Iain Stewart discovers the history of Ariundle, where oak trees were cropped to produce charcoal to fuel the iron furnace at Bonawe. Visiting the Cairngorms, Iain hears there is more to the postcard perfect views than meets the eye Iain discovers the riches of Ariundle oakwoods in Sunart
Ariundle Oakwood is a National Nature Reserve near Strontian, on the Ardnamurchan peninsula in Highland. The wood is a remnant of ancient coastal oakwood that once spanned the Atlantic coasts of Europe from Norway down to Portugal.
During the late 18th and early 19th Centuries, the wood was protected and its oaks provided a source of charcoal to fuel the Bonawe Iron Furnace on Loch Etive and for use in the lead mining industry around Strontian. Managing the woodland, cropping the trees and charcoal-burning all demanded human input and brought hundreds of workers to the area. Lead mining dwindled in the early 19th Century and the Bonawe Furnace closed in 1876. From this point, the woods were no longer managed to supply fuel, but were used as a sheltered area for livestock, particularly sheep. In 1961, Ariundle Wood was designated a Nature Reserve.
Highland is one of Scotland’s 32 unitary council areas. It is the largest local government area in both Scotland and the United Kingdom as a whole.
The area was created as a two-tier region in 1975 with Highland Region being divided into eight districts, Badenoch and Strathspey, Caithness, Inverness, Lochaber, Nairn, Ross and Cromarty, Skye and Lochalsh and Sutherland.
In 1996, Highland Regional Council and the district councils were wound up and their functions were transferred to a new Highland Council. It borders Moray, Aberdeenshire, Perth and Kinross, and Argyll and Bute.