5 Top Tips for getting close to nature in Scotland

Scotland is a beautiful land, with large swathes of the Highlands untamed and untouched by humans. As far as we are concerned at Mackays, this makes it the best place to see wildlife in Scotland. Not only are you surrounded by stunning mountains and glorious glens, you are right on the coast so could glimpse whales and dolphins too!

So if you are looking to immerse yourself in nature and do some nature hunting, here are our 5 top tips.

A deer asleep on the ground

5. Dress appropriately

Before you even step out of the hotel, make sure you are appropriately attired. This is for two reasons. Firstly, if you are wearing t-shirt and shorts and it is due to rain heavily, you are unlikely to want to stay outdoors to catch a sight of an elusive osprey. Secondly, loud neon tracksuits (or something equally bright – it’s not the nineties) isn’t the best for camouflage, especially if you are hoping to see deer. You can check the local weather forecast for Wick here.

So make sure you will be warm and dry for the day in the Highlands, wearing sturdy footwear. And remember, in the middle of the Highlands there won’t be many opportunities to buy lunch, so take your own. 

(Don’t worry if it’s going to be a rainy day in Wick – there’s plenty to do here if it is!)

A golden eagle perches on a branch

4. Research the best spot

Scottish wildlife is, well…wild! As such, you can’t expect a guarantee that you will see anything. However, if you plan ahead you can better your chances. For example, if you are visiting Wick and want to see puffins or kittiwakes, then you would be best going to a nature reserve. These are wild areas protected by law to allow wildlife to flourish. A particularly good one for sea birds is at Dunnet Head, a short drive north from Mackays. 

For those keen to study nature closer to the ground, nearby Munsary Peatlands nature reserve offers over 4,000 acres of wild peatland. It is a type of land which has become rare due to over-exploitation for use in gardens. Whilst it might look like nothing lives here, get a little closer to the ground and you’ll see a huge variety of plants – including some insect-eating ones!

3. Think local

You don’t have to travel far from Mackays in order to experience beautiful wildlife. Flowing through our town is the Wick River.  The river is bordered in places by both fresh and tidal water, making it a wildlife haven for many types of animals and plants. It’s a great place to come and sit for a while and catch glimpses of birds. Around here you could spy redshank, turnstone, dunlin, snipe, goldeneye and teal.

orca whale in the water

2. Head out to the coast

Highland wildlife isn’t all on land. If you head towards the beautiful Caithness coast, you might just catch a glimpse of dolphins or minke whales. In fact, if you are very lucky, you might even see a pod of orcas. 

Orcas have been spotted before just off the coat from Wick. There is a group that travel between Shetland, Orkney and Scotland’s north mainland coast. They have been seen in May, so that would make a good time for you to try again. You can find out more about the local orca watch here

You might even get the chance to spot some grey seals, like in this video!

1. Find a professional

The closest thing you can get to a guarantee to see Scottish wildlife is by going with a professional. This could be out to sea on a boat, or a walking tour on land near Wick

This way, you will be alongside people who know the area well and can take you to the most likely spots to see dolphin, hare or pine martin in Scotland. This is a great idea if you are only visiting for a short time. It maximises your chances of getting a great photo!

The best place to see wildlife in Scotland

Stay with us at Mackays because we believe we are in the best place to see wildlife in Scotland. And with a warm welcome and delicious food, your visit will be one to remember. 

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