Tuesday, 9 October 2012
Autumn is a great time to be out and about in woodland. We drove the short distance to Braemar, then along what must surely be one of the most attractive 15km of road in the country from Braemar past Linn of Dee to the road end near Linn of Quoich.
We walked through the pinewoods alongside the Quoich Water, rushing clear and fast down from the high corries of Beinn a'Bhuird. It's the combination of pinewoods and fast flowing rivers which make this part of the Cairngorms special. At just about any time of the year the smell of the pines is marvellous; only in the deep cold of winter is the scent stifled as the resin slows.
The Quoich Water flows off granite rocks and so is generally clear rather than peaty, and punctuated by waterfalls and rapids
The woods here are predominantly Caledonian Pine, and a concerted effort by the National Trust for Scotland to regenerate this forest is proving very successful. Ten years ago there were hardly any young trees as excessive numbers of Red Deer were browsing the seedlings. NTS took a controversial decision to dramatically reduce deer numbers on the Mar Lodge estate and the results have been impressive. Regeneration is now healthy and the wood is gaining a spread of tree types and ages like this vibrant Rowan (Sorbus) seedling. This is not just good for the trees, but also ultimately for the deer which are narurally animals of the forest rather than open moor. The herd will be healthier and individuals larger as a result of better conditions. One of the sadder sights some years ago was the herds of starving deer on the roadside in late winter.
One of the popular spots here is the Punchbowl, a natural basin in the rock immediately upstream of the Linn of Quoich (Linn is the name given to a narrow, constricted waterfall).
The basin was probably formed by water action swirling pebbles around a depression; it's an attractive spot to sit and just enjoy the water and the forest.