Scotland’s rainforest, also known as Atlantic woodland or the Celtic Rainforest, is a remarkably special habitat. It’s (very) wet and covered in rare mosses, lichens, and liverworts – did you know here in Scotland is the only place some of these species are found?

We have the last stronghold of this globally important and rare habitat that once spread along the Atlantic coastline of Europe, with there being just 30,325 hectares left. The Woodland Trust say that threats come in the form of invasive rhododendron, overgrazing, and climate change. The Atlantic Woodland Alliance is working to develop a strategy to save Scotland’s rainforest.

Here’s 5 places in Argyll where you can see this incredible natural resource…

1. Knapdale

The Barnluasgan Oakwood Trail in Knapdale is home to a great example of Atlantic woodland and consists of oak, hazel, and birch. It’s the lichens, mosses, and liverworts that are responsible for Scotland’s rainforest’s international importance. Check out this Plantlife guide to ensure you don’t muss any of them. You can see rich and diverse plants typical of Atlantic woodland like:

  • Slender mouse-tail moss
  • Tree lungwort
  • Glue fungus
  • Wilson’s filmy fern

With names like that, how couldn’t you be curious!?

Barnluasgan Trail, Knapdale Lobaria pulmonaria (tree lungwort) and lobaria scrobiculata at Knapdale. 

2. Glen Nant

At Glen Nant National Nature Reserve, you’ll find secluded oakwoods full of history, wildlife, and interesting plants. You might spot red squirrels! Glen Nant is rich and diverse in plant and fungi species.

A lot of the oaks at Glen Nant were coppiced in the 18th century to fuel the local Bonawe Furnace during the Industrial Revolution – which is why you may find multi-stemmed oak trees around the area. Oak is the classic tree of the Celtic rainforest and supports a rich diversity of species, including bryophytes, lichens, ferns and fungi. You might see Black-eyed Susan, a lichen with fine branches said to be reminiscent of coral.

Check out Forestry and Land Scotland’s website for info on visiting Glen Nant. The Riverbank trail is a short, mainly flat trail making it an accessible option!

Photo kindly supplied by Ross Lilley. 

 3. Taynish NNR

It’s no secret that we’re big fans of Taynish National Nature Reserve here, which is managed by Scottish Natural Heritage and close to the village of Tayviallach. Taynish is a great example of Atlantic oak woodland. It is known from pollen analysis that there has been a continuity of native woodland at Taynish for about 7000 years, the trees having colonised northern Britain from the far south where they survived the Ice Age.

Over 250 species of mosses and liverworts have been recorded here. Taynish is also interesting for its lichen communities, with over 475 species of lichens being recorded there. This includes lots of nationally scarce species and one priority Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) species, the Norwegian specklebelly.

 4. Crinan Wood

Crinan Wood is a Woodland Trust wood with great views! The wood is mostly oak and birch, with some groups of alder, ash, elm, hazel, holly, rowan, and willow. Fern grows abundantly and among the wood’s 13 species are rare finds such as golden scale fern, hay-scented fern, Tunbridge filmy fern and Wilson’s filmy fern. A fine example of a temperate rainforest of Atlantic oakwood.

5. Glen Creran

Glen Creran, Appin, is the site of our rhododendron removal project! We work with the community there on landscape scale clearance. The Atlantic oakwoods of Glen Creran support a rich community of mosses and lichens including 23 globally vulnerable or near-threatened species. For details on visiting Glen Creran, check out Forestry and Land Scotland’s website here.

Working to remove invasive rhododendron. 

There's lots of options if you want to check out Argyll’s rainforest. Why not head into the woods to check out our rare, mysterious woodlands?