There’s nothing better for body and soul than a wildlife walk in beautiful surroundings and Scotland has some of the UK's most stunning routes. Lungfuls of fresh air and the excitement of spotting new or favourite species is rewarding in many ways, helping us feel happy and relaxed. From short wanders to all-day hikes, stoats and squirrels to mushrooms and mosses, the 60 woods we take care of across Scotland have something for everyone - and they’re all free and waiting for you to explore. Here are seven of our favourites.

Top tips

Check out our top tips to help you enjoy your visit while protecting precious wildlife.

1. Glen Finglas, Brig o'Turk

Glen Finglas epitomises the Scottish Highlands, all glassy lochs, heather-covered uplands, hidden glens and ancient woodland.

This enormous site is full to the brim with breathtaking species, with weird and wonderful fungi, a variety of trees and shrubs and vivid wildflowers. Look out for red deer, otter, field vole and red squirrel. It's also home to rare and endangered species like beaver, black grouse, osprey and golden eagle. You might even see the rare "badger-faced" red deer - a local strain with light coloured coats, hooves and face markings.

Choose from Glen Finglas' nine waymarked routes to explore this amazing place. Enjoy the 40-minute play trail with little ones who can crawl into the spy chamber to look for local wildlife, or experienced walkers can admire the site in all its glory on the challenging 24km Mell Circuit. It takes at least seven hours so be sure to pack all-weather gear, a map and plenty of refreshments!

2. Crinan Wood, Argyll

The moisture-laden environment of Crinan Wood’s ancient Atlantic oakwood is home to a wide variety of birds, animals, plants and fungi that thrive in the wet conditions.

Plant lovers can spot rare ferns, gnarled veteran trees festooned with lush moss and lichen, and the wonderful shapes of phoenix trees as they rise and regrow from fallen trunks. Hazel thickets stunted by the wind cling to steep hillsides against all odds. In spring, enjoy the open glades filled with fragrant bluebells.

Scan the treetops for buzzards, redstarts, wood warblers, golden eagles and bats. Red squirrel, red deer, otter and pearl-bordered fritillary butterfly are all resident here too.

Get the most from your visit with Crinan Wood's 2.5km waymarked trail. Explore the magical rainforest, discover the ruins of canal builders’ cottages and enjoy sweeping vistas across Loch Crinan to Duntrune Castle and the Argyll coastline. This route includes some steep sections and steps.

Stay safe

Ground can be slippery especially near water so please stick to the paths.

3. Ledmore & Migdale, Spinningdale 

If you’re looking for fantastic walks, tranquility and a vast array of wildlife, Ledmore & Migdale is for you. A visit to this beautiful spot is an enriching and magical experience. 

The woods are rich and diverse, teeming with plant, insect, bird and animal life. Keep your eyes peeled for pine marten, red, roe and sika deer and even otter families along the shore of  the burn. Seek out lichen, orchids and blaeberries. Remember your binoculars and cast your eyes to the skies for birds including common crossbill, wood warbler, tawny owl and osprey. And see how many red squirrels you can spot – working with Trees for Life, we relocated 20 here in 2019.

Discover this wild and rugged landscape with more than 12km of paths and tracks for varying abilities. Examine the rocks for rare flowers along the Loch Migdale path and enjoy the fantastic view that changes by the hour. Or take the longer Spinningdale Bog walk to admire the rare plants, sedges, sphagnum mosses and dragonflies with views over the old mill and beyond to the Dornoch Firth. Download the Ledmore & Migdale walking map.

4. Dunollie Wood, Oban

Dunollie Wood is a fine example of Scotland’s rainforest. Thick carpets of dripping mosses, layering liverworts, epiphytic ferns and colourful fungi give the rainforest a unique and magical feel. Over 200 species of the world’s rarest bryophytes and lichens are found here. Look out too for the finger-like encrustations of the rare hazel gloves fungus, a speciality of ancient rainforests.

