Wild Highland Spring

Cairngorms National Park, Scotland

Wild Highland Spring

Cairngorms National Park, Scotland

  • Dawn shoots for fishing ospreys and lekking grouse.
  • Exclusive use of the UK’s only dedicated perched osprey hide.
  • Up close and personal with mountain hares and red squirrels.
  • House-party style format in our country lodge.
  • Stunning location in the Cairngorms National Park.

As the winter snows melt and the air slowly warms, May sees the Scottish Highlands flushed with the first growth of early summer. Birches glow green and the dawn echoes to the sound of rasping goldeneye and bubbling black grouse. Back from their winter stay in Africa, ospreys plunge lochs and rivers whilst high in the hills, mountain hares and ptarmigan shed their white winter finery in favour of a more subtle summery look.

Shooting at first light this tour focuses on the dawn lekking of black grouse and the jaw-dropping spectacle of ospreys fishing – both just metres away from our camera positions. Using specially designed hides we will spend several mornings photographing these two highland icons.

Later in the day we get chance for more osprey action at a well-established perch site and an opportunity to get up close with mountain hares and the enigmatic ptarmigan, a mountain grouse found nowhere else in Britain and spending its entire life above 3000ft asl. Down in the pine forests of the Cairngorm foothills we may spend time photographing charismatic red squirrels in a natural forest setting or weather permitting, strike out for the coast to shoot gannets from a spectacular clifftop location.

Our programme will be flexible, taking account of weather and light but what we can promise is an action-packed week full of superb photographic opportunities.


Dates: 29 Apr - 5 May 2017

Cost: £1445

Deposit: £250

Single Supplement: £0

Group Size: 8

Guide: James Shooter & Peter Cairns

Principal Subjects: Osprey, black grouse, mountain hare, red squirrel, ptarmigan.

Cost Includes: Accommodation; all meals; transfers to/from Kingussie; transport; tuition; use of hides; digital presentations.

Cost Excludes: Insurance, alcoholic drinks and personal items.


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. 

James Shooter

James Shooter

James is an established photographer and filmmaker with a passion for conservation communication. He has spent several years at Northshots developing an acute knowledge of Scottish wildlife and has led tours both in Scotland and overseas. A personable and engaging character, James will ensure you get the very best from your time spent with us. 



Our accommodation is a lovely converted steading at the foot of the Cairngorm mountains. The Steading is comfortable and full of character - specially designed for photographic house parties. There are wonderful views from the two-tier lounge where we enjoy evening presentations over coffee. We all eat together around our huge farmhouse dining table, where a glass (or two) of wine can be enjoyed with a superb dinner. 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. 


Meals are informal and will be taken within our accommodation. 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 only a minimal level of fitness is required. You should however be prepared to spend up to 5 hours sat in a hide remaining relatively still. Our dawn shoots require a very early start!

Searching for mountain hares requires a reasonable level of fitness and agility and our day photographing ptarmigan, involving longer, uphill walk of around 1.5 miles, requires a good level of fitness.  These longer walks are of course optional.  This tour can be quite demanding in terms of body clock adjustment so please be aware of this before booking.


This time of year provides a good opportunity to enjoy settled, warm weather but with frosty dawns.  This is the Scottish Highlands however, and we may experience rain or even snow.  Temperatures are likely to be between 0c and +15c.

Meeting up and saying goodbye 

Your room at The Steading will be available from 5pm on the day of arrival. Our briefing meeting normally takes place around 7pm. The tour ends after breakfast on the day of departure. 


Giving Back

We take our responsibility as a tour operator very seriously and are conscious of our impact on the environment. Not only do we strive to minimise this impact in a variety of ways, we donate a proportion of our income to a select number of conservation initiatives.

See our Giving Back page for details ›