Strathglass Complex IPA
Location: West of Inverness, to the north of Glen Affric.
Grid Reference: NH 184 273
The hills and glens of the Strathglass Complex IPA provide an array of habitats, from alpine and boreal heaths, blanket bogs and Caledonian forest to northern Atlantic wet heaths and siliceous alpine and boreal grasslands, supporting an extensive variety of plant life.
The individual woodlands within the complex are some of the largest remaining intact stands of native pinewood in Scotland, and Glens Strathfarrar and Affric are the most important pinewoods in the UK for the epiphytic lichen communities they support.
As well as the Scots pine, often growing in excess of 60 feet, in the woodlands you will find a number of other trees including silver birch, alder, rowan, willow, aspen, hazel, holly, juniper and oak. Besides heathers and mosses there is also an abundance of other lower growing plants including blueberry, cowberry and wetland species such as butterwort and sundew.
A number of orchids are fairly common including the heath spotted orchid. Glen Affric has several orchid species, like the wonderfully-named creeping ladies’ tresses, which is usually found only in forests over 90 years old. Twinflower is another remarkable plant only found in pine forests. Each stem carries a pair of delicate flowers, attracting insects with a sweet, aniseed-like scent. Watch out for chickweed wintergreen along the forest paths in June: it’s another species that grows only in long-established woodland, or ground that has been woodland in the past.
In spring, primroses cover the ground in the eastern part of the glen and in July and August bell heather and common heather splash the hillsides with purple.
Image: ©Laurie Campbell