Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Beeches in the mist

There is always time for a climb and the other day Nic and I managed to nip up this lovely beech on a misty, damp morning. The beech and oak forest floor was thick with deep coppery leaves and I say you're never to old to swish through them! The beech was modest and note to self, not all trees have to be giants or loom up out of the forest; we had lots of fun!

Going up - Nic heading for the top
A fine oak and the view from the beech


Monday, 16 January 2017

Beauty of a beech

With it's toes tickling the banks of the River Tweed,  a beauty of a beech stands in a clump of sycamore, poplar and beech, quietly growing so tall and fine that it has taken me nearly four decades to notice it. As a kid I had sausage sizzles and swam in the river here, and as an adult I've hiked the river trails and watched kingfishers zip past and goosanders do their thing. Back in the autumn I was drawn into the wood by a great gnarled beech. It was then I noticed it's neighbour, so straight and towering above me. Determined to see exactly how big it is I made plans to come back and climb it...

Back in November with leaves on....and below, a few months later in January. So tall and straight, the first limb is not until nearly halfway up and took a few throws to get the throwline in!

Superb view from the top! Dropped the tape measure line down a clear run to the ground and then, where it was too skinny for me to climb to, I used a cunning extension kit (aka an old Quasar tent pole) to reach up to the king twig. Adding these two figures together gave a very respectable height of 32.32m!


At 26m: tea anyone?!

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Roots of Arran Community Woodland

A dark, louring sky heavy with cloud hid the great mountains at the heart of the island. Rain flecked the outside of my waterproofs but inside I was both cosy, and excited to be exploring a very special place. South of Brodick on the bonny island of Arran is a woodland new in the growing. Formed in 2002, the Roots of Arran Community Woodland is converting an area of clear felled commercial forestry back to wild, native woodland. The area, known as the Fairy Glen or Lag a Bheith, now contains oodles of fine young  beech, hazel, willow, oak, alder, blackthorn and even some fruit trees in a specially enclosed orchard area.  There is also a great grove of good-sized beech where you can also find funky art pieces and signs of the woodland-friendly community. A few old oaks are covered in thick moss and lots of that distinctive fern. The fern is a native called the Resurrection fern and is an epiphyte that lives on the branches and trunks of trees, especially live oaks. The rain made the colours even richer and the droplets on the tips of the Scot's pine needles glistened like beads of silver. And then I found the fruits, bright as Christmas decorations, treasure indeed! Check out recent news and go visit the magical Roots of Arran Community Woodland!




Snow day, more pines

Gorgeous crisp, snowy days at last and the Scot's pines look so ruddy fine in the blue sky snows. Well, that was yesterday, all back to grey today sadly...

This is a mighty fine pine, and nearby is a particularly eerie auld ash!

Saturday, 14 January 2017

There be giants!

I wandered along a Forest Commission track on Arran on a particulary fine, sunny New Year's Day. A flock of bullfinches called softly from a bush and a woodcock sloughed itself up off the leaf-strewn bank at my feet. I was out giant hunting in the marvellous Merkland Woods. Lying off the west coast of central Scotland is the magnificent isle of Arran. And on Arran's eastern shore just north of the town of Brodick and close to Brodick Castle is this area of fine old woodland full of great oaks, beech, birch and towering Scot's pines. A muckle Silver Fir at the road end planted in 1780 gives a hint of the planting scheme back then and it is likely that the Scot's pines, or Scot's furr's or Scot's firs were from the 1806-07 planting. The scale of those plantings is quite something and the pines accounted for 20% or 28,000 of the 131,000 trees planted in that period (a big thanks to Andy Walker of FCS). I headed into the forest following a sign that said Giants Trail and found these....