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WOODLAND OR OPEN GROUND? Scenarios for the persistence of woodland in the presence of grazing
APPENDIX: THE VALUE OF MOORLAND Scottish open moorland through the eyes of writers and poets Streams of Water in the South, John Buchan “And all around hills huddled in silent spaces, long brown moors crowned with cairns, or steep fortresses of rock and shingle rising to foreheads of steel-like grey. The autumn blue faded in the far sky- line to white, and lent distance to the furthest peaks… I am an old connoisseur in the beauties of the uplands, but I held my breath at the sight.”

Circuit Journeys, Lord Cockburn

From Braemar down Glenshee to Perth (1853) “A brilliant, though cold day. But a glorious district…. O these large, heathery, silent hills. Treeless, peakless, and nearly rockless! Great masses of solitary silence, broken only by high rills, tumbling into raging and sparkling torrents in the valley! And the gradual opening of the rich low country, ending in the beauty of Perth! Were I to see it yearly for a thousand years, I cannot conceive that the impression would ever fade.” Through Glen Moriston past Loch Cluny and down Glen Shiel (1841) “I have been told to go and see Glenmoriston almost all my life, and now that I have seen it, I am satisfied that I have never got this advice too strongly… For our first hour the rain checked itself in order to let us see the lower part of the glen in peace. I cannot pay these four wooded miles, – where the softness of the birch contrast so naturally with the savage rocky stream – a higher compliment than by saying that they reminded me of some parts of the unrivalled Findhorn, by far the finest of British torrents… As the valley opened and rose, its masses of wood disappeared, though it was long adhered to by sprinklings of fine birch and of noble old, branchy Scotch fir; til at least it was a composition of mountain and of water alone. And it would not be easy to find better specimens of either… There is no cultivation, singularly few inhabitants, not one single seat, scarcely above two farm-houses, and these both towards the lower end, not a village, nothing but mountain and water. And I saw enough to satisfy me that the mountain had everything that rock, precipitousness, and peaked summits could give them. Seen in in a fine day it must be a noble range… “That dog Anderson* has excited my wrath again this morning again this morning, by saying, which I had not observed before, that ‘from the east end of Loch Cluany to about four miles beyond the inn, the glen is pretty level, and barren without grandeur.’ There is not half a mile level in the whole 36 miles; and except that there are no grapes or even wheat, there is not an inch of barrenness in them. Is there any barreness of torrent or rock; and for what else did God toss the earth about so?” *He is quoting the first edition of Guide to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, including Orkney and Zetland, by G. and P. Anderson. Aviemore area (1838) “The natural elements here admit of no good change. My river, and my rocks, and my mountains, and my lakes, and my glens, and my plains, are all perfect.” [Interestingly he goes on to say] “There has been more burning of heather… than I remember to have seen before.” Rest and Be Thankful (1838) “As I stood at the height of the road and gazed down on its strange course both ways, I could not help rejoicing that there was at least one place where railways, canals, and steamers and all these devices for sinking hills and raising valleys, and introducing man and levels, and destroying solitude and nature, would for ever be set at defiance.” A Scottish Naturalist, Charles St John 1809-1856 “The tract of country preserved as a deer forest [Sutherland north and west of Altnaharra] comprises a most extensive range of mountains, the best in all Scotland for the purpose. Reaching away to the north-west and west, the forest takes in corrie after corrie, and mountain after mountain, of the most wild and romantic character. Fitted, too, for scarcely any other purpose than as a refuge for wild animals, the most determined utilitarian could not say that the ground was wasted, nor suggest a better use to which to apply it. It is far too barren to make sheep farming remunerative, and any other way of attempting to make the mountain in that district useful to mankind would be a labour thrown away.” Braes of Balquhidder, Robert Tannahill (1774-1810) Will you go lassie go To the braes of Balquhidder Where the high mountains run And the bonnie blooming heather Where the ram and the deer They go bounding together Spend a long summer day By the braes of Balquhidder Island Shieling Song, Kenneth Macleod, trans Marjory Kennedy-Fraser On the hillside by the shieling, My Mairi my beloved Like the white lily floating in the peat hag’s dark waters Extracts from ‘Poems of the Scottish Hills’, an anthology selected by Hamish Brown, 1982, Aberdeen University Press: Looking Down on Glen Canisp, Norman MacCaig … the little loch is one clear pane in a stained-glass window. The scent of thyme and bog myrtle is so thick one listens for it … Blows the Wind Today, R L Stevenson Blows the wind to-day, and the sun and rain are flying, Blows the wind on the moors to-day … At Last, Syd Scroggie … When you cannot smell the heather In the dingy Dundee weather … The Hillman LooksBack, Rennie McOwan … The rolling moorland and the wrinkled rocks, Swirling mist and nervous deer, as the Foaming burns make their gurgling way to Black and hidden lochs …

