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A forest adventure is often closer than you think. If you’re one of the over 1 million people that call Edinburgh or Glasgow home, you may be surprised to know there are several forests on the doorstep to your city, just waiting to be explored. With recent research suggesting that people who live near and relax in their local woodlands are three times less stressed than their less fortunate urban neighbours, there's never been a better time to build a walk on the wild side into your routine.

The forest can mean different things to different people – a place to discover, a place to relax, a place of quiet contemplation. Watch our video to find out what the forest means to some of our regular forest visitors…

Read on to find out which forests are a mere hop, skip and a jump from your own front door…

Forests close to Edinburgh

Craigmillar Castle Park

This 62 hectare site is managed by the City of Edinburgh Council and features parkland, woodland and plenty of open space to run around. Craigmillar is one of several forests to benefit from our sister organisation Scottish Forestry's Woodlands In and Around Towns (WIAT) initiative, which aims to encourage more people to use and enjoy their local woodlands.

The once historic site - it dates back to the 1300s – was neglected during the last century and eventually became used as a dumping ground. There were several fires, one of which wiped out over a thousand trees. However, thanks to WIAT, today the woodland has been transformed. You’ll find an adventure playground, a programme of outdoor learning events and a true sense of community. You can also see the majestic outline of Craigmillar Castle peeking between the trees.

Glentress Forest

Two people sitting on a bench with bikes to either side looking out at a small pond

An easy bus ride from Edinburgh city centre, this forest offers a welcome escape from the pace of the big city. The X62 bus from Edinburgh city centre will drop you just across the road from Glentress’ entrance. While this forest is popular with mountain bikers, both beginners and experts, you don’t necessarily need two wheels to get around. Pick from a plethora of trails and relax in the welcoming café afterwards with a warming cuppa.

Forests near Glasgow

Castlemilk Park

Lying to the south east of Glasgow, you’ll find 40 hectares of mature woodlands managed by the City Council. There’s plenty of open space to run around and a network of paths if you fancy exploring.

Castlemilk is another forest improved by the WIAT programme and has become a fantastic place to visit, enjoyed greatly by the local community. There are events on at this forest throughout the year, from the Halloween Pumpkin Parade to educational nature walks.

A man and woman smiling and walking together over a narrow stone humpback bridge

Drumchapel Woods

View of tree trunks in a wood with bluebells covering the ground between them

Nestled in north west Glasgow, Drumchapel Woods comprises of four separate woodlands – Garscadden Burn Park, Garscadden Wood East and West, and Cleddans Burn. Here you can attend a free event, or simply enjoy some good old fashioned fresh air.

Wildlife lovers can spot water voles and the butterflies that flit between the wildflowers at Cleddans Burn, while the ancient oaks of Garscadden Wood provide the perfect backdrop to a leisurely walk. In spring, bluebells carpet the forest floor.

Collectively, Drumchapel Woods have also benefitted from the WIAT programme. The 5km of paths have been upgraded, and there are frequently community events – such as the Branching Out programme for adults using mental health services.

Cuningar Loop

Three people smiling and laughing on a very wide playground slide or chute

A thrilling adventure park on the outskirts of Glasgow, Cuningar Loop was specifically designed to keep the kids entertained, and to get them trying out new experiences, with the opportunity to sample a wide range of outdoor sports, from bike riding to bouldering. The emphasis is on structured adventure play, but there are also a wealth of opportunity for exploration and wild play. 

Fitness fanatics will want to check out the woodland workout trail, with various exercise stations dotted throughout the woods. The entrance also boasts a magnificent sculpture by Rob Mulholland, representing the transformation of what was once derelict ground into this family-friendly open-air space, and a series of installations known as the Cuningar Stones, by artist James Winnett

If all that exercise sounds exhausting, there are all-abilities trails winding through the trees and next to the water, all with wide, flat paths and mixed terrain, and equally suitable for wheelchairs, buggies, and plenty of seating for tired mums and dads. Cuningar also boasts the title of 'Scotland's first outdoor bouldering park'. So visit Climb Scotland to find out the basics, and get ready for a fun, physical day out!