In 2021, we celebrate the 25th anniversary of Glen Finglas coming into our care. At the heart of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, it’s unrecognisable from the property we took on in 1996. A spectacular site in its own right, it’s also a shining example of what the Trust does and believes in.

With an emphasis on conservation for the benefit of people, wildlife and the environment, we have planted, protected and restored this incredible landscape over a quarter of a century. More work is still to be done, but at this landmark point, we’re pausing to celebrate our achievements so far and say a huge thank you to everyone that has been involved!

1996: starting our work at Glen Finglas

Taking on Glen Finglas was a mighty task in 1996. It was a hill farm that had been overgrazed by sheep for generations and a huge 4,800 hectares - 25 years on it’s still the largest of our 1,200 sites.
The Trust was much smaller then too, with fewer than 100 people working across the UK. But our ambitious, hardworking team took on the task of managing and improving the site with gusto.

2021: our vision fulfilled

Today, Glen Finglas is a world away from the neglected landscape we first acquired. Now home to more wildlife and welcoming more people, it has transformed into a flourishing mosaic of habitats that are bigger, better, more joined up and better able to adapt to changing conditions. This was our vision for Glen Finglas, as it is for many of our sites across the UK.

325 hectares
ancient woods protected
80 hectares
planted ancient woodland restored
1,800 hectares
new woods created

This metamorphosis required careful management of the vast and varied landscape. We’ve protected and enhanced a host of habitats, from open and ancient oak woodland through to montane scrub including grassland, marshland and moorland. We’ve taken care of rare upland wood pasture - one of the best examples in Scotland - with help from our hardy herd of grazing Luing cattle. We’ve nurtured the hollowing, multi-stemmed ancient alders which line the burn. There’s always more to do, but from the lochside to the 879m summit of Ben Ledi, our efforts are undoubtedly paying off.

Did you know?

Many of Glen Finglas’ ancient trees have ‘flying’ or ‘cuckoo’ rowans, where seeds dropped by passing birds have germinated in water pockets and other crevices to grow a new tree in the old one.

A haven for wildlife

Benefiting from the diversity of habitats and their careful management, wildlife is flourishing. Over the years we’ve seen an increase in all kinds of species, from woodland mammals and birds of prey to fascinating flora and fungi. We regularly spot golden eagle, pine marten, otter and red squirrel. Clean air helps lichens to thrive, and trout spawning in the burns is evidence of clean water.

Look out too for badger-faced red deer, regarded as a rarity in these parts. Their coat is often light grey, hooves may be white and face markings can vary from a white stripe to a whole white face. 

Credit: Philip Price / scotlandbigpicture.com

Beavers and butterflies return

Boosting tree cover along the riverbank has encouraged beavers – another sign of clear waters - to migrate into the estate. And after finding the rare pearl bordered fritillary butterfly in the Great Trossachs  Forest just outside Glen Finglas, we hope to find the species on site in 2021. Not recorded locally since the 1980s, data modelling predicting favourable habitat for the butterfly has resulted in 135 sightings to the west of Glen Finglas since 2018. We've been working with partners on the ground-breaking project which is helping us to understand the species and its habitat so we can monitor and support it in the future.

Credit: WTML

Fantastic flora

A whole range of plant communities can be found here too, from mountain sorrel and hard shield-fern in the rich crags, to wildflowers like alpine clubmoss and the rare grass orange foxtail in the uplands. In the lower wetlands, look out for the fascinating sundew (pictured), a plant that has evolved to be carnivorous. Its preferred acidic habitat doesn’t provide enough nutrients, so the sundew lures passing insects in with glistening droplets of sticky ‘dew’ and then wraps its leaves around the prey, digesting it and absorbing the nutrients.

Woodland fringe benefits black grouse

The black grouse’s courtship dance, known as lekking, is quite the spectacle. Famed for its flamboyant strutting, posturing and bubbling calls to attract a female, it’s been an increasingly rare sight in the UK in recent years. Vast population decline has left only 5,000 breeding pairs and marked the bird an endangered red list species.

But the future is looking brighter at Glen Finglas, where the mosaic of habitats - and especially the woodland fringe we’ve created - provide ideal conditions for the bird. A decade of monitoring has revealed a healthy and stable population of 15-22 males across three lek sites. Considering the volume of suitable habitat nearby and the birds’ secretive nature, we're sure there are more. As part of the Central Scotland Black Grouse Study Group, our monitoring feeds into regional data which helps make sure important black grouse habitats are protected.  

Even though it was a five o'clock start this morning, we've been very fortunate to see this iconic species and actually hear their bubbling and strutting and sometimes even comical displays. So, I think it was really worthwhile. The black grouse are actually a species that has been threatened by habitat loss and over the last 20 years, there's been a massive decline in species. So, there's about five thousand that are remaining and the majority of those are in Scotland. 

Glen Finglas Estate is owned by the Woodland Trust and it encompasses approximately 5,000 hectares and has got a whole range of habitats and different altitudes as well. So, we start at the loch site and then up through the grasslands into the woodlands and then the open hillside. 

