Best months:
September to November


United Kingdom
LAST UPDATED 07/01/2008
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Scottish Flag

Scotland: The home of haggis, fine Scotch whisky, picture postcard landscapes and some great surf breaks to boot! Bordering England in the Northern region of the United Kingdom Scotland has some world class breaks from the long peeling right handers at Thurso East and the bone crunching reefs at Brims to the beach breaks a plenty in every form. Scotland is all about the fresh air and the scenery that provides great backdrops to any beach surfari. You get a real sense of rugged adventure here, especially along the Northern coastline where you can surf until midnight during summer solstice thanks to its northern extremity, but wrap up warm.


Calgacus: Scota & Gaedel Glas; 5 March 2007

Early Scottish history is very difficult to trace as the repeated ice ages destroyed much evidence of human habitation. It is believed the first settlers in Scotland were about 12,800 years ago as the ice sheets retracted after the last ice age. The first houses and villages started springing up about 6000 years ago. Habitation, ritual and burial sites remaining remarkably well preserved due to their stone structure, this is thought to be because of the lack of trees in the surrounding area.

Written history begins during the Roman occupation of England and Wales ruled under the province known as Brittania. Roman invasions and occupations of southern Scotland were generally unsuccessful. This led to the construction of Hadrians Wall (parts of this remain today) in the first century, to control the advances of the Pictish (early scottish) tribes. The Kingdom of the Picts was what became known as Scotland.


Pic: Icky; Author: Matt Smith/

Scotland seems to sum up the last things you'd want from a surf trip, the sea is cold the living is tough and the drive there is a slow and long. But what awaits the intrepid traveller that decides to make the trip North? Some jewels in the crown of not just British but world surfing that's what. The landscape is rugged and weathered and the valleys and lochs give way to perfect white sand beaches with points breaks, reefs and rivermouths framed in beautiful bays. The surfing here when it all comes together is a real treat and should be on every surfers place to visit list.


Don't forget to check your spare tyre before venturing up here, some places are pretty remote!

There are many ways of getting to Scotland by air, train, boat and car:

By air

  • Aberdeen Airport, 8 miles north west of the city, has direct flights from Alicante, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Bergen, Copenhagen, Dublin, Esbjerg, Faro, Groningen, Kristiansand, Malaga, Murcia, Oslo, Palma, Paphos, Paris, Stavanger and Tenerife.
  • Edinburgh Airport, 10 miles west of the city, has direct flights from Alicante, Amsterdam, Atlanta, Avignon, Barcelona, Bergen, Bergerac, Bremen, Brussels, Cologne, Copenhagen, Cork, Dortmund, Dublin, Faro, Frankfurt, Galway, Gdansk, Geneva, Hamburg, Helsinki, Ibiza, Katowice, Krakow, Madrid, Mahon, Malaga, Marseille, Milan, Munich, Murcia, New York, Nice, Oslo, Palma de Mallorca, Paris, Pisa, Poznan, Prague, Pula, Rennes, Rome, Shannon, Stockholm, Szczecin, Tenerife, Toronto, Toulouse, Warsaw and Zurich.
  • Glasgow International Airport, 8 miles west of the city, has direct flights from Alicante, Amsterdam, Athens, Barcelona, Belfast, Berlin, Bourgas, Calgary, Copenhagen, Dominican Republic, Dubai, Dublin, Faro, Geneva, Gran Canaria, Halifax, Heraklion, Las Vegas, Madeira, Malta, New York (Newark), Nice, Orlando, Ottawa, Palma de Mallorca, Paris, Philadelphia, Prague, Pula, Reykjavík, Sharm el Sheikh, Tenerife, Toronto and Vancouver.
  • Glasgow Prestwick International Airport, situated 30 miles south west of Glasgow, is a hub of budget airline Ryanair with domestic flights to London Stansted and Bournemouth; and international flights to Brussels, Bergamo, Budapest, Cork, Dublin, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Girona, Gothenburg, Hamburg, Kaunas, Krakow, Milan, Murcia, Oslo (Torp), Paris, Pisa, Reus, Riga, Rome, Shannon, Stockholm and Wroclaw. Be aware that there is an additional train journey of up to an hour form this airport into Glasgow city centre. Aer Arann flys twice weekly from Donegal International Airport into Prestwick.
  • Inverness Airport, situated 7 miles north east of the city, has direct flights from Dublin.

There are also Uk domestic flights from all major airports.

