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Explore ‘Blue Scotland’ with adventurer Mollie Hughes

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Record-breaker shows adventurous side of Scotland, from the Clyde to the Cairngorms National Park

Scotland is famed for its rugged coastlines, pristine beaches, endless rivers and deep lochs. The whole country is a popular choice for outdoor enthusiasts from all over the world.  

In a unique new guide, Blue Scotland, sports adventurer Mollie Hughes introduces many of her favourite places across Scotland to paddleboard, kayak, swim and surf. Mixing world-class surfing breaks with kayaking adventures on the west coast, and urban paddleboarding along the Clyde with invigorating swims in the lochs of the Cairngorms National Park, the book shows how to access and enjoy these varied blue spaces. Mollie includes her own personal experiences and tips, enabling wild water sports fans of all levels to make the most of the amazing opportunities Scotland has to offer. 

Mollie Hughes, 32, is a world record-breaking sports adventurer, mountaineer, polar explorer and international motivational speaker. In 2017, she broke the world record for becoming the youngest woman to climb both sides of Mount Everest, and in 2020, she became the youngest woman to ski solo to the South Pole. In December 2020 she was the first woman to become president of Scouts Scotland. As of May 2021, Mollie has served as the Director of Ocean Vertical, an outdoor centre which leads ethical adventures into the Scottish Mountains and Ocean based in East Lothian.  

Read on for Mollie’s pick of off-the-beaten track places to visit in Scotland this autumn and winter.North Uist, Outer Hebrides

“The Island of North Uist in the Outer Hebrides is a wonder to experience in any season. As the long summer days give way to autumn, this island becomes remote, quiet, and raw. As the summer draws to a close the North Atlantic swells begin to roll in and North Uist becomes a brilliant destination for surfers. Nestled on the west coast of the island is one of the Outer Hebrides’ most famous surf spots – Hosta. Here you will find a beautiful white shell-sand beach backed by high sand dunes and acres of flowering Machair. North Uist isn’t just reserved for the surfers though; if you want to experience an authentic taste of remote Scottish island life, it’s best to visit outside of the high summer season”. 

Sandend Bay, Moray Speyside

“Sandend Bay is a jewel on the Moray coast of Scotland. Here you will find sand dunes backing a large north-facing golden beach which slopes gently into the water. Overlooking the beach is the picturesque village of Sandend, made up of a handful of quaint colourful cottages and a small working harbour. This beach often picks up North Sea swell and is a popular spot for surfers, as well as swimmers, kayakers, and families staying at the beachside campsite. During the darker months, when the campsite is quiet and the waves are good, a few lucky visitors might glimpse the Aurora Borealis lighting up the night sky over the village”. 

Loch Ard, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs

“Picturesque Loch Ard in the Trossachs National Park is a must visit blue space for wild swimming, kayaking and paddle-boarding. Nestled amongst the Great Loch Ard Forest, the trees extend down to the water’s edge and reach along the whole shoreline. At Loch Ard, the seasons are reflected in the forest’s canopy. By mid-October the rich greens of summer have given way to the full force of autumn and soon resemble a flaming fire with oranges, yellows and reds erupting up from the edge of the loch. Then, after the leaves have fallen in winter, there is the opportunity to see a snow-capped Ben Lomond looming over the far westerly end of the loch”. 

Loch an Eilein, Highlands

“Hidden deep between the Scots Pine trees at Rothiemurchus is the Loch of the Island, more commonly known as Loch an Eilein. During late autumn the first of the winter snows can be witnessed settling onto the Cairngorm Mountain range high above the loch. It is situated just five miles south of Aviemore. This loch is a popular spot for many visitors throughout the year including water sports enthusiasts, hikers, and families. Loch an Eilein, as the name alludes, also has an island which lies just 100m from the shore. This island is steeped in history and showcases the ruins of a 13th century castle”.  

Easdale Island, Argyll & Bute

“Easdale Island, tucked in the Firth of Loan, 15 miles south of Oban, is a wild swimmer’s dream. Here you can experience an otherworldly blue space in steep-sided slate quarries filled with incredible clear, blue waters. There are multiple filled quarries dotted around this small island, all a stone’s throw from the ocean. Easdale is a car free island, so unless you are planning to kayak or paddle board across, the only way to reach the island is by the small passenger ferry from the harbour. These quarries are often sheltered from the wind by their steep sides, but don’t forget to take your wetsuit, especially in autumn. At 60-90m deep these quarries are cold!” 

Scourie Bay & Loch Maree, north Highlands

“On the far north-west coast of Scotland lies a remote and sheltered blue space, Scourie Bay. Here during the autumnal months, you will find a quiet, golden sand beach with clear waters protected from the often-turbulent north Atlantic Ocean by the embrace of the bay. Scourie Bay is a real sanctuary at this time of year for swimming, paddle-boarding and kayaking in this area of Scotland where a lot of the other beaches are at the mercy of the North Atlantic. The crofting village of Scourie provides a welcome rest stop on the road north from Ullapool. Here you will find accommodation, a shop and a pub, it is a great spot to slow the pace and relax for a night or two throughout the year.  

“Located in the Northwest Highlands, Loch Maree is a wonder to experience from off and on the water at any time of year. At its deepest this loch sinks to 110m deep and spans 20km in length. Loch Maree is home to 66 individual islands and most fascinatingly, one of the islands has its own loch, with its own island. Loch Maree makes an incredible explorative paddle-board or kayaking destination throughout the year, as well as a great place for a bracing swim with the backdrop of one of Scotland’s most famed mountains. The larger islands of Loch Maree contain ancient Caledonian pine trees. These are some of the most pristine remnants of our ancient woodland left in Scotland, with some aged over 350 years old”. 

Blue Scotland by Mollie Hughes is published by Birlinn Ltd (£20, paperback), available now.Mollie Hughes is available for interview and also interested in hosting media on adventurous press trips in the Lothians.For interview requests, please contact:

Jan Rutherford Publicity & The Printed Word Mobile: 07710 474308 jan.ppw@janrutherford.co.uk  

Or  

Jennifer Andreacchi Publicity & Marketing Officer Tel: 07538 654822 jennifer@birlinn.co.uk  

For press trip requests, please also contact:

Erin Hickey, 

PR Manager, VisitScotland Tel: 0131 472 2030 erin.hickey@visitscotland.com <strong> </strong> 

Notes to EditorsBlue Scotland

by Mollie Hughes 

£20, paperback  

ISBN 9781780277448 

Published 15 September 2022 

Also available as an eBook 

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Explore ‘Blue Scotland’ with adventurer Mollie Hughes

Record-breaker shows adventurous side of Scotland, from the Clyde to the Cairngorms National Park

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