Yesterday our Scottish Drawing Expedition for The New Sylva got underway. In search of Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris) we had travelled to one of the last remaining and best examples of Caledonian Pinewood: the Black Wood of Rannoch, in Central Scotland.High above Loch Rannoch, on an undulating heather-clad ridge, we found the perfect subject; an ancient ‘granny pine’ set amongst a backdrop of younger pine, downy birch (Betula pubescens) and rowan (Sorbus aucuparia).
Brilliant Winter sun added a glowing aura to the red bark of the pine stems and branches. The pinewood was carpeted in freshly-fallen snow and perfectly quiet. Temperatures remained below freezing throughout the short day, dropping as low as -5°C, but multiple layers of clothing just about kept us warm (see the photo of Sarah three-hoods Simblet below).
Black Wood is a precious and unique habitat. We were not fortunate enough to see Scottish Wildcat, Crossbill or Red Squirrel on this occasion but were accompanied by troops of Tits and Goldcrests all day, while a lone Robin kept watch for our lunch crumbs.
Tomorrow we are in the Caledonian Pinewoods again; this time in search of birch.