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The 'Outer Limits' Adventure

A real adventure! Birding the Highlands in peak migration time including a two night stay on the Outer Hebrides!

2024 Dates
  • 07 Sep - 14 Sep 2024
  • 14 Sep - 21 Sep 2024
  • 21 Sep - 28 Sep 2024
Duration8 Days
2024 Price
£1795 pp
No single supplement. Deposit £300
2025 Dates
  • 13 Sep - 20 Sep 2025
  • 20 Sep - 27 Sep 2025
Duration8 Days
2025 Price
£1795 pp
No single supplement. Deposit £300
Max Group Size7 per guide

A week of birding across Scotland, with two nights away in the Outer Hebrides. A real adventure to the under-watched and unforgettable island wilderness of Lewis, Harris and Skye! Join us as we see what rarities have blown in on the breeze. 

Our busy birding week begins and ends at our base in Nethy Bridge in the Highlands where we will look for Black Grouse, Ptarmigan, Golden and White-tailed Eagle and Crested Tit. Scottish Crossbill should also be around in good numbers following the breeding season.

At this time of year seabird flocks are building in northern waters and southbound migration for a number of species is well underway all around the coastline. There is a real possibility of rarities as we explore the 'Outer Limits' on a unique and exciting holiday! 

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

  • Shearwaters, skuas and more as we cross ‘The Minch’ to Stornoway
  • Black Grouse and Ptarmigan, sometimes on the same day!
  • Raptors galore, with Golden and White-tailed Eagle, Hen Harrier and Merlin possible....and more!
  • Rarities on the Hebrides, perhaps waders or gulls, perhaps a repeat of the 2004 Purple Martin!

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

Day 2: Sunday - Local Day
Purple heather moors, the gold and red of a Highland autumn in the birchwoods, the first snows on the Arctic tops, the deep greens of the ancient pinewoods, this is a lovely time to visit Scotland. Mixed parties in the Caledonian pines contain good numbers of Crested Tit and other local birds. Scottish Crossbill are also found in the forests and with both Common and Parrot Crossbill also present, separation of these three species can pose a real identification challenge! Capercaillie also occur in these forests though are increasingly scarce and we no longer actively look for them. Any sightings should be seen as incidental. Later we seek upland raptors in the hills, and you may also hear Red Deer stags bellowing at the rut - a wonderful and unforgettable experience.

Days 3 - 5: Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday      THE ‘OUTER LIMITS’ ADVENTURE
A three-day, two-night visit to the northern Outer Hebrides, a fantastic place now famous for outstanding birding and rare visitors. We head out through Skye, spend time birding on Harris, and head north to our comfortable base on Lewis. With stunning autumnal light these are unforgettable days in a remote Scottish wilderness, with majestic mountain scenery and rugged coastlines. We head west and give ourselves a few hours of birding on Skye, where we often pick up divers, eagles and a host of waders before we join the ferry at Uig.

Our vessel is a large ship excellent for birding. As we cross The Minch, the mountains of the Outer Hebrides loom larger as we scan for migrating seabirds. Manx Shearweater, Great and Arctic Skua, Storm Petrel are likely, as are Sooty Shearwater, Leach's Petrel, Pomarine and Long-tailed Skua after storms. Rarities have included Great, Cory’s and Balearic Shearwaters, Grey Phalarope and Sabines Gull - anything is possible! We have a better than average chance of Minke Whale, Bottle-nosed, Risso’s and Common Dolphins and Harbour Porpoise, plus Grey and Common Seal nearer the coasts. Raven, Hooded Crow, moulting Black Guillemot are all common here too, and during our time on Harris. we investigate the sea-duck where Surf Scoter or King Eider might be hidden amongst the commoner species.

On Lewis our activities will suit the weather and any known rare birds. We visit the Butt of Lewis to search for seabirds and vagrants, such as Snow Bunting and Jack Snipe. A walk in the woods in Stornoway can also yield migrants, plus give us chances to see local race Hebridean Wren and Hebridean Song Thrush. Rarity potential is high and in the past few years we have recorded Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Lapland Bunting, Rose-coloured Starling, Ring-necked Duck, American Golden Plover, Buff-breasted, Pectoral and White-rumped Sandpiper and Yellow-browed Warbler on this holiday! Golden Eagle, Merlin and Hen Harrier are also realistic targets on the vast moorlands and peatlands we pass. Our last morning may be spent looking for migrants or perhaps another look at White-tailed Eagles before returning home on the ferry via Ullapool, arriving at The Mountview on Wednesday evening. A great birding adventure!

Day 6: Thursday - Moray Coast
An early (but not too early!) start to try and see Black Grouse returning to the lek. 

Later we drive north to the Moray Firth, to examine the concentrations of seabirds, which make this coastline such a great magnet for birders. Common and Velvet Scoter, Long-tailed Duck, Great Northern, Black and Red-throated Diver are all possible on this day. Geese should now be arriving en masse, with large numbers of Pink-footed and Greylag Geese visibly on the move. Pale-bellied Brent Geese are also possible, as are Barnacle, White-fronted, Tundra and Taiga Bean - we must check the flocks carefully!

Day 7: Friday - Mountain Day
Ptarmigan are our target as we head to the mountains to search for this unique grouse which may be found skulking in the corries. The birds give good sightings once located as they rely upon camouflage more than flight whilst moulting into white winter plumage. Lingering Snow Bunting may also be seen. Lesser Redpoll, Siskin, Redwing, Fieldfare and Red Grouse are also possible on this day as we explore the delights of Strathspey close to our base.

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

This holiday can be combined with:

Autumn Migration in the Highlands, Highland Autumn Explorer, Highlands and Skye in Autumn.

North Ronaldsay & Orkney in Autumn for birders, Shetland in Autumn for birders, Outer Hebrides in Autumn for birders.

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 on the Outer Hebrides.
  • Full Scottish breakfast, a substantial packed lunch, and a delicious dinner.
  • Six full days wildlife watching.
  • Ferry crossings to and from the Outer Hebrides. All estate access fees.
  • 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 en-suite 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. You don't need flasks for hot drinks.
Walking will be mostly light, although walking on the mountain day for Ptarmigan is strenuous. The mountain day is optional.
Weather Expect a wide variation in weather conditions. Blazing sunshine and rain are equally likely, and you will probably experience a bit of everything. Bring waterproofs, walking boots or shoes and warm clothing. Hat and gloves are essential for boat trips and exposed coastal locations.
Biting insects are unlikely to be encountered this late in the season but you may wish to bring a good repellent just in case!
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