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.
Three lovely short walks from the car park in Creag Meagaidh National Nature Reserve providing an opportunity to experience various habitats, including meadow, ancient alder woodland and heath land. The walks offer some stunning of views of Creag Meagaidh massif and Loch Laggan.
Alt Dubh Trail, Creag Meagaidh
A lovely short walk heading to a lovely viewpoint, passing through meadow, heath and ancient alder woodland. Look out for verses by Sorley MacLean carved into stones by the path, testifying to the value of trees within the landscape.
The meadows are dominated by pignut (Conopodium majus), purple moor grass (Molinia caerulea).
There are some lovely sections of mixed woodland with alder, oak and rowan, with a mixed herbaceous understorey with bluebell, pignut, creeping buttercup and bracken. The final section of the walk is particularly stunning passing through some ancient alder woods, with bird cherry, holly and willow. There are several information points on route, as well as bird feeders and benches.
The heath sections support heather (Calluna vulgaris), bell heather (Erica spp), bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus), purple moor grass (Molinia caerulea), bracken (Pteridium aquilinum), and deer grass (Trichophorum germanicum), with heath speedwell (Veronica officinalis), heath bedstraw (Galium saxatile), tormentil (Potentilla erecta) and devil’s bit scabious (Succisa pratensis) adding splashes of colour from spring to late summer.
Natural woodland regeneration is being actively encouraged on the reserve by removal of sheep and by reducing deer numbers (roe, Sitka and red deer). The intention is to restore the wildwood of Glen Spean by reducing, but not eliminating, deer numbers to restore the natural dynamics of woodland regeneration.
The viewpoint provides some great views of the whale-backed ridge of Creag Meagaidh massif behind as well as hills overshadowing Loch Laggan to the front.
There is an information point with reserve leaflets and sightings board, picnic bench and loo at Aberarder farmhouse, as well as some interpretation boards and benches on route.
Park at in car park Creag Meagaidh National Nature Reserve, clearly signposted off the A88, at Aberarder. The walk starts at the information boards for the reserve and is signposted with red otter logo.
Turn right at the information boards as directed, heading towards Aberarder on a good gravel path. The path initially skirts a meadow on the left and is lined with trees on the right (mainly oak and bird cherry), before heading through a lovely wooded section.
Continue on at the junction as directed. Then cross the farm track and continue on the other side following the signpost and ascending towards the information point at Aberarder farmhouse.
Once passed the farmhouse, the path begins to ascend more steeply passing through heathland with natural woodland regeneration. Continue up some stone steps by a boundary wall to a lovely viewpoint with an information board.
There are some great views of the ridge and summits of Creag Meagaidh massif on route and at the viewpoint.
Keep left at the viewpoint following the path as it starts to descend and loop round, affording lovely hill views over Loch Laggan. The path passes through grassy heath with natural regeneration by birch and rowan. The path passes by a large sheep fank.
Keep left at the junction and heading back towards the car park. The walk passes over a board walk section across more boggy ground, with cotton grass (including Eriophorum angustifolium and Eriophorum vaginatum) purple moor grass and willow. Shortly after which the path heads through a lovely section of ancient birch and alder woodland.
Veer left at the junction as directed, and then turn right at the T-junction to the car park.
A lovely short walk through meadow and ancient alderwoods with an herbaceous understorey with bluebell, pignut, creeping buttercup and wood cranesbill. There are some lovely specimen trees supporting shrubby and foliose lichens and mosses,
There is a lovely section of meadow, dominated by pignut (Conopodium majus) purple moor grass (Molinia caerulea), creeping buttercup, common sorrel and speedwells, with meadowsweet, marsh thistle and marsh marigold in the wetter areas.
There are several information points on route, as well as bird feeders and several benches. Topics covered in information points include importance of fungi, natural defences of plants, red and roe deer, native trees and dragon and damselflies.
In addition, there is an interpretation board, next to a picnic bench and affording view over the river (Alt Coire Ardair), celebrating the magic and biodiversity of the alder and birch woodlands.
This walk provides a great opportunity to see a range of woodland birds including, siskins, redpoll, tits, and finches on the multiple feeders throughout the woodland. Other possible sightings include pipits, willow warblers, wren, greater spotted woodpecker, blackbird, song thrush, robin; to mention a few.
Look out for the track and signs of pine marten, and bats and owls at dusk.
Park at in car park Creag Meagaidh National Nature Reserve, clearly signposted off the A88, at Aberarder. The walk starts at the information boards for the reserve and is signposted with lilac alder logo.
The path heads down one side of a meadow then into small section of alder wood, and then out again up the other side.
Then path then heads into another lovely section of alder woodland, crossing a stream.
At the junction, turn right as directed.
Turn right at the T-junction following the signposts back to the car park.
An Sidhean Trail
A lovely pleasant stroll. The walk follows a gravel track through meadow with the land managed as it would have been in former times by local crofters/farmers. An Sidhean (pronounced ‘an shee-ann’) is Gaelic for fairies, referring to the fairy knoll (the entrance to fairy land) seen on route.
Good view of the surrounding hills and there is a large picnic area and a bird-blind screening some bird feeders. Look out for siskins, redpolls, chaffinches, tits on the feeders. There is also short section by the river Allt a’ Chrannaig that affords the opportunity to look for dippers and otters.
The path is fringed mainly by meadow full of pignut and bluebell, with creeping buttercup, speedwell and meadowsweet, in Spring and Summer, and with some fine old birches.
There are some interpretation boards on route, one the crofting lifestyle (entitled ‘Living off the Land’ and another on the Fairly Knoll), as well as information points about black grouse lekking and the importance of seed dispersal by birds.
Look out for butterflies (whites and browns), a range of woodland and meadow birds. If you are lucky and visit early morning in Spring (April/May) you may also be treated to the sight of male black grouse engaged in competitive displays (lekking) to attract the attention of visiting females. There are a few events each year organised by Scottish National Heritage for which booking is essential, please contact SNH at Aviemore for details.
Park at in car park Creag Meagaidh National Nature Reserve, clearly signposted off the A88, at Aberarder. The walk starts at the information boards for the reserve and is signposted with yellow dragonfly logo.
Turn right at the information boards and then right again as directed. The path passes by a lawned area with picnic benches at the start, and then by a bird-blind screening a bird feeding area.
The path passes by an interpretation board on crofting, two information points and another interpretation board on the fairy knoll.
At the signpost, cross over the track and continue on the gravel path back towards the car park, passing by and through a lovely fringe of alder, willow, oak and bird cherry.
starting grid ref: