Natural Scotland Insider Tips

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Caroline Warburton - Wildlife Expert

I'm Caroline, I am an expert in Scottish wildlife. I love the outdoors, and protecting the environment is close to my heart. My passion all started when I started working on the Isle of Mull as a guide on a whale-watching boat, and it grew from there! I worked in wildlife tourism in Scotland for over a decade so I feel incredibly blessed to have made Scotland's nature and wildlife my day to day occupation. I love nothing better than to go off on a wildlife expedition, I always learn something new!

Caroline Warburton
Journey to Cape Wrath

There is no public road to Cape Wrath but this north westerly point of the UK can still be accessed; if you go to Keoldale, which lies 2km south of Durness, you can cross the Kyle of Durness strait by ferry. You can then go from there, at least in summer, by minibus to Cape Wrath. It is a rocky, windswept headland where cliffs more than 100 metres high rise from the raging sea.

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Dolphin watching at Chanonry Point
Moray Firth dolphins

Chanonry Point in Moray is one of the best places in Europe to observe bottlenose dolphins. You can simply stand on the beach and see them directly in front of you jumping out of the water!

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Golden eagles in Wester Ross
Golden Eagles in Wester Ross

Scotland has one of the highest densities of nesting golden eagles in the world. Scotland's more remote areas, such as here in Wester Ross, provide fantastic opportunities to admire this incredible bird in all its glory.

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Otters on the Shetland Islands
Otter crossing in Shetland

If you want to see otters, you should head up north to the Shetland Islands. There you can find the highest concentration of otters in Europe. The islands also offer sightings of killer whales and have an impressive early history - a true paradise for nature lovers.

Puffins galore

One of Scotland's most colourful characters and amongst the most popular migratory birds, the puffin, returns to its nesting grounds from late April. By July the number of birds has reached its peak, with the best places to watch them Orkney and on the Isle of May in the Firth of Forth.

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Red kites in the Galloway Hills
Red kites in Dumfries & Galloway

In the south of Scotland, the local population of red kites put on a fantastic show.

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Stevie Christie - Owner of Wilderness Scotland

Stevie lives in the Highlands where the great outdoors is on his doorstep. Stevie's company Wilderness Scotland is an award-winning tour operator which specialises in unforgettable outdoor experiences. Opportunities to explore Scotland's unspoilt nature are as diverse as the Scottish landscapes. You can hike, bike or explore the coast in a kayak, take the Munro challenge (282 Scottish mountains that are over 3,000ft high) or simply take a relaxing walk along a lochside. When asked for his recommendations for a short break in Scotland, Stevie's answer is quite simple: "Change your plans and stay longer!"

Stevie Christie
Achmelvich - village on the bay
Achmelvich near Lochinver, Highland

On the coastal road from Lochinver, take a trip to the tiny village of Achmelvich, situated in a bay, which is sure to grab attention with its white sand beach and turquoise water. Nature lovers can watch the dolphins and whales that often visit these waters.

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Corryvreckan whirlpool
Corryvreckan whirlpool

On the island of Jura, you can take a walk to a roaring natural phenomenon, the Corryvreckan whirlpool, the second largest whirlpool in the world. This is the only place in the British Isles which has been declared unnavigable by the Royal Navy, although small boats can pass through it in dead water, when the weather is calm.

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The long, winding road from Lochinver
Lochinver Pass, Highland

One of the most beautiful destinations in Scotland is the winding, single-lane coastal road from Lochinver towards the north, which is surely one of the most beautiful roads in the world. On the way past the small, pure white sandy coves of Clachtoll Clashnessie, surrounded by cliffs, the landscape is truly impressive.

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Legendary Sandwood Bay
Sandwood Bay

North of Kinlochbervie is Sandwood Bay. The beach is flanked at one end by an extraordinary sea stack and it is said to be haunted by the spirit of an ancient shipwrecked sailor. You can enjoy a picnic here or set off after dinner with a thermos of coffee into the bay to watch the sunset. Just pack a torch in case you're caught off guard by the darkness on the way back!

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Wildlife in Lunga
Lunga, Treshnish Isles, off the Isle of Mull

The Treshnish Isles, to the West of Mull, are an archipelago of small, uninhabited, volcanic islands. If you are interested in wildlife, in summer Lunga is home to hundreds of nesting seabirds, particularly guillemots, razorbills and puffins, alongside a seal colony.

