Skip to main content

The Great Wood of Caledon

The Northern Corries from Glenmore
Watercolour
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.

Comments

  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,
    Bruce

    ReplyDelete
  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

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

    ReplyDelete
  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,
    Keith

    ReplyDelete
  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.

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

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

    ReplyDelete
  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.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Christmas Wishes

A couple of my latest watercolours and -

Best Wishes to all for Christmas

"The Fuel Bowser", Watercolour, 24 x 18 cm

"View at Skelbo", Watercolour, 16 x 26 cm

www.keithtilley.co.uk

Moorland Fire

Moorland Fire Watercolour 25 x 36 cm
There is a definite feeling of approaching autumn now, with some cooler days and more unsettled weather. It hardly seems any time at all since the spring, when there was a long spell of dry weather and the moors were tinder-dry. There were a number of serious fires at the time and several nature reserves were badly damaged. I think they were mostly caused by accident or carelessness this time, but unfortunately there are people who seem to get satisfaction from starting fires deliberately.

The fire in this painting is of a different kind. Every year between, autumn and spring, shooting estates burn off small patches of moorland to leave a patchwork of heather. This encourages the breeding of grouse, with the old growth providing cover and the new shoots providing food. The operation has to be done very carefully, because fires can easily get out of control, and once the underlying peat starts to burn it can burn for days and is very difficult to p…

North Coast 500

In 2015 the North Highland Initiative started a project to boost tourism in the northern counties of Scotland. The idea was to publicise a 500 mile route through Inverness-shire, Ross & Cromarty, Sutherland and my home county of Caithness, and promote it as a superb road trip. I don't know how successful they expected it to be, but it has quickly become very popular and has been called one of the top five coastal routes in the World. In fact its popularity is becoming a problem for the local residents: some of the roads are single-track, with bays at intervals to allow two vehicles to pass each other, but there is an etiquette for their use that strangers are not always aware of. The result is that local people going about their business find themselves held up by slow-moving tourist vehicles, so if you use the route please pull over and allow other vehicles to pass. The amount of traffic will probably also cause damage to the roads, which were not intended for heavy use. Desp…