More about Loch Arkaig Pine Forest
Loch Arkaig Pine Forest is one of the UK’s most significant remaining fragments of native Caledonian pinewood. It lies within an iconic landscape of sparkling lochs fringed by mountains and heather-covered moors. With its rare wildlife and flora, this vast forest is a hugely exciting recent purchase for the Trust.
The 1,027-hectare (2,537-acre) forest on the south shore of Loch Arkaig was acquired in 2016 following a public appeal for funds. As a remnant of the coniferous forest that once circled the northern hemisphere following the last ice age, its conservation is important for Scotland’s biodiversity.
Wildlife and mystery
Oak, hazel and alder skirt the loch, while Scots pine dominates the higher reaches. The site is brimming with wildlife. Pine marten, red deer and wild boar roam the forest, while majestic osprey and sea eagle, our largest bird of prey, swoop over the loch. There’s no doubt that there are many other creatures waiting to be discovered in the depths of the forest. We’ve already found evidence of a population of red squirrels and hope one day to record the presence of the rare Scottish wildcat.
It’s full of mysteries too. There’s the tale of the treasure chest full of gold destined to support Bonnie Prince Charlie during the Jacobite rebellion that is now buried somewhere in the forest. And a magical kelpie, or water horse spirit, is rumoured to inhabit the loch.
Over the centuries, this precious landscape has been degraded by felling, planting of non-native species and grazing. The Trust purchased the land in 2016 for £500,000 in partnership with local group Arkaig Community Forest and with fantastic support from individuals and organisations across the UK. In what is the largest restoration project ever undertaken on the Trust’s own land, we now plan to work with the local community to restore this rare and irreplaceable forest to its former glory and preserve it for future generations. Please help us raise the £4.5 million required by donating to the Loch Arkaig Pine Forest Appeal.
The Loch Arkaig Pine Forest consists of two blocks of native Caledonian woodland: Coille a Ghuibhais (the pine forest), known as South Loch Arkaig; and An t-Seann Fhrith (the old deer forest), known as Glen Maillie. The site is near Spean Bridge in the Scottish Highlands, 16km (10 miles) north of Fort William.
OS 1:50,000 Sheet No. N/A
Grid reference: NN146877
On the A82 Fort William to Inverness road, 1.2km (0.75 mile) north of Spean Bridge, turn onto the B8004 at the Commando Monument. Follow this single track road to Gairlochy for 3.2km (2 miles). Once you have crossed the Caledonian Canal on a swing bridge, take the next right onto a smaller single track road signposted to Achnacarry. Stay on this road, following the west shore of Loch Lochy for 4.8km (3 miles) until you reach the tiny hamlet of Clunes. At this point the road takes a sharp left-hand bend and leads you along the dark mile - a deeply wooded section of road, flanked by walls and trees carrying a tremendous thickness of moss - until you reach a small Forestry Commission car park on your right-hand side. The public road continues along the north shore of Loch Arkaig for another 15 miles and you can get some fabulous views of the woodlands from this road but bear in mind it is narrow and twisty.
From the Forestry Commission car park, walk to the Woodland Trust-owned woodland by following the road for 300m then turning left at the head of the loch past a gateway with stone pillars which says ‘Private Road’ (access on foot or by bicycle only). Continue along a causeway and over a timber-decked bridge. After crossing the bridge, turn right past a green metal barrier. A track then follows the south shore of the loch through the woodland.
For information on public transport, contact traveline.info
There are no way-marked routes in the wood, but the track leading on from the green metal barrier takes you through enchanting broadleaf woodland with large veteran beech and oak trees on either side, to an old house at Invermaille once used by shepherds. This is now managed as a bothy by the Mountain Bothies Association. The more adventurous walker can use this route to access the upper reaches of Glenmaille and the mountains beyond.