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11 Balnakailly (11.5.19)

Posted 11/5/2019

Balnakailly Wood, part of the Bute Community Forest, is a remnant of ancient managed woodlands on the island.  Predominantly oak woodland with open glades, it is a lovely place to visit on a bright spring day.  Don’t expect to see the wide range of species found on many other walks, since drainage is impeded and much of the ground is acidic.  Once the leaves are fully out and the canopy cuts out much of the light, there is little scope for floristic diversity, though it provides an ideal habitat for mosses and ferns.  Later in the summer it will be much wetter under foot, not to mention the challenge often presented by midges!  But at this time of year you can linger and enjoy the new growth, the many shades of green and the Bluebells dotted throughout the glades.  Primroses and Celandines, Greater Stitchwort and Dog Violets are also there, with Great Woodrush in abundance in many of the damper places.


 It is also a worthwhile walk for its historical interest, a long-abandoned farm or “township” and some much more recent remains from the Second World War.  Park by the Rhubodach ferry slipway (GR NS027743 - there is a limited bus service also) and continue on the track across the field.  It peters out a little before the woodland which you enter through a kissing gate and a bridge across the burn.


Follow the waymarked  track up through the oak wood, followed by a short section through a dense conifer plantation, and arrive at the deserted farmstead.  From there it’s a five-minute walk to the forestry track turning-circle and a further five minutes to the WW2 lookout, with its splendid view over Loch Riddon and the Kyles.


Return the same way. 


Species currently in flower include:

Bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scripta
Common Dog-violet Viola riviana
Common Mouse-ear Cerastium fontanum
Daisy Bellis perennis
Greater Stitchwort Stellaria holostea
Lady's-smock Cardamine pratensis
Lesser Celandine Ficaria verna
Pignut Conopodium majus
Primrose Primula vulgaris
Red Rattle Pedicularis palustris
Ribwort Plantain Plantago lanceolata
Scurvygrass Cochlearia officinalis
Wavy Bittercress Cardamine flexuosa
Wild Garlic Allium ursinum
Wood-sorrel Oxalis acetosella