Walk beneath the trees beside Loch Alsh
Balmacara Woods is an ideal family-friendly place to stop for a picnic and a woodland stroll if you're on the road to Skye. Stretch your legs and let the kids have a run around, have a picnic or walk the dog. You’ll find easy walks among the varied trees, and gorgeous views from the hillside above the woods.
Take the Tree-Spotter trail to explore the varied woodland, or venture further for great views. During World War II, tiny Balmacara played an important role in defending Scotland’s skies. Take the Skye View trail that winds up through the trees to reach the site of a World War II gun battery, which protected the military camp and port at Loch Alsh from air attack by German planes. You'll also see some spectacular views of Loch Alsh, Kintail and the Isle of Skye.
The restored buildings of Balmacara Square are at the heart of the nearby 18th century Highland crofting estate, now in the care of the National Trust for Scotland. Find out more at the Trust’s visitor centre in the Square (open Easter to September).
A relaxing stroll through the varied trees of the former Balmacara campsite. Lime and cherry trees brush leaves with native oak, ash and birch here.
Largely wide, firm gravel and tarmac surface with some slightly uneven sections. Includes short narrower grassy section alongside a gate. Some moderate slopes.
Allow ½ hour
Skye View Trail
Oak and ash trees give way to heather-covered hillsides with sweeping views across Loch Alsh to the mountains of Skye.
Long steep slopes and sections of rough, narrow rock and grass paths. Includes narrow kissing gates and a section along the road. Can be very muddy and wet in places.
Allow 2 hours
Before you drop back down to Balmacara, branch off the track to see where anti-aircraft guns defended the skies during World War II.
Go beyond the beaten track
A number of longer informal trails also start from Balmacara – these are not waymarked but look out for fingerposts as you explore. Follow routes to the little lochside village of Kirton or head over the peninsula towards Plockton, looking out for tranquil Loch Achaidh na h-Inich and the remains of the iron age Sean Creag fort on the hill above. Look carefully at what looks like a pile of stones in the loch below – this small island is actually what’s left of a 3rd century crannog, a fortified dwelling built on stilts.
These trails make great full day walks or bike trips. Always make sure you’re well prepared and take an OS map with you.
Facilities & access
There is a cosy café in the 18th century estate village of Balmacara Square beside the woods. Otherwise, head to nearby Kyle of Lochalsh for public toilets, parking, shopping and a range of places to eat and drink.
Balmacara Woods lies beside the A87 between Auchtertyre and Kyle of Lochalsh. Turn off the A87 following signs for ‘Balmacara Square’. The Balmacara Woods car park is on the right hand side after about 100 yards (100m).
IV40 8DP is the nearest postcode.
There are regular buses between Inverness and Skye that stop along the A87. You’ll find details at Traveline Scotland.
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