|Ultimate Scotland £1395-£1595 ** June|
|Useful Details for Ultimate Scotland Tour|
Following many birding and filming trips to the Highlands & Islands of Scotland and a highly successful inaugural tour in 2008 repeated in 2009, 2010 & 2012 Gone Birding run a trip to these superb regions of Scotland in May/ June. This 10/13 day tour will based in several locations, beginning in Aviemore for 3 nights (unless we go for the 10/11 day option then just one night here), over to the Isle of Skye and Portree for a night, before catching the ferry from Uig to North Uist. We have several days on North Uist after which we return to Skye, then on to Handa in the very NW region of Scotland. This has to be the ultimate tour of Scotland, taking in the tundra mountains of the Cairngorms, the glacial valleys, coastal cliffs & beaches & inland lochs, as well as the unique wildlife the Hebrides has to offer, topped off by the spectacular seabirds of Handa- encompassed in 10/13 days. All guiding, ground transport, food and accommodation are included in the tour price. Contact us for further details (contact page)
The itinerary will be weather dependent. Trips to the hills and valleys may be brought forward or put back as the weather dictates. A modest amount of fitness is required as the trip entails full days out from (optional) dawn trips for leks, to climbing hills in Cairngorm for Ptarmigan & Dotterel.
**Final dates and duration for the trip will be confirmed when accommodation & ferries organised. Until details are fully confirmed please allow a couple of days either side of the departure and arrival dates and we decide if it's 10/11/12 or 13 days.
The 10/13 day tour will encompass many different habitats, which in turn hold varied and spectacular birds & wildlife. Based in Aviemore we explore the Tundra mountain tops for Ptarmigan and Dotterel, as well as the woodland for Capercaillie, Black Grouse, Crested Tit, and Crossbills not forgetting Osprey. The upland valleys should yield divers & Slavonian Grebe on the lochs, Short- eared Owl & Merlin on the moors. Keep an eye in the sky for Golden Eagle, Peregrine and Raven. Moving west we head to Skye passing through some spectacular scenery. Overnight on Skye and a boat trip should produce stunning views of White-tailed Eagle as well as Golden Eagle & possibly Otter. On to North Uist and the amazing dawn chorus of waders is not to be missed. Although Corncrakes, Hen Harriers and passage Skuas plus Red-necked Phalaropes are our quarry. Back to Skye, (check out the harbour for Black Guillemot) and on to Handa, via the west coast for more Golden Eagle and Ptarmigan. We end our tour on Handa, a stones throw from the mainland, but with massive cliffs and home to hundreds of thousands of seabirds- once you've avoided the Great & Arctic Skuas.
Our accommodation will be in very comfortable b+b's in Aviemore, Skye & North Uist & a comfy hotel near Scourie (near Handa). These are not the cheapest accommodations available, but many are the best. Transport will be in a people carrier, which we will accompany us throughout the tour. There will be lots of room for birders, bags and tripods etc... There is a £50 reduction in the ground price for a competent driver offering to help share the driving of the vehicle.
The cost of the tour is £1395 for 10/11 days or £1595 for 12/13 days, this covers all ground costs, food/drink whilst out, transport, accommodation and guiding fees. What’s not covered are any insurance's and drinks of a personal nature. Call us if you have any queries over this.
Each day we will make an optional early morning visit to a birding area, after which we will return for breakfast, before heading off for the day to sites within easy driving distance of our base. Lunch will be bought en-route and will probably consist of simple bread and cheese and local produce. This, plus water and juice will be provided but other personal drinks are extra. On several days we will pass through several small towns. On occasion there will be opportunities to stop, relax with a drink and have a look around.
pale phase Arctic Skua
Day 1 Meet up at the pickup point and drive to Aviemore, our base for 1-3 nights. Stopping en-route several times, for comfort breaks. We will also have a birding stop in in N Yorkshire. From here we will continue north up the A9, again stopping en-route. If we arrive in good time we can visit a local loch for Red-throated Diver. Wigeon and Goldeneye, and possibly Osprey. We then go into Aviemore for a meal.
Day 2 (if 10/11 day tour then Day 2 will be day Day 4) Optional pre-breakfast excursion to Abernethy forest for Capercaillie, Black Grouse, Crested Tit & Crossbills. After breakfast We will head into the hills and look for Ptarmigan and Dotterel, so wrap up warmly. We are then back into the woods, or we can go to the coast for seaduck, depending how well our pre-breakfast jaunts go. We will also check out sites for Slavonian Grebe. Return to Aviemore for a meal.
