Residents and visitors have voted on their top ten nature and wildlife experiences in Angus. They made their selection from a huge variety of incredible outdoor experiences in this beautiful, wild, and inspiring region of Scotland.
There is something for all nature lovers, from woodland and lochs to beaches and cliffs. There is an abundance of diverse wildlife to enjoy in Angus, ranging from rare Alpine wildflowers and native woodland to iconic Scottish species such as bottlenose dolphins, adders, golden eagles and wildcats.
So, in no particular order, here are just some of the very best nature and wildlife experiences in Angus, as voted for by the people who live here and those who love to visit.
1. Loch of Kinnordy
A mile west of Kirriemuir, you’ll find the perfect place to get outside, explore nature at its most diverse, and see some elusive Scottish wildlife. Loch of Kinnordy is a beautiful, shallow loch situated in a natural basin surrounded by woodland and farmland.
This beautiful area attracts all kinds of wildlife. You may even be lucky enough to spot a Eurasian Beaver working on its dam. Visit in summer to catch sight of the osprey that visit annually. You are also likely to see otters, red squirrels and deer, not to mention butterflies and dragonflies.
Visit in the colder months to see wintering populations of whooper swans, as well as pink-footed and greylag geese. Great spotted woodpeckers can be seen and heard calling, and you may also catch sight of a kingfisher out on the water.
You can make use of three hides that provide views overlooking different areas of the loch and the bird feeding station that sits halfway between the Gullery and East hides.
2. Montrose Basin Visitor Centre
Located just outside the town, Montrose Basin is a designated Local Nature Reserve with a four-star visitor centre. It offers an unforgettable experience for families and nature enthusiasts.
Covering 750 hectares, the basin is home to over 80,000 migratory birds including pink-footed geese, common terns, and kingfishers. In fact, from early September to late October, this is the best spot in Angus and one of the best places in Scotland to see pink-footed geese. Four remote bird hides spread across the reserve offer the best locations to see some of these wonderful bird species for yourself. You may even spot a seal or two.
There is more to do inside the fantastic visitor centre. Admire the stunning panoramic views across the reserve using the binoculars and telescopes provided. Children will love the interactive toys and games that include microscopes, a wildlife portal, and puzzles. There are regular family events that run throughout the year.
3. Wild South Esk
Wild South Esk is a new wildlife trail that takes you from the Cairngorm Mountains to the North Sea along the River South Esk. Join us on an adventure and discover the Scottish wildlife that call this wonderful countryside home.
The trail is 50 miles long with ten sites to explore, including Ferryden, the Lurgies at Montrose Basin, Inch Park in Brechin, Angus Hill near Aberlemno, Cortachy, Tulloch Hill (Airlie Monument), Glen Prosen, Gella Bridge, Glen Clova (Loch Brandy), and Corrie Fee.
There are over 15 local walks highlighted along the trail, plus opportunities for some special cycling experiences. You’ll find beautifully-illustrated interpretation panels on your walks that tell the fascinating story of the Scottish species and habitats you may see on the trail.
The Wild South Esk website provides even more information, plus an interactive map so you can carefully plan out your South Esk experience. Bespoke itineraries including special bird trails and seasonal trails are also available.
4. Arbroath Cliff Trail and Seaton Cliffs
Walk the Cliff Top trail in Arbroath to experience four miles of stunning cliff-side scenery with breathtaking natural sea caves, secret coves, impressive blowholes, steep cliffs, secluded beaches, and a variety of wildlife.
This family-friendly coastal walk explores the spectacular Seaton Cliffs. They extend north from Arbroath and have a wealth of unique red sandstone formations. The trail includes many geological treats, such as the ‘Deil’s Heid’, a stack with a very distinctive, menacing face.
The walk starts from a car park along the seafront at the north end of Arbroath. It will take you through Seaton Cliffs nature reserve – 1,850 acres of designated natural beauty where you can experience wonderful Scottish wildlife including seabird colonies, butterflies, and wildflowers. The distinctive spotted burnet moth can be seen from June to August.
The Seaton Cliffs are also one of the best locations in Angus to spot a bottlenose dolphin.
5. Barry Buddon
A historic and unique location, Barry Buddon is a military training area that offers a unique ecology, scenic coastal walks and fantastic wildlife watching opportunities.
Barry Buddon is an important Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), thanks to its rich variety of plants, insects and animals. Some of the plants you’ll find here are unique to Barry Buddon, while others are extremely rare and precious.
The Ranges and Danger Areas are closed to the public during periods of live firing. When firing is not taking place, you can use the training area’s metalled roads to easily explore the reserve. You’ll find monthly Live Firing Schedules published on the Carnoustie Community Development Trust website so you can plan your trip effectively.
