Creag Meagaidh NNR - Visiting the reserve

Visit Creag Meagaidh NNR for the complete mountain experience.

 

 

 

 

Welcome

Welcome to Creag Meagaidh National Nature Reserve on of Scotland's best wildlife sites. At the heart of the Monadhliath mountains, Creag Meagaidh stretches from the shores of Loch Laggan to the extensive mountain ridges and steep cliffs of Coire Ardair. It has some of the most varied habitats in the Highlands, including rare alder woodland and an Arctic mountain plateau. It is a magical place where conservation work is bringing trees back to this thriving landscape. 

You can find out more about visiting below or our Creag Meagaidh leaflet is a good introduction to the reserve.

Facilities 

Toilets

The public toilet next to Aberarder farmhouse is always open.

Picnic areas

Enjoy a picnic on the Alderwood Trail, with a carved piece of oak and a wall to provide shelter.

There are also accessible picnic benches in the car park and close to the farm buildings.

Rest areas

Take a break on one of the benches on the Alderwood Trail or the stone perches along the An Sidhean Trail. The rest areas on both trails are at about 300 metre intervals.

Getting here

By car

Creag Meagaidh lies on the north shore of Loch Laggan, halfway along the A86 between Fort William and Newtonmore.

PH20 1BX is the nearest postcode.

Car parks

There is one car park with marked disabled bays and a coach parking area.

Map

Creag Meagaidh National Nature Reserve

On the A86 between Newtonmore and Spean Bridge, ten miles west of Laggan. Nearest train stations are at Newtonmore and Tulloch.

Seasonal highlights

Visit Creag Meagaidh NNR at any time of year for wonderful scenery and wildlife.

Spring

In spring dotterel and ring ouzel come back for the summer. You’ll hear the harsh calls of black grouse lekking at the edge of the woods. Red fox, badger and pine martin are all resident throughout the varied habitat. In the woodland, spring casts a pale green cloak under the trees as they burst into leaf. You may find roe deer grazing here. Golden plover may be spotted on the summit plateau and ringed plover down by Loch Laggan.

Summer

The red deer are up on the high tops, where you’ll also find ptarmigan with their chicks. Golden eagle and peregrine falcon may be seen soaring overhead, and montane willows have their catkins on show. In late summer the moors turn a rich purple.

Autumn

It’s all change in the autumn, as the trees take on the rusts and reds of winter foliage. The roaring of red deer in rut resounds across the hillsides. Winter thrushes – the redwings and fieldfares – begin to arrive. Flocks of finches work their way across the cropped areas, feeding as they go.

Winter

Winter is a time for walking. The high summits are popular with mountaineers, who come for some of the best ice-climbing in the UK. You might spot black grouse in the birch woodland. Otter and water vole may be seen along the crystal clear burns. And golden eagles circle overhead. Red deer return to the woods and can be seen at lower levels.

Trails

There are three trails to explore at Creag Meagaidh - the An Sidhean, Alderwood and Allt Dubh trails.  

To get a real sense of what makes Creag Meagaidh special, keep walking up the glen from the high point of the Allt Dubh Trail and you will reach Coire Ardair (pronounced ‘corry ardour’) – a wild but peaceful place with a loch beneath dramatic cliffs (10.4 km / 6.5 miles round trip). The path is easy to follow, with no steep climbs, but you should allow four hours there and back.

Need to know

Dogs can disturb wildlife. Please keep dogs on a short lead or under close control at sensitive times and respect any notices you see.

Going to Coire Ardair or further into the mountains? The weather can change quickly and it’ll be colder and windier than at lower levels, with no shelter. You’ll need good footwear, warm and waterproof clothes, food, water, a map and compass, and experience of mountain walking.

Avalanches also happen here in winter, so please check the reports at Scottish Avalanche Service before you go.

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An Sìdhean Trail

An Sìdhean (pronounced ‘ann SHEE-ann’) is Gaelic for ‘fairy knoll’. A circular route with good views of the hills and loch. Look out for a glimpse of black grouse, woodcock, woodland birds and fairies if you’re lucky!

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Alderwood Trail

A lovely meander through alder wood at the foot of Creag Meagaidh. Plenty of seats and tables to picnic or to sit and look out for siskins and redpolls.

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Allt Dubh Trail

Pronounced ‘alt doo’ meaning ‘black burn’ in Gaelic. A path that takes you into the heart of the reserve with great views of the hills, woodland and the loch below. Couple of seats to stop and admire the views.