A kaleidoscope of stunning landscapes, countless woodland walks,
and an explosion of colour awaits ramblers lucky enough to be
walking in Scotland this autumn.
Early September in Scotland sees the first trees starting to turn, followed by a succession of breathtaking colours - deep red, gold, ochre and russets - until they shed their last leaves in November.
What better time of the year than right now to go walking in Scotland, to be immersed in a palette of amazing colours, to be surrounded by magnificent scenery, and to discover the diverse range of Scotland’s forest trails and woodland walks just as the trees dress themselves in all their autumn glory.
FOREST WALKS IN THE BIG TREE COUNTRY, PERTHSHIRE
Laich Loch, Gleneagles
How enchanting forests can be: captivating at day, mystical at night. The Forestry Commission Scotland’s Faskally Wood at Pitlochry is a prime example where autumn in Perthshire is announced by an explosion of colour.
The forest acts as a natural backdrop to an award-winning light and sound show called The Enchanted Forest, an annual event that attracts around 20,000 visitors of all ages.
This year the forest will be the creative backdrop for The Enchanted Forest ‘Force of Nature’ show (22 October-7 November) and will depict nature’s forces - earth, wind, fire and water. It promises spectacular sounds, amazing visuals and interactive displays and presents a great opportunity to explore the ‘enchanted’ forest which has a paved walk fully accessible to disabled visitors.
>> Recommended hotel:
The Gleneagles Hotel
HIKING IN THE TROSSACHS, SCOTLAND’S HEARTLANDS
Ben A'an from the South-east
Boasting richly forested lochs and considered by many as being the ‘highlands in miniature’, the Trossachs (homeland of Scotland’s famous 18th century outlaw Rob Roy) promise walkers spectacular autumn colours, double the splendour as they clone themselves in the clear still loch waters. Here you will find a plethora of walks, from gentle strolls to strenuous hikes, all accompanied by breathtaking scenery.
To explore the very heart of the Trossachs head for Loch Achray; take the Achray Water bridge circuit - it’s a well marked forest circuit that meanders along the banks of Achray Water and offers good views up to Ben A’an, across the forest, and of Ben Venue.
A dragonfly, the largest you’ll find in Scotland, sits in the water at Lochan Spling deep in the forest near Aberfoyle. It is one of three sculptures on a way-marked track that hugs the attractive shores.
Sit awhile on the carved wooden bench overlooking the Lochan in which a metal sculpture of a pike sits proud, and keep your eyes peeled for a large osprey - the third sculpture on this forest loch-side walk.
An easy-going trail on forest tracks and offering superb views is the Kinlochard and the Crannog circuit at Loch Ard. The narrow track passes through dense rhododendron and native trees before rising steeply. Climb the hill and your reward is an incredible view of the loch and mountains, particularly scenic when cloaked in autumn colours. It is a characteristic Trossachs vista.
>> Recommended hotels:
Cameron House, Crinan Hotel, Hotel du Vin at One Devonshire Gardens
EAST LOTHIAN WOODLANDS
Pressmennan, one of East Lothian’s larger ancient woodland areas near the village of Stenton, offers panoramic views from the slopes of Gallows Law and good public access to its four miles of different grade paths through the conifer dominated forest of Norway spruce, Douglas fir, European larch and Scots pine.
Small in size but large in wildlife, Pressmennan is also the domicile of roe deer, hare, badger, bats, vole and otters and an abundant birdlife including tawny owls, tree creepers, woodpeckers and buzzards.
>> Recommended hotel:
WOODED WALKING TRAILS IN THE SCOTTISH BORDERS
Tor Hill, Kailzie, Glentress Forest in the distance
Some of the oldest Douglas fir trees in Scotland are to be found in the Glentress Forest, one of the most varied forests in the south of Scotland and the top visitor attraction in the Scottish Borders.
Located in the heart of the Tweed Valley Forest Park in a glen sitting just above the River Tweed, Glentress Forest offers sheltered conditions in which to explore the variety of tracks and paths which provide scenic views over the renowned Tweed Valley.
The forest is part of an extensive tangle of trails that stretch over more than ten square miles in the area.
Scrape Burn, Dawyck Botanic Gardens
With a history of planting that dates back over three centuries 60-acre Dawyck Botanic Garden near Peebles, a tranquil arboretum in the scenic Scottish Borders, contains some of the tallest and oldest trees in Europe. Here you’ll find a succession of colour from early September until November, such as the vibrant foliage of Japanese maples, the bright yellow leaves of the North American yellow birch, and the rich brown of the towering trees along Beech Walk.
The Swiss Bridge, ornamental urns and the Italian stonework that links woodland paths to garden terraces are attractive features at Dawyck. Not to be missed.
>> Recommended hotel: Stobo Castle
AUTUMN WALKING IN GALLOWAY FOREST PARK, SOUTHWEST SCOTLAND
Black Loch, Galloway Forest Park
With rugged landscapes, craggy and heather-clad hills, and referred to as the ‘highlands of the lowlands’, Galloway Forest Park in southwest Scotland is the largest of its kind in the United Kingdom, covering 300 square miles of forest, mountain, rivers and lochs.
The forest is visited by around 850,000 people a year, is inhabited by red and roe deer, contains some of the most ancient woodland in Scotland, and has won an award for its night skies which offer unsurpassed conditions for stargazing and viewing distant galaxies.
Galloway Forest also offers excellent examples of oak woodlands, exotic fir species and fantastic vistas over lochs within a variety of woodland and forest trails such as the Loch Trool Circular (5 ½ miles); Glen Trool to Martyrs’ Tomb (4 ½ miles); River Cree & Water of Minnoch (7 miles); and Penninghame circular forest walk (¾ mile).
>> Recommended hotels:
Turnberry Resort, Knockinaam Lodge,
What better time of the year than right now to go walking in Scotland, to explore Scotland’s kaleidoscope of landscapes, to appreciate its fantastic sunsets, to explore its ancient forests and magical woodlands... and to be immersed in an explosion of colour called ‘autumn’.
LINKS TO WALKING IN SCOTLAND