If you enjoy outdoor pursuits, the county of Angus could be your ideal destination, whether for a day out, a weekend escape or a two-week adventure holiday.
From the high mountains and stunning Glens in the north, across the fertile farmlands and forests of Strathmore, to the sea cliffs and long sandy beaches in the east and south – every outdoor activity is catered for.
In this brief guide, we’ll give you a flavour of what’s available, including the extensive range of outdoor activities that take place in this area – ranging from rock climbing and wild camping to cycling and skiing.
Land-based activities range from hillwalking to abseiling – or how about doing both and adding a night of wild camping in one of the remote Angus glens?
The hills and glens of Angus provide the perfect environment for hillwalking, rock climbing and abseiling.
There are miles of forests where orienteering provides a highly-enjoyable challenge or why not learn how to use a compass and follow a map by undertaking specialist navigation training with a qualified instructor?
Horse-riding can be undertaken in a specially-built arena or in the Angus countryside. The desolate, windswept moors and sandy beaches of Angus are a horse-rider’s dream! Or if you prefer two wheels to four legs, you could try cycling, either off or on-road.
Above: Coire Fee, B Gully Chimney © Jonny Tee 69 on ukclimbing.com
Though the Angus Glens are better known as a winter climbing venue, they include some of the best rock climbing in Scotland.
Angus has some excellent coastal and inland crags and instruction, with guiding available for any group size and any ability.
In Glen Clova, there are many areas within the Red Craig, with a mixture of traditional routes covering grades from “V Diff” to “E6”.
“On the fringes of the Southern Cairngorms north of Dundee, in the Angus Glen of Glen Clova, lies a series of outcrops close to the road, but in a mountain setting. Up to six buttresses offer steep climbing from VD to E6, all facing south west. There is a bunkhouse, a Club Hut and a good café and hotel nearby – civilised mountain cragging!” ~ mountaineering.scot
And if snow & ice climbing is your thing, the Winter Corrie of Driesh and Mayer’s Corrie Fee offer a selection of renowned ice routes to tackle.
If you’re interested in sport climbing, venues such as Legaston, Ley Quarry, Balmashanner and Kirriemuir Quarry are all well worthy of a visit. Moreover, there are climbs along the cliffs from Arbroath to Montrose where you’ll also find coasteering.
Information on all these venues and other rock climbing locations in Scotland, with the exception of Kirriemuir Quarry (which has its own guide), can be found in the North-east Outcrops Guide.
Indoor climbing and abseiling
Although Angus is one of the driest counties in Scotland, if the weather doesn’t hold, you will find climbing at Avertical World in nearby Dundee – possibly the best indoor venue in the area.
Abseiling – stepping off a mountain top and descending down a sheer cliff face using a rope – definitely gets the adrenalin pumping. Angus has several excellent outdoor abseiling locations, where the scenery is almost as breathtaking as the sensation of starting your decline.
If you prefer your climbing at a more sedate and less vertical pace, Angus is blessed with some of the best hillwalking in Scotland.
Challenging cycling in Scotland
If you are looking for some of the most challenging cycling in Scotland, Angus could be the answer. And with bike hire available from a number of locations, you don’t even have to take your bicycle with you.
The roads of Angus provide incredible cycling, including opportunities to explore the tranquil Glens or to cycle through fertile farmland or to explore coastal villages and secluded beaches.
A range of off-road cycling to match anywhere in Scotland
Angus is one of Scotland’s mountain bikers’ secrets, and they find plenty to whet their appetite on slopes which aren’t just for hillwalking!
The Sidlaw Hills, which lie north of Dundee, feature high-quality, natural single tracks and regularly host national cross-country events.
To the north of Angus and into the Glens, there are an increasing number of red and blue-graded routes, although you should be prepared to do some occasional track clearing, as these trails are completely ‘natural’.
In the Glens, the challenge lies with the high passes, the ancient drovers’ roads and those summits that are, sometimes unbelievably, accessible by mountain bike.
However, in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by spectacular scenery with challenging black rocky routes at your feet and not another soul for miles, the ability to navigate and ride sufficiently is a necessity. This is mountain biking at its most challenging.
And when the snow falls, many mountain bikers turn their attention to skiing, and Angus is wellplaced for enjoying a day at the slopes at the nearby Glenshee Ski Centre.
Angus – perfect for backpacking in Scotland
Backpacking in Scotland is now far easier following the introduction of the Land Reform Act.
The act gave walkers and backpackers the right to responsibility go almost anywhere in the outdoors when hillwalking and the opportunity to ‘wild camp‘.
This means you can experience life in the wilderness with only what you can carry in a backpack whether you plan an overnight stay or a longer expedition.
