The Loch Shiel Hotel is located in centre of the village of Acharacle, just over an hours drive away from Fort william and well situated to explore Ardnamurchan, Mull, The Small Isles and Lochaber.
A lovely walk through Glasdrum National Nature Reserve, a woodland reserve renowned for it’s exceptional bryophyte and lichen flora, as well as one of the top sites for chequered skipper and pearl border fritillary butterflies. The walk affords some stunning views of Glen Creran and the fjordic sea loch, Loch Creran.
There is an interpretation leaflet to go with the walk with designated information points (marker posts), two viewpoint and benches as well as a picnic area near the car park. The makers posts refer to Natural PowerPoint, the Hanging Gardens of Glasdrum, Getting a Glasdrum Tan, Balance with Bite, Gorge with Cascades and Looking to Europe.
The Natural PowerPoint post is situated by the open area underneath the powerlines; these glades support nectar rich plants and is good place to look for butterflies, including the chequered skipper and pearl bordered fritillary.
The Hanging Gardens of Glasdrum celebrates the rich and diverse flora of the woodland, with particularly reference to epiphytic ferns, mosses and lichens that cloak many of the trees.
Getting a Glasdrum tan refers to the former use of the wood for charcoal production for the iron smelter at Bonawe. The oak bark was used for tanning leather.
Balance with Bite is located by a viewpoint and refers to the differing management strategies needed to maximise the habitat value and biodiversity of the site. Natural regeneration of the oak woods is being encouraging in areas of former plantation woodland.
The Gorge of the Cascades celebrates the flora and fauna associated with damp conditions; these include ferns, mosses, liverworts, hornworts and lichens, as well as flowering plants such as opposite-leaved golden saxifrage (Chrysosplenium oppositifolium).
Looking to Europe is sited to provide good views over Loch Creran and celebrates the biogenic reefs produced by calcareous serpulid tubeworms (Serpula vermicularis) in Loch Creran. These reefs support a rich diversity of marine fauna (including bryozoans, ascidians and sponges). Loch Creran id a designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC), being the only site in the UK with these reefs. The loch also supports reefs of horse mussel (Modiolus modiolus) and bedrock reefs.
The walk is circular on a good gravel path with a short detour to charcoal platform used for the smelting of iron at Bonawe. The path can be fairly steep in places.
In Spring and early Summer the woods are carpeted with array of wild flowers including violets, wood anemone, bluebell, primrose, greater stitchwort, tormentil, wood sage, wood sorrel, St John’s-wort, wild garlic, wood sage and honeysuckle, with scattered shield ferns.. Other areas support a heather dominated understorey, with bell heather, bilberry and hard ferns; whilst the ground flora of other areas is dominated by diverse bryophyte assemblages.
The trees include oak, hazel, birch, holly, alder and rowan. There are also some lovely sections of hazel woodland, and dense patches of bluebells and wood anemones in Spring. The woodland consists of living, moribund and dead trees supporting a rich mosaic of habitats and ecological niches. There are some fine specimen oaks, strewn with bryophytes and polypody fern. Many of the boulders are similarly covered with luxuriant bryophyte assemblage The wood supports rich lichen assemblages with lobarion, graphidion, parmelion and useneion communities all represented.
Look out for a range of woodland birds in Spring and Summer, including warblers and flycatchers. Red squirrel, pine marten, red and roe deer and pipistrelle bat have also been recorded. Butterlies include speckled wood, dark green fritillary, green-veined white, large heath, Scotch Argus, as well as chequered skipper, small pearl bordered fritillary and pearl bordered fritillary.
A great walk for the botanist, bryophyte and lichen enthusiast, as well as those interested in seeing some rare butterflies, including the chequered skipper and pearl bordered fritillary
- Park at the car park off the minor road as signposted. There is an information board near the start of the walk with a wooden box containing leaflets. Head up on the woodland trail, keeping left where the path diverges, by the Natural Powerpoint marker post. Take time to look out for butterflies underneath the power lines.
- Cross a wooden bridge over a lovely stream, where you attention is drawn to magnificent oaks trees as an example of Hanging Garden of Glasdrum, Admire the views to Loch Creran through gaps in the trees.
- Take a left for a short detour to clearing in the woods that were formerly used as a charcoal platform, signposted Getting a Glasdrum Tan. Return by the same route.
- Continue on the main path and then across another wooden bridge to a bench with the marker post, Balance with Bite. Take time to admire the views (at the viewpoint) before continuing on the path as it starts to descends through birch woodland, with scattered hazel and oak.
- Cross another stream taking time to admire The Gorge of Cascades and its associated flora. The path begins to descend fairly steeply as it skirts the watercourse, with its series waterfalls and plunge pools.
- Continue to descend and stop to admire the views over the Loch Creran by a bench and the Looking to Europe marker post.
- The path follows a stream for a short while before crossing another bridge. The descent is rather steep in this section.
- The path rejoins the outbound route at the Natural Powerpoint marker post. Turn left and return to the car park
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