Scotland’s national forests and land offer a vast array of opportunity for photographers. From incredible landscapes to intimate close-ups, and vivid wildlife to exciting adventures, there’s so much to see. Here, we’ve picked our favourite destinations for photographers, located throughout Scotland, so grab a camera or phone and get snapping!
This compact forest is home to some of Scotland’s best loved mountain biking trails that offer everything from slow, technical challenges to flat-out straights and big jumps. If you enjoy shooting action sports, this is a top destination to visit. Bring a friend or two to ride while you get the shots, or maybe strap on an action camera and get closer to the action.
Bonus: The café at Laggan is just the place to refuel before heading out for another lap.
Loch Eck, Argyll
This long, narrow loch nestles in central Argyll and provides brilliant views all around. Better still is if you take to the water. Whether in a canoe or kayak, or maybe even paddle boarding or swimming, it’s a fabulous location to go paddling. You’ll need to be prepared with the right equipment for shooting on the water, but the epic surroundings will ensure you get some top shots.
Bonus: Keep an eye out along the shore for red squirrels!
Ben Ledi, Perthshire
Ben Ledi sits at the gateway to the Highlands. As a Corbett, it sits just under the prestigious Munros, but is no less grand (and no less strenuous on your legs!). It’s a great day out for hill walking, and for the photographer, you’ll find a mix of backgrounds for the perfect shot, from intimate trails in the trees to wide open slopes with distant peaks beyond.
Bonus: Nearby Callander is stuffed with superb eateries and facilities to recover from your exertions.
Glenmore Forest Park, Highlands
Glenmore is one of our most visited spots, and for good reason: it’s beautiful, vast, and has something from everyone. For the photographer, the options are unlimited, but concentrating on landscapes you really are spoilt for choice. Have a wander up towards Ryvoan bothy and an Lochan Uaine (the Green Lochan) for some stunning woodland, or head up the road to the ski centre to see the whole park in all its glory.
Bonus: If you enjoy outdoor pursuits, picnics, café stops, heritage and history, or wildlife, Glenmore is the place to be.
Glen Trool, Galloway
Glen Trool and Loch Trool are truly stunning areas that combines delicately carved hillsides with interesting features. There are multiple paths here so you can find plenty of viewpoints, and if you’re felling fit, you can also climb up high towards the Merrick (the highest hill in southern Scotland) to get a broader view of Galloway Forest Park. Make sure to check the forecast though – this area can get the full force of westerly weather systems.
Bonus: Come back here at night to take advantage of the Galloway Dark Sky Park and do some stargazing.
You don’t normally associate forests with beaches, but that’s exactly what you get at Roseisle. This low-lying forest is right on the beach and for the photographer, offers a great juxtaposition between trees and wide open sea. It also has some interesting features like pillboxes and tank traps from the second world war. Crucially, this part of Scotland is typically one of the sunniest (it’s where we grow trees in our nursery for this reason) so you’ve got a decent chance of finding excellent shooting conditions.
Bonus: Really, it’s a lovely beach. Bring a bucket and spade!
The Galloway Dark Sky Park was the first of its kind in Britain and is one of the very best places to look to the heavens. A lack of light pollution means that it’s one of the darkest places in the UK, and around 38 times darker than a typical city. This means you can see stars galore, and even the entire curve of the Milky Way if conditions are just right. Try setting your camera on a tripod for a long exposure to see the stars wheeling above.
Urban Woodland at Boden Boo
It’s not just the name that’s unique, but the location too. This little urban woodland sits right beneath the Erskine bridge west of Glasgow, and alongside the gorgeous mixed woodland features a beach on the River Clyde. Easy and broad walking trails and its proximity to Glasgow make this a top stop for some unique photography.
Bonus: Glasgow is home to several unique woodlands. Have a look at the award-winning Cuningar Loop too.
Big Trees at Reelig Glen
Lying a few miles west of Inverness, Reelig Glen is home to some of Scotland’s (and the UK’s) tallest trees. This steep-sided gorge is famous for its stand of Douglas Firs that often reach over 50m, with one measured at 64m – the tallest tree in Britain for a time. It can br tricky getting one of these giants into one shot, but some inventive camera holds and positioning can yield some fantastic results.
Bonus: If you like big trees, check out Craigvinean near Dunkeld. Combined with the Hermitage next door, this forest is home to some truly enormous specimens.
A regular on wildlife shows like Autumn Watch, Tentsmuir is home to an array of wildlife from badgers to bats. However, if you’re visiting for the day, a more realistic target is the red squirrel. The forest if quite flat so it’s easy to get around and find a quiet spot to wait for a while. You might also have a wander along the beach to check if any of the local seals have put in an appearance, and keep an eye out for bird life too.
Bonus: If you enjoy landscape photography too, head up nearby Balmullo Hill to get a great aerial view of the coastline, showing Tentsmuir, the River Eden estuary, and round to St Andrews.
Glen Affric, Highlands
In terms of wildlife, or landscape, or interesting features, Glen Affric really does have it all. A stunningly beautiful area or mixed woodland, tall trees and open hills, it’s great for wildlife spotting. Heading out of the main valley, the open hillsides offer ample opportunities to catch sight of a herd of deer. Staying in the forests, keep an eye out for pine martens, and if you look up, you might just catch sight of an eagle.
Copyright: Mark Hamblin/2020VISION
Wildlife spotting on Mull is fantastic. Mull is home to Skye and Frisa, the UK’s oldest known white-tailed eagle pair, who this year fledged their 25th chick. Spotting a sea eagle can be a real thrill, and it’s fantastic to see the size and power of this majestic bird. Looking further down, the waters around Mull are home to porpoises and at the right time of year you may even spot whales. Long lens required for this trip!
Bonus: Fancy a diversion? Aros Park on Mull has just opened a free-to-use disc golf course.