Guided Days Out in the Cairngorms
Our expert guides have a wealth of knowledge about the wildlife of Scotland
Book your own guide and comfortable minibus for you and up to six companions
Target the species you want to see in the Cairngorms National Park and wider area
Collection from your accommodation or location of your choice
Combine this with an evening at our wildlife watching hide
Ideal for families, small groups, couples or individuals
Perfect gift for birthdays, anniversaries, retirement etc
The Cairngorms National Park is home to some of our most iconic but elusive species of wildlife. Finding them in this vast and spectacular landscape can be a real challenge, especially if you have limited time or are unfamiliar with the area. Our expert local guides know the area intimately, so can take you to the best locations to help you find the species you’d most like to see. They can help you identify those species, recognise different bird calls, show you how to use fieldcraft and read animal tracks and signs. They can tell you about the behaviour and general biology of the species that you find in the Highlands, but most of all they will ensure that you have an exciting, fulfilling and rewarding day out. On the day, we’ll judge the weather and decide where the wildlife can be found.
Two days before your day out, your guide will contact you to discuss what you’d like to see and any specific requests that you may have. If you are staying in the Grantown-Aviemore-Kingussie area then they will collect you form your accommodation, if not they will arrange a meeting point with you.
To help you choose the best day, we’ve given you our suggested itineraries, showing the habitat you’ll visit and some of the species that can be found there. These are our favourites, but if you’d like to do something different, then please email us and we would be very happy to advise if it is possible.
All of our Guided Days Out can be booked via our main Speyside Wildlife website here. Our suggested itineraries are detailed below:
Our Cairngorms National Park - If you’ve never been before and you want to see what makes this place special, from the landscape to the wildlife, then just leave it to us. We know all the nooks and crannies in the Cairngorms and the best time of year to visit them. We’ll make sure we target the Scottish specialities and leave more than enough room to drink in the scenery and marvel at the landscape. Golden Eagles in the glens, Red Deer on the hills, Ptarmigan on the mountains and Crested Tits in the forests; we can decide what’s best for you. Our guides will discuss any preferences you have when they contact you before your day out. The day will be spent walking at a gentle pace and can incorporate different close habitats reached in your own vehicle.
All Abilities Cairngorms National Park - This tailored day will ensure where possible, that everyone in your group can experience the scenery and wildlife that our National Park has to offer. We shall visit places that require little walking, so it may mean some of the day involves more travelling by vehicle than other itineraries, but some short walks or lookout hides will be utilised and the guide will structure the day to best suit your needs. In addition, for a small extra charge, we can provide all-terrain wheelchairs for adults and children alike, so opening up even more of our National Park to those who need that extra bit of help to get around. The wildlife you experience may include Dippers, Red Squirrel, raptor species such as Red Kite and eagles, grouse and Roe and Red Deer. The scenery of the Cairngorms will be a big focus as we drive through different environments and experience their beauty. Please note we use 8-seater minibuses; these have not been adapted for all abilities, but steps for easy access are available.
Pine Forest - Visit the ancient Caledonian Pine Forest for Black Grouse, Crested Tit, crossbills and other woodland birds. Mammals may include Red Squirrel and Roe Deer. This itinerary involves a degree of walking on good tracks and trails through the forest. Wildlife can be found year round, but the best seasons can be autumn, winter and early spring. Autumn and winter can be some of the best times to look for Capercaillie.
Cairngorm Mountains - Walk into the Cairngorms for Ptarmigan, Snow Bunting, Dotterel and Ring Ouzel. At present there is no access to the top of the mountain by Funicular Railway, so a good fitness level is needed for the walk into the mountains and walking boots and suitable clothing are required. Wildlife can be seen on the higher tops year-round. Ptarmigan, Snow Bunting and Mountain Hare are present all year; Ring Ouzels arrive from mid-March onwards and Dotterel are present from May until the end of August. A longer walk into the Cairngorms on lower tracks can also be taken dependent upon levels of fitness.
Moorland and Moray Firth - Explore vast open moorlands and windswept lochs for divers, Merlin, Peregrine, Red Kite and Red Grouse, before heading to the Moray coast for Osprey (during the summer), seaduck (winter), waders and terns. Dependent on tide times, there’s a chance of Bottlenose Dolphin. Divers can be found on freshwater lochs during the breeding season from April through to the end of September, when they relocate to the coast and winter on the sea. The winter months on the Moray Coast can be excellent for seaduck.
Highland Glen - Visit a spectacular local glen for Golden Eagle, White-tailed Eagle, Peregrine, Merlin, Ring Ouzel, Red Deer, Mountain Hare and Wild Goats. Travel through spectacular scenery into the heart of the mountains and then take a low level walk further into the glen on good gravel tracks. A broad range of wildlife, including the eagles, can be found all year. The Red Deer rut takes place from late September through October.
Woodland Walks - Local woods provide a tranquil location to look and listen for Wood Warbler, Pied Flycatcher and other woodland birds. Peregrine breed on the crags and Ospreys are regularly seen throughout the spring/summer. We can walk to the viewpoint if you wish, to get stunning views across to the mountains and surrounding glens. This itinerary does require a reasonable degree of fitness. The best time to visit for migrant birds, is from late April through to August. We’ll combine this location with another lowland wood further along the Strath.
River Spey Walk - During spring or early summer the famous ‘River Spey’ will be teeming with birdlife; Dipper, Goosander, Grey Wagtail, Goldeneye, Common Sandpiper and feeding Swifts, Swallows and martins with a chance of Otter. In summer the riverbanks can be good for butterflies, including Dark Green Fritillary. In winter, the river provides a calm and tranquil place for Red-breasted Merganser, Goldeneye and other resident birds.
Loch Fleet - Slightly further afield, but close for those staying around Inverness, lies the vast expanse of Loch Fleet. In summer we’ll watch fishing Ospreys and terns while the dunes hold a myriad of beautiful flowers. Nearby woodlands have rare flowers and breeding crossbills and as summer progresses into autumn more waders arrive along with large flocks of wildlfowl. At any time of year you can enjoy close views of basking Grey and Harbour seals on the sandbanks. The walks along the dunes are not strenuous and at any time of year there is plenty of wildlife variety to enjoy.
The Black Isle - Just north of Inverness lies the Black Isle, almost surrounded by water and visited by large numbers of waders, ducks and geese as autumn approaches and through the winter. Peregrine Falcons may dash through sending birds skyward - all viewable from a large comfortable hide. Scaup, Long-tailed Duck, divers and grebes spend the winter here and in autumn passing skuas and auks add to the excitement as we visit one of the best vantage points for Bottlenose Dolphins in the UK. We can also include a visit to nearby woodlands for crossbills and Crested Tits, plus dragonflies and butterflies in the summer.
Capercaillie can be found in the forests of the Cairngorms National Park, but they are, for whatever reason, a declining species that are easily disturbed. We minimise any disturbance at crucial times to help protect the birds, by adhering to the following policies:
We won’t take guests to look specifically for Capercaillie before 9.00am during the lekking period (1 March - 31 May). When going into Capercaillie habitat, we always stay on marked tracks and paths and never go looking off these. When there is an alpha male (also known as a ‘rogue’ bird) in the area we won’t go to see this bird. They are part of the lek, so we would be ‘knowingly’ disturbing them.
We suggest looking for Capercaillie through the autumn and winter months, when the birds can be easier to find. We won’t be disturbing them then and young birds will have fledged and dispersed into the forests.