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Transactions of the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland
The Woods, Forests, and Forestry of Ross-Shire

By W. F. Gunn, Nutwood, Srathpeffer.
[Premiums—Ten Sovereigns.]

The counties of Ross and Cromarty are now combined for parliamentary and other purposes, and the joint county includes the barony of Ferintosh belonging to Nairn, the whole district being popularly known as Ross-shire. Together, they form the third largest county in Scotland, and the fourth largest in the United Kingdom, and stretch from sea to sea across the Highlands.

The county of Ross is situated in latitude 57° 7' and 58° 7' north, and between 3° 45' and 5° 46' west longitude. Its greatest breadth from south to north is nearly 70 miles, from Lake Luing to the rivulet Fin; and its length from east to west is 67 miles, measured from Tarbat Ness to the north of Applecross Sound. The greatest length of the county is, however, 84 miles, as its outline gradually contracts towards the N.E. and S.W., and it is between these extreme points that, like the county of Aberdeen, its greatest length is found to be. The mean breadth from N.W. to S.E. is upwards of 40 miles.

Ross-shire is bounded on the north by Sutherlandshire, on the south by Inverness-shire, on the east by the German Ocean, and on the west by the Atlantic. Its outline is in the main triangular (though in many places it is very irregular), the apex of the triangle resting on its north-west corner at Ru Mone. It presents, perhaps, a greater variety of surface than any other county in Scotland, and it has, since the Dingwall and Skye Railway was opened, become a favourite haunt of English and foreign tourists, who find that over its vast extent an ever-changing panorama of gorgeous landscapes, embracing mountain and glen, wood, loch, and river, may be met with; while it can boast not a few of the most charming characteristics pertaining to the finest agricultural districts, arable and pastoral, both in Scotland and England.

Along the east coast are the peninsulas of the Black Isle, Nigg, and Tarbat, the surface of which, though at one time bleak and much exposed, is now varied by considerable tracts of arable land and wood; and much has been and is still being done, by planting and otherwise, to bring this formerly sterile district into a state of comparative fertility. Backwards from these peninsulas stretches a magnificent richly wooded and cultivated plain, through which the Highland Railway passes, and which may be termed the Lowlands of Ross-shire. Westward from this fine agricultural border run a number of fertile straths, terminating in the Strathconon, Gairloch, and Loch Broom mountains, which form the central watershed.

In the Highlands or western division of the county, water, heathy moorlands, and mountains mingle together in wild grandeur, the hills rising chiefly in clumps or chains, and many of them reaching a great height.

The island of Lewis, situated in 58° 11' and 58° 31' north latitude, and 6° 9' to 7° 8' west longitude, lies out about 30 miles from the mainland, forming a huge natural breakwater to check the rolling waves of the Atlantic. It consists of a tableland on which are only one or two elevations of importance, studded over a wild expanse of deep peat moss, whence a few sluggish streams wind their way to the coast. The bulk of the cultivated land stretches in a strip about a mile in width round the coast line. There are next to no trees on the island, except in the policies and plantations around Stornoway Castle, the residence of Lady Matheson of the Lews.

By the Board of Trade Returns for 1882, the whole area of the county is computed to be 2,044,217 acres, of which there are 133,918 acres under tillage, 90,750 acres of permanent pasture, exclusive of heath or mountain pasture, and waste, and 43,201 acres under wood. The acreage under wood is stated as returned in 1881, which gives Ross-shire the fifth place in extent of wood among the counties of Scotland. The yearly grazing value of the Ross-shire woods was returned at £2586, according to the age of the plantations, from 3d. to 2s. 8d. per acre, in the year 1871. There were at that time only three tenants of this species of property, rental £75 ; the remainder being in the hands of the proprietors. The above is taken from a Report on the Land Statistics of the Shires of Ross and Cromarty, in 1871, by H. C. Eraser, Inverness.

Climate,—The climate of Ross varies a good deal in different localities, being dry and keen on the east coast, and very moist on the west. The mean annual temperature of the mainland is about 46°; this varies very little, but the duration of summer heat on the east coast is greater than on the west, where, however, the winters are perhaps slightly warmer on account of the mildness of the westerly winds. Perhaps the most equitable temperature is about Invergordon; but over the whole area, taking its high northern latitude into account, the climate of Ross-shire cannot be called severe.

Geology.—Regarding the geology of the county, a few words here will suffice, supplemented by occasional notes throughout the Report, as a complete technical account would be uncalled for. The prevailing formation on the east coast, where the most woods are, is undoubtedly the Old Red Sandstone, though greatly broken up and intersected in several districts by irregular blocks of granite, quartz, and hornblende.

At the Sutors of Cromarty, at Rosemarkie, and at the Craig-wood of Avoch the sandstone is buttressed by strong ridges and bosses of felspathic rock, which for the most part appear to have been intrusive, throwing off the sandstone strata in anteclinal lines. In other places the sandstone ridges are broken into picturesque craggy summits, composed chiefly of the coarse conglomerate, as in the Ord and Muirton Hills, the Pap of Strath-skiach, in front of Ben Wyvis, and Fyrish Hill, often causing variations in the soil, and lending an irregular, rugged appearance to the surface. The surface of Ross-shire, true to the general characteristics of Old Red Sandstone districts, is diversified and irregular. The formation among the hills on the west is gneiss, mixed or alternating with mica-schist, quartz rock, ironstone especially around Gairloch, and mountain limestone; the latter, so extensively used for agricultural purposes, exists in great abundance in the west, though unfortunately there has been only one small vein discovered on the east coast, where it would be found more valuable. The Hebrides are chiefly of the Secondary and Tertiary formations.

