Go wild at Barnluasgan
Barnluasgan is the ideal place to start your discovery of Knapdale’s many highlights. Follow scenic trails to the peaceful lochs of Barnluasgan, Coille-Bharr and Dubh, where you might be lucky enough to spot the shy beavers – or at least see evidence of their work. Look out for red squirrels, ospreys and eagles too. An unstaffed information centre will tell you more about Knapdale’s wildlife and unique landscape.
Time for a rest?
You’ll find refreshments and public toilets at Crinan. Head to nearby Lochgilphead for a selection of shops and places to eat and drink.
Stroll through the alder, birch and hazel around picturesque Loch Barnluasgan and find out more about the amazing birds and beasts of Barnluasgan at the wildlife hide.
Smooth, firm and generally wide gravel surface throughout. A short diversion to the wildlife hide is slightly uneven. Mostly flat with some short moderate slopes.
1 miles / 1.5 km Allow ½ hour
This popular trail is suitable for everyone and great fun for families. There are fingerposts along the way that will tell you more about who lives in this lovely wood. Half way round there’s a wildlife hide where you can sit and watch for different birds visiting the loch, or just relax and enjoy the lovely views over the water to the Atlantic oak woodland.
Barnluasgan Oakwood Trail
Explore the ancient Atlantic oakwoods between Loch Barnluasgan and Loch Linne. As well as a range of native broadleaves, there are great views over Knapdale Forest.
Loose gravel path with some narrow and uneven rocky sections. Several steep slopes with long flights of rough steps. Includes one gate.
1 ½ miles / 2.6 km Allow 1 hour
Loch Coille-Bharr Trail
A circuit of beautiful Loch Coille-Bharr, which is surrounded by native oakwoods and a great place to see beavers at dawn or dusk.
Numerous short steep slopes with rough steps. Some narrow and rough rocky sections. Short earth section includes tree roots and muddy patches. Includes narrow kissing gates and a road section.
3 ¼ miles / 5.1 km Allow 2 hours
Become a beaver detective on this scenic circuit of Loch Coille-Bharr. Look out for felled trees, stripped branches and beaver canals, and see a real beaver dam from the floating pontoon. Visit at dusk or dawn for an even better chance of spotting these furry foresters.
The trail also passes a crannog (an ancient artificial island in the loch), a ruined mill and the atmospheric ruined village of Kilmory Oib.
Mountain biking trails
The return of the native
The wildlife highlight at Barnluasgan has to be its families of beavers. These busy water-born foresters tend to be very shy but the best time to see them is dawn or dusk (don’t forget your binoculars). Even if you’re not lucky enough to spot one, you will certainly see some of their handiwork – look out for felled trees, ingenious dams and the flooded woodland they’ve engineered. The beavers share their new home with a host of other creatures too. Watch for dragonflies and butterflies around the lochs in summer, spot red squirrels amongst the trees and keep your eyes on the skies for buzzards, eagles and ospreys.
There’s good fishing for brown trout on Lochs Coille-Bharr and Barnluasgan. Permits are available at local hotels and tackle shops.
The Scottish Beaver Trial
Knapdale Forest was chosen as the test site for the reintroduction of wild beavers to Scotland after being extinct in the UK for over 400 years. The beavers were released in 2009 and successfully built lodges and raised families.
The trial was a ground-breaking five year study, exploring how beavers could enhance and restore natural environment. The beavers are at present remaining at Knapdale.
How to get here
Barnluasgan lies just off the B8025 between Bellanoch and Tayvallich.
Follow the A816 north out of Lochgilphead then, after about 2½ miles (4km), take the B841 towards Crinan. Turn left at Bellanoch onto the B8025. After about a mile (1.5km) turn left towards Achnamara and you’ll find Barnluasgan just after the junction on the left. Barnluasgan car park is at grid reference NR 790 910.
You can also park at nearby Loch Coille-Bharr car park, where you can join the Loch Coille-Bharr and Ardnoe trails. It’s beside the B8025, about ½ mile (1 km) farther on towards Tayvallich, and is signposted ‘Knapdale Forest’. The grid reference is NR 783 906.
PA31 8PS is the nearest postcode.
Buses between Lochgilphead and Tayvallich stop at Barnluasgan. Find details at Traveline Scotland.
Head a bit farther into Knapdale to find Gleann a Gealbhan. A short trail through the woods leads to the evocative ruins of Arichonan, a village cleared of its residents in 1848. At Dunardry you can explore a forest on the craggy slopes above the Crinan Canal. There are trails suitable for everyone. Visit the little harbour at Crinan and then head up through Atlantic oakwoods above the village to some spectacular viewpoints overlooking the Crinan Canal, the Sound of Jura and the Inner Hebrides.
Our leaflet guide to the forests of Mid Argyll & Kintyre will help you explore more wonderful woodlands.
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