A study undertaken by Forestry Commission Scotland has revealed that many more people visit woodlands than previously realised. The figures show an impressive 9.1 million woodland visits are made to forestry land each year.
Most people who visit Forestry Commission locations are walkers (76%), while 8% of all visits are by cyclists. The rest say they enjoy the woodlands for sightseeing, wildlife and picnics, according to the All Forests Survey 2.
The survey also showed that 77 per cent of people visiting Scotland’s woodlands are Scottish, while 15 per cent are from elsewhere in the UK and eight per cent come from abroad.
10 great forestry things to do
1. Bushcraft for families
Head to the New Forest to learn about life in the great outdoors. You’ll build a shelter, light a fire and discover lots about the flora and fauna of the National Park.
See: New Forest
2. Have an adventure
Check out the Woodland Trust’s Adventure Woodland Booklets, which have been created with Westonbirt Arboretum. There are lots of fresh ideas for families including making mud pies, hosting a fairy tea party, going on a story walk, building a den and creating magic wands and woolly acorns.
3. How old is a tree?
One way to learn about tree growth is to look at annual rings. Tree rings show patterns of change in the tree’s life as well as changes in the area where it grows. By counting a tree’s growth rings, you can tell the age of that part of the tree at the time it was cut. Every growth season, a tree adds a new layer of wood to its trunk and limbs.
4. Go for a short walk
Every forest boasts an array of paths and routes. Three great routes in Scotland include:
- Pond Trail at Aldie Burn: A short distance from the A9 at Tain, you’ll find the babbling waters of Aldie Burn. The red waymarked pond trail is a short (around half an hour) and offers plenty of picnic spots.
- Beach Trail at Loch Morlich Beach: Located in the stunning Cairngorms, just outside Aviemore, you’ll find a sandy beach on the banks of Loch Morlich. The Beach Trail is ideal for a short stroll through ancient Caledonian Pines and along the loch shore.
- Hill 99 Trail at Culbin: Close to the coast in Moray is Culbin where you can follow the Hill 99 Trail as far as the Gravelpit Ponds. It’s another great spot for a picnic.
See: Scotland Forestry
5. Get on your bike
A series of seven purpose-built mountain biking centres, called the 7stanes, are located across the Scottish borders . Waymarked trails offer trails suitable for all types of riders.
6. Take a look at a log
It’s amazing how many things live in rotting old logs. This activity can be enjoyed in any forest where there is a rotting log. Look for bugs and beasties and note the wildlife that is growing on these logs. Why not get the kids to take photos so they can find out on-line what the bugs and growths are?
7. See an osprey
Woodland abounds with wildlife. For an up-close view of ospreys visit the Osprey Watch Centre at Glentress Forest, near Peebles,
See: Tweed Valley Ospreys
8. Swing like a monkey
Go Ape offers a high-level adventure amid the trees at a number of forests across the UK.
See: Go Ape
9. A closer look at leaves
Collect three to five different kinds of leaves for the ground. Now have a think about how the leaves differ, what they have in common, what is the longest, shortest, narrowest leaf etc.
10. Pack a picnic
Forests are a great place for a picnic especially if you are looking for shade in summer. Many woodlands have picnic benches set up at great spots for you. In Scotland there are some top picnic forests including Ae forest, near Dumfries; Otters Pool, in Galloway Forest Park; Boden Boo, near the Erskine Bridge; Rowardennan, on the banks of Loch Lomond; and Tentsmuir, just north of St Andrews.
See: Scotland Forestry
Journalist Fiona Russell is better known as Fiona Outdoors. She combines work and her love of the great outdoors in a "living the dream" career.