In laying out any portion of ground with the view of planting, the first thing to ascertain is the character of the soil and subsoil. There is no doubt that every kind of tree will grow to a certain extent in every kind of soil under any ordinary circumstances; but to grow trees to perfection, they require to be planted in a suitable soil and climate. To judge a soil correctly, its chemical properties must be known, in order to arrive at its qualities and adaptation for any kind of plant; but practice enables an intelligent man to judge it approximately on inspection. In this county the clay soils, clay loams, and loams, situated principally on the eastern border, grow the very finest quality of oak, ash, beech, chestnut, and. lime. These trees, however, are found in the policies around the mansion-houses and farms, there being very little extent of old hardwood plantation. Although many of the fine specimens recorded in the Schedule at the end of this Report were planted for purposes of shelter and ornament more than profit, there have been a good many mixed plantations and belts planted throughout the county within the past twenty years, which in time will supply the want of more hardwood. In a great many enclosures there is a considerable diversity of soil, and here, with judicious planting, a mixed plantation is both desirable and profitable, the hardwood being put in at such distances as will admit of them standing as the permanent crop. It is just of as much importance for the healthy growth of trees, to put them in a soil suitable to their nature, as it is to select certain soils for wheat, barley, or oats. The climate, however, must also be taken into consideration; for in Ross-shire, as in many other counties, soils suitable to the growth of any particular tree may be found at an elevation where these trees would not succeed. To grow a large quantity of wood is a very desirable thing, but Ross-shire is no exception, when it is said that the operations of forestry are often so conducted as to increase the quantity at the expense of the quality. We have all seen large bulky trees so coarse and knotty, and open in the grain, as to be almost unfit for anything. Scots fir, for example, grown on rich loam, is of such a rapid growth as to render the wood useless for almost anything except fuel. The best and largest are the qualities to be sought for in a tree. Speaking generally, the best hardwoods in Ross-shire are to be found on the sandstone and shaly rock. and the best Scots fir and larch on the conglomerate and gneiss. A great want is felt on some parts of the coast, in getting trees to grow for shelter, various trees having been tried, with the result that the Pinus pinaster maritima was found to suffer least, while it affords capital shelter, and grows well in sandy soil. On the light soils of the gneiss rock, the mountain ash and birch are prevalent; while it is a curious fact that natural birch is springing up all over the hills where there was little or none before. The Pinaster, so useful for sheltering young plantations on high ground, is only planted to a very small extent.

With these few geographical and statistical statements bearing upon the position and general surface characteristics of this large county, and before proceeding to deal with the subject in hand, it will be but right to state that the following pages contain only a general description of the physical aspect of the woods and plantations of Ross-shire, scattered as they are over such a wide tract of country, the important wooded estates alone being treated more in detail.

For the sake of comparison, it will be found convenient to distinguish the four districts into which Ross-shire is naturally divided, viz.

1. The Black Isle, comprehending the parishes of Killearnan. Knockbain, Avoch, Rosemarkie, Resolis, and Urquhart.

2. Mid Ross, made up of Urray, Contin, Fodderty, Dingwall, Kiltearn, and Alness.

3. Easter Ross, the peninsula of Tain, containing the parishes of Rosskeen, Kilmuir Easter, Logie, Nigg, Fearn, Tarbat, Tain, Edderton, and Kincardine.

4. Wester Ross, being the extensive parishes on the west coast, stretching inward to the watershed of the shire, Glenshiel, Kintail, Loch Alsh, Applecross, Loch Carron, Gairloch, and Loch Broom.

5. Hebridean Lews, containing the parishes of Barvas, Lochs, Stornoway, and Uig.

1. The Black Isle.

This peninsula consists of an extensive tract of land lying between three curiously bent arms of the sea—the Moray and Beauly Firths on the east and south, and the Cromarty Firth on the north-west. Its southern extremity, washed by the Beauly Firth, is occupied by the parishes of Killearnan and Knockbain, the largest proprietors in the district being the Eight Hon. H. J. Baillie of Redcastle, Mr G. Maclean of Drynie, Mr C. Mackenzie of Kilcoy, and Mr J. F. Mackenzie of Allangrange.

The shore here is in parts clayey, and sandy, with a gradually ascending slope, which forms four ridges of Old Red Sandstone; running parallel to the Mulbuie, and forming an agreeable diversity of hill and dale.

At Kessock, on the Redcastle estates, there are three plantations, extending to 300, 80, and 35 acres respectively. About 80 acres only out of the 415 are really good wood. The trees consist of Scots fir and a few larch, some of which are nice specimens, and are situated on the top of a cliff overlooking the sea. Further back, a good deal has been cut and replanted, but the young trees have not succeeded at all well. The most of the wood, however, is of natural growth, and not in good order, requiring thinning especially. To the north-west of Kessock Wood is Gallowshill, on which there are 460 acres of Scots fir, with a sprinkling of larch. Some of this is about sixty years old, but the best matured timber has been cut. Thirty acres only, on the north-east corner of this wood, were planted, nearly forty years ago, all the rest is seed growth from wood planted by the last proprietor, and removed many years ago. Gallowshill "Wood has been thriving fairly well, though now requiring attention. Linnie Wood, east of Gallowshill, consists of 140 acres of Scots fir and larch, some of which is in fair condition, but a great deal of the ground is very imperfectly drained. It is about forty years old, and has also been greatly damaged by squirrels. The larch thrive here when young, but seem gradually to fail when they get up, as there are very few well-grown specimens. The soil hereabouts is gravel above conglomerate rock, with clay in the hollows. Most of the surface was formerly covered with heather, and was so bare of pasture that, we are told, a goat could not live over 5 acres of it. These woods have a northwestern exposure, and afford considerable shelter to the surrounding district. Hardwoods, comprising beech, ash, and elm, stud the fields around, and line the banks of the burn above the fine old castle, in the grounds of which there is a fine even row of limes, and a belt of oak, ash, elm, beech, lime, plane, and sycamore trees, which are old, but not of great size.

