Highlights I (& Southbound) – MNHP Cairngorms 2017

After around 10 hours in the minibus, we are now in Birmingham to stay a night before heading down to Cornwall. For a change we had burgers for dinner (we have been taking turns to cook this past week), and we are spoiled by Holly’s dad’s delicious cheesecakes as dessert!


‘The Last Supper’

Still can’t believe that the trip is coming to an end, it has been an amazing trip with such a brilliant team and impressive wildlife that I could do it all over again! During these two days of travelling, I thought it would be nice to go back and share highlights from everyone on the trip.



This lad fell off his chair 😂 but what a awesome experience photographing the black grouse!


The altitude dab, after having close encounters with ptarmigans 😄


Holding the golden eagle was one of mine. Just being that close to such a powerful bird!


Golden Eagle (c) Will Parkinson



Golden Eagle (c) Will Parkinson


One of the best weeks of my life, genuinely couldn’t have had a better time with you bunch of goons 🙂 although I appreciate that between us both me and will can be a big of a mouthful, this week has been adventurous, amazing and magical. I can not believe that we are heading home. Sad times. Thank you all for making it an amazing week 🙂





Quite a few highlights for me but my favourite one would have to be, climbing to the summit of Ben Rinnes with Georgia after having 3 hours sleep due to spending the night in the Grouse hide.

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Waking up in the Grouse hide to this view!


Summit of Ben Rinnes

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And the last one would be sitting in the back of the pick up on the way to see the deer in the snow!


It is hard to just say one highlight of the trip but I’ve narrowed it down to hiking up the Cairngorm Mountain, which was an incredible experience in itself but was topped by the opportunity to photograph Ptarmigan in the snow. Also the red deer in the woods were amazing and truly unforgettable. My last highlight has been the people on the trip, they made it what it was and it wouldn’t have been the same without them.



Ptarmigans (c) Ben Watkins


Red Deer (c) Ben Watkins



Deer, just loved how majestic they were truly defined Scotland for me!


Landscape, one for just a stunning spot that I would have happily sat there all day, there was so much to take in, quite spiritual!


Hare, just because we managed to crawl up the bank in sync and get so close to it, great moment!


The Cairngorms trip has provided many fantastic opportunities and has left me feeling delighted and privileged to have been a part of this year’s team. We have had an incredible week and witnessed the Cairngorm’s wildlife and environment at its best; from boxing hares, birds of prey, stalking ptarmigan and mountain hares, to reaching the top of Ben Rinnes Mountain, and wow didn’t that leave us with a sense of achievement! The past ten days have certainly been thrilling and inspiring and to pick my highlights has been very hard, however there have been some stand-out moments during my time here.

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Holding a Golden Eagle & Eagle Owl – This is something I have wanted to do for a very long time, so to have two opportunities in one day was incredible and I could not turn it down! Although both birds appear a little intimidating, they are in fact very impressive and gentle. It was a wonderful feeling to hold them both and to see them up close, and is a moment that I will cherish evermore 🙂

Male Ptarmigan.jpg

Climbing Cairngorm Mountain & Photographing the Ptarmigan – The task of climbing Cairngorm Mountain was tough at times and a little daunting, but we all made it to the spot for photographing Ptarmigan. Unfortunately, because of the mild winter, there weren’t many around, but on our way back down the mountain David, Josh, Daphne & Carys stumbled upon a pair hidden in the snow. When I found this out I raced back up the mountain to join them in photographing the male and female pair. The whole experience was astounding, lying down in the snow was worth it for the photographs even though we were all very cold and little wet afterwards!

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Photographing the Red Squirrels – Red Squirrels have always been one of my favourite mammals, so to have the opportunity to photograph them was something I just had to do. Getting up at 5am to make our way up to the hide was not the easiest, but the reward at the end made it all worth it. It was remarkable to witness their behaviour and hearing them chatting to each other amongst the trees. Daphne & I made the trip twice and it was definitely worth it to photograph them for a second time.


We are leaving early tomorrow for Falmouth, and I will be posting more highlights (Highlights II!) from this trip. Hope you have enjoyed this post and keep an eye out for tomorrow’s one as well 🙂


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