In this series of Ramblings, Clare Balding visits the far flung corners of the UK and walks with those for whom these little visited places are just ‘home’.
3 August 2007
This week Clare visits the majestic Glen Affric in the Scottish Highlands which has a unique mix of trees, water and mountain making it one of Scotland's most beautiful glens.
Clare takes in another remote part of the British Isles as she visits one of the remaining strongholds of the Caledonian Forest, the beautiful Glen Affric. The circular 7 mile walk takes her around the northern slopes above Loch Beinn a’ Mheadhoin (pronounced Benavean) walking amongst the naturally occurring Scots pines. Many are over 200 years old but because of grazing pressure, they were not being replaced. This concern led to Alan Watson Featherstone setting up his organisation Trees for Life, fencing off areas of land and either planting or allowing the natural regeneration of over a million native trees. Clare’s other walking companion is Sandra Reid, one of the Recreational Rangers with the Forestry Commission Scotland, and her local knowledge of the wildlife enhances the walk with the spotting of redstarts, tree pipits and the very rare Scottish Crossbill. The Forestry Commission has owned much of Glen Affric since 1951and now manages the area for conservation - encouraging the regeneration of pinewoods and other native habitats. Other parts are privately owned. There are many car parks, forest walks, long-distance trails and plenty of hill walking where you can get closer and hopefully try to spot some of the wildlife.
Map: OS Landranger 25 Glen Carron & Glen Affric Start: Beinn a Mheadhoin (pronounced Benavean) car park Start Grid Ref: NH 243 263 End: Car Park End Grid Ref: NH 215 243 Distance: 7 miles Terrain: steep climbs, through very thick undergrowth Suitable for: Keen fit walkers .
The walk you hear on ‘Ramblings’ starts at the Beinn a Mheadhoin (pronounced
Benavean) carpark at Grid NH 243 263, turning left out of the car park into the Caledonian pinewoods at the foot of Beinn a Mheadhoin and contours around the hill meeting up with the Meallan track which leads to the carpark at Grid NH 215 243. To make it into a circular walk, turn left at the public road and walk back to the first car park. Total distance, including walk back to first car park is 7miles. However you would need a good guide or local knowledge to keep to this route.
However an alternative walk and just as rewarding would be to start as before from Beinn a Mheadhoin car park at Grid NH 243 263. Leave the carpark, but turn right and walk along the public road for a couple of hundred metres to find a deer gate on the left. Go through and follow the track as it climbs up, then follows the Allt na Imrich burn. When the path fades out, follow the contour of the bottom of the glen round until you pick up another track. This leads to the Meallan track, turn left and follow the Meallan track south to the car park at Grid NH 215 243. To make a circuit turn left at the public road and walk back to the first carpark. Total distance is again 7 miles.