Ancient Natural History at Glenmore Forest Park
Located within the Cairngorms National Park and surrounding beautiful Loch Morlich, the Glenmore Forest Park is one of the remnants of Scotland’s Caledonian Forest consisting primarily of old-growth Scots pines descended directly from the first pines that grew in Scotland after the ice-age, as far back as 7,000 BC. Changing weather patterns over the centuries, along with human encroachment, has resulted in the trees adapting to their various environments, and visitors exploring Glenmore Forest Park may want to bear in mind that they are walking among trees that represent a sequence of natural evolution spanning 9,000 years.
The Glenmore Forest Park visitor centre is the best place to start exploring the area. Here visitors can discover more about the forest and decide which routes they would like to explore. For those with limited mobility, or who would like a casual stroll, the beach trail from Loch Morlich Beach is a good choice as it is accessible to wheelchair users and children’s buggies. Alternatively, the Loch Morlich trail allows visitors to walk all the way around the loch and, although the route does encounter some tree roots and rocky patches, it is mostly on level ground.
The Ryvoan Trail is 3.5 miles (5.6 km) long and perfect for experienced walkers who enjoy a bit of a challenge. The trail makes its way past Glenmore Lodge and ends at Lochan Uaine (the Green Lochan) beside a hill dubbed An Sidhean (the fairies’ hill). The track starts out wide with moderate slopes leading to a narrow and rocky path up steep slopes. As a forested area, there are many tree roots along the path. For an enjoyable hillwalking challenge, and a spectacular view of the Cairngorm plateau, visitors can tackle the route from the visitor centre to the summit of Meall a’ Bhuachaille at 2600 ft (810 metres). It should be noted that hillwalking equipment is necessary for this trail.
Loch Morlich Beach offers families a place to relax, play in the sand, swim, windsurf and canoe, while cycling enthusiasts have a network of forest roads to explore. Wildlife in the forest includes the endemic Scottish crossbill, crested tit, western capercaillie, red squirrels and red deer. Certainly, there is plenty to see and do at Glenmore Forest Park.