In almost all areas of Scotland you will find a forest. As the 21st of March is known as the International Day of Forests, I’ll take you on a (virtual) tour of some spectacular woodlands! As with being outside generally, there are a lot of health benefits associated with being outside in a forestry environment. If you are planning to make a trip to the north of Scotland, I would highly recommend taking the time to enjoy the forests, because they can be enjoyed at any time of the year.
My go-to site for finding walks is the walkhighlands website; I regularly look up walking routes if we are heading to an unfamiliar place. It’s such a mine of reliable information about walking routes, underfoot conditions and points of interest.
The Cairngorms National Park has a number of forests within the nature reserve, and I think one of my favourites has to be at Loch Morlich. You can walk round the whole loch, with views up to stunning peaks including Cairn Gorm, which is the sixth highest mountain in Scotland.
I’ve visited Loch Morlich both in the depths of an icy winter when the beach fringes are covered with snow, and in the heights of summer. At its most busy times, crowds flock to enjoy watersports, a picnic or even some sunbathing time!
Heading east to Aberdeenshire’s Balmoral Estate, this forest walk takes in views of the Royal Family’s Scottish residence at Balmoral Castle, as well as a number of cairns which were erected by Queen Victoria to celebrate key dates during her reign. It’s always worth checking to see if it’s possible to do the walk, as the estate is closed to the public when the Royal Family are in residence.
Heading back to the Highlands, possibly Caithness’s most popular forest is Dunnet Community Forest. It has only recently (2021) transferred ownership to a local community group where there are big plans to improve visitor facilities. The forest trail is popular with families because there are a lot of sculptures to find! It’s also just across the road from Dunnet beach which is well worth a visit.
Slightly further south on the North Coast 500, the Big Burn walk at Golspie is a favourite route of ours, especially if we are breaking up a road trip to Inverness. For a very easy and brief walk (less than 15 minutes on the flat) you are rewarded with some stunning waterfalls!