News & Events

Ranger Blog: Autumn comes to Glenlivet

“Autumn is the earth’s reviver and replenisher, the first day of autumn is the new beginning of everything, the first stirrings of rebirth and the last day of autumn is the beginning of next spring.” – Jim Crumley, The Nature of Autumn.

I understand where Jim is coming from, the falling leaves are what provides the energy for the post winter bloom.  However, days bookended by dark blustery dog walks make it hard to see past this being a time when we nestle into a routine of shorter cosier days – the beginning of spring seems impossibly far away at this stage!

For all that, there is still plenty to be getting on with at Glenlivet!  The stags are roaring, the colours are changing, and the migrant birds are incoming.  It is also peak season for university visits, and we have hosted groups from Exeter, Worcester, and Scottish School of Forestry. 

The visiting group from Exeter University

We were also visited by a Wilderness Foundation group, with another to follow next month. 

This organisation brings young people who may have complex needs or are experiencing mental health challenges to work together in a rural setting.  They are based for a week at Kirkmichael Green Hall and spend time camping, exploring, and helping the Ranger Service with conservation tasks.  The theory is this experience delivers benefits for their resilience, wellbeing, and employability. 

The recent group from Biggar High School came in to see us on their final day and gave a presentation about their week; it was clear it had delivered life changing impacts.  Teenagers who wouldn’t speak to adults on the Monday stood in front of CES and Strutt and Parker staff sharing their experiences and telling funny stories.

Members of the Wilderness Foundation group take part in pond maintenance on the Estate

Glenlivet also welcomed the Children and Young Peoples Forum supported by Children in Scotland.  This diverse group are working with CES over several years to learn how the organisation operates and to provide input from this demographic. 

It was inspiring to be involved and to see how they negotiated difficult discussions whilst being inclusive and purposeful – this could be a lesson to us all in our work meetings!  It was also a great opportunity for Estate staff to work alongside the Policy Team.

Mark, in full flow as he conducts a tour for the members of the Children and Young People's Forum

Just as inspiring was taking the Glenlivet 2050 conversation into two local Primary Schools alongside Cumulus Consultants.  There were lots of important insights into what it is like for children living here and lots of great visions for the future. 

Amongst all the serious thought, there was widespread support for one pupil’s idea…all the trees should be turned into cotton candy!

Pupils at Tomintoul Primary School share their thoughts on how the area should develop on the road to 2050. For the avoidance of doubt, the 'pupil' on the left is actually Mark

We are excited to be working with one student for an extended period.  Taylor Robertson, a fourth year UHI student will be carrying out a placement with us gaining 70 hours experience across five weeks. 

Maintenance work has continued across the estate with trails being checked, drainage repaired, and vegetation cleared.  Achlichnie Bridge was reopened after extensive work, and reprofiling was completed on Feith Musach peat restoration area, while volunteers helped to replace faded Right of Way signs across the Estate.  Tomintoul Wildflower Meadow was cut by a wide range of volunteers who spent time learning how to scythe.

Volunteers helped in the vital work of replacing trail signage, so visitors to the Estate can find their way around

The big event of recent months was the Star Party, highlighting the attractiveness of the area for Dark Sky enthusiasts. 

A superb programme was put together by TGDT, supported by the Cairngorms Astronomy Group and Crown Estate Scotland.

Young visitors drink in an out-of-this-world VR experience, during the weekend-long Star Party event

I’m running out of space here but have just enough to say we are making space for nature and have been working with Plantlife and the Bumblebee Conservation Trust on two exciting projects.

Finally, National Trust for Scotland were working at the original Glenlivet Distillery site on the Estate and made an appearance on BBC’s Landward this week (20th October) as they talk to the archaeology team undertaking the dig. 

Maybe Jim Crumley was correct about autumn being the new beginning; this update has certainly had a focus on young people and the next generation.  As the fall leaves provide food for the forest, one of the roles of Crown Estate Scotland is to nurture young people’s wellbeing and to provide them with opportunities.

Mark Johnston

Head Ranger