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The Lord Lieutenant of Banffshire, Andrew Simpson, and Sam Dowdall, Development Manager at The Cabrach Trust, at the official opening of the discovery trail and nature hide. 
The Lord Lieutenant of Banffshire, Andrew Simpson, and Sam Dowdall, Development Manager at The Cabrach Trust, at the official opening of the discovery trail and nature hide. 

The Cabrach Trust: Discovering Inverharroch’s wildlife

In October 2021, Vattenfall’s Clashindarroch Wind Farm Community Fund awarded £34,151 to The Cabrach Trust to build a publicly accessible hide on a newly established all-ability nature trail at Inverharroch Farm, overlooking the River Deveron.

The Cabrach is a remote rural area in Moray, bordering Aberdeenshire, which has suffered decades of depopulation. Seeking to turn this around, The Trust has developed a regeneration strategy and masterplan for The Cabrach intending to create jobs, attract new visitors to the area, and celebrate and protect the cultural heritage, landscapes and history of The Cabrach. Central to these plans is the redevelopment of the buildings at Inverharroch Farm steadings, which the Trust owns, into a working heritage distillery and visitor centre.    

The farm site surrounding the steadings covers 170 acres. Working with The Cabrach Community Association, The Trust has created new footpaths to form a 'discovery trail' on the site and to enhance the landscape and biodiversity by planting native trees and wildflowers and building new wildlife ponds. The two-kilometre all-abilities path provides access to the ponds, River Deveron and wildflower meadows. This work was made possible with a £60,000 grant from EDF Renewables Dorenell Community Benefit Fund. 

Following these enhancements, the Clashindarroch Wind Farm Community Benefit Fund panel awarded a grant for a nature hide overlooking the river to enhance visitors' experience.  

Wildlife sightings near the River Deveron include herons, dippers, swallows, swifts, buzzards, red kites and otters. Ospreys fish on the River Deveron and the nearby River Spey. Experts at The Roy Dennis Foundation provided The Trust with advice on pond construction and riverside tree planting to improve the area for wildlife. The Trust has also supported constructing a nest site on neighbouring land to encourage ospreys to breed there. There is a clear line of sight from the hide to the new nest site, providing the opportunity to view these spectacular birds of prey should they begin nesting.  

Bird feeders near the hide will attract smaller species, bringing viewing, photography, and wildlife painting opportunities. The hide also includes information on The Cabrach's Dark Sky status and provides a shelter for stargazing activities.  

The discovery trails and hide were officially opened on 30 April 2022, with around 200 people attending the opening event.  

Since opening, the hide has been popular with visitors, including schools, community groups and those attending events hosted by The Trust, such as the recently revived Cabrach annual picnic and games, a programme of craft workshops and an annual 'Doors Open Day'. The hide is used regularly by the ranger service linked to EDF's Dorenell Wind Farm, which provides guided walks along the discovery trail and linked walking routes. Other organisations are also using the facility, such as the environmental charity Wild Things!, who recently visited with a local BALL (Be Active Life Long) group of older people.

Delighted by the success of the hide, Sam Dowdall of the Cabrach Trust commented:

“The nature hide provides huge potential for the community, visitors, tourism and education to make use of the facility, from bird watching to research and art, and brings interest to the area that has never existed before.”