NEW! Highlands & Ardnamurchan

Destination
Focus
2022 Dates
  • 26 Mar - 02 Apr 2022
Duration8 Days
2022 Price
£1495 pp
No single supplement. Deposit £200
2023 Dates
  • 25 Mar - 01 Apr 2023
Duration8 Days
2023 Price
£1495 pp
No single supplement. Deposit £200
Max Group Size14

A new and 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 new experience, a two-night expedition to the remote and wildlife-rich Ardnamurchan peninsula, where the birding can be unforgettable, and where we might encounter some special mammals.

Close to our hotel in Nethy Bridge we visit exclusive private estate woodlands, and staying inside our roomy minibus, have reasonable chances of seeing Capercaillie. Moorland specialities include Golden Eagle, Black Grouse at the lek, Peregrine, Merlin and perhaps Wheatear, Ring Ouzel and roadside Red Grouse and Black-throated Diver.

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. We are based close to Glenborrodale, where one of our chefs will join us to cater to Mountview Hotel standards! We enjoy warm en-suite rooms and exclusive occupancy with easy access to the best wildlife. Birding includes both eagles, Raven, Black Guillemot and the first spring passage waders perhaps including Greenshank. Mammals could be spectacular, with the possibility of Pine Marten coming to our bait at the property, visible from the comfort of our living room. A night drive gives outside chances of Wildcat, and Otter are found in nearby Loch Sunart.

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, this is a really rewarding day.

Total species for the holiday approx. 110, plus key mammals including Red Squirrel, Red Deer, Roe Deer, Grey Seal, Common Seal, Mountain Hare and Otter. Pine Marten, Badger, Fox, Bottle-nosed Dolphin and Harbour Porpoise are possible.

Five nights at Mountview Hotel, two night on the west coast. 

Day 1    Sat 26 March       Arrival
Arrival, welcome, dinner and briefing. Don’t forget our courtesy collection service from Aviemore.

Day 2    Sun 27 March      Cairngorm Mountain and local specialities 
Our award-winning hotel is right in the middle of the best birding habitats, and a local drive should produce Black Grouse popping and cooing at the lek. Red Grouse are present here too and after breakfast we head for the hills to seek Ptarmigan. The mountains support few other species, though we watch for Snow Bunting, early Ring Ouzel, Raven and passing raptors. We may also see Red-throated Diver, Goldeneye, Peregrine and Crested Tit and as we descend, Redpoll and Siskin flocks in local birchwoods. 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! Osprey, Slavonian Grebe, Whooper Swan and many breeding wader species are likely later as we enjoy the best of local birding.

Days 3 – 5   Mon 28 March - Wed 30 March   Awesome Ardnamurchan!
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 Swans 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, beautiful, remote area in the heart of the West Highlands with stunning scenery and some of the best places for wildlife in the UK.

We are based close to Glenborrodale, and our accommodation offers comfortable, warm, private rooms. As our group are exclusive occupants, we will enjoy a real “house party” atmosphere. The building is constructed around a paved courtyard covered by a glass canopy, and every night we will bait in the hope of attracting Pine Martens from the forest; we have every chance, and hope to see the animals from the comfort of our living room! From here we have ready access to the best areas for wildlife, and Otter in nearby Loch Sunart, Red and Roe Deer, Fox and Badger are all very possible. Loch Sunart on a still spring day is unbelievably pretty, and the prospect of Otter, Common Seal, migrating waders and soaring eagles from dawn onwards (weather permitting) is a mouth-watering prospect. Many of these key mammals are best seen after dark, so we will make a night drive to see what we can find, and who knows, might even glimpse Scottish Wildcat, the rarest of sightings!

Birding includes both White-tailed Eagle 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   Thurs 31 March                                 Capercaillie and the moors
We return to local woodlands and may visit our exclusive private estate to try and see Capercaillie. Staying inside our large minibus, we have good chances. Later we search for moorland raptors including Peregrine, Merlin and perhaps the first returning Osprey. The day finishes with a moorland drive, which may give views of Red Grouse, Slavonian Grebe or Black-throated Diver on lochs, and perhaps further Hen Harrier or Short-eared Owl if we are lucky.

CAPERCAILLIE - we have a responsible and caring attitude, especially in the breeding season! Our private estate access and unbeatable local knowledge are invaluable for seeing Capercaillie, and this is a reliable and responsible way to look for the wonderful ‘Horse of the Forest’. Read more...

Day 7   Fri 1 April                                                           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 appear in April. 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, Blue-winged Teal and of course the well documented Belted Kingfisher.

Day 8   Sat 2 April                                                                     Departure
Breakfast and departure. Don’t forget our courtesy return service to Aviemore.


This holiday can be combined with:

SCOTTISH HIGHLANDS

Highland Birding in March,  Highlands and Skye.

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.
  • All estate access and ferry fees.
  • 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. On Mull we select from a range of comfortable Hotels we have used for many years. All accommodation is en-suite.
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 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 exit north of Aviemore. 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 12.00, arriving Aviemore at 19.28. We recommend you connect with this service if possible. Our pickup also works well with the 16:19 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 07.25, 08.29 (fast train to London –recommended), 09.24. 10:27 and 11.23. 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, Amsterdam, Birmingham, Jersey (all Flybe), London Gatwick, London Luton and Bristol (all Easyjet). A new service has just been launched with daily service to London Heathrow with British Airways. Guests arriving in Inverness airport can then take a taxi to Nethy Bridge, or take the Airport Flyer bus to Inverness, from where 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 which at least 48 hours in advance! We will be able to meet the 15:51 and 18:46 trains departing from Inverness that arrive at 16:34 and 19:24 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

'Exceptional'
Visit Scotland

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About Heatherlea Holidays

Contact Information

The Mountview Hotel, Nethybridge,
PH25 3EB Scotland

T: 01479 821248

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