Micscape readers sharing aspects of where they live.
Title and series idea by Dan Holloway.

Enjoying Field Studies Council Courses (UK)

Part 2: 'Natural history in the highlands' course, Kindrogan, Scotland.

by David Walker, UK


Series Introduction: The Field Studies Council (FSC) have residential field centres around Britain where courses of various lengths on a wide range of topics are offered. The author attended a number of their natural history related courses in the 1980s - 1990s and thoroughly enjoyed them. Other courses include painting, photography, writing, history etc. Overseas courses are also offered. Course tutors are experts in their field. See article foot for links to further information.

My personal experiences may be of interest to Micscape readers unfamiliar with these courses and may also interest overseas readers considering a visit to the UK and seeking an educational but enjoyable visit to some of Britain's most beautiful areas.

Course summary. 'Natural history in the highlands' weekend course (the author's course was in August). Tutored by Centre Staff. Similar courses are offered each year.



The Scottish Field Studies Association has a field centre at Kindrogan near Pitlochry which is an excellent central location to experience some of the beauty of the Scottish highlands. Like all the field centres it offers both specialist and more wide ranging courses. I attended the weeklong course 'Natural history of the highlands' in August some years ago to enjoy a 'taste' of an area of Britain I was totally unfamiliar with. Similar courses are held each year.

The photographs that follow show some of the sites visited and hopefully give an impression of their variety and beauty.

Each day we visited one or more areas that showed different types of habitat and the course tutors would point out interesting fauna and flora. We were also encouraged to study our own interest areas where applicable and point out interesting sightings to the group. There were nine other course members with varying interests in botany, birds and mammals etc.

The course was in August and I left London in scorching temps but it was noticeably colder in Scotland particularly in the evenings.



This is one of the most memorable holidays I've ever had. The wildness, peace and beauty of the Scottish highlands lasts long in the memory .... my 'batteries' were fully recharged to face the hustle and bustle of London (albeit with some reluctance!). A good variety of habitats were visited during the week led by knowledgeable tutors and we saw a good range of the highland's typical fauna and flora. As well as ospreys we saw buzzards, capercaillie, ptarmigan. Plants seen included starry saxifrage, moss asphodel and alpine ladies mantle. Fauna seen included the mountain hare and also an adder, shown below, albeit not alive.

One of the benefits of these sort of courses, is that as well as being very good value, the courses include visits to carefully selected areas to see a wide range of habitats led by knowledgeable naturalists. If visiting an area on your own it can be difficult deciding where to go to make the best use of a short holiday.

I've enjoyed a number of specialist courses at Field Studies Council Centres but found the general natural history courses equally rewarding as an opportunity to learn about the natural history and admire the scenery of an unfamiliar area.

Comments to the author David Walker are welcomed.

(Photos were taken with an Olympus 35RC 35mm rangefinder, color negative film scanned by author. This camera had no macro facilities so was unable to capture the wealth of detail in the lichen, mosses and small alpine wild flowers.)


Resources on the Field Studies Council website.
Kindrogan Field Centre.
Courses 2008 at the centre. 

Accommodation can vary between centres, from shared rooms to single rooms.



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