Ariundle is a precious fragment of an immense oakwood that once cloaked Europe's Atlantic coast from Portugal to Norway. Here, the steep lochside has been wooded since the glaciers retreated some 12,000 years ago. A lush covering of mosses, lichens and liverworts flourish in this undisturbed world in the Strontian Glen. The trees are mostly sessile oak, which do well on the acid soils that cover the granite bedrock. Other native species include holly, hazel, birch, rowan, alder, willow, ash and wych elm.
Ancient oakwoods such as Ariundle have played an important part in the natural and human history of the area for thousands of years. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the trees were coppiced for charcoal burning and the remains of old charcoal burning platforms can still be found in the wood. The fallen trees and their dead wood provide food for spiders, beetles and insects such as wood ants.
Above Left: Evidence of coppiced oaks can still be seen
Above Right: Tree Lungwort (Lobaria pulmonaria)
The oakwood in single tree:
Wood Sorrel (Oxalis acetosella) growing amongst moss with a Peltigera lichen to the left
The woodland floor:
Primrose (Primula vulgaris) and one of my favourites, a Lousewort (Pedicularis sylvatica)