Tales from the forest

Inspiration, stories and an insider's glimpse into the world of Scotland's forests

10 winter walks for the whole family

Christmas: a time for eating too many mince pies and arguing over a game of Monopoly. We eat cheeseboards by the dozen and try not to fall asleep before the annual screening of The Snowman.

By Boxing Day, cabin fever sets in and it’s time to get out and burn off those roast potatoes! We asked staff from around the country to tell us their favourite short walks, perfect for the whole family to get out and enjoy the outdoors.

1. Sutherland's Grove, West Argyll

icicles on tree branch

Recommended trail: Giant Fir Trail
Level: Easy (all abilities)
Length: 0.3km

Less than half a kilometre long, the Giant Fir Trail is perfect for a quick breath of fresh air. The path is suitable for all users, whatever your age or ability and takes you through the towering Douglas firs. The trees were planted in 1870, with some reaching a massive 150 feet in height.

While you won’t be likely to see a frozen burn, the nearby gorge is perfect for stopping by and spotting icicles of all shapes and sizes!

 

2. Faskally, Tay

snow on Loch Dunmore

Recommended trail: Dunmore Trail
Level: Easy (all abilities)
Length: 1.2km

The Dunmore Trail at Faskally is a great place to walk off some of those Christmas day calories, while enjoying the majestic trees and wildlife. The easy access trail is a sheltered walk on a firm, smooth surface. Stop by the picturesque boathouse on the shores of Loch Dunmore and keep an eye out for kingfishers, herons and lots of different duck species!

If you fancy a hot drink afterwards Pitlochry is only a mile away and has plenty of places to eat and drink.

 

3. Glencoe Lochan, Lochaber

small pier onto water body

Recommended trail: Lochan Trail
Level: Easy (all abilities)
Length: 1.6km

Just a short distance from Glencoe village, Glencoe Lochan is a tranquil loch surrounded by mountainous woods. The North American woodlands were planted back in the 1890s by Lord Strathcona, who hoped they would make his homesick Canadian wife feel more at home.

The Lochan trail is an easy wander for all the family, with longer steeper options for those feeling adventurous! Enjoy stunning views over the Lochan onto the surrounding mountains, with some great wee spots for kids to explore off the path. Perfect for small people getting the hang of new Christmas bikes too!

 

4. Aldie Burn, North Highland

boxing day walks aldie burn

Recommended trail: Aldie Burn Trail
Level: Easy (all abilities)
Length: 2.8km

About 30 miles north of Inverness, you’ll find the peaceful forests of Aldie Burn. The burn once powered several watermills and supplied water to the nearby village of Tain, but now it bubbles dreamily beside easy woodland walks.

The forest trails here are gentle enough for the whole family to enjoy. Suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs, there is a picnic spot by the dipping pond, so be sure to take some hot drinks to keep you warm while you take in the view!

 

5. Callendar Wood, Scottish Lowlands

snow with trees on hill at callendar woods

Recommended trail: Yew Trail
Level: Easy (all abilities)
Length: 3.4km

Situated beside Callendar House, Callendar wood has been growing since at least 1595. The woods are part of Callendar Park, which has a play area, pedalos and crazy golf – a perfect way to spend a relaxing afternoon. 

The Yew Trail takes you on a tour of the park with some interesting sights along the way. Spot previous owners the Forbes family’s Mausoleum enclosed in a circular wall above Callendar Loch, and keep an eye out for oak woodland, dense clumps of yew trees and other impressive conifers. The smooth and wide path is suitable for wheelchair users and prams, so make sure to bring the whole family!

 

6. Cleddans Burn, Scottish Lowlands 

field and trees at cleddans burn

Recommended trail: The Drumry
Level: Easy
Length: 1.0km

Part of the Drumchapel woods, Cleddans Burn can be found on the north western edge of Glasgow. The word Cleddans translates as ‘ditches’ from gaelic, in reference to the Antonine Wall, a 60km structure built by the Romans across the central belt of Scotland from AD 142.

The Drumry Trail takes you up to the open hilltop for panoramic views over the Kilpatrick Hills. The route passes the iconic 1960s water tower as well as taking in views of the city. For those looking for a longer walk, the Drumchapel Way continues on from Cleddans Burn in a 7km circular route, taking in Garscadden Burn Park and Garscadden Woods (east and west).

 

7. Tarbert, West Argyll

tarbert harbour with boats on foggy day
(c)VisitScotland / Paul Tomkins

Recommended trail: Tarbert Castle Trail
Level: Moderate
Length: 1.6km

Only a couple of hours drive west from Glasgow, the picturesque village of Tarbert is the perfect place to bring in the New Year Scottish style!

The Tarbert Castle Trail takes you up to the ruins of the legendary 13th century castle, which was inhabited by Robert the Bruce, who enlarged and fortified it back in 1325. There are great photo opportunities next to the castle walls with the stunning Loch Fyne in the background. If you’re there after dusk, keep an eye out for the floodlit Tower!

 

8. Devilla, Scottish Lowlands

squirrel sat in snow

Recommended trail: Red Squirrel Trail
Level: Moderate
Length: 2.4km

The Scots Pine trees of Devilla make a perfect habitat for red squirrels, which can be spotted all year round here. Squirrels don’t hibernate, so watch out for these curious critters in the trees around you.

The Red Squirrel Trail takes you around the Bordie Loch, perfect for a winter picnic or just a spot to enjoy the view while you eat some leftover Christmas pudding!

 

9. Glentress, Dumfries and Borders

mother and two sons stand on snowy hill

Recommended trail: TimeTrail
Level: Moderate
Length: 3.8km

Just an hour’s drive from Edinburgh, Glentress is the perfect place to spend the day getting some fresh air. There’s mountain biking for thrill seekers, a lovely café with plenty of hot drinks and lots of great walks exploring the area.

This Christmas spend a crisp winters day discovering the past. The Time Trail takes you high above the Tweed Valley were you can enjoy fantastic views over Peebles and the Caddon Hills. Discover more about the Iron Age at the fortified settlements at Janet’s Brae on this fascinating route through a beautiful and varied area of the forest.

 

10. Culbin, Moray and Aberdeenshire

boy and man in wheelchair talk beside tall trees

Recommended trail: Hill 99 Trail
Level:
Moderate
Length: 5.7km

Culbin’s fascinating and varied landscape is the perfect place to explore during the Christmas holidays. The Hill 99 Trail meanders through quiet pine forest and through lichen beds up to Hill 99, Culbin’s highest sand dune. Climb up the impressive tower for a panoramic view as far as the eye can see over forest and the Moray Firth.

The trail is on good, generally flat paths with some moderate slopes. For a shorter walk, head down to the Gravel Pit ponds, where you can have fun spotting shapes in the frozen ice.

None of these take your fancy? Why not find a forest and see other options near you.


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