Highlands & Islands

Scotland's 'first' snorkel trail created in Highlands

Mellon Charles beach Image copyright Noel Hawkins
Image caption Nine sites considered ideal for snorkelling are on the trail

What has been described as Scotland's first snorkel trail has been created in the north west Highlands by the Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT).

The trust has identified nine sites suitable for snorkelling which also have environments rich in marine life.

The locations include Tanera Mor in the Summer Isles, Camusnagaul and Achmelvich Bay.

SWT said marine life that could be seen at the sites included dogfish, barrel jellyfish and sea urchins.

The trail project, which forms part of the trust's Living Seas programme, has received funding from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

Image copyright Malcolm Thompson/SNH
Image caption The areas have been chosen because they are rich in colourful marine life

Noel Hawkins, Living Seas communities officer, said: "The coast of Wester Ross and Sutherland features some fantastic sheltered headlands and beaches that are great places for snorkelling.

"The new trail is self-led, but we are hoping to establish a training programme for local people to become qualified snorkel instructors, and also a snorkel club at the local leisure centre to introduce younger members of the community to snorkelling and their local marine environment."

Lizzie Bird, of the British Sub Aqua Club, added: "Lots of people might think it's too cold to snorkel in Scotland but the colours and life under the surface in places like the north west coast are up there with the coral reefs you can find abroad."

Image copyright Noel Hawkins
Image caption Tanera Mor in the Summer Isles is among the sites selected for the trail

The launch of the trail has been welcomed by Tourism Secretary Fiona Hyslop.

She said: "Scotland's coast boasts some of the UK's richest spots for marine wildlife, which is why nearly half of the visitors surveyed come to Scotland for our scenery and landscape.

"The snorkel trail is an innovative approach to marine and coastal planning that encourages use of existing infrastructure to help tourism diversification like this."

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