THE Mar Lodge Estate, in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park, has been chosen to host BBC’s popular Winterwatch series this year, it was revealed today.
The sprawling estate, near Braemar, is owned by the National Trust for Scotland. And its choice as the main location for the BBC2 nature series is set to provide a major tourism boost for Royal Deeside.
David Frew, the estate’s property manager, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be working with the BBC’s Winterwatch team.”
He continued: “This is a fantastic opportunity for Braemar, Royal Deeside and the Cairngorms National Park as the programme will showcase Mar Lodge Estate’s astounding landscapes and wildlife for a nationwide audience.
“This is a very special place for wildlife and at this time of year the extreme conditions will make for compelling viewing as the flora and fauna of the Cairngorms struggles to survive the harsh weather.”
Mr Frew added: “Preparations have been underway for the last couple of months and we are very much looking forward to seeing all the efforts of the production team and National Trust for Scotland staff coming to fruition, and we are especially grateful for the help and assistance provided by many people from local communities.”
The new Winterwatch series will return to the screens from Mar Lodge later this month. Over four days, from 20 to 23 January, presenters Chris Packham, Michaela Strachan and Martin Hughes-Games will follow the fortunes of various animals and birds battling for survival in the harsh winter of the Scottish Highlands.
A BBC spokeswoman confirmed: “The team’s new base is the superlative and captivating Mar Lodge Estate in Aberdeenshire, in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park. Mar Lodge Estate is officially one of the coldest places in the UK. The lowest ever temperature, -27.2 degrees C, was recorded there in 1982. Where better to examine the impact of harsh winter weather on our wildlife.
“The estate is huge, covering 29,000 hectares, and incorporates 15 Munros, including five of the highest peaks in the UK.”
She continued: “The Cairngorms are home to the largest area of arctic-alpine flora in the UK and the Cairngorm plateau is one of our areas with the least management by humans. This means that viewers can expect to witness life on the edge, first hand, as Mar Lodge Estate’s wildlife copes with the harshest, most extreme winter weather in the country.
“The team will track the local wildlife in real time using a network of live cameras; they’ll explore the UK’s most extreme and mountainous region; and they’ll investigate how wildlife across the UK is adapting to the challenges of winter.
“From golden eagles to great tits, and red deer to otters, the theme of Winterwatch 2014 is the ingenious way nature copes with freezing temperatures and scarce resources.”
The series will also showcase special reports on urban foxes and hibernating hedgehogs in Brighton and films celebrating the beauty of Wiltshire farmland and the Norfolk Broads.
Said the spokeswoman: “The team will investigate what impact this season’s headline-grabbing mild, wet and windy weather has had on our wildlife – which species are the winners, and which the losers as our fields flood and our coast is battered by storms? They’ll also give advice on what viewers can do to help their local and garden wildlife during these lean and testing times.
“Winterwatch will invite the nation to take to part in a ground-breaking bird table experiment, which will provide vital information on the winter behaviour of our most-loved garden birds.”