Over the years I’ve visited many of the old native pinewoods that are remnants of the original Caledonian Forest, which formerly covered much of the Highlands. However, I’d never been to the most westerly of those pinewood areas, at Shieldaig in Wester Ross, so at the beginning of August I decided to rectify this omission. Earlier in the summer, when I’d been visiting the nearby Ben Damph Estate, I’d come as far as the village of Shieldaig, but hadn’t made it to the pinewood itself then. [Read more…] about A visit to Scotland’s most westerly pinewood
In late May, we organised a trip for seven Trees for Life staff, plus eight other people from Scottish conservation organisations (including one of our board members) to southwest Norway. We flew over to Stavanger and were met there by Duncan Halley, a Scotsman who has lived in Norway for about 20 years, working for NINA, the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, and who had very generously offered to be our guide for the week we’d be there.
In 1997, the Forestry Commission’s research branch made a remarkable discovery when they were surveying a remote and small remnant of the native pinewoods of the Caledonian Forest in Glen Loyne, in Lochaber. They found that the average age of the 80 or so surviving old Scots pines (Pinus sylvestris) there was 440 years, with one individual 550 years old, making them the oldest known pines in Scotland.
After my visit to the Barrach Wood at Cougie near Glen Affric in late November last year, I was keen to return and explore more of this special area so in early January I made it the destination for my first trip of the new year. The small remnant of the Caledonian Forest there straddles the burn called Allt Riabhach, and whereas in November I’d been on the south of the watercourse, this time I went to the north side, where the bulk of the woodland is situated. [Read more…] about Return to the Barrach Wood
In between Christmas and New Year we had some cold frosty days, coming on the heels of a recent snowfall, so I took the opportunity of spendng a day out in an area of native woodland in the Spey River Valley, just to the north of Aviemore. I’d passed by there the day before, on my way to Aviemore with my partner Pupak and her mother to do some shopping, and I’d seen that some small areas had been experienced freezing fog, coating all the trees in a thick layer of hoar frost, and it was that which had drawn me back for a day of photography.
The Barrach Wood is a small native Caledonian Forest pinewood remnant at Cougie, to the south of Loch Beinn a’Mheadhoin in Glen Affric, in the upper part of the River Glass catchment. As such, it is located in between Glen Affric and Glenmoriston, to the northwest of Dundreggan. Despite its proximity to one of the places I spend the most time in – Glen Affic – and the fact that I’ve passed it by at various times over the years, I’d never actually taken the time to explore the Barrach Wood before. [Read more…] about A day in the Barrach Wood
Every year in October, I set aside two weekends to go out camping in the Caledonian Forest, to make the most of the opportunities to photograph the autumn colours of the trees. It’s my favourite time of year to be in the forest, especially as there are often wind-still mornings with mist or fog, which provide a wonderful atmospheric ambience to the landscapes. [Read more…] about Tranquil autumn morning at Loch Achilty
After the lecture in Brighton on 19th April, I went up to London for the start of the last week of the Lecture Tour. The talk in London was one of the better attended ones, and the audience included two directors from the company Phoenix Trading Ltd., which made a substantial donation to us recently – they hope to come to the planting of our Millionth Tree itself at Dundreggan on 20th May. It also included Richard Buggs, a researcher at Queen Mary University College in London, who has recently obtained funding for a 3 year PhD project for a student to do work on dwarf birch (Betula nana), that will be based largely at our Dundreggan Estate. [Read more…] about The last week of the Lecture Tour
After the first week of the Millionth Tree Lecture Tour, I had a day off from public talks on Sunday 15th April. I stayed with some good friends and long-time Trees for Life supporters, Geoff and Lisa Sharp, at their farmhouse home in Somerset, which dates from the 14th century. It was a very nice place to rest and relax, being peaceful and secluded out in the country, with a view to the famous Tor at Glastonbury in the distance. [Read more…] about More from the Millionth Tree Lecture Tour
On Sunday 8th April, I headed south from Findhorn for the English and Welsh legs of the Millionth Tree Lecture Tour that I’m doing as part of the build-up to the planting of our millionth tree at Dundreggan on 20th May. After an overnight stop at a vegan Bed & Breakfast near Kendal in the English Lake District, I continued down to Wales, where my first lecture was scheduled for lunchtime on Tuesday 10th April at the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT), near Machynlleth. [Read more…] about On the Millionth Tree Lecture Tour