Glen Orchy: Caledonian Pinewood Reserve

On our way back from Crianlarich Youth Hostel we paused in beautiful Glen Orchy, following in the footsteps of Steven and Carlisle, who – back in the 1950’s – alerted the world to one of Scotland’s unique ecosystems: the Caledonian Pinewoods. A few years ago I wrote about the nearby unfenced and unannounced Tyndrum pinewood: we were keen to see how this one – named Allt Broighleachan – would compare.

This time a signpost at the car park said “Caledonian Pinewood Reserve”. We followed a forestry track up the steep side valley (“allt” is Gaelic for a fast flowing hill/mountain stream) and noted some old Granny pines close to the water – sadly all now dead (apart from one which was still just about hanging on). Why was this the case? Was it partly due to the presence of the surrounding Sitka spruce plantations?

We swung south, the valley opened out and we reached the fenced reserve.

glen orchy cfr

Inside the fence, it felt protected: a sanctuary. We came across Granny pines on rocky hummocks, a Phoenix alder and even some juniper (all looking the same age and evenly spaced – must have been planted).

It wasn’t long before we were outside the fence again, and climbing. This gave us great views of the regenerating forest (see main photograph). Young pines were popping up amongst the flourishing birch, and this raised our spirits.

If only there could be more such reserves, and vastly bigger! Trees for Life are doing a fantastic regenerative job in a number of areas described by Steven and Carlisle, but I am not aware of them being involved in any of the four southern areas: Black Mount, Glen Orchy, Tyndrum and Glen Falloch. I am hoping to bring these neglected areas to their attention.

About edwardtyler

I live in Kintyre, the long peninsula acting as a natural breakwater for the Firth of Clyde, west of Glasgow. A Permaculture and Transition practitioner, I am working with fellow community activists to co-create a resilient and vibrant local bioregion.

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