Scotland’s Natural Nature Reserves are truly magical places where you can experience the wonders of Scotland’s native wildlife and natural surroundings; it is a place where you can get back to nature and appreciate what lies on your own doorstep.

Highlands and Skye

Craigellachie – lies within the Cairngorms National Park and is 72 miles from MacKay's Hotel

This is a perfect destination if you fancy a light stroll from Aviemore. It combines the gentle motion of the silver birch with the constant movement of the woodland creatures. It is a perfect place if you are hoping to catch a glimpse of the Peregrine Falcon.

Best time to visit

All year round for panoramas of the Cairngorms, March to May for woodland flowers, June to September for dragonflies and butterflies.

How to get there:  West of Aviemore within easy walking distance of the village centre and train station. Follow signs from Aviemore Youth Hostel to the Reserve entrance, passing under the A9. Abernethy – lies within the Cairngorms National Park

Home to some of Scotland’s most wonderful wildlife, Abernethy is a collage of ancient Caledonian Pinewood, moorland, bog and mountain plateau.  If you are lucky you may spot the fast moving red squirrel or the restless yellow siskin.  Alternatively head for Loch Garten and watch the imposing ospreys nesting high in the treetops.

Best time to visit - April to September for birds, plants and insects. October - December for a wide range of fungi in the forest. Getting there - The two main access points to this large Reserve are Loch Garten and Nethybridge. Loch Garten is two and a half miles from Boat of Garten and four miles from Nethybridge, and is linked to both villages by minor roads and the Speyside Way. Bus service 34 runs from Aviemore to both villages and in summer the Strathspey Steam Railway stops at Boat of Garten and Broomhill, one mile north of Nethybridge. Insh Marsh – lies within the Cairngorms National Park

*for more information on this site contact the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)
One of Europe’s most important wetlands, Insh Marshes is a popular spring nesting site for goldeneyes. You’re also likely to see lapwings, redshanks and curlews, as well as oystercatchers, snipe and wigeon. The marshes flood in winter and provide roosting and feeding for flocks of whooper swans and greylag geese.

Best time to go:  November to March to see over-wintering swans, April to June to see breeding waders. How to get there:  A mile and a half from Kingussie on the B970. Frequent rail and bus services from Inverness and Perth stop in Kingussie. Glenmore – lies within the Cairngorms National Park

A haven for wildlife and outdoor enthusiasts alike, it’s no surprise that Glenmore translates from the Gaelic as the 'big glen'. You can choose to seek out some of the small but beautiful plants which are pinewood specialists, such as twinflower and one-flowered wintergreen, or just savour the fragrant carpet of needles beneath the ancient granny pines. Red squirrels, crossbills and crested tit can all be found and the forest is often alive with the sound of bird song.

Best time to visit:  All year round to see the pine forest through the seasons. April to June for bird life. How to get there:  Regular bus service from Aviemore to Glenmore. Take the B970 from Aviemore towards the Cairngorms and after six miles you will be in Glenmore Forest Park. Go through Glenmore Village and cross the bridge over the Abhainn Ruigh-eunachan. The Allt Mor car park is approximately three-quarters of a mile beyond the bridge on the left-hand side of the road (a green FCS sign indicates the access point).

The Black Isle – 14.6 miles from Mackay’s Hotel
There are many opportunities to spot a variety of wildlife.  A popular visitor attraction is dolphin spotting at Cromarty, Avoch or Portmahomack (boat hire is available for sea angling).  Additional information on the resident dolphin population and seal colony is available from the North Kessock Visitor Centre. 
The Black Isle is also a Red Kite Stronghold.  Take the opportunity to see these amazing animals close up on the close circuit TV at North Kessock and there is also plenty of Firth shoreline for bird watchers to scan for waders and wildfowl.


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