Make the Most of Your Trip: The Complete Guide to Exploring Loch Maree Islands

Loch Maree Islands National Nature Reserve is an absolute paradise for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts! The reserve is located in Wester Ross, Scotland and stretches across an area of 2,685 hectares. This includes six islands, twelve lochs and a wide array of mountains, valleys and glens. Visitors here get to experience some of the most spectacular natural landscapes in the country.

Apart from its stunning vistas, Loch Maree Islands National Nature Reserve is also home to many species of birds and fish. Similarly, the islands are host to a number of rare and protected plants, making it a must-visit for any nature lover. In addition, there are plenty of activities that you can enjoy here including camping, fishing, boating, wildlife viewing, birdwatching, rock climbing, hiking and more!

Since the Reserve is part of a protected site, you will need certain permits and licenses if you plan to visit as well as if you plan to engage in certain activities. To help make your trip as enjoyable and hassle-free as possible, read on to learn more about what you need to do to get ready for your visit.

The Loch Maree Islands National Nature Reserve is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts.
Visitors must obtain the necessary permits and licenses for activities such as camping, fishing, hiking, cycling, birdwatching, boating and rock climbing.
Camping is allowed in designated areas, and visitors must respect the environment and any wildlife they may come across.
The reserve is also home to a diverse array of bird and animal life, including rare species, which can be viewed from the loch, its shores, and islands.
Fishing is allowed in certain areas, subject to local fishing regulations, and various types of fishing are available.
The reserve’s hiking trails are varied and range from easy to challenging. Visitors can choose from gentle strolls to more strenuous hikes and enjoy the stunning views of the reserve, including its forests, moorlands, lakesides, and ancient ruins.

Obtaining Necessary Permits and Licenses to Visit the Loch Maree Islands National Nature Reserve

Visiting the Loch Maree Islands National Nature Reserve requires obtaining a valid permit and license for each activity in one plan to partake in. Such permits and licenses are issued by the Office of Nature Conservation, which can be reached at their website or through their local offices.

The following is a list of activities for which a permit or license is required:

  • Camping
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Cycling
  • Birdwatching
  • Boating
  • Rock Climbing

The cost of these permits and licenses is based on the nature of the activity and the number of participants. Additionally, the application process is detailed on the Office of Nature Conservation’s website and all necessary documents can be printed there.

It is important to note that the activity itself will require the relevant permit or license. Obtaining a permit or license does not guarantee that the activity will be allowed – it merely allows for the activity to be considered. It is essential to know the rules and regulations associated with the activity when applying.

Camping at the Reserve

The Loch Maree Islands National Nature Reserve is the perfect place for a camping getaway. With stunning scenery and plenty of activities, it’s the ideal spot to enjoy nature and take some time away from the hustle of everyday life.

Camping in the reserve is allowed during certain times of the year, and all visitors must obtain the necessary permits and licenses beforehand. Camping is permitted in designated areas and visitors may only camp in tents or campervans. Campfires are allowed in designated areas, however, firewood for the campfires must be purchased from the local reserve office. Make sure to check with the local wildlife authorities for any additional regulations that may apply.

It is important to respect the environment and any wildlife you may come across whilst camping in the reserve. Be sure to bring all your trash with you when you leave and don’t leave any food out as this can attract animals. Do not disturb any wildlife, including birds, mammals and reptiles, and follow all rules and regulations regarding campfires.

Camping in the Loch Maree Islands National Nature Reserve is an amazing experience and provides the perfect opportunity to get out into the great outdoors. Visitors will be able to enjoy the beauty of the natural surroundings, make some incredible memories, and relax in serene peace and quiet.

Sightseeing and Wildlife Viewing Opportunities

The Loch Maree Islands is an amazing destination for sightseeing and wildlife viewing. This remote and wild area of Scotland has a rich diversity of bird and animal life that can be viewed from the loch, its shores and islands.

Whilst visiting the area, you can observe a wealth of rare birds that call this reserve home, including Red-throated Diver, Slavonian Grebe, Black-throated Diver, White-tailed Eagle, Goshawk, Hen Harrier, Merlin and Golden Eagle. You may also catch a glimpse of some of the mammals that inhabit the reserve, such as red deer, otters, seals and even dolphins at times.

You’ll find plenty of opportunities to explore the loch from land or water. Take a leisurely stroll around the shoreline and you’ll be greeted by stunning views, perfect for those seeking beautiful landscapes for photography and painting. Alternatively, take a boat tour onto the loch and have the chance to go further out and explore more of the reserve’s islands, small coves and rock pools.

Whatever your preference, the sights of Loch Maree Islands National Nature Reserve will surely leave you with memories to last a lifetime!

