The first whale trail of its kind in the UK is being developed.

The Hebridean Whale Trail will be a network of around 25 world-class whale-watching and whale heritage sites.

The Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust is asking for ideas on the top sites for spotting whales, dolphins and porpoises from land on Scotland’s west coast.

The project will promote Scotland as one of Europe’s best destinations for spotting whales, dolphins and porpoises – collectively known as cetaceans – and champion conservation of the Hebrides’ unique, globally important marine wildlife and environment.

Due for a summer 2019 launch, the ambitious initiative will connect and support existing wildlife tourism businesses and heritage sites of national cultural significance that showcase the history of people’s relationships with whales in the Hebrides. Many of these will be small, community-run visitor centres at spectacular sites.

Karl Stevens, Hebridean Whale Trail Manager, said: "People currently visit Scotland for the landscapes, wildlife and culture – but not necessarily to see cetaceans. With the Hebrides being one of the best places in Europe to see these spectacular animals, we want to add them to the mix – and our research shows that the potential is huge.

“We’re keen to hear from local people, communities and businesses for their ideas and suggestions – to ensure the Hebridean Whale Trail embodies the spirit of the Hebrides, and places Scotland’s land-based whale watching opportunities on the international map.”

Scotland’s west coast offers excellent opportunities for accessible, land-based whale watching, with a remarkable range of species to be spotted. The region’s seas are home to around a quarter of the world’s whale and dolphin species – including bottlenose, Risso’s and common dolphins, harbour porpoises, minke whales and Orca.

David Adams McGilp, VisitScotland Regional Partnerships Director, said: “This new Whale Trail will help cement Scotland’s reputation as one of the best places in the Europe to watch marine life, and provides a platform for local communities to come together and promote everything that makes the Hebrides such a unique and special place.

“With figures suggesting nature-based activities are worth nearly 40% of all tourism spending in Scotland, our natural heritage is certainly an important asset when attracting visitors.”

Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust will be planning and developing the project over the next year, identifying potential sites for inclusion on the trail in close collaboration with individuals, communities, site owners, conservation organisations, schools, local businesses, visitor centres and tour operators.

The trust hopes to identify sites from the Clyde in the south to Cape Wrath in the far north, and as far west as St Kilda. There will be a variety of locations from remote and dramatic headlands and sea lochs, white sandy beaches, and bustling harbours.