Let’s head to Taynish

Now is the time to celebrate Taynish National Nature Reserve’s 40th Anniversary. Today (Friday) and tomorrow there are plenty of events to enjoy at the Reserve. But even if you can’t manage along there are lots of good reasons to pencil in a visit at a future date.


These are fairly impressive woodlands here aren’t they?

They sure are. There has been woodland here for over 6,000 years and the reserve provides a powerful reminder of times gone by. The Taynish peninsula forms part of the many fingered coastline of Argyll and features one of the finest ancient oakwoods in Europe. The moist clean air here means that lichens smother the trunks of trees, while mosses seem to pour down the branches.

Knapdale in miniature would you say?

For visitors to Knapdale in south-west Scotland, the Taynish peninsula presents a view, in microcosm, of how the Knapdale landscape might have looked, perhaps a thousand years ago. The NNR contains expansive remnants of ancient oak woodland, representing some of the best examples of temperate rain forest anywhere in Scotland. The woods are rich in wildlife, including many plants that benefit from the perpetual dampness within the woods. The fascinating history of how these woodlands were once used adds to the importance of the Reserve.


Sounds like this is home to a riot of species ?

The humid woodland offers ideal growing conditions. Trees and rocky slopes in the wood are home to around 250 species of mosses and liverworts (bryophytes) – a quarter of all the species found in Britain, including seven which are nationally scarce. Amongst the special ferns, delicate and translucent filmy ferns grow on rocks and tree trunks. Around 500 species of lichen have been found in the Reserve, including 91 nationally scarce species. Over 300 types of flowering plants grow here, including two colonies of narrow-leaved helleborine, an uncommon orchid for which Taynish is a UK stronghold. A wide range of butterflies, moths, beetles, dragonflies and other insects live in the woodland and woodland clearings, including many that are nationally scarce.

What do autumn and winter hold in store at Taynish ?

Autumn sees the woodland ‘come alive’ in a riot of colour with the vibrant hues of russets, reds and ochres of oak, birch, willow and alder. The bracken and ferns add muted hues of brown and gold to create a stunning autumnal visual feast. Hang on until winter and the scene changes as the woodlands are frosted pale grey green of the old man’s beard lichen, dotted with the bright red of the holly berries. Look out for whooper swans and great northern divers which can be found here in winter.

Is there a walk here I can do to get a feel for the reserve ?

Yes, the Bàrr Mòr Trail is a good one, and don’t ignore the delightful Woodland Trail or the Mill Trail. To reach Taynish National Nature Reserve, take the B8025 Bellanoch to Tayvallich road from the Crinan Canal. You can walk to the reserve from the car park just south of Tayvallich village or turn left onto a minor road signed for Taynish. Follow this partly unmetalled road (with care – it’s rough in the later stages) for a mile down to the small car park in the reserve.

A 3 km/2 mile trail takes you up the Bàrr Mòr (Gaelic for ‘big top’), from where you’ll have superb views over the surrounding woodlands, coastline and islands. You’ll need to be reasonably fit to reach the viewpoint at the top. The steep path climbs through superb woodland,with many steps, before emerging onto the hill top. It then continues down the far side of the hill to eventually rejoin the access road.

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