Some great rainforests to explore
Did you know Scotland’s west coast is full of temperate rainforests?
These vibrant areas are home to a range of flora and lichens, some which only exist in this part of the country…a few species don’t occur anywhere else in the world!
Visiting rainforests is a great way to learn more about their biodiversity and history. So, we’ve drawn together information on some of our best examples so that you can enjoy and learn more about these important habitats. We recommend bringing a magnifying glass or hand lens with you to get the most out of the rare and wonderful species of plants and lichens you are bound to find while exploring this unique habitat.
You can learn more about how we're restoring Scotland’s rainforests here.
Visit our website before heading out into the forest to check for updated route closures and diversions that may disrupt your visit.
Secluded ancient rainforest teeming with wildlife and history.
You will find many rare rainforest species right along the all-abilities Riverbank Trail. This gentle stroll takes you through hazel trees, home to a range of lichens. The path ends at a nice picnic spot by the river.
You can also take the longer strenuous Ant Trail through an old oak, birch and hazel wood. Here you might notice oak trees with several small diameter, straight stems or platforms within the wood. These are signs of a busy industrial past.
Keep your eye out for translucent liverworts on boulders and the stems of trees. Look for big green, brown and grey leafy lichens, small scally lichens and hanging wefts of moss as well as ferns of a range of shapes and sizes. You may also see large wood ant nests. The trail has stunning picnic areas and viewpoints overlooking the rainforest canopy and Ben Cruachan.
If you want to explore further, stop by Bonawe Historic Iron Furnace to see how the oak charcoal from these woods was once used to smelt iron. The tannin rich oak bark was also once used to cure leather.
Unique wetland that's home to Scotland's wild beavers.
Barnluasgan is known for its superb wetland habitat that is home to Scotland’s beavers. Next time you are there, try the Barnluasgan Oakwood Trail, this strenuous 1.5 mile long trek takes you through some excellent rainforest habitat.
Keep your eye out for lichens, mosses, and liverworts as well as the odd beaver clue. On the hazel stems you’ll notice different species on the smooth young stems compared to the larger older stems. Look through a hand lens or magnifying glass (or even closely through the wrong end of a pair of binoculars!) and a whole new world will open before you.
Compare the bark of some of the big old oak trees at the top of the hill and bark of young birch trees and you’ll see even more diversity. These dots and squiggles are like those on a map and even mini volcanoes.
Count the number of different colours of green on any one boulder and notice the different shapes of the many species of moss.
Ancient Caledonian forest and cascading waterfalls.
Take the Oakwood Trail through the extensive Dalavich ancient oakwood. This forest is rich with mosses, ferns, and lichen for you to explore and try to identify. The route passes waterfalls and a peaceful burn where you can stop to enjoy the forest around you.
Rainforest restoration began here in the 1980s. The native woodland has recovered so well that it is hard to believe that many places were dominated by non-native conifers.
This forest was a busy place in the 18th and early 19th centuries. The oak trees here were also felled to make charcoal for smelting iron and leather.
You will find a full list of rainforest locations on our partners, Alliance for Scotland’s Rainforest, website.
- Tech helping to give Scotland’s rainforests breathing room
- Forest visitors urged to follow safety signage
- Protecting rare species on west coast hazel