Hotfoot it to the coast

Beaches, promenades, ice cream, fish and chips, amusement arcades … Ayr, Saltcoats, Largs and Millport beckon in the west of Scotland while along the east coast there's Elie, St Andrews, Burntisland, Portobello and North Berwick to name but a few.

Further north, gems include the Silver Sands of Morar, Balmedie Beach in Aberdeenshire, Luskentyre on Harris and Shetland's breathtaking St Ninian's Isle, home to a golden, sandy tombolo.

For good old fashioned (and cheap) fun you can't beat guddling in rock pools. Dunure and Portencross, both in Ayrshire, and Crail Roome Bay in Fife are prime locations where you can see the likes of whelks, limpets, crabs, starfish and sea anemone.

Find the perfect picnic spot

If you're not a fan of sand in your sandwiches, there are plenty of alternatives to beach picnicking. Head up a mountain, plonk yourself beside a loch or find a tranquil tree-filled nook.

The lofty cliff top location of Tantallon Castle in East Lothian offers stunning views of the nearby Bass Rock and, if a stately backdrop is your thing you won't go far wrong with the grounds of Culzean Castle near Maybole in Ayrshire either.

In the Bathgate Hills near Linlithgow, Beecraigs Country Park has picnic spots aplenty as well as barbecue pits available for hire. Other lures include an adventure playground, woodland walks, mountain bike trails and an orienteering course.

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Enjoy a scenic drive

Take your pick: a leisurely loop around Arran, a delightful daunder through Highland Perthshire or perhaps a memorable meander along the A83 from Tarbet to Lochgilphead. Oh, and if you're up near Skye, skip the bridge and take the ferry from Glenelg to Kylerhea instead.

READ MORE: Scotland’s 20 best places to get an ice cream

Fire up the barbecue

If the thought of sooty sausages, half-raw burgers and limp salad fills you with dread, then fret not. Here Scotland's national chef Gary Maclean shares his top tips:

1. Don't worry about the weather. If there is half a chance that the sun will be shining, get planning. Think about the dishes you want to cook and purchase the food the day before.

2. Pick the barbecue that works for you. Don't spend hundreds of pounds on something all singing, all dancing if you are likely to use it once and then let it rust at the bottom of the garden. I prefer to use charcoal as I find the natural essence of the coals make a much better dish than gas.

3. Think about the temperature of both grill and the food itself. Food poisoning is a real risk as it can look cooked very quickly on the hot grill but still be raw in the middle. Invest in a temperature probe. Most foods need to be at least 75C at the thickest point. If the coals are too hot, the food will burn to a crisp on the outside and be completely raw in the centre.

4. Marinating your meat and fish will add loads of moisture and flavour.

5. Don't rule out using your own kitchen as well as the barbecue. Your oven is perfect for finishing off cooking or hot-holding food while you wait for whatever is on the grill.

For barbecue recipes from Gary Maclean see here

Book a boat trip

Spot puffins and gannets on a cruise around the Bass Rock, Isle of May, Craigleith and the Lamb.

There are around 500,000 seabirds on the Forth islands at present, including 150,000 gannets and 90,000 puffins. Kittiwakes and terns are nesting, while guillemots, razorbills, puffins, gannets, shags, cormorants, eiders, gulls and fulmars are either on eggs or already have chicks.

The Scottish Seabird Centre runs daily boat trips with the option to do landings on the Bass Rock or Isle of May. Or catch the Forth Ferry for a 45-minute hop between North Berwick and Anstruther.


Swim al fresco

Let's be honest, swimming outdoors isn't for the faint hearted – even in the height of Scottish summer. If you fancy a dip without freezing the proverbial off, then the open-air, saltwater pools at Gourock and Stonehaven are heated to a balmy 29C.

The recently refurbished Tamar Manoukian New Cumnock Outdoor Swimming Pool, which re-opened last summer after being saved from closure by the Dumfries House Trust, is a gorgeous lido with water heated to around 30C.

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READ MORE: A guide to Scotland's islands - did your favourite make the list?

Hop on a plane

What better way to see Scotland than with a bird's eye view on a beautiful, clear day? Loch Lomond Seaplanes has daily flights from £99pp with highlights including the Highland Boundary Fault, Ben Lomond, Arrochar Alps, the Trossachs, Dunoon and the Clyde coast.

