Winter walkers urged to tread safely on Scotland’s estates following Storm Arwen

Press Release

Walkers accessing Scotland’s rural estates for recreation over Christmas and New Year are being asked to take care as the clear up operation from Storm Arwen continues.

Although the full damage is still being assessed from the storm in late-November, it is estimated that more than eight million trees were damaged, accounting for between 1 and 1.5 million cubic metres for woodland and forestry across Scotland.

With more people expecting to be out walking on estates over the festive period, land managers have urged those visiting to take care and follow signage and guidance when out and about around woodland areas.

Sarah-Jane Laing, chief executive at Scottish Land & Estates, said: “Frosty festive walks are a lovely way to spend time over Christmas and New Year and estates are expecting more people to be accessing land as they get outdoors and burn off some calories. There was a significant increase in walkers during the early stages of the pandemic and we’d expect this to occur again over the coming weeks.

“The severe impact of Storm Arwen is still being felt across rural Scotland and in many places, it will be months before estates can fully address the issues of trees that have fallen. Whilst there will be some local knowledge of where damage has occurred, it is especially important for all walkers – especially those travelling from further afield – to follow signage that should have been erected and take care not to access locations which may have been closed off.

“Estates are delighted to have visitors enjoying their walks at Christmas but it is important that everyone keeps safe when doing so. We would encourage people to familiarise themselves with the Scottish Outdoor Access Code which provides useful guidance to estates and members of the public.”

The Borders and East Lothian into Galloway and Aberdeenshire, through Angus and into Perthshire, were amongst the worst hit areas.

Doune Estate, which is part of Moray Estates and is located in the Perthshire village of Doune near Stirling, is one of the estates that has this month spent time on the clear up operation. Damaged areas of forestry remain on the property whilst staff and contractors, with the help of the local community, focussed on addressing tree damage at the award winning local nature reserve, Doune Ponds.

The estate suffered extensive tree damage as a result of the storm whipping around the hills and channelling fingers of NE storm winds over the top of Braco and smashing into trees in low lying areas.  In total, around 60 hectares (150 acres) came down across the estate as well as numerous individual trees along field margins, properties, roads and well used paths.

Rory McLeod, Doune Estate Manager for Moray Estates, said: “The damage to woodland and commercial forestry on the estate will take considerable time to rectify. After initially assessing the damage and planning how to move forward, we’re then relying on our skilled staff, and contractors who are in demand across the country, to deal with fallen trees against a backdrop of winter weather.

“We have had to target our resources to deal with certain areas first, including the local nature reserve where the footfall is greatest, but it is important that walkers take notice of the guidance that is in place to protect their safety and ensure they enjoy their visit without incident.

“As an estate, we highly value providing accessible paths and recreation opportunities for walkers to enjoy and have worked with the community to achieve that. We know many estates across the country are facing the same issues following Storm Arwen and whilst no one should be put off their winter walk, we’d ask for patience and care when visiting.”