Tales from the forest

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

Climb every mountain

There’s plenty to see outdoors, especially in a country as glorious as Scotland. Summer is the perfect time to take on a challenge with the longer days and (mostly) good weather.

Why not explore the lay of the land and burn some calories summiting some of Scotland’s best hills and mountains? From short steep hikes to longer winding roads, there’s plenty to choose from no matter where you live.

clouds over north face at ben nevis

Read on to find out some of our favourite tough but rewarding routes.

Explore Bennachie from all sides, Aberdeenshire

Four forests surround Bennachie, one of Aberdeenshire’s best-loved landmarks. Each has its own atmosphere and unique character: come back time and again until you find your favourite.

The Mither Tap Quarry Trail, starting from Back o’Bennachie, takes in the Mither Tap and Bennachie’s highest summit Oxen Craig. For a shorter route to Mither Tap, the Timeline Trail from Bennachie Centre is a good, but steep alternative. Take a breather at the top and enjoy the stunning views across Aberdeenshire.

Donview is the perfect place to explore Bennachie without the crowds – with quieter trails than from Bennachie Centre and Rowantree – giving you plenty of choices for long treks in the hills and a taste of the wild.

view to summit of mither tap

Take your pick of Munros at Glen Doll, Cairngorms National Park

Glen Doll, situated on the south-east edge of the stunning Cairngorms National Park, is a popular starting point for hill walks to two Munros (mountains over 3,000 feet): Dreish and Mayar.

The ascent through picturesque Corrie Fee leads up to the extensive rolling plateau above – allowing visitors access to the summits of Mayar and Driesh, with the descent on the excellent Kilbo path back to Glen Doll forest.

There’s also plenty to do here for those looking for something less strenuous. The South Esk burn is perfect for a picnic; watch for golden eagles overhead, or explore one of the shorter scenic trails.

Trek to the top of the Tappie Tower at Kirkhill, Aberdeenshire

The Tappie Tower Trail is a challenging climb through the stunning forest at Kirkilll. At the top the 19th century folly at Tappie Tower rewards you with a brilliant panorama, all the way from the North Sea and Aberdeen across to Bennachie.

There’s plenty more to do at Kirkhill if you still have energy after the climb: the wide trails are great for horse riding, there’s a mountain bike fun park near the car park to practice your skills, and a permanent orienteering course.  

tappie tower at kirkhill

Discover two Munros at Glenachulish, Lochaber

Set near the southern shore of Loch Leven, Glenachulish comes with its very own 2-for-1 on Munros: the mountain horseshoe of Beinn a'Bheithir (the mountain of the thunderbolt) has two summits, Sgorr Dhearg and Sgorr Dhonuill. Less that 2km apart, walkers often climb the two together.

Sgorr Dhearg is the highest of Beinn a'Bheithir's summits at 1024m and boasts spectacular views over Loch Leven, Glen Coe and Ben Nevis. Sgorr Dhonuill’s summit is 1001m, with a viewpoint that looks over Loch Linnhe and out towards the Inner Hebrides.

Make sure to bring your navigation tools and sensible clothing. Waymarkers lead you to the edge of the forest, but from there you’ll need to make your own way. The nearby village of Ballachulish has places to eat to keep you energised and public toilets.

Wind your way up to views across the Moray Firth, Moray

Ten miles east of Elgin, Winding Walks is a great place to spend a day climbing hills and exploring a maze of trails. Head to the Monument Trail, a 5km loop which takes you up some fairly steep sections of path trail through the forest and up Whiteash Hill.

At the top you’ll be rewarded with the Duchess of Richmond monument (she helped create the site’s paths), and brilliant views across the Moray Firth.

For post-climb nourishment, nearby Fochabers has refreshments, shops and toilets. The lovely Fochabers Folk Museum is also worth a visit if you have some time before heading home.

Duchess Richmond monument at winding walks

Follow in the footsteps of shepherds on Meall a’Bhuachaille, Glenmore Forest Park

At the heart of the forest park, you’ll find the impressive Meall a’Bhuachaille – the hill of the shepherd. This circular route features an ascent to the summit at 2,600ft (810 m) – well worth it for spectacular views of the rolling Cairngorm plateau, the wide strath of the Spey, and the beautiful Green Lochan (An Lochan Uaine).

Once you’ve made it back down, recharge in the visitor centre with hot drinks and food. There are also plenty of shorter waymarked trails to help you explore the area. You can even have a paddle at the lovely Loch Morlich Beach - Britain’s highest beach!

Stretch your legs on the famous Schiehallion, Tay Forest Park

A short distance south from Tummel Bridge, Braes of Foss is the starting point for the most popular route up Schiehallion, one of Scotland’s famous Munros. The walk up Schiehallion is fairly strenuous, but is rewarded with a view stretching all the way to Ben Nevis, the Cairngorms and, on a clear day, Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh.

Weather conditions can change as you climb, so make sure you’re well prepared for rain or shine. The path isn’t waymarked, so have a look at detailed route descriptions before you go.

The £2 per car per day parking tickets can also be used at Queen’s View Visitor Centre, where you can fill up on hot drinks and tasty snacks as a reward.

mountain path in heather at braes foss

Get a bird's-eye view of the Trossachs at Ben Ledi, Queen Elizabeth Forest Park

Discover Ben Ledi, the highest peak in the Trossachs, as it overlooks Loch Lubnaig on the edge of the Highlands. It’s a steep climb to the top, with a summit of 2,884 feet (879m) and round trip of almost 5 miles. Your map and compass will come in handy again here, as the route is not waymarked.

At the top, you’ll find breathtaking panoramic views over Callander and the Trossachs. You’ll also find a cairn at the summit, built back in 1887 to commemorate Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee. An iron cross was erected there in memorial to Sergeant Harry Lawrie who was killed on duty with Killin Mountain Rescue team in 1987.

Go loch spotting on Ben A’an, Queen Elizabeth Forest Park

Ben A'an's distinctive pointed summit is an iconic sight in the Trossachs. In fact, its name comes from the Gaelic for 'the small, pointed peak'.

The walk to the top – short but steep – is a great workout with rewarding views to rival a bigger hill! Look out over Loch Katrine, Loch Achray, Loch Venachar and Ben Venue. On a clear day, you might even be able to see the Arrochar Alps.

The route is not waymarked, so you need to take a map and compass with you. Remember that even in summer the weather can change very quickly here, so be prepared.

view over trossachs from ben aan

Always be prepared

Many of these routes are not waymarked, so a map and compass are essential - even if you’re experienced in the outdoors. If you’re planning on exploring on your own, it’s a good idea to tell a friend or family member your plans and let them know when you’re back.

It’s important to be prepared when you’re out. We can experience four seasons in one day here in Scotland, so remember to check the forecast and have the right gear when you head out. Have a look at our hillwalking tips to get some ideas of what to take with you.

Explore further

If you want to keep climbing, have a look at MunroMagic and Walkhighlands for plenty more challenges and detailed route descriptions.

 

Have we missed out your favourite mountain trail? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook or twitter.


Comments

For questions and complaints, please contact us directly.