Balmacara Estate teacher information

Balmacara Estate (2,550 hectares) is a diverse Highland crofting estate. The mosaic of arable croft fields around small settlements, with outlying moorland and common grazing, reflects a historically important land use of the West Highlands which still remains relevant to local communities today.

The townships of Drumbuie, Duirinish and Plockton are exceptional examples of traditional croft management. The low-intensity agriculture helps to retain and enhance locally and nationally important habitats, and provides a haven of ecological diversity.

There are many archaeological and historic features around the estate. The open-air church at Plockton and the crannog on Loch Achaidh na h-Inich are both designated Scheduled Ancient Monuments.

The Lochalsh Woodland Walks provide a series of short sheltered walks by the shores of Loch Alsh. The Coille Mhór Oak-Birch wood is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and Special Area for Conservation. The coastline is recognised for its outstanding scenic value and the whole estate supports a variety of botanical and wildlife habitats.

The school visit offers opportunities for cross-curricular work and engaging with the Curriculum for Excellence. The Crofting Landscape & Historic Plockton is a popular themed visit - your class can be split into two groups if necessary (maximum 15 pupils per group). One group learns about the history of Balmacara Estate, modern crofting and the associated wildlife; the other group learns about the planned village of Plockton - they then swap round. The coach will need to move your pupils from one site to the other. More details will be given on booking.

Ranger-led walks are available at various locations throughout Balmacara Estate.

Ranger visits to local schools are also available (please telephone to discuss).

Possible topics

  • Crofting
  • Wildlife habitats
  • Historical settlements

Resources for schools

  • Balmacara Estate leaflet - available on request
  • Interactive CD-ROM includes Crofting Game - available on request
  • Illustrated guidebook - for sale at Estate office and available on request
  • Balmacara Square Visitor Centre has orientation and interpretation panels, and an interactive touchscreen computer programme.
  • Plockton Visitor Centre has orientation and interpretation panels, and a Plockton Historical Society display.

Planning your class visit

  • To book: please contact the Balmacara Estate office to discuss your visit; we can tailor interpretative activities to meet your requirements.
  • Book well in advance to avoid disappointment.
  • Maximum class size of 30 pupils, with a ratio of 1 teacher/adult to 8 pupils.
  • Access: both visitor centres are accessible for wheelchair users but most of the activities on offer take place on ground that is not suitable. Please phone to discuss your requirements - we will do our utmost to accommodate your pupils.
  • Parking: coaches can park at Balmacara Square, the Lochalsh Woodland Walks car park or in Plockton (details will be confirmed when booking your programme).
  • Toilets: there are no public toilets at Balmacara Square but there are fully accessible public toilets at Kyle of Lochalsh and public facilities available at Plockton.
  • Refreshments: pupils are welcome to picnic at Balmacara Square or in the Lochalsh Woodland Walks. There are no wet weather facilities.
  • Clothing: please ensure that your pupils have clothing for outdoors. They should have both warm and waterproof clothing and footwear. For sunny days your pupils should have protection against the sun - for instance, a long-sleeved jacket and a sun hat or cap.
  • All the activity sites and various locations have been risk assessed. Teachers are expected to prepare their own risk assessment for the visit.


  • There is no admission charge for schools with Trust educational membership.
  • Non-members are welcome but there is an activity charge - charges vary depending on the activity.
  • All class teachers are encouraged to make a free preparatory visit to the site.

During your class visit

  • A member of Trust staff will meet you at a prearranged location.
  • Most walks will be led by Trust staff - unless you have booked a programme that includes some teacher-led activities (this would be made clear when booking).
  • The Crofting Landscape & Historic Plockton programme takes 2-3 hours per session. More details will be given on booking.
  • Teachers are responsible for their pupils and their behaviour.
  • Pupils may take photos/films during their visit.
  • Shop: there is no shop at Balmacara Square but tourist facilities are available at Plockton.

If you prefer to print this information you can use this download. Please note that some of the information may now be out of date.