Day Seven: Thursday, May 15
Reelig Glen

Here is a bit about Reelig Glen which we visited today. It is about a 30 minute drive from Aigas. ("Reelig" is Norse for "mill".)

Reelig Glen Wood is a mixture of old conifer and broadleaved trees, set in a narrow, steep-sided glen with the Moniack Burn running through its midst.

This old policy woodland had been in the same family of Frasers for some 500 years until it was sold to the Forestry Commission in 1949. The present character of Reelig Glen owes much to James Baillie Fraser (1783 - 1856) who planted many of the trees which are found here today.

At the top end of the forest trail, look out for the 19th century stone bridge and grotto which were based on works admired by the owner while travelling on the continent. The stone bridge is noted for its very shallow arch.

The most impressive feature of the woodland in Reelig Glen is the stand of Douglas Fir trees, well over 100 years old with an average height of 160 - 170 feet, around 50 metres.

One speciman measured in 2000 was over 200 feet in height. When the tree was remeasured and confirmed at 64 metres, it was the tallest tree In Britain at the time. After a local competition, it was named Dughall Mor.

Source: Scottish Forestry Commission

When the trees of Reelig Glen were planted it was the Victorian Era. It was common for people of means to show off by having lavish gardens. If that garden was planted with species from all over the globe it was a living statement about how well travelled you were as well as how wealthy. A status symbol of sorts. And thus Reelig Glen was born and today we would enjoy the fruits of those plantings nearly 200 years later.

It should be noted the vast majority of trees grown in Scotland are non-native species and only 1% of the original forest of Caledonia remains. What one sees now are vast tracts of non-native species rowed out like corn. The tracts are ecologically sterile with a barren forest floor. When mature, the tracts are clear cut and replanted.
Many of the tracts are composed of Sitka Spruce, Douglas Fir and Asian Larch.

  Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

As you can see, the cool, damp weather continues.

  Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Here, Ranger Kate talks about the Douglas Fir planted in the Glen.

  Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

A Douglas Fir cone. Note the distintive wings/bracts.

  Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

This was an average sized Douglas Fir.

  Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

A lovely stand of Douglas along Moniack Burn. Burn is there word they use for creek, run, brook, stream.

  Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

An out of focus look at a False Morel we found on an old log.

  Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

The white flower in the background is Wood Sorrel. Very similar to the one we have in the eastern US.

  Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Here, Betsy points out the song of the Wren. We kept hearing a song which similar to the Winter Wren of back home. Betsy had one of the Rangers play the song ofthe Wren and that was it!
All our wrens have two names: Winter Wren, House Wren, Marsh Wren, etc. It seemed odd to us to have a bird named just "Wren".

  Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Ramps! Not sure if this is the (Allium tricoccum) of home or not, but it is very similar.

  Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Here we have what is known as a "Victorian Folly", the placement of out of context structures for the purpose of impressing your visitors.

  Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image   Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

This is the shallow arch bridge mentioned in the intro above. Tricky engineering...

  Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

One of the most common ferns we have seen since arriving in Scotland is the Hard Fern (Blechnum spicant). It is common in the Pacific northwest of the US.

  Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

The brown stem at the end of my finger is the spore bearing or "fertile" frond. The green fronds have no spore bearing structures. In the world of ferns this is known as having dimorphic fronds.
Very sexy...

  Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

This nearly vertical trail cut was plastered with Blechnum.

  Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

A testament to the well travelled James Baillie Fraser. This Hondo fir is native to Japan, Korea and Eastern Siberia. Note the tilt sign. When you let go it drops into a protective slot cut into the post. Clever.

  Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

That is one big Douglas Fir! I wonder if there are any this big in the US.

  Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

The Western Hemlock was represented as well. Although they must have been recently planted as none were over 30' tall.

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Western Hemlock.

  Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

This is Grand Fir (Abies grandis), another species from the northwest of the US and parts of Canada.

  Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Another very common fern here is the Male Fern (Dryopteris fexi-mas). The fronds shown here are from last years growth.

  Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

This is Silver Fir (Abies alba). It was introduced into Scotland in the late 1500s, early 1600's. It is native to the central and southern mountains of Europe. There are some specimens on old estates which are nearly 7' feet in diameter.

  Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Many of the trees have been "limbed up" to allow a better view of the giant trunks.

  Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

This is a Yew Tree (Taxus). It is a slow growing species so one can only guess how hold this specimen is.

  Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

The walk was over before any of us wanted it to be so we continued on up the other side of the Glen. But, the loop was closed and it was not long before we were heading back to the van.

  Photo by Mike Breiding - Click for larger image

Last shot of the day - the lovely Wind Flower.

We arrived back at Aigas in time for afternoon tea and crumpets.
Later, Betsy and I got a surprise towards the end of dinner when the lights dimmed and Lucy came out with a cake with three candles in it. Yep, another year had slipped by and it was now our 31st Wedding Anniversary!

Where will we be on our 32nd...?

 

 

 

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