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You need not go far if you want to immerse yourself in nature and encounter diverse wildlife. Scotland’s got all these for you!
A top destination for nature and wildlife adventures, Scotland boasts of verdant mountains, pristine beaches, thick forests and other natural sceneries. In addition, it is home to a wide range of animals, from the common red deer to the rare pine marten.
If you want to experience Scotland’s natural beauty and see fascinating animals in the wild, here are the best places you can visit:
Scotland has what’s popularly called the Big Five – red deer, red squirrel, harbour seal, otter and the golden eagle. Your visit to this majestic country is not complete if you don’t see or get a glimpse of the five prized creatures. How do you find the Big Five? There are tours specifically for spotting the Big Five. So, one option is to join these tours. Alternatively, you can head to the unspoilt region of Knapdale in Argyll.
Knapdale Forest, with is varied landscape, is actually one of the few places where you get the opportunity to see the red deer, red squirrel, harbour seal, otter and the golden eagle. In addition to the Big Five, this place is also well known for its beavers. Being the site of the UK’s successful beaver reintroduction project, Knapdale is one of the few places in the UK inhabited by beavers. Here you may see these members of the rodent family feeding, enjoying a swim in the ponds or simply roaming around. Knapdale also has a Beaver Detective Trail where you and your children can walk along scenic trails and spot beaver activities.
Beinn Eighe is the first place in Scotland that was made a National Nature Reserve. For a place to be recognised as a Natural Nature Reserve, it has to be among the best nature reserves in Scotland. National Nature Reserves are well managed both for the animals that inhabit the area and also for visitors who would like to appreciate and enjoy Scotland’s natural beauty and biodiversity.
Walking along the trails in Beinn Eighe will give you opportunities to spot deer and pine martens. On rare occasions, you may also come across Scottish wildcats. Bird lovers can marvel at woodland birds like pipits, siskins and crossbills. Sea eagles and golden eagles may also be seen soaring on top of the mountains.
Aside from enjoying the nature and wildlife, there are other activities you can do in Beinn Eighe. There are areas where you can enjoy having a picnic with your loved ones. There are camping grounds available as well. Trails of different difficulty levels are available. So, anyone, regardless of their age or ability, can enjoy walks in the area.
The Cairngorms National Park is another place in Scotland famous for its very diverse wildlife. Its landscape, waters and skyline features both common and rare animals.
The Cairngorms National Park is home to rare bird species like the golden eagle, capercaillie and ptarmigan. While they are known to inhabit the park, these animals aren’t easily seen. However, with patience, perseverance and expert help, you may be lucky enough to get a glimpse of these highly elusive creatures.
As for land animals, you may spot red deer, dotterels, snow buntings and hares. With Cairngorms as one of their last remaining strongholds in the UK, the red squirrels are also popular attractions here. Similarly, the national park is also a known habitat of the critically endangered Scottish wildcat. Again, given the nature and the rarity of these felines, it is not that easy to spot them.
What’s great about Cairngorms is that apart from the stunning views and the abundant wildlife, you can do various nature-related activities. You can try trekking or mountain climbing. Five of the six highest peak in Scotland are found at Cairngorms. On the rivers and lochs, you can enjoy various, adrenalin-pumping water activities like windsurfing, river tubing and rafting. You can even have a quiet time and go fishing.
A National Nature Reserve, Glen Nant is a place rich in history, natural wonders and wildlife. Walking along the trails of this woodland and forest would show you evidence of ancient settlements that used to occupy this location. On top of this, you may stumble upon beautiful fauna especially in summer and spring. Primrose, wild garlic and bluebells are just some of the plants that can be found in this nature reserve. The place is also teeming with native trees like birch, oak and ash.
As for the wildlife, it has a healthy population of insects, birds and mammals, to name a few. Be careful when you walk along the trails as Scottish wood ants inhabit Glen Nant. These ants are said to be indigenous to the area. You should watch out for mounds of pine needles or wood debris because these are actually colonies of these wood ants. Aside from the indigenous ants, you may also see butterflies and moths.
Meanwhile, if you are searching for birds, warblers, jays and woodpeckers are present here. When it comes to mammals, deer can be spotted at Glen Nant. Even the elusive red squirrels may be seen in this ancient Scottish oakwood.
Gairloch is home to several marine animals in Scotland. It’s located on the northwest coast of Scotland. Gairloch’s name was derived from the Gaelic word for “short loch” which refers to the small sea loch that runs along the coast in this area.
Those who would like to spot marine animals can take boat trips around the area for an opportunity to spot minke whales, harbour porpoises, common and grey seals, otters, basking sharks as well as four different species of dolphins. Different types of birds can also be seen in the area. You may get a glimpse of the black-throated divers, great northern diver and even rare raptors like the golden eagle and the white-tailed eagle.
Aside from enjoying the area’s biodiversity, you can also explore the beauty of the place. Instead of checking this magnificent area on foot, why not rent a pony and go pony trekking? Meanwhile, if you are a golf aficionado, you’d be happy to know that there are several golf courses in the area. So, after exploring the wildlife here, you can play a few rounds to hone your skills or simply have fun. You may also visit the museum to learn more about the history of the place.
Knapdale forest photo by uplandaccess
Beinn Eighe photo by troutcolor
Cairngorms photo by warrick1
Basking shark hoto by Green Fire Productions