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Donald John Mackay - Harris Tweed weaver

I'm Donald-John, a Harris Twees weaver. My principal is the excellent quality of the wool and I draw inspiration from the play of colors of pristine landscapes. Even though I've been living on one of the north-western outpost of Europe from birth, I am a true cosmopolitan. I've been in New York and have been received by the Queen. But even Buckingham Palace couldn't change my love for my little island Harris: I love the beach, the ocean, the air - I would not want to trade with Her Majesty.

Donald John Mackay
Berneray - a slice of paradise

The Isle of Berneray, in the Outer Hebrides, is a little paradise with a friendly community consisting of small-scale farmers and fishermen. The island's wonderful beaches and turquoise waters are an enticing prospect. A unique hostel, a traditional thatched farm run by the Gatliff Trust on the beach overlooking the Sound of Harris strait, provides a great way to experience the island at its best.

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Spectacular Luskentyre beach
Luskentyre Beach

Donald John admits that there are many beautiful beaches on the Isle of Harris, but insists that he lives near the most beautiful, Luskentyre. This is the largest and most spectacular beach on the island and can be found on its west coast.

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Kathleen MacInnes - Gaelic Singer

I’m Kathleen, I’m a Gaelic singer. I am very fortunate with my work in music that I spend a lot of time travelling all over Scotland, particularly in the Highlands and Islands. I will never tire of the stunning scenery I pass on my way to and from gigs! I love my work and feel blessed and very proud to be Scottish as it is such a beautiful country. I have the best of both worlds as I spend a lot of time on Scottish islands with work and I live in one of Scotland's largest cities so I enjoy city life in Glasgow with its parks and gardens, it's truly great galleries and museums, and its great food.

Kathleen MacInnes
Land on the beach in Barra
Aeroplane landing on the beach at Barra

If you are visiting Glasgow, take Kathleen’s tip and take a flight from Glasgow to Barra in the Hebrides, where your airplane will land directly on the beach! “A flight from Glasgow can have you landing on the magnificent Traigh Mhor in Barra, Hebrides, at the edge of the Atlantic. This has been named the world's most spectacular place to land.”

Hebridean beaches
Beaches in the Hebrides

Kathleen recommends exploring some of Scotland’s spectacular beaches, particularly in the Hebrides where she grew up. Kathleen comes from the island of South Uist, which as a stunning 20 mile stretch of sandy beach.

Explore the Outer Hebrides
Calanais Standing Stones, Isle of Lewis

No trip to Scotland is complete without a trip to the Highlands. But why not go a bit further and try island hopping. Take a boat to Skye, enjoy the magnificent landscapes including the Cuillin Mountains, then head further north to the Isle of Harris and enjoy a walk on Luskentyre beach. Finish off your trip with a visit to the Isle of Lewis to see the Callanais Standing Stones.

Adrian Shine - Loch Ness expert

Adrian is a man on a mission: to unlock the secrets of the depths of Loch Ness. As head of the Loch Ness Project, he has published books on the scientific, biological and archaeological importance of the famous loch. He has collaborated with researchers from over 20 universities and developed new, innovative research tools and techniques. After visiting the award-winning Loch Ness Exhibition, designed by Adrian, everyone is excited about what is probably hidden down there in the depths of the lake. Solving this mystery has become Adrian's life's work. "I came to conquer its secrets, but the place has captured me instead."

Adrian Shine
Mysterious Loch Ness
Mysterious Loch Ness

Marine biologist Adrian has already spent thousands of hours on Loch Ness wrestling the secrets of the loch from its depths. "The Loch is always changing, depending on how the sunlight falls on it," says Adrian. "I love the early evening hours, the moment at dusk when the pink and blue sky plunges into the lake with a magical light."

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The volcanic origins of Staffa

Adrian is particularly inspired by the geological and archaeological wonders of Scotland. "Fingal's Cave on the island of Staffa is incredibly impressive, almost like a cathedral. Its basalt pillars are proof of the geologically young age and the volcanic origin of the island," says Adrian.

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Urquhart - a castle with a view
Urquhart Castle

Adrian often takes the boat to the ruins of Urquhart Castle beside Loch Ness. "From the castle tower you can enjoy a magnificent view of the lake. Countless mysterious objects have been sighted in the lake from there, and the visitor centre with its fascinating exhibitions gives you a glimpse into the past."

