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Year of Natural Scotland

How many Scots know that their country boasts over 10% of Europe’s coastline and over 800 islands? Or that killer whales and the world’s largest dolphin species regularly patrol Scottish waters, not to mention that a fifth of the world’s total gannet population inhabits one rocky outcrop off Scotland’s wild west coast? All this and more is being celebrated throughout 2013, during a year that is being dedicated the Year of Natural Scotland.

Year of Natural Scotland
The Scottish Government, Visit Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage are all part of a slew of bodies behind a year designed to promote Scotland’s natural heritage. Nature and wildlife are key attractions in Scotland these days and it is estimated that 40% of all tourism spend is on nature-based activities, worth a whopping £127 million to the Scottish economy.

Scotland’s natural attractions are manifest, as exemplified by Rebecca Morris, an outdoor guide and 2012 Highland Ambassador of the Year. She is firmly behind the big year: ‘Scotland is special for so many reasons, for me it is the most beautiful place in the world. I love the wild, remote, wilderness feeling you get in the Highlands and when combined with the history, wildlife, culture, folklore, music and food, you just can’t beat it!’


What is the Year of Natural Scotland all about?
The Year of Natural Scotland kicked off on January 1 and runs on throughout the whole year with myriad events, both existing events re-branded under the Year of Natural Scotland banner, and a host of new festivals and activities that will be unveiled as the year moves along.

The year is being based around a number of key pillars or themes, namely Natural Landscapes, Natural Built Heritage, Natural Larder, Sustainable Tourism, Natural Playground, Flora and Fauna, Art in Nature and Nature in Cities. All the various events, festivals and other happenings swirl around these themes.


Year of Natural Scotland Events
Key events in Spring include the Dumfries and Galloway Wildlife Festival, a two week smorgasbord of wildlife discovery in southern Scotland (March 29-April 14), with the likes of red deer tours, badger watching and a string of family friendly activities. This year is also the 175th anniversary of the birth of one of Scotland’s most famous naturalists, John Muir, with a slew of events around the big day on April 21. The islands don’t miss out either with this year’s Arran Mountain Festival , from May 17-10, opening up some of Scotland’s most spectacular landscapes for walkers and climbers of all levels and coming under the Year of Natural Scotland banner.

Summer sees the re-opening of Abbotsford House and North Berwick’s Fringe by the Sea.  Both take on the Year of Natural Scotland themes, while a number of Highland Games are also being brought into the fold with the Callander World Highland Games coming under the Year of Natural Scotland banner from July 27-28 and Aboyne doing the same with its Highland Games on August 3rd. Later in the year the Largs Viking Festival from August 31-September 8 will follow suit in a year that is also the 750th anniversary of the Battle of Largs.


The Year of Natural Scotland is very much about getting involved, really immersing people in Scotland’s bountiful nature. One great way to do this in September will be the Windfest, a celebration of Scotland as a world class kitesurfing and windsurfing destination. It is experiences like these and getting the message across about them that the Year of Natural Scotland is all about.

Further information see The Year of Natural Scotland
 

© Alan Bird 2012