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Beinn Eighe NNR - Visiting the reserve

Visit Beinn Eighe at any time of year and you’ll not be disappointed.

 

 

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Getting here

The main access for visitors to Beinn Eighe and Loch Maree Islands NNR is at the south-east end of Loch Maree near the village of Kinlochewe. The directions below will take you to the reserve visitor centre.

The Coille na Glas-Leitir car park, where the mountain and woodland trails start, is about 2.5 kilometres west of the visitor centre on the A832.

The Slattadale car park, which gives the best views across Loch Maree and the islands, is about 15 kilometres further along the A832 towards Gairloch.

By car

From the village of Kinlochewe, head 3 kilometres north-west on the A832 Inverness–Gairloch road.

By public transport

The nearest bus stop is in Kinlochewe (3 kilometres from the visitor centre car park). There is a limited bus service from Inverness. A path connects the village to the visitor centre.

The nearest train station is at Achnasheen (15 kilometres from Kinlochewe) on the Inverness–Kyle of Lochalsh line.

Map

Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve

Reserve bounds the south edge of Kinlochewe village.

Visitor centre is half a mile north-west of the village.

Trails Car Park is two miles north-west of the village, off the A832.

Limited bus service from Inverness.

For visitors

Visit Beinn Eighe is a good introduction to the reserve.

Visitor centre

Open March to October: 10am to 5pm. Entry is free.

Learn the story of the reserve through panoramic displays, excellent photography and information boards. Orientate yourself using the 3D map, and check the latest information on what wildlife you can see and where.

You’ll see lots of wildlife from the viewing window that looks out into the woodland over a pond and bird feeders.

There is also information on places to go around the reserve and Wester Ross to enjoy walks, scenery and wildlife.

Visitor centre: 01445 760258 (March to October – answering machine when centre closed)

Office: 01463 701660 (November to February – answering machine outwith office hours)

Toilets

There are toilets at the visitor centre, which are open 24 hours a day all year round.

Picnic areas

Enjoy a picnic on the benches at the visitor centre, which have good wheelchair access. There are also picnic tables with fixed benches on the grass banks beside the Coille na Glas-Leitir car park.

Rest areas

Take breaks and enjoy the scenery at the regular resting places on the waymarked trails by the visitor centre.

Both the woodland trail and the wooded section of the mountain trail have evenly spaced benches. There are also many boulders to sit on along the mountain trail.

Accommodation and services

The village of Kinlochewe close to the reserve has accommodation and amenities for visitors. There is a campsite and caravan park, hotels and B&Bs in the village. There is also a garage, cafe and small shop.

Trails for all

There are plenty of walks to enjoy at Beinn Eighe. Waymarked trails leave from the visitor centre just outside Kinlochewe or the Coille na Glas-Leitir car park on the shores of Loch Maree.

From the visitor centre

Two routes start in the woodland from here: the Pine cone and the Buzzard trails. Another path connects these trails to the village of Kinlochewe.

The Pine cone trail and the path to Kinlochewe have flat, level surfaces and low gradients.

The longer Buzzard trail explores more open ground, providing excellent views of the Beinn Eighe ridge and surrounding countryside.

From Coille na Glas-Leitir car park

From the shore of Loch Maree you can choose:

• A woodland walk with a chance of spotting some of the reserve’s characteristic species. This trail is great for seeing woodland birds including crossbills, tree pipits and siskins. Look closer and you may see unusual beetles exploring the fallen deadwood, or dragonflies and damselflies flying past in search of food.

• A more difficult mountain trail of just over 6 kilometres – it may take 3 or 4 hours. On this trail look out for dippers splashing in the cascading burns, golden eagles soaring above the ridges and alpine plants clinging to the higher slopes.

The paths on these trails are narrow and have many steps. You will need sturdy footwear.

For the more serious hillwalker or mountaineer, there are lots of options on Beinn Eighe. Find information on these routes in the many guidebooks covering the area or on the WalkHighlands website.

Seasonal highlights

You’re sure to find something of interest all year round at Beinn Eighe.

Spring

Spring sees the reserve bursting into life as the delicate birch buds burst to reveal the palest green leaves. The undergrowth is patterned with the pale blooms of wood anemone, primrose and bluebell.

In early spring, golden eagles perch on their nests guarding their clutches of eggs. Now, too, the sea eagle starts nesting and may be spotted soaring above the islands.

Spring also sees the return of the black-throated divers with their glorious markings and red-amber eyes. Once again their haunting cries echo around the loch and mountains. Other breeding migrant birds return such as common sandpipers, cuckoos and various warblers.

Summer

As the temperature rises, dazzling dragonflies like northern emerald and golden-ringed dragonflies cluster around bogs and rivers. Listen for the chirruping call of the crossbill, which uses its unique beak to prise seeds from pine cones. Orchids come into flower, such as the small and delicate lesser twayblade and creeping ladies tresses.

The beauty of the islands unfolds in the ancient undisturbed woodland, which can be seen from the shores of Loch Maree. It is so important because it’s largely undisturbed, and these woodlands are among the most natural in the UK.

Autumn

The majestic red deer stags are reaching full fitness ready for the rutting season. During the rut, their roars echo across the hillsides and islands, evoking an atmosphere of earlier, more primitive times.

Meanwhile, the reserve is cloaked in the stunning russets, reds, golds and yellows of a Highland autumn. The autumn colours alongside the dramatic scenery offer great photographic opportunities.  Now, too, the last of the breeding black-throated divers leave the islands, having finally fledged their young.

Winter

This is perhaps the most beautiful time to visit the reserve, as the landscape turns starkly wintry, and there may be a fall of snow. The dark greys of the graceful standing dead pines are cut through by the white ribbons of fast-flowing streams.

Visit on a sunny winter’s day to enjoy the reserve at its glorious best: spectacular snow-capped mountains reflected in a clear blue loch speckled with dark green islands.

Watch out for goldeneye on the loch. Although they don't breed here, they are very welcome winter visitors.