Mar Lodge Estate

The combination of heather moorland, Caledonian pine forest and expansive wetlands is the perfect post-lockdown return to nature. Mar Lodge covers 29,000 hectares of iconic Scottish landscape. Visitors may be able to spot red squirrels, otters, red deer and ptarmigan (a bird found exclusively in the Highlands). The most accessible walking route takes you through the ancient pine forest, with the chance to spot rare birds like the black grouse and Scottish crossbill. The trail takes a little over an hour on a pretty easy path, passing the raging waters of the Lui where you can try to spot dippers and goosanders. When you reach the pinewood viewpoint take a moment to savour the stunning views into the mountains.

Mar Lodge Estate, Braemar, AB35 5YJ

Insh Marshes

These wetlands in Kingussie are the perfect place for spotting waterfowl. In the spring and summer lapwings, curlews, snipe and redshank can all be spotted probing the marshes for food. The marshes are right next to Loch Insh and the River Spey, so there’s a chance to spot ospreys hunting for fish among the warmer months. Your best bet for exploring the marshes in all their glory is to take a two-hour walk that starts in the reserve car park off the B970. This walk combines the Invertromie and Tromie Meadow trails that takes you through a peaceful section of birch woodland where you can hear tree pipits and redstarts throughout the summer. Take a break in one of the hides which offer views of the Monadhliath Mountains and the chance to spot hen harriers.

Ivy Cottage, Kingussie, PH21 1NT

Lang Craigs

Lang Craigs has everything the nature lover could want: ancient forests, sheltered glens, rugged moorland and young woodland. Keep an eye out for roe deer, foxes and brown hares. There’s birds-a-plenty along the trails including peregrine falcons, sparrowhawks, green woodpeckers and cuckoos. On the higher ground, keep your eyes peeled for green hairstreak butterflies and emperor moths. There’s a variety of walks of varying degrees of difficulty – for a combination of nature and local history, take the Crags Circular Path.

Lang Craigs, Dumbarton, G82 2AY

Glen Finglas

This glen is the epitome of Southern Highland scenery, with a mixture of glassy lochs, heather-covered uplands, hidden glens and ancient woodlands. The woodland at the start of the 15-mile walk along the Mell Circuit is home to carpets of bluebells alongside a chorus of warblers and singing redstarts during the springtime. Further up on the heathlands, look out for black grouse performing their courtship leks as they try to attract a mate.

Glen Finglas, near Callander, FK17 8HU

Abernethy National Nature Reserve

There are plenty of footpaths and boardwalks to help you explore this mosaic of moorland, wetlands, mountains and Caldonian pinewood. The low-level Two Lochs trails takes you on a 1.7 mile path with views across Loch Garten and Loch Mallachie where you may be able to spot crested tits and capercaillie. For more experienced walkers looking for a bit of a challenge, there are some incredible high-level walks stretching from Loch Garten into the wilds of the Cairngorms.

Abernethy National Nature Reserve, Nethy Bridge, PH25 3DW


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