You might imagine I’m writing about a camping or hunting trip in the back woods of the US when I start talking about riding quads (ATVs or 4-wheelers) and shooting at things. But it can be real fun to get your redneck on and that’s exactly what we did on a recent trip to Scotland.
Shooting Skeet in Scotland
Granted, we didn’t strap our shotguns to the back of the quads and head out for a “Deliverance” style weekend getaway. Instead, we were on a road trip through England and Scotland and on the lookout for fun and interesting things to do. Of course, we spent plenty of hours trekking through the spectacular scenery of the Lake District and enough time in castles and cathedrals to practically earn honorary titles. So when we came across a groupon for skeet shooting we really couldn’t pass it up.
After all, Corinne had been talking about this for a few years and we just hadn’t found a time or place for it. What could be better then trudging out on the Scottish heath and taking aim at a few pigeons scattering through the air? Don’t worry, we’re talking birds of the clay variety here; I don’t think our hotel would have appreciated bringing in a few bags of pheasant to be cleaned and hung in the bathroom.
We arrived at the Central Scotland Shooting School, just south of Falkirk and the famous Falkirk Wheel, on a sunny afternoon, a real rarity in Scotland even in the summer. We really had no idea what to expect, so we weren’t to surprised to find an low, single-story club house with an old, sleepy Scottish Labrador lying in the middle of the floor. He waggled his tail and lifted his head quizzically as if to see if these newcomers had brought in treats, but then quickly went back to snoring and dreaming of his younger days retrieving ducks from the pond out back. Don met us and quickly had us geared up and paying attention to his mixture of stories and safety lessons.
Once we had the basic safety gear on and knew where not to point the shotguns we were heading out to the skeet field. Judging by the layer of orange clay under foot the battle had been going on for years and the clay pigeons were definitely on the loosing side. Don, showed us how to load, aim and shoot the flying targets, and we were soon calling “pull” and blasting merrily away. We each had 40 shells and we massacred nearly as many clay pigeons; Don was a patiently great teacher. I’ve shot skeet before but never from an over-under, double-barreled shotgun and never in Scotland. It was an experience we are keen to repeat at some point in time, wherever we may find it in the world.
Quad biking the Scottish Highlands
For our second adventure we had come across a pamphlet for quad bike tours somewhere on our travels in Scotland. We figured we’d already been out blasting away on the shotguns, why not tear up the gravel on a quad (as they’re more commonly referred to in the UK). And Quad Bike Tours has sole proprietary access rights to the vast Ardverickie Estate on the shores of the beautiful Loch Laggan in the Scottish Highlands. We’ve been quad biking before but never in such a majestic backdrop–castle and all!
We met up with our guide at the old service station across from the Loch, filled out all the required paperwork, and followed the guide up and into the estate where we would get our quads. We were a little nervous about the weather, this was a much more typical Scottish summer day, and not sure at all that we were properly dressed. Not to worry, however, as the company has enough rain gear, gloves, and Wellies to gear out an entire squadron of riders of all sizes. After a quick run through the training course we were ready to hit the trails.
We had a couple of inexperienced riders along with us so we started out slower than I would have liked, but I quickly found that I could hang back slowly for a little bit and build up a nice big gap between myself and the rider ahead. Then, I could jam down the throttle and take some turns at speed, power-sliding through them like a pro. Soon enough, however, the others were learning from the bad example I had set and we were bouncing and sliding along at a perfect speed. Later we went through some hairy technical trails that challenged everyone. Not to worry if you’re more of wimpy rider, there was always a side trail you could take to bypass the scarier climbs or descents. We finished off with a ride along the beach, throwing sand and sliding around to our hearts’ content. We had opted for the half day tour on this trip, but I’d be happy to go back on the full day or two day trek!
I knew our road trip through Scotland and England would take us to some incredible castles and cathedrals, and along some of the most gorgeous scenery in the world, but I had no idea that the adventure options would be so affordable and accessible.
What was your best quad bike tour? Are you a master marksman? We’d love to hear about any adventure tours you’ve taken so we can ad them to our ever-growing cherry lists!
Central Scotland Shooting School
Garbethill Muir, Wester Jawcraig, Falkirk FK1 3AL, United Kingdom
Quad Bike Tours/
The Old Filling Station, Camus Cillean, Kinloch Laggan, Inverness-shire PH20 1BX, United Kingdom
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