A little while back I did a review of Forest Holidays in Blackwood Forest. I told the story of how we first discovered them – on our annual trip to Scotland to see my Scottish Mother-in-Law. We were on a day trip to Callandar (to see the woollen mills, of course!) and spotted the cabins glowing like fireflies in the dusk over Loch Lubnaig. We were so intrigued, we turned the car around and took note of the name.
Well … I booked them! We had such a great break. While there I came up with this list of things to do in and around Forest Holiday strathyre. Take a look and see if anything interests you. The good thing about Forest Holidays is you can do a lot … or just relax in the hot tub!
24 things to do at Forest Holidays, Strathyre
1. Explore the forest. Go on an organised woodland walk with the ranger, or grab one of the trail maps and go yourself.
2. Hire bikes. You can explore the area via the cycle paths. They are easy and good exercise.
3. Skim stones on Loch Lubnaig. Find a flat, round stone and fling it into the loch to see how many times it will skip. Our record was 5!
4. Feed the Pine Martens. Put some Sun Pat crunchy peanut on a wooden stick and leave it on your deck. They’ll come every time.
5. Play a board game by the fire. Each cabin has a wood burning fireplace (with a starter kit) and a Scrabble game. You can borrow other games from the Forest Retreat.
6. Brush up on your bush skills. After a short walk into the forest (pushchair friendly) learn some essential forest survival skills on this organised activity, including: wild foods, den building (always a favourite with my girls), navigation and how to light a fire.
7. Go fishing! Bring your equipment or hire fishing gear locally. You can fish for free from the cattle grid to the barrier. There’s salmon, brown trout, perch, arctic char and ferox trout.
8. Try gorge walking! The bravest of adventures can journey down the river and experience flume-like sections of the deep gorge – tackle “Jaws” and “Indies Passage” and squeeze through the “Constriction” and more. Maybe next time.
9. Explore the Loch Lubnaig via a Canadian canoe. Take in the stunning scenery of Loch Lubnaig, Ben Ledi and Strathyre exploring the loch from canoe. We saw herons, swans and birds of prey.
10. Take a nighttime stroll. Grab a flashlight and walk down to the Forest Retreat shop for an after dinner treat. They have really yummy local ice cream and other sweets. We let the girls walk down on their own (they are 10, 11 and 13) and they had quite an adventure.
11. Go for a twilight walk. Wonder a bit further and explore the forest in the dark. The Ranger runs organized walks at dusk to discover the sights and sounds of night falling in the forest. Ends with roasted marshmallows around the fire at the ranger’s den.
12. See who has checked into the bug hotel. They have these “hotels” at all the Forest Holidays sites. Such a cute idea.
13. Bring a book and read by the fire while watching the trees wave in the wind. Enough said.
14. Book a spa treatment. You can get a therapist to come right to your cabin. I’ve never done this, but it sounds wonderful.
15. Have a pizza night in. For quite a good price you can order pizza, garlic bread, a fizzy drink and locally sourced ice cream – delivered right to your door!
16. Try Archery. Find your inner Robin Hood and see if you can hit the bull’s-eye. Not as easy as it sounds.
17. Have fun at quiz night. There are two each week, and it’s for charity.
18. Order fresh-baked breads and croissants or pan a chocolate. Send the kids to pick them up while you have a cup of coffee.
19. Go on a picnic. By the loch? Overlooking the purple hills? The options are endless. Just stop by the local Co-Op in Callandar to pick up some fare and off you go. If you don’t want to bring your own, there’s a “Picnic Butler” who will take you to special places, give a little guidance on foraging and bring the picnic made of local produce for you.
19. Take a pic of a highland cow. They are everywhere, and some will pose for you. 😀
20. Go Ape in Aberfoyle. Go Ape runs the longest zipline and ropes course in Scotland. It’s about 30 minutes by car. Read my full Go Ape Aberfoyle review here. Stay and have lunch at the David Marshall Lodge (they have free wifi!)
21. Take in the views at Duke’s Pass. If you go to Go Ape, drive via Duke’s Pass, regarded as one of Britain’s best drives, which leads you through some of the most scenic parts of the Trossachs. Originally built by the Duke of Montrose in the 1800s to improve access to his estate (of course!) and was later upgraded to accommodate the thousands of Victorian tourists wanting to find the Lady of the Lake’.
22. Cruise Loch Katrine on Sir Walter Scott. You can ride both ways – or bring your bikes on the 10.30 sailing and cycle back (will take about 2 hours). Bring a picnic, or have a bite to eat at the coffee shop.
23. Visit a distillery. Dunstean Distillery is only 20 minutes away, and if you if get Bryan for a tour guide you are in for a real treat. We let the kids have milk shakes and read in the café while we did the 50-minute tour, which includes a tasting.
24. Or just relax in your hot tub with a book and glass of wine or apple juice (plastic glasses provided). All Gold and Silver lodges have hot tubs. Golds even come with two robes and slippers. Bliss.
About Forest Hills Strathyre
The ethos of Forest Hills is to relax and have fun in a woodland environment. They are eco-friendly, right down to environmentally friendly cleaning products and several recycling options. Each Forest Hills location is a bit different. I found the Gold cabin at Strathyre slightly smaller and older than the ones at Blackwood Forest in Hampshire. The decks (and hot tubs) are that wee bit smaller, and I preferred that layout in Hampshire (all on one level). But Strathyre has the Loch and all that has to offer.
There’s no wifi, and very limited mobile reception. We found O2 to be the best (3 was non-existent). See my notes below for wifi options. The park hopes to install wifi soon and if they do I will be back next Autumn. You can usually get the cabins for a good price (especially if you book before you leave). There are lots of extras and you do need to pay (for example, we ran out of toilet paper and dishwasher tablets). The good news is that it’s all available in the shop and you can usually purchase individually.
My list of things to pack:
- A few dishwasher tablets
- A couple extra toilet rolls
- Paper towels
- I bring my Le Creuset 26-inch pot. Saucepans are provided, but I just love mine.
- There’s a cafetiere, so bring coffee
- Shampoo & Conditioner (there are sample sizes, and a small soap, provided)
- Extra towels and slippers (although these are provided in golds)
- Board games (come with Scrabble, and a can borrow some)
- Books to read
- Swim suit (for the hot tub)
- Gloves (for canoeing)
IF YOU GO
Forest Holidays, Strathyre Callander, Perthshire FK17 8HF +44 0333 011 0495 www.forestholidays.co.uk
Lade Inn. Kilmahog, Callander FK17 8HD +44 01877 330152. theladeinn.com A nice pub and the closest wifi!
Deanston Distillery Doune, Stirling FK16 6AG +44 01786 843010 deanstonmalt.com
Go Ape! Aberfoyle David Marshall Lodge, Queen Elizabeth Forest Park, Aberfoyle, Stirling FK8 3SY +44 0845 643 9215 goape.co.uk Zip wire heaven in Loch Lomond. Set in Queen Elizabeth Forest Park near Sterling, two of the UK’s longest zip wires over 400m long and 150 feet above the ground. The Lodge Cafe has a great menu and features floor to ceiling views of forest.
Steamship Sir Walter Scott Trossachs, Perthshire FK17 8HZ +44 01877 376315 lochkatrine.com
Katrine Wheelz Invertrossachs Road, Callander FK17 8HW +44 1877 331100katrinewheelz.co.uk Rent bikes, takes the 10.30 Sir Walter Scott steamer to the far end of Loch Katrine, and take a leisurely cycle (1 and ½ to 3 hours, depending on ability). It’s a bit hilly, but the views are oh, so worth it.