A Great Place for Close Encounters with Red Squirrels, Pine Martens and other Highland Wildlife
A lovely short walk from the banks of Loch Morar to the nearby low lying hill loch, Loch a’ Bhada Dharaich. The walk passes through a range of habitat types including heath, scattered with patches of Scots pine, and oak-birch woodland and then onto the Loch. Good views of hills and crags are afforded on route, but the mature Scots pines are the real stars of this walk.
Look at for dippers along the river banks and red throated divers on the loch. Look out for tracks and signs of pine marten, roe deer, red deer and eagles soaring high above the crags. Listen out for siskins, coal tits and possibly crossbills, in the remnants of Scots pine.
The path can be indistinct and very muddy in places and some navigation skills may be required. A lovely walk on a fine day.
1. Park in the layby just west of the jetty and immediately east of a small wooden road bridge on the road to Bracara, west of Morar. A wooden signpost marks the start of the footpath on the opposite side of the road from Loch Morar, by a driveway to a house.
Head up the gravelled track through the Calluna-Erica heath with Bog Myrtle (Myrica gale) in wetter areas and dotted with Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris). On passing by the house, the track becomes a footpath and continues to follow the river, Allt an Loin (burn of the pools). The path heads through wet oak-birch woodland with trunks strewn with bryophytes and lichens.
2. The path emerges from woodland onto open heath and rough grassland, leaving the river behind. Follow the signposts across the open ground. The ground can be boggy here as indicated by patches of bog asphodel (Narthecium ossifragum), Erica tetralix and Sphagnum species. This section of the walk affords stunning views of the hills and crags, fringed with oak, birch and pockets of Scots pine on their lower slopes.
3. The route skirts around a clump of Scots pine and then begins a very gentle ascent. Keep right and follow the way marked route, ignoring paths on the left. The path reaches a flat section before soon descending into a small birch wood, carpeted with an abundance of bryophytes and ferns, including Spaghnum, Polytrichum commune and Thuidium tamariscinum, as well as patches of bracken (Pteridium aquilinum) and Dog lichens (Peltigera sp). There are some lovely old birch trees, strewn with leafy Parmelion lichens, interspersed with beard lichens (Usnea species) and mosses. Take time to appreciate the diversity of the lichens on route.
4. The path emerges from the woodland and crosses open grassy heath affording lovely views of Loch a’ Bhada Dharaich. Head towards the loch; the path is boggy and rather indistinct in places, as indicated by its bog flora, but skirts by the burn emerging from the loch. The loch is fringed with Scots pine around its westernmost edge, with small patches of reed bed, Phragmites australis, at its margins; the latter is a good place to look for warblers and buntings. It is also worth scanning the loch for red throated divers.
Spend time exploring the loch and enjoying the hill views.
5. Return by the same route, heading back towards the birch woodland, across open ground and then skirting by the pine woods as before. The path may be indistinct in places so some navigation skill may be required. There are good views of Loch Morar at the end of the walk.
starting grid ref:
- there and back