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Home > The living mountain / Flora & Fauna


The higher up you go the thinner and less fertile the soils become, also the weather is usually more severe! Consequently, on the plateau and summits plants and animals struggle for survival. Here is the domain of grasses, sedges, lichens and colourful mosses; the Dotterel, Ptarmigan and even Ring Ouzell. Surprisingly there are also trees - albeit just a few centimetres high! Least willow is a mass of woolly catkins in late summer just to remind people that it is a proper tree!

Montane scrub is a habitat that has been lost to Scotland over the centuries of burning and grazing by deer, hares and sheep. Small trees have started to reappear in the last 20 years, scattered over some of the heathery windswept ridges. Growth rate however is very slow, with the severe winter storms pushing the trees over to grow along the ground and the burning frosts turning the unprotected extremities brown.

The seed source for these trees is the forest to the North, some 2 to 3 kilometres distant. Deer numbers have been reduced by all the surrounding estates, there are no sheep and hares are few in number, so the trees have a chance to recover.