In the Woods

The Black Woods of Rannoch are a particularly favourite stroll. One of the Caledonian Forest reserves (the only one I know in Perthshire), they boast many native and rare flora species – Scots Pine, birch, rowans, alder, willow and juniper and lichens and fungi – as well as being home to wild deer (as I discovered when a stag suddenly trundled right across the path barely 20yd in front of me).

Interaction with mankind is a different matter. There’s something about the flow and depth of river water in the weir that creeps me out, but the text on the last sign-post says:

The Black Wood of Rannoch Canals

Before you you can see a ditch cut through the heather. This dates from around 1800 and once formed part of a York Building Company scheme to remove timber from the Black Wood of Rannoch. In order to extract the logs they devised a system of canals (the ditch before you was the lowest of the three canals).

The scheme provided a great deal of work and employed most of the men and women of the district. Over four miles of canals had to be dug using picks and shovels. The trees then had to be felled before being floated along the canals and then down a chute to Loch Rannoch. The logs were tied together in rafts for the journy down the loch to Kinloch Rannoch, then sent singly down the Rivers Tummel and Tay to their final destination at Perth and Dundee.

If the project had been a success, the Black Wood of Rannoch would have ben completely destroyed. In the event, the plan to float the logs down the rivers did not work. The scheme was abandoned, and the wood saved.

Employment just does justify desecration. The woods are too special.