1. Nature spotting in Montrose Basin
Calling all wildlife enthusiasts! Montrose Basin, where the Countryfile team are on location this week, consists of a variety of zones, including mud, fresh water, saltmarsh and arable land. It is also home to a vast number of species – many of which are thought to breed in the Basin itself. A sight of National and International Importance, get out your binoculars and spot eider, pinkfooted geese, mute swans, lapwing, among many other bird species. Catch a glimpse of the Basin’s large variety of insects, ranging from moths and butterflies, to bumblebees and dragonflies. Those wishing to learn more about the area can visit the Basin’s visitor centre, which hosts events such as National Moth Night on 9th June, 7-9pm. National Insect Week on 25th June will enable visitors to learn about insects and their vital role in maintaining the Basin.
Visitor Centre open daily until the 31st October. 10.30am to 5pm. Adults £4 and concessions £3.
Photo Credit: Getty Images. Pink-Footed Geese Flock to Montrose Basin. Jeff J Mitchell.
2. Hill Walking in the Angus Glens
Situated on the edge of the Cairngorms National Park, the Angus Glens, made up of ten Munros, is a Scottish wonder not to be missed. Unspoilt, wild and atmospheric, the Glens are perfect for hillwalking, with magnificent views of the surrounding heather and grass moorland and opportunities to spot Scottish wildlife up close. Miles of narrow twisting roads also makes the area fantastic for cyclists and drivers. Glen Clova, a valley with beautiful views of pine forests, offers both gentle walks and more challenging hikes to the summit of the Snub. Taste delicious local produce by taking refuge from the outdoors in Glen Clova Hotel, the only place offering food in the Angus area of the Cairngorms – try local venison and home reared beef and lamb. Also explore Glen Goll, where you can spot eagles, Glen Lethnot, with its traditional track known as ‘The Whisky Trail’, and Glen Isla, where Ospreys can be seen in the summer.
Photo Credit: Getty Images. Landscape of Glen Clova. Geography Photos.
3. Exploring the ruins of Arbroath Abbey
Founded in 1178 by King William the Lion, Arbroath Abbey is a magnificent ruined structure of historical significance. Home to the Monymusk Reliquary, it contains a casket holding the relics of St Columba. The abbey is significant as it issued the famous Declaration of Arbroath – an assertion of Scottish independence from English rule, the document had international significance at its time of publication in 1320, and for many years to come. Visitors can access the ground level of the Abbey by gravel paths and grass, and can view the ruined walls and crumbling pillars from a viewing gallery in the visitor centre. Whilst there, take a stroll through the Abbey’s herb garden, and learn about the Abbey’s history through a special exhibition.
Open daily all year round. Adult £5.50, Child £3.30.
Photo Credit: Getty Images. Ruins of Arborath Abbey, Scotland. De Agostini.
4. Walking and Nature spotting in Lunan Bay
Heralded as one of the most stunning beaches in Scotland, Lunan’s bay, with its vast stretch of white sand extending over two miles, is particularly worth a visit. Walk the length of the bay, taking in the beautiful views of the North Sea, the sand dunes. With the impassable Lunan Water flowing into the middle of the bay, take the path behind the dunes to complete your walk, and whilst there, visit the pretty town of Lunan. Take time to watch the vast array of wildlife, from Great Grey shrikes to Rough-legged buzzards, view traditional fishing, and or if you’re feeling energetic, surfing or horse-riding. If visiting after a storm, keep your eyes peeled for seaglass along the beach. Climb up to the Red Castle, built in the 12th century to defend against Viking invasions. Although a crumbling ruin, it is still impressive and formidable overlooking the bay.
Photo Credit: Getty Images. Lunan Bay, near Montrose, Angus. Andy Stothert.
5. Disovering Royal Treasures at Balmoral Castle
Balmoral Castle, purchased by Prince Albert for Queen Victoria in 1852, offers insight into the life of the royal family. Completed in 1856 after much reconstruction, it was a favourite residence of Queen Victoria, and is still used by the Queen as a Scottish retreat today. Particularly worth seeing is the castle ballroom, the largest room in the castle, currently used for royal events and dances. Explore the collection of art works including those by Landseer and Carl Haag, and marvel at silver statues by Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm and Minton China. 2016 sees a special exhibition, ‘Highland Queen’, providing a unique insight into the life, duties and role of the Monarch when in residence at Balmoral. Explore the wildlife display where you can learn about Game Keeping, and how the surrounding game and heather moorland are managed. Also stroll through the formal gardens and water gardens, and peak into the Garden Cottage, where Queen Victoria breakfasted and wrote her diaries. Top your visit off with a trip to Piper’s Hall Café, where you can taste local venison and tuck into a piece of homemade cake.
Opening dates 25th March to 31st July. 10am to 5pm. Adults £11.50 and Children £5.
Photo Credit: Getty Images. Balmoral Castle, Scotland. Dennis K. Johnson.