There is a wide selection of beautiful forest walks just sitting waiting to be explored not far from Loch Melfort. We definitely recommend adding this to your to-do list if you are in the area. Some trails may be more taxing than others – perfect if you’re looking for more of a challenge – whilst others are more family friendly, and none of them are more than an hour’s drive from Arduaine.
The Tall Trees Trail in Cruachan takes you along the beautiful shoreline of Loch Awe and through Mackenzie’s Grove which, after surviving the terrible storm in 1968, still holds some of the tallest trees in Scotland. As you go through the gorge you will be met with breathtaking Douglas firs, spruces and other interesting greenery.
During the walk you will pass the remains of an old crannog (an ancient wooden dwelling sitting upon a loch) that was once home to an Iron Age family. Towards the end of your hike you will follow a steep sloping track and at the top you can look across stunning views towards Loch Awe.
If you’re interested in this trail then be sure to pack some suitable footwear as there are several uneven and loose gravel paths. It also can often be wet and boggy so take your time when passing in these conditions. It is only a short 35 minute drive from Loch Melfort (14.9 miles) and the Cruachan car park is situated at the start of the walk. The hike is 2.25 miles long so it is wise to give yourself no less than 1.5 hours to complete the trail. Once you have finished your hike, you are only a short walk from Dalavich’s village where you can find shops and plenty places to get some refreshments.
Barnluasgan Wildlife Woodland Trail is ideal if you’re looking for something shorter. It is perfect for families as it isn’t too strenuous and offers easy access facilities. We would suggest allowing half an hour for this walk (it’s about a mile long). There are fact posts throughout the trail givinv you lots of information about the wildlife you can find in the forest. The path for this trail is wide and smooth so it should be suitable for all abilities.
There is also a wildlife hide just off the path that allows you to sit and watch all the animals as well as just taking in the view. Please bear in mind here that the track leading you to this is slightly more uneven than the main part of the walk.
The Loch Coille-Bharr Trail is for those of you looking for a slightly more demanding trail. It takes you around the loch through narrow, steep tracks with some rough and muddy patches – be sure to have good walking boots for this one!
This forest trail can give you access to some amazing wildlife up close: go along at dawn or dusk for the best chance to see beavers in their natural habitat. Along this trail you will also pass another old crannog and have the chance to explore the ruined village of Kilmory Oib and the Old Mill.
The walk is 3.25 miles in distance and we suggest allowing 2 hours to complete. Don’t forget to bring your binoculars to spot our busy furry friends and the dams they build. If you’re looking for something else to do, Loch Coille-Bharr is also a great place to fish for brown trout. You can find permits for this in the local tackle shops and hotels. Both of these walks can be found just before Tayvallich, only a 17.7 mile drive south of Loch Melfort which should take about 40 minutes to get there.
Once you’re finished your walk, you can find plenty of places to eat and drink in the nearby town of Lochgilphead – a quick 15 minute drive east of the walk – to refuel you.
Check out the Scotland Forestry Commission website for detailed maps of these trails as well as access to other ones in the area.