Shian Wood is a Scottish Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve on the southern shores of Loch Creran. There is a lovely short walk through a variety of habitats, including rush pasture, wet heath and oak-hazel woodland. The path is well marked with some boardwalk sections over the wetter sections, but it can be very muddy in places. There are few benches on route to rest and admire the sounds and sight of this lovely woodland.
In Springtime, the woodland is riot of blues, yellow and white, carpeted with bluebells, dog violets, bugle, wood anemone, wood sorrel, greater stitchwort, yellow pimpernel and primrose. A luxuriance of ferns (male fern, broad butler fern, beech fern, hard fern, bracken and Wilson's filmy fern).adds an array of verdant colour. There are some fine specimen oaks and lovely stands of hazel which are strewn with lichens (with representatives from lobarion, parmelion, graphidion and usneion communities). The wetter areas support birch woodland with some willow. The abundance of deadwood in the wood also supports an array of invertebrates, polypores and saproxylic fungi, as well as providing cavity sites for nesting birds. Listen out for a variety of woodlands birds including warblers, tits, siskins and the greater spotted woodpecker.
The damp open glades/ rough grassland support devils bit scabious, lousewort and marsh violet whilst areas of heath supports heather, cross-leaved heath, bell heather and bilberry with bog myrtle in the wetter sections. The wet meadow by the car park support marsh thistle, yellow flag iris, devil's bit scabious, cuckoo flower and creeping buttercup. Check out the these areas for marsh fritillary, chequered skipper and green veined white. Look in woodland glades for speckled wood.
A lovely magical walk through some beautiful woodland with a chance to lose yourself in the beauty of the surroundings. Well worth a visit!
Take the minor road off the A828 signed posted South Shian just north of Benderloch. Turn left at the crossroads signposted the Island of Eriska. and continue for about 3/4 mile. The car park is located on the right hand side just before you reach the farm buildings of Balure Farm and the private road.
1. Park in the car park and take the track into the reserve. The track follows the edge of the reserve skirting sections of rush pasture, wet heath and rough grassland.
2. At the first junction take the left turning as directed through hazel-oak woodland with open glades. Follow the path along some boardwalk sections.
3. At the next junction there is an opportunity to take a short route as marked by turning right. Alternatively continue on the longer route to far end of the reserve towards An Sidhean (The Fairy Hummock).
4. The return path skirts by the outer edge of the reserve through woodland. A viewpoint is reached by an unmarked narrow path and affords some good views of Loch Creran .The path joins the outward track to return to the car park.
5. If you have time, walk through the wet meadow to the edge of Loch Creran fringed with its reedbeds and saltmarsh.