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Donnie MacDonald - Ferry captain

Donnie works on the "Glenachulish". He is the captain of the smallest ferry in Scotland. The tiny ferry is community owned and connects the remote village of Glenelg on the mainland with the equally remote village of Kylerhea on the Isle of Skye. With quiet confidence Donnie navigates the 300m wide estuary. The proud member of Clan McDonald also isn't fazed by competition from the nearby Skye Bridge. "Use a bridge to cross a river. If you want to travel to an island, take the ferry!" It's a view heartily endorsed by his passengers from all over the world who opt for the off-the-beaten-track scenic route.

Donnie MacDonald
A boat trip to Skye
Ferry to Skye

It's no surprise that Donnie's top tip is to take an island tour, with his ferry the "Glenachulish", to Skye. "A few miles further north there is a bridge," he admits, "but the feeling of travelling on a ferry is just different. It's slower, so you can look at the scenery, watch seals and, with some luck, even see otters swimming."

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The Isle of Lewis
Calanais Standing Stones, Isle of Lewis

Lewis, the largest island in the Outer Hebrides, is connected by a narrow land bridge to Harris. Enjoy the sunset and the magnificent view of the open sea. "There's plenty of time as the sun doesn't set until 10:30p.m. in July!" says Donnie.

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Tropical beaches on the Isle of Harris
Traigh Seilebost, Isle of Harris

From the port of Uig on Skye the ferry takes less than two hours to reach Tarbert on the Isle of Harris. With its pristine white sand beaches, turquoise waters and the bright blue sky, you almost feel as if you are in the Caribbean. However, instead of coconuts Harris offers another natural product: the famous Harris Tweed.

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Julie Trevisan Hunter - Whisky expert

For Julie, the 'water of life' is her life. Julie is one of a select circle; a Keeper of the Quaich. The title honours those who have made ​​an outstanding contribution to the international marketing of Scotch whisky. Julie began her career as a guide at the Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh's Royal Mile and today she is the Marketing Manager of the 5-star visitor attraction which, with 3500 different bottles, houses the world's largest collection of Scotch whisky. Julie sees this variety as being the secret to the success of the Scottish national drink. "Everybody is different, but there is something in Scotch whisky that appeals to us all."

Julie Trevisan-Hunter
The beauty of Highland Perthshire
Highland Perthshire

According to Julie, in Highland Perthshire you can see the beauty of the Scottish Highlands at its best. Here you can visit whisky distilleries, go for a walk in the forest and discover beautiful and secluded viewpoints. Macbeth fans can even see the infamous Birnam Wood! The area's beauty will capitvate you and have you planning a return, maybe even before you've made the journey home ...

Guy Grieve - Owner Ethical Shellfish Company

I’m Guy, I am the founder, along with my wife, of a fishing company that is guided by an ethic of respect for the marine environment. I dive fish for King Scallops off the coast of the Isle of Mull. What I love most about my life in Scotland is the nature here and this makes me happy. Our island home is like a boat on the great Atlantic. This is Britain’s last great wilderness yet the human history is rich and I find it fascinating seeing the marks left on the land by our ancestors.

Guy Grieve
Coastline and islands of West Scotland

Guy tells us, "I am hooked on the coastlines and islands of the west of Scotland and especially the Isle of Mull in Argyll & Bute where The Ethical Shellfish Company is based and where we live. There is an intoxicating mix here of wildlife, scenery and human history that combine to make almost every moment sublime."

Kevin Reid - Technician at Strathisla Distillery

I’m Kevin, I work at Strathisla Distillery, a picturesque distillery on the famous Malt Whisky Trail in Speyside in the Highlands of Scotland, the only trail of its kind in the world. My job at the distillery is to operate all aspects of the distillery process from ordering the raw ingredients to dispatching the final product. I love living in the Highlands and I enjoy the quiet life. I am passionate about the outdoors and spend as much time as I can in the Scottish mountains where we have the best scenery in the world.

Kevin Reid
Cairngorms National Park guided tour
Cairngorm National Park

To see the real Scotland, Kevin recommends taking a guided tour into the Cairngorms National Park, where you can enjoy a huge range of soft adventure activities and wildlife watching.

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Scotland's spectacular wildlife
Red deer

Kevin feels that one of the things that makes him typically Scottish is enjoying everything the country has to offer him. Whether that is the food and drink, scenery or the spectacular wildlife. Find out more about watching Scotland’s wildlife in their natural habitat.

