Vote for your favourite wildlife spots in Scotland
Our experts share their favourite places for wildlife in Scotland – vote for the one you love the most!
Published: December 10, 2022 at 4:51 pm
To celebrate BBC Wildlife magazine's 60th birthday, we asked 60 people from our wonderful network of writers, presenters, photographers and conservationists to share their favourite places in the UK for wildlife. 10 of those places are in Scotland.
Scotland is famous for its mountains, rugged coastlines and remote wildernesses, all teeming with wildlife. Vote for the one you love the most from the list below.
(Voting now closed)
Our favourite places to spot wildlife in Scotland
Scaur Glen, Dumfriesshire
The Scaur water rises in Polskeoch on the Southern Upland Way, bubbles through moorland, meanders through sheep pasture and then tumbles through wooded riverbanks to Penpont. As a PhD student I spent three summers in this glen; 35 years on, summer still draws me back. One river, one glen, capturing so much magic of our natural world.
Chanonry Point, Ross and Cromarty
Fancy a close encounter with a dolphin? Easy. All you have to do is go to Chanonry Point, on the Black Isle just north of Inverness, and stand on the shingle beach. Chances are you’ll see them chasing salmon just a few metres away. There is a resident population of some 200 bottlenose dolphins along the east coast of Scotland; many of them frequent the Inner Moray Firth. Chanonry Point can get busy in summer, and while I’d normally travel in the opposite direction to hordes of people, I make an exception for this very special place.
Bass Rock, East Lothian
There are few places in the UK that can make you feel like you’ve travelled back in time. Stepping foot in a habitat that’s truly wild and seemingly unimpacted by humans is rare, but Bass Rock is one of those special places for me. It is home to a staggering 150,000 northern gannets during the peak of the breeding season.
Strathspey Forest, Cairngorms National Park
The Caledonian pine forests of Strathspey are magical places to visit. Pine martens, goshawks and white-tailed eagles are making a comeback to these primeval woodlands, and sitting quietly beneath a weathered granny pine as the first rays of sun warm the air, it’s easy to imagine more: the work of beavers, the distant bugling of cranes and perhaps even the thrilling presence of lynx. These pine woods are not just about what is, but what could be. Close your eyes and imagine.
Isle of Mull, Inner Hebrides
Until the age of 17, my experience of the world’s wildlife was limited to whatever was local. However, I was raised on Mull, and this island’s wild offerings are nothing short of magnificent. There are towering mountains, sheltered bays, white-sand beaches, caves, woodlands, moorland, sparkling waters and rugged coastal cliffs. I’ve lived a life on the road, following tracks and trails in some of the world’s most stunning places, but one path always leads me back to the most special place of all. If you want to know what paradise looks like, it is this island full of Hebridean magic off the west coast of Scotland.
Isle Martin, Ross and Cromarty
Isle Martin lies about 6km north of Ullapool. April to June brings breeding birds; as summer rolls on, twites, redpolls and siskins fly around the old houses while sea eagles soar overhead. To the west of the island, Annat Bay is visited by grey and harbour seals, common dolphins, minke whales and even the occasional humpback. It’s a lovely wee island, a microcosm of all that’s wonderful about Scotland’s west coast.
Spean Bridge, Highlands
I always think fondly of Spean as it’s here I saw my first pine marten, somersaulting out of a skip. The area is also a Scottish wildcat stronghold and the nights are alive with owl calls. You can even see the Northern Lights from the Commando Memorial statue, which is still on my list – I must return!
Glen Tanar, Cairngorms National Park
Glen Tanar is a phenomenal part of Scotland. It’s a remnant of the ancient Caledonian pine forest, the green belt that once ran the breadth of the Arctic Circle, and it shelters some of the oldest, largest pine trees in the UK. The bird life here is astounding, too – we’re talking apex avian predators. There are hen harriers, golden eagles, white-tailed eagles, goshawks and ospreys, plus the rare and lovely capercaillie and the Scottish crossbill, Britain’s only endemic bird.
Ben Shieldaig, Highlands
I have spent many captivating hours on these looming, steep slopes, mapping and surveying the vegetation. I’ve studied everything from sparkling signal moss and prickly featherwort in the birch woodlands to dwarf junipers on the windswept, wet heath of the summit ridge. Scottish rainforest doesn’t come much finer than Ben Shieldaig.
Hermaness, Unst, Shetland Islands
It is the raw, untamed nature of the UK’s most northerly point that most appeals to me. The cliffs of this National Nature Reserve are both perilous and precipitous but teem with bird life in the summer. The vast and expanding gannet colony is visually the most dramatic, but then so too are the grassy clifftops when filled with the comical presence of puffins. Hermaness gets under your skin like no other place in the UK.
Vote for your favourite places in the rest of the UK using the links below.
- Yorkshire and Humberside
- East and Jersey
- South East
- South West
- Greater London
- Northern Ireland
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