Tayside and Grampian: what to see
Five National Nature Reserves await your discovery. Explore sand dunes, grasslands, lochs and an imposing landscape carved out by glaciers.
Corrie Fee National Nature Reserve is great to visit at any time of the year. This breathtaking glacial landscape in Cairngorms National Park is one of Britain’s most important sites for arctic-alpine plants. The Fee Trail leaflet explains some of the amazing stories behind the scenery and the wildlife it supports. It also has some great ‘trail tips’ to help you get ready for your adventure.
Muir of Dinnet National Nature Reserve is a magical mosaic of woodland, heath and open water. Wander through birch woodlands and savour the tranquillity of the clear, still loch. The Burn O’Vat is an impressive example of nature’s sculptural work.
Loch Leven National Nature Reserve supports countless birds. The loch’s huge expanse of water is an ideal home for tufted duck and teal, and huge flocks of wintering wildfowl. In summer, ospreys patrol the loch in search of fish. Sweetly scented holy grass – an ancient form of incense – grows on the marshy edges.
The constantly shifting dunes of Forvie National Nature Reserve have a stark beauty. Layers of history come and go as the sands move – even the remains of a 12th century church were once buried here. Bird life is plentiful, especially on the Ythan estuary, home of the eider. Watch the summer acrobatics of diving terns or wading oystercatchers stab at buried molluscs with their long beaks. In winter, the dunes are alive with feeding snow bunting.
Inland cliffs and a seaward ridge of sand dunes protect the grasslands of St Cyrus National Nature Reserve from the worst weather. Colour and life flood this small strip of warmth in summer. Clustered bellflower adds an intense purple, and butterflies and moths flit about constantly. You might catch sight of a peregrine falcon circling high above, waiting for its moment to dive for prey.