“ A 4 mile circular walk through the Forsinard national park . „
Review of The Forsinain Trail, Sutherland, Scotland.
This is a walk that my partner and I have covered on a couple of occasions when we have been holidaying in Scotland.
**The Forsinain Trail**
Located in Strath Halladale, North Sutherland, which is in the far north of Scotland, the Forsinain Trail is a four mile circular walk. The route takes you through the peat bogs of the area and the walk is well signposted along the way. The walk also takes in farm fields, bog pools, riverside and woodland allowing an insight into the conservation management of the area and the local wildlife.
The walk starts on The Flows National Nature Reserve, part of RSPB Forsinard Nature Reserve, continues through Forestry Commission Scotland's Forsinain Forest and returns along the privately
owned River Halladale salmon river.
Access to the trail is good, there is parking on the west side of the A897, located opposite Forsinain Farm. There is an information board here that directs you to begin your walk from the bridge over the River Halladale.
The track leads through some pretty, diverse countryside, there are hills, peat bogs, slabbed sections of trail and areas that pass by the Halladale salmon river and even a wooden board walk which takes you to a viewpoint across Loch Bad a'Bhothain. This is one of my favourite parts of the trail, I love taking in the beautiful scenery and the solitude of the area.
I'm no expert bird watcher, but I do love seeing the birds in their natural habitat. There are several bird hides dotted around the walk for those interested in bird watching. Some of the bird life you may see on this walk are red-throated divers, golden plover, lapwing, greylag geese, curlew and snipe. On our last visit to Forsinard, we were fortunate enough to spot what I believe was a golden eagle.
In addition to birds, red and roe deer, otters, wild cats, common shrew and dragonflies may be spotted, depending on the season, as you walk.
The sections of the trail that take you through the woodland are particularly attractive. The atmosphere of peace and tranquillity as you walk through the trees is remarkable- I wish it could be bottled!
On the edges of the bog areas, it is possible to make out the remains of the old peat cuttings. Once air dried, the peat turves, shrunk and hardened, are used as fuel. The hand cutting peat for domestic fuel is a traditional activity in this area of Scotland that causes little long-term damage to the bog when the vegetated turves are carefully replaced to regenerate. Obviously, larger-scale peat extraction can be very damaging and is unsustainable.
The walk is a fairly strenuous one and walkers are advised to carry a drink, food, a mobile phone and wear stout footwear suitable for rough terrain walking. Some protective clothing is also advisable, even on a fairly short walk, as the weather conditions can quickly change dramatically in this part of Scotland.
The land the walk is located on is a nature reserve and parts are also used for grazing, therefore visitors who bring dogs with them, must keep their dogs on a lead at all times. Walkers are also instructed to keep to the signposted footpaths for their own safety and to protect the delicate bog structure, which would be severely damaged by being trampled on.
National Nature Reserves are carefully managed for nature conservation and to safeguard rare animals and plants.
**Getting There and Opening Times**
By Road:- Located on the A897, 24 miles from Helmsdale.
From Melvich on the north coast, turn south 2 miles east of Melvich onto the A897 for 14 miles. The entrance to the Trail is located opposite Forsinain Farm.
By Rail:- Forsinard station is the closest station. The line runs from Inverness to Wick/Thurso and stops at Forsinard three times a day.
The Forsinard Reserve visitors centre is located in the station building, toilets area available and drinks can be bought here.
The reserve open at all times. The visitor centre is open from Easter to the end of October, 7 days a week, 9 am to 5.30 pm.
**My Thoughts and Conclusion**
This is a very enjoyable walk through some amazing countryside. I am very fond of this area of Scotland and love the wild and rugged scenery.
The Forsinard Trail is well cared for and I particularly like the fact that less mobile visitors can still enjoy the area as there is a well laid out area reserved for disabled drivers to park in. From here wheelchair users and those with mobility difficulties can also enjoy views of the area and bird watching in an adjacent field.
I would recommend this circular walk to others who enjoy a mildly challenging walk through diverse landscape. I have found lots to interest me on this walk, I love being out in the fresh air and the walk is strenuous enough to make you feel that you have had a proper walk, yet not so difficult that it is exhausting.
This is a beautiful area and well worth a visit even if you do not cover the whole 4 mile route.
If I had to pass one piece of advice, it would be take your camera!
Thank you for reading
©brittle1906 February 2012
N.B. My reviews may be found on other sites under the same user name.