Ardrossan Harbour Sea Wall

You don't mess with the sea. Anyone who has ever glimpsed the waves whipping over the top of Ardrossan harbour, arcing high over the lighthouse itself, will have felt that warning. The Firth of Clyde may be sheltered by comparison with the open Atlantic, but nevertheless this stretch of coast, when hit by a full storm, receives a battering.

Kilt Rock and Mealt falls

Here’s one that will still your beating heart for more than a moment. When you stand on the platform looking out on to the 90 metre basalt cliffs of Kilt rock and the plunging waters of Mealt falls, it feels like the majesty of nature is putting you in your place.

At times, when the wind rushes through the fencing, it creates an eerie noise, and when a gale is in full force the water of the falls is sometimes blown away, so it doesn’t reach its base in the Sound of Raasay at all. Shock and awe.

Seaton Cliffs

The Deil's Heid, Seaman's Grave and Mermaid's Kirk ... even the names of the rock formations here are enough to give you goosebumps. Don’t feel tempted to peer right over the edge – or go close – as you follow the path along this rocky coastline from Arbroath. These rugged cliffs, with their many attractions, including sea caves, arches and boulders as well as colonies of seabirds, offer plenty of drama and vertigo-inducing moments. But, stick to the path, and follow its route to the Needle’s E’e, a sandstone arch that runs parallel to the shore, and marvel at how this extraordinary formation came into being.

Calder’s Geo, Eshaness

Shetland's Eshaness circular walk is littered with heart-stoppers, but perhaps the biggest are the vertical cliffs of Calder’s Geo, a dark, rocky cleft forged by the crashing of the Atlantic. Beneath is a sea cave, recently measured to be by far the biggest cave in Britain, at an enormous 5,600 square metres. The adventurous have been known to swim or kayak in during calm seas.

Ythan estuary

There’s something other-worldly about these mudflats, populated by 225 species of birds, particularly when approached via the Sands of Forvie, some of the largest dunes in Britain. When you hear the seals singing on the Ythan estuary, it feels like you’ve come to a land of ghosts. But, please, avoid causing the animals distress, by keeping a distance – the seals have been known to stampede because humans have got too close.

Eas fors after heavy rain

The force is strong in Mull's biggest waterfalls, particularly after heavy rain – a not uncommon phenomenon on the island. It is comprised of three falls – upper, middle and lower – the lower of which are only properly viewable following a walk along the shore. Here's a shower you definitely won't be wanting to stand under on a wild day.

St Ninian’s cave, Whithorn

The bay that was used for the climax scene in The Wicker Man, has a strange and eerie atmosphere – arriving at it via a forest path feels like pitching up at the edge of the world. At one end of this exposed pebble beach is a cave that is believed to have once been the retreat of Scotland’s first saint, Ninian, said to have been active in Dumfries and Galloway in the late AD 300s. Piles of pebbles, handmade crosses and coins wedged into rocks, add to the feeling that this is a place of spiritual note.

Smoo Cave

Set into the limestone cliffs in Sutherland, a mile to the east of the town of Durness, Smoo Cave has one of the largest entrances to any sea cave in Britain, a 50 ft high chasm. What’s inside is all the more spine-tinglingly impressive – a waterfall drops into the rear chamber filling the cave with the roar of tumbling water.

The Elie chain walk

The warnings on the sign at the start of the chain walk, one of only two via ferrata in the UK, are enough to tell you this provides the odd adrenalin-moment. Beware, it says, of becoming trapped by the incoming tide, of falling rocks, and of falling from steep rock. The walk, in which people pull themselves along chain, climb, crawl, clamber and scramble, is along 0.5km of what’s called “hazardous” coastal terrain, some of which is immersed at high tide. For the sure-footed.

Butt of Lewis lighthouse

This most northerly tip of the Outer Hebrides has had a mention in the Guinness Book of Records for being the windiest place in the UK. Beyond it is nothing but ocean, stretching all the way to the Arctic, or to the coast of Northern Canada. Waves and winds of up to 100 miles an hour crash onto its rocks. Think of the lighthouse keeper and his family who once ran it, and with no road in, up till the 1960s, had to keep going until the next boat of supplies came in.

Soldier’s leap, Killiecrankie

The rocky spot where, legend has it, a Redcoat soldier, fleeing the Jacobites during the battle of Killiecrankie, did an astonishing leap of 18ft across the raging River Garry. Just thinking about it is petrifying.

Corryvreckan whirlpool

It's the sheer strength of the maelstrom, called the Cailleach – meaning "the hag" in Gaelic – that makes this spot quite so chilling. In a documentary about the whirlpool, a weighted dummy wearing a life jacket was dumped into the sea just before the vortex. Within moments it disappeared. About half and hour later it was recovered several miles away. Monitors on it showed that it had been down at least 200 metres.

Loch Sunart bioluminescence

There are spots around Scotland where the waters phosphoresce with the light of the dinoflagellate plankton a that live in them. A swim among these glittering diamonds is like bathing in the supernatural.

Crossing the Minch on a ferry during a storm

When a storm’s up crossing the Minch can be a hairy experience – and some have been there, tossed on its wild waves, and never forgotten it. Thankfully CalMac does its best not to run out when the weather is wild. So if your ferry is cancelled because of gales, just be glad of it.

Slain’s Castle, Cruden Bay

The foreboding castle that inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula sits on cliff tops about a kilometre away from Cruden Bay. According to multiple sources, the author was invited by the 18th Earl of Erroll to visit his home. Now a dark-eyed ruin, it's even bleaker and scarier.