Doire Donn

How to get there:

This SWT reserve lies seven miles north of Corran Ferry, on the A861, on the hill slopes above the north-west shore of Loch Linnhe.

OS reference:

Sheet 41 NN 040 695.

Distance:

About 4.3 miles, there and back

Estimated time to walk:

2-3 hours

Starting point:

Park off the tar to leave the lay-by clear. The path is closest to the road at this point. It can be reached by walking about 100m due north or up beside the small burn.

The walk:

It runs through oak and birch woodlands with heaths and grasslands on the open ground. Above some clearings, there are great views of Loch Linnhe below and of Ben Nevis beyond Fort William, usually with a bright white apron, even on the bluest of summer days. Mosses and liverworts festoon trees and carpet the ground, keeping the oakwoods verdant even in winter. Bluebells and marsh orchids are common in spring and early summer. All these are nectar sources for the chequered skipper butterfly, seen in late May and early June. Bright dragonflies, like the golden ringed and the rarer white-eyed darter, abound in summer.

Migrant birds fill the woods with song at breeding time, along with resident wrens, robins, tits and thrushes. Red and roe deer mainly use the woods in winter.

Pine martens bound through branches on the hunt, and often use the path too. But you never know when they'll be about, so you have to be lucky. But look out for their droppings and marker posts, sometimes in the middle of the track.

To return to the start, follow the path back or loop back by dropping down to the road. The best places are at Gorsten (three-quarters of the way along), or the north-east end of the reserve, where the slopes between path and road are least steep.