By train

The are three major railway lines that service Scotland from England these are as follows:

  • West coast mainline, this runs from London to Glascow with stops at Rugby, Crewe, Preston, The Lake District and Carlisle.
  • East coast mainline, running between London and Edinburgh and stopping at Peterbourgh, Stevenage, York, Doncaster, Durham and Newcastle Upon Tyne.
  • Cross country network, running trains to Scotland from Manchester, Sheffield, Cornwall and Brighton.

By car

The main road linking Scotland and England is the M74 motorway which runs from south of Glasgow to Carlisle. The A1 road links Edinburgh and the North East of England; this road is single carriageway in some areas however, and not considered to be the best route into Scotland generally, but from a surfers point of view heading to the East and North coasts this is a viable option as you can pick up the A90 to Fraserburgh.

By boat

  • Superfast Ferries sail from Zeebrugge, Belgium to Rosyth, near Edinburgh.
  • Stena Line ferries link Belfast, Northern Ireland, to Stranraer in Scotland.
  • where to stay

    Pic: Tent at Thurso; Author: Matt Smith/

    Scotland has many options of places to stay, self-catering holiday are becoming very popular with weekly rentals in cottages or wooden lodges, these are usually well furnished and in beautiful locations.

    For the traveller on a budget the Youth Hostel Association (YHA) has a great network of hostels all over Scotland with high standards of accommodation at a cheap price, the rooms are usually of a shared dormitory style.

    Camping is another inexpensive way of touring Scotland, though the unpredictable weather makes it less appealing than in some other countries. In remote areas campsites can be a significant distance apart so buy an up to date guide and plan your route. Booking is not usually necessary except in peak season. Generally, the rule is the more remote the campsite, the better the scenery and the lower the cost. Some campsites may only provide basic amenities. Camping rough is possible in remote areas, but observe local signs, and never camp next to a stream that could rapidly become swollen by overnight rain. Midges (tiny biting insects) can be a particular nuisance during August and September: the insects are harmless but incredibly irritating.

    Bed and Breakfast accommodation is widely available, even in remote areas and some very good deals can be found. Many people consider these to be more friendly and welcoming than a hotel. Local tourist information centres will help you find a room for the same night, these usually includes a full Scottish breakfast.

    what to pack

    Pic: glenfiddich, a fine post surf winter warmer; Author: Ryan Bushby; Date: 20.05.07

    During the summer months (May-Sept) you'll need short sleeved t-shirts, shorts and long trousers (pants) and probably a light jacket or pullover for the more blustery days and evenings, sun cream for days out on the water and some insect repellent for those damn midges up north. In winter bring long trousers (pants), warm pullovers, warm waterproof coats, scarves, hat and gloves!!

    As far a wetsuits go you'll need a good quality 3/2mm steamer for Summer, add boots and gloves for Spring/Autumn. For Winter it's strictly 5/3mm steamer, boots, gloves, hood, thermal rashie, a hipflask of scotch and a strong will to surf!!

    For boards you normal size 6'2" - 6'6" (depending on ability etc) thruster for 2-4ft waves will suffice most of the time. You will also want to add a 6'7" - 7' for the bigger epic days on the points and reefs.

    dangers and warnings

    Pic: Compass; Author: Bois; Date: 27.09.05

    Emergency service telephone numbers are 999 or 112.

    Scotland has a relatively high crime rate though this depends really on where you are. As a surfer you will seldom find yourself in high-risk areas. Common sense rules apply, lock your car, hide valuables etc etc. If you find yourself in any of the major cities avoid the city suburbs unless you are sure you know where you are going. As always, respect the locals - don't make comments like "where's your kilt" especially to pub locals at kicking out time!!

    If you decide to go off on a bit of hill walking always let some one know where you are going and when you are going to be back. These are remote mountains and a leisurley stroll up the hillside can and all too often does turn into a serious missing person situation. The weather can turn in the blink of an eye from glorious sunshine to horizontal rain and fog with a freezing wind chill and if your miles away from shelter and help and unprepared you're in trouble. At a bare minimum you should be kitted out with a pair of sturdy walking boots, warm clothing, waterproofs, mobile phone, map and compass, whistle and a torch (flashlight) regardless of the weather when you set off.

    resturants, shopping and nightlife

    Pic: Haggis and oatcakes; Author: Johnathunder; Date: 03.09.07

    Scotland and food - makes you think of haggis, right? True they are the creators of this culinary delight of heart, lungs and liver of a sheep chopped and mixed with herbs and spices and stuffed into the stomach of the same animal and actually, it does taste pretty good, served with "neaps and tatties" (turnips and potatoes). But they do have a lot more to offer the hungry traveller. Take the seafood for instance; Scotland produces some of the best seafood in the world. Its langoustines, oysters, scallops, crabs, salmon and lobsters are prized by the finest chefs all over the world...and hence are mostly exported. Heaven on a plate. If you’re lucky enough to be near the coast you can buy freshly caught seafood at very good prices, just go to the docks and wait, it’s worth it.

