The Great Wood of Caledon

The Northern Corries from Glenmore, watercolour, 25 x 36 cm

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 managed the young trees can grow undisturbed and regeneration can take place.

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.

Location -


  1. Great atmospheric effects as the space recedes to the mountains. Keith. It's painterly effects closely mimic the delicate palette of early Japanese water colorists and printmakers. A beautiful and sensitively handled work Keith. Bravo!

    Warmest regards,

    1. Hi Bruce,

      Yes, you're right, it does have echoes of oriental prints doesn't it. I've always admired those, so perhaps they were in my mind as I was painting this.

      Thanks for your perceptive comment.

      All the best,


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