Beinn Eighe is Britain’s oldest National Nature Reserve. It was set up in 1951 primarily to protect the ancient pinewood west of Kinlochewe, but the reserve embraces a vast area of 48 square kilometres stretching from loch-side to mountain top. A huge cluster of rugged peaks, ridges and scree-covered slopes between Loch Maree and Glen Torridon forms part of this national jewel, most of which is owned by Scottish Natural Heritage. The importance of the whole of Beinn Eighe – for wildlife, geology and enjoyment of the natural Highland scene – is now recognised worldwide. One of the most westerly fragments of ancient Scots pinewood survives at Beinn Eighe on the Glas Leitir (grey slope). Some of its seed trees, or ‘granny ’ pines, are more than 350 years old. But their ancestral roots go much deeper. Scots pines arrived here around 8200 years ago. This was long after the last Ice Age glaciers – which scooped out the hill corries and the trough now filled by Loch Maree – had melted. Ancestors of these pioneers survived the big freeze in a refuge far to the southwest. That is why the native pinewoods in Wester Ross are a bit different from those elsewhere – the ancestors of other pinewoods in Scotland arrived later and from a different source.