This year I’ve been attending conservation work parties organised by The John Muir Trust in the Cairngorm National Park. JMT is a Scottish charity dedicated to protecting and enhancing our wild places.

We carry out a variety of tasks, such as putting up deer fencing to protect young trees from being over-grazed. We’ve also removed gorse and collected native tree seeds for planting. This is helpful to the estate rangers who are very busy and might not get chance to do the tasks themselves.

One project in particular has been going on for several months and is still yet to be finished. It being the removal of a very old and unsightly deer fence, situated far up the glen. Earlier in the year a red deer stag had managed to get it’s antlers tangled up in a section of collapsed fence. Prompting us to begin the difficult and lengthy task.

Stag not having a great day (Image courtesy of Glen Tanar Ranger Service)


The Stag was eventually rescued – hurrah! (Image courtesy of Glen Tanar Ranger Service)


It took nearly an hours drive along a bumpy landrover track to reach the beginning of the fence. Once started, we soon realised the metal posts penetrated very deep into the ground and had to be dug out. Some of them were located on rather steep parts of the hill too!


Working our way up the hill (except for me slacking off and taking photographs)


So far we have removed many trailer loads of metal and advanced well over the peak of the hill. Unfortunately due to the weather we’ll have to wait until next summer to complete the job. But after all that hard work, a day spent collecting juniper seeds was a welcomed break!


The scrap heap from the first day!


Volunteering for a conservation charity is a sure way to meet some great people and learn new things. For me its an escape from the city where I work and a chance to enjoy the landscapes and wildlife I love. All tasks no matter how small, contribute to the protection of our wild places. Of course the weather isn’t always on our side. But if you live in Scotland and you allow the rain to ruin your plans, you’re going to spend a very long time indoors!


glen tanar-2 copy




If you want to find out more about volunteering for JMT in Scotland, take a look at their fantastic new website



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