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Achnabreac

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Step back in time and discover 4,000 year-old rock art

There’s plenty to see in the attractive open woodland here, including one of the finest set of cup and ring marked rocks in Britain. Follow the Cup and Ring Trail to marvel at these mysterious ancient symbols, take a gentle stroll around a fascinating wetland area or simply bring a picnic and relax in the peaceful forest.

Achnabreac is part of the ancient kingdom of Dalriada, the birthplace of the Scottish nation. It was centred on Dunadd, a rocky crag just to the north of Achnabreac, which was the crowning place of its kings. Explore the area to find remains of thousands of years of human occupation

Kilmartin House Museum is a great place to find out more about this area’s fascinating history. Along the Dalriada Heritage Trail you can discover more amazing cup and ring marked rocks as well as other evocative archaeological sites. 

If you’re looking for something more energetic and exhilarating, this is also home to the Firetower Trail, a single track mountain bike route through the forest with exciting options for the more experienced mountain biker.

Walking trails

Achnabreac route card (PDF)

Walking

Rock Art Trail

Starting at the easy access parking further up the forest road from the main car park this trail cuts through the forest to visit one of Achnabreac’s enigmatic cup and ring marked stones. There are also great views over Loch Gilp to the hills of Arran.

Wide, firm and smooth gravel surface throughout. Some moderate slopes, but plenty of resting places along the way.

Easy (all abilities) trail grade icon
½ miles / 0.8 km

Allow
¼ hour

More information

A gentle zig zag slope through the trees leading to a viewing board and interpretation panel giving information about the area’s archaeology.

Walking

Dragonfly Trail

A gentle meander around the wetland pocket at the edge of the forest. Keep an eye out for variety of wildlife at different times of the year.

Firm gravel surface throughout with some loose sections. Mostly flat with some moderate slopes. 

Easy trail grade icon
½ miles / 0.8 km

Allow
¼ hour

More information

This short circular trail around low-lying wetlands, dotted with broadleaved trees and fringed with conifers, is ideal for families. There are lovely open views of the forest and surrounding area as you stroll along.

Walking

Cup and Ring Trail

Discover some of Scotland’s most extensive prehistoric rock art. Search for two great viewing areas of cup and ring carvings that date back over 4,000 years.

Uneven gravel path, with some narrow, grassy and potentially muddy sections. Some steep slopes. Includes sections of boardwalk with steps. Look out for vehicles along the forest road.

Moderate trail grade icon
1 ¼ miles / 2.0 km

Allow
¾ hour

More information

Marvel at these mysterious symbols, carved by a lost culture over 4,000 years ago. The trail climbs gently uphill through old oak woodland, which is a riot of colour in autumn, and there are good views over Lochgilphead, Knapdale and Loch Fyne as you reach higher ground.

Mountain biking trails

Achnabreac mountain biking route card (PDF)

Mountain Biking

Firetower Trail

Grade – Red: Difficult 8 ¾ miles / 14.0 km 2 hours
Red: Difficult
Is this trail for you? Find the right grade for your abilities

Grade – Red: Difficult  fls web icon cycling red difficultExpect a mixture of steep climbs, descents and / or avoidable features. Larger jumps, berms and rollable features at controlled speed. Technical features such as tree roots, drop-offs and large rocks. Very variable surfaces.

From the site of an old fire tower, this trail has it all: flowing single track, technical features, stunning views and all within minutes of Lochgilphead. Five sections of single track, linked by forest road. Jink through the trees, burn rubber on the Twisted Fire Starter, bust a lung on Murder Hill, cool off in the Water Splash, then Rock and Roll back to the car park. Please note the Twisted Fire Starter section is graded black and is optional - it can be by-passed to continue on the red graded route.

Activities

Cycling for everyone

Achnabreac and Kilmichael Forest offer a range of cycling experiences suitable for everyone. The towpath beside the Crinan Canal, part of the National Cycle Route 78, is perfect for families looking for a gentle, scenic ride. There are also plenty of forest roads criss-crossing the woodland that you can explore at your leisure.