Over the last 25 years we've created about 1,500 hectares of new native woodland, some of that through planting, some of it is through natural regeneration. This created plenty of woodland edge habitat which is perfect for black grouse to shelter and for food. 

Over the last 10 years we've been monitoring the same three lek sites. The lek site is a place where the male cocks display and compete [for females]. When it comes across another male, on a lek site, it almost looks like it blows itself up a little bit. And if you're very lucky you sometimes see the female which is called a grey hen.

We're very fortunate to be part of the Central Scotland black grouse study group. Our monitoring feeds into their data, so that the important habitats can be protected. In 2018, The Great Trossachs Forest National Nature Reserve recorded 86 lekking males. And that was across 15 sites and that actually represents almost 50% of the total black grouse population in Central Scotland. So we're very fortunate here at Glen Finglas and within the Great Trossachs National Nature Reserve to have a stable population of black grouse and that is a testament to our management and habitat health.

A haven for people

We’ve worked hard to develop Glen Finglas so as many people as possible can experience the natural beauty and cultural heritage of the area. From facilities and on-site information to events, maps and virtual tours, we want everyone to have the chance to learn about and enjoy this space to its full potential.

9
waymarked routes
totalling 59km
3
car parks
with room for 60 cars
1
visitor gateway
complete with Wi-Fi and our first ever flushing toilet!
Did you know?

Volunteers make a huge contribution at Glen Finglas, helping us to welcome visitors, monitor wildlife, maintain paths, support events and much more. In 2019 alone, volunteers gave 600 hours of their time to the site. Thank you!

Our waymarked routes have been designed to suit visitors of all ages and abilities, from the 1.5km family-friendly natural play and sculpture trail, to walking or cycling the more challenging 24km around the Meall. We also created The Great Trossachs Path, a 48km track and one of Scotland's Great Trails. It traverses the length of The Great Trossachs Forest from Callander to Inversnaid and connects the West Highland Way and Rob Roy Way.

Whether you’re a walker, photographer, wildlife watcher or history hound, Glen Finglas has something for everyone. With such vast and dramatic scenery, from mountains, rivers, hills and glens to woodland and moorland, there’s always somewhere new to explore.

Don’t just take our word for it - see this natural beauty for yourself!

Tackling climate change

Native woods and trees are one of the best ways to tackle the climate crisis and we’re doing just that at Glen Finglas. Planting, restoring and caring for varied habitats is helping to capture and store more carbon. And we’re producing renewable energy and taking measures to reduce carbon emissions of the farm business.

1 million
native trees planted
100 hectares
peatland restored in 2020
2
hydro schemes producing renewable energy
Discover how trees help fight climate change

Informing research 

Many conservation projects have taken place, in whole or in part, at Glen Finglas over the years, making it important on a national scale too. Here’s a selection of some of those going on right now.

  • Wildcat surveying: in 2018 and 2019, bait and camera stations were set up as part of wider monitoring by the National Park Authority. Unfortunately no wildcats were spotted, but a further survey is in the works.
  • Grazing experiments: the James Hutton Institute has been running a grazing experiment since 2002. Using enclosures with carefully controlled livestock numbers, they monitor the plants, invertebrates and birds to study the impacts of grazing on upland grassland biodiversity.
  • Restoring montane scrub research: this six-year PHD project is exploring how to better manage montane scrub – a critically endangered high mountain habitat above the tree line.
  • Bird monitoring: the British Trust for Ornithology monitors species, number of young and timing of breeding in bird boxes, as well as surveying over 100 breeding bird species, water birds on the reservoir and cuckoo activity. Migrant bird surveying also began this year. Results are used widely to set priorities and inform conservation action.
Thank you!

Glen Finglas wouldn’t be the special place it is today without the support of so many. We want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has played a part in its transformation, from volunteers, visitors and the local community to members, funders, partners and staff. We’re grateful to the National Lottery Heritage Fund too - its grants enabled us to buy the site and have made a big difference to its development.

Did you know?

Glen Finglas is part of The Great Trossachs Forest National Nature Reserve. This 200 year long landscape scale woodland restoration project is one of the most significant woodland regeneration projects in a generation.

2022 and beyond: the future of Glen Finglas

We’ve achieved so much since 1996, but we don’t intend to rest on our laurels! Maintenance and care will always be ongoing to help people and wildlife continue enjoying this extraordinary place. And we have lots of exciting plans for the future too, including:

  • creating more native woodland through planting and natural regeneration
  • enhancing visitors’ experience with more paths and information on site
  • restoring another 134ha of peatland, recovering 1.14ha of bare peat and reprofiling 19.4km of peat hags to boost carbon storage efficiency
  • installing solar panels at the visitor gateway to generate electricity.

You can help us keep up the good work at Glen Finglas by donating to the Trust today. With your support, we can help people and wildlife continue to enjoy this extraordinary place, and hundreds of other special sites across the UK, for many more years to come.