Kirkhill Forest is only a couple of miles outside of Aberdeen, just of the main Inverness road (A96). It is quite a dense forest and runs up over the range of hills that run parallel to the coast, but with Aberdeen in between.
There are forest walks on both sides of the A96. To the south you will find the Tyrebagger Forest, and to the north, Kirkhill Forest which confusingly climbs the side of Tyrebagger Hill. It is this latter area that I am going to look at in this post.
Kirkhill Forest is popular with mountain-bikers and there are plenty of trails away from the paths for those that enjoy these more active pursuits. However, especially in the winter months, in places it can get fairly muddy, with all the traffic through the area. In centuries past the area was known for it's marshy/boggy ground and even in the summer months, off the path, it can be quite soft underfoot.
Kirkhill Forest itself is made up mainly of conifers that stand tall and straight (it is a working forest), with little foliage at the lower levels. In places the trees are very dense and little light gets through.
As you walk up the path from the car park, the route winds it's way around the lower parts of Tyrebagger Hill and is a steady climb for most of the way. Paths split off of the main trail and the mountain biking routes intersect it as well. Sometimes it is a little tricky to work out which way to go, so I would certainly advise taking a map of the forest, or using an app on your phone to check your position, at least until you are familiar with the area. I use the Ordnance Survey app, which I find to be excellent, just remember to download your maps before you go (although you do get a good signal around most of the forest). The route that I followed can be viewed HERE.
I am, very much attracted to woodland photography, but I am happy to admit that I still have a long way to go before I will be happy with my work. The photos in this article have been taken over at least three different visits. This is the big advantage with being drawn to a location that is quite nearby. I can keep going back and perfecting the images that I get there.
As you near the top of the hill there are areas of more open ground and it is possible to see wider areas. I spent twenty minutes watching a Buzzard perched on a couple of trees overlooking an area of open ground. Unfortunately, I didn't manage to see it actually go for any prey, but it was still fascinating watching it. Oh, and by the way, it was was a little too far away for me to get any decent photos. The following, rather blurry, photo was about the best I got.
Around the top of Tyrebagger Hill there is an area of heathland that has only sparse trees and is mainly covered with heather. There were plenty of bees around and a few butterflies, but I suppose the main thing about being on this hilltop is the commanding view all around, with the sea and Aberdeen to the East and ever higher hills to the south and west.
At the very top of the hill is a small, Victorian, stone built viewing platform called the "Tappie Tower" that takes you even higher, above the surrounding countryside.
I will continue to visit Kirkhill Forest and my quest for the perfect woodland photograph will continue...