Wildlife watching

Kilmichael Forest is a precious remnant of the Atlantic oakwoods that began spreading when the Ice Age ended and once stretched along the whole Atlantic seaboard from Norway to the south of Spain. The old oakwoods and the more recent conifers are home to a whole host of creatures that you might spot as you explore. Watch out for red squirrels, red and roe deer, crossbills, tiny goldcrests and hunting sparrowhawks.

Facilities and access

Walking
Walking
Mountain biking
Mountain biking
Parking (charge)
Parking (charge)
All ability trails
All ability trails
Picnic area
Picnic area
Ancient monument
Ancient monument
Icon showing a campervan on green background
Stay the Night

Learn more about the surrounding area by visiting the Heart of Argyll website.

You’ll find public toilets and plenty of places to eat, drink and shop at nearby Lochgilphead.

Car parking information

The charges to park at this forest car park are:

  • £1 for up to 1 hour – all vehicles
  • £3 for all day
  • Blue Badge holders park free. Please display your Blue Badge clearly.

Payment can be made using RingGo.

Please park with care and consideration. In particular please park in designated parking areas only and do not block entrances or gates. Nearby car parks with free parking can be found in our Forest Search, marked as a 'P' without the £ symbol.

Annual parking pass available:

Available in advance by downloading the application form and emailing to the Regional Office. Please read our Annual Pass terms and conditions (PDF) before applying.

West Coast Car Park Pass - £40 per car and £100 per mini bus/coach
FLS National Car Park Pass - £100 per car and £150 per mini bus/coach

Valid at all Forestry and Land Scotland car parks except Tentsmuir.

FLS National Pass application form

More about parking

Stay the Night

Stay the Night continues to run through to 31 October 2024. This means self-contained motorhomes and campervans will be able to park overnight for one night in some of our car parks.

There is a £10 charge to Stay the Night here, this includes use of the chemical waste disposal facility. If you are not Staying the Night and only want to do a drop-off of chemical waste then it’s £5. Payment can be made through RingGo with details of how to do this at the car park.

To help plan your stay, please see the details below:

  • Height barrier – No
  • Motorhome capacity of car park – 6
  • Suitable for large vehicles/caravans – No
  • Parking notes – One mile on wide forest road with passing places off A816. Fairly level but with some potholes. Please leave a 4m gap between other motorhomes.
  • Facilities – Chemical waste disposal

Please visit our Stay the Night page for full details, participating locations, best practice, and terms and conditions of use.

Stay the night

Getting here

Achnabreac is about 2½ miles (4km) north of Lochgilphead on the A816. Look for a turning onto a forest road, with a green sign to ‘Achnabreac’. Follow this for about ¼ mile (500 metres) to reach the turning into the car park.

Using SatNav?

PA31 8RE is the nearest postcode.

Public transport

There are regular buses running between Lochgilphead and Tayvallich, which stop at Bridgend and Cairnbaan, both close to Achnabreac. Find details at Traveline Scotland.

Get directions

Get in touch

Have a question or suggestion for improvement?

Phone
0300 067 6650 (option 2)
More contact information

Nearby forests

a water fall tucked in a broadleaf woodland with ferns

Craggy slopes and a dramatic gorge amongst the trees

Facilities and activities
Walking
Walking
Parking icon
Parking
Viewpoint
Viewpoint
Picnic area
Picnic area
Distance from 'Achnabreac': 1.26 miles
A serene forest loch with a tree over hanging the calm shore and reeds reflecting on the calm water

Unique wetland that's home to Scotland's wild beavers

Facilities and activities
Walking
Walking
Parking (charge)
Parking (charge)
All ability trails
All ability trails
Wildlife hide
Wildlife hide
Horse riding
Horse riding
Fishing
Fishing
Tourist information
Tourist information
Distance from 'Achnabreac': 2.35 miles
Stone ruins overlooking a loch

Take an atmospheric stroll in the heart of Knapdale

Facilities and activities
Walking
Walking
Parking icon
Parking
Picnic area
Picnic area
Distance from 'Achnabreac': 2.87 miles