Fishing at the Loch Maree Islands National Nature Reserve

Fishing is a popular pastime at the Loch Maree Islands National Nature Reserve. There are several species of fish that can be found in the waters around the islands, including brown trout, salmon, perch, and eel. Anglers are advised to read up on local fishing regulations before visiting the reserve.

The reserve has a large number of natural coves and inlets, making it ideal for shore fishing. Fishing boats and small inflatables are allowed on Loch Maree and some of its tributaries, subject to the appropriate permits. Any boats used must not exceed 4 knots and must be careful to avoid disturbing any wildlife or nesting birds.

Fishing opportunities include fly-fishing, coarse fishing, spinning and trolling. Fishing is available all year round, though access to some areas of the reserve will be restricted during the breeding season. Anglers should be aware that there may be restrictions in place regarding the size and/or number of fish that can be taken from specific areas of the reserve.

The reserve is also home to a diverse array of marine life, and anglers may be lucky enough to catch some of these creatures. It is important to remember that all wildlife, including fish, should be handled with care and returned to the water if they are not intended for consumption.

Hiking Trails at Loch Maree Islands National Nature Reserve

The Loch Maree Islands National Nature Reserve is home to some of the most stunning hiking trails in the country. With miles of trails winding through forests and moorland, along lakesides, and with stunning views over the reserve, there are plenty of opportunities to explore and get close to nature.

These trails range from gentle strolls to more strenuous hikes, and it’s easy to find one that suits your fitness level. There are waymarked trails leading to a variety of attractions, such as Pictish standing stones and ancient ruins. For a challenging hike, take on the Munros of Slioch, Beinn a’ Ghlo, or one of the other ‘Munro Bagging’ routes.

Take a picnic and make a day of it! Pack your binoculars and camera to spot wildlife, including red deer, eagles, ospreys, otters and golden plovers. Or simply relax and appreciate the beauty of the natural environment.

Make sure you check for any weather warnings before you go, and bring suitable clothes, food, and water. As the trails thread through wild land, be prepared for the possibility of uneven ground and keep an eye out for bogs and rivers. If you are new to hiking, it’s always best to go with an experienced companion and customise your experience to suit your level of experience.

Cycling Routes at The Reserve

Whether you bring your own bike or hire one, cycling around Loch Maree Islands National Nature Reserve is a prime way to explore the area’s stunning scenery. The terrain around the reserve is mostly flat and ideal for casual cyclists, and there are plenty of trails to choose from, so everyone, regardless of skill level will find something to enjoy.

For those who love a long ride, there is the 40km long Loch Maree Circuit. This route takes you around the edges of the loch, giving you breathtaking vistas of the entire area. It also passes by some of the reserve’s archaeological and historical sites, such as Inverasdale Castle, Slioch standing stone and the Iron Age broch of Muladaid.

If you want something shorter, there are several shorter routes around the reserve ranging from 4km to 16km. These are mostly on the narrower roads of the reserve and go through the various forests, meadows and wetlands, offering diverse wildlife viewing opportunities.

You can also join a cycling tour of the reserve with a knowledgeable guide. Cycling tours provide an ideal way to sightsee as you ride and learn about the area’s history and flora and fauna.


The Loch Maree Islands National Nature Reserve is an excellent destination for birdwatchers. With a wide range of habitats and landscapes, it offers a great variety of bird species to observe. From the dramatic cliffs to the gentle lochs and wetlands, every birdwatching enthusiast will find something to enjoy here.

The Reserve is home to a variety of wildlife including many different species of ducks, geese, waders and seabirds. During the spring and summer months, the Reserve hosts a wide variety of nesting birds including redshanked dunlins, golden plovers, snow bunting, purple sandpipers and goosanders.

From high viewpoints, visitors can enjoy excellent views of lochs and wetlands, with flocks of geese and ducks swimming across the surface. During the winter months, the open areas provide excellent hunting grounds for various raptors such as golden eagles, white-tailed eagles and hen harriers.

The reserve also plays host to migrant birds from North America and Europe including bohemian waxwings, ravens, snow buntings, gyrfalcons and ring ouzels. Along the shoreline, look out for common terns, black guillemots, rock doves and turnstones.

The Reserve offers a wealth of birdwatching opportunities, whatever the season. It is certainly the ideal destination for any birdwatching enthusiast looking for a great day out in the wild.

Boating Activities at Loch Maree Islands National Nature Reserve

Blessed with abundant natural beauty and unique wildlife, Loch Maree Islands National Nature Reserve provides a perfect setting for various boating-related activities. Whether it’s motorized or non-motorized, the reserve has a number of options available for visitors to enjoy.

