Ex­plore Scot­land’s Na­tional Na­ture Re­serves

The Oban Times - - OUTDOORS -

Scot­land’s Na­tional Na­ture Re­serves (NNRS) are the per­fect places to clear away the cob­webs and walk-off the fes­tive sea­son ex­cess, says Scot­tish Nat­u­ral Her­itage (SNH).

SNH wel­comed more than 650,000 vis­i­tors to its NNRs last year and some of the most pop­u­lar are high­lighted here.

Flan­ders Moss (20 min­utes north-west of Stir­ling).

Flan­ders Moss is one of the largest re­main­ing in­tact raised bogs in Bri­tain.

Take a mo­ment to savour this wild and an­cient land­scape which has hardly changed for thou­sands of years. On a clear win­ter’s day, you can en­joy the awe-in­spir­ing soli­tude of the re­serve from the view­ing tower.

There is of­ten a scenic back­drop of snow-capped moun­tains. Lis­ten out for win­ter­ing geese fly­ing over at dusk to roost at Lake of Men­teith.

Craigel­lachie, Aviemore (45 min­utes south of In­ver­ness).

Only a few min­utes from Aviemore, the birch woods of Craigel­lachie NNR sit just above the A9. The re­serve has sev­eral foot­paths that me­an­der through the wood­lands and past lochs, per­fect for a leisurely af­ter-lunch stroll. There is also a longer route lead­ing to a viewpoint where you can en­joy su­perb views of the snow-capped Cairn­gorm Moun­tains. The crags (or steep cliff faces) which give the re­serve its name are home to pere­grine fal­cons.

Beinn Eighe and Loch Ma­ree Is­lands, near Kin­lochewe (one hour and 10 min­utes west of In­ver­ness).

Beinn Eighe is the UK’s oldest NNR, des­ig­nated in 1951. The re­serve cov­ers 48 sq km, stretch­ing from loch-side to moun­tain top, of­fer­ing a va­ri­ety of trails in­clud­ing shel­tered wood­land walks as well as ex­posed moun­tain routes. The wood­land here is an­cient Cale­do­nian pine for­est, with very old ‘granny pines’ found on the lower slopes. More frag­ments can be found on the 60-plus is­lands scat­tered across Loch Ma­ree.

Keep an eye out for deer and white-tailed sea ea­gles and golden ea­gles.

Creag Mea­gaidh, near Lag­gan (one hour and 30 min­utes south­west of In­ver­ness).

Creag Mea­gaidh NNR is the com­plete moun­tain ex­pe­ri­ence. From its wild moun­tain plateau to wood­land that is slowly re­turn­ing to life, Creag Mea­gaidh feels like the High­lands com­pressed into one re­serve. The dra­matic scenery here in­cludes Munro sum­mits, an ex­posed whale­back ridge and ice­carved gul­lies.

Look out for black grouse, golden ea­gles and red deer. Foxes, pine martens, bad­gers and ot­ters are all found here too.

Creag Mea­gaidh NNR is the com­plete moun­tain ex­pe­ri­ence.

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