The West Highland Hotel is situated in a prominent, elevated position in Mallaig, at the end of The Road to The Isles, being only a short walk away from the railway station and the ferry port with regular sailings to the Isle of Skye and The Small Isles. The hotel retains the traditional charm of an age gone but with comfortable modern en-suite rooms. The West Highland Hotel offers a choice of dining experiences including the stylish Island View Restauarant, The Longe, The West Bar and Conservatory with panoramic views out to the Islands.
A pleasant walk through coniferous plantation and into the hills around Kingairloch. The walk passes by some unroofed sheiling huts and an abandoned settlement.
Larch, pine and spruce plantation support an understory of bryophytes, including Common Tamarisk-moss(Thuidium tamariscinum) and Sphagnum and Polytrichum species. Wood sorrel (Oxalis acetosella), St John's worts (Hypericum spp), tormentil (Potentilla erecta), heather (Calluna vulgaris), bell heather (Erica cinerea), violets (Viola spp) and patches of foxgloves (Digitalis purpurea) brighten the edges of the plantation in Spring and Summer.
Ideal microclimates are also afforded for mosses and liverworts by the numerous small watercourses on route that traverse sections of the plantations.
Look out for raptors in the hills, ‘conifer specialists in the plantations’ and dippers and otters in the boulder strewn River Ghardail, as well as for the tracks and signs of pine marten.
The route includes some open heath section affording lovely views of the surrounding hills. The heath flora is variously hued through the season with purple moor grass (Molina caerulea), heather (Calluna vulgaris), bell heathers (Erica tetralix and E. cinerea), bog myrtle (Myrica gale) and bog asphodel (Narthecium ossifragum) and devil’s-bit scabious (Succisa pratensis).
1. Park in the car park and take the track ascending into the plantation. The track ascends steeply at first through larch, pine and spruce plantation, some of which emerge evocatively from within stone-walled enclosures. The path also abuts open heath on occasion.
2. Where the track diverges, take the left path, which descends at first.
3. When the path diverges by the river Ghardail, take the right path leading to the wooden bridge and head towards the hydro-electric power station. The other path leads to a ford across the river.
4. Take the left path just before you reach (south of) the hydroelectric power station which heads across a lovely section of heath.
5. At the junction and signpost, either turn left to continue down the hill on the Ghardail loop, or take a short detour to the Ghardail waterfall.
If taking the detour follows the track, crossing a wooden bridge on route until the track ends at another wood bridge overlooking a series of small waterfalls. Take time to enjoy the lovely views on route. Return by the same route.
The Ghardail loop heads down hill along the track.
6. At the road, turn left and follows the road back to the car park. The road follows the river, Abhainnna Coinnich and is fringed by heath and plantation.
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