Hides and reserves in the Highlands

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  • Craigellachie Nature Reserve
    Craigellachie Nature Reserve
  • The uninhabited island of Handa
    The uninhabited island of Handa
  • Looking across Insh Marshes nature reserve
    Insh Marshes nature reserve
  • Loch Garten in the Abernethy Forest
    Loch Garten in the Abernethy Forest

Explore the beautiful landscape of the Highlands, which is home to a variety of wildlife. There are many nature centres and reserves in the Highlands, where you can not only admire the scenery but look out for many rare species from birds to mammals, sealife to insects.

Boasting unspoilt wilderness and some of the best hillwalking in the country, Cairngorms National Park is Britain’s largest National Park. It incorporates nine National Nature Reserves (NNR) and plays host to 25 percent of the UK’s threatened wildlife species, like the golden eagle.

Discover the breathtaking landscape of Corrie Fee NNR, home to the scarce arctic-alpine plants, rare mountain willows, golden eagles and peregrines, or head to Glenmore Forest NNR by Aviemore, where you can spot red squirrels, crossbills and crested tits.

Head south to the Abernethy NNR, where you will find a mosaic of Caledonian pinewood, moorland and bog, and where imposing ospreys nest high in the tree tops near Loch Garten.

To the west of the Cairngorms National Park lies Glen Affric NNR. This long, thin reserve changes significantly from west to east and offers visitors a great range of different experiences. Look out for the red and black-throated divers and the elusive otters and dippers which inhabit the tumultuous River Affric, and when in the west end of the glen, watch out for the golden eagles hunting over the slopes.

For a complete mountain experience, head to Creag Meagaidh NNR on the north shore of Loch Laggan. It is an important breeding ground birds such as dotterels, and rare mountain plants like Highland saxifrage. The area has been designated as both a Special Protection Area and a NNR.

Further north, do not miss Beinn Eighe NNR near Kinlochewe. Enjoy the great trail network of Britain’s first National Nature Reserve and discover the amazing diversity of wildlife including secretive crossbills and golden eagles.

You can follow the scenic trails at Craigellachie NNR and try to spot peregrine falcons, admire the rare butterflies and dragonflies at Ariundle Oakwood NNR, while Glen Tanar NNR is a popular breeding area for Scottish crossbills, capercaillies and black grouse.

Or why not venture to the far north of the Scottish Highlands to the North West Highlands Geopark in Assynt? Situated north of the busy ferry and fishing town of Ullapool at the shore of Loch Assynt, the park is the first in Scotland of its kind and takes in around 2,000 square km of stunning and varied terrain. From mountain landscapes to sandy beaches, forest to coastline, the area provides shelters to a great diversity of wildlife and is also home to the country’s longest cave, Uamh an Claonaite.

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  1. John Muir Trust, Isle Of Skye

    Type

    Nature Centres & Reserves

    Gradings

    Broadford

    The John Muir Trust’s care for three estates on Skye: Torrin, Strathaird and Sconser.

  2. Handa Island

    Type

    Nature Centres & Reserves

    Gradings

    Scourie

    Managed by the Scottish Wildlife Trust as a nature reserve, Handa Island is a beautiful place and a fantastic day trip.

  3. Shian Wood

    Type

    Nature Centres & Reserves

    Gradings

    East Lochaber

    Shian Wood is an ancient semi-natural woodland typical of the Atlantic coast of Scotland

  4. Craigellachie National Nature Reserve

    Type

    Nature Centres & Reserves

    Gradings

    Aviemore

    Craigellachie is a National Nature Reserve near Aviemore.

  5. Gradings

    • 3 Visitor Attraction
    3 Visitor Attraction

    Kyleakin

    Learn about the local and natural history of Kyleakin and Eilen Ban at the Bright Water Visitor Centre and discover the diverse wildlife that dwells there.

  6. Knoydart

    Type

    Nature Centres & Reserves

    Gradings

    Knoydart

    The Knoydart peninsula is one of the wildest parts of Scotland.

  7. Rassal Ashwood

    Type

    Nature Centres & Reserves

    Gradings

    Kishorn

    Rassal Ashwood is a woodland which grows on a rare outcrop of limestone in Wester Ross.

  8. Seadrift Centre

    Type

    Exhibitions

    Gradings

    Caithness and North Coast Sutherland area

    Nestled on Dunnet Bay, the Seadrift Centre is the perfect place to discover and learn about the local wildlife of the Highlands.

  9. Ailnack Gorge

    Type

    Nature Centres & Reserves

    Gradings

    Tomintoul

    At 600 ft wide, 300 ft deep and 6 miles long, the Ailnack Gorge is Scotland's largest glacial melt water channel.

  10. Gradings

    Ullapool

    Corrieshalloch Gorge and Falls Of Measach are a spectacular mile-long gorge and waterfall.

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