The ornamental trees include several nice silver firs, two large Douglases, a Wellingtonia, and two fine Araucarias, besides some young Deodar, poplar, chestnut, and several yews, all on a warm southern exposure, and thriving well. Along the road to Beauly there are rows of elm and ash, and a belt of young larch growing in an old sandstone quarry, almost on a level with the tide. Where the soil is poor the sea breeze has stunted the trees, but some other clumps along the shore have suffered comparatively little. At Gargaston there are belts of oak, ash, and larch, and below the farm there is a clump of old ash, oak, Scots fir, and spruce, planted for shelter from the sea breeze. The soil around here is light loam, on the sandstone formation. Between Gargaston and Tarradale farm there are more belts of ash, oak, and Scots fir, which though not of great value, are both ornamental and useful for shelter. We now enter the estate of Tarradale, in the parish of Urray, to which the Redcastle estate was added forty-six years ago. At Tarradale House, prettily situated at the head of the Beauly Firth, there are a few old ash, elm, and beech, with very few ornamental trees, except two or three large silver firs and a few ash, plane, and sycamore trees along the avenue. Near the road to Tarradale village, about 10 acres were planted some years ago; but with the exception of a few spruce on the outskirts, rabbits destroyed the plants, the ground now being occupied by a plentiful crop of birch. Hilton Wood, on the opposite side of the public road here, extends over 40 acres of clayey ground, which was planted with Scots fir and larch about forty years ago. It has a southern exposure, standing on wet, close soil, and has a stunted, unhealthy appearance. Below the road, along a burn side, there is a considerable belt of oak, ash, and beech; and around the farm-houses to the westwards there are smaller clumps of hardwood. South of Tarradale village are 58 acres of Scots fir, about thirty years old, and very stunted in appearance. West of Hilton Wood there are 20 acres under poor Scots fir and larch, and grazed by the neighbouring small tenants' cattle for want of a fence. East of Tarradale are numerous small clumps and belts of Scots fir, with a few larch and natural oak. Spittal Wood, north-east of Hilton, extends over more than 500 acres, growing principally Scots fir, with however a few scattered larches. This is merely the aftergrowth of wood mostly cut by the last proprietor. It is in a very neglected condition, sadly requiring thinning, and in fact, in such a state as will require careful and discriminate management and great labour to amend much, without doing harm. It is situated in the parish of Killearnan, on the Redcastle part of this property. The soil is gravel resting on sandstone quarry and the wood is enclosed partly by drystone walls and by a turf dyke. On the ridge west of Spittal Wood, 50 acres of Scots fir and larch, planted about twelve years ago, is in good order. Besides these woods, there are two small beltings of Scots fir near the road to Beauly, one of which is on land formerly arable, and this, as is generally the case with conifers on prepared ground, is not doing so well as the other. No hedgerows or hedges of importance exist either on the Tarradale or Redcastle estates. The whole of the young woods above mentioned, especially Spittal, have been grievously and very extensively damaged by squirrels, which seem not yet to have been sufficiently killed down. Numbers of the young larches have also suffered from dry rot. These woods are said to have been valued at £33,000 three years ago. On the estate of Drynie, lying to the southeast of Redcastle, there are 113 acres of very old Scots fir and larch, most of which is well grown timber, while containing some particularly fine specimens of each tree. In addition to this there are about 330 acres of younger plantations, consisting of pine and larch, likewise in a thriving condition. These plantations were thinned when at a height of 4 or 5 feet, the time preferred here for doing this being generally autumn, or open weather during winter. Some of the plantation grazing on Drynie estate is let along with the nearest farm.

Marching with Drynie on the north, is Kilcoy, on which about 2270 acres are under plantations at various stages of growth. The older wood, averaging probably from 80 to 120 years, comprises 163 acres, not including the Belmaduthy policies; besides which there are about 1107 acres of younger plantations, portions of which have been planted almost every year for the last twenty years. The old timber on this estate is sound and healthy, and the young plantations have evidently been under discreet and careful management, being in a most flourishing and thriving condition at present. The subsoil here is a retentive clay, with a more panny substance on the higher-lying parts. Owing probably to this uncongenial subsoil, it has been found that, without the complete drainage operations which always precede planting on Kilcoy, it is of little or no use putting the plants into the ground. The plants used are mostly Scots fir, one year transplanted, with a mixture of larch where the soil is suitable, and a few hardwoods, principally beech, on the outskirts. The Pinus sylvestris is the most common and most successful plant grown here. We are told that out of a lot sold lately, railway sleepers were cut 24 feet in length by 12 inches by 6 inches, some of the trees measuring 32 feet bole, with a girth at 1 foot of 8 feet 3 inches, and at 5 feet of 8 feet. Of larch, on the contrary, there are few of remarkable size, but we understand that most of the old trees were cut down some twenty years ago. It seems to thrive best in this locality on a rocky subsoil, and especially on the slopes where not too dry. In regard to larch blister, which occurs in low-lying spots on some land formerly arable, the forester made the observation, that he does not find land which has been long under cultivation to be suitable for a healthy crop of larch, which will grow even better on uncultivated land, especially on hill or rising ground where the soil is of a porous nature. The young larches have suffered from hares in some places. The enclosures consist of a sunk earth fence with two wires above on the higher ground, and chiefly a wire fence with iron strainers on the lower. All the hill plantations are fenced, and this, along with so much drainage, generally delays planting operations here till about the end of February. There is a home nursery on the Kilcoy estate, which has been carried on for many years, and in which all the Scots firs have been raised. The cones are collected in the woods, and the seed extracted by means of a small kiln erected for that purpose. The larch, we are told, has also been raised chiefly in the home nursery, but from seed purchased in Inverness, and believed to be produced in Perthshire.

