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.

Perfect pack lunches for Autumn explorers

Lunchbox by flickr buzzymelib

Photo: buzzymelibee via Flickr

With the October half-term approaching it's the perfect time to explore Scotland's forests at their finest. It’s when the landscape really comes to life in russet reds, brilliant oranges and dusty yellows of the season.

Whether you're foraging, stargazing, or visiting your favourite place you need to make sure you've got the energy to make the most of it. Read on to find out what to pack for a wild day out.

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Our top 3 spots for forest bathing


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...

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Trail Blazers: Ruari Watt & Andy Wardman


At Forestry Commission destinations across Scotland, mountain biking is one of the most enduringly popular outdoor activities. Nothing beats the thrill of an adrenaline-charged downhill dash!

Scottish mountain bikers and overseas visitors have a range of different challenges, terrains and organised races to choose from, right in their backyard, from Laggan Wolftraxx near Aviemore and Moray Monster Trails in the North, to the 7stanes Mountain Biking centres dotted throughout the south. Providing a base for the country’s world-renowned MTB culture, the network of trails is constantly maintained, upgraded and developed. Supervising this process are trail grader Ruari Watt, and mountain bike ranger Andy Wardman.

Ruari and Andy and their colleagues post regular updates and videos on their activities over on the 7stanes Facebook page, which offers a fascinating insight into the hard work, resources and volunteer hours that go into this vital trail maintenance. Both advanced trail riders, they offered to give us a few tips and tricks - and a run-down of the races and events coming up at our destinations over the next few months.

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Six must-see shows at the Edinburgh Fringe

fringe2018 Credit David Monteith Hodge

Image: David Montieth-Hodge | Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society

The Edinburgh International Festival and Fringe Festival is upon us! Your loyal friends at the FC Scotland blog are making their way through the crowds each morning to get to their desks at Silvan House, and bring you the news from Scotland’s forests. While we’d often rather be visiting a Forest Park or messing about in the woods with the family, there’s no denying that for the duration of the Festival, Edinburgh is a carnival of wonders. The trick is knowing what to see. How to pick the right show from the thousands vying for your attention?

Our team have picked out six of the best shows at the Fringe this year, all with a woodland, wildlife, conservation or countryside connection. There’s something for everyone here, from storytelling to puppetry, from experimental theatre to a musical, and a brilliant kids show. We hope you’ll find something to enjoy - and if the crowds get too much for you, you can always hit the forests!

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A guide to Scotland's Forest Parks


Forest Parks are the jewel in the crown of Scotland's forests. Lush, verdant woodlands containing stunning areas of natural beauty rich in wildlife and plant species, our six Forest Parks play a vital role in the nation's economy, attracting visitors from all over the world. They are also at the heart of our communities, offering space for natural play, exercise, or leisure pursuits, from daily dog walks to daring downhill mountain bike trails.

While there are plenty of beautiful woodlands in and around our towns and cities, our Forest Parks offer something special. You can explore dozens of sites of particular historic and cultural significance, with well-equipped Visitor Centres on hand to provide resources like maps, bike hire, and top-notch food and drinks. With events, education and play opportunities for children, our staff will always provide a warm, friendly welcome.

Here's a quick guide to our six forest parks, with a few choice highlights picked out. Click through to the links below to find out more about each destination or activity. With the beautiful weather continuing, it's the perfect time to visit this summer, and start your forest adventure! What are you waiting for...?

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Go Wild: Summer Events in the Forest!


With Scotland currently enjoying its hottest summer since records began, there's no excuse for staying home all day this July and August. The summer holidays are the perfect time to  explore Scotland's best-loved wild places. With a little planning, its easy to find the perfect picnic spot, or activities that won't break the bank. Why not get outside and soak up some of that lovely and much-needed Vitamin D?

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Leave No Trace: Tips For Terrific Days Out


Scotland's hottest summer on record brought hundreds of people out onto the golden sands of Loch Morlich last weekend. Many enjoyed cooling off in the crystal-clear water or took part in some watersport adventures, whilst others took in the amazing scenery and relaxed, soaking up the rays.

Unfortunately along with the sunshine and people come two very big problems - litter and fires.

Each morning throughout the summer, the team at Glenmore have to clean up the car parks and beach. The photo below shows just some of the mess we removed from the beach after the busy weekend. We want to welcome all our visitors with clean and tidy facilities, and we love seeing so many people out enjoying the forest park. While visiting our forests, we ask you to try as hard as you can to leave no trace.

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Spring Photo Jam - The Winners!

The public votes have been counted, and we can finally declare the winners of our massive Spring Photo Jam competition!

9 JodiClarke FINALIST

Winner #1 - with more than twice as many votes as the nearest finalist! - is 14-year old Jodi Clarke, for her moody, rain-swept shot of two sheep on a country road. Jodi's dramatic photo "captures the atmosphere of that place, Scottish climate and all," according to our judges, who deemed it a "perfect postcard shot."

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Spring Photo Jam - The Finalists!

meadow brown butterfly 

Over the past week, our three judges have been hard at work narrowing down 100+ entries to our Spring Photo Jam competition to pick just 12 finalists for the public vote. It's been a tough job - there were so many brilliant images submitted, coming from photographers who ranged in age from 10 to 70.

You gave us everything from intimate portraits of birds, bugs and beasties to detailed studies of leaves, barks and moss. We asked for dramatic shots of your favourite spots and your most dramatic scenes featuring water, lochs and coasts. In each and every category, you delivered! It was so tricky picking our favourites for the public vote, and we recommend you head over to Facebook to check out the whole Spring Photo Jam Gallery.

The public vote - you decide!

You have until Monday to vote for your favourite photo, chosen from our twelve finalists. The public vote will take place on our Facebook page - the two photographs with the most 'Likes' on Facebook by midnight on Monday 25 June will each win a fabulous £100 voucher for Go Ape! - the UK's number 1 treetop adventure.

To give each finalist an equal chance, we've shared their pictures in a new gallery - voting is simple. Just head over to the gallery, and click 'Like' on your favourite picture. We have also linked each picture in this blog post to its equivalent on Facebook - so you can click any of the pictures below, log in, and vote by clicking 'Like' on the picture of your choice.

Step 1 - Visit our Finalists Gallery on Facebook

Step 2 - Pick your favourite picture

Step 2 - Click 'Like' to vote!

Without further ado... here are our finalists!

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