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Highlands & Ardnamurchan

Highland specialities combined with one the most wildlife rich regions of the west coast

2025 Dates
  • 15 Mar - 22 Mar 2025
  • 22 Mar - 29 Mar 2025
Duration8 Days
2025 Price
£1695 pp
No single supplement. Deposit £300
Max Group Size14
EARLY BIRDER OFFER - Book Now for 2025 and Save £100pp!

A very different holiday, with displaying and breeding resident birds, winter visitors still present in good numbers, and the first arriving spring migrants. We also enjoy a two-night expedition to the remote and wildlife-rich Ardnamurchan peninsula, where the birding can be unforgettable, and where we have chances to encounter Highland mammals.

In Strathspey we are placed in the middle of the best birding habitats, and a local drive should produce Black Grouse popping and cooing at the lek. Crested Tit and Scottish Crossbill are found in the pine forests and Slavonian Grebe, Whooper Swan and many breeding wader species are likely as we enjoy the best of local birding. In the moorland and hills we search for raptors including Peregrine, Merlin and perhaps the first returning Osprey. A moorland drive may give views of Black-throated Diver on lochs.

The Ardnamurchan peninsula is a hidden jewel, a wild, beautiful, remote area in the heart of the West Highlands with stunning scenery and some of the best places for wildlife in the UK. Birding includes both eagles, Raven, Black Guillemot and the first spring passage waders perhaps including Greenshank. Mammals often feature during our time here, with the possibility of Pine Marten on night drives, while Loch Sunart is one of the best places to see Otter in the far west.

Later we look for Ptarmigan, Snow Bunting, Goldeneye, Peregrine, Crested Tit and Scottish Crossbill. Local birchwoods hold Lesser Redpoll and Siskin flocks, Slavonian Grebe, Whooper Swan and waders. Waxwing are sometimes present.

Coastal birding is particularly enjoyable, sightings can include Osprey fishing, rafts of Common Eider, Goosander, Red-breasted Merganser, Common and Velvet Scoter, Long-tailed Duck, Great Northern and Red-throated Diver, Glaucous and Iceland Gull, and spring waders including Purple Sandpiper, Turnstone, Bar-tailed Godwit, Knot, Dunlin and Ringed Plover. Rarities often include Surf Scoter or King Eider. We often see Bottle-nosed Dolphin, and with auks, Sandwich Tern, Gannet, Corn Bunting, Tree Sparrow, Yellowhammer, Grey Partridge and more - a really rewarding day.

KEY MOMENTS at our Friday round-up - which will be yours?

  • Raptors galore including Golden and White-tailed Eagle in stunning Ardnamurchan scenery.
  • Pine Marten if we are lucky, and Otters playing on the coastline. 
  • Male Black Grouse on the lek, busy displaying to females.
  • Divers and grebes moulting into summer-plumage.

Day 1: Saturday - Arrival
Arrival, welcome, dinner and briefing. Don’t forget our courtesy collection service from Aviemore.

Day 2: Sunday - Local speciality birding
We begin with a local day, and our award-winning hotel is right in the middle of the best birding habitats. After breakfast we head to nearby Abernethy Forest, to look for Crested Tit, other local breeding birds and Red Squirrel. Scottish Crossbill are found in the pine forests and with both Common and Parrot Crossbill also present, separation of these three species can pose a real identification challenge! Later we seek out secluded locations with Golden Eagle, Peregrine, Merlin, Red Kite and Slavonian Grebe as our targets, and may visit a number of moorland spots on this lovely day, including a drive which may give views of Red Grouse and Black-throated Diver in breeding finery. 

Days 3 – 5: Monday - Wednesday - Ardnamurchan wildlife!
We journey west watching out for Black Grouse, Black Guillemot, Common Seal and Hooded Crow as we travel. We may stop off to see Peregrine at the nest, Whooper Swan wintering on the marshes, or perhaps a Golden Eagle after we cross Loch Linnhe onto the west coast. Once across the Great Glen we head even further west, through the quaint village of Strontian, and along the northern edge of picturesque Loch Sunart to the fabulous Ardnamurchan peninsula, the most westerly point on the island of Great Britain. This is a hidden jewel of Scotland, remote and rugged, a wild and beautiful area in the heart of the West Highlands with stunning scenery and some of the best places for wildlife in the UK.

