• After meeting in Inverness, we drive to our hotel near Scourie in the Northwest. En route we enjoy the beautiful, changing landscapes and keep a lookout for wildlife such as red deer, golden eagle and merlin, with a stop to try for otters and black-throated divers. 
    • Once we have settled in, there’s time to savour the stunning views before enjoying some local food.
    • Accommodation: Eddrachilles Hotel, 3-nights on full board basis
    • After breakfast, we make our way to the fishing village of Tarbet to take a small boat across to Handa Island, a picturesque island with huge colonies of seabirds including guillemot, razorbill, great skua, fulmar, kittiwake and puffin.
    • We have the majority of the day to explore on foot, and to enjoy the seabirds on show, including a colony of nesting Arctic terns. Although spoilt for choice on land, we also take time to scan the sea for cetaceans, seals and otters.
    • Returning to the hotel after a delightful day on the island, we can relax before dinner and possibly enjoy an evening walk to look for otters.
    • Today we explore some very special sites of outstanding natural beauty while continuing our search for the region's wildlife. 
    • At Clachtoll Bay we walk across crofting land to visit the remains of an Iron Age broch. The area is good for cetaceans and otters, as well as migrant bird species such as wheatear, and there is also an opportunity to see some wonderful flora, including a number of orchid species.
    • We also visit Achmelvich Beach, which is not only a stunning bay, ranked highly for its beauty, but the inlet also offers the possibility of divers, terns, wheatear and twite. We continue our drive from Lochinver; these parts are good for eagles, both golden and white-tailed, and the rocky shores are a great habitat for otters.
    • Later in the day we pass under Stac Pollaidh, a striking mountain that seems to rise straight up out of the barren landscape. Once again we keep our eyes peeled for eagles as well as for the smallest falcon - the merlin.
    • We drive southwest through Ullapool then wind along the coast to Gairloch, with a stop at Corrieshalloch Gorge, a native woodland with an impressive 45-metre waterfall, were we may find a variety of pinewood specialists, both faunal and floral. 
    • Whilst taking in the stunning views, we may see feral goats, eagles and majestic red deer and a stop at Dundonnell, which sits on Loch Broom, a sea loch, offers the chance to scan for a variety of wader and waterfowl species amongst the salt flats.
    • These parts are steeped in history, and we can immerse ourselves in the past while keeping a lookout for interesting wildlife. If the weather is fine, as we follow the coast to Gairloch, we can marvel at the views of the mountains we have left behind and see right across to the Outer Isles. 
    • Accommodation: Gairloch Highland Lodge, 2-nights on half board basis.
    • Our penultimate day sees us taking one of the most spectacular drives in the Highlands. We drive alongside Loch Maree, through Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve and on towards Applecross. The Munros of Torridon tower over us as we scan for black-throated diver, red deer and eagles. At Upper Loch Torridon we scan the coast for waders, cetaceans and otters. We also make a stop in a historic herring-fishing village where we might chance upon the resident pair of white-tailed eagles. 
    • The winding coast road take us to Applecross, where we might see a Highland cow or two, before heading up and over the Bealach na Ba which, if clear, offers stunning views of Skye and Raasay, before dropping down to Lochcarron and driving slowly back to Gairloch.
    • Our final day takes us back east to Inverness, but not before visiting a beautiful river valley. Golden eagles have nested here for many decades, so we give ourselves one final chance to see this magnificent bird, whilst also keeping our eyes peeled for cuckoo, common sandpiper, dipper, stonechat, whinchat and red deer. Flora includes heath spotted orchids, as well as all three sundew species.
    • On the way back to Inverness we stop briefly at a small loch where Slavonian grebes have nested regularly and scan for red kites that are abundant over the fertile arable lands of the East Coast.

All prices are per person and include:

  • Services of the naturalist leader
  • Transfers to & from Inverness
  • Transport
  • Accommodation
  • Breakfast & dinner daily
  • Guided activities

Accommodation

Both the hotels used – in Scourie and in Gairloch – are family owned and run, and have an excellent reputation for their food, which features a lot of typical local produce. All rooms have an en suite bathroom.

Meals

Breakfasts and dinners are included and taken in the hotel or neighbouring pub. Lunches are at additional cost and we suggest allowing £5-£10 per day.

Birds

A summer visit to Scotland’s west coast reveals a surprisingly rich variety of birdlife. 

  • Golden eagle
  • White-tailed eagle
  • Puffin
  • Red-throated diver

Mammals

The birdlife will capture our attention, but we nevertheless stay alert for mammal sightings.

  • Eurasian otter
  • Red deer
  • Red squirrel
  • Cetaceans

Insects

Midges are common on the west coast of Scotland during summer – from early June through until September – and can be an irritant. We recommend you take an appropriate repellent. If you are particularly susceptible to midge bites, consider taking a hat with bee-keeper-type netting to protect your face.

Flora

Although much of the west coast might appear barren and rocky at first sight, the diverse vegetation includes various orchids such as common spotted, early purple, early marsh and frog orchid. 

Scenery

The west coast of Scotland is justifiably renowned for its peerless scenery of mountains and islands – which is commonly acknowledged as the best in the country, if not in the entire United Kingdom.

Boat trips

Weather permitting, we take a short boat trip across to a neighbouring island to explore and search for birdlife.

Photography

This trip presents many excellent opportunities for photography due to the highly scenic qualities of the West Coast, as well as the varied wildlife.

Walking

Some trails can be steep in parts or rough underfoot, but we don’t walk any great distances (the longest walk is around six kilometres), and we take it slowly. 

Archaeology

We have the opportunity to visit an ancient Pictish broch, dating from prehistoric times. 

Ground transport

Small minibus driven by the tour leader.

Your tour leader can meet you at either Inverness Railway Station or Inverness Airport, from where we drive to our first accommodation at Scourie.

Baggage restrictions

Space in the vehicle is limited, so we recommend you travel light.

Altitude

On this tour we will reach no more than 626 metres above sea level, so altitude is not an issue.

Climate

Summer in Scotland can be unpredictable. It could be pleasantly warm with temperatures in the 20s Celsius, but equally it could be cold and wet – so be prepared for everything!

  1. July 2018
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