The Loch Garten Nature Centre sits among the largest area of Caledonian pine forest in Scotland, on RSPB Scotland's Abernethy Reserve. Visitors can enjoy the peace of the forest while learning about its wildlife - from iconic birds such as ospreys and crested tits to rare mammals like red squirrels and pine martens, the reserve is home to some of the UK's most beautiful and rare wildlife. Our fully accessible centre and part accessible trails allow you to explore the forest at your own pace. Our friendly and knowledgeable team are on hand to make sure every visit is enjoyable. Hands-on nature activities, illustrated talks, close-up bird feeders and a shop selling gifts, books and refreshments.
There is level access from the main entrance to:Interpretation and visitor experience area in the Nature Centre The Welcome KioskThe Toilets at the Welcome KioskThe retail area in the Nature Centre
There is level access from the car park to:Picnic Benches
Getting hereFor further information on accessible travel in Scotland, go to Transport Scotland.
Travel by public transport
The nearest mainline railway station is Aviemore however, the Strathspey steam train runs between Aviemore and Broomhill stations regularly during the summer, stopping at Boat of Garten on the way. From Boat of Garten the reserve can be reached on foot, by bike or by bus. A timetable for the steam train can be found here: https://www.strathspeyrailway.co.uk/timetable.https://www.strathspeyrailway.co.uk/timetable.
The footpath from the bus stop to the Nature Centre runs adjacent to the road and passes a boardwalk for dragonfly spotting, access to the Speyside Way and the start of our "Two Lochs" trail, via the Loch Mallachie car park. The path is hard-packed, gently undulating and is rocky and uneven in places. There may be ocassional muddy patches in wet weather spells.
Travel by taxi
Visitors who cannot manage the 250 metre walk up to the Nature Centre can drive their vehicle up the track. There is room for one vehicle at the Nature Centre. Please speak to a member of the team at the Entrance Kiosk and they will give instructions.
Path to main entrance
The three disabled parking bays are approximately 20m from the Welcome Kiosk, where visitors are welcomed and entrance charges are taken. Visitors do not enter the Welcome Kiosk. The Nature Centre itself is a 250m walk up a gently-sloping but fairly smooth path. Visitors who are unable to walk that distance are welcome to drive their own car from the car park to the Nature Centre. On arrival, visitors who would like to do this should speak to a member of staff at the Welcome Kiosk, who will provide further instructions and unlock the gate at the vehicle access entrance.
Getting around inside
Ticket/ information desk
The Welcome Kiosk
The Welcome Kiosk is located next to the car park and is where visitors are welcomed and entrance fees taken. The main Nature Centre is a further 250 metres up the track. The kiosk always has a staff member present who will be happy to give further information or answer any questions.
Things to See and Do
Interpretation and visitor experience area in the Nature Centre
The Nature Centre is a large, open-plan room with an interpretation / visitor experience area and shop area. It has interpretive panels giving information about Abernethy reserve and Loch Garten. There are also panels aimed at children. There is a large map of the nature reserve on the floor. There are natural artefacts, such as animal skulls and feathers for visitors to handle and a digital microscope enabling large magnification to be viewed on a screen.
There are full-height windows giving views out on to the forest. There are also glazed viewing slots at different heights giving views out onto the osprey nest and forest. There are telescopes and binoculars available to use at the viewing slots.
There are large TV screens showing live or recorded footage of ospreys and other wildlife on the reserve. Team members are always present to chat and provide talks.
The Toilets at the Welcome Kiosk
The toilet for use by visitors with disabilities is located at the Welcome Kiosk, along a section of smooth boardwalk. There is plenty of space for a wheelchair and a carer and there are handrails provided for assistance with transfer to and from the toilet.
The retail area in the Nature Centre
The retail area is part of the main open-plan room at the Nature Centre and once visitors are inside the centre, everything is on one level with no ramps or steps, so access to this area is straightforward once inside the centre. The retail units are placed to allow access by wheelchairs and shelves are placed at different levels for ease of access to the stock. Staff are always on hand to assist visitors and provide further information.
Getting around outside
Two Lochs Trail
The Two Lochs trail is a circular trail through the forest, with two viewpoints at Loch Garten and Loch Mallachie. There are benches at the viewpoints. The surface is hard-packed forest floor with some sections of hard packed hard-core with a top dressing. It can get muddy in sections during periods of wet weather. There are some small tree roots across the path which can get slippy in wet weather. Strong wheelchair users have navigated the whole of the trail in all-terrain wheelchairs.
The picnic benches are located directly outside the Nature Centre, with great views of our bird feeders. There is a designated space for a wheelchair at the round table. Whilst the rectangular bench does not have a designated space, a wheelchair user could sit at the end of this table. Visitors are welcome to bring their own picnics, however, snacks and drinks are available from the shop inside the centre and this is accessible via a ramp through the main entrance.
Customer care support
One transit wheelchair can be borrowed from the Welcome Kiosk on request.
Power sockets are available in the Nature Centre and may be used on request. Any member of the team will be happy to help.
Emergency evacuation procedures
There are three emergency exits suitable for wheelchair users in the Nature Centre.
Customer care support
Staff have received Visit Scotland disability awareness training and in-house safeguarding course. Some staff have First Aid training.
Any visitor with accessibility requirements may drive their own vehicle from the car park to the Nature Centre, thereby negating a walk of approximately 250m. This requires driving through a gate, which staff at the Welcome Kiosk will open for you. There is room for one car to park directly outside the visitor centre and more details can be provided by staff on arrival.