News, stories and reports from Forestry Commission Scotland and the National Forest Estate

Investing and growing the visitor footfall and the profile of the National Forest Estate

We continue to seek to build on bumper visitor numbers National Forest Estate (NFE) through new opportunities and investments. 10.7 million visits were made to the in 2017 – an increase of 18% since 2013 (9.1million).

The NFE boasts over 1,200km of walking tracks, 130 cycle routes, wildlife viewing spots and 8 visitor centres making it an ideal place to come for a family day out or to take part in some healthy exercise. Forest Enterprise Scotland are continuing to take forward new opportunities through investments and facilitating new business opportunities for others to take forward.

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Cuningar Loop had 138,000 visits in its first full year of operation. This £5.7million project transformed 15 hectares of derelict land on the banks of the River Clyde in the heart of Glasgow into an attractive woodland park. The park is the perfect place to enjoy the fresh air, get some exercise or just relax. It features: an extensive path network; adventure play facilities; a bike skills area; Scotland’s first outdoor bouldering park; a woodland workout large meadow and picnic areas; an outdoor classroom and a riverside boardwalk. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon visited the NFE for the first time earlier this year, visiting Cuningar Loop when she was in the area for a Cabinet meeting. The Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport also visited and met partners and local stakeholders on the same day.

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The First Minister also announced a £1 million Scottish Government funding package at the Scottish Tourism Alliance Autumn Conference. A £11.7m investment is being planned in partnership with Forest Holidays (who are investing £10.7 million) to create 56 secluded eco-cabins and 16km of new mountain bike trails. The investment has the potential of generating an extra £1 million into the local economy each year and employment of up to 60 people. The combined attractions are part of the award winning Glentress Masterplan project.

There was a 4% (152,000) increase in visits to the Lodge, which lies in the heart of Queen Elizabeth Forest Park. Following a major refurbishment, it is a VisitScotland 5 star rate gateway for visitors to the park and a flagship centre for outdoor activities within the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. Visitor facilities include natural play opportunities on a trail network including an easy access route and an ingenious use of trees to create a maze for children, an activity centre for groups and a wildlife viewing hide where an encounter with red squirrels is a memorable moment.

Kirroughtree is up to 78,000 visits (an 8% increase) and is a Dark Sky Park where you can go star gazing and on a moonless night the Milky Way can be seen stretching from one horizon to the other. The visitor centre also has a ‘Changing Places facility’ meaning it is truly accessible to all.

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Photo credit Lewis Parry.

Located in Leanachan Forest, the area around the Nevis Ski Range is a national focus for adventure sports, including skiing, climbing and mountain biking and had 126,000 visits. It hosts large events including the Mountain Bike World Cup, which makes it one of the major tourist destinations in the Scottish Highlands. The Masterplan contains a 20 year vision to direct future development and establish a platform of general support from the local community, business organisations and wider interest groups, in order to contribute to the future overall economy of the Lochaber area. The plan includes another forest cabin development and   the marketing of a development opportunity for a resort hotel. Watch this space for further details of this exciting development which will be a further first for the NFE.