  • Motorboats: Visitors can take advantage of the calm blue waters surrounding the island, and explore them using motorboats. Whether it is fishing, sightseeing or simply cruising around, motorboats are an ideal way to get around the reserve and experience its beauty.
  • Kayaking: The more adventurous visitors can explore the stunning landscapes of the Loch Maree Islands through kayaking. Kayaking provides better access to more secluded areas and is an excellent way to appreciate the wild beauty of the reserve.
  • Canoes: If you are looking for a more relaxed and leisurely experience, canoes are the way to go. The gentle rocking motion of paddling a canoe through the pristine waters of the reserve is a great way to take in the sights and sounds of nature.

Visitors should also keep in mind that all watercraft must adhere to the rules and regulations of the reserve. This includes carrying the necessary safety equipment and following the speed limit while in the water.

Rock Climbing

For the adventurous traveller, rock climbing at the Loch Maree Islands National Nature Reserve is an unforgettable experience. The rock formations here are among some of the most challenging in Scotland and offer excellent routes for climbers of all levels of ability.

The area around the islands is a great place to explore, with many stunning views from the top of the cliffs. Experienced climbers can find plenty of routes to explore, with options ranging from single-pitch sport climbing to multi-pitch trad climbing and even bouldering.

Before you begin your climb, it’s important to check with the local authorities as access to some areas of the reserve may require a permit or other restrictions. Additionally, it’s essential that you take appropriate safety measures when climbing and use the correct equipment, such as helmets, safety harnesses, and other protective gear.

Once you’re ready to start climbing, you’ll find plenty of routes ranging in difficulty to choose from. Whether you’re looking for an easy beginner route or a more challenging one, you’re sure to find something suitable.

No matter what level of climber you are, the experience of climbing in the Loch Maree Islands National Nature Reserve is an unforgettable one.

Picnic Spots at the Reserve

The Loch Maree Islands National Nature Reserve is a beautiful and scenic place. It is perfect for a wide range of activities, including picnicking. There are plenty of great picnic spots for visitors to enjoy.

One of the best picnic spots is in the valley below the viewpoint of Brockloch Hill. This is a lovely spot surrounded by beautiful trees and wildflowers. There are also several other picnic spots around the reservoir, such as the viewpoints at Loch an Eilein and Loch na Liver.

Visitors should be aware that some of the picnic spots, such as the ones in the valley below the viewpoint of Brockloch Hill, may not be suitable for large groups of people. They are usually quiet and peaceful, so they are perfect for a small family or friends outings.

For those looking for a more rustic experience, why not try one of the many picnic tables located throughout the reserve. These can often be found tucked away in remote areas, offering a quieter and more peaceful picnic option.

So, if you are looking for the perfect spot to enjoy a meal in tranquillity and nature, then the Loch Maree Islands National Nature Reserve has something for you!

Summary and Conclusion

Visiting the Loch Maree Islands National Nature Reserve is an amazing opportunity for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. With a variety of activities available, there is something for everyone. Whether you are interested in camping, fishing, hiking, rock climbing, birdwatching or just sightseeing, you can find it here. As well as the range of activities, the reserve also has beautiful picnic spots and great cycling routes to explore.

The Loch Maree Islands Nature Reserve provides a unique and exciting experience for the whole family. It allows us to explore and appreciate nature on our own terms. There is so much to do and see at the reserve, so make sure that you get the necessary permits and licenses before your visit.

We hope this guide has given you a better understanding of the various things you can do at the Loch Maree Islands National Nature Reserve. Have fun and be safe!

Frequently Asked Questions about Visiting the Loch Maree Islands National Nature Reserve

  • Q: What can I do at The Loch Maree Islands National Nature Reserve?
    A: You can enjoy a variety of activities and attractions to explore, including camping, sightseeing, birdwatching, boating, rock climbing, and picnicking.
  • Q: Do I need a permit or license to visit?
    A: Yes, you will need to obtain a visitor’s permit and license for certain activities, such as fishing, camping, and boating.
  • Q: What are the camping opportunities at The Reserve?
    A: There is a number of camping sites available, usually close to water, with all the necessary facilities such as toilets and running water.
  • Q: Are there any hiking trails at The Reserve?
    A: There are several marked trails suitable for all levels of hikers, varying in difficulty, length, and elevation change.
  • Q: Is there any rock climbing available?
    A: Yes, there is a variety of rock climbing options, ranging from easy to challenging.
  • Q: Can I go fishing at The Reserve?
    A: Yes, you can go fishing but it is subject to licensing and permits, which must be obtained prior to engaging in this activity.
  • Q: Is there anywhere I can picnic at The Reserve?
    A: Yes, the reserve has several spots ideal for picnicking, with breathtaking views of the Loch Maree Island.
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