red stag

If one animal symbolises Glen Affric, it is red deer. They’re naturally a forest animal, roaming onto higher, more open ground in summer and finding shelter and food among the trees in winter.

They eat some tree leaves and will gnaw bark if times are tough, but a healthy forest actually needs some of this grazing: without it, many ground plants like orchids wouldn’t be able to grow.

A balancing act

All through the 1800s and most of the 1900s, the number of deer was out of balance with the forest. Now the balance is back again, and there are more deer in the forest, as well as more trees, than when the National Nature Reserve was declared.

Deer spotting

Around River Affric car park is one of the best places to see deer in the autumn as they come down from the hill. But you’ll need sharp eyes: their red-brown coats are perfect camouflage among the bracken and tree trunks. You might also see the smaller roe and sika deer.

Other animals in the forest

Other animals typical of pine forest are here too, like red squirrels and pine martens.

Duncan MacLennan, who worked Affric as a stalker, remembers wildcats being plentiful in the 1930s. That’s certainly not so now, but in June 2010 a wildcat kitten was spotted in the glen. Perhaps that’s as good a sign as any that the forest is back to health again.

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