Walking & Wildlife
Leader: Jonny Pott
Walking & Wildlife
Please note, this is an example itinerary provided to give an idea of a typical walking & wildlife week.If you would like to enquire about available dates, please contact us!
DAY 1 (Saturday) Arrival, welcome and dinner
No formal activity today, as our group gathers via road, rail and air transport links.
DAY 2 (Sunday) Wildlife of the Native Pinewood
A beautiful walk through ancient Caledonian Pine forest, featuring exceptional views across forest and moor to the mighty Cairngorm mountains.
From our start point at Forest Lodge (grid ref.NJ020161) we cross the clear River Nethy, ascending along a rough forest path through the great Scots Pine forest and open ground offering fabulous mountain views. We reach a viewpoint at 390 metres around lunchtime. On a clear day we enjoy views of the rarely seen eastern aspects of Cairngorm, looking along Strath Nethy to the mountain massif, from the peak of Bynack Mor and the northern slopes of Beinn Mheadhoin, with the gentler Kincardine Range behind us. Wildlife may include Red Squirrel, Red Deer, Roe Deer, Capercaillie, Crested tit, Scottish Crossbill, Golden Eagle, Hen Harrier, Merlin, Kestrel, Buzzard, Red Grouse and even Black Grouse. We will watch out for Pine Marten scats on the path as we go.
If there is time we may go down to Loch Garten for a cup of tea and scan the loch.
DISTANCE between 7 to 9 miles
TERRAIN stony forest paths and a stream to cross
GRADIENT easy ascent on paths
DAY 3 (Monday) The Mountains of the Ptarmigan
A strenuous walk through exceptionally beautiful mountain terrain.
Today an optional early start to see Black Grouse lekking on a local moor. After breakfast we travel to the foot of Cairn Gorm (grid ref.NH990060). We take a marked path up into one of the corries into the arctic habitat of Ptarmigan, Snow Bunting and Mountain Hare, with Red Grouse to be seen on the lower slopes. Reindeer may also be seen. Tales of ghosts and goulies on the hill include the legend of the Grey Man of Ben Macdhui – don’t look now! Hopefully, there maybe time to stop off and look over Loch Morlich on our way home.
DISTANCE 3 to 5 miles
TERRAIN on maintained footpaths with two streams to cross. No scrambling, but strenuous walking.
GRADIENT strenuous walking with periods of sustained ascent.
DAY 4 (Tuesday) Moray Coast wildlife
A complete contrast as we drive north to the Moray Coast, where wildlife might include Osprey fishing, Gannet and Bottled nosed Dolphin. Our walk will be coastal, perhaps along a remote stretch of beach. This day should produce more bird species than any other, together with an enjoyable coastal walk.
We may begin today at Spey Bay, travelling along the coast west, to other wildlife haunts, perhaps including Lossiemouth, Burghead, Roseisle, Hopeman and Findhorn Bay. We may find Osprey taking fish here, and will see many seabird species perhaps including Gannet, Eider, Common and Velvet Scoter, Great Northern, Black throated and Red throated Diver. Our walk will be along a stretch of coastline which contains a good number of sea duck, with Long-tailed Duck in good numbers in early Spring and Autumn. Bottled nosed Dolphin, Grey and Common Seal and Harbour Porpoise are also possible on this day.
TERRAIN riverside, beach and shingle.
GRADIENT flat beach walking, with some sand dune ascent to enjoy views of duck concentrations on the water.
DAY 5 (Wednesday) The Dava Way and the Clash Ravine
A walk along part of the new Dava Way, with an optional visit to Huntly’s Cave, rounding off the day with tea beside Lochindorb on Dava Moor.
