Walks On the Wild Side: Inversnaid, Stirling, Scotland

Inversnaid-ScotlandWhat’s it like? This RSPB nature reserve is set on the stunning eastern shores of Loch Lomond, where ancient oak woodland rises from the shore, giving way to moorland with wide open views. It’s chilly up here in winter but that doesn’t seem to deter the wildlife.

What can I see? Large mammals such as red deer frolic throughout the cold season. You might also spot pine martens, a cute kittenish member of the weasel family that makes its home among the trees. Buzzards are a common sight, too, as are black grouse, identifiable by the distinctive red wattle over their eye. Particularly keen-eyed twitchers might also glimpse a twite – a globally threatened finch closely related to the linnet.

Distance: The route stretches 4km along the West Highland Way – and then back again.

How long does it take? Allow up to four hours for the complete trek, which spans the whole reserve. Prepare yourself for a steep and possibly slippery 400-step climb up to a viewpoint. Walking boots are a must.

Getting there: The nearest train station is 56km away (Stirling) and the nearest bus stop is 22km away (Aberfoyle), so unless you’re feeling energetic, a car is advisable. There’s a car park at the reserve and extra spaces at the Inversnaid Hotel 500m away.

Refreshments: Bring sandwiches and a flask of tea. The Inversnaid Hotel only serves refreshments in high season and the nearest cafe is at Stronachlachar, which is five kilometres away.