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Duke of Argyll - Chief of Clan Campbell

The relatives of the Duke and Duchess could easily populate a small country. There are estimated to be around 5 million members of Clan Campbell worldwide and the 13th Duke of Argyll is the Clan Chief. He is also a whisky ambassador and owner of Inveraray Castle, on Scotland's west coast. During the summer, the estate employs a staff of 150 employees. Despite their busy schedule the Duke and Duchess enjoy their work: "For us, our work is both a gift and a responsibility."

The Duke of Argyll
The tropical gardens of Dumfries

To see the most exotic plants on Scottish soil, the Duke recommends a trip to the Logan Botanic Gardens: "The park is located at the south-western tip of Scotland, but its impressive collection of Mediterranean plants gives the feeling of being a lot further south." Logan is one of the six beautiful gardens located on Scotland's Garden Route which runs through Dumfries & Galloway.

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Exotic gardens on the island of Gigha
exotic gardens Gigha

Gigha is a small island, which features various historic sites, beautiful views, a lovely hotel and the famous Achamore Gardens. The approximately 20 acres of beautiful wooded park with exotic trees and plants, a walled garden and glasshouses are open all year round. You can reach Tayinloan of Gigha on the Kintyre peninsula via a short ferry crossing.

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Wild flowers at Sandwood Bay
flowers Sandwood Bay

Don't miss the machair (sand dune wildflower meadows) along the northwest coast of Scotland. These sandy strips of land between the mainland and the beach thrive with wild plants that bloom during the summer. "Sandwood Bay in the north is the perfect place to see the machair" - recommends the Duchess. "The contrast between the colourful flowers, the white beach and dark blue ocean is impressive."

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Spectacular views over Loch Fyne
Loch Fyne

Tarbert on Loch Fyne lies below the ruins of a 13th century castle and is the gateway to the Kintyre Peninsula. The wooded hills above the village offer magnificent views over Loch Fyne to the Cowal Peninsula. If you're lucky, you may even see black grouse and hen harriers in the open moorland.

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Faith Liddell - Director, Edinburgh’s Festivals

I’m Faith, I’m the Director of Edinburgh’s Festivals. I love nothing better than the buzz of Scotland’s many cultural events and I have been working with the festivals in one way or another since my student days! What I love most about Scotland is the humour, the generosity, the open-mindedness of my fellow Scots and that I can wake up in the morning and feel like immersing myself in culture, walking along a stunning beach or hiking up a magnificent mountain and all of these are within easy reach.

Faith Liddell
Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh
Salisbury Crags, Holyrood Park, Edinburgh

Arthur’s Seat is an extinct volcano, located in Holyrood Park, right in the city centre of Edinburgh! Spend a day hiking up the volcano and enjoy the fresh air, as well as one of the most beautiful views of the city.

Island Hopping
Island hopping

“Travel to the west of Scotland and at least one or two the many islands – home to an abundance of Scotland’s beautiful wildlife. You can ‘island-hop’ between them and it’s a great way to see a different part of the country.”

East Neuk of Fife
Crail, East Neuk, Kingdom of Fife

Faith describes the East Neuk of Fife as her “regular coastal haven”. Less than an hour and a half outside Edinburgh are delightful fishing villages, sweeping beaches and beautiful sea views.

Ullapool, Highland

Faith loves travelling up to the picturesque fishing town of Ullapool, nestled on the shores of Lochbroom. Ullapool is a perfect base to explore the stunning landscapes of the North Highlands, and escape into Scotland’s wilderness.

Finlay MacDonald - Head of Piping Studies

I’m Finlay, and I work at the Centre of Piping Studies in Glasgow. My world revolves around the bagpipes; I spend most of my time travelling the world performing with my bagpipes at events, and I also organise the Piping Live festival in Glasgow every year. One of the most unusual places I have played is on the Great Wall of China! I love teaching the bagpipes also, working with creative people, inspiring them and helping them to develop further is just great.

Finlay MacDonald
Fresh air at Durness
Durness, northern Scotland

Durness is the most north-weterly population in Great Britain. Magnificent mountains, stunning seascapes, beautiful beaches and friendly neighbours contribute to a more leisurely and traditional lifestyle. During clear nights, the night sky is wonderful. John Lennon spent the holidays here as a child and always missed the freedom and fresh air from Scotland when he moved to New York.

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Gary Forbes - Professional golfer

Gary is a lucky man. He has turned his hobby into a career and is the club pro at Murcar Links, a championship standard golf course north of Aberdeen. Here he gives lessons, sells golf products and takes care of the members as well as visitors from around the world. They come in droves to meet the challenge of the picturesque but by no means easy-to-play course. Gary recognises his fortune in being able to go to the same place both for work and leisure, but Gary is far from resting on his laurels. "It is impossible to be satisfied with your own play when your toughest opponent awaits you in the bathroom mirror every morning."

