Glen Tanar

Scotland’s landscapes are amongst the finest in the world and the Glen Tanar National Nature Reserve is a showcase of the country’s natural beauty, with almost countless activities for visitors of every age and ability. Sauntering through the classic Caledonian pine forests, with no limit on time, promotes a sense of well-being and solidarity with nature, particularly if you capture a glimpse of a scampering red squirrel or the flash of a silver salmon in the Water of Tanar. Children delight in exploring the dense woodland, building hidden dens, or sharing a picnic on the pebble beaches along the meandering river.

Walks vary in length and challenge, from gentle strolls over heather-clad moors, to more demanding waymarked trails towards the Grampians, so there really is something rewarding for everyone. Numerous outdoor pursuits can be enjoyed: a spot of fishing on the gushing river; mountain biking on undulating ground; or hiding in peaceful seclusion, waiting to catch sight of a soaring hen harrier, osprey, or (if you’re fortunate), a majestic golden eagle.

The Braeloine Visitors’ Centre houses an educational exhibition about the history and wildlife of the nature reserve, while countryside rangers are on-hand to provide information and advice about any aspect of visiting Glen Tanar.


Arriving by car

Glen Tanar is situated approximately one hour by road west of Aberdeen, on the edge of the Cairngorms National Park. The reserve is accessed from the B976, on the Queen’s Road (follow the signs to the car park; charges apply).

Arriving by bus

The closest bus stop to Glen Tanar is in Aboyne, approximately 3.7 miles away, where services from Aberdeen, Ballater, and Banchory stop.

Arriving on foot

Glen Tanar Nature Reserve is easily accessible from the Deeside Way (between Aboyne and Ballater), which is only 3 miles away.

Opening times

Glen Tanar is open 365 days a year.


While Glen Tanar National Nature Reserve offers plentiful activities to occupy a lengthy visit, if you’re planning on staying locally you could take advantage of some of the other fascinating attractions in the area:

  • Experience ancient history at Tomnaverie, a 4,500-year-old recumbent stone circle that is only to be discovered in north-east Scotland.
  • Meet the rescued horses as World Horse Welfare Belwade Farm, where you can learn about these fantastic animals as they recuperate.
  • Enjoy an exhilarating day at Deeside Activity Park, where the whole family can participate in adrenalin-surging fun including quad biking, archery, and kart racing.
  • Wander through the ruins of Kincardine O’Neil Old Parish Church and Hospital, which stands on the site of the 5th century church established by St Erchard when he brought Christianity to the eastern shores of Scotland.


The Black Faced Sheep at nearby Aboyne combines a welcoming coffee house and restaurant with an intriguing homeware and gift emporium, offering hours of patient browsing. Homemade soups, breads, salads, and platters are specialities on the menu, while diners with dietary needs are well-catered for. The Black Faced Sheep also stocks an exquisite selection of wines from Tuscancy and Liguria, imported directly from Italy for dining in or eating out.

The Boat Inn, also at Aboyne, offers pleasant riverside dining in summer and cosy log-fire meals in winter. With 300 years of experience, the staff at The Boat Inn know how to look after their guests, so expect freshly prepared dishes featuring the finest locally sourced ingredients, and an abundant selection of local ales, wines, and spirits.


The Glen Tanar estate covers a staggering 25,000 acres of mixed farmland, heather moor, Caledonian pine forests, and salmon-rich river; the forest is one of the most important pine forests in the UK and Europe, and is the third largest of its type in the country.

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