Moidart, Ardnamurchan, Morar and Morvern are renowned for the diversity and species richness of their woodlands, including oak, mixed ash and hazel, wet woodland and Caledonian pine forest. The deciduous woodlands are home to a range of birds including warblers, tits, redstarts, flycatchers, woodpeckers, tawny owl and woodcock, to mention but a few, as well as pine marten, badger, wildcat, and pipistrelle and long-eared bats. These woods also support a rich diversity and abundance of fungi, as well as the providing habitats for the rare chequered skipper (Carterocephalus palaemon), pearl bordered fritillary (Boloria euphrosyne) and small pearl bordered fritillary butterflies (Bolaria selene).
The internationally important species-rich Atlantic oak woodlands of Moidart and Ardnamurchan (for example Loch Moidart, Loch Shiel and Loch Sunart) support distinctive lichen communities including parmelion, lobarion, usneion and graphidion, a real treat for lichenologists. These woods also support rare moss and liverwort communities, including the nationally scarce Plagiochila atlantica and Acrobolbus wilsonii (Wilson's Pouchwort). Several highly oceanic species, such as hay-scented buckler fern (Dryopteris aemula) and Tunbridge filmy fern (Hymenophyllum tunbrigense) are found in woods in Morvern. Depending on soil type, understorey species range from bluebell (Endymion non-scriptus), lesser celandine (Ranunculus ficaria), wood anemone (Anemone nemorosa), wood sorrel (Oxalis acetosella) and common dog violet (Viola riviniana) to heather/bilberry assemblages on very acidic soils (Calluna vulgaris, Vaccinium spp and Erica spp). Ferns can be also be common, including deer fern (Blechnum spicant), the mountain fern (Oreopteris limbosperma) and the less common lady fern (Athyrium filix-femi). Associated arboreal species include birch (mainly Betula pubescens), rowan (Sorbus aucuparia), hazel (Corylus avellana) and holly (Ilex aquifolium).
Ash and hazel woods in the river gorges of the Morvern coast and at Glen Cripesdale on the shores of Loch Sunart in the Ardnamurchan similarly support a high diversity of flowering plants and ferns, including long-leaved helleborine (Cephalanthera longifolia), Norwegian specklebelly lichen, (Pseudocyphellaria norvegica), the rare liverwort, Lejeunea mandonii, as well as hazel gloves fungus (Hypocreopsis rhododendri), and barred tooth-striped moth (Trichopteryx polycommata).
Isolated remnants of native Caledonian pinewoods can also be found in Lochaber, for example, Glen Nevis, Ardgour and along the southern banks of Loch Arkaig, and in small scattered pockets throughout Moidart. These pinewoods support a diversity of epiphytes and ground flora species, including various wintergreen species (including Pyrola minor, P. media and Orthilia secunda), creeping lady's tresses (Goodyera repens), the nationally scarce twinflower (Linneaea borealis), as well as small populations of crossbill, crested tit and black grouse. Siskin, crossbill, red squirrel and pine marten are frequently associated with these woods.
Come and explore the ancient remnants of the wild woods from temperate rainforest to Caledonian pine forest.