Bluebells carpet the woodland floor in spring and the air is filled with the scent of wild garlic. In summer, listen to the songs of migrant birds like redstart and wood warbler. Some of Scotland's most iconic characters might also be spotted here, like the secretive otter, the huge white-tailed eagle soaring overhead and red squirrels leaping from tree to tree. The chequered skipper butterfly lives here too - it's a rare and delicate species only found in western Scotland.

Follow Dunollie Wood's 2.5km Rainforest Ramble trail to discover the rainforest and savour the dramatic views across Oban Bay to the Western Isles. This route includes some slopes and steps and connects to other paths through the local area for a longer walk.

Did you know?

Scotland is home to around 75% of the UK's red squirrel population.

5. Kinclaven Bluebell Wood, Stanley

As its name suggests, Kinclaven Bluebell Wood is known for the spectacular display of bluebells that carpets the woodland floor in spring, but there is plenty more to enjoy. With stunning scenery, rare wildlife and rich history on its doorstep, this wood is a pleasure to visit.

A bird watcher’s paradise and a refuge for rare and fascinating wildlife, the wood is busy all year.  Admire the fantastic range of plants, from the delicate wood anemone and dog violet to the mighty veteran beech trees, estimated to be over 200 years old. Try to catch a glimpse of stoat and pine marten - and the red squirrel of course.

With lots of routes for varying abilities, including the Oakwood Loop trail, venturing out on foot is a great way to discover this wood. For a longer walk, explore the paths through the new woodland in Court Hill.

6. Lang Craigs, Dumbarton

Lang Craigs has it all: ancient woodland, sheltered glens, rolling hills and rugged moorland full of vibrant habitats. It offers superb hiking, an abundance of wildlife and stunning views of the Clyde, Dumbarton Rock and Ben Lomond.

Birdwatchers will be spoilt for choice with over 70 species identified here, including peregrine falcon, sparrowhawk, green woodpecker and treecreeper, as well as rarer birds like black grouse, cuckoo and snipe.

Alongside roe deer, brown hare, fox and field vole, otters have been spotted in the area. Test your ID skills to find the hairy caterpillars of ruby tiger moth and emperor moth, as well as the burying beetle and forest shield bug. Spot orange tip and ringlet butterflies and common pipistrelle bats on the wing and keep an eye out for fascinating fungi like the fantastically-named bright yellow physarum slime mould and jelly ear fungus.

Lang Craigs' four waymarked walks offer routes for different abilities, from the picturesque wooded glen to a high route with great views. Take the short fish pond trail (1km, 30 minutes) to seek out amphibians, or the 3.5km circular route from the car park to the Round Wood Hill viewpoint. A path also leads up through Overtoun Glen to the Black Linn Reservoir and the Kilpatrick Hills beyond.

7. Uig Wood, Uig

Uig Wood lies a short hop from the mainland, nestled on the Trotternish Peninsula on the Isle of Skye. Despite its small size, it’s home to a large variety of wildlife - dedicated naturalists have discovered over 1,000 species in and around the wood, from flat worms to white-tailed eagles. An incredible 142 different lichens have been recorded here.

As well as familiar plants like wild garlic and bluebell, look out for the less-recognised sanicle, pignut, common figwort, sweet woodruff, yellow pimpernel and barren strawberry. Birds including buzzard, fieldfare and cuckoo can be spotted here and roe deer quietly wander the woodland floor.

Three waymarked trails at Uig Wood are short but awe-inspiring. Allow around 30 minutes for the Shore Wood Wander, a steady stroll through woodland sculpted by wind and water on a flat well-surfaced path with a gentle slope and wonderful views at the end. Take in the lively river, vegetation-clad rocky outcrops and diversity of trees and flowering plants before reaching the old weir on the Conan Glen Walk. Or for the more adventurous, follow the edge of the ravine above the River Rha and down steep steps to finish at the dramatic waterfall on the 150 metre Rha Glen Ramble. This path is narrow in places with a steep drop so please take care.

Visiting woods

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Primordial landscapes, tangled branches, breathtaking wildlife and miles of woodland trails. From the countryside to cities, we care for thousands of woods throughout the UK, all free to visit.

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