. They have been offering corporate activity days and team building since 2003 and their experience shows. I headed out sea kayaking with them. Some of the group had experience, some were first timers, but by the end we had all gelled as we paddled and scanned the waters for whales and dolphins. This sort of experience is typical of Argyll and Ayrshire, a land where multiple opportunities to get active await corporate groups amongst some of Scotland’s most dramatic scenery.

For more information on these areas of Scotland please contact

 
Caroline Lyons
Business Tourism Manager
VisitScotland
Burns House
16 Burns Statue Square
Ayr
KA7 1UT
Tel: +44 (0) 1292 616 124
Email: caroline.lyons@visitscotland.com

 




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