Some remarkable groups of old hardwood trees stand in front of and in the lawns and policies around Belmaduthy House. There are five groups of the common beech, numbering on an average six trees per group, about 200 years old, besides several of the ornamental purple variety, which have been propagated by grafting on the common beech. One remarkable group of old ash trees grows on the lawn, while there are a good many oaks growing separately in the policies, and a few elms along the avenue, specimens of which will be found tabulated at the end of this paper. The elm here, as in most places throughout the county, does not come to any great size. There are a few Turkey oaks at Belmaduthy House, a fine free-growing tree, which deserves a place on all dressed grounds.

Ornamental trees, which are numerous here, include specimens of the Wellingtonia, silver fir, Picea pectinata, Picea Nordman-niana, and Picea nobilis, besides several members of the spruce tribe, including Abies excelsa, Abies Menziesii, and Abies Douglasii, which last has not proved very successful. They flourish up to a certain age, from ten to twelve years, when they appear to lose vitality, the top being too tender to stand the cold cutting winds of this exposure. The Cupressus Lawsoniana is the hardiest and most successful of the ornamental shrubs here, some planted about fourteen years ago having already attained a height of 15 feet or thereby, and giving fair promise of arriving at maturity. From this tree and the Wellingtonia gigantea and Abies Douglasii cuttings have been successfully grown here. There is a small strip of plantation on the coast, often partially flooded by sea water, in which the firs and spruce are prospering, but the larches are very unhealthy. The hedgerows on Kilcoy are principally oak, and the hedges thorn and beech. The latter are in good order, being pruned every season, and occasionally dug at bottom, when if unhealthy, we are informed, a little lime mixed with the soil is found to be beneficial. The greater part of the hill plantations are, at any rate, second crops on that ground, and as aforesaid are quite successful.

On the Allangrange estate there are over 400 acres under wood, which is almost wholly Scots fir and larch. On Gallows-hill, marching with the Redcastle wood on the north-east, 200 acres of Scots fir and larch were planted about twenty-five years ago, and is in very fair order now, save for considerable damage done by squirrels. At Elmbank there is a fine wood of larch and Scots fir, with a few beautiful spruce round the edges. These woods have a south-eastern exposure, and the soil varies a good deal, consisting of peat, clay, and gravel, with here and there a strong pan. There are very few hardwoods, except along the roadsides and at the Mains, where they consist of ash, elm, and beech, with a few birch. The Allangrange Woods appear to be doing well, and certainly add greatly to the amenity of the surrounding agricultural holdings. Eriophorum pubescens is found in the woods.

In the parishes of Avoch and Rosemarkie, the principal proprietors are Mr James Fletcher of Rosehaugh, Mr R. G. Mackenzie of Flowerburn, Mr H. M. Fowler of Raddery, and Mr C. M. M. Miller of Kincurdy. The property of Rosehaugh comprises the estates of Rosehaugh proper, Avoch, Bennetsfield, Ethie, Mountpleasant, and Ardmeanach. Over these estates Mr Fletcher has made most extensive arable reclamations, while every acre of waste ground not considered worth cultivating has been surface drained and planted. Besides planting waste land and making many useful roads, he has in rearranging the farms formed numerous beltings and hedgerows, which year by year beautify the landscape and shelter the land. The Bog of Shannon Wood, consisting of Scotch fir and larch, extends to about 450 acres, of which 100 acres are old timber. The rest has been planted at varying periods within the last twenty years. Its soil is mossy in some parts, and gravelly with pan in others, and rests on the Old Red Sandstone formation. It is exposed on all sides except the east, and stands from 250 to 300 feet above sea-level, on moorland.