Based in one of the best areas of Scotland for mammals, we have numerous chances of Otter on the sea lochs, with Red and Roe Deer and Fox all very possible nearby. Many of these key mammals are best seen after dark, and on night drives around the forest edges we look out for Pine Marten and Badger as well as Barn, Tawny and Long-eared Owl and Woodcock. Who knows, might even glimpse Scottish Wildcat, the rarest of sightings!

Birding includes both White-tailed and Golden Eagle, Raven, Black Guillemot and the first spring passage waders perhaps including Greenshank. There is also the possibility of Hen Harrier, Merlin and Short-eared Owl inland, and Slavonian Grebe, Great Northern Diver, Goosander, Twite and more as we explore this wild and rugged landscape.

We stay overnight for two nights here, working our way back to Strathspey on Wednesday, arriving in Nethy Bridge late afternoon.

Day 6: Thursday - Cairngorm and Scottish specialities
We make an early start after breakfast to seek Black Grouse popping and cooing at the lek. After breakfast we spend another full day in local locations so we can take our time on the hills to seek Ptarmigan. The mountains support few other species, though we watch for Snow Bunting, very early Ring Ouzel, Raven and passing raptors. We may also see Red-throated Diver, Goldeneye, Peregrine and Crested Tit as we descend, plus Redpoll and Siskin flocks in local birch woods. Osprey, Slavonian Grebe, Whooper Swan and many breeding wader species are likely later as we enjoy the best of local birding.

Day 7: Friday - Moray Coast
Spring birding along the Moray Coast is particularly enjoyable, as newly-arriving migrants complement remaining winter visitors. This day can easily include Osprey fishing, rafts of Common Eider, Goosander, Merganser, Common and Velvet Scoter, Long-tailed Duck, Great Northern and Red-throated Diver, Glaucous and Iceland Gull. Lots of spring waders including Purple Sandpiper, Turnstone, Bar-tailed Godwit, Knot, Dunlin and Ringed Plover may be in bright summer plumage. We watch out also for farmland specialities including Corn Bunting, Yellowhammer and Grey Partridge which are all still found on this fertile northern coastline. Sandwich Tern have arrived, and Common, Arctic and even Little Tern can appear. With Gannet, Fulmar, auks, gulls and more it is a really rewarding day and we will also search for any rarities or unusual sightings within reach. In recent years we have seen White-billed Diver, King Eider, Surf Scoter and Blue-winged Teal.

Day 8: Saturday - Departure
Breakfast and departure. Don’t forget our courtesy return service to Aviemore.

This holiday can be combined with:


Highlands and the West Coast, Birding in the footsteps of JacobitesHighland Birding in March, Highlands and East Coast Birding,  Spring into Scotland including Mull, Scottish Highlands in Early Spring

Please note: all itineraries are given as a guide only. Actual holiday content may vary according to the judgement of your guide, and elements beyond our control (eg weather).

What's included in your holiday price

  • Five nights comfortable accommodation at The Mountview Hotel, VisitScotland rated 3 Star. All rooms are en-suite, with 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.
  • Two nights comfortable en-suite accommodation in Ardnamurchan.
  • Full Scottish breakfast, a substantial packed lunch, and a delicious dinner.
  • Six full days wildlife watching.
  • Guidance from a professional Group Leader.
  • All transport by comfortable minibus.
  • A checklist specifically prepared for your holiday to record your sightings and notes.
  • Courtesy bus service to and from transport in Aviemore.

What's not included in your holiday price

  • Insurance, drinks and other items of a personal nature.

More holiday information

Accommodation at Mountview Hotel can be seen here. All accommodation is ensuite unless otherwise advised before your booking is confirmed.
Food There is a choice of evening meal, and vegetarian, vegan and other diets are welcome. Breakfast may be chosen from a full Scottish menu, packed lunch is provided and you don't need flasks for hot drinks.
Walking will be light, although mountain walking for Ptarmigan is strenuous as birds generally start moving back up the hill with the spring melt, though April can still see a good snow covering up the hill!
Weather Expect a wide variation in weather conditions. Blazing sunshine, snow and rain are equally likely, and you will probably experience a bit of everything. Bring waterproofs, walking boots or shoes and warm clothing.
Biting insects are unlikely to be encountered.
Group size maximum 7 clients per guide.
Optics Telescopes will be useful, and you should bring binoculars. We have a limited number of top quality Swarovski binoculars, which you may borrow at no charge (subject to availability). A camera would be useful too!

