On the trail of the lonesome pine

Garadhban Forest,
West Highland Way
10th December

It was only two days after Hurricane 'bawbag' had passed through Scotland, leaving a trail of destruction, the worst winds we have experienced for over 10 years.

In the calm after the storm, a walk on the West Highland Way over Conic Hill would give us exercise before the Christmas food excesses.

It's a club tradition to wear appropriate silly headgear on a Christmas walk. The girls qualify.
Andy looked the part for a festive remake of the 1979 film 'Alien' - with Santa bursting out of his chest....
 ......'see you Jimmy' Graham, and 'Elvis' Bill, looked just as bizarre.
It was very misty and murky with no chance of views, but we were our usual happy chatty, nonsense talking group, as we strode out along the forest track.
It wasn't long till we came to a fallen tree or two....none of us had thought about this.
It was fun for a while but the detours became harder and harder as we sought out safe routes.
A staggering amount of timber had been blown down, shows the strength of the windstorm.
 Andy pretending to be superhuman, or perhaps a tree hugger?
 Our route was interesting to say the least.
Single trees were just as difficult to get around as you couldn't easily clamber through them.
Fallen timber wasn't just on the WHW forestry track. Deep in the woods hundreds of trees had been blown over.
Some had just snapped -
- to fall right in our path.
To continue to Conic hill and Balmaha was going to take a long while - a decision was made to loop back to our start point.
It wasn't only conifers that had fallen, some natural wood as well, 
but still difficult to get through!
Conifers are relatively shallow rooted - this shows the root spread of a large tree.
 We were getting weary of constant bushwhacking. 
Do you think 'Elvis' modeled for the Forestry Commission sign? Scary....
An eerie scene - the lonesome tree in the mist -
giving a feeling of surveying battlefield remains.
Studying the info board at the start of the track we couldn't believe how short a distance we had covered - all of 4 km in two and half hours.
Web advice a couple of weeks later stated:
  “A route diversion is in place at Garadhban Forest on the approach to Drymen due to fallen trees blocking the Way. Users are advised that other parts of the route may be impassable due to storm damage. A full inspection is under way, in the meantime please take care and avoid taking unnecessary risks.”
I think we were some of the first to discover this!
We ended up the day at the Clachan in Drymen, for a bowl of soup.

With all the devastation in Scotland after the storm - why did we choose a forest walk today? ! 

The would be wood walkers were;
Dee, Roni, Elizabeth, Graham, David, Ron, Andy, Bill and Gordon.


blueskyscotland said...

The fallen trees in the central belt country wide this year must be numbered in the millions.I,m still finding exposed forests in may with a fifth of all trees down.
Glad to see you are still all getting out as a club and having fun.

Bill said...

Bob, the devastation our woodland has taken is staggering – every wood or group of trees seems to have been affected.
We can’t do big days like we used to, but still have a lot of laughs exploring Scotland, cycling and kayaking are easier on the knees than hillwalking :)