Trees on Scoraig

Written by Steve Webster, a crofter on Scoraig


Autumn 2010

Scoraig sgreagach, 's dona beag i,

Aite gun dion gun fhasgadh, gun phreas na coille

Scraggy Scoraig, bad and little, a place with no protection, no shelter, no bush or wood. That was written in 1880, and remained as true in 1950. Today, something like a quarter of a million trees grow on Scoraig.

The return of the trees began after World War II ~ click here to see the beginning of the regeneration.

Much more tree planting followed in the 1960's, with grants available to crofters to plant the pine and spruce familiar across Britain's uplands. Some of those trees are now close to 20 metres tall. As they grew, they gave shelter from the winds, and more trees were planted in the crofts and new smallholdings sprouting along the peninsula - birch, alder, oak, larch, willow, rowan, sycamore, wild cherry, elm, beech, hazel, walnut, apple, plum, pear and some more exotic specimens. The local red deer feasted on the banquet Scoraig was becoming. The last thirty years have seen a deer population explosion in the Highlands, and Tom Forsyth's croft, the furthest inland on Scoraig, was in the front line until he protected it with a deer fence he built himself. The croft Tom took over in 1965, merging into one several deserted crofts, now gives a home to several people and thousands of trees. Around 1990 a deer fence was completed from the northern to the southern shore across the neck of the peninsula, then about ten years later an area of Scoraig on the seaward side of that fence was fenced off about 500 metres further west from the livestock that roam the common grazings, and the area between the two fences was planted with trees. Trees and birds that live among them now are spreading more seeds across the land. How recent and sudden the change has been is seen in the fact that as of September 2009 no-one in living memory has seen a squirrel on Scoraig.

Apple trees

backgardenlooking west


Summer1 RandN

And still plenty of room for more .... Below, looking west across the grazings towards Cailleach Head and the ocean. Most of the land area of Scoraig is still grazed by sheep, cattle and ponies.



Below ~ 2008, on the north side of Scoraig ~ photo by Philippe Lavandy.