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Just shy of two hours from Edinburgh or Glasgow, a loch-side Perthshire village is the location of your first stop and wherever you’re travelling from, we’ll plot a route there personalised to your exact wishes. And what a heart-stoppingly pretty place this is, on the edge of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, surrounded by wonderful scenery, with shimmering Loch Earn stretching south towards mighty Ben Vorlich in the distance.
Recently changed hands to enthusiastic new owners, your accommodation is a disarmingly cool restaurant with rooms in this enviably picturesque location. Nine chic bedrooms perfectly complement the updated bar and loch-view restaurant, where guests are treated to a thrilling menu of the very best local seafood and game.
The first of your private experiences today, as you’re met after breakfast by the very friendliest of local guides. Having spent many years exploring the area around Loch Earn and beyond, there couldn’t be a better companion with whom to spend a half day’s walking tour getting under the skin of the local landscape and its wildlife. Before you set off, your guide will take time to listen to any particular interests you may have, incorporating these into your day. Rising up from the village, you’ll enjoy superb views across the loch to the Trossachs, in summer the slopes all around you carpeted with wildflowers. Fingers crossed you’ll encounter or spot signs of some of the area’s native species including red deer, beavers, black grouse and maybe even the elusive red squirrel, your guide on hand to bring this vibrant location vividly to life.
Taking the direct route north in to Cairngorms National Park takes just over an hour or so, but we prefer to meander, and couldn’t bear to miss the chance to cross the fabulous mountain passes of Glenshee and the Lecht Road. Passing through the near Alpine village of Braemar and the classic countryside of Royal Deeside, you’ll skirt Speyside’s Malt Whisky Trail on the way to your base for three nights by the village of Carrbridge.
In an elevated and completely private spot, raw nature right on the doorstep, your accommodation by Carrbridge is a quite superb, eco-aware guest house, created from the bones of an ex farm steading and built by the very hands of the welcoming owners. The exposed oak framed extension houses just three very comfortable ensuite bedrooms, alongside a large, guests only dining/ sitting room whose huge windows look out over the unfolding Strathspey landscape. In the evening, the log burner certainly removes any chill, and if you’re lucky with the weather what could be better than a glass of the amber nectar on the welcoming patio?
The immense landscape of Cairngorms National Park can be overwhelming for the first time visitor, so, in our opinion, the only way to get the best from it is to take advantage of the services of a local expert, and that’s just what you’ll be doing today. After breakfast, make sure to go equipped for a full day in all conditions (from Arctic to balmy!) your guide will meet you at your accommodation and whisk you off in a stylish and well-equipped 4×4, ready to bring this richest of environments to life, seeking out all the best places from which to spot anything from bank vole and stoat to red deer and mountain goat, waxwing, capercaillie, fieldfare and golden eagle. If you manage to reach the coast, you may well be lucky enough to encounter bottlenose dolphins and otters. This is your day and can be shaped to suit your requests.
Spend the day taking in some of the superb scenery all around your accommodation – we’ll provide our tips while your hosts are always happy to share with guests their own favourites. Later, enjoy an evening of gentle thrills as you spend time spotting species at a Speyside wildlife hide. Well equipped, with heating for chillier days, the hide sits in a secluded area in an ideal position for witnessing wildlife in its natural habitat, and is often visited by badgers, tawny owls, roe deer and even shy pine martens.
Another great day behind the wheel today as you head west, away from the Cairngorms, skirting the shores of Loch Laggan on your way to the village of Spean Bridge. From here, drive through the shadow of Ben Nevis and along the Road to the Isles, before taking to the genuine wilderness of the Ardnamurchan peninsula, home to the UK mainland’s Westernmost point and the ferry port for your crossing to Mull.
In an 18th century village in the north of the island, your accommodation here is Mull’s oldest inn, owned and run by a friendly and hardworking family. Part restaurant, local pub and cosy hotel, locals and travellers alike have been flocking here for centuries and little has changed aside from the modern en-suites in the welcoming bedrooms. After a long day’s discovery, a dram in the bar followed by a fresh and locally sourced homemade meal couldn’t be more appealing.
Make sure you enjoy a filling breakfast this morning before you’re picked up by one of the island’s expert wildlife guides. On your day-long private tour, your guide will bring the landscape and skies of Mull to life, where deer roam and otters frolic, eagles soar and buzzards dive. Binoculars are provided and your hotel will set you off with a packed lunch.
Perhaps saving the best till last, it’s time to hit the water. From colourful island ‘capital’ Tobermory, you’re off on a half day whale watching expedition as part of a small group aboard a specialist vessel. With good fortune on your side, you’ll witness some of the sea-patrolling mammals who make their home in the waters around Mull. Minke whales, basking sharks, dolphins and porpoises are often spotted here, and your expert guide will make sure you make the most of your time aboard. Later, choose to spend the afternoon in Tobermory, where its independent shops and galleries sit alongside one or two diners serving some of the finest seafood available anywhere.
A day to put some of your newfound wildlife spotting skills to the test while exploring more of this Hebridean isle. Are you brave enough for a dip in the chilly waters off Calgary beach? Or you might choose instead to venture to Mull’s southern tip for the short ferry hop to the mystical island of Iona, a treasured spot for its tranquillity and spiritual atmosphere. Keep an eye out for soaring Golden Eagles or white-tailed eagles as you go!
Your onward journey home begins with a 50 minute ferry crossing to the classic west coast fishing port of Oban, followed by a treat of a trip on some of the country’s best driving routes as you make your way south towards Loch Lomond, picking up the motorway system near Glasgow.
This multi-centre holiday includes stays by Loch Earn, in the Cairngorms National Park and on the Isle of Mull.
£1495 per person in April, £1575 per person from May to September based on two adults sharing an en-suite double or twin room on a bed and breakfast basis for nine nights in carefully-selected small hotels and guest houses. Also included:
We of course cannot guarantee that you will see the wildlife described – these are wild animals and as such cannot be called to order. No refund will be made if you are not lucky enough to see the animals described, despite the very best efforts of the guides.
We would be delighted to assist with hotel reservations before the start and at the end of your trip, perhaps in Edinburgh and Glasgow, from our selection of centrally located, high-quality hotel and aparthotel options, as well as with any inbound and onward travel you may require. Car rental is also available for a range of vehicles – do just let us know and we can arrange a quote for you.
Before your departure, you will receive personalised holiday information including full directions, recommended routes, and suggestions on places to visit depending on your interests and our local knowledge to help you get the most from your holiday.
All itineraries and room types are presented subject to availability at specific hotels.
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This holiday can be arranged from April to September. If you are particularly keen to spot certain species, please advise at time of enquiry so that we can plan your trip for the best season to increase your chances.
If you’re looking for an October wildlife holiday, do get in touch as we can arrange this as a tailor-made trip using land based services. We also have our Cairngorms Wildlife holiday which can be arranged from February to November.
Availability is individually checked for a hand-picked selection of smaller hotels, guest houses and other independent businesses, so please bear with us and we will respond in 1-2 working days.
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All our holiday prices include a service charge of £9 per person per night towards the costs we incur in researching, planning and designing your holiday.
We guarantee to refund this service charge if you believe that arranging your holiday through McKinlay Kidd has not met your expectations for value. All we ask is that you write to us within 7 days of your return and explain your reason for claiming the refund. This will ensure that we can improve the experience for all our future guests.