Over 35 years we have developed a range of facilities and schemes for the benefit of our guests. here you can read all about our pine marten and badger hide, the Loch hide, the Magnus House lecture hall, our vehicles, our extensive nature trails, the Loch and our ever popular and amazingly good value Swarovski binocular hire scheme.
Additionaly, you can watch the Horse and Country Channel profile on Aigas here.
The Quarry Hide
One mile up the glen is our celebrated pine marten and badger hide, built in 2003 at a large established badger sett. Our pine martens are extremely dependable (for completely wild animals), popping in most nights come rain or shine to check for tasty tidbits of jam and peanuts. Success rates are currently above 95% for our evening hide visits, easily the most reliable place in the UK to see these wonderfully boisterous creatures. Our local badgers also come in nigh on every night but are more unpredictable in their visits; sometimes you see them, sometimes you don’t.
Other critters to be seen include wood mice, pipistrelle bats, roe deer, foxes and tawny & barn owls. Views are close, generally within 6 to 30 feet, with strong floodlights permitting viewing even after dark making it ideal for photography. Everyone staying at Aigas has a chance to visit the hide with a ranger, with hide visits included in the cost of our standard programmes based at Aigas.
Have a look at some of our YouTube videos of our wildlife - here.
In 2006 we introduced the European beaver, Castor fiber, to a wetland location on the Aigas estate. This is an enclosed demonstration project where it is possible to view beavers in their natural habitat from a convenient hide. As of 2015 - with the Scottish Government on the verge of making an announcement on the fate of the beavers' future in this country - we are winding our beaver project down. There are still a small number of beavers on the loch but viewing of them is no longer so reliable.
The Loch Hide remains a wonderful peaceful and contemplative place to spend time, and many of our guests like to use it before breakfast. As well as beaver, they enjoy regular sightings of osprey fishing the loch, otters, roe and red deer, foxes and more.
Please note that there is only light enough for beaver watching between May and 1st September.
The Tree-top Hide
A short walk from the cabins and lodges will bring you to our tree-top hide. On the edge of the moorland with Scots Pine and Larch close by, the hide provides an intimate glimpse into life in the treetops with crossbills, gold crests and other small birds flitting past.
The view stretches before you, over the moors to the fields of the valley below and down to the River Beauly, which meanders slowly along this section of Strathglass. We often see ravens, buzzards and red kites circling in their search for food. In the early morning red and roe deer graze on the open moor and foxes search for prey. At dusk woodcock are commonly seen roding over the treetops close to the hide. Over the last year or so we have enjoyed increasing views of hen harrier and merlin too.
The Campbell Hide
The Campbell Hide was built in close consultation with Laurie Campbell and has now been up and running since the 2011 season. It is superb for pine martens and badgers.
It is excellent for photography, as the windows open and there are lights providing side lighting to the animals, as well as natural setting on which they feed. This hide was the one featured in BBC Springwatch in 2012. Martin Hughes-Games enjoyed excellent pine marten views from it!
The Magnus House (dedicated to long-time friend of Aigas, the late Magnus Magnusson) is our eco-friendly purpose built centre for environmental education. It is a fabulous example of sustainable building, with locally sourced and renewable materials used throughout; from a turf roof cut from the field just behind it to walling made using stone from our small on-site quarry. We were delighted to welcome HRH Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay and HRH the Duchess of Rothesay to open the Magnus House in June 2009.
The building is primarily for use by the many groups of school children that visit Aigas for environmental education each year, run by our sister project Naturedays. By joining one of our wildlife holidays you are helping to support the environmental education work we do for children—so a big THANK YOU from all of us at Aigas and the thousands of children who have directly benefited from their visit to the field centre!
The Magnus House is also kitted out with state of the art audio-visual facilities and a huge projector screen with which to give presentations and lectures to our adult guests. Located just a few minutes stroll from the loch it is the perfect base for workshops to explore the wildlife on our doorstep.
We are not a minibus tour, and we make every attempt possible to restrict our time in the vehicles, allowing you to spend your time breathing in the glorious clean air of the Highlands and appreciating the peace and tranquility of the wild landscape.
At sites our experienced rangers may interpret the behaviour of a particularly confiding bird, or perhaps the turbulent history of the local highland clan and the ecological impact of the clearances, maybe even some bizarre local folklore or superstitions about a particular iconic species. There is so much to see and learn that a whistlestop tour seems a cruel injustice to the land itself, its past, and the rich bounty of wildlife to be found here.
To get from A to B, we have a small fleet of comfortable minibuses which can accommodate between 7 and 14 passengers (although we will rarely take more than 12). These are all fitted with PA systems so we can also interpret the landscape we pass through, and also act as excellent hides allowing us to get even closer to wildlife!
The Aigas Estate offers a fascinating mosaic of habitats; our remnant Caledonian pine forest, native birch woods, plantation forestry, open moorland and a beautiful highland lochan. On the heather moor above the woodlands, exist the relics of both Bronze and Iron Age settlements from up to 5000 years ago.
Over 3 miles of trails meander through the estate introducing guests to the many habitats and species found around the grounds. These trails vary from a gentle circular route through native broadleaf and pine woodland around the loch, to more strenuous paths taking you up onto the heather moorland and into the past as you stand in a Bronze Age hut circle or the Iron Age fort. The view from here is breathtaking, stretching east over Strathglass to the Moray Firth and south-west to the mountains of Strathfarrar and Glen Affric.
The Aigas Loch, Loch Cuil Na Caillich (loch of the nook of the old woman), is a freshwater loch set amongst shady woodland and open moorland scenery. At its deepest, it reaches a depth of 30 ft. The natural loch was extended by the Victorians in the late 1800s when they added a dam to stabilize the water level, and this has supplied all the water needs of Aigas for over 100 years!
The loch is a rich habitat supporting a natural population of wild brown trout and is also stocked with Rainbow Trout; a wonderful enticement for our local Ospreys on a summer evening, when they can be seen hovering above the loch and plunging in to snatch an unsuspecting fish. The loch has many moods, one moment it is dark and broody and the next calm and serene.
We hire out superb Swarovski binoculars to guests at the rate of £20 per week. These binoculars (worth over a thousand pounds) are the best of the best with world class brightness and clarity. Contact us to reserve your pair, as numbers are limited.
"The very best wildlife encounters need the very best optics. Swarovski is delighted to work with Aigas, Scotland's celebrated nature centre." John Brinley, Managing Director, Swarovski Optik