Our Forest

Our forest is on the north end of Bute, near to the Colintraive-Rhubodach ferry terminal. You can see red and roe deer, a whole variety of fungi, protected bird species, archaeologicial sites, a WWII decoy village bunker and stunning views across the Kyles of Bute. Although you can wander anywhere in the forest, we have a few waymarked paths and points for you to enjoy:

Getting to & Around our Forest

A map and other information about getting to and around the forest.

The Balnakailly Loop Walk

A popular walk which takes you through all areas of the forest over around 4 miles.

The Painted Rock Trail & Oak Trail

Short walks located near the work area. The Painted Rock Trail is ideal for little ones and you can add your own painted rock to the trail!

The WWII Bunker

The walk to the WWII bunker follows the Balnakailly Loop Walk to a fabulous viewpoint, bench and interpretation.

The Working Forest

Our forest is a working forest, in which the continuous cover approach to forestry is being used for its ecological and economical benefits.

Woodland Activities for Wee and not-so-Wee Ones

A quick guide to some fun activities you can do in the forest. Also check out our events page to see what’s happening at the moment.

Plans for the Future

Find out all about what we have planned for the future of the community forest.


The Forest

Our Community Forest, as can be seen on the map, is split into two distinct areas (hatched green) which are connected by a forest track (red).

The woodlands surrounding Balnakailly, accessed via the Stand on the Land Bridge round the beach track from Rhubodach Ferry Terminal, are designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest for Atlantic Oceanic Oak Woodland.  There is a way marked natural path to follow that brings you to Balnakailly Settlement, a site that is being investigated by archaeologists.  Other discoveries you might make as you wander through area include standing stones and a WWII bunker.  There are spectacular views of the Kyles of Bute and Cowal as you emerge from the trees.  Over the coming months and years our knowledge and understanding of this wood will grow and through these pages we will share that with you.  And we invite you to share your discoveries with us.

The second part of our forest is actually made up of two woods – Rhubodach Plantation and Shalunt Wood.  This wood is young in comparison to Balnakailly, the oldest trees – Japanese Larch – were planted circa 1920’s.  As yet we have no way marked paths through the trees however it can best be enjoyed by following the forest track from Rhubodach Cottage (A) and following the signs of the new route for West Island Way towards Port Bannatyne.  There is a great variety of broadleaves as well as commercial plantation and as you climb the track you will be taken back by the wonderful views towards Loch Striven and the Clyde beyond.  For the adventurous, a wander down through the trees is like entering a cathedral – please bear in mind the steep topography and myriad waterways.

Bute Community Forest is a fantastic natural asset that will help us learn and develop.  We intend to manage it sustainably and for the benefit of the community whilst offering another great experience for visitors to Bute.  Come, enjoy, be proud and always remember to Think and Act as Owners when using our environment.

View the latest plans for the forest here.