Tuesday trees: the Caledonian forest
At the weekend we were up in the Cairngorms again, for elder son’s birthday treat. We took two car-loads of over-excited small boys to the Landmark forest adventure park in Carrbridge. It’s a great place for children, with plenty of imaginative ways to wear them out; and even yours truly found herself roped up to a harness and wobbling across ropes strung high between the trees. This would have been a lot more straightforward if I had not also been trying to coax along my little four-year-old, who was roped up in front of me and finding it all rather more challenging than we had expected. We made it safely down to earth, however, and he was immensely proud of himself for finishing the course. (I was immensely proud of him too.)
When they call this a forest adventure park, they really mean it: the rides, climbing walls and all the other attractions are set within unspoilt woodland. The forest in this part of Scotland is quite beautiful. It is ancient pine forest: Scots pines and the occasional birch underlaid with heather, blaeberries and bog myrtle. The smell is wonderful and the wildlife is abundant.
Even on a damp day, as this was, it is a rewarding place to be. Part of the Landmark parkland is given over to a raised wooden walkway through the trees. The children seem to enjoy this just as much as the more high-octane amusements: there were red squirrels and plenty of birds to spot and it was fun to be up at the level of the tree canopy for part of the route.
Scots pines have wonderful scaly bark:
and characteristically red branches (these tangled trees have been damaged by heavy snow):
As we finished our walk, we came to an area where a scattering of autumnal birches added a delicate shimmer of gold to the green forest. It was a memorable last view of the woods before heading indoors to the serious matter of birthday tea and steam engine cake.