Gary Forbes
Escape to Loch Lomond
The Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park

For anyone who gets an urge for peace, quiet and country air during a stay in Glasgow, a trip to Loch Lomond is just the thing. Loch Lomond's jagged peaks with hidden canyons and mountain passes are full of history and heritage. Jump on the train at Glasgow's Queen Street station or take your car - it's only 45 minutes away!

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Howie Nicholsby - Contemporary kilt designer

I’m Howie, owner of 21st Century Kilts in Edinburgh. Kiltmaking has run in my family for three generations – when I started 21st Century Kilts when I was 18, I knew I had found my calling! My kilts all have a contemporary feel, while still respecting the traditions of kiltmaking handed down from my father. I live in Edinburgh – I really love this city as it has a really international feel, and during the festivals it can feel like the most popular place on the planet! It’s great to be a part of it all.

Howie Nicholsby
Perthshire - 'Big Tree Country'
Perthshire - Big Tree Country

For a break from the hustle and bustle of Edinburgh's Festival in the month of August, Howie suggests a trip to nearby Perthshire. "Only an hour's drive from the city, you can finds relaxation, tranquility and stunning nature. Once you're there, you'll know why this area is known as 'Big Tree Country'".

Hazel Campbell - Painter

Hazel finds inspiration on her doorstep since her favourite subject is the landscape of Dumfries and Galloway. "Look around you, art is already there, all you have to do is to get it onto canvas!" Southwest Scotland has inspired many renowned artists - for example, Hornel, one of the Scottish Colourists, who helped establish the town of Kircudbrigh's reputation as "The Artists' Town". As with the works of her predecessors, Hazel's paintings reflect a fascination with the variety of colours through the changing seasons, the play of light and the unique atmosphere of her home region. Hazel is an enthusiastic participant at the annual Spring Fling Arts Festival, where studios and art workshops open their doors to inquisitive visitors.

Hazel Campbell
Balnakeil beach

Balnakeil beach is reputed to be one of the most beautiful in the whole country: And with golden sands and clear turquoise waters, who would disagree? If you're lucky, you may even catch sight of some puffins on a walk along the sand dunes towards Faraid Head!

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A trip to Mull
Mull - Calgary Bay

Hazel Campbell recommends a visit to the Isle of Mull in the Outer Hebrides. "I love the Outer Hebrides and especially Mull. I love the atmosphere of seclusion, which gives it its austere beauty." The island is easily accessible from Oban - the ferry takes you to your destination in just 30 minutes!

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Robert Ballantyne - Battle re-enactor

I'm Robert, I am a living history presenter and battle re-enactor, I teach history to tourists and school children whilst in period costume. I make all of my own costumes, trying to respect the techniques and materials as close as possible to the originals. Scotland is a beautiful country with stunning mountains, lochs and glens, and I try and escape to the great outdoors every opportunity I have. I am a very proud Scot and I feel lucky that I live Scotland’s history and heritage every day, through my work, my study and my craft.

Robert Ballantyne
Canals and Waterways
Caledonian Canal

Scotland has four major canals: the Caledonian Canal in the Highlands, the Crinan Canal in the heart of Argyll, the Forth & Clyde Canal in the central belt and the Union Canal. Robert says “These are interesting places to enjoy Scottish wildlife, especially birds, including the usual ducks and swans you will usually find lapwings, oyster catchers and even herons”.

Tony Singh - Renowned chef

Tony's idea of ​​food is actually quite simple. "It's there to enjoy and share." At 16, Tony started his career as a chef in a pub. Later he cooked on board the Royal Scotsman luxury train and the Royal Yacht Britannia, after it anchored as a visitor attraction and exclusive venue in Edinburgh's port. Tony has co-owned several restaurants in Edinburgh and remains active in the media, presenting a delicious blend of Indian Sikh tradition and proud Scottish personality.

Tony Singh
Sunset over Loch Awe
Kilchurn Castle, Loch Awe

For anyone who loves breathtaking sunsets, Tony Singh has a tip: "It's really difficult to single out just one location because Scotland has so many magical and wonderful places. However, the one I really love most is Loch Awe, especially in the summer - long days that end with fantastic sunsets on the idyllic waters."

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