VisitScotland: Take A Walk On The Wildside

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Thousands of miles of coastline. Check. Beautiful mountains and hills. Check. Forests and glens. Check. In Scotland we really have it all. And as for wildlife….we’ve got a whole lot of that too.

Combine your short break in Scotland with a spot of wildlife watching and look out for golden eagles soaring overhead and dolphins playing off the coast, to name just two. It’s the Year of Natural Scotland too – when we celebrate the diversity of our landscape and nature – so look out for lots of great nature and wildlife events taking place across Scotland.

We’ve picked a few highlights to inspire you this summer:

National Parks

We’ve got the biggest National Park in the UK, in the Cairngorms, which this year celebrates its 10th birthday, and alongside Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, is one of the best places to spot our fantastic wildlife.

The Cairngorms National Park is where 25 per cent of Britain’s endangered species call home and is a hot-spot for red squirrels and majestic stags. Ride the Cairngorm Mountain Funicular Railway and you might even spot a ptarmigan (a rare Scottish game bird) along the way, before you stop off at the highest restaurant in the UK, aptly called the Ptarmigan.

Both parks mark National Parks Week between 29 July and 7 August, so make sure not to miss the exciting programme on offer.

Cairngorm National Park Highlands Picture Credit : P.Tomkins / VisitScotland / Scottish Viewpoint

Cairngorm National Park Highlands
Picture Credit : P.Tomkins / VisitScotland / Scottish Viewpoint

Shetland

Shetland Ponies Vitamin and Fivla became international superstars when they donned traditional Fair Isle knitwear recently. You may also have seen another set of Shetland ponies dancing away to Fleetwood Mac advertising a mobile phone network.

But it’s not just ponies that can be spotted on Scotland’s most northerly islands. There’s loads of bird life too, which far outnumber the islanders. Over one million birds of an estimated 70 different species come here to breed and at the RSPB’s reserve at Sumburgh Head, you can get to within a few feet of puffins.
Don’t miss the Shetland Nature Festival between 29 June and 7 July.

Beavers

They may have been extinct in Scotland for over 400 years, but thanks to the Scottish Beaver Trial in Argyll’s Knapdale Forest, beavers are back. Follow the trail through the forest and where you’ll find these fascinating animals and their impressively constructed dams.

The Caerlaverock National Nature Reserve: PIC: VisitScotland/SCOTTISH VIEWPOINT

The Caerlaverock National Nature Reserve: PIC: VisitScotland/SCOTTISH VIEWPOINT

Reserves

From the wetlands of Caerlaverock in Dumfries & Galloway to the nesting peregrine falcons at the Falls of Clyde Wildlife Reserve in New Lanark, there’s lots of wildlife in our National Nature Reserves. There are over 40 of them, so grab your binoculars and head out into the great outdoors to see what you can find.

Seabirds

If you’re looking for an interactive seabird adventure with gannets, razorbills, puffins and more, don’t miss the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick, East Lothian. Track the birds which inhabit the islands of the Firth of Forth via webcams or book a wildlife cruise to the iconic Bass Rock where you can see the birds up close. Sir David Attenborough even described the rock as one his 12 wonders of the world!
Find more information about Scotland’s wildlife.

A puffin at Sumburgh Head. Picture Credit: P.Tomkins / VisitScotland /Scottish Viewpoint

A puffin at Sumburgh Head. Picture Credit: P.Tomkins / VisitScotland /Scottish Viewpoint

And finally…

Tell us what Scottish adventures you’ve been up to in the comments below – it could make our next list of short break ideas for Scotland!

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