Explore Scotland’s National Nature Reserves
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.