Home Page Home    
Scotland Tour    

Date mid-April

Background Information- Location

  • Leader- Andy Hirst 07947 068125.
  • Focus- Caledonian Forest, Upland areas, and trip into mountains, plus lochs, and a day at the coast.
  • Habitats- Ancient Caledonian woodland, Well managed moorlands, steep sided upland valleys, plus tundra mountain habitats including scree slopes (viewed from the bottom), plus small peaty lochens and larger lochs, with a trip to the coast. Because of the topography of the area, mobiles and pagers may not work.
  • Climate/ Weather- Can be variable from shirt sleeve weather at lower altitudes or later in the day to snow storms higher up. Invariably cold first thing in the morning, and when the sun sets (can be frost even in May), in between it can be very warm. Bring clothing appropriate for every eventuality, bring several layers to add/ remove or replace if wet. Frost and snow can be expected. It can some times be windy. The weather can change quickly so take wet weather gear even if bright and sunny.
  • Transport- Luxury 7 seater MPV, so plenty of room for occupants and birding gear.
  • Accommodation- Based in a well appointed bed and breakfast place in Aviemore. Have en-suite facilities with friendly staff and excellent breakfasts. Tour participants will share a room unless a single room supplement has been previously booked. Some of the b&b's we use have WIFI.
  • Food- Return each morning to the b+b's for a hearty Scottish breakfast. We will pick up sandwiches, fruit crisps, biscuits and water to see us through the day. Hot drinks (tea, coffee, chocolate, soup) will be freely available throughout the day. Return each evening to sample one of many eateries in Aviemore from pubs to Indian restaurants. Please try the local Cairngorm Brewery beer- very nice. Haggis is an optional extra.
  • Pace- Mostly very easy, from within sight of minibus with short walks on occasionally uneven ground, or to/ from hides. Effort required to scale valley near Cairngorm for Ptarmigan, this is uneven and can be covered in snow- graded as moderate to difficult. Out all day with optional early morning venture (05:00). then post breakfast 09:30 until 18:00ish- or dusk if wanted. We will have time during the tour for souvenirs, and will probably call at the Cairngorm Brewery for ADH to replenish his stock of beer, you are welcome to bring back a sample case of beers.
  • Daily Routine- Optional early morning trip at 05:00, returning for breakfast at 08:30. Following breakfast head off for the day picking up lunch on the way c09:30. Follow the itinerary for the day. Stopping as necessary. We pass through many small villages/ towns so plenty of loo opportunities. We return late afternoon/ early evening to relax, with a wash and brush up before heading off into Aviemore for the evening for a meal. Suggest early nights, for early starts, but plenty of bars and pubs for those who wish to indulge.
  • Recommended Reading- 'Best Birdwatching Sites in the Scottish Highlands'- Gordon Hamlett (Buckingham Press), 'The Ultimate Site Guide to Scarcer British Birds'- Lee Evans (BirdGuides Ltd).' Collins Bird Guide' - Best field guide in Europe.
  • Maps- Ordnance Survey Explorer 403 Cairngorm & Aviemore, Ordnance Survey 418 Lochindorb & Grantown on Spey.

For previous tour reports- please go to the Tour Reports Page, for reports and species lists.

Background Information- Travel

  • Weight Allowance- Flight/ Hand Luggage- Not applicable. Plenty of room for bags and tripods etc...
  • Travel Arrangements/ Pick-up- Pick up in Sheffield. Up the M1, join the A1, then north to Scotch Corner, along the A66 to Carlisle and the M6. Follow this north to the M74, M73 to Glasgow (stopping on the way), M80, M9, then the A9 at Perth to Aviemore. Estimated journey time from Sheffield (inc. stops) 7-8 hours.
  • Currency/ Requirements-Sterling. Just spending money for drinks in the evening required, as everything is included (all meals, entrance fees). We pass several estate shops, which invariably sell things with tartan on them!, plus we can visit the local Cairngorm brewery for a case of fine ale.
  • Passport / Visa Requirements -None (yet!!)
  • Health Requirements- None, just a modest amount of fitness for full days in the field. Travel insurance recommended, but not compulsory.
  • Special Equipment- None really. A first aid kit will be available at all times. I will also be taking an iPod with all the bird songs and calls of Europe installed. Please bring along camera and scopes if you wish, although Gone Birding will have available a top quality 82mm scope for all to use. A small rucksack would be useful for carrying spare jumpers, cameras, drink etc... A sturdy waterproof pair of boots with good ankle support. Wellies not required.
  • Clothing- Plenty of warm waterproof layers, plus a spare fleece, and overtrousers, hats and gloves and thick socks. A change of clothes for going out in the evening.
  • Nuisances- Scotland is famous for it's midges, but luckily, they don't emerge until late May/early June, so we'll be ok.

Useful Equipment Check List Useful equipment check list