National Trust for Scotland (NTS) Viewpoint
Park at the National Trust for Scotland car park (pay and display). Take the path by the interpretation board to the viewpoint. The short route ascends steeply on a stepped gravel path by the back of the Visitor’s Centre. The viewpoint affords panoramic views of Loch Shiel and the surrounding hills, Glenfinnan Viaduct, Glenfinnan Monument and St Mary & St Finnans Church. There are also several benches for taking time to admire the views.
The Dragonfly Trail
A lovely short walk, mainly on board walk, through a diversity of habitat types, ranging from alder carr, birch woodland, ancient Caledonian pinewood and heath dominated with Calluna-Vaccinium assemblages. There are good opportunities for bird watching and looking for track and signs of wild cat and pine marten.
Callop Viewpoint Trail
A lovely walk through coniferous woods to three viewpoints, the Hilltop view, the River view and the Loch view, starting at the end of the Dragonfly trail.
Route Details - Dragonfly Trail
1. Park at car park opposite the road to Glenfinnan House hotel just north-west of the National Trust Visitor’s Centre car-park or at the National Trust car park (pay and display). Head towards the monument on the gravel path. Take the board walk signposted by the interpretation board. The walk passes through waterlogged, wooded alder carr composed of alder (Alnus glutinosa) and willow species (Salix spp). Listen and look out for a range of woodland birds. After a short while, a small lochan (Lochan Port na Creige) comes into view through the trees, and provides a good opportunity to look for warblers and dabbling and diving ducks in the reed beds and open water of the lochan. Look out for dragon flies, including the Highland Darter, on the wing in summer or basking on the hand rails of the board walk sections. The walk continues on a path through a section of birch woodland with Calluna-dominated heath and ancient Scots pine trees on hills above on the left, and marsh on the right.
2. At a pair interpretation boards, take the right path crossing the River Callop over a wooden bridge and continue on the board walk. The River Callop marks the boundary between Moidart and Ardgour. After crossing the bridge, look out on the right, for the remains of the passenger pier for the Callop ferry. A commercial ferry service was established on Loch Shiel in 1893 for transporting passengers and supplies to the local inhabitants on banks of Loch Shiel, as well as providing a link service for the railway. The ferry service was decommissioned in the 1950s, to be later succeeded by pleasure cruises up the Loch. Lovely views are also afforded of Lochan Port na Creige, the River Callop and the hills surrounding Loch Shiel.
Ardgour is also renowned for its ancient native Caledonian pinewoods, descendents from the last Ice Age, 10,000 years ago. Listen out for the drumming of greater spotted woodpeckers and high pitched trills of crested tits. Look out for tracks and signs of pine marten and wild cat, and marvel at the beauty of the place.
3. At the end of the boardwalk there is another interpretation board introducing you to a View point trail.
4. Return at this stage for an easy and interesting walk through some fine habitat types or continue onto the Callop Viewpoint Trail.
Route Details - Callop Viewpoint Trail
The three viewpoints can be reached from the forest track running between The Callop Carpark (not currently in use) and Polloch.
1. Hilltop view - easy, though steep
For the hilltop view, turn left at the interpretation board at the end of the Dragonfly Trail and take the first left as signposted. Climb the stepped trail to the viewpoint, looking back on route on a clear day for good views of Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the British Isles, with the summit at 1344 metres above sea level.
The view point affords good views of Loch Shiel, as well as an opportunity to explore a small fragment of Caledonia pine wood. A lovely spot. Look out for crested tits foraging on the Scots pines either hanging on the trunks or upside down amongst the branches.
Return by the same route, after admiring the view.
2. Loch View - moderate
Continue along the forest track by turning left and heading up the track to the next viewpoint, Loch view. Turn right at the signpost to Loch view and head up hill on a gravel path, passing over a stile. The path ascends steeply in places mainly through pine and birch woodland, with an understory of Calluna and bryophyte assemblages. You can also see that some of the original plantation on the nearby hills has been cleared as a part of a long-term management programme to promote the natural restoration by Scots pine.
There is a welcome bench at the top for a coffee break or picnic. The viewpoint affords good views of Glenfinnan Monument and Loch Shiel and the surrounding hills. Return by the same route after admiring the view.
3. River View - moderate
Continue to ascend on the forest track heading to the next viewpoint, River view. The view point is a short walk from the junction to the Loch view and located by a signpost on the left. The path heads up through birch wood and onto heath. The River view affords fine views of the River Callop and the surrounding woodland of alder (Alnus glutinosa), birch (Betula pubescens) and oak (Quercus petraea).
4. Return by the same route and head back down the forest tack to the start point.