Walking and biking in Glen Affric National Nature Reserve, near Shenval B&B Walking and biking in Glen Affric National Nature Reserve, near Shenval B&B Walking and biking in Glen Affric National Nature Reserve, near Shenval B&B

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GLEN AFFRIC NATIONAL NATURE RESERVE:
MINUTES AWAY FROM SHENVAL ORGANIC BED AND BREAKFAST

Very close to Shenval organic B&B, Glen Affric National Nature Reserve, near Inverness and Loch Ness in the Highlands of Scotland, is an area of outstanding natural beauty and a "must see" destination for all visitors : nature lovers and wildlife watchers, rambling, hillwalking, cycling and mountain biking enthusiasts, photographers and painters, canoeists, or families seeking a bit of relaxation. See our activities page about things to do in Glen Affric, less than half an hour's drive from your accommodation base at Shenval B&B. Whether you look up in the skies or close down at your feet, there is plenty for the visitor to enjoy in Glen Affric. Its majestic panoramas, stunning forest, fresh air, peace and quiet will remain the lasting impression visitors take back home. Glen Affric symbolizes green tourism at its best. Follow us on a Glen Affric walk we had with Shenval B&B visitors on 22nd June 2010 and sample what Glen Affric has to offer.

 
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

Glen Affric contains one of the largest surviving native pinewoods in the United Kingdom, with nearly 1/3 of the present remaining Scottish area found here.

The ancient Caledonian woodlands are direct descendants of trees that first colonised the Scottish Highlands after the last Ice Age 8-10,000 years ago. Centuries of destruction by felling, damage by fire, and grazing by deer and sheep have reduced the ancient Caledonian forest to less than 1% (15000 hectares) of its original area (i.e. 1,5 million hectares).

The Forestry Commission purchased Glen Affric in 1951. Since then, positive conservation has rescued the core of the woodland. In 1994, Glen Affric was designated a Caledonian Forest Reserve of over 9000 hectares. Further recognition of the importance of this special environment came in 2001 with the designation of Glen Affric as a National Nature Reserve.

Glen Affric near Shenval B&B and Loch Ness © Leonard Esakowitz

The Reserve is a busy example of conservation in action, led by Forest Enterprise, continuing conservation activity which stretches back to the early 1960s and to which the Charity Trees for Life has added its continuing contribution since 1989. Other groups have also assisted with volunteers, including Scottish Conservation Projects and the Scottish Wildlife Trust.

Glen Affric Caledonian Forest Scottish Highlands near Shenval B&B© Yves Fouquet    An Tudair Glen Affric walking from Shenval B&B © Enno Nilson

Glen Affric is a haven for wildlife with a wide range of habitats ranging from high mountains to moorland to low level warm forest. 

FLORA 

Associated with Scots pine in the semi-natural woodland of Affric are silver birch, alder, rowan, willow, aspen, hazel, holly and juniper with the occasional whych elm and oak.

 

by Shenval B&B Glen Affric lichens  © Alain Vermeulen

The undergrowth is characterized by the abundance of heather, blueberry, cowberry, purple moor grass, sedges and mosses with the wetland specialists: butterwort and sundew found alongside several species of the orchids: Creeping Lady’s-tresses, Lesser Twayblade and Spotted Orchid. Possibly the most striking plant life in Affric is lichen with 14 nationally rare species.

FAUNA

Whilst golden eagle, peregrine falcon, ptarmigan and mountain hare haunt the moorland and summits, the lower ground plays host to black grouse, roe, Sika and red deer.

Pine marten, fox, red squirrel, badger, stoat and weasel are more at home in the woodland areas. Frogs, toads, slow worms and adders are also present. Lochs and rivers provide specialists habitats for otter and dipper and some Caledonian forest specific species like crested tit, Scottish crossbill and wryneck are frequently encountered. Capercaillie are still present but have become extremely rare and are seldom seen, just as is the elusive wild cat.

The Reserve is one of the most important dragonfly locations in Britain with 14 known breeding varieties of which 3 are rare in Britain and one rare in Europe.

adder Glen Affric west of Shenval Bed&Breakfast

mountain hare, Affric Munros, near Shenval B&B

Red deer in Glen Affric near Shenval B&B © Yves Fouquet


Throughout the summer, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from the 1st Monday in July until the second Friday in September, a minibus service runs from Invernes to Glen Affric via Shenval B&B. An excellent opportunity to leave your car behind and to enjoy the views along the way, before starting on walks proper. Please note times for the Shenval bus stop are 10.25am out the outward journey to Glen Affric and 17.39pm on the inward journey back from Glen Affric. Full timetable available HERE


 

 

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