Tales from the forest

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

Love the outdoors this Valentine's Day

It’s that time of the year again – heart shaped items bombard you from every angle as does the stress of buying the perfect gift. This year, why not get away from the hustle and bustle by heading into the forest to spend some time with your favourite person, surrounded by nature.

Romance and forests go hand in hand, with legends and myths of star-crossed lovers fleeing to the woods to escape those wishing to part them going back to the start of time. We’ve grown up with stories of forests as safe havens and trees symbolising everlasting love.

coupls standing on bridge in forest

One such tale, Celtic myth The Legend of Deirdre, tells of a young woman who falls in love with the brave Naois, despite being pursued by a jealous king. The couple escapes to Scotland before returning to Ireland under the promise of peace, where the deceitful king kills Naois and forces Deirdre to be his wife. She dies of a broken heart, and is buried beside Naois, with a stake of Yew planted in each grave. Years later, two Yew trees have grown, branches intertwined, symbolising the everlasting love of the tragic couple.

However, there’s plenty to do in and around the forest that doesn’t involve declaring your love after death or living in the woods to avoid telling your family about your partner.

From enjoying a cosy picnic to spending a night under the stars, we’ve put together our top romantic tips for any budget this Valentine’s Day.

Share a sunset

Sharing a sunset with a loved one can be a magical experience. Glorious sunsets take place all the time – but when was the last time you actually sat down and witnessed one?

This February, take the time to enjoy the golden reds and oranges as the sun disappears for the day. With the short winter days, you don’t have to stay out very late to see the sun going down.

sunset over a line of trees

 

Go star spotting

Scotland has some of the darkest skies in Europe and Galloway Forest Park is one of the darkest places in Scotland, which is why it’s the UK’s first Dark Sky Park. Over 7,000 stars and planets are visible from the Forest Park, and the bright band of the Milky Way is usually easy to see arching across the sky.

There are plenty of guided stargazing evenings at our visitor centres, or pick up a set of binoculars and head out yourself. Make sure to take warm and waterproof clothes to combat the winter weather or use the low temperatures as an excuse to cuddle up to your stargazing buddy.

 

Pack your own picnic

Dining al fresco offers the perfect combination: eating cheeseboards and dips while enjoying gorgeous views, surrounded by nature. Going for a picnic in the forest, on the beach or by the lochside is a romantic but inexpensive treat this February 14th. Have a look at our picnic guide for some tips on what to bring, and where to lay your blanket for the perfect location.

man and woman having picnic at table in a forest

 

Lounge by the loch

We’re spoilt for choice here in Scotland with thousands of lochs all across the country. From watching water birds at Clatteringshaws Loch to sitting by the bonny banks of Loch Lomond or enjoying the picture-perfect Loch Beinn a’Mheadhain with a special someone, there’s a loch for everyone.

If you fancy a more active date, there are countless opportunities; swim, sail, paddle or row, it's up to you. Need some inspiration? Have a look at our tips and suggestions to get out on or in the water.

View over loch

 

Sleep under the night sky

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. There are no bin lorries to wake you up at 6am, no traffic jams to stress you out – it’s just peace, quiet and nature. So grab your favourite person, your tent and sleeping bags, and spend a night staring at the stars together. Here are some of our favourite places to camp.

man with tent in the outdoors with mountain in the background
(c) Visit Scotland/Kenny Lam

 

Hire a cabin in the woods

Is there anything more romantic than sitting by a log fire, hot tub waiting outside, in a cabin deep in the forest? Possibly not. Heading out for a weekend in one of Forest Holiday’s different locations lets you enjoy waking up surrounded by nature, but with the added bonus of a roof and four walls. You won’t get to listen to the sounds of the forest as you fall asleep, but you do get a comfy bed and the option of having champagne delivered to your door.

Two men walking near cabins in Strathyre Forest Holidays site
(c) Forest Holidays

 

Work out on two wheels

For a more active date, why not jump on two wheels for a romantic cycle through the countryside. Better yet, why not try out a tandem, perfect for the couple with one half who likes to do all the work. There are plenty of great places to cycle in the forest, whether you’re looking for an adrenaline packed downhill trail or a more leisurely trip taking in the scenery.

Two people cycling in distance on a path, surrounded by trees

 

Celebrate with your favourite gals

Championed by everyone’s favourite Parks and Rec employee Leslie Knope, Galentine’s Day falls on February 13th, and is the perfect time to celebrate the poetic, noble land-mermaids in your life. In the forest, on the beach, while watching wildlife, it doesn’t matter where you are, just that you have all your favourite women around you.

leslie and april from parks and rec hugging

 

Don’t forget, all these activities are perfect for couples, families, groups of friends, or to do on your own. You don’t need a romantic excuse for any of them!


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