Mulbuie and Braelangwell Woods extend over 2500 acres, and also consist of Scots fir and larch, situated at an altitude of from 500 to 600 feet on the Mulbuie ridge, sloping both to the north and south. They are thriving well on a reddish gravel, with hard black pan, above the sandstone rock. The fine Wood-hill plantations comprise 120 acres of larch and Scots fir, clothing both the northern and southern slopes of an oval-shaped hill, and stretching from sea level at the north-east of Munlochy Bay up to 250 feet above it. The soil is gravelly, and overlies the conglomerate rock, but the slope being very steep in parts, a good deal of alluvial loam has gathered in hollows. Situated between Avoch and Fortrose, overlooking the Moray Firth, there is a fine old plantation called the "Craigwood," containing chiefly hardwoods, among them being some very fine specimens of beech and elm, and a number of grand oaks, for which this wood used to be famous. It has a mild southerly exposure, and grows on a rich loamy soil above conglomerate, at an elevation of 150 feet above sea-level. At Ordhill, near Munlochy, there are about 60 acres of old Scots fir, planted in 1821, along with 4 acres of younger wood about twelve years old. The Learnie and Eathie Woods consist of young Scots fir and larch, and extend over about 420 acres. All these are doing well, though at a considerable elevation and much exposed to easterly winds. Black-hills Wood contains Scots fir, larch, a few hardwoods, and a clump or two of birch. It slopes towards the south, and is enclosed by stone dykes. The Avoch Woods comprise 200 acres of fine old mixed plantation, growing on a moorland soil facing south. Alongside the parliamentary road from Dingwall to Fortrose there are 40 acres of Scots fir, larch, and spruce, mixed with hardwoods, called Darroch Bog plantation. The surface of the ground hereabout is undulating, with if anything a northerly exposure, and the soil is a damp clay. The approach to Rose-haugh House, lined by some nice hardwoods, passes through the western portion of this wood. These plantations are all thriving well, and the whole estate has a pleasant southerly exposure, except about 200 acres. The general surface, however, is hilly, the quality of the soil varying much in different localities. The prevailing winds blow from the south-west, and the climate, except at Millbuie and Braelangwell, is comparatively mild and open. The plantations are well attended to, and are all enclosed by stone dykes where material is available, and elsewhere by turf dykes and wire fences. Cones are collected on this estate, and the seed dried and prepared, the seedlings being grown in a nice home nursery, and planted out about the end of April or beginning of May. There are some native pines, the seed of which is grown from, but not sold. The home seeds come away very well, and any additional plants required are purchased from Inverness or Elgin. The general rule here is to plant in the proportion of 1 of larch to 3 of Scots fir, and this, along with labour and preparation of ground, costs about 50s. per acre. Some of these plantations formed a few years ago were done by contract. A large extent of the ground under wood at present has borne a former crop, and all wood sold is by private bargain as it stands. In the sea-side plantations, fir, elm, oak, and plane trees do best. The hedgerows contain all the common varieties of hardwoods, and the hedges are good, consisting of mixed thorn and beech. The woods are not much damaged by game, but young larches suffer from the white American bug, Coccus laricis. The larches are also subject to heart and ring rot. Geranium sanguineum is found on the rocks east of Avoch, and Pinguicula alpina at Auchterflow, near Munlochy.

On the Flowerburn estate there are 320 acres of wood, comprising young plantations of Scots fir and larch, most of which have been planted within the past thirty years, and some extent of older hardwoods in the policies around Flowerburn House. To the south and east of this mansion-house 150 acres of Scots fir were planted about fifteen years ago, which appears to be thriving very well. It is situated at a considerable altitude, and affords excellent shelter to a part of the district, which is otherwise rather bleak.

There are 100 acres of Scots fir on the western margin of the property, at a much lower elevation, planted about twenty-five years ago, which are healthy and making great progress. A few larches interspersed throughout this plantation seem to be doing well also, and the plantation affords excellent cover for sheep. In the policies around Flowerburn House various kinds of young hardwoods have been planted, besides trees of an ornamental description, within the past twenty or twenty-five years. These are now in quite a flourishing condition, and enhance the appearance of the grounds greatly.

Three-fourths of the estate of Raddery were under fine large Scots fir from forty to fifty years ago. This the late Mr Fowler cut, and sold at a much better price than could be got now for the same timber. This land was converted into arable holdings, and we are told is now giving a fair rental. There is a plantation of 25 acres on the southern side of the estate, about fifty years old, consisting of Scots fir and some larch, but of inferior quality. The soil is shallow, and the subsoil is of a hard panny nature, for although the ground has been well surface drained it is only fit to grow propwood. Where the soil is drier there are a few larch and spruce of good marketable value.

On the north side of the Raddery property there are 19 acres of fir and larch plantation, about twenty-five years old, which, but for the ravages of squirrels, has thriven well. In addition to these plantations there are small beltings and clumps of Scots fir, larch, and spruce, with a mixture of hardwoods. Most of these, planted about seven years ago, are of excellent growth, and ready for thinning. Beech, plane, oak, ash, lime, horse chestnut, and other varieties grow well in the sheltered spots. In the policies around the mansion-house are bo be seen some good specimens of various ornamental trees, including the Cedrus Deodara, Araucaria, yew, variegated and American oak, weeping ash and elm, lime, hickory, tulip, and a number of shrubs. The hedges are of bay and Portugal laurel, affording good shelter and standing any weather, besides remaining green and fresh all winter. The Saxifraga granulata is found along the shore here. On the Kincurdy estate, behind Rosemarkie, some nice patches of young Scots fir and larch were planted about twenty years ago, and are doing well. There are a few very nice spruce on the outskirts of these clumps, but very few hardwoods on the property.

All along the north-east the shore of the Moray Firth assumes a high and bold outline, offering a very uninviting shore, but broken by the entrance to the Cromarty Firth formed by the Sutors, two bluff headlands, partly covered with battered old Scots fir.

