Highlands: Scotland's Wild Heart

Autumn and Winter - Against All Odds

Series 1 - Episode 3 Autumn and Winter - Against All Odds

Mon 13 Apr 8pm - 9pm BBC Scotland


You’ll need a heart of lead not to be moved by the plight of a grey seal pup, separated from its mother during a ferocious storm that’s battered the Orkney island of Copinsay. Whimpering pitifully, the wee thing flaps and flops along the shore as it looks for the provider of the 50-per-cent-fat milk that will keep it alive, as a plangent violin plays on the soundtrack. If only it didn’t have those great big chocolate-y eyes…

But life can be nasty, brutish and short in the Highlands in the autumn and winter, though for some the savage cold and bitter blizzards are mere nothings. Like the herd of reindeer, reintroduced into Scotland in the 1950s, where they have since thrived. They must mate quickly before winter sets in, which is a good chat-up line when you think about it.


Ewan McGregor narrates as summer gives way to autumn and winter in the Highlands. From October to February, extreme weather is expected to batter the Cairngorm plateau. For the region's wildlife, these brutal, dark seasons trigger a game of endurance for which they must carefully prepare. Throughout the autumn, Scotland's reindeer bulls fight for dominance in ruts that can last for hours, and hurricane-strength winds lash a seal colony on Copinsay, where vulnerable pups must stay close to their mother if they are to have a chance of surviving. As winter arrives, the Highlands are blanketed in snow and ice, and while the frigid landscape retains its beauty, the moment of truth arrives for mountain hares, ptarmigan and golden eagles.

Cast & Crew

Narrator Ewan McGregor
Director Simon Williams
Executive Producer Nigel Pope
Producer Simon Williams
Producer Justin Purefoy
Producer Jackie Savery
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Documentary Science