Dell Woods (Abernethy NNR) - visiting the reserve leaflet
Welcome to Dell Woods (Abernethy National Nature Reserve)
Welcome to Dell Woods, managed by NatureScot Just a few minutes from the centre of the friendly village of Nethy Bridge, Dell Woods is a haven of green where red squirrels and crested tits chatter in the trees. Easy-going trails will take you to the heart of an ancient woodland and offer links to a great network of longer routes.
Dell Woods is part of Abernethy National Nature Reserve – a vast swathe of land that sweeps from Nethy Bridge to the summits of Ben Macdui and Cairngorm, all of it within the Cairngorms National Park. The woods are an easy-to-explore forest that’s alive with birds, and with a fresh tang of Scots pine resin in the air.
On the forest floor, plants like chickweed wintergreen are evidence that this ground has been covered by forest for centuries – but that doesn’t mean it’s never changed. Almost every part of it has been felled for timber at least once. For hundreds of years men from surrounding villages worked here, cutting trees to make ships’ masts, railway sleepers and even drain pipes. Now only faint traces of their work are left, like the lades or water channels that helped float timber downstream to the Spey.
Start at the Explore Abernethy Visitor Centre in Nethy Bridge, just off the A95 between Grantown-on Spey and Boat of Garten.
Spotting crested tits, red squirrels or even (if you tread softly enough) roe deer through the trees is a great thrill. But this forest has other, hidden charms. Look out for stumps of dead wood covered in moss and lichen: up close they’re a miniature Japanese garden of extraordinary shapes and colours. You may see some trees that look as if they’ve been snapped by a grumpy giant: they’ve actually been broken by the weight of heavy winter snow. Broken timber like this is a habitat for fungi and insects, which in turn provide food for birds and animals.
If you’d like to find out more about the woods and their history, or the network of trails around Nethy Bridge, call in to the Explore Abernethy Centre in the village.
Beyond the woods, the higher ground of the Abernethy National Nature Reserve is owned and managed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds: visit their centre at Loch Garten to find out more.
- NatureScot, Achantoul, Aviemore, Inverness-shire PH22 1QD.
- Tel: 01479 810 477
- Explore Abernethy Visitor Centre
- Visiting the reserve
- About the reserve
- Visit more of our nature reserves
Need to know
Way to go
To reach the start of all the trails, follow Dell Road out of the village from the Explore Abernethy Visitor Centre for a few hundred metres. A road called Culvardie turns right for trails into the woods, while the River Walk is on the left.
A route along the River Nethy, returning through the woods to join the King’s Road Trail. There’s a stand of magnificent giant redwoods just after the trail enters the forest: although they’re not part of Dell Woods’ value as native woodland, they are rather beautiful.
Puggy Line Trail
The forest has many pools where dragonflies and damselflies breed. Along this trail, which follows the line of a light railway that used to transport timber, we’ve dug them out to make sure they stay wet enough for these shimmering insects. You might see them flying anywhere in the woods between June and September.
King’s Road Trail
You’ve a good chance of seeing red squirrels here: they’re very fond of the nuts supplied by the local business association on a feeding station just a little way along the trail! Bring your binoculars for a close up view of their antics, and listen for the chirrup of crested tits.