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22 Jun 2018

Scaling the heights for new species

Two people stand on a viewpoint area, looking down a sunny Glencoe. The Three Sisters tower to the left of the photo.
Glencoe’s Three Sisters
Our brave botanists go to extreme lengths to protect Scotland’s flora.

Two of the Trust’s intrepid countryside experts have just received specialist training in rope access, so they can reach never-before accessed areas and get a better understanding of the plant life that’s found there.

A man leans back on a rope, preparing to abseil down a rock face on a mountain. He wears a yellow helmet and holds up an omega-shaped National Trust for Scotland sign that says Love.
Paul Thomson

Between them, Dan Watson and Paul Thomson look after some of the Trust’s most mountainous and rugged terrain at Ben Lawers, Glencoe and Mar Lodge Estate. As climate change is causing alpine plants to move higher and higher up, the pair need to take extreme action to make sure they keep their botanical knowledge up to scratch.

A man in climbing gear on a hillside, holding a National Trust for Scotland omega sign.
Dan Watson

Dan explains:

‘The main target for this work is for botanical surveys of inaccessible areas. For example, we are planning to access crags and gullies in Coire nam Beitheach at Glencoe National Nature Reserve. I monitor a number of rare plants there, but I am certain that there is much to be discovered in even more remote locations. At the botanically rich Creag an Lochain at Ben Lawers National Nature Reserve there is also much inaccessible ground that we plan to explore. There are many other locations at both of these properties which we will look at in coming years, but requests are also starting to come in from elsewhere too.’

Scaling inaccessible mountain ledges is just another example of the work that the National Trust for Scotland’s volunteers and staff do day in, day out to protect Scotland’s natural and national treasures, for the love of Scotland.

This work is only possible with the support of people who value and want to protect our wild spaces and wildlife.


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.

In Our Strategy for Protecting Scotland’s Heritage 2018–23, we set out how we’re planning to work towards our vision that Scotland’s heritage is valued by everyone and protected now, and for future generations.

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