Two festivals come together – naturally

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For the first time, two of Scotland’s prestigious nature festivals are uniting to showcase more than 150 family-friendly events in the Borders and Dumfries & Galloway.

The Scottish Borders Nature Festival has joined forces with The Dumfries & Galloway Wild Spring Festival to celebrate the diversity of flora and fauna that can be discovered throughout the area in a fascinating programme of events.

To mark Scotland’s Year of Food & Drink, both festivals are also set to reveal a series of events throughout April, may and June, with a special focus on the area’s outstanding natural larder.

Almost all events will be free or charge a modest admission of under £5 per person.

Most are led by local wildlife or conservation experts and take in a host of natural delights 
including the iconic red squirrel, migrating geese, bats, badgers, butterflies and moths, otters, red kites, osprey, red deer, goats, gannets and sharks.

Pip Tabor, project manager for the Southern Uplands Partnership and spokesperson for the South of Scotland Wild Festivals, said: “By uniting the two festivals, we hope to shine a spotlight on the naturally inspiring countryside, forests, gardens and coastline (around 250 miles of it) across the south of Scotland.

“There are many wonderful experiences on offer for families and wildlife enthusiasts from near and far to discover the outstanding areas of natural beauty.

“The local nature reserves and forestry visitor centres are second to none, offering the perfect way to get out in the fresh air and explore the south of Scotland this spring.”

Organisations running festival events include the RSPB, the Forestry Commission, the Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT), the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT), Borders Forest Trust, Scottish Borders Council and Dumfries & Galloway Council, as well as a variety of independent local heritage attractions and estates.

The full programme will be announced in early 2015, but highlights include:

z Stars ’n’ Stripes Badger Watching at Caerlaverock Wetland Centre – witness these fascinating nocturnal creatures from a cosy vantage point with a mug of hot chocolate in hand. April 6 - April 19.

z Wilderness Canoe Trip at Galloway Activity Centre (daily throughout the Dumfries & Galloway Wild Spring Festival.)

z Mull of Galloway guided walk with an RSPB Ranger to spot seabirds on the cliffs – and, if you’re lucky, perhaps a porpoise or basking shark (numerous dates).

z Wild Forest Food: the Future, in Ettrick Forest at Corehead Farm. Join the Borders Forest Trust for a walk to identify the trees, learn about their folklore and sample some of the food produce that the forest will provide, such as cob nut biscuits and birch sap cordial. Saturday, April 25.

z Moth Breakfast at Whitmuir Organics, West Linton, Saturday, June 6.

z Wildlife Family Fun at Harestanes Visitor Centre in Jedburgh – a chance to try pond-dipping, making a nest box or creating your own nature art (dates TBC).

Booking is essential for some of the events – please see the website for further information on dates, times, costs and kit required.

For the latest news about both festivals, visit www.wildseasons.co.uk. Searchable events listings will be made available on this website in early 2015.