If you go Down to the Woods Today….
Make the most of the golden days of autumn, our pick of the best breaks with a woodland theme.
Westonbirt Arboretum and The Rectory Hotel, Cotswolds
Westonbirt, The National Arboretum is managed by the Forestry Commission and is renowned worldwide for its tree and shrub collection. It is home to five national collections, including the Japanese Maple Cultivars (Acers) and Maple species collections.
During Autumn the colour is spectacular and this season, owing to perfect weather conditions, it promises to be even more spectacular than ever. The main wave of colour is expected to arrive in the next week or so and you can keep up with events on the Westonbirt blog – inspiring entries written by Director, Simon Toomer and Curator, Mark Ballard.
Location: Westonbirt Arboretum is in Gloucestershire close to Tetbury.
When: Open all year round, Weekdays: 9am-6pm, Weekends: 8am-6pm.
Stay: The Rectory Hotel
The Rectory Hotel is set in 3 acres of grounds and situated in the beautiful Cotswold triangle of Tetbury, Malmesbury and Cirencester. It bills itself as ‘the laid back country house experience done properly’ and laid back it may well be but the attention to detail is exceptional. Each room is individually designed and the hotel oozes an artful and eclectic style that easily combines antique finds with contemporary pieces.
The Rectory prides itself on its foodie credentials offering a menu of local, organic and foraged foods. The hotel’s sister enterprise The Potting Shed lies just a hop, skip and breath of fresh air down the road. It is an absolute gem, an award winning, pitch perfect gastro pub.
Ecopod and Loch Vision Wildlife Photography, Argyll
Experience the wildlife of Scotland in a unique way on Loch Visions award winning one-day photography adventure on the banks of Loch Awe. You don’t even need a camera as all equipment is included.
Photographer Philip Price starts the day with a one hour tutorial, you then spend the day in a purpose built photography ‘zone’ snapping the wildlife before indulging in a delicious homemade picnic and finally retiring to the studio for further digital tuition learning various PhotoShop techniques and trying them out on your own pictures.
At this time of year on the One Day Experience you can expect to encounter fantastic moths, caterpillars, forest birds and voles scampering around clearing up the nuts. Advanced and Weekend Experience photographers will encounter Red Deer, Grey Seal Pups. Gift vouchers are available for all experiences.
When: Please contact Philip Price at Loch Visions for more details.
Stay: Ecopod Retreat
Ecopod Boutique Retreat is a collection of swanky geodeosic domes overlooking Loch Linnhe, the mountains of Mull and the Kingairloch coastline. Each dome is geared up for the needs of a pampered, design conscious couple seeking eco-friendly peace and tranquility.
Accommodation is self-catering with the aid of cutting-edge design in the hand-made kitchen and the hamper filled with local goodies that awaits you on arrival. A cedar-wood Japanese soaking tub awaits you on the deck overlooking the loch, bliss in all weathers.
Giants in the Forest and The Tontine, Peebleshire
Giants in the Forest is part of the Year of Natural Scotland 2013 and is the creation of Edinburgh based events specialists Vision Mechanics. Throughout the summer months the Giants project has staged a number of outdoor arts workshops aimed at encouraging people, particularly families, to experience Scotland’s amazing wilderness areas.
This month the Giants project culminates in a series of Dark Woods events, if you’ve never done a Dark Woods walk then you’re in for a treat. Expect to encounter a variety of mythical woodland creatures on your earily lit stroll through the woods of Glentress.
Location: Glentress, Peebles. Call 01721 725777 or see the Giants in the Forest website for more details.
When: 24th – 27th Oct – various time slots through the evenings. Also at Bowhill Estate on 18th & 19th Oct and Calgary Art in Nature, Mull on 1st & 2nd November.
Stay: The Tontine
The Tontine is a traditional, family run hotel with a distinctly modern feel. The sort of place you’d be happy taking your kids for a spot of half term, outdoor-shaped high jinx. The Tontine aims itself squarely at the area’s outdoors activity scene and the hotel buzzes with walkers, mountain bikers, anglers and golfers.
There are several dining options within the hotel from the fine dining Adam Room to the more intimate Bistro, the focus is on locally sourced seasonal food.
The Red Deer Rut and Monachyle Mhor, The Trossachs
Autumn heralds the arrival of the most dramatic event in the wildlife calendar, the Red Deer Rut. The hills are filled with the roar of rutting stags. The Stags use their distinct guttural bark to lay claim to breeding hinds (female deer) and ward off the attentions of competing stags. Sometimes the roar is insufficient to settle the score and Stag lock antlers in a potentially lethal battle for supremacy.
September/October marks the height of the rut and visitors to the Trossachs can witness this incredible spectacle first hand on one of the Forestry Commission’s special organised Ranger days operating out of the Lodge Forest Visitor Centre at Aberfoyle. Or with Wild West Safaris. According to Ian MacLeod of Wild West:
“The peak time for rutting is end of September to mid October, however this year it is very late and large mixed groups can still be seen in some areas. This is probably a knock on effect from the very cold April we had which certainly put summer on hold, however this means that for anyone who would like to see the rut, there is still plenty of time.”
Location: Lodge Forest Visitor Centre, Aberfoyle, tel: 01877 382383, email: email@example.com Further up the country, Wild West Safaris operate Red Deer Rut Safaris out of Fort William see www.wildwestsafari.co.uk for details.
When: Wild West Trips last approx. 3.5 hours and run twice a day depending on demand. For real enthusiasts there is an early morning trip, leaving Invergarry about 45 minutes before sunrise in order to capture the best of activity.
Stay: Monachyle Mhor
This isn’t the first time we’ve featured Monachyle Mhor, we don’t often repeat ourselves but we can’t imagine anywhere we’d rather flop after a hard day in the hills chasing down rutting stags. If you flop at Mhor then you can expect to land in the lap of gastronomic luxury.
The incredible family enterprise that is Mhor grew from humble roots when Jean Lewis began to let the odd B&B room in the old farmhouse to supplement the income from her husband Rob’s 2,000 acre sheep and cattle farm. Today Monachyle Mhor is a 14 room country hotel of unique character, style and exceptional standards and Mhor businesses dot the Trossachs raising the game for all around them.
If you know of anyone in need of a rejuvenating outdoor adventure please use the social buttons to Like and Share this post. It’s time to get out there and enjoy the falling leaves.