rspblogo.jpg (2777 bytes) INSH MARSHES Nature Reserve


Explore the whole area, using 15 miles of quiet roads suitable for pedestrians, bicycles or car.   As well as the wildlife, there is much to see, including beautiful scenery and historical features.


Start from the RSPB car park on the B970, two miles from Kingussie. Set your mileage at zero, and head eastwards from here. You will see the majestic Cairngorms (0.5 miles), the most extensive high plateau in Britain, where some snowfields persist even during hot summers.

Stop at Tromie Bridge (1 mile) to view the lovely Tromie gorge. Alongside the Tromie the flower rich meadows are ablaze with orchids in summer and surrounded by mixed broadleaved woodland. Look for dippers, grey wagtails and red squirrels.

Follow the B970 until you reach Insh village (3.3 miles). Opposite the public telephone pause to view the marshes. Two geological features can be seen: round pools called "kettle hole lochans" and boomerang shaped pools called "oxbow lakes". The former were left by glaciers and the latter by the river switching course. In spring and early summer the wading birds display and breed on the marsh whilst whooper swans feed here in the winter.

East of Insh village an RSPB sign on a gate marks the start of Lynachlaggan trail (3.8 miles). The walk leads through birch woodland with huge juniper bushes and overlooks the wettest areas of marsh, where you can see waterfowl. Wood warblers, redstarts and tree pipits are heard and seen in summer. In the clearings you may see Scotch argus and fritillary butterflies. In the winter fieldfares, redwings, siskins and redpolls frequent the woods.

Turn left at Loch Insh Watersports (6 miles) towards Kincraig. At the church (6.8 miles), surrounded by Scots pines, park your car on the right. Goldeneyes, tufted ducks and cormorants are seen here all year round, occasionally accompanied by red-breasted mergansers, goosanders and mute swans. Ospreys regularly fish the loch. A church has been here since early Celtic times and its bronze bell is 1,000 years old. A chorus of rooks squawks nearby in spring and summer.

After crossing the wooden bridge, you reach Kincraig (7.3 miles). At the junction with the B9152 turn left towards Kingussie. At (8.3 miles), opposite the Kingussie 5 mile post, park on the left for the best vantage point to birdwatch over the loch. Caledonian pine forest clinging to the steep face of the Cairngorms in the distance can only exist to 600 metres in altitude forming a neat so-called 'tree line'.

A mile further on is the Highland Wildlife Park (9.1 miles). Here you can get close views of native wildlife only glimpsed in the wild plus animals now extinct in Britain such as European bison, lynx and wolves.

Few visitors are likely to be following this trail between midnight and 2.00 a.m.!   But if you are keen to hear a spotted crake, a rare breeding bird, listen along the B9152 running south-westwards from the Highland Wildlife Park in May and June.  It's call sounds like a faint whiplash.  The wetland plants of this stretch are also interesting.

Further on pause for a view over an extensive area on the floodplain called Balavil marsh (10.9 miles).  In winter whooper swans are always here.

Past the village of Lynchat the marsh straddles both sides of the road.  At the second marsh you can see rooks in their rookery (11.7 miles).  In the marsh behind, there are nesting redshanks and flowering marsh orchids during the summer months.

After a cemetery on your right (12 miles), a path leads up to a monument on Tom Cheireag; a good hilltop viewpoint to scan the marshes around Kingussie.

In addition to the shops, restaurants and hotels in Kingussie (13 miles) there is a Tourist Information Office and the Highland Folk Museum showing how people used to live and work in the Highlands.

To return to the start, turn left opposite the Duke of Gordon Hotel (13.2 miles).   Note the several huge culverts (13.7 miles) you cross before reaching the bridge.   These give an idea of the huge volume of water carried along the Spey floodplain during heavy rainfall or snow melt.

The Ruthven Barracks (14.2 miles) are an impressive scenic feature; they were built in 1718.  A 13th century castle preceded the barracks and the site was strategically important in lines of communications.  Ruthven was a rallying point for the Highlanders after the battle of Culloden, the buildings were then sabotaged to prevent their use by the avenging Hanoverian troops.  The barracks are also a good viewpoint to scan for wetland birds and birds of prey.  The mound and the nearby marsh have a wide variety of wildflowers and insects.  Head east to return to the RSPB car park (15 miles).


We hope you enjoy your trip exploring the large floodplain.  If you would like to follow the RSPB nature trails please collect a reserve leaflet from our information viewpoint near the car park.