Tomintoul and Glenlivet’s landscape of rounded, rolling hills and broad open straths has been shaped by the area’s complex geological past. Combined with land use and biodiversity, provides a distinctive identity for this area both within the Cairngorms National Park and beyond.
Roughly the shape of a diamond, the area is surrounded by four hill ranges: the Cromdales in the west, the Ladder Hills to the east, the Glen Avon foothills to the south, and Ben Rinnes and its southwestern ridge to the north. These hills and their moorland slopes provide a backdrop to many views within the area.
Rivers, burns and woodland are a key feature of the landscape and its history. The River Livet gives its name to the area and flows from its source in the Ladder hills. The River Avon flows from Loch Avon, high in the Cairngorms and is a significant salmon spawning river. Attractive broadleaf woodlands are found along the river banks and around farms and settlements.
A combination of farming, forestry, fishing and sporting interest has created much of the character of the present landscape around Tomintoul and Glenlivet, with its rich mosaic of habitats.
The farmed landscape of today broadly reflects the improvements made in the late 18th to 19th century with a mix of pasture, arable and rough grazing. The traditional farming systems in the area provide important habitats for wildlife, most notably for wader birds such as lapwing and redshank which are declining in other parts of the UK.
Blocks of conifer woodland plantations are a dominant feature in the landscape, and provide a habitat for wildlife such as red squirrels and crossbills.
Upland habitats have been largely shaped by their management for field sports, such as deer stalking and grouse shooting. Muirburn maintains a heather moorland habitat ideally suited for red grouse, mountain hares and upland wader birds like curlew and golden plover.