On the Cromarty estate, in the parish of that name, the property of Mr D. M. Ross, there are a few hundred acres of wood, consisting of hardwoods and conifers of all ages and sizes. Around the mansion-house there are fine elm, ash, and oak trees, which are large and very old. Some thriving specimens of ornamental trees, including Araucarias and foreign pines, grow on the lawn. To the west of the house there is a fine thriving plantation of larch, spruce, and elm, besides strips of old Scots fir of very fine quality, left for shelter and ornamental purposes, on the Sutors of Cromarty. About 100 acres of larch, Scots fir, and spruce, planted and well enclosed by wire fences, some three years ago, are doing well. On the Mulbuie about 200 acres of wood, principally Scots fir, are preserved as a sanctuary for roe-deer, on which account it is much neglected and in a very wild state. It is only about forty years old, but many of the trees are decayed. There are some thriving hardwoods in the hedgerows and along the roadsides, and a good beech and thorn hedge or two about the house. The estate has a northern exposure, and the soil is principally black loam, though clay abounds in some parts and moorish soil in others. A considerable extent of land was reclaimed here which was formerly under wood and whins, and of a moorish character. Mr Macdonald's Report, already quoted, puts the value of this reclaimed land in 1877 at 10s. and in its natural state at 2s. 6d. per acre.

Poyntzfield, the property of Mr G. Munro, contains about 200 acres of Scots fir and hardwoods, with a few young belts of larch and spruce. There are some fine hardwoods round the mansion-house and a few ornamental trees in the grounds, also some belts of spruce planted for game preserves. Clumps of good old Scots fir, ash, and elm still exist, though most of the old wood was cut thirty years ago. On Udale there are large belts of hardwood trees, and to the east of the farm a nice plantation of larch mixed with hardwood. This is about forty years old, and is doing very well. Both estates face the north, and the soil varies as the ground rises from the level of the Cromarty Firth. At 100 feet it is principally shingle on gravel, changing to a rich deep loam at 250 feet, and a moorish boulder clay mixed with iron pan higher up. Off this last poor soil a crop of whins is taken yearly, which seemingly proves the most remunerative way of working it.

The principal proprietors in the parishes of Resolis and Urquhart are Sir J. D. M'Kenzie of Findon, Mr J. A. S. Mackenzie of Newhall, Mr Duncan Forbes of Ferintosh, and Sir Kenneth S. Mackenzie, Bart. of Gairloch. Besides these there are the smaller estates of Braelangwell, Kinbeachie, and St Martin's, on each of which there are patches of Scots fir, and a few larch and hardwoods, but of small extent and value.

At Newhall there are some magnificent fir and larch, especially the latter, growing among belts of hardwood. A good deal of wood on this property is ready to cut, and the larch are of as fine quality as almost any in the county. Nice ornamental trees surround the mansion-house among some large hardwoods, of which there are also nice clumps scattered over the property. The hedgerows and hedges are not very good.

On the Findon estate there are very good young plantations of Scots fir, with a sprinkling of larch, situated on a considerable slope, with a cold north-westerly exposure, but doing very well. They have been for the most part planted within the last thirty years, and as they grow up promise to become very useful for shelter, and valuable as timber. At Mountgerald House, on the other side of the Firth, there are belts of old hardwoods and a few ornamental trees.

The estate or rather the barony of Ferintosh, extending to close on 6000 acres, though situated in the parish of Urquhart. really belongs to Nairn. A great deal has been reclaimed from rough stony moorland, and a large portion of the waste land on the top of the Mulbuie has been planted. Round Ryefield House there is a nice belt of hardwoods principally beech, mixed with a few spruce, fir, and larch ; and further north a fine wood of beech, elm, oak, and chestnut; still further north there is a smaller clump of the same trees, with the addition of a few Scots fir. Those hardwoods are of considerable size and age, and their varied foliage has a fine appearance on the slope of the Mulbuie Hill. Small belts of the same hardwoods surround several of the farm-houses; while behind Ryefield there is an extent of young Scots fir plantation, interspersed with a few larch. The surface here is covered with furze and heather, and the plantation appears to be in fair condition. Further back on the Mulbuie ridge, another nice young plantation, also principally Scots fir, and on the slope to the south-east a large plantation of older Scots fir, are to be seen. At Corntown farm there is a belt of hardwoods and spruce, and some ornamental trees, while considerably to the west there are some thin clumps of Scots fir with a few larch. These are in a bleak situation, and not of great size. All the Ferintosh woods have a north-western exposure, and rise from the Cromarty Firth to the ridge of Mulbuie. The soil is light, resting on freestone rock.

Sir Kenneth M'Kenzie's prettily wooded estate of Conan occupies the western end of the parish of Urquhart, and here also considerable improvements have been effected by reclamation and planting. North-east of Conon Station there is a small belt of larch, about twenty-five years old, mixed on its western side with hardwoods, principally oak. North-west of Conon village there are strips of very poor Scots fir, but some nice beech and Mirabelle hedges. There are a few beech, birch, and oak at Riverford; while opposite, above the county road to Muir of Ord, there are some well-grown fir and larch (a few of the latter however being royed), mixed with oak and beech on the outskirts. A great deal of birch and juniper undergrowth exists throughout this wood. The latter is hereabouts from forty to fifty years old, and the Scots firs have thriven much the best; but further on it is older, the trees comprising some fair Scots fir, birch, and oak planted up with larch, spruce, and silver fir, all of which are doing well. The soil is gravelly and stony, and the site level. Between the road and railway some nice silver firs and spruce, planted up among old oak, ash, and chestnut, look very well; while below the line, along the bank of the River Conon, there are belts of oak and beech. In both these woods, as aforesaid, there is, however, a lot of unhealthy birch scrub littering the ground, which is by no means too rich to grow the large trees well; the estate, however, being very narrow, perhaps the object of this is to keep the game from straying. Here there are some really nice varieties of silver fir, many of them protected by wire netting, bub sadly overcrowded by the undergrowth of birch. The woods below the county road near the entrance lodge, con-

