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Abernethy Forest


Location Guide

This is one of the oldest woodlands in the Britain, renowned for its soaring Scots Pines, its stunning Ospreys, and abundance of wildlife. It is in the Eastern Highlands of Scotland and is home to some amazing plants and animals and offers one of the country's unique wildlife experiences. It is one of the last remnants of the Caledonian pine forest which once covered the country. The Abernethy Nature Reserve is situated in Strathspey.

Background history

It is now the largest remaining stretch of native pinewood in Britain. The Scots Pine is the largest and longest lived tree in the Caledonian pine forest, characterised by the distinctive pine cones at the end of their branches. The mature trees are easy to spot - they have a blue-green look to them, which distinguishes them from other conifers in the woods. During industrial times the trees were used as timber for shipbuilding, and their resin was used to make glue and other products.

Pines, birds, bugs and Martens

It has a diverse range for wildlife ranging from Red Squirrels who feed on the Scots Pines, Pine Martens and birds such as Grouse, Capercaillie and Ospreys.

Also look out for Pine Martens chasing small birds through the wooded canopy.

The woods support an array of specialist insects and plants.

There are also 700 types of fungi, 300 species of moths, 280 types of fly, 128 varieties of spider and 900 different types of beetle, including the Timberman with its impressive, long antennae and camouflage colouring.

When walking through the woods, look closely and you may spot a Crested Tit looking for bugs that live on Scots Pines, or prising open its pine cones to get at the seeds inside.

There's also a wealth of life on the forest floor from junipers through to blueberries (sometimes known as bilberries), which provide food for birds.

The forest  is famous for its Ospreys which can be seen from the Osprey Centre during the season, with video pictures of the birds relayed back to the centre.

The forest is also a good place to find the Capercaillie, one of Britain's biggest birds, weighing in about the size of a turkey. Visitors can join a Caper Watch in one of the forest's hides to spot this elusive bird strutting its stuff during the breeding season.

The Black Grouse is another forest resident, though smaller in size than the Capercaillie. Listen out for its distinctive bubbling noise.

The best time to visit Abernethy is during the spring and summer months when you not only see birds, plants and insects, but you can also access the Osprey Centre and get a view of the Ospreys, if an early riser you can go on Capercaillie Watch, but also may see the red squirrels .

During the Autumn and Winter months the forest is still open and you get to see the wild geese roosting on Loch Garten in late afternoon/evening as well as Whooper Swans, roosting goosanders, wigeons etc. You may also get to see red and roe deer.

Location: Abernethy Forest, Scotland

Grid Reference: NH978183 Ceremonial County: Inverness-shire

Map Link: VIEW MAP

Aerial photo:

Getting there: It sits East of Aviemore between Boat of Garten and Nethybridge off the B970. Follow the RSPB Osprey signs. Sustran Route 7

Access: Access to the Osprey centre is 350m from car park along a wide, stone path with a short section of 1:15 gradient. There are two Car Parks. One at the Osprey Centre has 3 disabled parking bays. The other is at Loch Mallachie which has a natural even surface.
Website: http://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves/guide/l/lochgarten/
Other Useful Websites: www.nnr-scotland.org.uk/reserve.asp?NNRId=19
Email: abernethy@rspb.org.uk
Address: Boat of Garten, Near Aviemore, Highlands, Scotland.
Postcode: PH25 3EF Telephone: 01479 831476

01479 821409 - Osprey Centre

01479 810363 - Pine Marten Watch

Opening Times: All year round. The reserve is open at all times. The Osprey Centre is open daily from early April to end of August  from 10am to 6pm.

Charges: Forest open free of charge.

Osprey Centre - adults 3.00; children 50p; concessions 2.00 Family 6.00 (up to 2 adults and 2 children). Caperwatch - adults non members 3; RSPB Members 1; children free.

Pine Marten Hide - expect to pay about 15.

Nearby Locations:
Other Location Pages:
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Notes: A ramp gives access to the centre. A number of different height viewing slots provide excellent views of nesting ospreys. Adapted toilet 25 m from Osprey Centre car park. Special facilities for visually impaired visitors.


April to July for birds, plants and insects.

RSPB Dawn Safaris start in the spring.

June is a great time to see the Pine Martens from the hide.

Caper Watch is 1st April to 21 May between 5.30am and 8am

Autumn and Winter months migrating birds incl. whooper swans, greylag and pink footed geese, goldeneye etc.


Ospreys at the Osprey Centre when open during the spring and summer months. The Winter months in the forest and on Loch Garton are home to migrating birds, such as whooper swans, pink footed geese etc.

Please let us know any other information that we can add to the Grid(s) or page and any errors that you discover. Before making a long trip to any location it is always wise to double check the current information, websites like magazines may be correct at the time the information is written, but things change and it is of course impossible to double check all entries on a regular basis. If you have any good photographs that you feel would improve the illustration of this page then please let us have copies. In referring to this page it is helpful if you quote both the Page Ref and Topic or Section references from the Grid below. To print the planning grid select it then right click and print the selected area.

Please submit information on locations you discover so that this system continues to grow.


By: Tracey Park Section: Woodland and Forests Key:
Page Ref: abernethy_forest Topic: Woodlands and Forests  Last Updated: 07/2009


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