Muir of Dinnet NNR - Visiting the reserve

With wildlife, woodland walks and the spectacular Vat Gorge, Muir of Dinnet NNR has something for everyone.

 

 

 

For visitors

Welcome to Muir of Dinnet National Nature Reserve one of Scotland’s best wildlife sites. The reserve blends, woodland, heath, open water and an impressive example of natures sculptural work, all on one site. Visit the 'Vat', a giant pothole carved by a huge meltwater stream during the last Ice Age. Elsewhere, wander through birch woodlands, watch for the flash of a damselfly's wings or savour the peace and tranquility of a summer reflection in the clear water of the lochs. Or explore the reserves history by visiting the Kinnord Cross, a carved Pictish stone or search for the traces of the Iron Age village.

You can find out more about visiting below or our Muir of Dinnet leaflet is a good introduction to the reserve.

Waterborne access

Do not take water-borne access (paddleboarding, kayaking, canoeing, swimming) to Loch Kinord from 17 June until 31 August.

Please do not take water-borne access during this period when breeding birds are present across the loch and are easily disturbed.

There is no water based access to Loch Davan at any time. 

Guidance on responsible access out with this time is being developed and will be published by the end of August. 

You can find out more on this in our latest news release.

For more information on responsible outdoor access in Scotland, see www.outdooraccess-scotland.scot.

Visitor centre - currently closed

Open 9am to 5pm (between Easter and October) and 10am to 4pm the rest of the year (staff permitting).

Here you’ll find panels telling the story of how the different elements of the reserve evolved, and what you’re likely to see. Find out how glaciers carved the landscape. You’ll also learn how the lochs and bogs formed, how well the woodland is doing and why the reserve is so special.

To help you explore, a model of the reserve shows you the main habitats, places to visit and where the paths go. Touch tables and displays show items found around the reserve.

You’ll also find information on events at Muir of Dinnet and the latest sightings around the reserve.

Telephone: 01339 881667

Toilets

The toilets are open all year round and are a short distance from the visitor centre.

Picnic areas

There are two picnic benches near the visitor centre. Both are wheelchair accessible and reached by a surfaced track.

Rest areas

There are three recycled plastic benches with backrests around the visitor centre and car park. The benches are low and all are set on uneven grass with no surfaced access.

There is informal perch seating on the Vat Trail and the Little Ord Trail.

Getting here

By public transport

The nearest bus stop is in Dinnet. Bluebird buses will often stop on request at the junction between the B9119 and the A93, 2.5 kilometres from Burn O’Vat. There is no roadside pavement along the B9119.

The nearest railway station is Insch (34 kilometres from Dinnet) on the Inverness to Aberdeen line.

By bike

The nearest cycleway is the Dinnet to Ballater section of the Deeside Way.

By car

From Aberdeen, follow the A93 Aberdeen to Ballater road, which passes through Dinnet. The main car park is at the Burn O’Vat visitor centre, 6 kilometres from Dinnet. Head south-west on the A93 for 4 kilometres, then turn onto the B9119. There are no width or height restrictions at the car park, and there are dedicated disabled bays.

AB34 5NB is the nearest postcode.

Parking is also available in the village of Dinnet or at New Kinord, west of the A97. Head north out of Dinnet and take the first minor road on the left to the car park.

Location map

Muir of Dinnet National Nature Reserve

The Burn o’ Vat Visitor Centre is two and a half miles (one hour walk) from Dinnet Village and is signposted from both the A93 Aberdeen to Ballater road and the B9119 at Milton of Logie.

Stagecoach Bluebird service 201 stops in Dinnet Village. The reserve can be accessed via the footpath from the village car park.

Seasonal highlights

The Vat is impressive at any time of year. Spring and winter are best for birds.

Spring

Spring spreads a pale green mantle of new leaves on the birch and aspen woodland. Delicate celandine and wood anemone carpet the ground. Resident birds are beginning to breed and summer visitors, such as swallows and willow warblers, are arriving back from Africa.

Summer

Honey-scented heather covers the heath and you can catch glimpses of young birds and animals. You may even see ospreys feeding on the lochs. As you walk through wet areas, listen for the tell-tale whirr of dragonflies and damselflies. There are several species here, including common hawker, black darter and the impressive golden-ringed dragonfly.

Autumn

The reserve turns gold in autumn, with the leaves falling In a blaze of glory. Wintering birds return to the lochs and fungi flourish in the woodland, including the spectacular bright red fly agaric.

Winter

In the depths of winter, Muir of Dinnet is a winter wonderland. Stunning scenery combined with a wealth of winter birds makes it perfect for a walk in the woodlands or along the shore of the loch. There are often huge icicles in the Vat. You may see flocks of finches and possibly even the occasional otter.       

Trails for all

Explore the reserve on four clearly marked trails. Choose from a half-hour stroll or a half-day walk round one of the lochs or something in between. The trails all start from the visitor centre. However, you can also explore the reserve from Dinnet village or connect to the trails at Cambus o'May for a longer day out. You can find a map of the trails in our reserve leaflet.

Parkin’s Moss Trail

Raised bogs are mysterious places where the ground is more water than solid earth. Find out what makes them so special – there’s a boardwalk to keep your feet dry!

Loch Kinord Trail

A circular route around the loch that takes you through Muir of Dinnet’s woodland, with beautiful views across the loch.

The Vat Trail

Explore the woodland and scramble into the Vat – a huge granite cauldron formed by glaciers 20,000 years ago. Climb up to the viewpoint to learn about the Reserve and admire the lochs. For an easier, low-level option, you can follow the lower section of the path “there and back” to the Vat.

Little Ord Trail

People have lived on the Reserve for thousands of years. On this trail you can explore some of the traces they’ve left behind, including a crannog and a beautiful Pictish cross.