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Hermitage, Dunkeld

Landscapes and nature

Scottish Forests & Woodlands

Does anything calm the spirit more than lying back on a mossy bank, taking a deep, pine-scented breath, then looking up to see a crowd of tree trunks tapering to a leafy canopy waving gently against a blue sky? Woods are places of wonder. Your senses are alert, your mind is calm, your heart is full, you feel rejuvenated. To explore them is to step into a different world, and come back a different person.

Trees are just the start...

A river bubbles away nearby. Occasionally a woodpecker's knock echoes from afar. The air is perfumed with pine. You are at peace, surrounded by stillness. Best of all, there is mile after mile of this feeling in every direction. Seven out of the ten largest forests in the UK are in Scotland. The largest is Galloway Forest Park, which covers 770 km2 of countryside in gorgeous green blanket. You'll find that Scotland is the perfect place to explore the natural wonders of forests and woodlands.

Live like a squirrel and go nuts

Surely the best way to enjoy our woodlands is to live in them, if only for a holiday. You can become one of the woodland folk at Barend Holiday Village in Dalbeattie, and Forest Holidays in Strathyre and Ardgarten amongst many other secluded sanctuaries.

The forest as wildlife sanctuary

As you walk through a forest in Scotland remember to stop every so often and be very, very quiet. If you stay still and get a little bit lucky, you may meet some of the wonderful creatures who call the woods you are visiting home. You could see roe, fallow, sika and red deer, capercaillie, red squirrels, foxes, badgers, pine martens and even wildcats. You might hear woodpeckers, owls and red kites staking their territorial claims to the trees.

Ready to be magicked?

Step into the Enchanted Forest in Pitlochry this winter and you'll be treated to an outdoor experience that will set your imagination alight. Over 46,000 visitors enjoyed Scotland's premier sound and light experience in 2014.

Come beaver spotting in Knapdale

Beavers lived wild in Scotland until the 16th century when they were hunted to extinction. Since 2009 they have been back, happily chomping their way through the trees of the Knapdale Forest in Argyll. Start your adventure at the Barnluasgan Information Centre, where you can learn about beavers and their triumphant return to their once-native land. Then lace up your boots and try the Beaver Detective Trial, a two hour (three mile) circular walk through the beavers' home territory around the Dubh Loch and Loch Collie Bharr. Watch out for felled trees, gnawed trunks, beaver canals and, of course, the little masters of construction themselves.

Go wild in the woods

Of course, forests aren't just places for quiet contemplation, they can be action-packed adventure venues, too. You can whizz through the forests near Fort William on the Witch's Trails, just one of our many thrilling woodland mountain biking locations. In fact, Fort William has one of the world's most difficult downhill trails, which frequently hosts World Cup events. You could also 'Go Ape' on a tree-top assault course in the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park.  

The old, the big and the beautiful

You can get a crick in your neck looking up at the UK's tallest tree, a 64.5 m (212 ft) Douglas fir in the Hermitage near Dunkeld.  It's just one of stand of big trees in a cathedral-like glade on the banks of the River Braan creates that will bring tranquility to your spirit.

The yew tree in the corner of the churchyard of Fortingall village kirk was 3,000 years old when Christ was crucified. It's probably 5,000 years old, could be as much as 9,000, and is Europe's oldest tree. Legend has it that Pontius Pilate, the man who ordered Christ's death, actually sat beneath its branches in his youth - he had been posted there by the Roman army.

In Cluny House Gardens you can see Britain's widest conifer, a beast of a giant sequoia with an 11 m (36 ft) waistline.