Barra has the only scheduled beach landing in the world and in the sunshine its turquoise waters and golden sand resemble a Maldivian lagoon. Loganair flies from Glasgow from £77 each-way.

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Take an alpaca for a walk

If you don't own a dog, why not take an alpaca for a walk instead? There's a clutch of farms across Scotland that offer dedicated trekking sessions through the surrounding countryside.

Alpacas are sweet, gentle and often shy creatures. A domesticated species of South American camelid, they are smaller than llamas. You don't ride on their backs but rather walk alongside leading them by a harness.

It costs around £22 for a two-hour alpaca trek. Locations include the Alpaca Trekking Centre at Moss Field Farm in Thornhill near Stirling, Velvet Hall at Innerleithen in Peeblesshire, Senwick Alpacas near Kirkcudbright on the Solway Coast and Netherfield Farm in Coalburn, South Lanarkshire.


Hit the parks

Find a comfy bench, stake your claim on a patch of grass or curl up under a tree with a good book.

Here's some of Scotland's prettiest urban and rural parks to enjoy: Linn Park, Glasgow; Inverleith Park, Edinburgh; Aden Country Park, Aberdeenshire; Almondell and Calderwood Country Park, West Lothian; Baxter Park, Dundee; Strathaven Park, South Lanarkshire.

READ MORE: Scotland's top 20 beaches

Head for the hills

Let's face it, not everyone wants to bag a Munro. Sometimes you just fancy a leisurely uphill stroll.

Dumyat near Stirling (419m/1375ft) may not be the biggest or grandest of the Ochils, but it is a cracking little hill with oodles of character and views to knock your socks off.

Conic Hill rising above Balmaha at Loch Lomond (361m/1184ft) and Arthur's Seat in Holyrood Park, Edinburgh (250m/822ft) are good options for a hike without being too strenuous (although both do have some steep sections).

If you are feeling a bit more adventurous, check out the White Coomb and Grey Mare's Tail near Moffat. Better suited to adults and older children, the White Coomb (821m/2694ft) is the highest hill in Dumfriesshire while the Grey Mare's Tail is a 200ft (61m) waterfall.

Go glamping

That's camping with glam frills for the uninitiated. If the prospect of a sleeping bag on lumpy earth is enough to make your spine ache, then hire a pod, wigwam or "hobbit" hut. They come with hot tubs, saunas and, most importantly, comfortable beds.


Pick your own fruit

Remember the days when red-stained hands from an afternoon berry picking in Perthshire or along the Clyde Valley was a childhood rite of passage?

Soft fruit doesn't need to come wrapped in supermarket plastic. The pick-your-own season generally begins in Scotland around late June with strawberries then raspberries, gooseberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants and blackberries as the summer progresses.

Check out East Yonderton near Inchinnan, Renfrewshire; Charleton Fruit Farm at Montrose; Craigie's Farm at South Queensferry and Cairnie Fruit Farm at Cupar, Fife.

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READ MORE: four barbecue recipes from chef Gary Maclean

Throw a leg over the saddle

A cycle around Great Cumbrae in the Firth of Clyde is a summer staple. Dubbed "the island of a thousand bikes", don't be surprised to see everything from tricycles and tandems to eight-seaters that wouldn't looking out of place in the Wacky Races pedalling around the 10-mile circumference.

The Tweed Valley Railway Path is an ideal easy route for families and recreational cyclists covering five miles between Innerleithen and Peebles, while the 22-mile loop around Loch Rannoch in Perthshire, although more undulating, is spectacular when the sun is dancing off the water.

If the legs are feeling good, then Bealach na Ba in Wester Ross – a winding, single track road through the mountains of the Applecross peninsula – comes with hairpin bends, jaw-dropping views and nature galore such as soaring birds of prey and majestic stags.

Starting from near sea-level at Tornapress next to Loch Kishorn, it rises 2054ft (626m) in 5.6 miles (9.1km) of climbing, reaching 20% at its steepest gradient. The reward of a hearty feed awaits at the Applecross Inn once you reach the top and descend the other side.

READ MORE: Scotland’s 10 best cycle routes

Hang a washing out

Nothing beats a good drying day. If you live in a tenement close with a shared back court set the alarm for 4am to stake your claim on the communal clothes line.

Taps aff

Be sure to consult the Taps-Aff/Taps-Oan website ( before disrobing. Around 18C and above typically means that clout casting weather is go.

Although as soon as this feature goes to print it's going to rain, isn't it?