Best walks in Scotland: The Brecklet Trail and Ballachulish Slate Quarries, Lochaber

THIS column is dedicated to walking and ramblers’ groups from across Scotland, where they can suggest the best routes to enjoy. See the panel at the end of this story if you want to get involved.

By Lawrie McMillan, Scottish Women’s Walking Group

Start: Ballachulish Visitor Centre car park.

Distance: Around two miles.

Time: Allow between an hour to an hour-and-a-half.

Terrain: Clear, waymarked trail. There are some steep sections and slightly uneven surfaces.

Level: Easy.

Access: If arriving by car, parking is available at Ballachulish Visitor Centre. Ballachulish is served by local and Citylink bus services. Public toilets are available.

What makes it special: Loch views, history and geology.

SLATE quarrying was once an important lifeblood of Scottish industry. This scenic walk provides an opportunity to learn more about the area’s past, while enjoying picturesque trails and woodland.

After an initial steep climb, the views down Loch Linnhe and across Loch Leven are glorious. This walk is steeped in history, geology and well-worth a visit.

Route: Starting at the Ballachulish Visitor Centre, cross over the road and go through the gate. Here there are several information boards that detail the story behind the quarries.

To the left, the signpost for the Brecklet Trail points onto a path, but you can continue briefly onwards for the short walk to see the old slate quarry.

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Now a peaceful lagoon-esque loch, the former quarry was once a hive of activity that supplied slate all across Scotland, eventually closing in the 1950s due to cheaper overseas imports taking over the market.

Ballachulish was one of two Scottish slate super quarries, the other located at Easdale, 50 miles to the south.

There are picnic benches around the water’s edge which are ideal for a lunch stop. This is also a great spot to have some fun skimming stones (or slate).

HeraldScotland: View of Loch Linnhe from The Brecklet Trail and Ballachulish Slate Quarries, Lochaber. Picture: Lawrie McMillanView of Loch Linnhe from The Brecklet Trail and Ballachulish Slate Quarries, Lochaber. Picture: Lawrie McMillan

Returning to the entrance gate, take the path signposted for the Brecklet Trail. This climbs steeply uphill past gorse and heather, giving a superb bird’s eye view down into the quarry.

You will then come to a gate leading into dense woodland and here a short turn off can be taken to visit a slate picnic table in a clearing, with impressive views down Loch Linnhe and across Loch Leven, as well as over Ballachulish village and beyond on a clear day.

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Returning to the path, the incline begins to level out and then heads downhill. As you descend, several derelict and roofless buildings from an old settlement can be seen hidden among the trees, with signs warning visitors to “keep out” for safety.

Continuing on you will pass some burns and through woodland that feels almost fairy-tale like, before eventually reaching a forest track. This is waymarked to turn right back into Brecklet, the oldest part of Ballachulish village.

HeraldScotland: The Brecklet Trail and Ballachulish Slate Quarries, Lochaber. Picture: Lawrie McMillanThe Brecklet Trail and Ballachulish Slate Quarries, Lochaber. Picture: Lawrie McMillan

Go through a metal gate onto a tarmac track and pass by the churches of St Munda and St Mun, before turning right onto a road. Turn right again at the end of road and return to the visitor centre.

Don’t miss: The 200-year-old slate arch by the A82, originally part of a pair that was built to transport slate from the upper quarry. Enjoy lunch or a snack at the Quarry Cafe in the Ballachulish Visitor Centre, which also has an excellent gift shop.

Useful information: Scottish Women’s Walking Group meet and walk together all over Scotland. Membership is free and open to all ages and abilities. For details of how to join, visit

Do you have a walk you would like to suggest? Email

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