In these latitudes forestry trees grow slowly and reach maturity, for saw milling purposes, at between 55 and 100+ years depending on the species grown.

War-time fellings took 60% of our woodlands and a violent storm completely devastated the remaining forest cover on the estate in 1953. Essentially we had to start again. Clearing up the fallen trees was no easy matter for this was before the chainsaw had arrived in the area. Cross-cut saws and axes were the tools of the trade.

While the clearing up operation was ongoing fir-cones were collected and dried in a barn. The seed that fell from the cones was carefully collected and germinated. Two years later they were transplanted into a tree nursery and after another two years they were deemed ready to be planted out in the forest.

In the period from 1956 to 1972 over 1,250,000 trees were planted.

The large trees in the policy grounds survived the storm and are older. There are some fine examples of beech, oak, ash and sycamore and also some North American species such as Douglas and Noble Firs. The tallest Douglas Firs, planted only 80 years ago, are over 160′ tall and growing strongly.

The timber price is subject to the vagaries of international markets and exchange rates, while ever-increasing haulage rates cause a problem for this bulky low-value product. Consequently we are aiming to change to forestry based primarily on low input natural regeneration where this can be achieved. The output is lower but, if it costs next-to-nothing to grow the stuff, . . .

In 1987 we started a timber harvesting and marketing co-operative with our neighbouring estates and this now handles over 30,000 tons of timber per annum.

A recent output of our forest is biomass – the fuel used to heat the castle is from our woods. About 4% of the annual growth of the woods is used in this way.

Some of our woodlands are also used for access – we have formal arrangements with groups for Orienteering, Off-road Driving and Trial Riding.

Just over 50% of the estate is under trees and this helps us fix more carbon than we release through our activities.

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Some kind words from our previous guests…

“Many thanks for allowing us to use your beautiful home. It made for a wonderful setting for our meeting and set the scene for a very successful trip. Hope to see you again another time.”

David Murray
Nov. 2015