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      Our Trip Grading Explained

      What's Right for You?

      Knowing which trip to choose can be tricky. That’s why all our trips are graded to make finding the right one for you easy.

      From active but relaxed holidays to real physical wilderness challenges, we have a trip to suit your needs.

      • Our trips are given an overall grade of Green, Blue or Red. Green trips are easiest and Red trips are the most challenging.
      • A nine-point scale helps to distinguish which trips in the overall grade are harder than others. E.g Blue 6 is harder than Blue 5.
      • The grade is based on a number of factors but the most important is the degree of physical challenge and the technical skill or previous experience required.

      To learn more about our trip grading and what’s right for you simply select an activity from the list below.

      Select an Activity

      Wilderness Walking

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      Open Canoeing

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      Sea Kayaking

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      Mountain Biking

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      Road Cycling

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      Scottish Wildlife

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      Wilderness Walking

      Green Graded: Difficulty 1-3

      Green graded walking holidays are suitable for active travellers who are reasonably fit and enjoy moderate hikes. We walk at a comfortable pace and you can expect to be out for 5-6 hours a day. The terrain will be mostly good paths and hill trails but these can still be muddy and rough in places. Some hikes may involve an ascent up to a max of approx 1,500 feet / 450m. Distances will be typically 8-10km. Daily hike details are available in the itinerary.

      Blue Graded: Difficulty 4-6

      Blue graded walking holidays are suitable for fit and experienced hikers. We walk at a good pace and you can expect to be out for 6-8 hours a day. You will not always be on a path and the terrain underfoot can be rough and boggy, including boulder fields and mountain tops. Some of the daily walks will involve a mountain ascent of over 3000ft / 900m high. Daily distances will be typically up to 16km but may be longer occasionally. Daily hike details are available in the itinerary.

      Red Graded: Difficulty 7-9

      Red graded walking holidays are suitable for fit and experienced hikers used to more challenging routes and rough terrain. The terrain will be varied but include rough hill tracks, boggy ground, boulder fields and mountain tops. There may be ridge walks or short non-technical scrambling so a good head for heights is useful. Daily distances will be 15 – 20km a day and often include an ascent of a major peak up to 3000ft / 900m high. Daily hikes are available in the itinerary.

      Open Canoeing

      Green Graded: Difficulty 1-3

      Canoeing the Scottish Highlands – This Green graded canoeing trip is suitable for those with little or no previous canoeing experience. There is an emphasis on instruction and developing your skills while enjoying the surroundings of some superb locations. You will be able to progress your skills and experience throughout the trip.

      You should have a reasonable level of fitness and you can expect up to 6 hours of canoeing each day, with breaks to stretch your legs. You will also be asked to assist with carrying the boats to and from the water, working as a team.

      Blue Graded: Difficulty 4-6

      Great Glen – This Blue graded canoeing trip is suitable for people with no previous canoeing experience, but a good level of fitness is required. We will be paddling for up to 7 hours each day on flat water lochs and canals, however, in windy conditions, it will be challenging and we will encounter small waves on the larger lochs.

      River Spey Descent – This Blue graded canoeing trip is only suitable for people with some previous canoeing experience and a good level of fitness. Since we are paddling on moving river waters, including several more exciting rapids (up to Grade 2) competence steering the canoe is an essential skill from the beginning. You can expect up to 7 hours of paddling a day plus breaks.

      Red Graded: Difficulty 7-9

      North West Highlands – This Red graded trip combines canoeing and hillwalking. It is suitable for people with no previous experience of canoeing but a good level of fitness and hiking experience is required. This is a very physically demanding trip as we canoe on wild lochs, hike remote routes on rough ground, portage our boats from loch to loch and camp in wild terrain.

      We will be active for up to 8 hours each day. The hikes will be mostly off-path and include ascending peaks up to 3000ft high over rough, boggy and bouldery terrain. The canoeing will be on flat-water lochs but this can be challenging in windy conditions and there may be small waves. We also have to carry or ‘portage’ all our boats and gear from loch to loch – an integral part of journeying by canoe.

      Sea Kayaking

      Green Graded: Difficulty 1-3

      Green graded sea kayaking trips are suitable for those with little or no previous sea kayaking experience. There is an emphasis on instruction and developing your skills while enjoying the surroundings of some superb locations. You will be able to progress your skills and experience throughout the trip.

      You should have a reasonable level of fitness and you can expect up to 6 hours of sea kayaking each day, with breaks onshore to stretch your legs. You will also be asked to assist with carrying the boats to and from the water, working as a team.

      In the event of bad weather preventing us from kayaking your guide will offer an alternative activity such as an easy hike.

      Blue Graded: Difficulty 4-6

      Our blue graded sea kayaking trips are suitable for fit paddlers with a minimum of 5 full days of sea kayaking experience, with a basic level of technical competence. You can expect 6/7 hours of sea kayaking each day, with plenty of breaks onshore to stretch your legs. You will also be asked to assist with carrying the boats to and from the water, working as a team.

      The kayaking will be in coastal waters with few open crossings but you can expect to be paddling in some choppier conditions during the trip. This may be around Sea State 3 (with waves up to 1m high). On the higher Blue grade trips, you may be paddling in more exposed areas and encounter stronger winds and waves up to Sea State 4.

      If you are unsure about your experience or about Sea States, please give us a call or email to discuss. If you do not yet have enough experience we suggest our Green graded sea kayaking trips.

      In the event of bad weather preventing us from kayaking your guide will offer an alternative activity such as a hike.

