RSPB Loch Garten sits among the largest remaining tract of Caledonian Pine forest in Scotland. Our visitors can enjoy the majesty of the forest while learning about its natural wonders. From iconic birds such as ospreys and crested tits to rare mammals like red squirrels and pine martens, Loch Garten is home to some of the UK's most beautiful wildlife. Accessible forest trails allow you to explore the reserve at your own pace and our Discovery Zone provides kids of all ages with an immersive experience. On top of this, our passionate and knowledgeable team are always on hand to make sure every visit is truly unforgettable.
There is level access from the main entrance to:The Welcome KioskThe ToiletsThe shopOutdoor play area
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.
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 undulating and is rocky and uneven in places.
Travel by taxi
Path to main entrance
The car park is approximately 10m from the Welcome kiosk - the main entrance to the visitor centre. The centre itself is then a further 250m walk up a gently-sloping but smooth path. Visitors who are unable to walk that distance are welcome to drive their own car from the car park to the visitor 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 a key to unlock the gate at the vehicle access entrance.
Getting around inside
Visual Impairment - General Information
Ticket/ information desk
The Welcome Kiosk
The Welcome Kiosk is located next to the car park and is entrance to the visitor centre. 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
The toilet for use by visitors with disabilities is located just around the corner from the Welcome kiosk, along a section of smooth boardwalk. There is plenty of space for a wheelchair and another person if necessary and there are handrails provided for assistance with transfer to and from the toilet.
The shop is fully accessible 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
Designated Walking Trail
Big Pines Trail
The Big Pines trail is accessible directly from the Nature Centre car park. There is limited parking available at around the halfway point, making shorter walks an option. The trail ends at the Loch Mallachie car park, from where the Two Lochs trail begins.
Designated Walking Trail
Two Lochs Trail
The Two Lochs Trail begins from the Loch Mallachie car park, approximately 500m from the Nature Centre car park. It runs through a beautiful section of pine forest, passing along the westen edge of Loch Garten before reaching the shore of Loch Mallachie and then looping back to the car park. The trail is suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs except for a small section by Loch Mallachie where some exposed tree roots might make passing difficult. In wet conditions the ground can get very soft and muddy. Although the entire trail is a loop of approximately 2km, just 150m from the car park a path can be taken to the shore of the loch for beautiful views. The ground around this shore area also has exposed tree roots, making the going tough for wheelchairs and pushchairs.
The picnic benches are located directly outside the main visitor centre, with great views of our bird feeders. There is space for a wheelchair at the round bench or on the end of the rectangular bench. 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.
Outdoor play area
The outdoor play area is located next to the picnic benches and contains a "mud kitchen", bug hotel and cut-out photo board.
Customer care support
Wheelchairs can be obtained from the Welcome Kiosk on request.
Power sockets are available in the visitor centre and may be used on request. Any member of staff or volunteer will be happy to help.
Emergency evacuation procedures
There are three emergency exits suitable for wheelchair users.
Customer care support
Staff have received Visit Scotland disability awareness training and in-house safeguarding course. Some staff have acquired an official first aid certificate.
Any visitor with accessibility requirements may drive their own vehicle from the car park to the main visitor centre, thereby negating a walk of approximately 250m. This does require driving through a locked gate, the key to which can be obtained from the welcome kiosk at the car park. Cars can be parked directly outside the visitor centre and more details can be provided by staff on arrival.