10 things to do this autumn
There’s no denying that autumn in Scotland is glorious. There's a nip in the air, the return of pumpkin spice, and the leaves start their spectacular show.
To help you make the most of this special season, we've put together a list of some of our favourite budget-friendly things to do. Find out why we think autumn in the forest is so magical.
1. Colour chemistry explained
Scotland has some of the best autumn colours in the world. Leaves change from verdant green to dazzling golds and fiery reds. But have you ever wondered why this happens?
Leaf science isn’t as confusing as all the long words and technical terms make it sound. It all comes down to the fact that different chemical pigments in leaves determine the colours we see. Find out more in our colour chemistry blog before you head out to find them.
2. Kaleidoscope of colours
We're spoilt for choice here in Scotland. There are so many places to enjoy the spectacular range of autumn hues. To help you enjoy some of the our country’s best displays, we asked our staff to tell us their favourite places to see autumn at its best
From Galloway’s scenic oakwoods through to the blood red Rowan berries in the Highlands, read the full list to find out where to head to.
3. Explore the Enchanted Forest
Each year, Faskally Wood near Pitlochry hosts the spectacular Enchanted Forest, which runs from 28 Sep – 29 Oct 2017. The towering trees provide the perfect backdrop to an array of colours and sounds as you explore the trails. You can even treat yourself to some toasted marshmallows!
If you’re staying a few days, discover more of Tay Forest Park. Just up the road you’ll find stunning views and hot food at the Queen’s View Visitor Centre, or step back in time as you discover an ancient Pictish fort and a restored 18th century homestead at Allean Forest.
4. Camp minus the midges
There’s nothing better than waking up in the woods. You get to explore the forest any time of day, and see the different wildlife that comes out from dawn till dusk. While campsites can be packed during the summer holidays, places are quieter once the schools return. As well as fewer people, you’re less likely to be bothered by biting beasties – the cooler and windier weather helps keep midges at bay!
5. Forest events
Fancy learning more about the forest? Or the night sky? Want to get up close to deer in Galloway? Keep an eye on our upcoming events to see if there’s anything that takes your fancy.
There’s a range of seasonal events to get the whole family outdoors! We’ll be waiting to scare you silly with our spooktacular family Halloween events, as well as stunning annual events like Light up the Forest in Aberfoyle.
6. Forage for fresh, free food
Autumn is perfect for foraging. The summer sun and autumn rain mean that there’s plenty of food ready to be picked as we head towards winter, including fungi, berries and nuts. Foraging is a fun, free way to eat organic, fresh food. You get to spend time outdoors and learn more about what you’re gathering and eating.
Have a look at our foraging blog for tips and recipes to get you started. Remember: always make sure you can positively identify what you pick before eating, and only take what you need, so there’s enough for wildlife. If you want extra help, there are plenty of foraging courses and guided walks to get you started.
7. Spot stars at the UK’s first Dark Sky Park
Autumn’s early nightfall is best for stargazing. Scotland is home to the UK’s first Dark Sky Park in Galloway Forest - ideal for looking spotting stars without light pollution. Over 7,000 stars and planets are visible with the naked eye from the Forest Park, and Milky Way’s bright band is usually easy to spot arching over the sky.
You’ll get a great view from any of the three visitor centres (Clatteringshaws, Kirroughtree, Glentrool) as well as plenty of other spots in the park. There are also events held throughout the year, where the Dark Sky Rangers will talk you through the night sky as well as specific events such as meteor showers.
8. Hop on two wheels and hit the trails
Looking to try something new this autumn? Scotland is a mountain biking haven, with trails for all ages and abilities. It gets you outdoors, into nature, and is a great workout too. There’s no better way to see autumn up close!
South Scotland is home to the world-class 7stanes biking centres, while further north you’ll find great locations like Laggan Wolftrax in the Cairngorms National Park, Learnie Red Rock Trails near Inverness, and the Moray Monster Trails just east of Elgin.
9. Have a haunted Halloween
Scotland is soaked in historical intrigue, mystery and often grisly happenings. We all love a spooky story, and there's no better time than All Hallows' Eve to uncover some of the forest’s darkest secrets. From coffin routes to fairy trees to haunted family photos, have a look at some of our favourite places to discover our haunted history.
If you fancy organised family fun, come along to one of our hideous Halloween happenings. Keen an eye on our events or speak to staff at your local forest to find out what’s going on near you.
10. Watch majestic deer go head to head
Autumn is the perfect time to watch one of nature’s greatest events – deer rutting. During September and October, males start fighting each other as they try to find a female mate. You might well hear them even if you don’t see them; stags call out with throaty roars that echo through the forest.
A good time to spot rutting is at dawn and dusk, when deer are most active. These battles can be ferocious, so make sure to stay quiet and keep a good distance.
The Red Deer Range in Galloway Forest Park has a viewing hide and guided visits where you can learn more about these majestic animals. You might spot them in almost any large forest, but Kinloch on Skye and Glen Affric are particularly good.