Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

In Wild Scotland; Short Breaks PETER SHARPLES Didn't Have to Go Halfway across the World to Find a Country with a Whole Host of Exotic Creatures

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

In Wild Scotland; Short Breaks PETER SHARPLES Didn't Have to Go Halfway across the World to Find a Country with a Whole Host of Exotic Creatures

Article excerpt

Byline: PETER SHARPLES

TODAY'S eco-tourists are prepared to pay a small fortune travelling the world for a glimpse of life in the raw.

Yet, so many of these camera-wielding globe-trotters scarcely give a thought to the magnificent species on their own doorstep. Scotland lays claim to being Europe's leading wildlife destination - and they aren't talking about Glasgow on a Saturday night!

The great outdoors north of the border is home to a vast range of wild creatures - and you don't need to be a David Attenborough to track them down for a close-up view.

We're all familiar with the Atlantic salmon, the golden eagles and the red squirrels. But Scotland's highlands, and the waters surrounding them, host a range of exotic creatures from bottlenose dolphins to puffins and wildcats to ospreys.

What more majestic sight could you hope for than an imperial red deer stag - as immortalised in Sir Edward Landseer's study of the Monarch of the Glen?

And the little corner of Scotland I chose to explore really IS true Monarch of the Glen country. It was here, between Badenoch and Strathspey in the Cairngorms National Park that the BBC drama series, starring Richard Briers, was set.

From the bedroom window of my base at the charmingly olde-worlde Nethybridge Hotel, I could look across the rolling fields to Glenbogle - in reality the village of Broomhill - and the eastern terminus of the Strathspey Steam Railway, one of the region's prime tourist attractions.

A family of two adults and up to three children can enjoy an exhilarating afternoon's round trip of 20 miles to and from the railway's HQ at Aviemore for just pounds 24 - with tremendous views into the bargain.

Midway along the line is Boat of Garten, once a ferry crossing of the Spey and now home to the Loch Garten Osprey Centre. The Spey is one of the great Scottish salmon rivers with some great runs of salmon. In fact, over 8,000 fish are taken each year.

Fergus Laing, who runs the 18-hole Craggan Golf Course and fishery on the outskirts of Grantown, provided me with a crash course in the basics. Fergus is a lucky man. His little corner of Scotland boasts magnificent views of the Cairngorms to the south and the Cromdale Hills to the east and is easily accessible from the A95. …

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