Tales from the forest

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

Our top 3 spots for forest bathing

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Photo: Max Pixel

Known in Japan as 'shinrin-yoku'  which translates as "taking in the forest atmosphere" or "forest bathing" – was developed in Japan during the 1980s. It may sound simple, but forest bathing offers a timeless truth - time spent in a forest and amongst nature reduces stress and promotes a feeling of wellbeing. There is even a healthy body of research supporting the idea that forest bathing can help alleviate depression, stress and anxiety, lowering levels of the harmful 'stress chemical' cortisol, as well as having a positive effect on everything from blood pressure to your resting pulse.

Forest bathing was featured in the news this week, so we've written a very quick guide to our three favourite places to immerse yourself in the peaceful sights, sounds and sensations of the woods. If you've never tried it before, and want to find out more, the Shinrin-Yoku website has a ton of resources on offer, including a free 'starter kit' to help focus your mind and centre your body, while our partners Forest Holidays offer guided forest bathing experiences at some of their destinations.

The best thing about forest bathing is that it is free, easy to get into, and anyone can do it – so without further ado, here are our top 3 spots for forest bathing in Scotland...

Cardrona, Tweed Valley Forest Park

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One of the Tweed Valley Forest Park's larger forests, Cardrona's trails are tranquil, beautiful, and less busy than other forests in the area. Popular with horse riders, the trails are gentle cross-country routes, some of which lead to hilltop views, while others meander through shaded woodland and past the ruins of Cardrona Tower, built in the 1500s. Each of them offers plenty of spots to rest, contemplate, and take in the calming atmosphere. Our guide map to the Tweed Valley Forest Park (PDF 4.96MB) will help you explore. A haven for nature, you might spot red squirrels here, or even the colony of bats who have made the ruined tower their home.

Nearby, Cademuir is another peaceful spot perfect for meditation and relaxation, with impressive views over the valley, and ample opportunities to spot the local population of small wild birds like siskins, warblers and crossbills. If horse-riding is another activity you might enjoy, these are perfect destinations  – check out our section on horse-riding for more information.

Faskally, Tay Forest Park

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Faskally is known as a 'model woodland'  – created in the 19th century by the owners of Faskally House, its design and planning make it a stunning wood to walk around, with secluded spots and mighty oak trees under which to relax and regenerate. There are an incredible mix of tree species here, with signposts and information panels dotted throughout the Foresters' Trail, while the easy-access Dunmore Trail takes you around the small loch. In autumn, the trees are a riot of colour, while the pond plays host to kingfishers, herons and goldeneye ducks.

While Faskally is always a good choice for a spot of quiet reflection, by night in October, it also hosts the multi-award winning outdoor spectacular, The Enchanted Forest. This popular event returns to Faskally Wood from 4 October - 4 November 2018. You can find out more about Faskally and the surrounding area with our guide to Tay Forest Park.

Glentrool, Galloway Forest Park

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Is there anything more relaxing and grounding than sitting next to a babbling brook? The sound of running water is all around you at Glentrool, nestled in the heart of Galloway Forest Park. While this destination is home to a well-appointed café and some popular mountain bike trails, it is also an incredibly peaceful spot, with the rushing waters of Buchan Burn and the Waters of Minnoch lead you through the woods to some stunning views of the Galloway Hills.

Nearby, you can visit Bruce's Stone, monument to Robert The Bruce, while the less-visited but still stunningly beautiful and peaceful Knockman Wood is popular with locals and dog walkers, and is a great back-up plan if you find yourself in Glentrool on a busy day.

Looking for more ways to unwind?