Spotting deer and squirrels in Reelig Glen

running up Reelig Glen, Scotland

Three days to the Three Mealls Trail Race. But for today, running up Reelig Glen.

I am not even trail running for 5 minutes, when I stop abruptly. There, in the bushes on my right, a loud rustling. I stare and see a deer turning and running away from me. One, two, three jumps then it stands still and big, brown eyes look at me. I hold my breath and look back.

For a couple of minutes we stand in a deadlock. Observing each other. Me with a smile on my face. I don’t think I can say that for her. Then I turn around, walk a couple of meters slowly away, to make clear I don’t mean any harm. If I can’t see her anymore between the trees I start running again. Towards Achnagairn Castle, on the outskirts of Kirkhill.

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Reelig Glen

Running up Reelig Glen, outside of Kirkhill, ScotlandI pass the castle and follow my way to Reelig Glen, my goal for today. The idea is to do a slow run, with some altitude, but before I know it, I go too fast. The forest is just too beautiful to pay attention to my heart rate.

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The path starts out wide, with gravel, and here and there some uneven and muddy sections. Around me are cedars, spruces and Douglas Fir trees that are well over 100 years old, with some of them 50 meters high. When I pass under them, they hide the light and it feels like I’m running before sunrise, but as soon as I’m getting higher up the hill, the light gets through, and I feel the early morning sun on my shoulders.



The track keeps changing from muddy to hard, and from easy sloping to steep, with some serious drop-offs.

When I reach the top, I find a new path to take me down, where I get a good view of the gorge that has been cut by the rushing waters of the Moniack. This land belonged to the Fraser family until the Forestry Commission bought it in 1949. Most of the trees that are standing here now, were planted by James Baillie Fraser (1783-1856).

It’s a mission Sara and I gave ourselves for the land we’ve bought around our house. It’s nothing compared in size to Reelig Glen, but if we can plant a couple of trees that are this beautiful, it would make us very happy. It’s not for nothing that the locals nicknamed this Glen Fairy Glen.


Old stone bridge

Old stone bridge over the Moniack, ScotlandWhen I’m back at the parking lot where I started, I turn around and find another path up. This one leads me over an old stone bridge, totally covered with green moss.

I pass it and find a way down, back to the Moniack, where the path ends. That is to say, on this side of the river, because I see it continuing on the other side. As the river is not more than a little stream here, with some stepping stones, I carefully cross it and continue my descent on the other side. There my path is crossed by two red squirrels chasing each other. When they see me, they run up the tree in unison.

I stop, stare at them and smile. One deer, two squirrels, three hundred meters of altitude. Not bad for a start of the day.

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Today's training

Easy run up Reelig Glenn, just outside Kirkhill, Scotland
11,62 kilometers with 289 meters of altitude in 1 hour, 56 minutes and 36 seconds


John Kraijenbrink

The Running Dutchman

I run. Trails mostly. I am Dutch. That makes me The Running Dutchman.

I am also a massage therapist, yogi, sports science nerd, and journalist/writer. Everything I learn and research about trail running, I share here, on this website, with you.

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