Past the shieling …

A great congregational outing to Cashel Forest by Loch Lomond yesterday.  It’s run by the Royal Scottish Forestry Society, and aims to create a space dedicated to native trees and plants.  There’s even an apple orchard with Scottish varieties.  You can take walks of different lengths, and there’s a visitor centre too. 

We took the medium-length walk which takes you up over the hill to a splendid viewpoint over Loch Lomond, through rowan and alder and aspen and bog myrtle and blaeberries and a sense of being back in world before sitka spruce and Japanese knotweed.

Years ago, crofters would spend time amongst such hills, pasturing their animals on the higher ground over the summer.  They’d stay in little huts called shielings.  I’ve sung Mhairi’s Wedding often enough to imagine what ‘past the shieling’ would have looked like, but I got it wrong.  I thought of a nice little stone cottage, one or two rooms …  But in Cashel Forest, they’ve reconstructed one of these huts – basically turf and mud, with not a lot of room for a family. Not quite a holiday cottage:

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