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Thursday, 15 December 2011

This is a blog I wrote back in early November:

Caught in the Rhododendrons!

As someone who is used to climbing high mountains, I had the surprising experience of finding myself stuck on a low-level walk the other day, within a stone’s throw of the chimneys of Lochranza.

I had walked along the hills behind the Whisky Distillery to the site of the hill fort above the youth hostel, before descending towards the castle. All was well until I came up against the belt of the invasive ponticum variety of rhododendrons that has grown up on the steep lower slopes behind the houses. As the village was so near by, I pressed on into the thicket. Rapidly, the vegetation became so dense that I had to wriggle headfirst downwards on my stomach under the lowest stems. There came a point when I felt I actually could not move in any direction; the vegetation was impenetrable and I was trapped in a rhododendron prison as effectively as a fly in a spider’s web! Hope came in a glimpse of the top end of Jane Nichol’s garden fence, and eventually I escaped, embarrassed and bedraggled, with scratches on my knees and ticks on my foot. Jane was kind enough not to send me back the way I had come.

The moral of the story is “Don’t go into rhododendrons without a machete”. Seriously though, it’s important that action is taken about these destructive invaders which are spreading throughout upland Britain. We are fortunate to have the Arran Trust and Arran Access Trust who work hard at both protecting the natural environment and providing safe access to the hills.

A wet October decorated the trees with moss.

Arran has a wealth of mosses, ferns and lichens with its clean air and warm, moist climate.

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