Stun­ning glens are per­fect places to stroll

The Oban Times - - Outdoors -

ANY­BODY who has trav­elled be­tween Tyn­drum and Dal­mally over the past two years or so, ei­ther by road or rail, can’t fail to have no­ticed the con­struc­tion of the River Lochy and Eas a Ghaill hy­dro schemes on the Na­tional For­est Es­tate east of Dal­mally, writes He­len Watt.

Re­new­able en­ergy is now seen as a core part of what Forestry Com­mis­sion Scot­land (FCS) de­liv­ers and what a con­tri­bu­tion this is to Scot­land. We gen­er­ate 20 per cent of Scot­land’s on­shore wind ca­pac­ity; we trig­ger a quar­ter of all com­mu­nity ben­e­fit pay­ments; we pro­duce enough en­ergy for more than half a mil- lion house­holds and we dis­place about one mil­lion tonnes of CO2 each year.

This also plays a vi­tal role in con­tribut­ing to our fi­nan­cial sus­tain­abil­ity, bring­ing in more than £10 mil­lion of rev­enue each year.

But con­struc­tion of a re­new­able en­ergy scheme, whether that’s wind or hy­dro, not only brings all the above ben­e­fits, but once con­struc­tion is com­plete, FCS re­sumes the land from the de­vel­oper and con­tin­ues man­age­ment of the for­est.

In Glen Lochy, just a bit fur­ther up the road from the hy­dro pow­er­house, is Strone Hill, a nat- ural rest­ing place for the weary trav­eller. For cen­turies, Strone echoed to the bel­low of cat­tle and the bleat­ing of sheep as drovers rested here on their jour­ney through Gleann Lòchaidh (the Glen of Dark River).

The trails pass through oak, birch and rowan wood­land which pro­vide bril­liant colour in spring and au­tumn and wel­come shade for sum­mer pic­nics (or to shel­ter from the rain – at least the hy­dro project folks will be happy). Both the Wa­ter­fall Woods Trail and An Darach Ruadh Trail have view­points over the wa­ter­falls, which are par­tic­u­larly dra­matic when the river is in spate – per­haps we should hope for wet weather!

If you go on the An Darach Ruadh Trail, look out for the amaz­ing ‘ae­rial tree’.

It’s thought that the tree grew over an­other stump which has now rot­ted away, leav­ing be­hind the orig­i­nal tree which looks as if it is danc­ing on its roots.

Why not make it a round trip and re­turn through Glen Orchy? It’s only a few miles from Tyn­drum and Dal­mally, but this his­toric glen feels a world apart. Rob Roy’s mother was born here and, to­day, it’s home to the most southerly rem­nant of Scot­land’s an­cient Cale­do­nian for­est, the Allt Broigh­leachan for­est re­serve.

How­ever, Glen Orchy has plenty to ex­plore be­sides the for­est. The Orchy is a ma­jes­tic river and very pop­u­lar for walk­ing, kayak­ing and fish­ing. Half­way down the glen, Eas Ur­chaidh (Falls of Orchy) has car park­ing near the mag­nif­i­cent wa­ter­fall and a new for­est path along the river­side. It’s a great put-in spot for kayak­ers but it’s also a de­light­ful walk along the river.

Whether you’re look­ing for ad­ven­ture on the moun­tains and the rivers or a serene site for a gen­tle stroll, a pad­dle and a peace­ful pic­nic, both glens have it all.

A serene site for a stroll or ad­ven­ture in the moun­tains.

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