A Spotlight on Wild Discovery

Their story as a Wild Scotland Member

Map Icon

Hear from Rachel and Dan Brown about their motivation to inspire people and connect with the natural world.

Finding the “ooh and aah” moments from their guests in even the smallest of wildlife encounters is just one of the things that motivates Dan and Rachael to build their business based in Crathie, Royal Deeside, and operate across Scotland. As owner-operators and professional naturalists, their business is built on passion and driven by a desire to make their business, their community and indeed wider society aware and responsive to the biodiversity and climate change crises that are impacting us. 
They want to do more than “educate” people but inspire them to understand their connection to the natural world and positively influence their actions towards it. 

Theirs is much more than just wildlife watching but immersing people in the landscape as a whole. Seeing first-hand how sustainable land management and food production can be achieved to the benefit of both people and wildlife.  Wild Discovery, they see, is part of the well-being economy, which starts local, using local people, local food, and local transport. It means re-modulating societal thinking to focus less on business success only in economic terms, but to be aware that being part of an integrated, holistic circular economy is positive for the health of the business and the communities within which it sits. 

Nurturecampaign Wilddiscovery15 Stephensweeney

Exercising responsible access

The access rights afforded in Scotland provide great opportunities for people to get out of doors and close to nature.  Exercising responsible access is embedded in Rachael and Dan’s approach and is exemplified not just in how they conduct the tours but explained and made explicit to guests. However, seeing the impacts of disturbance first hand in wildlife, they advocate a more pragmatic approach to the Scottish Outdoor Access Code (SOAC), seeing the need for redirecting  people more strongly to reduce wildlife  and land management impacts.

Living and operating in rural areas across Scotland they are acutely aware of changes that would make a positive difference, move towards greater sustainability and closer to a net zero Scotland. The transport infrastructure desperately needs attention, but so too would further incentives and subsidies to enable rural businesses to adopt e-vehicles. The inconvenience of the lack of public conveniences, with easily accessible toilets in particular being another factor that would improve the experience for guests.The investment in multi-use paths is welcomed, more would be better as would more connectivity between routes. They could really expand a lower carbon model for their business where such policies are fully implemented at a national level. 


Adapting positively post-Covid

Following the covid lockdowns there was not only a rise in people, generally, but different audiences accessing Scotland’s countryside. Wild Discovery altered their offering during covid with short, guided self-driven tours;  they have proved so popular they have continued with e-bike tours also being added.  Covid  saw an increase in the number of small businesses operating entirely from a home location. 

Recent post-covid measures to support business greening have overlooked these small home-based businesses who were not eligible. This small loop-hole needs closing to enable small, home-based rural businesses to develop and contribute further to a more sustainable and low carbon economy. 

Wild Discovery’s guests have many “wow” moments and there are great opportunities for all guests to “give back to nature”.  All Wild Discovery tours provide a financial donation to various local wildlife charities, not only that a tree is planted in the Highlands on behalf of every guest. They can also take part in various “citizen science” projects where their “wow” moments are turned into data for scientists to analyse and use.


The need for action

“Action” is what the government could be doing more of  to support rural business to operate more sustainably. The vision of a net zero Scotland is there, but for Wild Discovery, seeing a top down change in government and land manager attitude towards their policies and practices is essential. Initiating braver and more direct actions that result in real sustainable choices at a local level are needed.  Businesses like Wild Discovery are doing their bit, but if Scotland is to meet its goals then we need to “green” more than the “green businesses”. Ensuring that local food production is given preferential pricing is one such positive change.

Wild Discovery continues to develop their business collaborating with other businesses and organisations and expanding their products and their client base to ensure as many people as possible can connect to Scottish nature and advocate for its future protection. 

What does being a Wild Scotland Member mean?

Nurturing people's need for freedom and adventure


More from Wild Discovery

Discover more about Rachel and Dan's offering

Read more >