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Scot's Pines at Glen Tanar NNR.  :copyright:Lorne Gill/SNH

Glen Tanar NNR

A living forest

Glen Tanar provides a great opportunity to explore classic Caledonian pinewood in search of its elusive wildlife. A darting red squirrel or an acrobatic Scottish crossbill might be watching from above as you wander through ancient trees. Or, from the banks of the river, you might see the silvery flash of a salmon powering upstream.

Glen Tanar Estate manages Glen Tanar NNR. Find out more:

A rocky stream and the Buchaille Etive Mor from Rannoch Moor.  :copyright:Lorne Gill/SNH

Glencoe NNR

A spectacular and dramatic landscape

Surrounded by towering mountains, Glencoe is one of Scotland's most spectacular places. No description can prepare you for the impact of seeing the glen for the first time. It has long been famous – known equally for its awe-inspiring views and sorrowful past. You’ll find history, wildlife, adventure and myths at Glencoe.

The National Trust for Scotland manages Glencoe NNR. Find out more:

Scots pine woodland, Rothiemurchus, Glenmore, Cairngorm National Park.  :copyright:Lorne Gill

Glenmore NNR

Towering pines and sandy beaches

A haven for wildlife and outdoor enthusiasts alike, it’s no surprise that Glenmore translates from the Gaelic as the ‘big glen’. Seek out the small but beautiful plants that are pinewood specialists – such as twinflower and one-flowered wintergreen. Or just savour the fragrant carpet of needles beneath the ancient ‘granny pines’. Red squirrels, crossbills and crested tit can all be seen, and the forest is often alive with the sound of bird song.

Forestry Commission Scotland manages Glenmore NNR. Find out more:

Gannet colonies on the Sea cliffs at Hermaness NNR, Unst, Shetland.   ©Lorne Gill/SNH

Hermaness NNR

A feast for the senses The sounds, sights and smells of Hermaness are full of drama. Gannets glide past, searching the waves relentlessly, and then dive into the water at breakneck speed. Puffins waddle comically from their clifftop burrows in early summer. And, away from the bustle of the cliffs, great skuas and red-throated divers nest in the open moorland. Scottish Natural Heritage manages Hermaness NNR. Find out more:

Insh Marshes NNR, near aviemore.   ©Lorne Gill

Insh Marshes NNR

Wetland wonder

One of Europe’s most important wetlands, Insh Marshes is a popular spring nesting site for goldeneyes. You’re also likely to see lapwings, redshanks and curlews, as well as oystercatchers, snipe and wigeon. The marshes flood in winter and provide roosting and feeding for flocks of whooper swans and greylag geese.

RSPB Scotland manages Insh Marshes NNR. Find out more:

Invereshie National Nature Reserve, Glenfeshie, Cairngorms National Park.  ©Lorne Gill/SNH

Invereshie and Inshriach NNR

Massive mountains and miniature pines

Perched on the edge of the Cairngorm plateau, twisted and gnarled pines mark your passage from peaceful pinewood to exposed mountain. Red squirrel, pine marten, crested tit and crossbill all make this expanding wood their home, along with buzzing insect life in the boggy areas. Up on the plateau, battered by the wind and snow, look for the resilient dotterel, ptarmigan and mountain hare.

Scottish Natural Heritage manages Invereshie and Inshriach NNR. Find out more:

Open day on the Isle of May National Nature Reserve, July 2016.  ©Lorne Gill/SNH

Isle of May NNR

Seals and seabirds

Anchored on the edge of the Firth of Forth, the Isle of May is a magical mix of seabirds, seals and smugglers. In early summer the cliffs are heaving with nesting seabirds – a noisy spectacle you can see from the clifftop path. The island is also home to the much-loved, comical puffin. There’s a dark past here too, though, with Vikings and smugglers on the list of previous visitors.

Scottish Natural Heritage manages the Isle of May NNR. Find out more:

Geological interpretation at the rock room, Knockan Crag NNR.  ©Lorne Gill/SNH

Knockan Crag NNR

Where continents collide

Knockan Crag holds the key to an amazing story of colliding continents and scientific intrigue. The low cliff of Knockan exposes rocks that set the scientific world ablaze in the 19th century. This followed the discovery that a slice of old rocks sits on top of much younger ones. The Moine Thrust – as it’s known – was created by the force of two continents crashing together many millions of years ago.

Scottish Natural Heritage manages Knockan Crag NNR. Find out more:

Aerial view of Loch Fleet NNR, North Highland Area.   ©P&A Macdonald/SNH

Loch Fleet NNR

Moving with the tides

Linger on the edge of the basin at low tide and marvel at the intense feeding activity of hungry wading birds. Walk out onto the sand dunes and enjoy the carpet of wildflowers set against a backdrop of grey lichen. Or take in the fresh scent of pine needles while searching out rare pinewood plants.

Scottish Natural Heritage manages Loch Fleet NNR. Find out more:

Panorama of Loch Leven NNR and the Lomond hills from the bird hide near Kinross, Tayside and Clackmannanshire Area.  ©Lorne Gill/SNH

Loch Leven NNR

Wildlife and history

A huge expanse of open water, Loch Leven provides an ideal home for countless birds. Watch the quiet persistence of tufted duck diving for food, or marvel at the awe-inspiring sight of huge flocks of wintering wildfowl. In summer, ospreys patrol the loch in search of a fish supper. And on the marshy margins your nose might lead you to sweetly scented holy grass – an ancient form of incense.

RSPB Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage manage Loch Leven NNR. Find out more:

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