On the A85 between Oban and Taynuilt, a sign for Fearnoch Forest recreation area beckons travellers. We always passed the sign on our way to somewhere else, but I was curious about this little site, so close to home. Last Sunday was lovely and sunny, so we packed a picnic, donned our wellies and headed out.
The trail head parking lot is located at a quarry site. Forestry Commission Scotland trail signage directed us into the forest to the two part multi use trail system, so we set out. The shorter trail, Ceum nan Seangan (1.5 miles), promised a view over Ben Cruachan, while the longer trail, Tri Drochaiden, (2.5 miles) followed two rivers. We decided to go for the view first and loop back to chase the rivers. 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. We spread out the blanket and enjoyed lunch and hot chocolate under the trees. Our lunch companions were a herd of Highland cows clustered around a nearby barn and a cheeky pheasant that was picking along the valley floor about a 100 meters from us.
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, then followed the edge of the forest along the Eas na Laraiche Moire. The longer trail didn’t disappoint, with a nice waterfall and a picnic table further down the path- at which we availed ourselves to more hot chocolate and splashed around in the river. An easy stroll took us back to the car park, where we scrambled up to the trailhead picnic table and were rewarded with a sweeping view of the Hollow Mountain.
Fearnoch 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 like to hang out. We saw only a few people- a couple of walkers with dogs, a couple of 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 path was fairly easy. While these trails didn’t offer much in the way of “jaw dropping” beauty like some others in the area, the walk isn’t marred by extensive forestry activity. All in all, a lovely site for a short day hike and picnic-I give it three wellies!