Surprises in the Scottish Wilderness: 7 Unexpected Things You Can Find on Your Walk
Scotland is a beautiful country to explore on foot. Highlands and islands, Munros and lochs, stunning landscapes and teeming with wildlife – this really is a country of variation and beauty. And there is more than meets the eye in Scotland, too – it is a land full of surprises. If you are a keen walker, you can come across many unexpected sights as you wander around the wilderness. Put on your hiking boots, pack your backpack and set out to discover some of Scotland’s unexpected surprises with Walkers Shortbread: the world’s finest treat for walkers.
Wherever you go in Scotland, there are birds all around. From common gulls, fat woodpigeons and speedy sparrows to the shy capercaillie, the rare ospreys and the near extinct hen harrier – bird spotting is a popular pastime for many Scottish hikers. Walkers Shortbread collaborate with the Royal Society for Protection of Birds (RSPB) to ensure we protect the varied and vulnerable birds across Scotland and the UK. Pack your binoculars and bring a large umbrella, like this stylish Walkers golf umbrella, to keep dry while you keep an eye out for birds. Depending on where in the country you go, keep an eye out for some of these extraordinary and rare birds in Scotland:
If you want more information on birdwatching, the RSBP have a lot of available resources. Walkers Shortbread are proud supporters of RSBP, and we work with them to give nature a home in the Speyside Caledonian pine forest and beyond.
Bear in mind that many rare birds are quite elusive, and they are wary of people. Never scare, cause stress or interfere with birds you come across – young or old. If you see an injured bird, contact RSPB for advice.
Scotland has a few famous butterflies, and a couple of rare species that only breed in certain areas of the country, like the Northern Brown Angus. Did you know that there are only 32 different species of butterfly in Scotland – but over 1600 different species of moth? Many people think moths are grey and dusty and rather boring, but the truth is that there are a range of moths in all sizes, shapes and colours. Many of them can be quite spectacular! The RSPB have an interesting introduction to the fascinating world of moths, and we encourage everyone to keep an eye out for these surprisingly interesting creatures.
Moths are also a key source of nutrition for some of our most highly prized birds, so let’s make sure we do what we can to maintain a varied and thriving moth population, alongside those beautiful butterflies.
A Very, Very Short Street…and a Very, Very Long Echo
It may not quite be in the Scottish wilderness, but one street on Wick, the northernmost town on the Scottish mainland is home to the world’s shortest street. At just 2.05 m long, or 6ft 9in, Ebenezer Place in Wick has one address, and has laid claim to the official Guinness World Records title of shortest street in the world since at least 2006.
And speaking of surprising world records: did you know that the longest echo in the world has been recorded in Scotland - twice? The most astonishing echo experience, with sound reverberating for well over a minute, was recorded in an oil tank in the Scottish Highlands. The previous world record was also set in Scotland, over 40 years ago in the Hamilton Mausoleum in Lanarkshire.
Sea monsters in Loch Ness and Falkirk
Many people have come to Scotland looking for Nessie, the sea monster at Loch Ness. While some reportedly have spotted her – more than once! – you would still be surprised to meet the famous Loch Ness monster on a visit to one of Scotland’s most famous lochs. Walkers Shortbread have two popular shortbread tins featuring the Loch Ness: our fun Loch Ness Monster shortbread tin with shortbread triangles, which the kids love, and one tin with the beautiful motif of Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle. Nessie is by some said to be a kelpie, one of the mythological creatures of Scottish folklore. In that sense, she is related to the fairies, although few people would confuse a dainty fairy in the woods with the large sea creature from the depths of the Loch.
Not the only mythological creature to achieve fame in modern Scotland, the beautiful Kelpie sculptures at the Helix in Falkirk are among Scotland’s most photographed attractions. And no wonder – the stunningly majestic horse heads are the world’s largest equine sculptures, visible for miles for travellers on the M9 and around the Falkirk region. And while you visit them, are other things to explore around the Kelpies too, like the hidden gem of the Westquarter Glen, a gorge with waterfalls, woodlands and lively birdlife. And wildlife enthusiasts shouldn’t miss out on a visit to the Jupiter Urban Wildlife Centre, where mini beast safaris and tree orienteering open your eyes to the teeming activity all around.
Not quite Crocodile Dundee
Scottish wildlife comes in all shapes and sizes. The award-winning Highland coo is a sight in the wild, and spotting a majestic stag is the dream for many a walker. Did you know you can also come across a crocodile in Scotland’s Millport? The Crocodile Rock is one of Scotland’s quirkiest landmarks, and it has just celebrated its centenary.
Help a hedgehog
Scotland used to have a large population of hedgehogs, but due to loss of territory, there are fewer and fewer hedgehog sightings across the country. These cute, prickly creatures are important for the biodiversity in Scottish gardens and countryside, but they are sadly becoming a rare sight. But did you know that you can make an effort to help protect and bring back the hedgehog population? The RSPB encourage everyone to get involved in giving nature a home. You can make your garden a friendly haven for hedgehogs, so take this chance to save nature and join the campaign over at the RSPB website.