How to Enjoy Scotland's Forests
Scotland is often recognised for its beautiful lochs and dramatic mountains, but its forests are no less impressive nor significant. From the oak forests of Argyll or Dumfries and Galloway, to the ‘Big Tree Country’ of Perthshire, and the historic remnants of the vast Caledonian forest that are still to be found around the Cairngorms and other parts of the Highlands...this is a country of magnificent woodlands. Let Hilton Aviemore guide you through how to make the most of them, focusing on three forests closest to our own doorstep; Rothiemurchus, Loch Garten, and Glenmore. All of them boast woodlands that were part of the huge Caledonian forest that once covered much of Scotland.
Combine history and nature with a visit to Rothiemurchus estate
We can’t describe Rothiemurchus to you any better than the late Magnus Magnusson already did:
“Rothiemurchus, gateway to the Cairngorms, has become a name which is etched deep in the consciousness of Scotland and which holds an exceptional place in the history of the nation.”
Rothiemurchus Estate offers the chance to enjoy its spectacular forest in many different ways. If you prefer not to take in the stunning scenery on foot, then fear not, a multitude of other options are available.
- 4x4 off-road driving. Full qualified and highly experienced instructors take you through a demonstration drive before allowing you to get a feel for things yourself.
- Mountain biking. Maps are available picking out three different circular family routes, giving the chance for you to make the most of your ride around the estate by spotting historical landmarks, spots of interest, and, of course, the native wildlife.
- Pony trekking. Experienced, friendly guides combine with strong, responsive Highland Ponies to ensure that you’re able to enjoy all the terrains that Rothiemurchus has to offer.
- Quad trekking. You might catch sight of the estate’s long horned Highland cows or even some wild deer while you ride via a combination of tracks and off-road trails, led by experienced guides.
- Land Rover safari. A great opportunity to sit back and enjoy the ride, all the while being informed about the local history, nature, and land use. Photograph stops mean that you won’t miss any great shots along the way either.
- Segway. Those with a quirkier taste in getting around might prefer to opt for a two-wheeled Segway. Thankfully, those two wheels come with all-terrain tyres to help you cope with the forest surface.
However you plan on making your way through the forest, there’s plenty for you to see. The 30 square mile area of the estate is believed to be home to around 10 million trees, some of which are thought to be over 300 years old. There’s no shortage of animal life to be spotted either, with the forest being home to species like the capercaillie and the red squirrel, as well as insect life like the pine hoverfly.
If you’re more of a fan of water than trees then you needn’t despair though. The estate’s woodlands frame both the River Spey and Loch an Eilein (Scots Gaelic for ‘Loch of the Island’), with the island referred to in the latter’s name also boasting a 13th century castle. Rothiemurchus offers a fantastic opportunity to experience the best that Scotland’s forests have to offer.
Visit Loch Garten and its Abernethy Forest surrounds to spot an osprey
The nearby village of Boat of Garten has been nicknamed ‘The Osprey Village’ due to Loch Garten’s breeding osprey population. The osprey had died out in Scotland by the early 20th century, before the appearance of two Scandinavian ospreys who settled in the area in the 1950s. Thanks to the fantastic work of the RSPB and their Abernethy Forest nature reserve, which surrounds the loch, a slow recolonisation has taken place and visitors to the reserve are able to view the birds from a hide. Abernethy Forest’s ospreys aren’t its only rare residents, the woodland is also home to the notoriously shy Scottish wildcat. These 4000 hectares of forest offer the perfect day out for wildlife lovers.
Enjoy the sights of Glenmore Forest Park and the activities offered by Loch Morlich
As with Abernethy Forest, Glenmore Forest Park also boasts a loch within its environs, Loch Morlich. The Loch has its own watersports centre (open again from Easter) meaning that you’re able to to experience the thrills of sailing, waterskiing, canoeing and kayaking. The beach at Loch Morlich has even been the recipient of a Rural Beach Award from the Keep Scotland Beautiful campaign, due to the consistently excellent water quality levels recorded in it by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency. It’s the first and only of Scotland’s freshwater inland lochs to have received the award. Glenmore Forest Park itself is the most northerly of the Forest Parks created by the Forestry Commission and half of its 3,500 hectare area is covered by spectacular woodland. This ancient pinewood forest is an awe-inspiring sight.
Finding the right base from which to enjoy Scotland’s forests
The Hilton Coylumbridge Hotel in Aviemore is ideally positioned to let you enjoy the best that all of the magnificent Scottish forest areas we’ve mentioned here have to offer. To experience the majesty of Scotland’s forests and enjoy the perfect spring break in Aviemore, please contact us now.