A five-star VisitScotland attraction in Aberfoyle, The Lodge Forest Visitor Centre is the place for a woodland escape in the Trossachs.
The Lodge, looked after by Forestry and Land Scotland, is within Queen Elizabeth Forest and offers a variety of great activities. These include four walking trails, with something suitable for all levels of ability.
Paul Munro, media manager at Forestry and Land Scotland, describes The Lodge as “a fantastic visitor centre that’s easy to get to, right on the edge of the forest and straddling the Highland Boundary Fault Line above Aberfoyle.
“It’s the perfect start and end point for some great walks, such as the wheelchair and pushchair-accessible Waterfall Trail, which has some amazing sculptures to spot on the way. There’s nature play to keep children entertained on the walk that also takes you to the wildlife hide to see the red squirrels.”
While the Waterfall Trail is accessible for all and perfect for families, the other three trails are more adventurous. The Oak Coppice Trail is a moderate 2.9km (1.8 mile) walk, which takes visitors through an oak woodland complete with steep slopes and steps.
Craigmore View Trail and Lime Craig Trail are both described as “strenuous”.
The Lime Craig Trail is the longer of the two at 6.6km (4 miles) and visitors should allow two and a half hours to complete it. This walk leads to the top of Lime Craig, with stunning views of the Carse of Stirling, Ben Lomond, Ben Ledi and Ben Venue.
Walking trails aren’t the only activities on offer, however. “It’s a great place for young people to learn a bit about nature and chances to watch a host of bird life and red squirrels from the hide,” Paul says. “There’s also a bit of history about the lodge and about the amazing women who served with the Women’s Timber Corp in the Second World War.
“And if you fancy something even more active, there are free orienteering guides that are a great way for children to learn about reading maps and the landscape, or join in with the fearless and Go Ape!”
The Go Ape experience is one of only three in Scotland and offers a high ropes assault course in the Treetop Challenge. It is also home to two of the UK’s longest ziplines, and you can try them out without the gruelling assault course.
It’s not just high-octane exploits at The Lodge though, it’s also a great spot for wee ones, as Moira Harkin, visitor services assistant, says.
“My favourite thing is watching the kids get excited about helping Quercus, our adventuring acorn, solve mysteries, getting stuck into the colouring in at the craft table or, best of all, the annual duck race which causes great excitement for all ages. Kids don’t care about the weather – rain just means mud and puddles. They can find fun in the greyest of days.”
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