Abernethy National Nature Reserve ***

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Abernethy National Nature Reserve is dramatic and awe-inspiring. At 4,000 hectares it’s the largest remaining piece of the ancient Caledonian Pine Forest which colonised Scotland as the great ice-sheets melted at the end of the last ice-age 10,000 years ago.

Comprised mainly of Scots pines, the other species of trees are birch and rowan but the under-storey is not only heather and ferns but juniper and blaeberry and then many specialist plants such as cowberry, twinflower, creeping ladies tresses and wintergreen. The main fungi are chanterelles, ceps, pine; orange and brown birch boletes and angels wings. But there are many more. The cauliflower fungus can be the most spectacular. The specialist birds in the forest start with the world’s largest grouse – the endangered capercaillie; the Scottish crossbill; osprey, golden eagle and the crested tit. The animals you might see are roe deer and occasionally red deer; the secretive pine marten, red squirrel and very rarely the Scottish wildcat.

Abernethy Forest provides a vital refuge for some of the most charismatic mammals and birds of Scotland.

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