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Shellie's Wellies: The call of the forest

When the call of the wild beckons but we want to stay close to Oban, we head to a wooded escape just perfect for a bit of a bit of forest bathing. In this edition of Shellie's Wellies, I share my first visit to Fearnoch Forest.

Fearnoch Forest trail

It took a couple of years of living in Scotland before I made it to the hidden wee gem of Fearnoch Forest. You just might miss it as you motor past the turnoff on the A85, but you really shouldn't.

I had noticed the Forestry Commission trailhead sign between Oban and Taynuilt every time we went by and always wondered about it. So on a sunny cool Sunday, all picnicked up and no where to go, we decided to finally tick this site off our Argyll bucket list.

Fearnoch means the Man's Hill in Gaelic. Helpful signage gave us information about the Forest's two walking trails. The shorter trail, Ceum nan Seangan (The Ants' Steps) (1.5 miles), promised a view over Ben Cruachan (Big Hill), while the longer trail, Tri Drochaiden (the three bad Aidens), (2.5 miles) followed two rivers. We decided to go for the view first and loop back to chase the rivers.

Fearnoch means the Man's Hill in Gaelic.

Eas na Laraiche Moire, Waterfall of the Larches

The well-trodden path wandered through mixed forest, part of which has been converted to all native woodland. We didn’t get far before we decided to stop for lunch and we hopped off the trail through a glade, finding a spot at the edge of a valley that looked out over snow topped Ben Cruachan, Argyll's highest peak.

We spread out the blanket and tucked in to sandwiches and hot chocolate under the trees. Our dining companions were a herd of Highland cows and a cheeky colourful pheasant that was picking along the valley floor about a 100 meters from us.

Picnic tables at the trailhead and along the trail make it easy to rest.

Thus fortified, we continued on the trail, a mix of woodland path and forest road. We caught up to the longer loop and crossed the River Luachraggan (Rushes) then followed the edge of the forest along the Eas na Laraiche Moire (Waterfall of the Larches).

The longer trail didn’t disappoint. There were handy picnic table further down the path, at which we availed ourselves to more hot chocolate and then we splashed around in the river in our wellies. An easy stroll took us back to the car park, where we scrambled up to the trailhead picnic table and were rewarded with another sweeping view of the Hollow Mountain.

Ben Cruachan covered with snow

We saw only a few people- a couple of walkers with dogs, two cyclists and a horse rider- but most of the time we seemed to have the forest to ourselves- always a plus in our book. Except for some slight scrambling along the longer trail, the paths are moderately easy and forestry activity doesn't intrude too much on the natural scenery.

A cheeky wee forest creature hiding in the moss

I have to admit, I'm a forest baby. I worked for the US Forest Service for many years. Getting out in the woods and immersing myself in nature gets me out of my head. It's an instant stress reliever. I'm so lucky to have lots of woodland escapes in my backyard thanks to organisations such as Forestry and Land Scotland, who maintain a fantastic network of walking trails for all abilities.

Some of our favourite forest walks are Sutherland's Grove, Glen Nant, Taynish Reserve, Glen Orchy and Glasdrum Reserve.

Cologin trails are just a few hundred metres from my front door,

and within a 40 mile radius, there are so many well maintained trails that in seven years, I haven't ticked them all off my bucket list- dozens at least! Many have interpretational signage and picnic tables, and I have found all of them well marked. Some of our favourite forest walks are Sutherland's Grove, Glen Nant, Taynish Reserve, Glen Orchy and Glasdrum Reserve.

Fearnoch Forest may not be as spectacular as some of these, but it has everything I love in a hike- woodland groves, sweeping vistas, bubbling streams and waterfalls, the kind of place where woodland elves and bridge trolls would feel right at home. I give it four out of five wellies!


Looking for things to do in Oban? Discover the best of Oban on a walking tour with our Scottish Tourist Guides Association certified and insured guide, Michelle. Explore Oban's highlights and hidden gems as you learn about its history, legend and natural environment, from cave people to clan chiefs to eccentric Victorians, as well as life in Oban today. Get in touch today about an Oban Walking Tour with Michelle!


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