Walk of the Week – Taynish Nature Reserve
The stunningly beautiful Taynish peninsula is a National Nature Reserve. One of the largest original oakwoods remaining in Britain, the reserve offers a bit of everything; peaceful loch shores, woodland, wildlife and views. The added benefit of a delicious reward at the end by the way of coffee & cake at the coffee shop http://www.tayvallich.com/food-drink/item/the-tayvallich-coffee-shop or lunch at the inn http://www.tayvallichinn.com/ it’s definately one to include in your plans!
Tayvallich take the minor road signed for Taynish and follow it to the small nature reserve car park. Follow the ‘Woodland Trail’ which is lined with fine trees with the bog over to the left. This area is one of the most important parts of the reserve and is home to rare plants, butterflies and dragonflies. Soon you will walk past a whitewashed cottage, the Gate House which was built as a lodge for Taynish House at the end of the peninsula. Carry on for another 300 metres then you come to a fork in the path where thee Barr Mor Trail heads off to the right.
The Barr Mor trail can be done as an optional and steep detour from the main track climbing steeply through magnificent woodland. You will pass a reconstruction of a charcoal burner such as would have been used here during the 18th and 19th centuries. The summit of the hill is bare and pollen research suggests that people grew crops and grazed livestock here for thousands of years. The path continues down the far side of the hill to eventually join the access road; follow it as far as the wooden seat marked B3 for the superb views, taking in the Paps of Jura and endless coastline and woodlands, before returning back downhill to continue the main walk on the track.
Walk past the bench and then follow on through a gap in a drystone wall. When you reach the the track junction by an information post and some storage buildings you can choose a second detour taking you to two points on the coastline of the reserve. To make this diversion, bear right off the main track and go through the gate to the left of the sheds into a grassy field. The route forks in the field at a post; the right hand branch leads to a nearby bit of shoreline. The route to the left leads through the woods, turning right when it reaches a gate. Follow the path across open shore ground to reach a bench close to the coast. Relax and enjoy the view – you could spot otters at play at the tip of the peninsula. After making both these detours, return to the track by the storage sheds and turn right to continue the main route.
The track now climbs slightly to reach a gate with Taynish House visible in the distance. Built in 1650, the house is still privately owned; the octagonal building to its left is a dairy. Immediately on the far side of the gate turn left and walk through the field following the path. You will come to a gate leading to more woodland with a bench enjoying the first views of the southeastern side of the Taynish reserve.
The path now turns to the left, following the fence at first before heading more deeply into the woods, passing through a gap in a wall. The path ascends and runs along a low ridge. A second wall is reached with two stone pillars; this is part of the original road to Taynish House.
The path now continues through the finest part of the woodland, christened the ‘rainforest’ due to its damp conditions and the variety of species, such as mosses, liverworts and lichens found there. Where it seems to fork – keep to the right and descend a few steps. Here is Taynish Mill, where local crofters would have brought their corn; the building is in ruins but has a fine waterfall and location. Just beyond the mill is a picnic area and the shoreline to explore. When you have explored enoughturn left and follow the easy path back to the car park.