sist of old hardwoods standing a considerable distance apart, and beat up with spruce and ornamental shrubs, chiefly silver fir, with here and there a Cypress and Deodar. Some magnificent firs and larch and a number of fine oaks form the outskirts, while further south, on both sides of the road, the woods are principally old Scots fir planted up with younger Scots fir and spruce. Near the railway bridge there are several nice clumps of spruce and a fine silver fir, and here the larches and Scots fir are very good. On the Mulbuie ridge, above, a young plantation of Scots fir and larch, chiefly the latter, stands in rather a bleak exposure, but is doing fairly well. It is sheltered to the westward by a large extent of older wood, the north-east corner of which is chiefly larch, all the remainder being Scots fir. This is from. about thirty-five to forty years old, and appears to be thriving very well. At the principal entrance gate there are one or two fine Douglas spruce and various specimens of the silver fir, of a considerable height, and growing well. On both sides, the avenue is lined by beech, oak, birch, and spruce, with a few larch and Scots fir, intermixed, with numerous very nice specimens of silver firs—Picea nobilis, cephalonica, Webbiana, and some rarer kinds. These and a number of the Cypress order, appear to succeed well enough at Conan, but are in many places overcrowded with evergreens and undergrowth. Behind and around the gardens there are some nice beech and spruce, and well-trimmed yew and evergreen hedges. On the lawns a few Deodars and Austrian pines and a nice specimen of Cuprcssus, Nukaensis, and Welling-tonia, grow. The oak and silver fir thrive very well around here also, and a belt to the west of the house contains beautiful specimens of the rarer plants of Abies, Picea, and Cupressus tribes growing among some old beech, several of the best of them, however, being ruined by rabbits, which swarm here. Behind the steading there is a considerable extent of wood, being beech and oak, and some rather fine old spruce and Douglasii, planted up with Scots fir and larch about twenty years old; while further south there is a large wood of Scots fir, Row thin, but beat up with young spruce and Scots fir. Hardwoods border the fields, alongside beech hedges, while near the march with Highfield there are some nice rows of young hardwoods. Oaks line the roadsides in all directions, and in fact form the staple hardwood tree of the estate, but are not of great size or very valuable. Away to the northwest of the policies, the older wood is situated, not very far from the river side. It consists of several clumps, each covering a few acres of ground, of particularly fine Scots fir, more than a hundred years old and affording timber of the finest quality.

Along the top of the Black Isle there at one time stretched over 7044 acres a black heath, used for hundreds of years as a common outrun to the Black Isle farm stock generally, and called the Mulbuie Commonty. For many years the proprietors, believing some of it to be worth cultivation, tried to come to an arrangement regarding its division; a few of them did come to an agreement, and some extent was planted also, but it was not till 1827 that the Court of Session apportioned it.

A great part of this 7000 acres is now in a fair state of cultivation, and almost all that was found unsuitable for reclamation has been planted, and is now carrying very thriving plantations, as noticed already. The improvement these reclamations and plantations have effected in the producing capabilities of the land in the Black Isle is very marked.. " Before the division a dark dreary shade was cast over the whole peninsula by the bleak heath, which then ran along the ridge; now, the many green fields and thriving plantations that occupy the greater part of Old Mulbuie lend a pleasant cheerful aspect to the whole district." The 196 acres allotted to the Conan estate had been planted years before the Court apportionment, and the wood was cut and removed in 1837, the land being let out in crofts.

2. Mid Ross.

Part of the parish of Urray lies within the boundaries of Inverness-shire, but by far the greater portion is in Ross-shire, in which part the principal proprietors are Major J. A. F. H. M'Kenzie of Seaforth, Brahan; Mr G. J. Gillanders of Highfield; Mr Thomas Mackenzie of Ord; The Chisholm, Rheindown; and Mr John Stirling of Fairburn.

All these estates, except Brahan, are situated on the southern side of the River Conon, the greater part having a northern exposure.

Occupying the tableland of Ussie, and stretching from the range of hills which form the southern side of the valley of Strathpeffer, down to that of the Conon, is the finely wooded estate of Brahan. Its extent is about 10 square miles, with a southern exposure, and an altitude ranging from sea-level below Maryburgh village, to 550 feet at "The Cat's Back" hill, its highest point. The most of the ground now under wood has already yielded crops of fir and larch, most of which, we understand, was cut down from ten to twelve years ago. The plantations at present are principally hardwood, but judging from their appearance, the greater part has been long left in a very neglected condition, requiring thinning, pruning, and draining. Beginning at the eastern end of the estate, there is Maryburgh plantation, at an altitude of 150 to 200 feet, with an eastern aspect, on a loamy soil above gravel. This plantation is a

mixed one, but consists principally of oak, ash, beech, and natural birch, from thirty to eighty years old, with an average height of about 50 feet. A part of it is under Scots fir of about thirty-five years standing, seemingly in a flourishing condition. Further west is Dunglust plantation, at an altitude of from 100 to 200 feet, growing on loam overlying a gravelly till. The greater part of this wood is of the same character as the last, but it contains a fine clump of ornamental trees beside the approach to Brahan Castle, known as the "Grove of Friendship/' having been planted by "friends" of the Seaforth family. Each tree bears a label,.on which is the name of the planter and the year in which the tree was planted, which appears to have been mostly between 1860 and 1865. This fine clump grows on a good loam, at an altitude of about 200 feet, and several of the trees are now between 30 and 40 feet high, all being in a very healthy state. The most flourishing varieties are the Picea and Abies families, comprising Picea Nordmanniana, P. nobilis, P. grandis, P. Parsonii, P. Pinsapo, Abies Douglasii, Ab. Albertiana, Ab. Morinda, Wellingtonia gigantea, and Thujopsis borealis.

