Keeping an eye out keeps fire out
NO FIRES (however small!)
We have had 4 months without any heavy rain as well as extremely high temperatures. The forest and the peat that lies underneath is like a tinderbox – so a still smouldering cigarette or even resting a BBQ on the ground is setting light to natural fuel. Lighting anything is dangerous – there is no such thing as lighting just a small fire. This danger will continue until the ground is thoroughly soaked.
Whatever time of year, you should always follow the advice of the Scottish Outdoor Access Code which says “Never light an open fire during prolonged dry periods in areas such as forests, woods, farmland, or on peaty ground or near to buildings or in cultural heritage sites where damage can be easily caused.”
Our small team of Countryside Rangers often encounter people who say “it’s just a small fire” but when the fire risk is this high there is no such thing as a small fire. The forest fire which swept across the A9 near the Carrbridge turnoff in the summer of 1976, lasted for weeks and left a pall of acrid smoke from Slochd as far as Aviemore and firefighters had to beat hasty retreats to avoid awful tragedies. A more recent fire in Granny pines near The Lairig Ghru travelled through tree roots into the peat and could not be extinguished, and another in the Loch Morlich plantation burned for weeks – severely affecting visitors to the wider area.
Here at Rothiemurchus, our Rangers patrol as often as possible and a lot of these patrols take place at Loch an Eilein – a much loved important area for wildlife. Recently Rothiemurchus Rangers spent 8 hours digging deep down to put out smouldering peat and clearing up after three separate parties of visitors at the Loch. They lit camp fires using dead wood and also wood they had cut themselves. They also left behind cigarette ends and disposable BBQs. When the Ranger arrived, they were apologetic, but not aware of the huge risks they were taking and the damage they were causing. Please remember to leave no trace – take all rubbish home with you and do not light fires!
Rothiemurchus Rangers are helping to safeguard some of the most important natural heritage in Scotland as they have for over 40 years and they need your help; the risk of severe fires developing is extremely high at the moment. As we have seen in the recent fires at Golspie and Saddleworth, if the beautiful, ancient forest was to catch alight, the consequences for our wildlife, tourism as well as to the health and livelihoods of many thousands of people living in and visiting the wider area could be serious and long lasting.
A really helpful walker in passing pointed this out to us and saved the day – perhaps even the forest.
A lot the fire sites the Rangers clear up are pointed out by members of the public. We are very grateful to the local community, as well as visitors from further afield, for helping make sure Rothiemurchus remains one of the most naturally beautiful, wild and enjoyable places for people to visit and wildlife to thrive.
What to do if you see a fire
If you spot a fire, however small, call 999 immediately.
Please also let our Countryside Rangers (or any member of staff) know about any extinguished fire sites you come across.
Fire Brigade: 999
Rothiemurchus Centre (daily 9.30 am – 5.30 pm): 01479 812345
Duty Ranger (daily 9.00 am – 5.30 pm): 07887 648675