The Great Wood: Wildlife 2

SCOTLAND: Cairngorms National Park

The Great Wood: Wildlife 2

SCOTLAND: Cairngorms National Park

  • Stunning location in Cairngorms National Park
  • Exclusive use of dedicated photography hides
  • Dawn shoots for fishing ospreys
  • Evening shoots for foraging pine martens
  • Tuition in remote camera trap photography
  • Guidance on putting together a photographic story
  • Excursions for landscape photography
  • House-party style format in our country lodge
  • Evening presentations to inform & inspire
  • Small group to allow individual tuition and unique opportunities

The Caledonian Pine Forest, home to golden eagle, pine marten, wildcat and capercaillie, once stretched across much of the Scottish Highlands, a great living organism governed only by natural processes. Today, though diminished, it is still a place to make the imagination soar. ‘The Great Wood’ is a complex tapestry of pine, birch, willow, alder and rowan. Part of the sub-boreal forest which encircles much of the northern hemisphere, Scotland’s pine forest is home to an amazingly diverse range of species and thanks to restoration efforts, is now clawing its way back across large parts of the Highlands.

This second ‘storytelling’ tour of the year will capture the spirit of The Great Wood and will focus on the pinewood species of the summer months such as red squirrel, osprey and pine marten. Leaving photographic convention behind, we shall take a more journalistic approach to our images using wide-angle remote photography and camera traps. The aim is to craft a portfolio of images that work as a set, a story, rather than in isolation; to link our wildlife subjects with the forest on which they depend.


These tours are often designed to run in a series across different locations and/or times of year, in order to get under the skin of a specific place or species. Rather than cherry pick ‘hero’ images with little context, the idea behind Storytellers is to put together a coherent, in-depth portfolio, often using innovative techniques, which builds into a compelling photographic story.


Dates: 18-23 Aug 2017

Cost: £1295

Deposit: £250

Single Supplement: £0

Group Size: 8

Guide: Terry Whittaker and Peter Cairns

Principal Subjects: Osprey, red squirrel, pine marten, woodland birds, pinewood landscapes.

Cost Includes: 5 nights accommodation in single rooms; All meals; Transport during tour; Use of hides; Tuition and presentations; Transfers to/from Kingussie train station

Cost Excludes: Travel to/from the tour; Travel/cancellation insurance; Alcoholic drinks (wine is served with dinner); Personal expenses.


Peter Cairns

Peter Cairns

Pete has spent the last 17 years putting Northshots guests in front of stunning landscapes and enthralling wildlife. Behind the scenes he has been responsible for steering the company to being one of the most trusted and respected in the business. A passionate conservationist and communicator, he now spends much of his time photographing and filming in the Scottish Highlands for SCOTLAND: The Big Picture, a multimedia initiative amplifying the case for a wilder Scotland. 

Terry Whittaker

Terry Whittaker

Terry is a widely-published photographer specialising in wildlife conservation with a particular interest in the relationship between people and wild animals. Past projects include critically endangered primates in Vietnam, the wildlife trade in Asia and hunter-gatherer people in Paraguay. More recently he has been photographing efforts to save the water vole in the UK. It's also fair to say he's a thoroughly decent bloke.



Our accommodation is a lovely converted steading at the foot of the Cairngorm mountains. Ballintean Mountain Lodge is comfortable and full of character - specially designed for photographic house parties. We have a range of single, double and twin rooms, all with private facilities*. Kick off your shoes and make yourself at home!

*Two of our single rooms share a bathroom. Rooms will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.


Cars can be safely parked at our lodge. Directions can be sent, as Satnav is not always reliable. Our postcode is PH21 1NX.

Train travel is generally reliable and we can offer free transfers to/from Kingussie station (7 miles).

Our nearest airport is Inverness (45 miles) and we can offer transfers but we charge £40 per transfer, which can be shared if other members of the group are travelling by air. We collect at 4pm on arrival day and drop off at 10am on departure day.


Meals are informal and will be taken within our accommodation. We offer home-cooked, wholesome food prepared with local ingredients. Breakfast, packed lunch, evening meal and home-baked shortbread provide the fuel to keep you going! We can almost always accommodate specific dietary requirements - just tell us on the booking form and we’ll make sure you get what you want.


Photographic hides are all accessed via a short walk so although sure-footedness is required, only a minimal level of fitness is necessary. You should however, be prepared to spend up to 5 hours sat in a hide remaining relatively still.


The weather here is variable. You should expect rain and sunshine with temperatures between +10c and +20c. It can however, be cool in the mornings.


On still humid days, midges can be an irritation. Please bring repellent.


This tour is primarily aimed at providing our guests with great photographic opportunities and to this end, most of our time will be spent in the field securing images. Our guides will however, provide help where it is needed and will offer guidance on fieldcraft, composition, lighting and photographic technique. For those guests looking for image critique and/ or post-processing assistance, this can be arranged subject to time available. For a more structured learning experience, please consider one of our Masterclass workshops.

Giving Back

Northshots is a strong supporter of nature-based tourism contributing to rural economies to demonstrate the value of wild animals and wild places. We believe also that “taking” from the natural world obliges us to “give back” so we adapt our business practices to that end. We also contribute 3% of the revenue from this tour to Scottish charity Trees for Life which is working to restore Scotland’s Caledonian Pine Forest.