It’s that time of year again as the days become steadily shorter and nature dazzles us with spectacular shedding foliage. Make the most of autumn this year at Scotland’s six forest parks with excellent tips and recommendations shared by park rangers and staff.
Glenmore Forest Park
An emerald lochan: Ryvoan Trail
Feel the dry crunch of needles of ancient Caledonian pines underfoot while soaking in the yellow-gold leaves of turning birch, aspen and crimson rowans on this 6 km trail which leads to the otherworldly An Lochan Uaine (The Green Loch), an emerald green lochan. Extend your walk by taking the detour up into the Ryvoan Pass before descending against the backdrop of Loch Morlich and Cairngorm.
Reindeer and red squirrels: Glenmore Visitor Centre & Café
Spend an hour refueling in Glenmore Visitor Centre & Café and the red squirrels outside dart about collecting fungi, berries and seeds ahead of the long winter months. Red squirrels are everywhere but if you really want to get up-close-and-personal, make sure to swing by the visitor centre which has dedicated feeding area regularly topped up with nuts. Afterwards, pop next door to the paddock to visit the resident Cairngorm reindeer herd. Join the hill visit at 11am to feed and observe these gentle giants in their natural habitat.
Bird’s eye views: Farleitter Crag
The cluster of the four Uath Lochans are magical to visit at this time of year. Listen among the soaring pines to the sounds of the reeds and rushes whispering at the waters edge before tackling the walk up Farleitter Crag. Soak in breathtaking views of Strathspey with the River Spey and and the Cairngorm and Monaliath mountains in the distance.
The highest beach in Britain: Loch Morlich
Follow the yellow markers from the visitor centre along the Allt Mor Burn to Loch Morlich and discover a beach in an alpine setting. Stroll along the golden sand and gaze across this glittering stretch of water encircled by fragrant pines and lofty mountains.
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Tay Forest Park
Water colours : Faskally Wood
Faskally Wood is best known as the home of the Enchanted Forest, a sensational nocturnal light and sound show held annually. But the wood is just as radiant during the day, especially in autumn. Take the short walk around Loch Dunmore when its still surface is ablaze with the shimmering colour of reflected trees.
Fit for royalty: The Queen’s View
Positioned high above Loch Tummel, this airy vantage point is said to have been favourite of both Queen Isabella, wife of Robert the Bruce, and Queen Victoria – hence the name. Take in a vast swathe of the forest park, the gleaming length of the loch, and the distant peak of Schiehallion.
A modern folly: Pine Cone Point
Nestled deep in landscaped wooded grove of the Hermitage, this contemporary folly merges seamlessly with its natural surroundings and offers one of the finest views of the forest – out across the River Tay towards Dunkeld and Birnam and the mountains beyond.
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Queen Elizabeth Forest Park
Accessibility friendly: The Waterfall Trail
The Little Fawn Waterfall which tumbles down from height of 55 feet is just one of the attractions of this serene trail. Designed to accommodate wheelchairs and buggies, it allows young families and people with accessibility issues to really immerse themselves in the wild beauty of the park. Hunker down in the wildlife hide to observe red squirrels and bird life.
Roadtrip: Three Lochs Drive
Give your legs a rest and drive the length of this road with encompasses Lochan Reòidhte, Loch Drunkie and Loch Achray. Take in the autumnal splendour – the colours reflected in Loch Achray against the backdrop of Ben A’an are a particular highlight – while keeping a look out for deer and osprey.
Art in nature: Loch Ard Sculpture Trail
Magnificent trees including Norway spruce, birch and rowan, the odd roe deer and striking outdoor artworks – the Loch Ard Family Sculpture Trails are a joy to explore. The view of Loch Ard with Ben Lomond looming in the distance feels like stumbling into a painting.
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Argyll Forest Park
A fairytale haven: Puck’s Glen
There is something distinctly ethereal about Puck’s Glen. Discover a world filled with rippling rock pools, trickling gorges and rustic wooden bridges with leaves gently falling from the dense canopy. The Waterfall Trail around Glenbranter offers a similar setting on a grander scale with immense oaks and teeming wildlife.
Forests within a forest: Kilmun Arboretum
Kilmun Arboretum is utterly unique. Home to more than 150 species of trees from around the world which have been planted in distinct groves. Have an autumnal woodland wander around four separate trails taking in everything from American maples to Australian eucalyptus.
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Galloway Forest Park
Wild goats and rutting deer: The Queensway
Follow the route of the Queensway road through the park towards New Galloway and stop by the Wild Goat Park. Goats have roamed freely here and the surrounding hillsides for decades. A little further along the road is the Red Deer Range. Go in October to witness the primal spectacle of the annual rut.
The Bruce’s Stone: Glentrool
At the heart of Galloway Forest lies Clatteringshaws Loch, a peaceful spot surrounded by the magestic Rhinns of Kells and the mighty Merrick, the highest hill in the southern uplands. Meander along its banks to Bruce’s Stone, a huge boulder commemorating the legendary monarch, and enjoy dazzling starry skies after dark.
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Tweed Valley Forest Park
Minch Moor: Innerleithen
Breathe in the crisp seasonal air and tackle the mountain bike trail to the top of Minch Moore. Pick out the ‘Point of Resolution’, a series of rings seemingly carved out among the heather and gaze upon a breathtaking panorama of endless mountains and rich autumnal hues.
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