(BWWC Map Site 13) Follow the 10 mile single track road to Coignafearn - you can park at the road end and have a walk into the valley itself or down by the River Findhorn. Known as the ‘Valley of the Raptors,’ this is one of the best sites in the area for Golden Eagle and also good for Peregrine, Sparrowhawk, Merlin, Hen Harrier, Buzzard and Kestrel. Dependant on the season, you might see Oystercatcher, Dipper, Common Sandpiper, Common Tern, Grey Wagtail and Osprey by the river. Red Deer, Mountain Hare and Wild Goats are often on the hillsides. The area around the waterfalls opposite the car park is a hotspot for Ring Ouzel in summer. Why not take the scenic Road to Farr (look out for Red Grouse) and combine this with a visit to RSPB Loch Ruthven?
(BWWC Map Site 21) For a fabulous view of the Strathspey area you can’t do much better than the vista from the top of CairnGorm Mountain. On a clear day you can enjoy the outlook at the top either from the Ptarmigan Station Viewing Platform, or the mountain summit itself. The Ptarmigan Station has an informative exhibition and gift shop, as well as the UK’s highest restaurant. The option to hike to the top is open for keen walkers but the more leisurely option of reaching the top, via the funicular railway, is also available. For conservation reasons there is no access onto the mountain for those taking the funicular up, but there is still the chance of seeing some of the wildlife that walkers may encounter from the outdoor Viewing Platform. Keep a look out for the resident Reindeer herd, Ptarmigan, Snow Bunting and Mountain Hare (as well as Ring Ouzel and Dotterel in the summer season). There is a small Mountain Garden to explore at the Base Station and you can enjoy some refreshment at the Cas Bar – the hot chocolate here is a great way to warm up on chilly days!
(BWWC Map Sites 31 & 32) For year-round wildlife watching and general holiday-making it’s hard to beat a day by the Moray Firth coastline. Approximately 40 minutes drive from the Grant Arms Hotel is the beautiful Findhorn Bay. You could see Bottlenose Dolphin, Common and Grey Seals, various seaduck and waders, as well as a whole array of other birdlife, including fishing Osprey in summer. Here you can admire the boats down at the marina or take a walk along the sandy beach. A visit to Culbin Forest - across the Bay from Findhorn village - is also an enjoyable trip. Here you should look out for Red Squirrel, Redpoll, Treecreeper, Crested Tit, Common and Scottish Crossbills and various other woodland species. There area numerous walking trails to choose from and you can walk out to the RSPB's Culbin Sands reserve, where you should see plenty of waders and seaduck during autumn and winter.
(BWWC Map Sites 6, 7, 8 & 10) Follow the A9 to Inverness, cross the Kessock Bridge and you’ll arrive on the Black Isle: a great place for a day trip, where you’re bound to come across some local Red Kites. North Kessock is a good spot to look for Bottlenose Dolphin, Common and Grey Seals and Otter. Nearby, Munlochy Bay has a hide, but a scope is needed to get the best views of birds like Curlew, Redshank, Shelduck, Wigeon, Teal and Oystercatcher. If you travel North along the A832 you’ll reach Fortrose. Here you’ll find Chanonry Point, the best land-watching spot for Bottlenose Dolphins in Europe. Keep a look out for seals, diving Gannet, gulls, skuas and waders too. Further North is the lovely old fishing village of Cromarty - birthplace of geologist Hugh Miller. To the West of Cromarty is the RSPB reserve Udale Bay - a real birding hotspot in autumn and winter. With great scenery and lots to see and do, the Black Isle is definitely worth exploring.
(BWWC Map Site 41) The drive to Troup Head takes around 2 hours from the Grant Arms Hotel, but the scenery alone is worth the journey - changing from rolling hills to arable farmland before the sea and rugged coastline finally greet you at the Moray Firth. Stop at Macduff to visit the Marine Aquarium where there are underwater displays showing the different habitats and sea life to be found beneath the waves of this spectacular coastline. Leaving Macduff, continue on the B9031 for 10 miles heading for Troup Head. After a ½mile walk from the car park you’ll reach the only mainland Gannet colony in Scotland. Summer sees thousands of breeding pairs of Gannets nest on the precipitous cliff face, rearing their young on impossibly small ledges. You may also see Fulmars, Shags, Kittiwakes, Guillemots, Razorbills and Puffins.
The BWWC Map is available free of charge to anyone staying at the Grant Arms Hotel - maps are sent out to Guests upon booking their stay to help them plan their wildlife-watching activities before arriving at the Hotel.
This is a great time of year for Raptors, if you want a chance to see these amazing birds we will be putting on extra trips this wee. From just £270pp (4 nights) or £445pp (7 nights) DB&B.