A Great Place for Close Encounters with Red Squirrels, Pine Martens and other Highland Wildlife
A lovely walk, mainly through plantation, on a well defined path, with some stunning views of the surrounding hills and of Loch Leven and Loch Linnhe. The route starts at the former Ballachulish Slate Quarry and returns through the lovely village of Ballachulish.
The walk passes initially through a section of gorse scrub, with Calluna vulgaris–Erica cinerea heath, and rough pasture/meadow. The latter is variously hued with yellows, whites, pinks, blues and purples of creeping buttercup, primrose, wild strawberry, cranesbills, lady smock, vetches, bluebell, self heal and knapweed, to mention but a few, according to season.
The walk then passes through some lovely sections of larch and spruce plantation, whose trunks and branches strewn are with Parmelion and Usneion assemblages of lichens. The ground flora nearer the edges consists of a lovely mix of male, butler and shield ferns (Dryopteris and Polystichum spp), tufted hair grass (Deschampsia cespitosa), wood sorrel (Oxalis acetosella), wood sage (Teucrium scorodonia) and hard fern (Blechnun spicant), together with a rich moss flora of Tamarisk-moss(Thuidium tamariscinum), Dicranum, Sphagnum, Hypnum and Polytrichum species.
The walk passes by a small abandoned settlement, whose roofless, mass masonry building are now only home to maidenhair spleenwort (Asplenium trichomanes), wall rue (A. ruta muraria), Hart’s tongue (A. scolopendrium) and wall pennywort (Umbilicus rupestris), with patches of opposite-leaved golden saxifrage (Chrysosplenium oppositifolium and male ferns (Dryopteris spp) in the wetter microclimates.
Look out for raptors, heathland birds and woodland birds including ‘conifer specialists’ such as siskin, coal tit, redpoll and gold crest.
A very pleasant and interesting walk.
1. Park at the Tourist Information Centre car park and walk by the toilets to the loop road. Cross the road to a wooden gate with a wooden obelisk and two interpretation boards, sited at the old Ballachulish Quarry. Pass through gate and follow the sighs to the Brecklet Trail (2miles).
2. Take the route as signposted ascending gradually along a slate track, lined with alder (Alnus glutinosa), grey alder (Alnus incana), birch, willow, ash and rowan. The path emerges onto gorse scrub with Calluna vulgaris–Erica cinerea heath and rough meadow.
At this stage good views are afforded of the slate quarry and its steep sided deep blue green lochans on the left, with and the village of Ballachulish, Loch Leven and Loch Linnhe against a mountainous backdrop to the right.
3. Pass through a deer gate to skirt a larch plantation, passing by a slate picnic bench on the left; the latter affording lovely views of Ballachulish, Loch Leven and Loch Linnhe. The path now heads into spruce plantations whose trunks and branches are variously strewn with lichens, bryophytes and epiphytic ferns according to light and moisture levels. This is a lovely enchanted section of the walk, with several small ascents and descents on route.
4. The path veers left by an old stone wall (dyke), where there is a welcome bench, ascending slightly. The path soon begins to descend gently again through the plantation and crosses a small stream before passing by a small abandoned settlement and then back into dense plantation. There are several small stream crossing on route before the track eventually emerges from the plantation, to a small open area, dominated by grassy heath, skirting plantation on the right and a deciduous woodland fringe and stream on left side.
5. Turn right when you reach a T-junction with a forest track and descend along the track to the Brecklet and Ballachulish.
6. Pass through a metal gate onto a tarmac track passing by some houses and St Munda’s Church (Glencoe) and St Mun’s Church in Brecklet.
7. Turn right where the tarmac track reaches the road. At the end of the road, turn right again and head back to the Tourist Information Centre.
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