    But it doesn't stop there the top five most prized steak cattle in the world are Scottish. These are the Aberdeen Angus, Longhorn, Shorthorn, Highland and Galloway. Try a fillet of local Aberdeen Angus and see why.

    Scotland also has game aplenty, from pheasants to venison. An inexpensive Highland autumn favourite is pheasant layered with a few strips of bacon and baked with seasonal vegetables.

    Scotland offers a range of products, souvenirs and memorabilia unavailable authentically anywhere else in the world. Take the fine Scotch whiskey for example, try the single malts rather than the cheaper blended varieties, they're much smoother and worth the extra cash. Glenmorangie and Glenfiddich are among the best.

    Also look out for the Tartan (multicoloured check) fabrics available and products manufactured from it - kilts, ties etc. Each design of tartan represents a family name - see if there is a tartan for your name.

    what to do when it's flat

    Pic: Woods technique; Author: Warbeck; Date: 19.10.06

    Drive - take a driving tour of Scotland and take in it's beautiful scenery.

    Motorcycling - Scotland has some of the best motorcycle touring roads in the world, although you'll need good weather to get the most out of them. With good surfaces, little traffic outside of the main cities and welcoming cafes touring is a real pleasure. It is also possible to hire a motorcycle.

    Cycling - Even though there are only a few cycle trails compared to England, Scotland makes a great cycling country as there are many roads with little traffic.

    Hill walking - Scotland is famous for hill walking. You can try to climb all 284 Monros of Scotland, including Ben Nevis, the highest peak in the UK (which are mountains higher than 3000 feet / 914.4 m) and become a Munroist, or you could hike the popular West Highland Way, which stretches for 153km (95 miles). Scotland’s official National Tourist Board publishes a free Scotland Walks guide, available from their Walking site.

    Whisky Tour - Many of Scotland's distilleries welcome visitors and many have guided tours.

    Golf - Scotland is the birthplace of the game of golf and home to the oldest course in the world, St. Andrews. Scotland’s National Tourist Board publishes a free guide to golfing in Scotland.

    Edinburgh Festival occurs during late July to Mid September. The Festival is an umbrella term for several festivals, including the International Jazz and Blues Festival, the Fringe Festival, and the Literary Festival. Visit Scotland, the official Scottish Tourist Board, maintain a calendar of events and festivals taking place throughout Scotland.

    useful phrase guide

    Some useful Scottish Phrases:


    A'dinni ken - I don't care.

    An then yer arse fell aff - A term used to express disbelief, when some is telling untruths.

    Arse bandit - A derogatory term for a homosexual i.e. See you Mcdonald, yer a wee arse-bandit.

    Away an bile yer heid - Go away and shut up. i.e. away an bile yer heid ya wee numpty.

    Aye - yes, agreement.


    Ba heid - Someone with an over inflated opinion of their self.

    Bahookie - Arse, backside.

    Baltic - Freezing, very cold.

    Banger - Someone who is mentally challenged.

    Baw bag - Scotum, someone who is useless.


    Canny - Shrewd, cautious or crafty.

    Cannae - Cannot, can't do i.e Ah cannae git the matches tae light.

    Chore - To steal i.e. aye he chored it.

    Clout - To hit or punch i.e. aye i'll clout yer pal.


    Dinnae - Don't. i.e. ah dinnae ken.

    Doss - In Edinburgh means rubbish, Perth it means brilliant.


    Eeejit - A fool or idiot.

    Erse - Arse or bum

    Ersed - Bothered i.e. Ah cannae be ersed.


    Fag - Cigarette.

    Fartin aboot - Messing around.

    Fisty cuffs - Fighting


    Geroot - Get out i.e. Ah m locked in the shitehoose an cannae geroot.

    Gettae - Go away.


    Ken - Care, understand.

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