Autumn in Scotland. The mountains are alight with nature’s glow, the loch is crisp and clear, and the woodlands rustle with the sounds of animals going about their preparatory business. This is Loch Lomond taking a breath after the busy summer months and slowly settling in for the winter. High season is over. Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park is breathtakingly beautiful; against a backdrop of emerald evergreen, the woodland trees glow like fire and the mountain grass becomes a sheet of burnished gold. If there is a better time to come and visit these ancient lands then we have never heard of it.
Autumn, like spring, is a time of change and new beginnings. Nature, after the abundance of the warmer weather, begins to turn in on herself and prepare for the coming of winter. However unconsciously it may occur, we too slip into the patterns of nature and also begin to wind down until spring returns next year.
There are plenty of things to do in Loch Lomond during the autumn, and all the usual suspects are there for your enjoyment. Walking, climbing, kayaking, wakeboarding and more, are all still perfectly feasible at this time of year; especially for those who want a bit of action on their hols. But our money is on soaking up the scenery and recharging the old batteries by becoming one with nature. It is always here, the scenery, the wildlife, and the lands that are as old as time, but during autumn there is a frisson in the air; the snap of a twig and the twist of woodsmoke that makes us thankful for home and hearth. It doesn’t necessarily need to be your own home or hearth; just that feeling of battening down the hatches and taking it nice and slow.
Loch Lomond Woods surround the loch that is Britain’s largest expanse of inland water. Designated an IPA by Plantlife, these woods are of ecological importance and conservation is paramount. One of the oldest and largest sessile oak woods in the UK, you will find ash, elder, elm and oak trees towering above a carpet of fallen leaves, mosses and fungi. You can find out more about these woods and the important conservation work of Plantlife at www.plantlife.org.uk
The woods of Loch Lomond are also desgnated European Special Areas of Conservation for otters.
The areas around Loch Lomond are home to many important species of wildlife, alot of them under vital protection as numbers continue to decline. Capercaillies, the world’s largest grouse now only breed on the islands of Loch Lomond. Once seen all over the woodlands and moorlands, they have been forced to retreat by loss of habitat and disturbance. Black grouse, also in decline, can be found on the moorlands surrounding the area.
Look out for osprey hunting over the water. They will leave for warmer climes at the end of summer but are a magnificent sight if you catch a glimpse before they leave for winter. The shoreline is also home to the water vole. Once a common sight on the waterways of Britain, the water vole is one of our most threatened mammals.
Take a stroll through the woodlands and forests and you may be lucky enough to spot red squirrel. Another of our beautiful animals in decline, the areas around Loch Lomond are one of the few places they still live. Particularly active in autumn, the squirrels are out and about collecting food for the long winter ahead. Deer are also to be found roaming the woods and forests. Stalking does not close until October, so please be respectful and keep an eye out for any diversions that may be in place.
There are many places to watch animals and birds during autumn in Scotland; take a look at the visitScotland website for detailed information.