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13th July 2016 | Regional News

Discover Scotland’s Natural Beauty

back to nature

Scotland is a popular destination for wildlife spotting opportunities in Europe. And it’s not hard to see why, with its vast areas of natural beauty and multitude of wildlife species. From its two national parks and woodland, to stunning lochs and sea, there are plenty of opportunities to discover what the UKs northernmost country has to offer.

Video sourced from VisitScotland

Across Scotland lie the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s 120 wildlife reserves, providing a secure sanctuary for wildlife for 50 years. With their reserves spanning areas of more than 20, 000 hectares, 90 per cent of the Scottish population live within 10 miles of at least one Trust reserve. So why not visit a reserve this summer and experience what wildlife Scotland has to offer?

Wherever you decide to visit, there is definitely plenty to discover across Scotland’s diverse landscape. So come and enjoy nature at its best, by taking a visit to some of the best locations to enjoy a scenic walk and go wildlife spotting. Whether on holiday with the full family or as a couple, we’ve compiled the top wildlife spotting opportunities in Scotland, also including dog friendly locations so you don’t have to leave your furry friend behind.

Woodland & Forestry

Scotland is known for its varied landscape, especially when it comes to the diversity of its woodland areas. Home to a multitude of wildlife species, and popular to visit for both strenuous walks and tranquil strolls, Scotland’s woods and forestry are definitely worth exploring.

Video sourced from Forestry Commission Scotland

Discover some of Scotland’s most popular wildlife in a variety of locations across the highlands. From the red squirrel to a variety of bird species including the Kestrel, the Golden Eagle, Red Kite and Osprey, there are plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife within the forests and woodlands of Scotland.

Red squirrels are the UKs only native species of squirrel and Scotland is home to 80 per cent of the UKs population. From living in their native Scottish pine and oak woodland area to commercial forestry, there will be many chances to spot these stunning creatures. In fact, there is also a dedicated Red Squirrel nature trail through Dalbeattie Forest.

The Caledonian pine forest in the Cairngorms is also a popular place to enjoy nature at its best, and is known for its red squirrels and golden eagles, to crested tits and snow bunting.

Spring mist in the Cairngorms video sourced from Wilderness Scotland on Vimeo.

From Abernethy Forest to the Wood of Cree, there are plenty of fantastic walks to enjoy for the whole family. Walkhighlands have listed their pick of some of the finest native forests Scotland has to offer, ensuring you don’t miss out on some of the best nature experiences throughout the country.

For further information on the woodland areas to explore a variety of wildlife in their natural habitat, visit Scottish Natural Heritage.

Lochs & Rivers

Scotland has substantial freshwater resources, with a staggering total of 27, 000 lochs, 198,000 ponds, 220 km of canals, and 125,000 km of rivers, as outlined by Scotland’s environment.

From deep in the valleys to up in the mountain lochs, some of Scotland’s most popular types of fish include Atlantic salmon, pike, Grayling, Arctic charr, plus various trout.

There are plenty of lochs and river types across Scotland where you can spot an array of wildlife from wildfowl, birds, and otters. Some of the best waterside locations to spot wildlife include the popular tourist spot, Loch Ness, where you might even be lucky enough to spot a grey seal.

There are also a variety of national nature reserves to visit whilst in Scotland, where you can explore a variety of plants and local wildlife, with dogs being welcome in plenty of the locations if kept under control at all times as not to disturb the wildlife.

Scottish Wildlife Trust

Falls of Clyde reserve. Image supplied by Alan Anderson/Scottish Wildlife Trust

Spey Bay, for example, is a stunning coastal reserve with the largest shingle beach in the whole of Scotland. In summer, it is a particularly popular location to spot beautiful butterflies, but there is also the opportunity to see bottlenose dolphins at the mouth of the estuary all year round.

On The Coast & At Sea

Scotland’s marine area is brimming with wildlife, from whales and basking sharks to dolphins and seals. There are also a variety of tour providers who offer wildlife spotting excursions, such as EcoVentures.

Did you know that Scotland is home to the biggest bottlenose dolphins in the world? Locally owned and operated, EcoVentures offer exhilarating boat trips from the beautiful historic town of Cromarty and the chance to view these spectacular animals in their natural habitat.  For many the thrill of the boat is an attraction in itself and with no two trips alike sightings of Harbour Porpoise, Seals, Seabirds and Minke Whales are also always a possibility.

EcoVentures

Image supplied by EcoVentures

Bottlenose dolphins are a particular favourite among tourists when visiting Scotland. If you fancy a coastal walk as an alternative to being at sea, especially if you are visiting with your dog, they can also be sometimes visible from good shoreline vantage points, as covered by Wild Scotland. Other popular locations to spot the fascinating species are the West Coast around Mull, Canna, Skye, and off the coast of Aberdeen.

EcoVentures

Image supplied by EcoVentures

To ensure you don’t miss out on the best times to go wildlife spotting in Scotland, check out Wild Scotland’s handy Wildlife Watching Calendar packed full of the most popular species. And if you choose to bring your furry companion along, please ensure that dogs are kept under control at all times and that you adhere to the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.

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