The Hebridean Whale Trail, the first of its kind in the UK, is a unique initiative connecting more than 30 places offering opportunities for land-based sightings of whales, dolphins and porpoises.
A new trail – launched on 28 June 2019 – by the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust is to showcase Scotland’s west coast as a world-class destination for spotting whales, dolphins and porpoises from land, and champion conservation of the Hebrides’ globally important marine wildlife and environment.
Basking sharks, seals and other wildlife may also be seen from the trail, which features 33 sites across the Hebridean archipelago and along Scotland’s stunning west coast, from the Clyde to Cape Wrath, and as far west as St Kilda.
These include lighthouses at the Butt of Lewis on the Isle of Lewis, Eilean Glas on the Isle of Scalpay, and the UK mainland’s most westerly point at Ardnamurchan Lighthouse.
Beaches include Clachtoll in the Highlands, and Huisinis on the Isle of Harris. Bustling harbours include Tobermory on the Isle of Mull, and Ullapool.
The trail ranges from easily accessible attractions such as the Hebridean Whale Trail Centre in Tobermory, to remote and wild destinations such as the Oa on Islay.
While sightings of cetaceans can never be guaranteed, the Hebridean seas are exceptionally rich in wildlife. More than a quarter of the world’s whale and dolphin species have been recorded in the region – including many national and international conservation priority species.
“We want people from all walks of life to visit the Hebridean Whale Trail to enjoy exploring the region’s unique nature, culture and history, and to be inspired to support marine conservation,” said Karl Stevens, Hebridean Whale Trail Manager.
The aims are also to boost the local economy and support communities through sustainable eco-tourism, provide educational opportunities, and improve connections between coastal areas.
David Adams McGilp, VisitScotland Regional Director, said: “The launch of this new trail is particularly apt as we prepare for the Year of Coasts and Waters 2020 – a year-long programme of events and activities which will shine a spotlight on Scotland’s coasts and waters.”
Across the trail there will be many opportunities for visitors and residents to get involved in marine conservation activities – including joining volunteers to watch, identify and record marine wildlife from land or the ferries which connect the sites, as well as discovering more about Scotland’s seas from experts at a range of visitor centres.
The trail’s website www.whaletrail.org includes routes, transport options and site details.