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A ‘little gem’ of forest and ancient woodland near Loch Ness is being billed as an even more perfect spot for a bit of quiet recreation and relaxation thanks to a new 10km walking route.
Craigmonie and Balmacaan woods near Drumnadrochit have been the focus of a partnership project involving Forestry Commission Scotland (which owns Craigmonie), Woodland Trust Scotland (which owns Balmacaan) and the Craigmonie Woodland Association.
Together they have created a leaflet guide to the woodlands and have installed way-markers and interpretation boards to help people get the most out of their visit.
Eleanor Garty, Woodland Trust Officer for Balmacaan, said:
“These amazing woods are hidden away next to Drumnadrochit, just 15 miles south of Inverness, and they are well known and well used by local walkers, cyclists and horse riders. They really are a wonderful resource for tourists, too!
“It’s a fantastic location with 5 different way-marked walks that should offer something for everyone – from amazing broadleaf woodland to the marvellous views across Loch Ness from the top of the hill. You can also keep your eyes open for red squirrels, bats, badgers and a host of other wildlife or if you prefer, visit the Victorian ‘ice-house or what its thought to be the remains of an Iron Age fort."
The site features a range of trails to suit all levels and that are easily accessible on foot from either end of the woodland. The newly signposted 'Glen Coiltie loop' is 10km of moderate walking which starts in Craigmonie woodland, follows forest tracks onto Cnoc a Bhuachaille and returns through Glen Coiltie.
For the less strenuous visit you can also choose from:
• Craigmonie Trail: 1.6km, fairly strenuous, steep sections, goes to viewpoint overlooking Loch Ness.
• Milton Trail: 2.5km, moderate, has Milton viewpoint with interpretation board
• Oakwood Trail: 1km, easy, loops round a 'kettlehole' in oak woods
• Balmacaan Trail: 2.5km, moderate, through oak woods.
Alan Bell, Chair of Craigmonie Woodland Association, added;
“We’ve been working together at this site since 1996 and have enjoyed a really positive, productive and supportive partnership over the years.
“As local residents we love the place but we’re not selfish and we would really like more people to come and make the most of this beautiful woodland and all it has to offer.”
The woods and the series of way-marked trails are signposted from the main car park at the Tourist Information Centre in Drumnadrochit, where there is also a new information panel.
To find out more about the Craigmonie Woodland Association and how you can help out, visit www.drumnadrochit.info/craigmonie-woodland-association.html
NOTES to Editors
1) Forestry Commission Scotland serves as part of the Scottish Government’s Environment & Forestry Directorate.
2) Balmacaan wood 39.05ha is situated approximately 1 mile southwest of the village of Drumnadrochit on the western shore of Loch Ness. Originally part of the Glen Urquhart Estate Balmacaan wood was eventually acquired by the Woodland Trust in 1984 and incidentally was the first Woodland Trust property in Scotland.
3) Media enquiries to Paul Munro, Forestry Commission Scotland press office 0131 314 6507.
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