Almost two thirds of our countryside places can be found in the uplands, where we look after 46 Munros (mountains over 3,000ft/914m).

In addition to the dizzying heights and breathtaking views, the upland wildlife – the plant and animal communities – makes these areas particularly important. During the summer months, birds such as peregrine falcons, ptarmigans, ring ouzels and dotterels make the mountains their home. We’ve also seen golden eagles in the mountains of Goatfell, Ben Lomond and Kintail, as well as wild goats.

When it comes to plant life, Ben Lawers has the richest community of mosses, lichens and flowering plants of any mountain in Europe. Glencoe National Nature Reserve, perhaps more famous for its history and mountain climbing, is home to a similar variety of rare and endangered Scottish mountain plants. All these plants are vulnerable to the effects of climate change – plants near the summit of a mountain, which have adapted to the cold, have nowhere to retreat if the climate warms.

It’s amazing to discover that these habitats actually help to regulate climate change themselves. The peat soil that covers large areas of our uplands stores great quantities of carbon, stopping it from being released into the atmosphere. In fact, we’ve estimated that the peat in our upland soils contains 27 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent – that’s over 10 times more than all our woodlands put together.

Take a look at the three key properties below for examples of why our upland habitats are so important.

Ben Lawers

In 1950, Ben Lawers became the first National Trust for Scotland property to be purchased for the primary purpose of nature conservation, due to its best-known feature: the Arctic-alpine flora. Look out for globeflower and downy willow in the summer, and flowering purple saxifrage in the spring.

Read about conservation at Ben Lawers.

Rare montane willow scrub on the slopes of Ben Lawers
Rare montane willow scrub on the slopes of Ben Lawers

Ben Lomond

Ben Lomond supports wildlife and farming communities alike. Sheep and cattle graze on the land, while adders do well in the bracken-covered slopes. Ptarmigans hide among the rocks, and wild goats (descended from domestic animals abandoned centuries ago) live in the woodland on the western slopes.

Female adder at Ardess Lodge, Ben Lomond
Female adder at Ardess Lodge, Ben Lomond

Goat Fell

The highest peak on Arran, Goat Fell stands at 874m. We work hard here to preserve the heather, juniper trees and woodlands that sustain all kinds of mountain wildlife. As you take on the challenging climb, keep an eye out for buzzards, golden eagles and red deer.

The peak of Goat Fell in the clouds
The peak of Goat Fell in the clouds
A sunny view along the Cioch na h-Oighe ridge on Goatfell

Did you know?

Munros are named after mountaineer Sir Hugh Munro. In 1891 he produced the first list – known as Munro’s Tables – of Scottish mountains over 3,000ft.