The North West .Highlands has a magnificient and varied natural heritage. Eddrachilles Hotel hosts several bird-watching groups each year and many guests enjoy independently exploring coastal, island and inland landscapes. Fiona and Richard will be delighted to spend time at the hotel with you planning your route or advise you before you arrive.
Handa Island - Scottish Wildlife Trust
Just 8 miles from Eddrachilles take the pedestrian ferry from Tarbet to Handa Island, an internationally important nature reserve for seabirds operated by the Scottish Wildlife Trust. Typically the ferry operates from April until early September. .
The island has over 150 species of birds including around 100,000 guillemots, as well as razorbills and great skuas breeding, on the magnificient Torridonian sandstone cliffs. There are also puffins nesting in burrows from early May until August
Weather conditions can change quickly - this is the Atlantic coast - so please take warm, waterproof clothing, even in midsummer. A reasonable level of fitness, mobility and care is required to use the ferry and walk the island trails. Please note, for safety of ferry passengers and wildlife, dogs are not allowed on the ferry or island.
A packed lunch can be ordered from the hotel (there are no facilities on the island) or we’d recommend you allow time to eat at the Shorehouse Restaurant at Tarbet.
Around the hotel
The grounds of Eddrachilles Hotel and the islands in neighbouring Badcall Bay host a wide variety of birds whatever the season.. It's possible to see or hear goldfinches, long tailed tits, warblers, winter visitors such as field fares and waxwings, nocturnal tawny owls, and the distinctive cuckoos without leaving the building. We have bird feeders in the courtyard which are well visited and can be observed from the lower dining room as well as courtyard view bedrooms.
In the wild garden areas of the grounds, you can find a good selection of native plants from sea pinks on the shore to heath spotted orchids in the peaty soil.. It's possible to watch northern or black throated divers on the water, redshanks paddling among the rocks alongside,oystercatchers, or spot our siege of herons silently keeping watch on inlets. You may even see an otter or seal among the boats at anchor.
Go a mile south of the hotel and you'll find the Loch a' Mhuilinn National Nature Reserve, which contains one of Britain's most northern oak woods.. Once a traditional viking hunting ground, it is now home to otters and many coastal and woodland birds and you may enjoy sightings of golden eagles, osprey and sea eagles, or watch a colony of seals.. We can provide our laminated maps with the gaelic place-names translated to guide you on this and other walks in the Scourie area.
Eddrachilles Hotel has a good collection of birdwatching handbooks and nature guides. We encourage guests to record their sightings in the hotel's logbook as a reference for future guests. And Fiona or Richard will be delighted to help plan your nature or bird watching itinerary locally or further afield.
Boat trips from Kylesku, Lochinver or Ullapool may bring sightings of dolphins, porpoise or whales, Cape Wrath and round to Durness offesr an arctic-alpine coast with many plants species down to sea level that would normally be found on mountains or in the Arctic region. South of Eddrachilles Assynt is another excellent region for bird watching. Try Culag Woods or Stoer.
Eddrachilles Hotel is also an excellent base for day trips into central Sutherland. Passing across mountain and remote peatland landscapes you may well see red deer, roe deer or mountain hares or birds such as short eared owls and golden plover. We'll be happy to help you plan your itinerary and have both a range of wall maps and a good selection of OS maps available for our guests to borrow.