The natural way to unwind in Scotland

by Gazette Reporter

For many, taking the time out to unwind by getting up close and personal to nature is something we can easily do in Ireland. With the launch of Scotland’s Big 5 holidays, however, it means that just across the pond is a special wildlife holiday offering a wildlife watching trip away with a difference. It has turned it into an adventure that can be enjoyed by everyone.

You will see lots of different species but it’s not necessarily a list-ticking trip – it’s a multi-activity week with short walks, boat trips and even a half day sea kayaking with seals.

As most of us are aware, Scotland is one of the most stunning places in the world to go wildlife watching and for the Year of Natural Scotland 2013, Visit Scotland – the Scottish national tourism board – and Scottish Natural Heritage – have united to promote Scotland’s incredible flora and fauna.

The Year of Natural Scotland is a celebration showcasing Scotland’s natural beauty, breathtaking scenery, delicious food and drink and incredible wildlife.

Scotland’s Big 5 consist of the golden eagle, red deer, red squirrel, harbour seal and otter, which are all indigenous and iconic species to Scotland. Stunning landscapes and natural beauty set the scene for wildlife experiences and whether it is along the rugged coastline, in one of Scotland’s National Parks, on one of Scotland’s 790 islands or even in cities such as Edinburgh or Glasgow, Scotland’s Big 5 never seem to be too far away.

Some of the top wildlife experiences in Scotland include Mull Charters, a husband and wife operation voted number two in wildlife experience by Tripadvisor. Located on the Island of Mull, wildlife watchers can get close to the fourth largest sea eagle in the world, the Whitetale sea eagle, whose wingspan is over eight feet.

Or why not visit the five-star discovery centre at the Scottish Seabird Centre, located in East Lothian. Visitors can learn about the life of seabirds and their conservation and, after a visit to the centre, visitors can visit the largest single island gannet colony in the world by boat, Bass Rock, home to 150,000 gannets in the summer. It was once described as one of the Twelve Wildlife Wonders of the World by David Attenborough.

Visitors to Knapdale Forest might catch sight of families of beavers who were first introduced to the forest in 2009. On a free weekly guided walk, visitors will be taken to feeding sights and dams to see the beavers. Or if it’s taking to the water that you would prefer, why not step on board a whale-watching cruise. Responsible Travel is a travel company which organises tailor-made wildlife watching tours on the Isle of Mull.

For attraction and accommodation offers go to www.visitscotland.com.

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