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There are only about 140,000 red squirrels in Great Britain, making them a rare sight. They are known for their fearless personality and adorable appearance and are always munching on something when you see them.
Although you can’t find squirrels in your pants (cue the Phineas and Ferb song), you can still spot them in certain places in Scotland! Here are the places you can go to for a red squirrel sighting.
Location: Strathpeffer, UK
Blackmuir Wood is one of the most common places to spot some red squirrels during your walk. There are two main trails: Red Kite Trail and Touchstone Maze Trail.
The former is shorter and has impressive views of Ben Wyvis, and the latter is more complicated with several slopes. But apart from that, the woods have an old curling pond, ancient Scottish rocks, and an Iron Age hill fort worth checking out.
We suggest you go on an early morning walk in the woods for the best chance to see red squirrels, foxes, deer, and more. Plus, the stunning scenery is a good start to your day.
Location: Moray, UK
With a vast expanse of pine woods, Culbin Forest is a haven for all nature lovers, especially red squirrel enthusiasts. You can find several of them here, along with other species including plants, fungi, and wildlife like roe deer and badgers.
Apart from its diverse flora and fauna, you’ll love the breathtaking views across the Moray Firth. Whether you want to walk, hike, or bike, you can do all of them here as it boasts several trails, including the Gravel Pit Ponds trail and Hill 99 Trail.
We suggest you pack a picnic and enjoy the tranquil scenery by the duck pond. Or, you can even watch some seals from a distance.
Location: Ellon, UK
You’ll feel a little blast from the past when you stroll through the Gight Wood. It’s known as one of the last remnants of woodland in Aberdeenshire, found on the slopes of River Ythan.
When we were here, we got lucky enough to see a few red squirrels, brown hares, and foxes. But that’s not all, because beautiful flora like bluebells and wildflowers can also be seen in this 87-acre broadleaved woodland.
Apart from finding red squirrels in autumn, walk to the ruins of Gight Castle for a little spook to your adventure. It was built and owned by the Gordons, a noble family in Huntly, in the early 16th century.
Location: Westhill, UK
Contact details: +44 122 489 7400
Carnie Woods is one of the national forests of Scotland – meaning being managed by the government. Found on the edge of Westhill, this vast woodland is home to various plants and species, red squirrels being one of them.
It was noted that there are more than 20 red squirrels in this 27-acre site. They even have a designated feeding nook where you can place a few treats for them like peanuts and sunflower seeds for the best chance of seeing them up close.
Foxlane Garden Centre and Cafe are one of the nearest attractions to the woods where you can have some cake and refreshing drinks. The centre also has stocks of good shrubs, bedding plants, and fertilisers if you’re interested in gardening.
Location: Forfar, UK
Contact details: +44 130 784 0393
From the moment you set foot inside Glamis Castle, you’ll be transported through the rich history of Scotland back to 1372. For 650 years, this ancient fortress has been home to spectacular gardens and a beautiful interior, owned by the Lyon family.
As you walk around the area, particularly its nature trail, you’ll spot red squirrels nibbling on some seeds. What’s more, you might find a roe deer and kingfishers if your lucky fortune aligns.
Although it’s tempting to buy some souvenirs in the castle shop, they have hefty price tags. We suggest looking through stores in the centre of Forfar for cheaper options.
Loch Ard Forest
Location: Stirling, UK
Situated between Aberfoyle and the foothills of Loch Lomond, the Loch Ard Forest is a picturesque location filled with long forest roads and safe footpaths. It’s an ideal place for some wildlife spotting, walking, cycling, and horse riding, among others.
Take the time to stroll around the different trails like Forth Valley Viewpoint or Lochan Spling for a chance to see some red squirrels. You may even see a red or roe deer, capercaillie, and barn owls from a decent distance.
Apart from sightseeing, we also did a little kayaking (Best Lochs To Kayak In Scotland) on Loch Ard in the early morning – and that mist with the tranquil surroundings was an irreplaceable moment.
Galloway Forest Park
Location: Newtown Stewart, UK
Contact details: +44 300 067 6800
Dubbed as the largest forest in the United Kingdom (UK), Galloway Forest Park expands up to 297 square miles. It’s also the first Dark Sky Park in the UK and the fourth in the world.
But more than its stunning scenery, it’s also home to a Red Squirrel Priority Woodland. You can see these adorable creatures playing in their natural environment while you’re here.
Kirroughtree is the most popular visitor centre for adrenaline junkies, and it’s where red squirrels are most spotted.
Eskrigg Nature Reserve
Location: Lockerbie, UK
You’re bound to see a red squirrel posing for a photo on your visit to Eskrigg Nature Reserve, as we did. These cute animals can be seen out and about, around the peaceful woodlands.
Apart from the red squirrels, the area has tawny owls, kingfishers, mute swans, and more for you to check out. There are a bunch of woodland trails for you to uncover, and they even have a 3-kilometre hardcore circuit with disabled access.
If you want to go birdwatching, there’s a good hide by the pond, in the centre of the site. You’ll see various species here such as woodpeckers and nuthatches.
Location: Fort William, UK
We may know of Leanachan Forest as the renowned hub of outdoor activities with its mix of cycling, running, and walking trails under the northern slopes of Ben Nevis (Best Munros Scotland). But did you know that it’s also a great place to spot some red squirrels?
These cheeky creatures may be few but it’s worth the exploration. Not only will you sweat a lot but you’ll also immerse yourself in peaceful scenery when you’re here.
One of the best walking trails is the one through River Lundie. It’s relatively quick where you pass along the riverside with glimpses of mountain views.
Location: Tain, UK
With its rich variety of habitats, Morangie Forest is known as a European Special Protection Area. In fact, you’ll find several red squirrels here up to the famous distillery, Glenmorangie.
Before taking a shot of a whisky, explore the large forest first which has an Aldie Burn car park that’s accessible for everyone, especially those with special needs. You can also bike in the Ardross cycle route but make sure to watch out for some red squirrels.
Wear some wellies, gloves and trousers when you walk around the forest. We noticed several muddy sections along with a few paths that have overgrown plants.
Glenmore Forest Park
Location: Aviemore, UK
Contact details: +44 300 067 6100
Whether it’s looking for squirrels or hiking some mountains, you can try them out here at Glenmore Forest Park. It’s found in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park and is designated as a National Nature Reserve.
The most common species found in its marked trails are red squirrels, crested tits, and crossbills. On top of that, the Loch Morlich is situated in the centre which is a stunning freshwater loch with a golden sand beach at one end.
The best time to go to the park is during weekday mornings for the least number of visitors. You’ll have the best chance of spotting some wildlife if it’s quiet, including red squirrels and deer.
Queen Elizabeth Forest Park
Location: Stirling, UK
This forest park was named after Queen Elizabeth II when she was crowned in 1953. For the past few decades, it’s been a go-to site for most Scots with its lush scenery, majestic lochs, and rugged mountains.
But we like how there are a bunch of wildlife species living in the area. This includes our favourite red squirrels, roe deer, golden eagles, and elegant osprey.
The best spot to find some squirrels is through the wildlife hide near the signposted extension at the Little Fawn Waterfall. This is part of the Waterfall Walk which is a short stroll, perfect for all ages.