Mar Lodge Estate teacher information

Mar Lodge Estate is recognised as one of the most important nature conservation landscapes in the British Isles. Set within the Cairngorms National Park, and with 15 Munros within its boundaries, it has some of the most remote and scenic wild land in Scotland.

The estate occupies nearly 7% of the Cairngorms National Park. It covers a total of 29,380 hectares and has some classic features of a Highland landscape: remnants of the ancient Caledonian pine forest, heather moorland and juniper scrub, as well as a large part of the high Cairngorm plateau. The range of habitats makes it home to a wide variety of wildlife with several species, such as the ptarmigan, dotterel and mountain hare, especially adapted to the extreme mountain conditions. Lower down, many other creatures can be seen, including red deer, red squirrels, woodland birds and, high in the sky, the magnificent golden eagle. In 2017 Mar Lodge Estate became the largest National Nature Reserve in the UK.

There are excellent opportunities for hill walkers. For other walkers and school groups, there are large low-lying areas with attractive woodland and riverside paths. From the Linn of Dee car park, a nearby walk offers stunning views of a scenic gorge.

The estate is also rich in the archaeological remains of old townships and shielings, which tell the story of human habitation from the past.

A school visit offers opportunities for cross-curricular work and engaging with the Curriculum for Excellence. The ranger service can offer a variety of activities relating to the specific habitats of the mountain, such as woodland and scrub, burns, bogs and moorland. We also can cover wider conservation issues, or offer activities relating to archaeology. All age groups and levels are welcome. We recommend that teachers phone to discuss their requirements well in advance of the planned visit.

Possible topics

  • Habitats
  • Wildlife
  • Conservation
  • Archaeology

Resources for schools

A Mar Lodge Estate activity pack, containing information about its landscape, wildlife and cultural heritage, is available.

Planning your class visit

  • To book: please contact the Mar Lodge Ranger Office on 01339 720164 to discuss your visit.
  • Book well in advance to avoid disappointment.
  • Mar Lodge Estate is open for school visits all year round, weather conditions permitting.
  • Maximum class size: 30 pupils, with a ratio of at least 1 teacher/adult helper to 10 pupils.
  • Access: the estate roads on the lower ground, around the Lodge itself, are suitable for all abilities. These have fine views of fields, hills and the river so pupils can get a sense of the wild countryside. There is also a short all-abilities path at the Linn of Dee viewpoint. The open hill areas are not accessible for wheelchair users.
  • To discuss the access and additional needs for your class, please do phone us – we will do our utmost to accommodate your pupils.
  • Parking: there is a large parking area at Mar Lodge.There is also room to park coaches at the Linn of Dee, for the Viewpoint Walk.
  • PLEASE NOTE: coaches should enter Mar Lodge Estate via the Linn of Dee and then the west drive. Coaches must not use the bridge into Mar Lodge Estate, on the road from Braemar to Mar Lodge. You will be given full travel details when booking your visit.
  • Toilets: there are fully accessible toilets at Mar Lodge.
  • Refreshments: there is no café but there are plenty of places for a picnic – we also have wet weather facilities.
  • Clothing: pupils should be dressed appropriately for the outdoors. Mar Lodge Estate is a remote, mountainous property. The weather can change quickly. Your pupils should have both warm and waterproof clothing and footwear. For sunny days, your pupils should have protection against the sun – for instance, a long-sleeved jacket and sunhat or cap.
  • The site has been risk assessed. Teachers should prepare their own risk assessment for the visit.
  • Please see our Preparing for your visit page for further information on outdoor school visits. 

Charges

  • There is no admission charge for schools with Trust educational membership.
  • Non-members are welcome but there is an activity charge – this will vary depending on the activity. Please check before booking.
  • Accompanying adults are admitted free.
  • All class teachers are encouraged to make a free preparatory visit to the site.

During your class visit

  • On arrival: your class will be met by a ranger at a pre-arranged meeting place (agreed when booking your visit).
  • All visits to Mar Lodge Estate will be led by Trust rangers.
  • The length of your visit will depend on the activities booked, and will be agreed at the time of booking.
  • Large classes may be split into groups – with at least 1 teacher/adult helper with each group.
  • Safety first: for a hill walk, staff carry shelters for emergency use.
  • Teachers are responsible for their pupils and their behaviour.
  • Pupils may take photos/films.
  • There is no shop.
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