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The Great Wood of Caledon

The Northern Corries from Glenmore
25 x 36 cm

I've talked before about the ancient pinewoods of Scotland: At one time the Great Wood of Caledon covered most of the Highlands with a more-or-less continuous area of forest and mountains.

Caledonian pine forest is a mixed woodland of Scots Pines and other native trees. It forms a unique habitat and home to some of Britain's rarest species, including the Capercaillie and the Scottish Crossbill.

Over the centuries much of the forest has been cleared for grazing land and for shooting grouse and deer. A few areas survive and some of the largest are in the Cairngorms National Park, where efforts are being made to allow them to regenerate naturally.

The main threat to these forest now is overgrazing by deer. There are no large predators in Scotland and the size of the deer population has become a problem, especially for the regeneration of forests. Any young trees that become established are browsed by the deer, resulting in a dying habitat that has only old trees. Where deer are fenced out or controlled the young trees can grow undisturbed and regeneration can take place. There has been some discussion of the possibility of re-introducing wolves to control the deer, but it seems unlikely that there could ever be agreement on that.

It's remarkable how quickly empty areas of heather moorland can be colonised by trees. The bare mountain slopes we see today are a man-made landscape, which could eventually return to a new Great Wood of Caledon with a bit of help from us to undo the damage we have done.


  1. A superb watercolour with a wonderful sense of depth... yet with enough detail in its far reaches to make it interesting to the eye from front to back!

    Enjoyed the additional historical facts about the evolution of the landscape as well Keith.Why is it that man always regards himself as the force necessary to right what has gone awry rather than becoming aware of his influence in bringing about the problem and preventing the problem in the first place? I wonder?...

    Great post!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,

  2. Keith, what a lovely painting, your landscapes are at the top.
    As for the post about trees, my favorite subject, I am a 'tree hugger' as is jokingly known here. I'm first out the door when I hear that damn chainsaw! I have been an activist for trees for years and try to educate some idiots who cut down a tree because too many leaves in their driveway. ! Things like that drive me wild.!
    So many just don't understand the benefit of a tree.
    Only by education can the public understand. I may do a post on my Journey blog about this... Hug a tree !!! Barbra Joan

  3. Hi Keith.
    Lovely painting Keith. Sad about the Deer and the Pines.
    Keep those lovely paintings going. All the best.

  4. Good Morning Bruce, thanks for your appraisal of the painting, which I value as always.

    I would like to think that we live in more enlightened times and that some of the damage done in the past would not be repeated. I have a feeling though that History will judge us to have been just as thoughtless.

    All the best,

  5. Hi Barbra Joan, isn't it strange that people love to visit forests and admire the trees, but don't like living next to them. Maybe it's time we realised that we are part of nature and not separate from it.

  6. Look at that distance!!
    Unbelievable how you maneged to make it sooo deep, and
    yet so clear.

  7. Thanks René, I think the transparency of watercolour helps a lot with getting an impression of distance.

  8. That is so beautiful, Keith. I love all the lines of colour - I think that there may be eight. It is a realistic painting, but it has this amazing abstract feel about it.


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