One of the best ways to stay healthy in body and mind is to go for a walk. My favourite local walk is to the summit of Barr Liath, the highest point in Kilfinan Community Forest (KCFC). It’s a strenuous hill walk of about 3 miles (5K) but the views from the summit make it worth the effort. The best route is anti-clockwise. A fit person will complete the walk in about 2 hours.
Start from the KCFC offices at the poly tunnel and follow the well surfaced paths beside the Allt Mor burn until you come to the sign ‘Barr Liath Path’. Cross the bridge and follow the marker posts past the old water work settlement tanks and then across a section of cleared forest to a grassy path. Head uphill until you leave the trees behind and the path meanders beside newly planted rowan trees protected from the deer by tubes and wire guards. I frequently see buzzards here. The path levels out at the top of a rocky knoll and a good spot to pause for a moment and take in the view. Look for the grassy square which was the site of the old curling rink.
When you have your breath back follow the marker posts into the forest and wind your way through the fire breaks always trending slowly upwards. Enjoy the stillness of this section. Eventually the marker posts lead you out of the trees to a steep bank. The ground evens out again at the top of the bank and the marker posts lead you from one rocky knoll to the next with good views to the north of the summits of the local hills.
At this point you can see the Barr Liath summit to your left and only 10 minutes away. Follow the marker posts across a wet boggy section and onto the plateaus. The summit is marked by a sign which indicates the different routes back to the start.
For the descent, I recommend the ‘Sheiling Route’ which heads almost directly South. This is the most direct route down and the one with the best views. Again follow the marker posts down the hillside, through the cleared brash at the bottom of the slope leading to the Sheiling bridge over the Allt Mor. Follow the track back to the start.
Safety First – The Barr Liath summit is a serious walk in remote countryside where you are unlikely to meet another person and where the phone signal is intermittent at best. Dress appropriately for the Scottish hills. The ground will be wet and boggy if there has been recent rain so wear suitable footwear. Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return. Obey any signs relating to tree felling operations.
Volunteering – volunteers built the bridges across the Allt Mor, installed the path marker posts on the Barr Liath path and have been planting and protecting trees on the route. If you enjoy the outdoors for health and fitness consider volunteering with Kilfinan Community Forest.
Willie McAllan, KCFC Volunteer