Step back in time at Achnabreac
There’s plenty to see in the attractive open woodland here, including one of the finest set of cup and ring marked rocks in Britain. Follow the Achnabreac Trail to marvel at these mysterious ancient symbols, take a gentle stroll around a fascinating wetland area to a wildlife hide or simply bring a picnic and relax in the peaceful forest.
If you’re looking for something more energetic and exhilarating, this is also home to the Firetower Trail, a mix of mountain bike routes through the forest with exciting options for the more experienced mountain biker. Download the Firetower Trails leaflet.
You’ll find public toilets and plenty of places to eat, drink and shop at nearby Lochgilphead.
All Abilities Trail
This trail cuts through the forest to visit one of Achnabreac’s enigmatic cup and ring marked rocks. There are also great views over Loch Gilp.
Wide, firm and smooth gravel surface throughout. Some moderate slopes, but plenty of resting places along the way.
½ miles / 0.8 km Allow ¼ hour
A gentle zig zag slope through the trees leading to a viewing board and interpretation panel giving information about the area’s archaeology.
Dun na Maraig Trail
A gentle meander around the low-lying wetlands, where you can look for waterbirds and colourful dragonflies.
Firm gravel surface throughout with some loose sections. Mostly flat with some moderate slopes. Includes one section of boardwalk and areas that may be wet after rain.
½ miles / 0.8 km Allow ¼ hour
This short circular trail around low-lying wetlands, dotted with broadleaved trees and fringed with conifers, is ideal for families. There are lovely open views of the forest and surrounding area as you stroll along.
Discover some of Scotland’s most extensive prehistoric rock art. On the edge of the forest are a series of stones carved with cups and rings over 4,000 years ago.
Uneven gravel path, with some narrow, grassy and potentially muddy sections. Some steep slopes. Includes sections of boardwalk with steps. Look out for vehicles along the forest road.
1 ¼ miles / 2.0 km Allow ¾ hour
Marvel at these mysterious symbols, carved by a lost culture over 4,000 years ago. The trail climbs gently uphill through old oak woodland, which is a riot of colour in autumn, and there are good views over Lochgilphead, Knapdale and Loch Fyne as you reach higher ground.
Mountain biking trails
Red: Difficult - 12.2 miles / 19.5 km
This compact mountain bike trail has it all – choose a quick blast or an exhilarating day out on a network of routes for experienced riders.More information...
This gnarly and natural red and black graded trail has all you could wish for on a mountain bike trail – flowing single track, drop-off slabs, berms and optional technical sections. Be ready to meet the Swamp Monster, brave the Water Splash and take on the mighty Murder Hill…
The route is a network of single track sections linked by forest roads, so you can make up your own route and do as much or as little as you like. Do it all and you’ll rack up 12 miles (19.5 km) of riding, with more than 4½ miles (7.4 km) of single track. The single track is red graded, with a couple of optional – and very challenging – black graded sections. Find a map and more information in the Firetower Trails leaflet.
The best place to start is at Achnabreac car park. Alternatively, you can ride in along the forest road from just north of Kilmichael Glassary or from Blarbuie, north east of Lochgilphead. A mix of forest road and narrow stony single track. Steep slopes. Includes optional trail features, northshore and a water crossing.
Cycling for everyone
Achnabreac and Kilmichael Forest offer a range of cycling experiences suitable for everyone. The towpath beside the Crinan Canal, part of the National Cycle Route 78, is perfect for families looking for a gentle, scenic ride. There are also plenty of forest roads criss-crossing the woodland that you can explore at your leisure. For the more adventurous, take to the Firetower Trails – an exciting mix of forest road and challenging single track sections with plenty of trail features.
Kilmichael Forest is a precious remnant of the Atlantic oakwoods that began spreading when the Ice Age ended and once stretched along the whole Atlantic seaboard from Norway to the south of Spain. The old oakwoods and the more recent conifers are home to a whole host of creatures that you might spot as you explore. Watch out for red squirrels, red and roe deer, crossbills, tiny goldcrests and hunting sparrowhawks. On the Dun na Maraig Trail you can watch visiting wildfowl, and look out for dragonflies, damselflies and frogs along the way.
An ancient coastal kingdom
Achnabreac is part of the ancient kingdom of Dalriada, the birthplace of the Scottish nation. It was centred on Dunadd, a rocky crag just to the north of Achnabreac, which was the crowning place of its kings. Explore the area to find remains of thousands of years of human occupation, including some remarkable prehistoric rock art.
Kilmartin House Museum is a great place to find out more about this area’s fascinating history. Along the Dalriada Heritage Trail you can discover more amazing cup and ring marked rocks as well as other evocative archaeological sites.
How to get here
Achnabreac is about 2½ miles (4km) north of Lochgilphead on the A816. Look for a turning onto a forest road, with a green sign to ‘Achnabreac’. Follow this for about ¼ mile (500 metres) to reach the turning into the car park at grid reference NR 851 909.
PA31 8RE is the nearest postcode.
There are regular buses running between Lochgilphead and Tayvallich, which stop at Bridgend and Cairnbaan, both close to Achnabreac. Find details at Traveline Scotland.
There are lovely forest trails, including Dunardry on the craggy slopes above the canal and from the picturesque harbour at Crinan, both with spectacular views over the Crinan basin and out to the Sound of Jura and the Atlantic islands.
Our leaflet guide to the forests of Mid Argyll & Kintyre will help you explore more wonderful woodlands.
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