Argyll is teaming with things to do, whether it’s a lazy walk around stunning gardens, spotting wildlife on a boat trip or bagging a munro. The nature reserves dotted around Argyll are an opportunity to experience all of these activities at once. With diverse walks and environments, spectacular views, interesting plants and abundant wildlife, Argyll’s nature reserves are the perfect place to explore.
Glen Nant National Reserve and Ben Lui National Nature Reserve, both run by Scottish Natural Heritage, are two contrasting examples of what Argyll’s nature reserves have to offer. At Glen Nant there is a rich mixed woodland, a small reminder of the vast native forests which once covered the Highlands of Scotland. If you’re lucky you might get a glimpse of the shy and elusive otters that slip between the river ad the forest. Ben Lui, on the other hand, features four of Scotland’s Munros. Their cliffs and rocky outcrops boast a large growth of mountain plants, with summer a good time to spot the vibrant yellow saxifrage (or rockfoils) bursting through. During the summer months ptarmigan can be spotted on the peaks, with red deer and golden eagles coming out as summer turns into autumn.
Glasdrum Wood, at the head of Loch Creran, is a wild wood climbing up the slopes of Ben Churalain. The slopes rich soil means a variety of trees and plants thrive there, attracting a wide range of insects and butterfly species, including the rare chequered skipper. During the summer months Glasdrum is teaming with butterflies and moths, the wood being the perfect place for them to flourish.
If you are looking to take a more adventures trip out from Loch Melfort, heading to one of the nature reserves on the islands just off the coast is the perfect option for a day trip. Loch Gruinart on Islay is famous for its wintering Greenland barnacle and white-fronted geese. It is abundant in birds, with shoveler ducks, redshank, lapwings, snipe and corncrakes all breeding on the island. During the summer months guided walks through the moorland are available.
Staffa National Nature Reserve, located just off the coast of Mull, is an uninhabited island famous for its distinctive columns of rock, formed by lava millions of years ago. Staffa features the world-renowned Fingal’s Cave, similar to the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland. Its magnificent basalt columns and sea caves look even more spectacular when they are covered in sea birds, with the island attracting large colonies of birds to breed. During the summer months a large puffin colony are on the island, with gannets, guillemots, razorbills, fulmars and great skuas also nesting on the island.
Wherever you choose to visit, Loch Melfort is perfectly situated for exploring the beautiful wildlife and spectacular scenery that Argyll’s nature reserves have to offer.