The remote Glens, corries and plateaus offer uncountable opportunities for experiencing life without the intrusion of street lights, cars, noise or other interruptions, while the setting and rising of the sun and the night sky can be awesome.
And it isn’t even necessary to travel far from your car, as many of the best wild camping locations are only a few miles walk from the nearest road – cycling trips are also an option.
Overnight backpacking and wild camping in Scotland
If you are really serious about wild camping, it is possible to camp anywhere on the high tops, although this isn’t recommended for the uninitiated.
There are a number of qualified guides who can help you have the best possible wild camping experience – for example, a sheltered camping spot with fresh running water readily available and the sound of a burbling burn to lull you to sleep.
One excellent option is to combine several high level trails with wild camping – a do-it-yourself Duke of Edinburgh expedition!
The beginning and ending of your trip backpacking in Scotland can also be based in one or more of the numerous bed and breakfast or hotels throughout the area making for a truly memorable holiday.
Above: Sea kayaks © by George Reid on VisitScotland.com
With the North Sea on the doorstep, twisting burns, mighty rivers and lochs created by the Ice Age, there’s no shortage of locations or facilities for water-based activities in Angus.
Sea kayaking along the Angus coastline is a never-to-be forgotten experience. From the splendour of Arbroath’s towering sandstone cliffs, with their smuggler’s caves which, when the tide is right, you can paddle into and maybe even spot a few puffins, to the glorious bays at Carnoustie, Lunan Bay and Montrose, where dolphins can sometimes be seen.
Sailing is a popular pastime in Angus, especially as there are several slipways leading down to the sea and a marina at Arbroath Harbour. There are also sailing facilities at Montrose Basin, where the River South Esk merges gracefully into the sea, and Forfar Loch.
The rivers of Angus provide canoeing and kayaking for all levels of skills and experience, whether you want a leisurely paddle downstream or are looking for a challenge battle against the river as it runs through a deep canyon.
Windsurfing can be enjoyed at several of the Angus beaches, where the often brisk sea breezes provide excellent wind surfing conditions. In addition, many of the lochs are suitable for windsurfing and windsurfing is also available at Crombie Country Park.
If you’re looking for adventure, why not try gorge walking? Jumping into deep pools, sliding down waterfalls, scrambling over rocks…This is Fun with a capital F!
Coastal Angus – perfect sea kayaking in Scotland
The coastline of Angus is one of the best for sea kayaking in Scotland, and holidays and lessons are available throughout the summer months.
Angus has numerous secluded bays and small coves, many only accessible from the sea and there are also sandy beaches, shingle beaches, craggy cliffs and sea caves large enough to paddle into – remember to look out for people coasteering though!
As an added advantage, there’s easy access to the sea from the many small bays and harbours all the way up the coast, meaning that you won’t have very far to carry your kayak!
There’s an abundance of wildlife in the area, from the many sea birds, such as guillemots, razorbills, puffin and terns to dolphins and even the odd whale.
With such a scope of wildlife, and good weather conditions, it is easy to see why Angus has been a hit with those interested in sailing and windsurfing, too.
Enjoy a day sea kayaking along this wonderful coastline or pack your kayak for a few days and stop off at the many campsites along the Angus coast.
Sea kayaking holidays in Scotland, complete with lessons and guides, can easily be arranged from April until October.
Move inland and find perfect conditions for canoeing in Scotland
There are various inland lochs and rivers where you can go canoeing in Scotland, and Angus is blessed with a great selection of slow and fast-moving routes depending upon the time of year and/or your experience.
Some of the rivers – such as the North and South Esk – start off in The Cairngorms National Park and make their way to the sea through a wide variety of breathtaking scenery, from steep and remote gorges to open fields and beautiful valleys.
There are grades of river to suit everyone – from the gentle flowing grade one and two rapids of the North and South Esk to the grade four section of the North Esk near to Edzell. There is also a harder grade four beside Loch Lee where you can test your skills to the limit.
You will also find plenty of grade two and three sections for middle-grade paddlers.
Instruction and canoe holidays, as well as British Canoe Union Star Awards, can be arranged locally.
With such support available and the amazing scenery all around, it is easy to see why many choose to go sea kayaking and canoeing in Scotland.
Windsurfing in Scotland
If you are looking to go windsurfing in Scotland, the secluded bays and numerous lochs across Angus offer plenty of choice.
Windsurfing can be enjoyed at several Angus beaches boasting excellent wind and sea conditions.
In addition, Angus lochs are amongst the best for windsurfing in Scotland with many – including Monikie Country Park – offering equipment for hire and lessons from qualified instructors, as well as other water-based sports such as canoeing.
One of the best places for windsurfing in Angus is Lunan Bay, which is widely acknowledged as one of the top beaches in Scotland.
