TRAVEL: Scotland is Ryd-ing the crest of a wave

Riders in the Commonwealth Games Road Race at Glasgow Green
Riders in the Commonwealth Games Road Race at Glasgow Green

It has been a great year for tourism in Scotland. Before the Ryder Cup arrived in Perthshire, Glasgow hosted the ‘best-ever’ Commonwealth Games, there were record numbers at the Edinburgh Festival and Fringe, and the referendum had everyone considering Scotland’s role in the UK and on a global level

Europe retained the Ryder Cup and Gleneagles did itself proud hosting golf’s premier team event, as players were cheered on by a passionate 40,000-plus crowd each day, against the stunning backdrop of the Ochil Hills. And yet Scotland has so much more to offer than high end golf, as I was to discover.

A couple of days before Paul McGinley’s men were splashing out of bunkers and sinking putts to win their third straight Ryder Cup, my friend and I were doing some splashing and sinking of our own just down the road on the shores of Kenmore.

Stand-up paddling is one of the fastest growing leisure activities in the UK and we were fortunate enough to have a lesson with Barry Wallace from Wilderness SUP on the stunningly beautiful Loch Tay.

Aside from SUP and golf, there is plenty of adventure to be had in Perthshire or ‘Big Tree Country’, with its tranquil glens, dramatic waterfalls and lush forests providing a perfect setting for outdoor activities such as hiking and pony trekking.

After a long day watching or playing golf, or enjoying the great Scottish outdoors, Perthshire’s superb restaurants, bars and pubs are ideal places to kick back and relax.

Dine at the 16th-century Ardeonaig Hotel & Restaurant (www.ardeonaighotel.co.uk), which makes the most of the area’s extraordinary natural larder on the southern shore of Loch Tay.

The same can be said of Fonab Castle (www.fonabcastlehotel.com). Nestled on the banks of Loch Faskally amid breathtaking highland scenery, the castle’s glass-fronted restaurant offers stunning loch views, along with delicious, locally and internationally inspired dishes. Although it is unlikely that Gleneagles will be hosting the Ryder Cup again in my lifetime, this trip to Scotland ensured that I will heed the advice of the Big Tree Country locals and ‘Haste Ye Back’.

:: For more information on holidays in Scotland go to www.visitscotland.com