If there is a romantic place in Scotland, it must be known as the Birks of Aberfeldy and Falls of Moness. Very close to the town of Aberfeldy, only about 5 or 6 miles, is this wonderful place where Robert Burns, Scottish poet, wrote one of his most famous poems, called "Birks of Aferfeldy". We left the car in the small car park, and started a small climb up the signposted path that takes you across the ravine through which runs a small stream and surrounded by a thick forest. During the journey, there are several areas where you can rest and admire this enviable environment.
Turfhill park is in Surrey, near the village of Lightwater. It's a place of scientific interest and protection of flora and fauna, so it's left pretty wild. You can wander around by bike or on foot, animals are welcome too, and along the route there is information about the plants, birds and animals that you may encounter on your walk around. I liked it as it wasn't too perfect, it looked more natural. It seems to be a private forest rather than a typical city garden. As it is between two busy roads, you can hear the noise of cars throughout most of the park. That's a shame, you never really feel like you're in nature. The good side is that Lightwater has a train stop-Woking-very close, and you can spend time in nature without much hassle.
Lickey Hills is not only a fantastic hill where you can see parts of the outskirts of Birmingham, (Tolkien was inspired by Lickey to write Lord of the Rings) and it is a great place to have a stroll, picnic, etc. It has an incredible forest that is intensified by the wet British climate, filled with lush trees and a wonderful range of vegetation. You'll see squirrels everywhere and the more you go into it, the closer one feels to nature that surrounds you. You can only hear yourself and no other sounds.
One of the safest and most relaxing walks through the countryside in the town of Menstrie, is the path across and around the forest of Menstrie. This tour does not have big slopes and it is easy enough for all ages, so you do not need special equipment. Hopefully it doesn´t rain, as the distance , a walk of about 2 or 3 hours - could cause you to return soaked. The situation of the forest is interesting, at the end of the village and the beginning of the mountains, which promotes the vision of native species such as deer, foxes, rabbits besides diverse flora (someone told me that know from this that in this forest grows an edible mushroom that is quite rare to find). This is the appeal of this forest: a leisurely walk in pure nature where there is fresh air, and after to relax for a drink in the village. One of the special natural places of this town.
I lived in this forest for two months and it is a place of wonderful beauty and hidden treasures. I had to walk through it whenever I wanted to go into town or anywhere else, but I enjoyed spending time in it.
On the road between Aberfoyle and Kilmahog in the natural park of the Trossachs and Loch Lomond, in the forest of Queen Elizabeth and between all this, about halfway, we found this path, crossing a forest between 3 lakes: Loch Lomond, Loch Katrine and Loch Achray. This path runs for about 10 km and offers several points of interest: a mountain lookout, a lake that's a true mirror of the surroundings and large trees. In the Scottish countryside everything seems idyllic and how could it be otherwise, the place has a sentimental story. A local couple, the Drummonds, used to go to here to admire the mountains and landscapes, but one day he fell ill and soon died. His widow returned to the same place where she had spent so much time with her husband and under a stone found a note that said: "When tomorrow starts without me, never think we're far apart, because every time you think of me, find me right here, next to your heart." The wife died 13 years later and after hearing the story, the authorities built a gazebo and put a plate with the message.
I tend to write Rosslyn, which is the original form of the name, but if you plan to visit the area, you should know that it is now officially known as Roslin. Roslin Glen Country Park is a fairly large natural park that includes the Chapel, Roslin Inn Castle and extends to the village of Temple, home of the Scottish Knights Templar. At the opposite end of the park is another castle, Hawthornden (which possibly has a historical connection with the Templars but was never dominated by them). Among the space we find mountains, rivers, hills, forests, meadows and a diverse selection of wildlife, ranging from squirrels, salmons and deer (which are protected from hunting in these lands). You can see them all if you walk in silence. It is curious that many tourist guides describe Holyrood Park as the largest natural park in the Edinburgh area, when Roslin is in the same area and is literally quadruple the size!
This area has an interesting legend, since in its most hidden parts - still really difficult to access today - is a small cave, long known as Wallace's Cave or the Cave of Wallace. Indeed, this is where Sir William Wallace aka "Braveheart", hid from the British after the defeat at Falkirk. It's a great place for a day out, because after seeing the chapel and the inn, we walked towards the castle entering the glen. And there are plenty of options, depending on your preference: a picnic with the family on the river, short, flat hiking routes, climbs or longer routes. So take advantage of Rosslyn and have a great day out!
This hill is the southern entrance to the park of Hampstead Heath, one of the most important parks in North London. In this place stood Traitor's Hill, where battles have broken out throughout history. Queen Boadicea or Buddica is said to have been killed here, while leading an attack against the Roman settlement of Londinium. Her tomb can be found further to the south, near King's Cross Station.
The name has nothing to do with the Houses of Parliament, but rather this was the place where troops loyal to Parliament, fighting against the English king, stood during the English Civil War of the seventeenth century. Nowadays, Hampstead Heath is a popular spot for North Londoners to have picnics or play sports. Many of them fly kites on the hill, where there are lovely views of St Paul's, the Gherkin, St Pancras Station and Canary Wharf. In fact when you walk through this park of 800 acres, you feel like you're walking through the countryside, and not in the middle of one of the world's biggest cities. If we continue along the south side of the park to the west, you'll find a series of ponds where the daring sometimes swim. Just south of the park on a street called Keats Grove is the house where the poet John Keats lived between 1818 and 1820 before leaving for Rome where he died of tuberculosis at the age of 25 years.
