Lael Forest Garden
Explore enchanting Lael Forest Garden
In the 19th century tree hunters travelled the world collecting rare seed and planting them in arboreta – specialist tree collections – like this one. Spend some time in the exotic freshness of this extraordinary woodland and enjoy making your own discoveries.
You'll come across rare and common trees and shrubs from nearly every country of the world, as well as some wonderful champion trees. Use the Lael Forest Garden map to help you explore.
You'll find toilets, shops and a range of places to eat in Ullapool, about 10 miles (16 km) away.
Follow the red waymarkers to explore the forest surrounding the garden and the spectacular Allt na h-Ighine gorge. Return through the forest garden.
Long steep slopes for 400m with several sets of steps. Mostly firm gravel surface. Uneven earthy section with some exposed tree roots.
1 miles / 1.6 km Allow ¾ hour
This trail starts and finishes in different car parks, giving you a great excuse to meander back to your starting point through the beautiful Lael Forest Garden. You can start this trail from either car park, but if you only want to see the waterfall you will need to start from the north car park.
Mountain biking trails
We've been looking after Lael since 1929 and adding new and interesting species ever since, like the amazing Wollemi Pine, an Australian conifer first discovered in 1994. This intriguing species has been around since dinosaurs walked the earth, yet a single bushfire could have destroyed the entire population in a day.
By planting conifers like the Wollemi Pine here we're helping to safeguard the survival of tree species threatened by climate change and other hazards around the world.
The oldest trees were planted in the 1870s when the estate belonged to Sir John Fowler, a chief engineer for the Forth Bridge. Some of them are getting pretty big these days with various Champion Trees in the collection - including some splendid examples of Forrest's Fir and Delavay's Silver Fir.
Lael Forest Garden is a member of the National Tree Collections of Scotland, a national network of public and private tree collections which includes the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Benmore Botanic Garden and Dawyck Botanic Garden, as well as Forestry Commission Scotland collections at Kilmun Arboretum, Puck's Glen and Glenbranter.
How to get here
Lael Forest Garden is on the A835 between Ullapool and Braemore Junction. The north car park is 10 miles (16km) south of Ullapool opposite the woodturning centre, at grid reference NH 196 810.
There's a second car park ¼ mile (400 metres) further south at grid reference NH 196 806.
IV23 2RS is the nearest postcode.
Buses between Inverness and Ullapool pass the forest. See Traveline Scotland for details.
For longer forest trails and hill access to Beinn Dearg, stop next door at Inverlael. If gardens are more your thing there's Leckmelm Gardens on the edge of Loch Broom and the National Trust for Scotland's magnificent Inverewe Garden and Estate on the way to Gairloch.
Going south? Don't miss the spectacular waterfalls and trails at nearby Corrieshallach Gorge, a National Nature Reserve in the care of the National Trust for Scotland.
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For questions and complaints, please contact us directly.