Visit Lunan Bay during the summer months and you will see it awash with colour from the windsurfers and boarders who flock there due to the excellent conditions offered by the sheltered bay.
And thanks to a combination of calm seas and brisk breezes, the reputation of Lunan Bay as a fabulous place to windsurf has increased over the past few years. The nearby cliffs are also popular with those undertaking the adrenaline-rush that is coasteering.
Be warned, while Lunan Bay can provide great conditions for windsurfing, it has some dangerous currents which windsurfers should find out about before heading into the sea.
If you are new to windsurfing in Scotland, many companies can provide instruction and equipment, as well as that all important safety advice.
Sailing in Scotland
Whether you are attracted to sailing in Scotland for the open sea or prefer the more sedate atmosphere of a loch, Angus should be your first choice.
Sailing is a popular pastime in Angus, especially as there are several slipways leading down to the sea and a marina at Arbroath Harbour.
You’ll also find great locations, such as Lunan Bay and Monikie Country Park, to go canoeing and windsurfing.
It is also possible to sail at Montrose Basin, where the river South Esk merges gracefully into the sea, and at Forfar Loch.
If you’ve never been sailing in Scotland before, or would like to brush up on your skills, why not take a course?
Local instructors provide training and equipment and can also arrange accommodation.
In Angus, we know how to make the most of the snow and ice that often sweeps down from the mountains during the winter months.
Hillwalking in winter adds a whole new dimension to a day in the hills, although it’s always best to seek expert advice and possibly instruction if you’re intending to walk any distance or leave the recognised paths.
Snow and ice climbing are available high up in the snow-covered corries and ice-clad crags, where golden eagles have their eyries and have been known to circle overhead as climbers make their way to the icy summit.
And, when conditions are right, skiing at nearby Glenshee is a never-to-be forgotten experience. Who needs to fly to The Alps when, after a few heavy falls of snow, you can enjoy top class skiing on some of the best runs in Scotland?
Angus – the perfect base for skiing in Scotland
What could possibly be better than skiing in Scotland against the backdrop of Scotland’s dramatic Cairngorm mountains?
Although not quite in Angus, nearby Glenshee – which offers the UK’s most extensive skiing and snowboarding facilities – covers 2000 acres and boasts 20 lifts and 36 runs.
Glenshee Ski Centre has an amazing diversity of natural terrain which makes it suitable for all standards of skiers and snowboarders – beginners and experts alike.
The centre flanks the highest public road in Scotland which climbs up the Devil’s Elbow and through the Cairnwell Pass. The route offers stunning views of the Angus, Perthshire and – once over the summit – Aberdeenshire countryside. It is these views that make this area so poular as a hillwalking destination throughout the year.
A trip skiing in Scotland is made all the better by a wide range of aprés-ski activities. Accommodation can be found in the village of Glenisla and the Angus town of Kirriemuir – which is less than an hour’s drive from the slopes.
Above: Coasteering © Ayrshire & Arran tourism on VisitScotland.com
If you’re looking for adventure, Angus has a range of activities which will give you an adrenalin buzz.
Coasteering is one of the UK’s fastest-growing adventure sports and involves scrambling along coastline, across rocks, through rock pools, across deep channels as waves splash over you…It’s wet, it’s risky – and it’s great fun, especially if you’re with someone who knows where to go, when to go there and how to get there, such as one of the local instructors!
Or how about canyoning? Canyoning is a very similar concept to coasteering but involves following a river rather than the coastline – and is just as much fun!
Kiting, which has been described as a mix between skateboarding and sailing, is another adventure sport which is becoming increasingly popular. Angus has some great locations for kiting, including Arbroath’s Victoria Park and Lunan Bay.
Take up coasteering in Angus
Coasteering – a mix of scrambling around the coast, swimming and jumping into deep water – is one of the fastest growing adventure sports in the country.
It is a great activity for those who are up for a challenge and are looking for something a little bit different from the norm. If you enjoy gorge walking or rock climbing, you’re sure to enjoy it.
Angus has some of the finest costal scenery around, from the beaches of Carnoustie to the rocky coastline and high cliffs around Arbroath and the golden sands of Lunan Bay and Montrose beach. Overall, the county offers perfect coasteering territory!
Selected venues along the Angus coastline provide a great way to experience coasteering while also exploring some normally inaccessible places usually only seen by those sailing or windsurfing.
Sessions are fully instructed and include full safety briefings and demonstrations of swimming and jumping techniques.
All coasteering equipment is provided including wetsuits, helmets, boots, gloves and buoyancy aids.
We hope the above guide inspires you to visit Angus soon! Please do verify all information before booking your trip.
Main photo credit: VisitAngus.com