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The Highlands gets set to welcome its first-ever wildlife book festival

The first-ever Easter wildlife book festival is set to take place in the Highlands.

Based at a dedicated birdwatching hotel, the Grant Arms Hotel in Grantown-on-Spey, acclaimed wildlife writers will come together to discuss their work with other enthusiasts of the great outdoors.

This will be the first event of its kind at the Grant Arms.

The Grant Arms Hotel in Grantown-on-Spey

John Woods had the idea of a dedicated birdwatching hotel 12 years ago, and over the next two years he searched the country for somewhere suitable.

After considering locations in Barra, Mull, Shetland, the Lake District, Skye, Wales, the Solway Firth, and The Moray Coast and Speyside, John discovered the Grant Arms Hotel in Grantown-on-Spey, in the Cairngorms National Park.

The magnificent 55-bedroom Hotel that had hosted many a distinguished guest in its past, including Queen Victoria and the present Queen, had since fallen on hard times.

A decade later, plus a lot of money and hard work, The Grant Arms Hotel is firmly established as the UK’s Birdwatching and Wildlife Hotel.

Mark Cocker, author of Birds Britannica, will host the event

Regular visitors include not only celebrities such as Iolo Williams, Nick Baker, David Lindo, Mike Dilger and Nigel Marvin, but also an array of distinguished visiting speakers who provide a programme of talks and walks throughout the year.

Twitchers will notice the hotel is different as soon as they enter. It isn’t just the bird song in the public areas, the Information Centre, Club Room and Library but also such things as a drying room, boot wash, early birder breakfasts and its own private hide.

Speyside and the Cairngorms are one of the best areas for wildlife watching in the UK. Perfect for beginner to expert, whether for a day or a fortnight. Depending on the season you could see: Golden Eagle, White-tailed Eagle, Capercaillie, Pine Marten, Red Squirrel, Mountain Hare, Osprey, Ptarmigan, Otter, Red and Black Grouse, Red and Roe Deer, Slavonian Grebe, Crested Tit and Crossbill, as well as Dolphins, Waders, Sea Ducks and Sea Birds along the Moray Firth coast.

Patrick Barkham will discuss A Journey Around Our Archipelago

To build on that success the Grant Arms will be hosting its first Wildlife Book Festival this. Hosted by Mark Cocker, author of Birds Britannica, it’s long and distinguished list of guest authors includes Patrick Barkham, Jess French, Joe Shute, Laurence Rose, and Andy Swash.

It will take place on Good Friday, 30 March, Saturday 31 March and Easter Sunday, 1 April.

The Grant Arms is offering a four-day Book Festival package (which includes access to all talks and also a programme of walks during the day) from £479.

Free entrance to individual talks will be available to non-residents on a first come first served basis.

The full list of Grant Arms Wildlife Book Festival Speakers is:

Mark Cocker – Our Place: Can We Save Britain’s Wildlife Before It Is Too Late?

Patrick Barkham – Islander: A Journey Around Our Archipelago

Jess French – Minibeasts with Jess French

Joe Shute – A Shadow Above: The Fall and Rise of the Raven

Laurence Rose – The Long Spring: Tracking the Arrival of Spring through Europe

Andy Swash – Britain’s Birds: An Identification Guide to the Birds of Britain and Ireland

Joe Shute will discuss his book A Shadow Above: The Fall and Rise of the Raven

Katrina Van Grouw – Unnatural Selection

Marianne Taylor – The Way of the Hare

James Canton – Ancient Wonderings: Journeys into Prehistoric Britain

Tiffany Francis – Food you can Forage: Edible Plants to Harvest, Cook and Enjoy

Louise Gray – The Ethical Carnivore: My Year Killing to Eat

Karen Lloyd – The Blackbird Diaries: A Year with Wildlife

Kathleen Jamie – Sightlines

For more details, email bookings@grantarmshotel.com.

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