Laide & Aultbea Community Wood
Located in the West Highlands, Laide & Aultbea Community Woodland (LACW), including two inland lochs, extends to 86.6 hectares (214 acres). It was originally owned and planted with mostly conifers by the Forestry Commission between 1963-67. Little management was carried out and the woodland was sold in 1993 and then changed hands several more times before being purchased by the community in 2003 when LACW was established.
Since 2003, trails have been created, bridges built, a bird hide constructed and over 62,000 (mostly) new broadleaf trees planted. A new 1.4km trail was completed in 2020 and a fully accessible picnic area developed in 2021.
The woodland is run by Trustees/Directors drawn from the local community and has an enthusiastic volunteer team and active membership, all of whom help to achieve our key charitable objectives:
To manage access to LACW, provide opportunities for recreation and conserve, regenerate and preserve the woodland
To encourage community involvement in the management of the woodland
Everyone is welcome at LACW and we hope you enjoy your visit
Laide Wood in glorious Summer bloom
Whilst the sun has been a little shy of late the flora in the wood certainly hasn't, the woodland has exploded into colour in recent weeks.
It is a delight to see so much variety at this time of year which the insects are thoroughly enjoying with the dragonfly & damselfly population out in full flight!
The warm weather hasn't put off the volunteer working parties either who have repaired a section of the red trail making the surface of the path much easier for walking on, removed a fallen tree which was lying across the cascade & blocking the view of the top section. These are just a few of the many jobs which have been carried out recently.
Come and see for yourself the beauty of the wood in Summer..........
Magnificent Cone to mark LACW's Success
To celebrate our success in Scotland's Finest Woods Awards 2021, we commissioned a carved cone sculpture for all our visitors to enjoy.
On Wednesday 29th June 2022, LACW Chair, John Rippin, unveiled the sculpture to the applause of some of the wood's co-Trustees and regular volunteers.
The cone was sculpted in elm by Iain Chalmers, a well-known chainsaw sculptor from the Black Isle. We selected elm because it is a hardwood and therefore tough but with beautifully patterned burls.
We hope you agree that it's a really wonderful addition to this beautiful community wood.
The Queen's Green Canopy
To recognise the Queen's Platinum Jubilee we have dedicated an area of established Scots Pine to mark this historic event, a plaque has been placed alongside the trail in commemoration.
New Trees Flourishing
Since purchasing Laide Wood in 2003, Trustees were committed to replacing the 1960's plantation with a mixed species woodland so as to increase bio-diversity at LACW.
16,600 trees were planted at the end of 2019 / beginning of January 2020. These were mostly broadleaf including Alder, Willow, Aspen, Birch, Rowan, Oak, Hazel and Scots Pine.
The saplings are flourishing and we look forward to a more diverse woodland for future generations to enjoy.
You can see these new trees by walking the Heather Trail & part of the Two Lochs Trail.
New Link Trail!
This short trail links the circular trail from the main car park with the "Heather Trail" from the north car park by the Old Smiddy B&B. Enjoy walking through the Scots Pine plantation but remember that some sections are soft underfoot and so may not be suitable for everyone.
Bridge Replacement Programme
2021 - Ongoing
With funding from the People’s Postcode Trust we have an ongoing bridge replacement programme for the five bridges on the main trails. We are using larch timber purchased from, and milled at, the National Trust for Scotland at Inverewe. Three bridges are complete and we will replace the remaining bridges during 2022. Temporary closures of some paths may be necessary so we ask for your patience.
There are three main trails in the woodland, two lochans, a cascade and a hide overlooking Loch Na Creige where you are very welcome to record your wildlife sightings. Seats are located throughout the woodland along the trails and there are picnic tables by Loch na Cathrach Duibhe and at the start of the Heather trail.
Please click .HERE. to download a PDF map of LACW
Easier Access Trail
The 1.4 km "Heather Trail" starts from the car park near to the Old Smiddy B&B. You enter the "View For All" picnic area via an easy access self-closing gate and the trail runs down to Loch Na Creige.
The well-maintained trail is top-dressed with firm, well compacted fine gravel, and crosses Sand Burn in two places via bridges. Generally, it is 2 metres wide and whilst the gradient for most part is relatively accessible, there are a few moderately steep sections (1:8). The "View For All" area is level. The short distance to reach the first seat has an initial 1:9 gradient so this may be a good way to decide if the path is suitable for your abilities.
People using wheelchairs and mobility scooters use the trail to reach Loch Na Creige where there is a seat overlooking the lochan.