Nature Reserves

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Carrifran Wildwood, ScotlandWebsiteStreet MapGoogle MapPhotos

Carrifran Wildwood
Managed by:Borders Forest Trust
LR grid reference:NT 159115 (Carrifran Car park)
Nearest postcode:DG10 9LH
Usual work:Tree planting

Carrifran Wildwood is a 1500 acre site in the Southern Uplands of Scotland surrounding the Carrifran Burn and ranging in altitude from 165m to 821m. It is part of the Dumfries and Galloway plan to re-create a valley of wooded wilderness with a rich diversity of native species that existed here thousands of years ago before human activities became dominant. Within Carrifran Wildwood an average of 20% of the land is planned to be retained as open ground dotted around the woodland in order to create a mosaic of diverse natural looking habitats and to support a wide range of native species of flora and fauna.


The geology of Firthhope Corrie/Hanging Valley consists of lower (Llandovery) Silurian age greywackes, shales, siltones and mudstones, many of which are calcicolous. There are deposits of scree on the steep slope of Firthhope Rig and in the channel of Firthhope Burn. At other areas of the site the soil ranges from peaty mineral soil to pure peat.

Flora and Fauna

The wildwood contains a variety of habitats. There is a large swathe of upland moorland containing tree-line woodland and scrub that will gradually develop above the planted areas. Areas of woodland include mixed broadleaved woodland with hazel, a birch woodland with alder and willows, areas of upland oak-birch woodland containing species such as aspen, hawthorn, hazel, holly, juniper, rowan and shrub willows, and upland broadleaved woodland that also include alder, ash, blackthorn, bird cherry, elder, guelder rose, willows and wych elm. Scots pine also grows at Rispie Lairs. In 2012 there were estimated to be over 500,000 trees and scrubs at the site, and this is set to increase as the project progresses.

Other habitats include grassland, and moss-heath species above the tree-planting sites. Widespread grassland species include common bent grass, green-ribbed sedge, matgrass, sheep's-fescue and wavy hair-grass. These are accompanied by a variety of other flora including common dog-violet, deer grass, heath bedstraw, sweet vernal grass, stair step moss. The higher peaks are mainly dominated by Bigelow's(or stiff) sedge and Carex-Racomitrium moss-heath. Lower laying areas contain open springs, flushes and spring-fed mires, which although dominated by sedges and rushes also contain other tall herbs such as devil's-bit scabious, lady's mantle, meadowsweet , ragged robin, valerian, and water avens.

Species of birds seen over the site include buzzards, kestrels, peregrines, ravens, and even the occasional long-eared and short-eared barn owls. Since the start of the restoration large increases have been seen in the numbers of blackcap, chaffinches, lesser redpoll, long-tailed tit, reed bunting, tree pipit, siskin, and willow warblers. Black grouse and ring ouzels have also been observed breeding at the site. Many manuals can now be found at Carrifran Wildwood, including field voles, badgers, foxes, mountain hares, otters, roe deer, stoats and weasels. It is hoped that the variety of vegetation, birds, spiders, beetles, butterflies and moths will increase as the woodland planting continues and as areas become established.

Conservation Management

The main conservation work being carried out since 2000 is the planting of trees and scrub that are chosen to suit the conditions such as altitude, aspect, soil type, moisture of each part of the site. Information such as and pollen records recorded from a peat bog have also been used to determine the once native species. Seeds are locally collected by volunteers and carefully grown at controlled nurseries until the saplings are large enough to be planted out.

Within higher areas, such as Firth Hope that ranges between 600m and 750m, current planting involves clearing vegetation away (known as screefing), breaking up a peat layer to mix with mineral soil, and using a P-K fertiliser before planting native trees thought to have previously grown at this height. Vole guards and wire netting are added to protect the trees while they become established, while bracken is also cleared when needed in order to prevent saplings from becoming smothered. At the open corrie of Rispie Lairs (500 to 650m) juniper woodland along with downy birth, rowan and maybe Scots pine are to be re-introduced.

There will be no tree planting in the moss-heath communities higher up. Enriched flushes supporting special montane plants were mapped with support from Scottish Natural Heritage and wide unplanted zones have been left around them.


Leave Oxford heading North on the M40. At Junction 3A exit onto the M42 towards the M1/M6. Continue onto the M6 Toll before merging onto the M6. The M6 will (after about 185 miles) turn into the A74(M). Leave the A74(M) at the Moffat exit and take A701 eastwards into the town. At the nearest (south) end of Moffat High Street turn right (east) on the A708, signed to Selkirk. After nearly 6 miles pass Capplegill Farm. Stay on main road, crossing a bridge and passing cottages on left, and keep on through open country for nearly two more miles, finally crossing a bridge over the Carrifran Burn on a sharp right hand bend. Carrifran valley is on your left, and our gated and well signed car park is 50 metres uphill on your left.