Tales from the forest

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

Tales from the forest

Welcome to the Forestry Commission Scotland blog. Here you'll find inspiration, stories and an insider's glimpse into the world of Scotland's forests.

A tail of two squirrels

Spotting a red squirrel is a treat – something you don’t get to do very often. But it hasn’t always been this way. These little red acrobats used to roam across all of Britain and were a much more common sight. Now, when we see a squirrel in central or southern Scotland it’s usually a grey, the red’s larger American cousin.

red and grey squirrels info in boxing style image

Red squirrels have always had a bit of a tough time. After arriving from mainland Europe at the end of the last ice age, populations have fluctuated wildly over the years. Reported as extinct in many parts of Scotland due to large-scale deforestation in the 18th century, numbers had risen again by the early 1900’s thanks to widespread conifer planting and introduction of squirrels from England.

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Foraging: eat your way closer to nature

We can’t all be the next Masterchef or future Mary Berry, but there’s plenty of food in the forest that anyone can whip up into a tasty treat! From mushrooms to berries, you can find all sorts of fresh and organic edibles growing all across Scotland.

Foraging involves directly picking plants found outdoors, such as in woodlands, rather than buying them from a shop. Different foods are ready to eat depending on what season it is, but there’s usually something delicious to pick, no matter what month it is. Here are some of our favourite foods to forage throughout the year.

varieties of mushrooms with names
(c) GallowayWildFoods.com

Please note: image for illustration purposes only – seek an appropriate source of information to refer to

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Into the wild

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’s no bin lorries to wake you up at 6am, no traffic jams to stress you out, and no loud neighbours keeping you up at night. It’s just peace and quiet, and nature. We’ve put together our rough guide to getting out and enjoying a night under the stars.

family camping in forest with dog in foreground

Where to stay

First up, you need to pick your location. Think about what sort of surroundings you want to be in, and what sort of facilities you need. Head to Kilvrecht Campsite in Tay Forest Park to take in some of the most picturesque parts of Highland Perthshire. Alternatively, head to the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond and stay the night at Sallochy Campsite – its lochside location is hard to beat. Camping in the Forest has three forest campsites in two National Parks and VisitScotland has a great list of sites around the country to choose from.

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The life aquatic

When you visit the forest you know what to expect: trees, spectacular views, woodland wildlife. But how about leaping salmon? Or dolphins? Or even a minke whale? Not what you’d expect from your typical woodland wander. It’s National Marine Week, and there’s no better time to celebrate the flippery creatures that live in our rivers and seas.

dolphin leaping out the water

A he-roe-ic life

First up, salmon. Young salmon live in freshwater rivers and pools until they’re between two and four years old. Then, they leave home and go out into the world (aka the North Atlantic). When they’ve reached adulthood, they then return to spawn, swimming upstream via a seemingly endless number of waterfalls to the exact stretch of river where they hatched.

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10 summer activities for kids that won't break the bank

Summer is here, and that means sun (maybe), vast quantities of ice cream, and a lot of time to keep the kids entertained. We’ve put together some of our favourite things to do with your little ones that’ll get them out the house and exploring Scotland’s forests.

1. Live the wild life

otter in amongst sea weed

Ever wanted to get up close to Scotland’s largest mammal? The Red Deer Range in Galloway Forest Park runs regular events throughout summer to let you see these magnificent animals in real life. If marine life is more up your street, you can see leaping salmon at Rogie Falls, and maybe even porpoise and otters out west at Fishnish!


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Name that bug

It’s fair to say that insects haven’t had the best portrayal over the years – every form of media has been less than flattering. Kafka described the nightmare of waking up as an insect in gory detail, Spielberg spooked us senseless in Arachnophobia, and the 80’s were a bad time for beasties after Jeff Goldblum tried to change the world — but ended up as the grotesque ‘brundlefly’.

insect blog return of fly


But love them or hate them, insects are an essential part of the forest’s ecosystem, and our understanding of them is important for conservation, medicine, ecology and food production.

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Find your way: Out of the Woods

outofthewoods cover


This post is different to other posts. You and you alone are in charge of how the story goes.

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6 stunning forest views to tempt you outdoors, despite the weather

With snowstorms in April, I think we can agree this hasn't been spring at its best. Many of us are back in the wellies and winter woollens, when we should be enjoying the milder outdoors.

The National Forest Estate is one of those places that looks good in all weathers. As a wee reminder, we've got some inspiration for you! Our planning forester Colin Leslie spends a lot of time in the Inverness, Ross and Skye forests. Luckily for us, he's pretty handy with a camera.

Our inboxes are always a little cheerier when one of his photos arrives – but they're too good to keep to ourselves! We've asked him to pick out some of his favourite places and photos to remind us how magical our Scottish forests can be.

As some people say: there's no such thing as bad weather – just the wrong clothes!

Glenmore Dawn

Glenmore at dawn

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Get to know our summer clubs

Last summer we worked in partnership with a number of community groups throughout Glasgow and Renfrewshire to offer summer clubs at the Commonwealth Woods legacy forests we look after.

The idea behind the summer clubs was to engage local children and their community group leaders in activities in the forest - showing that local woodlands are a great place to do fun, educational, healthy and affordable activities.

forestry summer clubs

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