Walk 8 - Cormonachan Woodlands

The Cormonachan Woodlands, situated on the west shore of Loch Goil half way between Lochgoilhead and Carrick Castle is in the Argyll Forest Park part of the Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park.

The woodlands are ancient Atlantic oak woodlands with many oaks over 300 years old with areas of old coppiced hazel probably from 100 years ago.  Much of the area had been under planted with Sitka Spruce by Forest Enterprise between 1950 and 1960.  Many of those areas were felled in the late nineties and later in 2006 and 2017, new planting of oaks, rowan, hazel and Scots pine has taken place.

Rhododendrons and bracken has increased in quantity especially in the northern felled section of the woodlands, however a programme of clearance has reduced much of this in recent years.

Bluebells abound throughout the woodlands along with other woodland plants including; primroses, wild garlic, wood sorrel, lesser celandine, honeysuckle and ferns.

The most important wildlife to reside in these woodlands is red squirrels that are high on the agenda for protection.

A joint woodland project was started in 1997, with co-operation between Ardroy Outdoor Education Centre and Forestry Commission Scotland, who own the ancient Atlantic Oak Woodlands.  Formal agreement was reached for the partnership to be responsible for managing 58.9-hectare sectionof the woodlands to improve their bio-diversity and also to develop them as an education resource. A new not-for-profit community organisation was set up in 2015 called Cormonachan Woodlands Association with AOEC Trust Ltd (Ardroy Outdoor Education Centre) and obtained its management agreement with Forestry Commission Scotland in 2016.

Over the last two decades the woodlands area has been transformed with long walking paths established for recreation with view points over Loch Goil, a red squirrel trail provided with information points, a resource centre has been built for educational purposes and many volunteers have cleared much of the area of old tree debris and rhododendrons.

Visitors who wish to visit the Cormonachan Woodlands should park their cars in the new parking area by the television aerial compound (2017). Please observe the Scottish Outdoor Access Code… 

The woodlands are accessed from G.R. 196 975.
The short walk of 1 km is the Red Squirrel Trail to the south of the area and the long walk around the whole area is approximately 2 ½ km.
Please note the paths have several steep inclines on them but are rated as easy to moderate on the inclines.

Click the links below to download PDF maps:-


The forest code

  • Guard against all risk of fire.
  • Protect trees, plants and wildlife.
  • Leave things as you find them, take nothing away.
  • Keep dogs under control.
  • Avoid damaging buildings, fences, hedges, walls and signs.
  • Leave no litter.

History

Britain's Atlantic Oakwoods are the most extensive remaining fragments of an ancient woodland type that was once more widespead around the oceanic western rim of northern Europe. Often described as 'temperate rainforest' due to their wet, humid climate and abundance of lower plants and ferns, they have a particularly high nature conservation and scenic value. In past centuries they were regarded as an important resource by local communities but have declined with the cessation of traditional management and the development of new threats during the 20th Century.

Cormonachan Woodlands

Within the European Union, ancient Atlantic Oakwoods are restricted to oceanic coastal fringes of the British Isles, France and Spain, with most of this resource occuring in Western Britain.

Atlantic Oakwoods have a long history of local management and utilisation and were highly valued by the people who lived in and around them for providing grazing and shelter for livestock, a renewable supply of firewood and timber, plentiful wild game, charcoal for iron smelting and bark for tanning leather.

By the beginning of the 20th Century this continuity of traditional management that helped to ensure their health and survival had largely ceased. As a result of this, together with increased grazing by deer and sheep, invasion by rhododendron and the planting of fast growing commercial conifer crops, the condition of most Atlantic Oakwoods has declined.

The Cormonachan Woodlands are being conserved as a long-term conservation project by Cormonachan Woodlands Association.  Link to Gallery.