Sep 13 2018

Hazel stems from Abriachan Wood destined for an exciting project!

Last weekend Jim Monahan, our Woodland Warden at Ledmore and Migdale wood in Sutherland, visited beautiful  Abriachen Wood on the north shore of Loch Ness, and another of our Highland sites, with Ross Watson, our Site Manager for the North of Scotland.


The aim of the day? – Ross was there to assist Jim with a project, which also happens to help us maintain the paths and views in Abriachan. Jim, who is an Environmental Scientist, has built a fantastic timber framed house, within Ledmore and Migdale woods, with hemp and sheep’s wool insulation.  Building the house has been a labour of love for a number of years. Parts of the building have been built using Douglas Fir from the Woodland Trust wood nearby, so the timber used has not travelled far. As the project nears completion, Jim was on the lookout for hazel to use as spindles for the main staircase, a real centre piece of the house, and we were delighted to help him out!


Some of the hazel stems from the day, cut to 1m lengths for custom cutting build of each spindle.


Jim checking a potential spindle before cutting


At Abriachan, there is extensive hazel woodland along the lower slopes, parts of which are hugely important for lichens and mosses. Working with a lichen expert, areas within the wood where the hazel is less diverse in lichen populations were identified.  In these areas some careful thinning of single stems within stools has been undertaken, to use for community projects such as the local green woodworking group and the Scouts.  Thinning of the hazel has also freed up three locations for benches that will allow visitors to gaze across Loch Ness from the shelter of the wood in comfort.  By carefully selecting stems that would either be cut to create or enhance the bench views, or that will be cut to maintain the pathways through the wood, this bi-product of other management will now be used in a productive way, and will allow this incredible building to tell another story.



Jim measuring up a cut stem, with the hazel wood and path up the hill beyond. Up to 3 spindles could be taken from each stem cut.


Read more about Abriachan Wood here.


Ross Watson, Site Manager, North of Scotland


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