Tim Lucas Forest Management

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News about my work as a forestry consultant, with the occasional comment about other matters.

Getting into the spirit of things on the Island of Rum

I have just returned from spending five days on the Island of Rum, surveying rhododendron and cotoneaster for the Community Trust and Scottish Natural Heritage. 

In fact, I returned a couple of days ago, but I have been busy doing the post survey GIS work and tidying-up the fieldwork results so I have only just found the time to make this post.

The trip came about because rhododendron and cotoneaster have been doing what they do best: being a nuisance and spreading into places where they should not be.  In that regard, the cotoneaster has formed extensive stands as an understorey in some of the woodland under the Trust's management and, somewhat less frequently, across adjacent hill ground that SNH manages.

Likewise, the rhododendron has been up to it's usual tricks and doing the same, this time forming some really nasty stands on very boggy ground that was not at all fun to survey in the, sometimes inclement, weather.

Both the Community Trust and SNH intend to do something about these hooligan plant species, so they asked me to establish the extent of the the problem and suggest some approaches to dealing with each area. 

Regarding that weather, I experienced a couple of really wet days that stretched my recording methods to breaking point. My waterproof document holder wasn't and it was a challenge to keep charging my electronic mapping device from a portable powerbank when everything was soaking wet.

Fortunately, I prevailed and the work was completed on time.  I even had a couple of very nice days while in the field and took some photos during this time and while I was waiting for the ferry home.

I thought that I would show some of the photos here and provide some links for further information on Rum.

As a destination for some peaceful rest and relaxation, Rum is well worth a visit.  The ferry timetable provides an opportunity to spend a few hours exploring the Kinloch area in both summer and winter and there is a modern bunkhouse and camping (owned by the community trust) for longer stays.

But first, let's get started with the pictures. 

Mallaig harbour looking bonny from the ferry on the day of departure.

Mallaig harbour looking bonny from the ferry on the day of departure.

There were great views of the West Coast from the ferry - plenty of harbour porpoises too (others have seen dolphins and even the occasional whale)

There were great views of the West Coast from the ferry - plenty of harbour porpoises too (others have seen dolphins and even the occasional whale)

The castle at Kinloch, seen at first light (I had to start early because of the short days this time of year). The castle is incongruously owned by SNH. It has severe structural problems and flooding in the basement and costs a fortune to keep going, I was told. I am sure SNH would rather not have to manage it but it comes with the land, which was gifted to them with strings attached when they were the Nature Conservancy Council.    

The castle at Kinloch, seen at first light (I had to start early because of the short days this time of year). The castle is incongruously owned by SNH. It has severe structural problems and flooding in the basement and costs a fortune to keep going, I was told. I am sure SNH would rather not have to manage it but it comes with the land, which was gifted to them with strings attached when they were the Nature Conservancy Council.    

Another view of the castle. I think its external appearance, which appears to be in reasonable state of repair, hides structural problems that are insurmountable without a lot of money being spent.  The SNH warden for the island performs tours of the inside on days when the ferry is visiting. I did not have time to do this, but I think it would be a fascinating thing to do. 

Another view of the castle. I think its external appearance, which appears to be in reasonable state of repair, hides structural problems that are insurmountable without a lot of money being spent.  The SNH warden for the island performs tours of the inside on days when the ferry is visiting. I did not have time to do this, but I think it would be a fascinating thing to do. 

I came across this statue in woodland within the castle grounds.  I think it dates back to the original owner in the pre 1920 period.  I was told interesting stories of the parties that took place at this time.....

I came across this statue in woodland within the castle grounds.  I think it dates back to the original owner in the pre 1920 period.  I was told interesting stories of the parties that took place at this time.....

Cheeky :D

Cheeky :D

What's that in the hand of the statue?  [Inspects closely]  Is that..... is that...... a penis?  (Answer: yes, it is.  Like I said, they had some interesting parties in the swinging Twenties I was told).

What's that in the hand of the statue?

[Inspects closely]

Is that..... is that...... a penis?

(Answer: yes, it is.  Like I said, they had some interesting parties in the swinging Twenties I was told).

For those that have the time to walk around, the castle grounds offer many interesting things to see.

For those that have the time to walk around, the castle grounds offer many interesting things to see.

A picture of one of the target species: a mature cotoneaster growing wild in an upland environment.

A picture of one of the target species: a mature cotoneaster growing wild in an upland environment.

More cotoneaster. This time, I stand of plants in a riparian setting.  I wondered whether upstream bushes had been the source of seed for these plants, as indeed they probably now are for younger plants growing further downstream. 

More cotoneaster. This time, I stand of plants in a riparian setting.  I wondered whether upstream bushes had been the source of seed for these plants, as indeed they probably now are for younger plants growing further downstream. 

I found rhododendron growing in all sizes and forms.  This is one of a few formal rhododendron hedges growing around Kinloch and it quite probably the source of the thick rhododendron understorey in adjacent woodlands.

I found rhododendron growing in all sizes and forms.  This is one of a few formal rhododendron hedges growing around Kinloch and it quite probably the source of the thick rhododendron understorey in adjacent woodlands.

On sunny days, the molinia on the open hill looked fantastic with its autumn colour.

On sunny days, the molinia on the open hill looked fantastic with its autumn colour.

The open hill was very wet, rough and difficult to survey in a systematic fashion. In wet and windy weather it was cold and exposed. In sunnier weather, the late autumn colours looked great and it was a pleasure to walk the ground. 

The open hill was very wet, rough and difficult to survey in a systematic fashion. In wet and windy weather it was cold and exposed. In sunnier weather, the late autumn colours looked great and it was a pleasure to walk the ground. 

Looking back towards Kinloch from the surrounding hill ground.

Looking back towards Kinloch from the surrounding hill ground.

The low end-of-day sunlight added a nice effect to the landscape.

The low end-of-day sunlight added a nice effect to the landscape.

All the twenty or so current residents live around Kinloch, which is next to the sheltered Loch Scresort. 

All the twenty or so current residents live around Kinloch, which is next to the sheltered Loch Scresort. 

Looking west, across Loch Screesort to the hills of Torridon and a large rain cloud in the distance. The views of the hills along this part of the western seaboard are a highlight of the ferry trip when visibility is good.

Looking west, across Loch Screesort to the hills of Torridon and a large rain cloud in the distance. The views of the hills along this part of the western seaboard are a highlight of the ferry trip when visibility is good.

For the final image, here's a picture of the so called Beaver Moon (**snigger**) on the 5 November. It was the colour of liquid amber and rose very quickly into the sky. 

For the final image, here's a picture of the so called Beaver Moon (**snigger**) on the 5 November. It was the colour of liquid amber and rose very quickly into the sky. 

And that, as they say, was that. 

For those wanting more information on Rum, including details of its fascinating geological history,  I recommend SNH's excellent free PDF on Rum and the Small Isles here.

For more information on Rum, including practical advice for visitors and details of the history of the Isle of Rum Community Trust, see this link.

And finally (finally!) here is a link to the Facebook page for the bunkhouse. Jed is the manager there and you'll receive a quick reply to any enquiry. It stays open for most of the year and, seeing as there is as much chance of sunny weather in the winter as there is at any other time of the year, an out of season trip is worthwhile.

Thanks for reading.