1,539.67 ha (3,804.53 acres)

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Set in the lush rainforest zone on Scotland’s northwest coast, this unique and dramatic landscape is home to astonishingly rare habitats and remarkable wildlife.

Gleann Shìldeag (Glen Shieldaig) is the new name for two sites under our care, Ben Shieldaig Estate and Couldoran Estate. We have combined these sites and plan to carefully restore them, creating havens for vulnerable native species including red squirrels, otters, and golden eagles.

History, people, and the Gaelic language have shaped the landscape we see today. To the north of Gleann Shìldeag, Ben Shieldaig mountain rises from the shores of Upper Loch Torridon. Here you’ll find two contrasting ancient woodlands, survivors of a time when the west coast of Scotland was one big rainforest. One is a patch of upland birchwood, dripping with lush mosses, layers of liverworts and lichens. The second is a Caledonian pinewood whose existence dates back to the end of the last Ice Age around 10,000 years ago. Further south, open heathlands are dotted with lochans (small lochs), blanket bog, ravines and small pockets of broadleaf trees.

Over the next 30 years we plan to restore and expand the scattered fragments of woodland, improve public access and establish a healthy and resilient mosaic of habitats.

How to get to Gleann Shìldeag

Gleann Shìldeag sits in the national scenic area of Wester Ross in the Northwest Highlands of Scotland, between the villages of Kishorn and Shieldaig.

From the south, follow the A896 from Strathcarron. From the north, follow the A896 from Kinlochewe.

Please be aware that the North Coast 500 follows the A896 road from Applecross to Torridon via Shieldaig which means that traffic on the single-track roads can get busy, especially from May to September.

There is no formal parking outside the village of Shieldaig, but there is a lay-by at the south end of Loch Dughail with room for up to six vehicles, one at the south end of Glen Shieldaig which has space for three vehicles and another near Rassal Ashwood which has space for several vehicles.

The nearest train station is at Strathcarron approximately 27km (17 miles) from the estate. There is also a train station at Achnasheen around 42km (26 miles) away.

Visit National Rail for more information.

There are several bus services that serve the villages of Shieldaig and Kishorn, including a service from Strathcarron.

Visit Traveline Scotland for more information.

Facilities and access

There are currently no formal footpaths at Gleann Shìldeag. There are various informal and non-waymarked paths, including to the summit of Ben Shieldaig, but most routes are steep and exposed and should only be tackled by those with a good level of fitness. Walkers can use existing stiles to cross deer fences. Take care as this is a remote location and conditions in the uplands can change rapidly.

There is no formal parking outside the village of Shieldaig. However, there is a lay-by at the south end of Loch Dughail with space for up to six vehicles, one at the south end of Glen Shieldaig which has space for three vehicles, and another near Rassal Aswood which has space for several vehicles.

There is a public toilet in the village of Shieldaig which is owned and operated by the community. On-site donations are appreciated if using the facilities. Customers of Nanny’s Café can use their all-ability facilities.

Wildlife and habitats


The mountains, ancient woodland, freshwater lochs and coastal areas of Gleann Shìldeag provide ideal habitats for some spectacular wildlife. White-tailed sea eagles, successfully reintroduced in the 1990s, nest on nearby Shieldaig Island. Look overhead and you could spy golden eagles or solitary buzzards circling the mountainous crags and lochs in search of prey. Upland waders and black-throated divers can be spotted at hilltop lochans, while woodland and moorland birds in the area include wheatears, cuckoos and spotted flycatchers.

Elsewhere, pine martens clamber up trees, mountain hares bound across glens, otters play by the shore and red squirrels race across the canopy of the ancient Caledonian pinewood.

There are plenty of reptiles and amphibians that live here too, including smooth newt and common adder. In early summer, look out for jewel-bright damselflies and dragonflies. The UK’s smallest dragonfly, the Black darter, and the vulnerable Azure Hawker dragonfly have both been recorded here.

Look out for:

Trees, plants and fungi

High rainfall, a mild climate and clean air at Gleann Shìldeag provide the perfect conditions for vulnerable species to flourish in Scotland’s rainforest. Both the birchwood and the pinewood are brimming with some of the world’s rarest lichens, bryophytes, liverworts and fungi. In fact, it’s an internationally important site for oceanic bryophytes – 20% of all Scotland’s bryophyte species have been recorded here!

Scan the forest floor for fairy tale mushrooms like fly agaric and porcelain fungus, and spot decorative beard lichens and tree lungwort adorning the branches of towering trees.

Look out for:


The vibrant patchwork of habitats at Gleann Shìldeag includes mountains, temperate rainforest, ancient woodlands, freshwater lochs, coastal areas, open heathlands, blanket bog, ravines and patches of broadleaf trees.

The woodlands at Shieldaig are one of the most westerly remnants of Caledonian pinewood in Scotland, and of a genetically distinct Wester Ross type. This makes them a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) of international conservation importance.


About us

Saving Scotland's rainforest

We're working to ensure Scotland’s rainforests thrive once again. As part of the Alliance for Scotland’s Rainforest, we're on a mission to protect and enhance this globally important habitat for the special wildlife that depends upon it.

Discover how we're making a difference

The Woodland Trust Scotland purchased the site in 2019 with the help of members and supporters, who chipped in half of the £1.6 million price-tag including £200,000 from the People’s Postcode Lottery. Supporters and players also helped to buy Couldoran Estate, purchased for £3.5M in 2021.

History of Gleann Shìldeag

Thanks to the amazing generosity of our supporters, we were able to buy Ben Shieldaig in 2019. Recently, we've been able to double it in size by acquiring the neighbouring Couldoran Estate. The combined landholdings are now known as Gleann Shìldeag, a Scottish Gaelic name pronounced ‘glown heel jig’.

This landscape was once densely forested. Today, only individual trees and fragments of scattered woodland remain. Luckily there is huge potential for native woodland expansion. We aim to make the site as resilient and healthy as possible through a combination of natural regeneration, new native planting and effective deer management.

The name ‘Shieldaig’ is an old Viking word meaning 'Herring Bay'. Shieldaig village was built to 'raise' and train sailors to fight Napoleon. Building started in 1810, but when Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo, the men of Shieldaig were never asked to fight. It became a community based on crofting and fishing which continue to this day.

Listen to the Gaelic pronunciation of Gleann Shìldeag

Credit: Phil Formby / WTML

Conservation and threats

Gleann Shìldeag’s woodland and peatland are globally important and hugely significant to our culture and wildlife. They support some of the world’s rarest and oldest plants, many of which appeared long before the dinosaurs. Much of what is left of Scotland’s rainforest and the remaining sections of Caledonian pinewood are poorly understood and managed, inadequately protected, highly fragmented and generally in poor and declining condition.

They are under threat from severe over-grazing, choking by non-native invasive species like rhododendron, conversion to conifer plantations, climate change, introduced diseases such as ash dieback, inappropriate development or management and the uncertainty of future support for woodlands.

Support us

Your support matters

This wood was secured for the future thanks to your response to an urgent appeal. Discover how you helped us bring another incredible place safely under our wing, and what the future holds for Ben Shieldaig. 

See what we've achieved

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Gleann Shildeag Estate Management Plan

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