Those of us who live with Glen Affric on our doorstep will argue that it is the most beautiful glen in Scotland. Many of our visitors also come to share this view. The Glen was purchased for the nation, by the Forestry Commission in 1951 and the process of conservation has been ongoing ever since, gathering pace especially in recent decades. A great deal of restoration work has been carried out to conserve one of the largest remaining ancient pinewoods. In recognition of its natural beauty and also its diverse range of wildlife, flora & fauna, Glen Affric was declared a National Nature Reserve (NNR) in 2001. It is abundant in wildlife - there is an immense variety of wildlife within the NNR, including red, roe and sika deer. Smaller mammals such as the fox, stoat and weasel can also be found. Badgers and pine martins are also becoming more common. The bird population is also diverse, over 100 species having ben recorded within the Glen. These include the Golden Eagle, Osprey, Ptarmigan, Capercaillie, and a number of smaller birds including Divers, Crossbills and Crested Tits. Glen Affric is also home to a wide range of insects such as butterflies, dragonflies and numerous types of beetle. Reptiles including the adder, slow worms and lizards are also found here. The reserve is also a great place for hillwalking, mountain biking on forest tracks, and open water canoeing.
Glen Cannich, to the north of Glen Affric is surrounded by the highest mountains north of the Great Glen. The winding, narrow public road from Cannich ends at the massive Mullardoch Dam, built in the late 1940s during the hydro-electric construction schemes. Raising the water level combined Lochs Mullardoch and Lungard into one massive loch. The original Benula Lodge, together with other dwellings now lie below the waterline. Glen Cannich gives a great feeling of remoteness - it is visited much less than its near neighbours. Popular with hillwalkers, the ridge on the north side of the Glen offers superb high level walking with tremendous views of Ben Nevis, An Teallach, the Torridon mountains to name but a few. It too has its share of wildlife - red deer, golden eagles and a wide variety of other fauna and flora. Red deer can be found grazing on the lower slopes for most of the year, especially the winter months. There are also remnants of the ancient Caledonian Pine Forest.
Along with Glens Affric and Cannich, Glen Strathfarrar drains eastwards into the River Beauly from a vast area of high plateau which stretches to the Peaks of Sgurr a' Chaorachain and Beinn Fhada only 24 kilometers (15 miles) from the west coast. These heavily glaciated valleys are cut into lard gneiss and moine schist rocks giving a landscape, which is rugged and boggy with steep wooded valley sides and bare rocky hills. Ancient maps and writings refer to he whole Beauly river system and estuary as 'Varar', which has come known to us in the place-name Glen Strathfarrar. The meaning is obscure, and it is unusual to find the combination of glen and strath in the same place-name. One possible explanation is that the narrow steep-sided valley at the east end brought in 'Glen', whereas the central section with its wider flat-bottomed valley accounts for the 'strath'. The pinewood in Glen Strathfarrar is a remnant of the ancient 'Forest of Caledon', which - according to a map drawn by the Greek geographer Ptolemy in the 2nd century - stretched from the Beauly Firth to the Argyll coast. The direct descendants of this ancient forest can be found in the fragments of pinewood that remain today scattered throughout the Highlands. However, many have now been virtually destroyed by felling or are engulfed in commercial forestry plantations. Most of the best remaining native pinewoods such as Glen Strathfarrar, Glen Affric, Abernethy, Black Wood of Rannoch, Rothiemurchus, Glen Tanar and Beinn Eighe are managed so as to improve their nature conservation interest. They are our link with the original forests of the Highlands and to stand in them is to feel the past.