This really is a hidden gem; a wildlife refuge – thanks to its restricted public access – and one of the best places in Angus to watch coastal wildlife and enjoy long walks.
6. Glen Esk
At almost 15 miles long, Glen Esk is the longest of the Angus Glens. Here you can enjoy a range of hiking routes set in stunning natural beauty, including a trail to Queen’s Well and another up Mount Keen, Scotland’s most easterly Munro.
Enjoy memorable walks where beautiful old birch trees line winding roads and lead you into an incredible landscape. It’s a place where you can look up and see an osprey or golden eagle flying overhead.
Glen Esk is the best place in Scotland to see adders, Scotland’s only snake species. Take the trail to Loch Lee, and you’ll find adders basking on roads and at the foot of walls when the sun is out. You can also spot palmate newts and tadpoles in the ditches along the pathway in late spring and early summer. Late spring also offers a chance to see wildflowers like dog violet and primrose.
7. Montrose Bay
Montrose Bay offers seven miles of golden sands and rocky headlands to explore, as well as striking views and exciting sea life like bottlenose dolphins.
Montrose Beach stretches for three miles from Montrose to the North Esk River, with impressive views south to Scurdieness Lighthouse. Enjoy big, atmospheric skies that are different every time you visit.
There is a circular walk that heads North along the length of the beach before returning via an inland coastal links route, visiting the fine North Water viaduct – part of the North Sea Cycle Route.
There is plenty of wildlife in the area; the bay is home to St Cyrus National Nature Reserve and borders the Montrose Basin Local Nature Reserve. Expect to see a wide variety of migratory birds and other wildlife here.
The bay is excellent for nature lovers and families, and easily accessible from the town of Montrose by foot and by bike. Families will love the inviting, spacious golden beach and the modern, purpose-built Montrose Seafront Splash play area located next to it.
8. Glen Lethnot
Glen Lethnot lies to the northwest of Brechin between Glen Clova to the west and Glen Esk to the east. This is the smallest and perhaps least well-known of the Angus Glens but offers a unique and unforgettable wildlife experience. Perfect if you seek absolute peace and quiet in glorious Scottish surroundings.
The glen is a ground-nesting bird site. You’ll see black-tailed godwit in their beautiful orange-necked breeding plumage, numerous meadow pipits as well as curlews, lapwings, oystercatchers, wheatears, buzzards and even cuckoos.
Take a pleasant and rewarding walk through the glen to see red grouse around the valley sides and ravens soaring along the ridges of the valley. Look out for mountain hares amongst the clumps of heather too.
On warm days you can enjoy a relaxing picnic by the river but do check first for adders!
9. Glen Doll
Glen Doll is a spectacular glen carved by glaciers and the perfect place for nature lovers and wildlife watchers. It offers trails that meander alongside rushing burns in the valley floor and then climb through the woods to breathtaking viewpoints.
You’ll be among iconic Scottish wildlife like golden eagles, Scottish crossbills, red deer and red squirrels. Wildcats are also known to inhabit the area but are quite elusive.
The most popular trail is to Corrie Fee – a truly dramatic location and a National Nature Reserve. Corrie Fee has been designated for its rare alpine floral community; some of the plants that grow here cannot be found anywhere else in the UK.
Learn more about the glens at the Glen Doll Ranger Base in the south-east corner of the Cairngorms National Park. The base is the starting point for many special events like the informative ranger-led walks where you can learn more about the area and its wildlife.
10. Balgavies Loch
Balgavies Loch is situated on the Lunan Water between Forfar and Friockheim. Naturalists have long recognised the loch as an important site for wildlife. Visit to enjoy fantastic walks around the loch and through pleasant woodland.
This inland loch is surrounded by reedbeds and willow carr, attracting water rail, great crested grebe and a number of wintering wildfowl, including goldeneye, teal and wigeon. The reserve is also a haven for red squirrels.
The loch offers some great walks, including a memorable circular route where you can see ospreys, waterfowl and breeding songbirds. You’ll also see a varied selection of wildflowers like tufted loosestrife and coralroot orchid.
Visit between April and July to see the beautiful flowers around the loch and breeding birds. Between October and March is the best time to see the most wildfowl.
Hear from our Insider, Kelly Ann Dempsey, as she shares her Insider’s Guide to the Nature and Wildlife in Angus.
More days out in Angus
There is so much to see and do here in Angus. Take a look at the variety of places to visit, plus our other Insider’s Guides.
Insider’s Guide to Places to Eat
Insider’s Guide to Food and Drink
Insider’s Guide to Family Days Out
Insider’s Guide to Coast and Waters
Insider’s Guide to Cycling Routes
Insider’s Guide to Beauty Spots
Insider’s Guide to Walking Routes
Insider’s Guide to Visitor Attractions
Insider’s Guide to Hidden Gems