West Coast Wildlife
Fantastic West Coast wildlife Short Break!
For many years Heatherlea weeks have featured overnight visits to the west coast, with hundreds of you enjoying eagles, otters, days on Mull, boat trips off the mainland to Eigg and Muck, and the skills and stories of Matt Wilson, our resident guide on the west. We have also run many successful 'Natural History' weeks from our base in Nethy Bridge, concentrating on all the birds, mammals, insects and flora of the Highlands.
These holidays have been so successful that we have now combined them in a new short break so you can enjoy the ‘Best of the West’ at a leisurely and relaxed pace. Aimed at the natural history all-rounder, this is a great exploration of wildlife from Corncrakes on Iona to shearwaters off Muck, covering the birds, mammals, insects and flora of the west of Scotland. We are based at our comfortable family-run Hotel in Strontian, already familiar to many of you, and where our groups really feel at home.
Join us for five days and four nights, with three full days on the west coast plus two transfer days across the Highlands from Nethy Bridge and back again. We travel via Fort William, Loch Ness and some quiet, secret places en-route.
Whilst on the west, our three full days will feature one day exploring the mainland of Morvern and Ardnamurchan, often in the company of Matt Wilson, one full day on magical Mull, and one day featuring a spectacular boat trip off the west coast to the isles of Eigg and Muck.
Key targets are Golden Eagle, White-tailed Eagle and Otter, with a multitude of seabirds and cetaceans including Minke Whale and Basking Shark. Flora and insects abound, with Red Deer, both seals, and the distinct possibility of Pine Marten.
Day 1 Tuesday WESTWARD HO! The holiday begins on Tuesday morning, when we leave for Fort William at around 8am. Your journey west will take you through spectacular scenery, with the possibility of Black Guillemot, Hooded Crow, both seals and a variety of seabirds. We cross the Corran Ferry and settle into our comfortable en-suite accommodation. Later, there should be time for a brief orientation drive before dinner.
Day 2 Wednesday THE WEST COAST After an investigation into our Hotel moth trap, our first day will be spent locally with Heatherlea guide Matt Wilson, as we enjoy an introduction to the habitats of this special area. Moorland, wild, rugged coastline and lochside, craggy mountain tops, birch woodlands and sphagnum bog, this is a beautiful, underappreciated part of our small island. Targets will include both eagles, Raven, Red Deer, Otter, and perhaps Pine Marten. Flora will include several orchids in flower, plus sundews and Butterwort. We may see Irish Ladies Tresses Orchid. Dragons may include Northern Emerald, Keeled Skimmer, Golden-ringed, Highland and Black Darters and Beautiful Demoiselle, either today or later on Mull. Dark Green and Small-pearl Bordered Fritillary and Large Heath butterflies can be expected. If possible, we will visit Rahoy SSSI and learn about our native Temperate Atlantic Rainforest.
Day 3 Thursday OFF THE WEST COAST We drive to Arisaig, then take the ferry across the waters to the isles of Eigg and Muck. This spectacular day will feature seals and seabirds, Minke Whale, Basking Shark, dolphins, shearwaters, auks and maybe Storm Petrel, and quite likely skuas, shearwaters and perhaps Storm Petrel too. The experience of heading due west towards these beautiful islands, walking on either Eigg or Muck depending on weather and season, then heading back towards mainland Scotland in time for a delicious dinner is very special indeed. This day has delighted hundreds of Heatherlea guests over the years, and now you can enjoy this day with overnight stops on the west both before and after – most relaxing!
Day 4 Friday MAGICAL MULL A full day as we travel on the early ferry to Mull, perhaps the most rewarding of Scotland’s key wildlife islands. We target both eagles and otters, and our record of outstanding views is very good. Eagles are bringing food to hungry chicks, and numbers are highest as juvenile birds take to the air. Other birdlife is also of interest, with breeding Hen Harrier and Redpoll, perhaps a late Great Northern Diver or Slavonian Grebe, and ducks in breeding plumage including Eider and Merganser, Gannets and auks. There will be many plants and flowers of interes, and watch out also for the rare scotia version of Dark Green Fritillary butterfly too.
Day 5 Saturday LOCH NESS and the HIGHLANDS Our final breakfast, then we head off eastwards towards Strathspey, diverting to look at lochs and moorland of interest. Birds on this day will perhaps include Red- and Black-throated Diver, Slavonian Grebe, Hen Harrier, and much more including dragonflies. The holiday ends in Aviemore late afternoon.
A relaxing holiday with all the wildlife of the western highlands and Mull to entertain and enthrall us. Transfers from and back to Nethy Bridge are included, so combine this relaxing short break on the west with a Heatherlea week – a perfect holiday!
Expect a wide variation in weather conditions, with temperatures perhaps averaging around 15 - 18 degrees Celsius. Sunshine, rain and strong winds are all possible, and you will probably experience a bit of everything. Biting insects may be present, though not expected as a major problem. Please bring walking boots or shoes, weatherproof clothing and a small rucksack. The holiday will be run at a relaxed pace, with time for photography as well as fabulous wildlife watching in a spectacular setting! There will be short to moderate (1 to 3 mile) walks some days, though the holiday mainly involves easy walking.
What's included in your Natural History of Western Scotland holiday price
- Four nights comfortable en-suite accommodation. Guests are never expected to share. Full details with your joining pack. Rooms are en-suite.
- Full Scottish breakfast and dinner from Tuesday evening till Saturday morning, packed lunch Tuesday - Friday.
- All transfers by comfortable minibus and Calmac ferries. Drivers can leave vehicles safely parked at The Mountview Hotel. Access to Pine Marten watching location. Ferry to Eigg and Muck. Ferry to Mull.
- Guidance from a professional Group Leader. Services of a second Heatherlea Leader, Mat Wilson also included subject to availability.
What's not included in your Natural History of Western Scotland holiday price
- Insurance, drinks and other items of a personal nature.
- Extra night in Nethybridge area on Mon/Sat. B&B can be arranged for you if requested at time of holiday booking at a price of £45 per person.