Aloft, the ash and warrior oak

Photo: Copyright Coralie Mills

Our guided ‘heritage tree’ walk at Loch Katrine on 5th September 2010 celebrated the bicentenary of Sir Walter Scott’s publication of The Lady of the Lake as part of the Scottsland celebrations.  This epic poem features beautiful descriptions of Loch Katrine’s landscape, and its huge success in 1810 contributed much to the development of tourism in the Trossachs. In 1817 Scott wrote the novel Rob Roy, which generated further interest in the scenery and history of Loch Katrine.

Our walk focussed on the massive changes wrought in the Katrine landscape between the lifetimes of Rob Roy McGregor, born 1671, and Walter Scott, born a century later in 1771. In Rob Roy’s time, a series of small tenant farms along South Katrine engaged in dairying, cattle farming and mixed subsistence farming, heavily dependant on the wood pastures for grazing and especially for winter shelter. Rob Roy would have known all of these farms and would have passed by some young ash trees in this area, some of which survive still, now as magnificent veteran trees.

By the time Walter Scott first visited the Trossachs towards the end of the 18th century, most of these small farms had gone, or amalgamated, replaced by larger sheep farms, much less dependant on wood pasture. By this time, valuable oak woods were enclosed by the landowner, The Duke of Montrose, and coppiced for bark and charcoal production.

Photo: Copyright Coralie Mills

The guided walk was led by Peter Quelch and Coralie Mills, based on research by PQ, CM and Mairi Stewart on the woodland history of this landscape, funded by Forestry Commission Scotland. More information can be found on the Projects page. Our thanks to all those who attended the walk, to the Great Trossachs Forest partners and the Scottsland initiative for support, and to Liz Shortall and Susan Nash of FCS for helping with the event.

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