Getting here is easy!

BY CAR Travel north to Perth. Take A9 signposted Inverness to the exit north of Aviemore for the A95. Follow signs northeast through Boat of Garten to Nethy Bridge (ten miles). In Nethy Bridge, drive through the village, over the River Nethy, and you will see our sign 200 metres ahead on the right.

BY RAIL Don't forget our courtesy collection service from Aviemore on Saturdays at 16:30 and 19:30, but please let us know at least 48 hours in advance! The best train to Aviemore is the ‘Highland Chieftain’ on the East Coast Line. This leaves London Kings Cross at 11:00, arriving Aviemore at 19:22. We recommend you connect with this service if possible. Our pickup also works well with the 16:26 arrival from Edinburgh. In general, rail travel via Edinburgh is easier than via Glasgow, where a trip across the city between stations is needed, often followed by a change at Perth. Return trains leave Aviemore at 08:32 (fast train to London – recommended), 09:26. 10:31 and 11:30. However we can only make 2 journeys to Aviemore on Saturday morning, so you may be taken to Aviemore a little earlier.  Rail enquiries: 0845 7484950, www.nationalrail.co.uk

BY AIR Flights to Inverness are becoming available all the time, for latest info call our office. Currently direct flights to Inverness are available from: Belfast, Dublin, Birmingham, Manchester (all Loganair), London Gatwick, London Luton, Bristol (all easyJet) and London Heathrow (British Airways). Guests arriving in Inverness airport can then take a taxi to Nethy Bridge, or take the Airport Flyer bus to Inverness, from there they can take the train to Aviemore where we can collect you. Our courtesy collection service is on Saturdays at 16:30 and 19:30, but please let us know at least 48 hours in advance if you wish to be collected! We will be able to meet the 15:44 and 18:53 trains departing from Inverness that arrive at 16:25 and 19:26 respectively.

Other birdwatching holidays in Highlands

Why choose Heatherlea for your Scottish birding holiday?

Heatherlea is THE place for top quality birding holidays in Scotland, chosen by more and more birders each year. Stay in our own three star Small Hotel, and enjoy first-rate birding with Scotland’s best guiding team. Relax and enjoy yourself, as we do all the planning! Above all, we make it our business to show key wildlife to you. Our fully inclusive guided holidays concentrate on the real experience, and we take time to ensure that each of our guests enjoys everything we do.

  • We have been organising birding and wildlife holidays for 30 seasons, and have a highly experienced and capable office team. We also offer a telephone and email service outside normal office hours.
  • Our ‘Mainland Scotland’ holidays based at Mountview Hotel have a maximum ratio of 7 clients per guide, putting the emphasis on personal service, and helping you get the best possible experience.
  • We are a small company, run BY birders FOR birders. Come and see!
  • Heatherlea are Mainland Scotland’s FIRST ‘5-Star Wildlife Experience!’ This is the highest available grading, classified as ‘exceptional’ by visitScotland.
  • There is no single supplement. Single guests are never expected or invited to share.
  • Our holidays often include things which others might invite you to pay yourself, for instance loan of Swarovski binoculars, packed lunch and tips to hotels.
  • We offer a courtesy transfer between our Hotel and Aviemore rail/bus links on Saturdays.
  • Heatherlea hold full Tour Operator Insurance for your added protection.
  • Heatherlea is a limited company, registered in Scotland. We are also registered to pay VAT, which is included in your holiday price as quoted on this page.
  • Once your holiday is confirmed in writing by us, we promise not to surcharge the price for any reason.

Enjoy an excellent birding and wildlife holiday with Heatherlea.
Mainland Scotland’s FIRST ‘5-Star Wildlife Experience!’

Visit Scotland - 5 star wildlife experience

Visit Scotland

Tour Details

About Heatherlea Holidays

Contact Information

The Mountview Hotel, Nethybridge,
PH25 3EB Scotland

T: +44(0)1479 821248