In the northern part of the magnificent moorland of Dartmoor, the incredible Forest of the Druids appears as if by magic, full of twisted oak trees that grow on huge granite boulders covered with wild moss. The undergrowth consists mainly of ferns, and the majestic trees are covered with lichens and other plants. The atmosphere is truly magical, and you can really feel the ancient Celtic history all around you. It is said that this grove was, in the ancient path, popular with the Druids, who gathered medicinal herbs here and practised their mysterious, magical rituals. It can be reached by following the path across the moors to the little village of Twobridges, and following the path by the river. You'll find this example of thousand-year-old nature a couple of miles later.
While it may sound a little like "Lord of the Rings", this small forest consists of a strip of trees with awaking path a path or walk to the Bridge of Allan and Dunblane. The Scottish writer Robert L. Stevenson (writer of "Treasure Island" and "Dr.Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde" among others) used to walk here for fresh air and to regain inspiration. Along the way there is a small cave, which possibly inspired the cave in "Treasure Island". As I said is a simple walk, very colorful and peaceful. It is the most natural forest and Bridge of Allan and it was the historical communication passage between Stirling (Castle and Abbey) and Dunblane Cathedral (Dunblane). This ended with the advent of roads, railways and other but the truth is that the landscape of the ride has not changed all that much, quite narrow and with great nature. For those addicted to hiking at any level, this is a good option in the Stirling / Bridge of Allan, to enjoy nature ... trees, squirrels, rabbits and hopefully a deer.
Go Ape is the largest adventure forest in the United Kingdom. It is a climbing park, and there are 28 Go Apes around the country. Whether you go with friends or colleagues, you'll have a fun, physical day out! But be sure to go in good weather. Everything feels nice and safe. We went to the one near Leeds Castle. The rates are as follows: £ 30 for adults, £ 20 for teens 10 to 17 years.
Interestingly, these forests were once part of the lands belonging to the family of the Lords of Lanbert, so as you wander through them you can come across the lake of Larbert and the now-ruined manor house where the family lived. The forests were opened to the public in 2011, so anyone can stroll through them, and there is a trail running through them which takes about an hour and a half to complete. Nearby you'll find the most modern hospital in Scotland, the Royal Forth Valley hospital, where my son was born. The hospital has encouraged the use of the forest for sport, to promote good health.
What is today called Dollar Forest is a fraction of what once was. There used to be a single expansive forest that reached almost from Stirling to St. Andrews but, for obvious reasons, it's been pieced up and is now in several sections. Dollar Forest is easy to visit and it's visually beautiful as it sits on the road between the town, the castle and the valley. But in medieval times, this forest acted as a real barrier that prevented access to the front of the castle. It was only accessible through a narrow path that led through the thick forest. Today it is a protected area and it remains visually striking due to the height of the old trees andthe fact that it is still quite dense in some areas. It is funny how the roots have destroyed a wall that was built by human hands to delineate the forest. There are times that we fight things that we cannot fight. In short, the Dollar Forest is a natural area that is worth visiting and enjoying.
Near the ruins of Finchdale Priory is a beautiful bridge across the River Wear. After crossing it, we found a sign telling us that we were in the Cocken Forest, where a number of sports and recreational activities take place. You can go hiking up to Sunderland or Hetton-Le-Hole, suggesting that a path once existed leading from the priory for trade (remember that monastic communities generated a lot of trade in the Middle Ages). Following the path, there are spots to stop and enjoy a picnic with spectacular views. At first the forest seems a bit sparse, but as you continue, it becomes lush with different types of trees, such as pine and chestnut. Look out for the thorns that can make the walk difficult!
Along the way, if you don't make too much noise, you can see foxes, squirrels, and even the occasional deer having a drink from the river. Combined with the ruins and the river, it's a great place to spend an enjoyable day.
Wood Hill Wood is in Alva, a village in central Clackmannanshire at the foot of the Ochil Hills. Today it is a pleasant walk of about 40 minutes, between trees with beautiful views of the mountains and marked by an unpaved trail that can cause slight problems in times of frost or heavy rainfall. We finished our walk quite wet and dirty with mud, so be careful. Historically, this was the simplest route between Alva and Tillicoultry back when modern roads didn't exist, and the two villages were separated by the mountains. The walk here is easy, so everyone can enjoy the beautiful scenery in what I think is one of the most picturesque parts of Scotland.
This area, once a rich forest, has been divided by roads, buildings and other examples of modern life into several smaller wooded areas. Bannockburn belongs to Stirling, and is famous for being the site of the 1314 battle when Robert the Bruce was defeated by the English. Nowadays you can visit the forest where the battle took place, marked by a famous statue, and there is a visitor center explaining more about the history.
You can take an interesting walk through the woods, and it takes little more than 20 minutes to walk from Stirling to the site of the battle. The Hillview route is perfectly aligned with the castle, and offers really unusual and captivating views. You'll often see children here, as many schools organize activities in the area.