Our starting point is on the Dava Way (NJ033314), which runs along part of the old railway track that was once the Grantown to Forres line closed by Lord Beeching at the beginning of the sixties. We walk through mixed woodland of Scots Pine, Birch, Rowan and Willow, an area rich in flora, ferns, mosses, lichens, and in Autumn, fungii. There is an optional scramble down a grassy slope to Huntly’s Cave in the Clash Ravine. The Marquis of Huntly was a fugitive on the run from Mary, Queen of Scots. Other wildlife may include Roe Deer, Buzzard, Great spotted Woodpecker, Capercaillie, Scottish Crossbill, Crested tit, and Treecreeper, and we will look out for any evidence of Otter spraints along the Clash burn, and even Wildcat in this vicinity. After the cave, we may go back into pine forest to further increase our chances of seeing Capercaillie, and to reach another vantage point to enjoy a view of the Cromdale Hills, with the Cairngorm Mountains in the background. We may round off the day beside Lochindorb for a cup of tea.
DISTANCE 4 to 5 miles
TERRAIN grassy tracks, muddy and damp in places, with 100 yard scramble down a grassy bank to the cave.
GRADIENT generally easy walking with optional descent to Huntly’s Cave.
DAY 6 (Thursday) Monarch of the Glen Country
This trip takes us deep into the Monadhliath Mountains, to places where stags roam the hills and eagles soar.
Our starting point today is deep in the Monadhliath Mountains (Grid ref NH709179) They are known to mountaineers as “whale-backed mountains”. We walk along the flat bottom of Strath Dearn, where the clear fast-running upper River Findhorn rushes between the steep scree slopes. Blasted birchwood and boggy grassland are kept in trim by herds of Red Deer, with Mountain Hare, feral Goats and Rabbits in evidence too. Golden Eagle and Peregrine are found here, and the area is still a working grouse estate. Abandoned farmhouses give a flavour of life in the past, when the farmer would shelter from the cold of winter by herding the animals together for warmth. Later we may travel north to see beautiful Slavonian Grebe, with Ring Ousel, Twite and Hooded Crow also possible.
DISTANCE 4 to 6 miles
TERRAIN rough paths and open moorland. Our guests often tell us this is how they pictured wild Scotland to be!
GRADIENT – flat, perhaps with some ascending to enjoy the views.
DAY 7 (Friday) Classic Highland Walking
A classic walk to finish, through pine and birch woodland, over the Monadhliath Mountains via the Burma Road to the River Dulnain.
Our final walk takes us via a hill track known locally as the Burma Road up over the Monadhliath Mountains and it is seldom walked by casual tourists. A lot of the waters of the Monadhliaths are collected by the River Dulnain and emptied into the mighty River Spey. The last leg of today’s walk follows down the side of the River Dulnain. Why the Burma Road got its name is a bit of a mystery, but it could refer to the evident hard work it must have taken in the making of this route over to the Dulnain. As you near the highest point along our route, we will often pause, not only to catch our breath, but hopefully, if the day is clear, to take in one of the most stunning views of the Cairngorm Mountains panorama in the whole of Strathspey. Furthermore, there are other more distant mountain vistas to admire from the top of Geal Charn, which we will walk up to, if time allows. Golden Eagle, Red Grouse, Crested Tit, Black Grouse, Golden Plover, Red Squirrel, Red and Roe Deer may all be seen as we progress through forest, moorland and mountainside, with Dipper and Grey Wagtail possible on the river.
DISTANCE 10 to 11 miles
TERRAIN forest, open moorland and hillside. Most walking on rough tracks with a foot bridge to cross, broken path and rough pasture alongside the river.
GRADIENT A steep track with some bends for the first three miles. It then flattens out at the top, descending gently for another three miles to the Dulnain. Level-going by the side of the river.
DAY 8 (Saturday) Breakfast and farewell
What's included in your holiday price
- Seven nights comfortable accommodation at The Mountview Hotel, VisitScotland rated 3 Star. All rooms are en-suite, with colour TV and hospitality tray. There is no single supplement, and guests are never expected to share. Single guests may be upgraded to double room accommodation at no extra charge.
- Full Scottish breakfast, a substantial packed lunch, and a delicious dinner.
- Six full days guided walking/birdwatching.
- All transport by comfortable PCV minibus.
- Guidance from a professional Group Leader.
What's not included in your holiday price
- Transport to The Mountview Hotel.
- Insurance, drinks and other items of a personal nature.