A Wind from the West, Lauchlan MacLean Watt

To-day a wind from the West out over the hills came blowing – Ah, how it made dim dreams and memories start! And I thought that I smelt in my room the wild thyme growing, And the scent of bog myrtle filled my heart …

TheThings of the North, Rennie McOwan

… Let us give thanks for the things of the north… For winds and rain that scour endless miles of rippling heather, for an elemental wildness that knows little of cities and towns, for an understanding that in stark harshness blinding beauty there abounds for those who walk and seek to find …

Drumochter, Anne B. Murray

… Here under the space of sky The rounded, hunted shapes of hills Flee to the horizon. Brown, tweed-coated hunchbacks …

Glencoe, G K Chesterton

The peat burns brimming from their cups of stone Glow brown and blood-red down the vast decline As if Christ stood on yonder clouded peat And turned its thousand waters into wine.

On Ben Dorain, Duncan Ban Macintyre, trans Robert Buchanan

… How finely swept the noble deer across the morning hill, While fearless played the calf and hind behind the running rill; I heard the black and red cock crow, and the bellowing of the deer – I think these are the sweetest sounds that man at dawn may hear … … Farewell, ye forests of the heath, hills where the bright day gleams, Farewell, ye grassy dells, farewell, ye springs and leaping streams, Farewell, ye mighty solitudes, where once I loved to dwell – Scenes of my spring-time and its joys – for ever fare you well.

Inversnaid, Gerard Manley Hopkins

… Wiry heathpacks, flitches of fern, And the beadbonny ash that sits over the burn. What would the world be, once bereft Of wet and wildness? Let them be left, O let them be left, wildness and wet; Long live the weeds and wilderness yet.

Ane to Anither, Duncan Glen

… Glaur and wet and mair wet in burns to be crossed. Wund and cauld and cauld and windier at the tap. And mist and ae fit in front o the ither for langer that you’d thocht possible ….

Leap in Smoke, John Buchan

… how still the moorlands lie, Sleep-locked beneath the awakening sky! The film of morn is silver-grey On the young heather, and away, Dim distant, set in ribs of hill, Green glens are shining … The antique home of quietness … But when the even brings surcease, Grant me the happy moorland peace; That in my heart’s depth ever lie That ancient land of heath and sky …

If I Were Old, Will H Ogilvie

… Sharing the hilltop with the Border wind, The whispering heather and the curlew’s cry …

A border burn, J B Selkirk

… I see’t this moment, plain as day, As it comes bickerin’ o’er the brae, Atween the clumps o’ purple heather, Glistenin’ in the summer weather …

On Ellson Fell, William Landles

… Aneth my feet The heather lifts its brash tang An the cotton grass nods in quiet converse Wi the scarlet cloudberries Clustering in shy conclave In the soggy turf …

Silver in the Wind, Ian Strachan

… A solitary hind, watchful, scans the ridge, then, in silence, becomes invisible, stealing away from sight to appear again, silhouetted on the crest, then to vanish; mist on the mountain, the wind blows silver, there is silver in the wind … Born in the purple the red grouse cry; Born in the purple the whaups reply; Born in the purple the clouds are kings Sailing away on their snow-white wings …

Wine o Living, Matt Marshall

… Hae ye whupped the whurling eddies By the brow’d, loud linn? Hae ye tracked the tired buck upon the brae? When ye couched it in the heather We ye chittered by the win? Hae you waukened in the mist at skreigh o Day? …

The Spell o’ the Hills, Douglas Fraser

… The clear spell, the dear spell I canna long resist O’ the fair hills, the bare hills In sun, snaw or mist … … Oh the green hills, the clean hills, I lue them weel aneuch, But mair still the bare hills Wi mony a craig and cleugh; The rouch hills, the teugh hills That froun dour and grim, The hie hills, the stey hills They daur ye to sclim …

Scotland Small? Hugh MacDiarmid

… the little Blackface sheep Found grazing, milkworts blue as summer skies; … … ‘Nothing but heather!’ – How marvellously descriptive! And incomplete!