Issue 5


By Claudia Rowse, Rural Development Manager, Scottish Natural Heritage

2013 is the Year of Natural Scotland.  This initiative, led by the Scottish Government, aims to maximise tourism growth and create economic benefit for Scotland by inspiring people to experience and participate in Scotland’s fantastic natural heritage. The Scottish Tourism Strategy 2020 identifies nature and heritage as one of Scotland’s key assets for the tourism industry, contributing to an industry that is worth over £4 billion to the Scottish economy each year

The focus of 2013 is to promote Scotland’s stunning natural beauty and biodiversity, and promote ways in which visitors can enjoy our beautiful landscapes, wildlife and heritage responsibly. 

April sees the start of the Big April Adventure initiative which aims to encourage Scots into the countryside for the Year of Natural Scotland 2013. Through this initiative, thousands of people will be going to all corners of Scotland over land and sea, exploring nature, wildlife and landscapes and experiencing new adventures, just like one of our greatest explorers John Muir.

Led by VisitScotland, this £3.4 million campaign is expected to bring a return of some £68m to the Scottish economy. It features a new television advert and, among other activity, a major ticket giveaway from Scottish transport providers which will see at least 15,000 people enjoying free travel during April - allowing them to visit a Scottish island or to travel all over Scotland - courtesy of Caledonian MacBrayne and ScotRail.

Another project focussing on rail travel in the Year of Natural Scotland is the development of innovative interpretation for visitors travelling by train.  View from the train is an audio guide and app, developed by Scottish Natural Heritage and ScotRail. 

VisitScotland research suggests that a quarter of visitors to Scotland travel around the country by train and 65% of first-time visitors were motivated to come here to see the scenery.  With this in mind, the View from the Train guides have been developed to improve the customer experience of travelling by train and provide a free commentary and information on the countryside beyond the train window.  To meet the increasing demand for ‘on the go’ information, the guides will be available as a free-to-download app or audio guide, blending an audio soundtrack with some stunning images from across the country.

Available on some of the busiest routes across Scotland, the View from the Train app brings to life some of the natural and cultural landscapes seen from the rails and is an ideal companion for commuting rail passengers and visitors alike.

The guides cover a wide range of topics and tell interesting stories about Scotland’s history and culture, its landscapes and wildlife.  From the Clyde shipyards, to wading birds on the estuary; or the grouse moors of the highlands to the gaelic poetry inspired by the landscape, the stories describe the links between man and Scotland’s rich natural environment.  The railways themselves are part of this tapestry; the iconic Forth Rail Bridge looks over a firth which is home to some of the biggest seabird colonies in the UK and railway lines can provide corridors for wildlife in more built up areas.

The stories are interlaced with interviews and snippets from experts and enthusiasts.  Listeners can hear from bird experts, a distiller, a countryside ranger and a broadcaster, among others, as they share their knowledge and passion about the natural world and natural resources of Scotland. The guide also features interviews with a wide range of Scottish Natural Heritage staff, from experts on geology to managers of some of Scotland’s fantastic National Nature Reserves.

The audio guides are narrated by well-known broadcasters Mark Stephens of BBC Radio Scotland’s Out of Doors programme and the BBC’s Fiona MacDonald, and are threaded through with poetry and with the sounds of the natural environment. The guides paint a picture of Scotland’s interesting and beautiful places to be experienced beyond the train doors.

The Year of Natural Scotland is a fantastic opportunity for everyone to get out and enjoy Scotland’s outstanding natural beauty.  This audio guide and app is attractive and full of fascinating stories that will reach out and engage people and visitors, helping bring their journey alive.

The app will be available in iOS and Android format and downloadable from app stores.  The guides are also available as mp3 files, downloadable from the Scottish Natural Heritage website at  A booklet giving a tiny taster of the guides will be widely distributed and will be available in electronic form from the SNH website.

The guides cover Glasgow / Edinburgh to Aberdeen, Glasgow / Edinburgh to Inverness and Glasgow to Oban.   The View from the Train app was launched in Edinburgh on 13th May.

By Claudia Rowse, Rural Development Manager, Scottish Natural Heritage

Issue 5


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