It would be wonderful to know how many generations have walked underneath these ancient trees, and how many centuries of Scottish history have come and gone in their lifetime. These are Scots Pines, some of the oldest and biggest we’ve seen, and they were photographed on a beautiful heather moor above Tayside in Perthshire.
With an awe-inspiring height and spread, the oldest trees stand alone amid dense heather and bracken. In fact, they could well be remnants of the Caledonian pine forest, which was formed after the last Ice Age and once covered most of Scotland. Today, only 1% of it remains.
The ground beneath them is littered with the fallen cones of many seasons. We noticed that many of the trees had storm damage – unsurprising, in view of their location. Here and there, the whitened skeleton of a dead tree scored the sky with its jagged, leafless branches.
At the time of our visit, which was on a sunny April evening, the hillside was alive with black grouse. A group of greyhen were sitting in one of the bigger pine trees, preparing to roost for the night. Black grouse love this kind of habitat, where conifer and birch woods give way to open heather moorland.
All images copyright © Colin & Jo Woolf