      Red Graded: Difficulty 7-9

      Our Red grade sea kayaking trips are designed for experienced paddlers with a good level of fitness. You can expect around 6 hours of paddling each day, traveling over 15km.

      Some days may include longer crossings with limited shelter and therefore fewer breaks ashore. This means you should be comfortable paddling in Force 4 conditions, even in open crossings. Some of these trips are multi-day expeditions away from civilisation with no facilities for several nights. So you should also have some wild camping experience (away from facilities such as toilets and showers).

      Before joining this trip, the questions you should be asking yourself are:

      1. Are you happy paddling 6 hours and 15km each day?
      2. Are you comfortable in Force 4 conditions?
      3. Do you enjoy wild camping?

      Mountain Biking

      Green Graded: Difficulty 1-3

      Our green graded mountain biking holidays are suitable for people new to mountain biking or with limited experience but a reasonable level of fitness. The itineraries are designed to be active yet accessible with plenty of opportunity for instruction, sightseeing and relaxation as well as some great riding.

      You can expect around 5-6 hours of saddle time each day. Distances covered will typically be in the range of 30km-35km with straightforward ascents and descents. Trail conditions will vary from quiet minor roads, forest trails and easy sections of fun single-track.

      Blue Graded: Difficulty 4-6

      Our blue graded mountain biking holidays are suitable for people with previous experience of mountain biking at an intermediate level.

      You can expect around 6-8 hours of riding each day so a good level of fitness is required. Distances covered will typically be in the range of 40km-60km each day with the occasional longer ride. Trail conditions will be very varied; everything from quiet minor roads to island beaches, land-rover tracks and short sections of single-track riding through rugged mountainous terrain, which will be technical in places.

      Red Graded: Difficulty 7-9

      Our red graded trips are designed for regular mountain bikers with a high level of both fitness and riding skill. You can expect up to 8 hours of riding each day through a wide variety of terrain. Although unlikely, there is the potential for longer days under certain conditions. Distances covered will be in the range of 50km-70km each day and this will normally include significant ascent and descent. You may need to plan some pre-trip preparation to build your stamina to cope with being in the saddle for consecutive days.

      Trail conditions will vary from easy trails to rocky land-rover tracks and technical single-track. The single-track will often be technical requiring a good skill set. The hardest trips in this grade will challenge even the most skilled rider with rock gardens, drop-offs and steep ascents and descents.

      Road Cycling

      Green Graded: Difficulty 1-3

      Green graded trips are suitable for people with a reasonable level of fitness who enjoy cycling and are looking for an active but relaxed trip. They are also suitable for active people who are new to cycle touring and looking for a new way to explore the countryside.

      Distances each day will be between 25 – 40 miles, cycling at an average speed of around 12mph. We will ride on mostly straightforward rolling terrain with one or two more notable climbs during the trip, where some riders may opt to ride in the support vehicle. We will be in the saddle for 4-6 hours each day plus the odd longer day. There is also time each day for breaks and lunches, plus visits to sites of interest.

      Blue Graded: Difficulty 4-6

      Blue graded trips are suitable for people with a good level of bike fitness, who regularly enjoy cycling and may have joined a multi-day cycle holiday before.

      Distances each day will be between 35 – 45 miles, cycling at around 12/13mph. Each day will be rolling and hilly terrain and there will be notable climbs most days. Some of these will be more testing and some riders may opt to push or ride in the support vehicle. Some climbs are also followed by exciting descents. We will be in the saddle for 5 – 7 hours each day plus the odd longer day. There is also time each day for breaks and lunches, plus some visits to sites of interest.

      Red Graded: Difficulty 7-9

      Red graded trips are suitable only for fit and experienced riders who love cycling and enjoy the challenge of longer days in the saddle, riding for consecutive days.

      Distances range from 40 – 70 miles each day, cycling at roughly 12mph. We will ride variety of terrain from rolling countryside to hilly and mountainous areas. Most days will be challenging and the trip will include some of the more testing climbs in Scotland including high mountain passes. These harder climbs are rewarded with fast and exciting descents. We will often be in the saddle for 7 hours each day plus the odd longer day. There is also time each day for breaks and lunches plus visits to some sites of interest.

      Scottish Wildlife

      Green Graded: Difficulty 1-3

      All of our wildlife trips are graded Green and involve straightforward hiking with no major ascents, as well as other activities which are pitched at novice level. You can expect to be active for around 5 hours each day so you will need a reasonable level of fitness. Please note that there may be some early starts and late nights as we seek to maximise our chances of finding wildlife, although you can always opt out of activities if you prefer an early night or long lie in the morning!

      So to help you decide if you are fit enough for this kind of trip, ask yourself:

      1. Are you generally active and, for example, happy to hike for 6 miles (10km), including some ascent, with rough ground in places?
      2. Are you up for a challenge and trying new activities such as sea kayaking or boat trips?
      3. Are you looking for a wildlife trip which involves more than simply sitting in a hide?

      View all Scottish wildlife trips

      Still Have Questions?

      So there you have it. We hope this gives you a greater idea of what to expect and how to choose the dream trip for you. However, it may be helpful to chat to our friendly team who have experienced these trips for themselves and can answer any queries you may have.

      Feel free to contact our friendly adventure consultants and they will be able to fill in any questions you have.

      Our holidays reviewed
      in your own words

      I had been longing to do this trip with Wilderness Scotland for years. Now it will renew my spirit for the rest of my life.

      Phyllis Shaw
      Wilderness Walking - Outer Hebrides & Skye
      Reviewed on 09/06/2014

      Rated 4.86 out of 5 based on 3,953 reviews

      Read More Reviews

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