Sitting in a hammock 100ft up in a tree, Tim Chamberlain feels calm and relaxed.

For the director and team leader of adventure tourism business Wild Tree Adventures, it is a habitat he feels very at home in and has been guiding people through the experience for the past few years.

In the past three years he has grown the business and was looking forward to a successful 2020 when lockdown struck. While restrictions have meant he hasn’t been able to offer the full range of packages, it hasn’t stopped him continuing to embrace nature.

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“I have spent a couple of summer nights up in the hammock,” said Mr Chamberlain. “For me it is tranquil and relaxing and you get a different perspective of nature. The views are amazing and you get to see things in a completely different way from when you are on the ground.

“As soon as I leave the ground, everything feels a bit different – a bit special and magical.”

A trained zoologist, he began climbing trees when he was monitoring rare birds and didn’t feel particularly confident scaling the height of some trees.

“I was handed a harness and flipline and that was pretty much and didn't feel that confident so I decided to get trained up properly and it all led on from there,” added Mr Chamberlain.

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Moving on from 2020, he is looking forward to welcoming people back and says there has been a great deal of interest.

“People have been very supportive and want to make the most of exploring their local area," he added. "I was very cautious and apprehensive about opening up and we had a few things booked for the autumn which were later cancelled.

“However, in the meantime we have still been trying to share the interest and experiences. Hopefully next year we will be able offer people adventure packages.

“We take people up 100ft and sometimes you will get people who think there is no way they could do it. Then they get to the top and look around and it is great to see their massive sense of achievement.”

For Sally Dowden, who runs Speyside Wildlife, 2020 has been a year of change and adapting.

Ms Dowden set up Speyside Wildlife 30 years ago and has actively supported the growth of wildlife tourism in Scotland. They run guided wildlife watching holidays throughout Scotland and overseas from the Arctic to the Antarctic, from their base in the Cairngorms National Park.

They also have daily guided trips out in the Cairngorms and an evening wildlife viewing facility in the National Park from which guests can see badgers and pine martens.

Ms Dowden said: “As lockdown happened we had, as usual, over 80% holidays booked by guests for the remainder of 2020 and a number already booked for 2021. We decided on Day 1 that given the complete uncertainty, fear and dread circulating from a completely unknown pandemic, what our guests would want from us was certainty, clarity and peace of mind. That’s what they’re always looking for when they book their holidays with us and this was no different.

“We decided therefore to offer them an immediate transfer of their 2020 holiday bookings to the same holiday in 2021 for no fee and no price increase. I am very pleased to say that over 95% of guests graciously took us up on that offer and made the transfer.”

When the tourism industry was able to open up again in the summer, Speyside Wildlife decided to open up evening wildlife watching and day guided trips.

Ms Dowden added: “We knew exactly what we had to do to comply with social distancing both in the hide and also out in the great outdoors; for example, we stopped collecting guests for the days out and met them at designated places, so that they could stay socially distanced at all times.”

During lockdown guides, who are self-employed, also decided among themselves to do "virtual" birdwatching experiences on the company's Facebook page, highlighting such areas as the Cairngorms, the River Tweed and the Carse of Stirling.

“I knew that we would get through this and we could rise to any challenge. I think it’s only because we work in the natural environment that we get that strength," added Ms Dowden.