Sunday, 29 January 2012

Walking in Knapdale Forest

Many of our visitors enjoy walking and here in Knapdale there are several routes on forest roads where you can walk for miles without seeing another person.  Some routes are waymarked but many of the forest roads are part of the forest harvesting operation and care should be taken if machines are working.  Some forest roads are quite featureless and it can be easy to get lost - I have taken a wrong turning more than once - usually when walking with a friend and being more intent on conversation than the route.  Keep an eye out for deer, badgers, foxes, osprey (summer only), buzzards, jays and all manner of small finches and tits - and of course the newly resident beavers which are mainly spotted in the early morning and late evening.

This walk starts at Seafield Forest gate,  approximately 150 metres north of Seafield Farm, Achnamara.  There is room to park at the entrance but obviously if you are staying with us, you won't need to drive.  If you choose to do the walk anti-clockwise, you should park at Achnamara Village Hall, half a mile south of Seafield Farm and reverse the instructions.

Follow the forest road straight up the hill.  There is a burn (stream) on your left hand side.  Pass a side road on your left and keep on up the hill.  Soon you will come to a right turn.  If you wish to take a little diversion, it is only a short distance to the Lily Loch where there is walkway and a bench.  This is an idyllic spot to sit and enjoy the sounds of birds and small brown trout breaking the surface of the loch.  There is a good display of waterlilies in the summer and it's a good place to see dragonflies and damselflies.

Retrace your steps to the junction and turn left.  You will be able to see Seafield Loch on your left hand side.  A few yards along, there is a small jetty for Lochgilphead Angling Club.  Directly opposite the jetty is a lodge built by a pair of beavers introduced to the area by the Scottish Beaver Trial.  Being built of sticks and mud and being quite a flat construction, it would be easy to miss it. 

As you continue along the side of the loch, you may notice some beaver gnawed trees although most of the activity is on the far side of the loch.  At the end of the loch, there is another walkway on the left hand side leading to another bench at the north end of the loch with more lovely views to sit and enjoy.

Continuing along the forest road, you will pass a turning to the left.  This side road is permanently blocked by flooding.  Keep on up the hill until you reach a junction.  Take the right turn and continue through the Sitka Spruce plantation.  About an hour into the walk, you come to an open area which is fenced off on the left hand side - this was once a granite quarry for construction of the forest roads.
Keep on following the road past a marshy area to the left which is a favourite spot for deer to wallow in the mud.  Keep following the main forest road around the bends, through an area of cleared forest and downhill until you reach a crossroads.

Take the right turn and keep going ignoring the next turn to the left.  The track takes you downhill, passing a waterfall on the left.  Continue through the plantation of old trees on the right, across a concrete bridge to a forest gate.  Turn right at the gate which takes you to the Village Hall where you turn right.   As you cross the stone bridge in the village look up to the right where you will see Achnamara House.  For many years this was an outdoor centre, visited by hundreds of children and adults from other parts of Scotland.  Sadly, the once fine Dower House and Shooting Lodge of Poltalloch Estate, is currently in a poor state of repair after many years of neglect since being sold by Glasgow City Council.

It is about half a mile from here, through Achnamara back along the single track road with Loch Sween on your left hand side, back to Seafield gate where you started.

This walk is approximately five miles long and takes about one and a half to two hours depending on how fast you walk.

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