Balmacara Estate & Lochalsh Woodland Garden

Submitted by Owen McCafferty on Mon, 2009-12-28

Lovely walks through beautiful woodlands maintained by the National Trust for Scotland. A crofting estate of 2750ha (6795a) with outstanding view of Skye and Applecorss. The land has been used for millennia, with the agricultural and woodland management of the last two centuries giving rise to a pleasing blend of built, farmed and natural environments in the landscape. The Trust encourages active crofting on the eight townships and is creating several new crofts. Plockton is an Outstanding Conservation Area.

Balmacara estate offers a variety of walks of varying difficulties. Leaflets can be picked up at the information centre, there is also an information board which details some of the routes. A variety of Ranger led guided walks are also available via the National Trust for Scotland during the summer months. Leaflets with full details are available at the information centre in Balmacara Square.

Dating from 1954 the woodland garden was established by the famous plantsman E.H.M. Cox whose experimental Rhododendrons have since become a must see. A tranquil walk beside the shores of Loch Alsh will take you through a canopy of sycamore, beech, elm, lime, oak and mature Scots pine. Enhancing the rich diversity of the garden are collections of bamboo, ferns, fuchsias and hydrangeas.”

The estate also includes Lochalsh woodland garden, while originally policy woodland for Lochalsh house, is largely a product of trust ownership of the Balmacara estate. The garden has a calm and quiet atmosphere, which contributes to its significance in comparison to other west coast gardens, and stands as an example of horticultural achievement in relatively difficult terrain. Lochalsh House is not open to the public.

The woodland garden has a reception kiosk with information about the garden. Lochalsh Woodland Garden provides pleasant sheltered walks beside the shore of Loch Alsh. Mature Scots pine, oaks and beeches with developing collections of rhododendrons, bamboo, ferns, fuchsias and hydrangeas all flourish. The associated natural woodlands and coastline have outstanding scenic value and support a variety of botanical and wildlife habitats. From the higher paths within the garden, fine views can be gained to Ben Attow. The garden itself is of little scenic significance from the A87 as it is concealed by the roadside shelter planting. Murchison’s monument can be seen from the A87.

The estate also includes the Coille Mhór oakwood Special Area of Conservation (SAC). The neighbouring Loch Alsh is part of the Loch Alsh & Loch Duich marine SAC. Visitors can discover more about this secluded, fascinating area at the small Visitor Centre at Balmacara Square, where an interactive CD-ROM, guides to the extensive footpath network and other local information are available. The Visitor Centre is located within the recently restored farm steadings beside the old millpond. There are also craft workshops and a small delicatessen within the Square complex, an excellent spot for a picnic.

Admission: adults £2.00, concession £1.00 and free to National Trust for Scotland (NTS) members and affiliates.

Balmacara Estate & Lochalsh Woodland Garden Educational Activities: Click here

Opening times: Reception Kiosk: 1 July to 30 Sep, daily 9–5. Balmacara Square Visitor Centre: 1 Apr to 30 Sep, daily 9–5 (Fri 9–4). Estate: all year, daily.

Woodland Garden: all year, daily 9–sunset.

Contact: Balmacara Estate and Lochalsh Woodland Garden National Trust for Scotland Tel: +44 (0)1599 566 325 Fax: +44 (0)1599 566 359

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Balmacara Estate & Lochalsh Woodland Garden for schools Property Manager: Iain Turnbull

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Regional Education Officer (Highlands & Islands): Sue Mackenzie telephone (01463) 732632 fax: (01463) 732620

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