Access changes announced at Loch Arkaig Pine Forest

Looking west down Loch Arkaig from edge of West Block woodland, Loch Arkaig, Scotland.

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Woodland Trust Scotland has announced temporary changes to access at Loch Arkaig Pine Forest, near Spean Bridge, this summer, as preparations are made to extract non-native trees from its Glen Mallie block between 2020 and 2026.

Part of the work will see the ‘White Bridge’ over the River Arkaig being strengthened and the existing Glen Mallie track is being resurfaced and upgraded in order to cope with timber trucks.

As a result, the White Bridge will be closed from August 12 to November 15, with no vehicle or pedestrian access across it.

The only route into the Glen Mallie track and Invermallie bothy from a public road will be on foot from Bunarkaig via the Achnacarry Estate drive. There will be no access from the Chia-aig falls car park over the White Bridge.

Upgrading work on the Glen Mallie track will take place from August 5 to November 10.

Pedestrian and cycle access along the track will be maintained during the work but there may be short waiting periods.

Non-native trees will be felled in Glen Mallie annually from 2020 to 2026.

In order to avoid bird breeding season, work will stop between April 1 and July 31 each year. This woodland is home to the hugely popular live streaming osprey nest camera.

George Anderson, of Woodland Trust Scotland, said there are years of work ahead to restore Glen Mallie to a native woodland.

‘First we have to make sure the bridge and the track are ready for the extraction of non-native timber,’ Mr Anderson said this week.

‘People are still very welcome to visit the forest while this is happening but they need to be aware of the route restrictions, especially the bridge closure.

‘Some regular visitors might be used to parking by the falls and then walking in across the White Bridge. That won’t be an option while the bridge is being strengthened.’

Woodland Trust Scotland has partnered with Arkaig Community Forest, a community-based charity, which shares ambitious plans to restore native woodland habitats across the forest and demonstrate the ecological, social and economic value of ancient woodland restoration.

In particular, it aims to support the remote community living around the forest to benefit from active sustainable forest management activities such as woodfuel production, eco-tourism and adding value to timber.

Loch Arkaig Pine Forest comprises the Glen Mallie block at the eastern end of the loch, and The Gusach at the more remote western end. Plans for timber extraction from The Gusach have yet to be finalised.