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Royal Deeside : Nature Reserves plus, part 2

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On this page three fine area in the eastern half of Royal Deeside are briefly described. Here we can do little more than give you a taste for what you will find. Royal Deeside is lucky in that so much of the area has long been in the hands of well-managed estates. The three areas described below provide constant pleasure to both locals and visitors. For more details please see the web-sites for those responsible for managing the areas.

Muir of Dinnet : A National Nature Reserve managed by Scottish Natural Heritage

Glen Tanar : A National Nature Reserve managed by Scottish Natural Heritage

Glen Dye and Clachnaben : The land is privately owned and managed (much by Glen Dye Estate) but the paths on Clachnaben are being cared for by the Clachnaben Path Trust.

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Loch Kinord, Muir of Dinnet, Scotland
Loch Kinord in the Muir of Dinnet Nature Reserve has much to attract both history and nature lovers

The Muir of Dinnet

The Muir of Dinnet is a National Nature Reserve and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) lying mid-way between Ballater and Aboyne. An area of some 2300 acres surrounding two lochs (Loch Kinord and Loch Davan) it contains a fascinating mixture of both flora and fauna. To these must be added fascinating history – both ancient and more recent – and geological features. Indeed, both history and geology can be combined in the unusual Burn o’ Vat where bandit Gilderoy Macgregor had his hideaway. (Because of this the Vat is sometimes mistakenly called Rob Roy’s cave.)

The higher parts of the reserve are on the lower slopes of Culblean where one of the important battles of Scottish independence was fought. The land slopes down to the loch, getting increasing wet. And there is a distinct transition of species with trees such as pine birch and willow gradually giving way to wonderful expanse of heather and then to bogland. The area is open to deer and otter live close to the lochs. There is much evidence of prehistoric habitation including standing stones and a crannog. The lochs support a wide range of wild fowl, especially greylag and widgeon and they are also hunting grounds for osprey. The visitor centre is on the west side adjacent to the A97. From there pathways lead to the Burn o' Vat and the lochs.

Glen Tanar

Set along the course of the River Tanar, Glen Tanar is famed for its magnificent native Caledonian pinewood. One of the largest in Scotland, the pinewood hosts a fascinating array of plants and wildlife, including Scotland's only unique bird, the Scottish Crossbill, and a population of capercaillie. Active pinewood management allows good regeneration of trees on the moorland. Juniper is widespread and there is extensive birch, rowan and aspen. Glen Tanar Estate, which extends from the River Dee to Mount Keen and covers over 29,000 acres is run by Glen Tanar Trusts, a charitable organization. It is owned by the Bruce Family, descendants of the Coats of Paisley who bought the Estate in 1905. The traditional use of the land includes farming, forestry and field sport alongside nature conservation and informal recreation. The National Nature Reserve is under the care of Scottish Natural Heritage.

There is an extensive network of tracks throughout the estate, suitable for walking, biking, cross country skiing and pony trekking, as well as a very informative visitor centre and ranger service to help you make the most of your visit. Fishing is available and there is an access route to Mount Keen, the most easterly Munro. There is a small charge for use of the car park (where toilets are located).

Glen Dye and Clachnaben

Driving south from Banchory to Fettercairn past Scolty Hill, the Bridge of Feugh, the village of Strachan, one enters the horse-shoe shaped valley. (Top marks if you can pronounce all those names correctly!) To the left is Mount Kerloch (1747 ft ), to the right are Peter Hill (2000ft) and Clachnaben (or Clochnaben, 1900 ft) and ahead lie Mount Battock (2555 ft) and Cairn o’ Mount (1488 ft) with its wonderful roadside viewpoint. Originally, the main route south from Royal Deeside, it is now a minor road often closed by the winter’s snows. At one time the road had been infested with robbers and the name ‘Thieves’ Bush' was given to a ravine close to the Cairn.

Glen Dye exudes a sense of loneliness and history and the road twists and turns, passing buildings and former bridges that indicate the old road was even more twisted. The lower slopes of the valley are quite wooded but trees give way to open heather moorland. Clachnaben ( Clach-na-Beinn – stone of the mountain) is a very distinctive hill (reminiscent of Ben Avon, the Munro north of Braemar) because of the great granite outcrop near its peak. An old quote states

Clochnaben and Bennachie
Are twa lan’ marks o’ the sea.

(Bennachie is another distinctive hill about 20 miles to the north – sailors would know that Aberdeen lay between the two.) Clachnaben is a popular destination for both climbers and walkers and recently great efforts have been made to improve footpaths.

For some other reserves see part 1

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Introduction Balmoral Castle Crathie Kirk Castles 1 Castles 2
Braemar Castle Nature Reserves 1 Nature Reserves 2 Ballater Station  




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