Get on the water!
Scotland's national forests give you access to fabulous waterways and lochs, and the opportunity to enjoy them in whatever way you want – as long as it doesn’t involve a motor. Swim, sail, paddle or row, it's up to you.
Slip quietly through the forest on a canoe and you’ll enter the natural world through a very special back door. You might come across an otter fishing by the bank, or families of ducks swimming in long geometric lines. Silence is the key here. Stop and watch from a distance, then move on gently so you cause as little disturbance as possible.
There are plenty of inland lochs and rivers to explore - try Loch Awe, Loch Eck or Loch Morlich in Glenmore Forest Park, where you can hire water sports equipment or take lessons too. The rivers and lochs of Queen Elizabeth Forest Park are all superb, while the 60 mile-long Great Glen Canoe Trail is an unforgettable trip for adventurous paddlers.
Adrenaline, strength and skill combine when it comes to white water paddling.
There are put-in points for this exciting sport at forest car parks on some of Scotland's most challenging rivers, like the River Orchy and the River Garry.
You need to know what you're doing, have the right gear and be with people you trust. Please check local conditions, follow the Paddlers Access Code (PDF 350KB) and be respectful of other river users.
Worth their salt
Some forests give access to sheltered ocean bays and beaches, or have car parks from where you can carry your sea kayak to easy launch sites like the one at Loch Eynort on Skye.
It's best to paddle in small groups, taking care to avoid nesting seabirds and seals with young pups. The Scottish Marine Wildlife Watching Code and the Scottish Canoe Association's Sea Kayaking Guide both have good tips on taking care of wildlife while you paddle.
Wherever you go on the water, you are responsible for your own safety. Check weather and water conditions, always wear a personal flotation device, know what to do in an emergency and avoid going out on your own.