Reelig Glen: A tall trees walk!

Reelig Glen is a very special place, home to some of the tallest trees in Europe. It varies a bit from year to year, but at the time of writing, Reelig Glen contains the tallest and third tallest trees in Scotland (a Common Douglas Fir and Grand Fir respectively). The trees here are certainly very tall, probably due to the microclimate of this narrow, steep-sided gorge, cut by the Moniack Burn which runs through the middle. There’s a great variety of coniferous and deciduous specimens, as well as some impressive moss and lichen. It’s the conifers which always surprise me, however, and I generally come away with something new that I’ve seen or learnt. A great place to take a wee wander and find out more about the surprisingly varied world of coniferous trees.

Distance: 1 mile / 1.5 km

Parking: There is a Forestry Commission carpark. Following the A862 from Inverness, take the left turn signed for Moniack and Clunes. The carpark is straight ahead after about a mile, just as the road takes a sharp left turn over a burn and climbs a hill.

Amenities: No toilets or other amenities.

Buggy/bike friendly? The route is not suitable for buggies owing to some steep and bumpy slopes, and tree routes. I have seen children on bikes here, but would exercise caution with wee ones due to the steep slopes on the eastern bank.

The route through Reelig Glen passes close to running water, with some steep slopes down from the path on the eastern bank. Please take care with small children.

Reelig Glen: the route

There are two suggested walks at Reelig Glen. These instructions are for the main ‘Tall Trees Trail’, the green route. We did once attempt to take the blue trail, missed the path in the rain, got lost somewhere in the upper reaches of the glen and had to slither down to the burn! One day we’ll try again and update this walk guide.

1. From the car park, set off up the right hand (west) bank of the Moniack Burn, along a wide track.

2. As you walk, look around and especially up (!) at the beautiful tall trees in the woods here. There are lots of signposts with pop out information boards to tell you more about the different trees.

3. Stay on the main path, as it follows the burn up, and then winds up and over a tributary, crossing a small stone bridge.

4. Shortly after this, you come to another bridge over the main Moniack burn. Behind the wooden bridge is the original stone bridge, and a stone folly, rather charmingly overgrown with ferns.

The information board here states that the landowner James Baillie Fraser (a Scottish travel writer, and quite an interesting character) had the folly built to provide work for those impoverished during the clearances, and each day the workers returned to find the previous day’s work undone. There are a number of similar stories in the area ( Fyrish, for example).

5. The next section of the walk contains some of the tallest trees in the glen (and indeed in Europe!). Look out for some small plaques on some of the trees identifying them as current or former champions.

6. The path now rises up the east bank of the burn, and there are some quite steep drops off to the left hand side. The route heads down again into the glen, to rejoin the burn. Cross the road bridge at the bottom to return to the car park and complete your walk.

Reelig Glen: the terrain

The paths are mostly broad forest tracks, but there are some narrow and steep sections, and a number of bridges.

Things to look for

Look out for the huge variety of beautiful trees in Reelig Glen. There are information boards dotted about to help you identify the different types of tree. This would be a great place to bring the ‘I-Spy Trees’ Michelin Guide.

There are also some interesting follies, and a great variety of mosses, lichens and ferns to spot.

You might also enjoy these other short walks in and around Inverness.

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