Thursday 12 July 2018

A Sad, Damaged Landscape

The heather moorland landscape I walked through on the walk described in my last post typified what is happening in much of the Eastern Highlands (and also the Southern Uplands). I hadn’t visited this area before, but I suspected it would be similar ones in terms of environmentally damaging developments and, sadly, it was.

Lower down there are positive developments with large fenced areas for forest renewal, achieved by a mix of regeneration and planting. The track through the trees was new and wide however and showed signs of heavy vehicle use. It continued above the forest, climbing into the hills all the way to the skyline. Soon I could see a big digger high above. Around me the boggy moor showed many signs of management for grouse shooting – burned areas, old shooting butts, drainage ditches, Fenn traps over every burn.

I passed the digger and reached a junction with a No Entry sign and an arrow and the letters SSE. I was to see several more of these during the day. I guess the signs are for the Tom nan Clach windfarm, which is under construction not far to the north, and is to keep heavy vehicles off the estate tracks. At one point the new and old tracks paralleled each other for quite a way. The old estate tracks have blended in a little. The news ones may do so but they are better constructed and drained and dug deeper into the peat, so I suspect they won’t. 

On reaching the broad ridge I came on a sand and gravel quarry, presumably providing material for the new tracks. 

I was in the mist now and the sound of machinery soon faded as I headed for the summit of Carn Glas-choire. For a short while I could imagine I was somewhere relatively unspoilt. Then I reached the top. Just beyond the trig point was a new fence, with construction materials littering the ground and the cairn. I’m not sure what this fence is for as it’s not high enough to keep out deer. The base is folded flat on the ground to stop creatures getting under it. I’ve seen this used to keep rabbits out down in the glens but up here?

On the descent I soon came on another mix of old and new tracks. Dropping down a big corrie I saw many more Fenn traps on logs over streams. These are legal if set properly (this is a good piece on these traps and their requirements). I don’t like traps of any sort that maim and kill any creatures though and seeing them is always dispiriting. That there are so many of these here shows the estate is really keen to protect grouse to the detriment of other wildlife. 

Over-managed grouse moors, traps for wildlife, bulldozed roads, wind farms – a typical estate in the Eastern Highlands. I won’t be back.

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