From mud-loving mountain bikers to those crazy about ceilidhs, there’s plenty on offer in the Highlands this year.
For those who prefer their holidays to incorporate lung-bursting outdoor pursuits and plenty of perspiration, there is no shortage of challenging sporting events around Loch Ness and Inverness during the summer and early autumn months this year.
The season kicked off with the Great Glen Paddle Fest which marked the official opening of the Great Glen Canoe Trail – a 60-mile route along the Caledonian Canal from Corpach at Fort William on the west coast to Clachnaharry at Inverness in the east.
It’s back to the Great Glen in May for the annual Whole Way Walk, the longest ranger-guided walk in the country.
This 79-mile journey takes participants to the heart of the Highlands by combining six days of guided hiking with other events showcasing the area’s history and heritage.
Running from Sunday, May 6, until Friday, May 11, participants will trek the width of the country from Fort William on the west coast to Inverness on the east, offering a wonderful opportunity to experience this amazing environment up close and personal.
Alternatively, adrenalin-seeking visitors might like to take part in the Drambuie Pursuit, which runs from May 11-13.
The nine-stage event takes in the Loch Ness area, with events at Invergarry, Fort Augustus and the River Ness and combines a wide range of outdoor activities including archery, buggy racing, white-water rafting, rock climbing, abseiling, hill running and mountain biking.
Not for the fainthearted, this high-energy Highland challenge offers an exciting and inspirational introduction to the area.
Heading into June, outdoor enthusiasts can join a range of events at the Outta Affric Glen Affric Walking Festival.
This four-day festival, which runs from June 1-4, offers graded and guided walks taking in a selection of Munros and Corbetts alongside a packed programme of entertaining, interesting and informative extras.
For those who like to inject a little variety into their travels, June brings a selection of exciting challenges taking in the Loch Ness area.
The first is the Scotland Coast to Coast event. This two-day challenge takes place on June 15 and 16 and allows entrants to select their own level, taking one or two days to tackle the route from the east coast at Nairn to the west coast at Ballachulish by running or walking, kayaking and cycling through its tough terrain, either alone or as part of a two-man team.
Saturday, June 16, will see walkers gathering at Gairlochy on the west coast for the 24-hour Caledonian Challenge, in which participants attempt to complete a 54-mile route through some of the most spectacular scenery in the Highlands in just one day, all in aid of the Scottish Community Foundation.
A week later, the area hosts the invitation-only Highland Cross duathlon, with participants attempting to complete a 20-mile walk and 30-mile bike ride through the rugged terrain of Glen Affric and Strathglass before crossing the finishing line at Beauly.
August sees the arrival of the Monster Swim at Loch Ness.
This open-water aquatic event offers the opportunity to tackle either the one-mile Big Yin or the half-mile Wee Nessie course – both of which offer the opportunity for participants to truly immerse themselves in the surroundings and see spectacular scenery from an entirely new angle.
The season of exertion and exhilaration is rounded off on Sunday, September 30, with the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon.
Further information on the area, accommodation and what’s on around Loch Ness and Inverness can be found at www.visitlochness.com