1. Guide Laura meets a Scottish field vole
One of the incredible benefits of walking through the Scottish landscape is being able to take your time and not only enjoy the expansive and dramatic views but also have time to see the little things like mice, rare plants and other friendly locals.
2.Talking about friendly locals
I think our client was happy there was a fence between him and the friendly Highland cow, especially with the size of those horns.
3. From horns to spikes. Jo finds a large sea urchin on our Introduction to Sea Kayaking trip.
There are over 200 varieties of sea urchin and interestingly these omnivorous creatures come from the same family at sea stars and sea cucumbers. Sea urchins are peace loving beasties but often become part of the diet of otters along Scotland’s coastline.
4. This is our Senior Guide and wildlife expert Steve Willis identifying otter tracks.
Otters are more common than you would think along the Scottish coastline, though careful patience is required to actually photograph one. We often hear of our sea kayaking groups seeing otters at play in the kelp. They are able to close their nose and ears to help them dive and have 2 types of specially adapted fur, one type to act as a guard and for waterproofing and the other for insulation.
5. If you want to see seriously coarse hairs then wild boar are your creatures of choice.
Wild boar were originally native to the Caledonian Forest of Scotland but as forest cover shrank over the centuries, so their population was reduced and they were thought extinct in the 13th century. Thankfully they have been a reintroduction success story and the site of our Corporate Grove at Dundreggan near Loch Ness is one such location where they are thriving. More about boar here.
6. From big furry beasties to small ones now as we take a look at what we think is a fox moth caterpillar.
The fox moth is found across much of Britain between May and July and prefers moorland and heathland. This little fellow was found on the Isle of Rum on our Knoydart and the Small Isles walking holiday, there seemed to be a lot about.
7. One of the oddest things we’ve seen, though completely understandable really, is a seal sleeping while hanging in the water.
Seals grab 40 winks either on land, hanging in the water like this one or even under water. This one seen off the Outer Hebrides with it’s nostrils out of the water is still able to breathe and enjoy some REM ‘recovery sleep’.
8. The Outer Hebrides
The Outer Hebrides are the location of choice for many of our holidays, with so many white, sandy beaches, an abundance of wildlife and such a depth of history and culture where Gaelic is the first language, it’s like visiting a foreign country. These black houses at Gaernin make up a small crofting community on the Isle of Lewis. Generally built with a double dry stone wall and traditional thatch held down by rocks at it’s edge.
9. What certainly does rock is sea kayaking with basking sharks.
Our group on the first Summer Isles Sea Kayaking Expedition come back yesterday reportedly awe-struck by the experience of having the world’s second largest fish choose to interact with them. Just to put your fears at ease, basking sharks are slow-moving and harmless filter feeders that follow plankton which is found in abundance in the clean waters around Scotland.
10. Did I say clean waters?
Well yes they are really and sea foam is often the result of agitation of sea water, perhaps through a recent storm cycle, and where there is a higher concentration of dissolved organic matter in the water. It does gather in pools close to the coastline and I think this one looks like our intrepid kayaker is paddling their way across a massive pint of Guinness.
11. And if the waters weren’t clean then we’d never see these amazing common dolphins on a private charter sailing trip.
In addition to private charters we also run sailing and walking trips on the west coast of Scotland, widely regarded as some of the best sailing in the world and a must visit destination for any keen sea hand.
12. We run a sailing journey out to St Kilda and explore the impressive archipelago which clings to the western point of Europe.
One fifth of the world’s population of northern gannets populate St Kilda and they likely chose this location due to the rich waters where they dive for fish and squid.
13. Another seabird which is perhaps more well known due to it’s friendly and almost clown like looks is the puffin.
Our guides are lucky enough to see these birds regularly when they explore the northwest Highlands of Scotland as many of our trips coincide with the point when their young are fledging and beginning to grow up into responsible sea-fairing adults.
14. Did I mention responsible sea-fairing adult?
This beautiful and invigorating looking image was taken by our guide Craig Tweedie on the Skye, Raasay and Rona sea kayaking expedition. It is always beautiful seeing waterfalls cascading directly into the sea but what really stands out for me is the colour of the rock and the lines of erosion from the sea’s constant battering.
15. If you don’t fancy getting that close to the sea then why not opt for the easy ride.
I know what you’re thinking…that looks like a bike on a RIB boat. To link the best possible off-road riding together on our pioneering new Hebridean Trail mountain bike trip, it’s all aboard to cover the 5k crossing and open up the otherwise inaccessible part of Harris and Lewis.
16. We have taken delivery of some excellent new cameras which claim to be ‘adventure proof’.
The Scottish Highlands is the ideal testing ground and we’ll post a review once we’ve put them through their paces. Meantime, the Pentax WG-II can be used underwater so it’s ideal for capturing the shots you never thought you could and opening up a whole new dimension to our photography.
17. Perhaps not as close as you or I would like to be but …
our expert guides can identify animal scat and instantly let our groups know what type of furry beast has been this way in the last few days, which is quite nice as it paints a picture of the type of happenings that are going on in the area and of what we might be lucky enough to see.
18. Something we see a lot of on sea kayaking trips is intertidal life.
National Geographic published an article all about intertidal life and you can also see an incredible photo gallery to accompany the article. It just goes to show the incredible diversity that seeks shelter at every low tide and comes to life as soon as the waves crash over at high tide.
19. It seems like the team read the small print and decided to hedge their bets.
20. As we come to the end of our 20 Surprising Adventure Photos of Scotland blog we hope you’ve enjoyed the mix of quirky adventure photos.
There will be a lot more photos snapped and adventures taken but let us leave you with this little number from our Wilderness Walking trip on Shetland. This is one bus stop on the island of Unst that had a bit of a makeover. You don’t see these coming along too often.