Tales from the forest

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

Beat the January blues: Events and activities near you


Walkers enjoying the view at Cardrona

The tree is down, the tinsel back in the box, and the leftover turkey is in the dog. What now? This year there are some cracking events and activities happening near you to take your mind off midwinter. We’ve gathered them all in one place, and paired them up with some of our favourite walks.

Brilliant Burns Night Suppers

dylan de jonge 705929 unsplash

Photo by Dylan de Jonge on Unsplash

In Edinburgh, the Scottish Storytelling Centre is about half-way through its programme of winter festivities, culminating in a huge Burns Night ceilidh on 25 January. Other highlights include a workshop on the storytelling techniques in Tam O’Shanter (19 Jan), and a kids storytelling event (Tiny Tales, 15 Jan).

Further west, on 18 January, is the Burns Night Supper to rule them all - the one and only Haggis Hooley, taking place at the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway, Ayr. You’ll get a three-course meal, a dram for the grown-ups, and stomping, traditional, live ceilidh music.

Recommended walk: While you’re in Ayrshire, why not explore the Carrick Forest Drive on foot, or by bike? Our trails will help you discover some of Ayrshire's finest mountain scenery.

The finest folk music 

calum macaulay 322268 unsplash 

Photo by Calum MacAulay on Unsplash

Glasgow plays host to Celtic Connections from 17 January to 3 February, showcasing the very best in local, traditional and international folk music. Highlights include the Scottish Chamber Orchestra performing with Rachel Sermanni and Jarlath Henderson (25 January), and the regular Celtic Connections Festival Club, taking place every Friday throughout the run at the Art School, mashing up contemporary sounds with folk and traditional musicianship.

Recommended walk: You could pair a visit to Celtic Connections with a wee visit to Boden Boo, beneath the arc of the Erskine Bridge. Or check out Cuningar Loop, where the kids can try bouldering, learn mountain bike skills, and enjoy an awesome adventure play park.

Scotland’s outdoors on the silver screen

danka peter 148722 unsplash 

Photo by Danka & Peter on Unsplash

Just an hour’s drive away from Edinburgh, 25 January sees the start of the 2-day Peebles Outdoor Film Festival. Sponsored by the John Muir Trust, the programme features the best outdoor adventure films from around the world, with high-octane mountain bike action, breathtaking wildlife photography and more. With additional events offering the chance to try bikepacking, or explore the Tweed Valley on guided walks, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Recommended walk: If you need a break from the festival, get yourself along to the tranquil hillside forest of Cardrona. With impressive views and the ruins of Cardrona Tower to explore, it’s a brilliant half-day adventure.

High-octane activities: Speaking of adventure, if a high-adrenaline treetop scramble sounds more your pace, book a session at Go Ape Peebles. Explore the canopy and zoom down a 300m-long zip wire. A perfect alternative to the screenings if you’re bringing kids along.

Celebrating our furry forest friends…

kylli kittus 561276 unsplash

Photo by Kylli Kittus on Unsplash

On 21 January, it’s International Squirrel Appreciation Day! Scotland is one of a very few places in the world which is still home to the rare and beautiful Red Squirrel, and you can get up close and personal with them at a number of our destinations.

You’ll find viewing screens very close to the car parks at Glen Righ near Fort William and at Bennachie in Aberdeenshire. One of the best places to see these cute critters is at The Lodge, near Aberfoyle, where there is a nature hide.

“The only way to see them in their natural habitat is to get out and walk the forest,” says Lynne, our Visitor Services Manager based at Glentress. “Are you quick enough to get that action photo of the cute wee red beastie to brag about and show to your family and friends?” Sounds like a challenge! 

It’s not just squirrels you’ll see in our forests in Aberfoyle - at the moment there is a very special mini-trail for keen and aspiring birdwatchers, helping prepare you to recognise different species of birds in the run-up to the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch, which runs from 26-28 January. 

Recommended walk: The easy-access Waterfall Trail at The Lodge includes a stop at the nature hide and incredible views of the dramatic waterfalls. Don’t forget a camera! Our Environment Ranger Eve also recommends squirrel-spotting at nearby Cardrona or Cademuir.  

Bike to the future!

Andy Muddywheels Crop

Photo: Andy Wardman

We're playing host to some unmissable mountain bike races and events over the coming year. The first big event of 2019 is the annual Strathpuffer race in the Highlands (19-20 Jan).

In their latest newsletter, the Strathpuffer team interview road bike star Mark Beaumont, who will be taking part in this year’s challenging race, his first time competing in an MTB competition. He sounds excited: “I have lived on the ribbon of tar for many years, and now it is time to explore off-road!” The race is open to spectators, or you can follow the action online using the #strathpuffer hashtag.

Recommended walk: Take time to explore the paths at nearby Rogie Falls, a stunning beauty spot with a series of dramatic waterfalls. The perfect spot for a cheeky winter selfie!