Walk with the wildlife at Glen Nant
Glen Nant is a special place. Amongst its lush Atlantic oakwoods you can find evidence of ancient settlements and industry, discover an array of lichens and mosses and spot impressive wood ant colonies and dancing butterflies. You can also enjoy a picnic beside a babbling burn or climb up through the glen for stunning mountain views.
It’s no wonder that Glen Nant has been designated a National Nature Reserve. You can find out much more about its remarkable history and wildlife along the Ant Trail and in our Glen Nant leaflet. If you're interested in nature at Glen Nant, take a look at the latest Plantlife guide.
Our guide to the forests of North Argyll (PDF 3.7MB) will help you explore Glen Nant and other woodlands in this wonderful part of Scotland.
You’ll find public toilets and places to eat, drink and shop in the nearby village of Taynuilt, and plenty of facilities in Oban.
A gentle stroll through the coppiced hazel woods to a quiet picnic area by the River Nant.
Firm gravel surface throughout, but includes some grassed over sections. Generally flat with one short moderate slope by the car park.
¼ miles / 0.4 km Allow ¼ hours
This short ‘there-and-back’ trail is suitable for everyone. It follows a leafy stretch of the River Nant (which gets its name from the old Gaelic word for nettles) to a tranquil picnic site. Listen for woodland birds and watch for butterflies and bees attracted to the wildflowers beneath the trees. Spot some oaks with many trunks emerging from a single stump – these trees were cut regularly in the past to provide useful new growth every 15 or 20 years.
Follow the ants for a richly varied trail through atmospheric old oakwoods and thriving new woodland, rich in history and wildlife.
Narrow gravel paths with uneven sections. Long steep slopes and several sets of rough steps. Some exposed tree roots and potentially wet sections. Includes narrow bridges.
2 miles / 3.3 km Allow 1½ hours
Along the trail there are interpretation points that tell you more about the trees, plants and insects here, as well as the forest’s part in the local charcoal and iron smelting industry. There are several viewpoints too, with glorious glimpses of Ben Cruachan.
Mountain biking trails
There’s plenty to see at Glen Nant. Look out for huge mounds of pine needles and other woodland debris that are the homes of busy colonies of wood ants. The sunny glades in the open woodland attract butterflies and moths, and listen out for warblers and woodpeckers in the trees. You may also spot deer and red squirrels here.
In spring and summer, the woods are bright with bluebells, primroses, wild garlic and wild honeysuckle. You’ll also see how native trees and plants are re-establishing themselves where the conifers are being removed.
These oakwoods, and their array of lichens, mosses and ferns, are internationally important and have been designated a National Nature Reserve. We’re working with Scottish Natural Heritage to manage and restore this valuable remnant of semi-natural woodland.
Long distance cycle route
If you are exploring the area by bike, National Cycle Route 78 passes Glen Nant. This scenic on-road route already links Campbeltown at the tip of the Kintyre Peninsula with Oban and will soon be extended to reach Inverness, via Fort William and Fort Augustus.
A surprising history
Pause to listen at Glen Nant today and you’re likely to hear the chatter of woodland birds and the babbling River Nant. It was very different 400 years ago, when Glen Nant was the centre of a forest industry.
Richard Ford & Company set up an iron furnace at Bonawe, near Taynuilt, in 1753. It required thousands of tons of charcoal each year to fuel the furnace. Timber from Glen Nant was burnt on special ‘hearths’ in the wood, to make the charcoal, which was then carried by pony to Bonawe. You can visit the Bonawe furnace today: it’s cared for by Historic Scotland.
The timber came from oaks that were coppiced – cut down to stumps that would send out lots of new shoots. After 20 years or so, there would be enough new growth to cut them again. You can still see evidence of coppicing here: some of the trees have many trunks emerging from the massive old stumps or ‘stools’.
How to get here
Glen Nant National Nature Reserve is on the B845 between Taynuilt and Kilchrenan.
From the A85 Tyndrum to Oban road, take the turning onto the B845 to Kilchrenan just east of Taynuilt village. Follow this road for about 3 miles (5km) to reach Glen Nant National Nature Reserve. Turn right here and cross a small bridge to enter the car park at grid reference NN 019 272.
If you’re on a bike, National Cycle Route 78 also passes Glen Nant.
PA35 1HP is the nearest postcode, at the junction on the A85 for the B845 to Kilchrenan.
There is a bus service between Oban and Dalavich that passes Glen Nant National Nature Reserve. Find details at Traveline Scotland.
It’s only a short hop towards Oban to reach Fearnoch, a peaceful woodland beside the A85 that’s ideal for a stroll, cycle or horse-ride. There are stunning views of Ben Cruachan and plenty of places to picnic.
There’s another surprising industry hidden in this area. Visit Cruachan between Taynuilt and Loch Awe, to find out about the remarkable hydro-electric scheme lying deep inside the mountain of Ben Cruachan.
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