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17 Jan 2019

Bringing people closer to nature

A large group of people at work building the floor of a new nature hide in woodland.
The hide at Crathes Castle gives visitors the chance to enjoy the area’s abundant wildlife.
We’re building a new nature hide at Crathes Castle, thanks to the support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

Standing against a backdrop of rolling hills and set within its own glorious gardens, Crathes Castle in Aberdeenshire is every inch the classic Scottish tower house. And the estate is also home to a fascinating assortment of wildlife.

On a mission to make sure our members and visitors could experience the wonderful wildlife, the idea for the Crathes Castle Nature Hide project was born. From start to finish, the project has been a great example of collaboration in the community, with support from an array of local groups, companies and Crathes Castle staff to help bring it to fruition.

Thanks to the support from funding raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, awarded through the Postcode Earth Trust, and our National Trust for Scotland surveyor and architect Tara Crooke, the hide was designed and funded and ready to be built offsite at Grampian Prison by inmates as part of their rehabilitation programme.

Standing 7ft tall (2.25m in height x 6.18m length x 2.11m width), the hide is camouflaged from wildlife with a grass-top roof. The location of the hide has been selected to give visitors and nature-enthusiasts the chance to see badgers, roe deer, red squirrels, foxes and rabbits, along with a variety of birdlife and insects in the hide’s ‘Bug Hotel’.

A new wooden nature hide, with slotted windows, stands in a small clearing in a wood.
Roe deer and red squirrel can be spotted at Crathes Castle Estate.
“The hide is a fantastic example of community partnership in action.”
Toni Watt

Toni Watt, National Trust for Scotland ranger at Crathes Castle, said: ‘The hide is a fantastic example of community partnership in action. It has also been a wonderful opportunity for Grampian Prison inmates to learn and develop their skills on something of genuine benefit to the local community.

‘Thanks to the hard work of many people over the past seven months, visitors can now enjoy nature like never before at Crathes Castle, Garden & Estate.’

The team of inmates worked on the project for 8 months. As well as a chance to give back to their community, the young adults were able to build the hide as part of their work towards achieving a John Muir Award.

In addition to the nature hide itself, a new all-access path was built by National Trust for Scotland staff, volunteers and local community groups, including 22nd City of Aberdeen Guides, Aberdeen Ferryhill Guides, Elrick Primary School and 1st Dyce Guides.

A newly laid smooth-surfaced path runs into woodland.
An all-access path leads to the new hide.

Crathes Castle Estate was once part of the Royal Forest of Drum, and today is home to a range of spectacular waymarked and clearly signposted trails. The nature hide trail is just off the East Trail where walkers can now access the hide via the new short path.

The National Trust for Scotland works every day to protect Scotland’s national and natural treasures. From coastlines to castles, art to architecture, wildlife to wilderness, we protect all of this for the Love of Scotland.

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