Skip to main content

Loch surrounded by steep part-forested hillsides with blue sky above

It’s that time of year again. We’re thinking about the things we want to change, the things we could do differently, the things that will make this brand new year the best year yet. A fresh start.

The cynic in you might wonder what the point is in making a New Year’s resolution you’re probably not going to keep…but you may as well start out with the best intentions, right?

So turn over a new leaf this January, and let the forest inspire some promises you’re willing to keep…

New Year’s resolutions

1.)    See new places

You don’t have to go far to discover a new place to explore. Many of the forests we manage are under an hour's drive from Scotland’s major cities.

There are six lovely woodlands close to the northern city of Inverness, including the enchanting Reelig Glen, while in the north east you’ll find four fabulous forests outside Aberdeen waiting to be discovered.

Queen Elizabeth Forest Park is just under an hour’s drive from Glasgow and a beautiful place to explore – from the calm waters of Loch Katrine (pictured) to the rugged hills of Ben Venue.

There’s no need to book expensive holidays abroad in 2015 – Scotland’s an amazing place to explore! Take a look at our map to find a forest near you.

Family of four cycling on gravel path with trees on either side 
2.)    Improve your fitness

In January the gym may well be packed, but you can have your very own work out space practically all to yourself. Challenge yourself on one of our walking trails – they’re graded from easy to moderate to difficult, so you’re sure to find one that suits.

Get on your bike and build up that stamina! Cycling is great for all round cardio and toning up, not to mention a lovely way to see the countryside and enjoy the feeling of freedom as you whizz along. You don’t even need to own a bike – there are plenty of places where you can hire a bike for your spin around the forest, such as Kirroughtree or Glentress.

3.)    Try something new

Ever wondered what it feels like to swing through the trees like a monkey? For a new experience try a treetop adventure course and see the forest from a completely different perspective. If you’ve got a head for heights, you’ll love traversing the aerial assault course that features rope bridges and zip lines galore! Visit the treetop adventure courses at Glentress, The Lodge Forest Visitor Centre and Leanachan.

The more competitively natured might enjoy a spot of orienteering. The aim is to find a series of control points from a specially designed map as quickly, and efficiently, as you can. You can work as a team or individually. Aberfoyle, Cardrona and Allean all have permanent courses. Keep up to date on all the orienteering events happening across the country by visiting the Scottish Orienteering website.

Try something new, on something new – we’ve recently completed upgrading work on the Firetower trails at Achnabreac. There’s over 19km of off and on road sections, boasting some stunning views of the Knapdale Hills and across to the islands off the west coast of Scotland.

Two male red deer in spacious forest, moving between trunks with orange heather on the ground

4.)    Learn new things

There’s much more to the forest than simply trees. Did you know, for example, that Scotland’s are positively steeped in rich history that stretches back centuries? Even better, you can still visit many of these historically fascinating sites today. Head to Lossie to see what remains of the World War Two defences, or visit Wilsontown Ironworks for a glimpse into the industrial past.

If history isn’t your bag, make a few furry friends. The forests are teeming with wildlife, and there’s lots to learn about Scotland’s animals by visiting one of our wildlife hides. The Red Deer Range in Galloway Forest Park offers educational tours and the change to get up close to these stunning animals. Garbh Eilean wildlife hide is another good wildlife spotting place - sit quietly and you might catch a glimpse of otters, basking seals, ospreys and sea eagles.

Family in visitor centre looking at model map

5.)    Spend more time with the family

Our visitor centres are a great place to plan a day out with your nearest and dearest – there’s so much to see, learn and do. Not to mention some delicious food to help you recharge after a long walk in the forest.

Take the little ones along to The Lodge Forest Visitor Centre for some serious fun climbing on the natural play areas, then follow the magical Waterfall Trail and see if you can spot the magical sculptures that lurk in the forest.

For adrenaline pumping fun and a trip around the galaxy, head to the dark skies of Galloway and try the mountain biking trails at Kirroughtree Visitor Centre. If you’re looking for some quiet time, go red squirrel watching at the wildlife hide…it should keep the kids quiet for all of five minutes!

Two women in walking kit leaving a building on a tarmac path

If you’re spending time with the in-laws, head for the peaceful surrounds of our newly revamped Queen’s View Visitor Centre. Or in Galloway, head to Clatteringshaws Visitor Centre for some scrumptious sandwiches and cakes, not to mention a sweeping view of the tranquil loch.

Whatever your New Year’s resolution might be, from everyone here at Forestry Commission Scotland, we’re wishing you a happy 2015!