A new wildlife and nature trail has been launched in the East Cairngorms to improve well-being.
In celebration of spring, the Ballater Business Association (BBA) and Braemar Tourism Group (BTG) have launched the East Cairngorms Wildlife and Nature Trail as part of their Imagine More campaign to encourage visitors to immerse themselves in nature and nurture their wellbeing.
A recent study by the Mental Health Foundation revealed that nearly half of people in the UK found a marked improvement in their wellbeing during lockdown when visiting green spaces, such as national parks.
The BBA and BTG aim to encourage more people to undertake memorable outdoor experiences that positively impact their lives by visiting the East Cairngorms’ abundance of wildlife and nature.
Dan and Rachel Brown, both avid naturalists and professional ecologists, run Wild Discovery based in Crathie which provides custom-made experiences which focus on helping visitors engage with nature, wildlife and conservation projects.
They said: ‘The ancient Caledonian forest and woodlands which sprawl the East Cairngorms boasts unique enigmatic wildlife including pine martens, red squirrels, golden and white-tailed eagles, capercaillie, and red deer.
‘Our guests always feel a sense of connection and leave inspired and reinvigorated after meeting with local projects and people who are doing wonderful work to protect the area.’
Annie Armstrong runs Wild Braemar, bespoke experiences that allow visitors to explore, discover and connect with Scottish wildlife, culture and the local history.
She added: ‘Our Scottish landscape is emersed with wildlife and nature, and what we often take for granted is new and interesting to those who join our tours. The smallest elements of nature such as fungi, flora and trees all have a story to tell. One of my recent tours included a family who spent hours just identify birds in the woodland.
‘We can all be inspired by nature. Wild learning brings with it new thinking and a chance to step away from our busy lives, connecting to the sounds, sights and smells that surround us.’
Annie’s tours include wild walking and swimming, and are designed to suit any level of fitness. The majority last two hours or less, allowing visitors to make the most of their time in Braemar and Ballater.
She added: ‘Lots of people want to try wild swimming but are nervous and want support to enjoy a truly immersive experience. I have always enjoyed the Braemar rivers and wanted to share my knowledge with others. The moment you enter the water it is like a â€œresetâ€ with your body, all you can think about is the water and nature around you.’
The East Cairngorms Wildlife and Nature Trail is part of a series of five which aim to inspire visitors to explore the East Cairngorms as a year-round destination for outdoor activity. Each trail includes a website, promotional video, digital trail map, and trip planner.
For more information on the East Cairngorms Wildlife and Nature Trail, head to: https://www.visitballater.com/east-cairngorms-the-jacobite-whisky-trail/