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Highlands and Islands

Wild Highs!

The Highlands and Islands of Scotland host many natural treasures and The National Trust for Scotland is proud to be guardian of some of the finest – from ‘islands on the edge’ such as St Kilda to the high peaks of Torridon. Over 17 countryside properties are managed to maintain their significant features and be accessible to visitors.

Glencoe, Kintail, West Affric and Torridon – probably the finest Scottish Mountain ranges in the world!
A combination of factors make our uplands unique – a blend of landscape, wildlife, history, physical challenge and pure escapism.  We have always maintained open access to these invigorating landscapes no matter what operations we need to carry out such as deer management or forestry operations.

NTS effort is always exerted in the direction of conservation gain – examples of work on the hill include Scotlands Mountain Heritage ‘Sole Trading’ footpath project, countering erosion or the forest regeneration scheme throughout our mountainous properties in partnership with Millennium Forest Scotland Trust.   

In line with the Scottish Outdoor Access Code we promote a ‘leave no trace approach’ so that the next person and indeed next generation to visit can enjoy the experience along with the resident flora and fauna.

An increasing amount of work carried out throughout the region is in partnership.  This is often with crofters and local communities but also with large organisations such as our main partner Scottish Natural Heritage with whom we have a concordat agreement and who help to advise and fund our activity.

NTS effort is not confined within property boundaries but much is done to promote sustainable access and conservation nationwide through our educational outreach programmes and partnership working.

Island refuges

More than half of our Highland properties involve a sea journey to enjoy.  Some journeys can be achieved in a matter of hours, such as travelling to Staffa or Canna but visiting islands such as St Kilda requires much more resolve, resource and time!

Small communities on islands such as Fair Isle  maintain NTS objectives with minimal support whilst striving to ensure economic viability in a changing world.  These changes also greatly affect the myriad of marine life and seabirds in the seas surrounding the islands and clinging to precipitous cliffs.  Much work is carried out to survey and monitor change and therefore help to inform management.  The dramatic decline of seabird colonies on Canna has been attributed to rats predating eggs and chicks - a Seabird Recovery Project has since been launched.  The decline of seabirds through lack of food, probably due to climate change, is a much more difficult issue to address.

Managing islands takes a great deal of time and knowledge to ensure that significant features remain intact whilst promoting them sensitively.  To that end staff liaise closely with islanders or, when the islands are uninhabited, those who have left or are living closest to them.  This local knowledge and relationship reveals and maintains elements that benefit the islands and all that they hold.   

Whether your interest is in high rugged mountain tops, forests, wild land or distant islands, nowhere in the world is quite like the Highlands of Scotland and the NTS is proud to be playing its part in sustaining this unique resource.


Young Naturalists


This month's nature changes as seen by our Ranger


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