It was around this time of year, back in 1986, that Creag Meagaidh was declared a National Nature Reserve. Many people will know it as a reserve in which mountain terrain features heavily. And whilst that’s true, this can at times overshadow the merits of the lower stretches of the reserve where fabulous tracts of woodland are being slowly returned to life. Now there is another feature to enjoy – an easy pollinator trail within easy striking distance of the car park and visitor shelter.
Initially everything seems to be on a big scale at Creag Meagaidh. Perhaps no surprise on a reserve which stretches to almost 4,000 hectares.
Exposed munro summits, an impressive mountain ridge and gullies that in winter fill with ice and snow are popular features. Even the fauna here can be big. Red deer being a case in point.
Add to the mix golden eagles, leggy mountain hares and dramatic big views and you can see that things are not on an obviously small scale.
Yet pause for a moment and take in what lies beneath your feet, what is flying around, and your opinion can change.
That is the case even on the high tops where arctic-alpine plants find a home, move off the tops and woolly willow and a rich array of woodland flowers vie for your attention. And where there are a range of flowers there are insects.
That’s why reserve manager Rory Richardson was delighted to install a pollinator trail on this popular reserve. With admirable determination he worked out what features on the reserve were beneficial for our vital pollinating insects and set about installing a trail route that tapped into the low-level paths around the reserve.
Rory’s commitment to making a home for pollinators here stretches back some time now. “We have been adding hedges on a regular basis at Creag Meagaidh, we have two Hawthorn hedges and a further 400 metres of mixed tree hedging,” he revealed, and “we also plant around a quarter of an acre of wildflower mix each year.” The result is a trail that is therefore well suited to explore species and habitat as well as offering advice to take home.
Tempted to go and see for youself ? You should.
The all-abilities trail weaves a route alongside fields and beneath trees allowing visitors to absorb information panels which explore the stories here around flowers, nesting sites, verges and margins, trees and hedgerows.
Find out more about Creag Meagaidh National Nature Reserve.