Thursday, 25 August 2016

Walk in an ancient forest - South Loch Arkaig

Alder groves on the Arkaig river
The Woodland Trust and the Arkaig Community Forest group are trying to buy the Loch Arkaig and Glen Mallie pinewoods from the Forestry Commission. Yesterday I went to have a look at this remnant of the Great Wood of Caledon. Outside of the wood it was hot and dry. Then I stepped into a shaded, cool and fragrant forest for a five kilometre walk through groves of ancient trees.

Venerable oaks


Alder groves line both banks of the River Arkaig perhaps to same extent they did 2000 years before the Romans arrived in Britain. Giant venerable oaks clothed in lichen, mosses and ferns line the track together with birch, holly, rowan, alder and even a few beech. This has to be one of the finest forest walks in the West.

But no Scots Pine. It wasn't until I got out of the wood and looked back that I saw them high on the hill above the broad leaved woodland and commercial conifers planted in the 60s

It was what I expected; wide spaced gnarled old survivors with birch and heather under story. this is one of about 90 remnants in the highlands of Caledonian pine a genetically distinct and endemic sub-species, in it's own distinct pinewood ecosystem.

If you love woodland walks don't miss this one,there is a route plan on the "Walk highland" website and a Woodland Trust video at woodlandtrust.org.uk/pineforest. The Trust are planning to restore pinewood by removing the spruces and lodgepole pine, encouraging natural regeneration,  new planting of native species and of controlling deer and sheep. I should add that the pinewood is also habitat for wildcats, pine martens and a whole range of birds.

Pinewood above the birch and conifers
If you want to stay, there's the MBA's Invermallie bothy where I had my lunch on  chair in the sun..

















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