Day 3 Optional pre-breakfast excursion to Abernethy, or one of the lochs nearby. Following breakfast we head for Findhorn Valley, which is magical for raptors. We should see Dipper and Common Sandpiper along the river edge, but raptors are the goal- here we should see Golden Eagle, Peregrine, Buzzard and Raven. Also look out for Wheatear and Ring Ouzel. We may have time for a Pine Martin trip! We return to Aviemore for our evening meal.
Day 4 Optional pre-breakfast excursion to Abernethy. After breakfast we pack up our things for the spectacular drive to Inverness and down the Great Glen. From here we head over the tops looking for Hen Harrier & Merlin. We visit a large wild loch for Black-throated Diver, Osprey, Short-eared Owl & Peregrine. Continuing on past Loch Ness where we continue westward down the awesome Glen Shiel stopping for the scenery and divers on the lochs, and onto the Kyle of Lochalsh, our gateway to the Hebrides and onto Skye. Arriving in the afternoon we will check in our accommodation and go off looking for raptors and Otters along the coast. Returning to Portree for our meal.
Day 5 Optional pre-breakfast excursion . After breakfast we take a boat journey to look for look for White-tailed Eagle. Returning we drive to the tip of Skye to catch the Skye >N. Uist ferry, checking the harbours for Black Guillemot. The ferry should produce seabirds, maybe Skuas, Petrels and Manx Shearwater. Arriving on N Uist we check in to our accommodation checking the nearby area for Hen Harrier! We may have time for a drive around before our evening meal. Given the time of year, anything could well turn up, so we'll keep an eye on the bird news services.
Day 6 Optional pre-breakfast excursion to Balranald, where we should witness a dawn chorus of waders-as well as hopefully picking up Corncrake. After breakfast we explore the area around Balranald and onto the Aird an Runair headland for seabirds, which may include Long-tailed and Pomarine Skua. Giving us chance to explore the unique Machair habitat here. We'll pick up lunch en-route as usual and then explore the rest of the north end of North Uist. We should encounter a good variety of waders, plus Twite. Returning to our Lochmaddy base for an evening meal.
Day 7 Optional pre-breakfast excursion to a nearby birding site. After breakfast we head south to Benbecula and South Uist. Here we explore the coves, valleys, hills & lochens for Black Guillemot, Red-necked Phalaropes, other breeding waders and raptors. We should get away from it all, and hardly see a soul all day. Lunch to be bought en route. We return to Lochmaddy or a nearby lodge for an evening meal.
Day 8 Optional pre-breakfast excursion to a nearby birding site. Today we return to Skye, but should have time for last venture to Balranald for more Corncrake, waders and Corn Bunting, before we catch the ferry to Skye, keeping an eye out for petrels, Manx Shearwaters, Skuas and other seabirds. We travel through Skye, birding en-route, and to our accommodation. We may have time for more birding?? meal & overnight on Skye.
Day 9 Optional pre-breakfast excursion to see White-tailed Eagle, if the weather prevented a trip on our outward leg. After breakfast we head north to our final destination of Scourie, near Handa Island. On the way we stop many times as we pass sea lochs and hills, picking up lunch on the way. We take a slight detour towards Applecross in search of Dotterel and Ptarmigan, before continuing north through Torriden-, which has to be one of the best Golden Eagle sites in the UK (weather permitting). Arriving in Scourie late afternoon. Meal and overnight in Scourie.
Day 10 Optional pre-breakfast excursion near to Scourie, after breakfast we pick up lunch & go to Tarbet and attempt to make the short crossing to Handa- we are here all day, so have ample time to absorb the history & wildlife, the magnificent seabird cliffs which hold thousands of Kittiwakes, Guillemots, Razorbills, Puffins & Gannets. Not to mention the marauding Arctic & Great Skuas. Returning in the late afternoon to the mainland, and back to Scourie for a meal.
Day 11 Optional pre-breakfast excursion near Scourie- if the weather prevented us from crossing to Handa, then we have a second bite of the cherry. If we went yesterday, then we explore the hills, valleys, lochs and the rugged coast in the very NW corner of Scotland, looking for divers, seabirds, Golden Eagle, Hen Harrier etc... If the weather is grim for day 10 and prevents a landing on Handa, then we will swap day 10 and 11 around. Overnight in Scourie.
Day 12 Optional pre-breakfast excursion to near Scourie. A long day, straight after breakfast we pack up and make the long journey south, past Loch Shin, towards the Black Isle and past Aviemore, continuing south to Sheffield. There will be many comfort breaks, rather than birding breaks, but we'll combine the two if we can. Lunch en route. We stop with Red Kites near Stirling.
If we go for 10 days we condense days 1-3 in to 2 days.
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