Extending from Loch Ussie, in which there are three or four very pretty wooded islets, to Moy, is Marybush plantation, situated on a sandy clay and peat resting on conglomerate, at an altitude of from 400 to 500 feet above sea-level.

The surface herbage of this plantation, the exposure of which is to the west and north-east, consists of thick heather and brackens. The trees are Scots fir and larch, from twelve to •fifteen years old, appearing very healthy where the ground is not too wet, and reaching a height of from 10 to 15 feet. Brahan Wood stands further south, on the north side of the public road from Maryburgh to Moy, at an elevation varying from 300 to 400 feet. The soil is a loam above gravelly clay, resting on the conglomerate and sandstone formations. This wood faces south, and consists principally of hardwoods, oak, ash, elm, beech, and Spanish chestnut of various ages, from 30 to 150 years. Noticing that this wood was too thin to be profitable, we asked for particulars, and were told that it formerly contained a quantity of larch, which having been removed, has left it so thin that the present trees have far too much room, and of course are rapidly growing to head and branches. Some very fine oaks and Spanish chestnuts are to be found in parts here, however, some of them upwards of 12 feet in circumference at 3 feet from the ground, and 70 feet, in height, with a clean bole of upwards of 20 feet. There is a clump of larches, standing in a sheltered hollow with a southern aspect (see list at end), of which we are told that the largest trees got blown down in 1860 and 1868, but there are still about thirty left, some of which stand from 90 to 100 feet high, and contain 120 cubic feet of timber. They are all of the red flowering variety. There is also a clump of Norway spruce above the North Lodge, some of which have been blown down lately. They are about 100 feet in height, and fully as many years old (see list at end). The old castle of Brahan stands about midway up the slope that rises from the left bank of the Conon and terminates at the base of the precipitous wall of conglomerate known as the "Brahan Rock," which latter, with its crown of dark firs, frowns majestically on the expansive and varied landscape spread out beneath. Nestling under this shattered cliff, are some fine old pines towering amid the brackens. Many noble specimens of hardwood giants grow in the fine parks around the castle, to the east side of which there is a nice clump of limes, exposed to the south and east, and situated on a heavy loam resting on sandy clay. They are of large size, and seem very healthy (see list at end). A little to the south-east of Brahan Castle, in a sheltered situation called "the Dell," there is a circle of very large beeches about 150 years old, but still very vigorous. They are between thirty and forty in number, and average about 11 feet in circumference at 3 feet from the ground (see list at end). Here also some very good Spanish chestnuts and Turkey oaks are to be seen (see list), and a first rate collection of Rhododendrons and Azaleas. A fine clump of eight very old Scots fir, which is growing south of the castle on the bank of the River Conon, is believed to be about 200 years of age. The whole policies of Brahan are extensively and splendidly wooded, but, with the exception stated, there has been very little planting done on this estate for a good many years; however, we are informed that the cost, including draining, roads, fencing, price of plants, and planting, is generally about £5 per acre. Numerous hedgerow trees and hedges run up along the sides of the fields above the Conon, besides several small plots and beltings, principally ash and oak, none of which are valuable or worth special notice. The ash is in some districts in the county of very frequent occurrence as a hedgerow tree: but it is ruinous to grain crops within the range of its roots, and it can only be recommended along roadsides and meadow or pasture lands. The plantations on Brahan are infested with squirrels which have done a great deal of damage to the fir plantations; while the larch have suffered from the "larch bug," Adelgis laricis. Rabbits are numerous as well as fallow deer, which latter will prove a great annoyance whenever any of the waste ground comes to be planted up. Among the less common botanical specimens met with in the district, the Linncea borealis is found in Brahan woods. The estate of Highfield is a very well-wooded property for its extent, the greater part having been planted we believe by the late Mr Gillanders, father of the present owner, There are three woods of large extent, comprising several hundred acres each. The first of these, extending southwards from the county road from Conon to Muir of Ord, embraces the policies of High-fisld, and comprises a mixture of well-grown Scots fir, larch, and hardwoods, chiefly beech. This wood may be said to extend to the Urray and Muir of Ord road, which it crosses at Dreim, behind which farm a considerable extent of very fine timber has quite lately been removed. In clearing these large areas, whether to be converted into agricultural lands or not, large masses should be left on judiciously chosen sites, with the view of giving shelter, and also to be the means of retaining moisture in the districts, and generally equalising the climate, though the evil of entire clearances is greater in hilly districts. . No. 2 may be said to stretch, from a point to the northward of the Parish Church of Urray, almost continuously, until it reaches the south banks of the Orrin, and up to the Altgourie Road at Feabait, This wood, chiefly Scots fir and larch, has also lately been extensively thinned, a great deal of valuable timber having been removed.

In the policies of Highfield there are beech, oak, birch, Scots fir, and larch, and some nice ornamental trees of silver fir and spruce. The belts along the approaches are also interspersed with trees of the latter description planted up among oak and birch trees. The fields to the north of the house are studded by clumps of hardwood trees, beech, and oak, and there are a few nice beech hedges on the estate. North-east of the policies there is a considerable extent of Scots fir wood, the southern half of which is older than the rest, and filled up with natural young Scots fir and some spruce. The remainder is about forty years old, and consists of fairly grown Scots fir, with some good larch, a few spruce, and some wretched oaks on the outskirts. Northwest of this wood two belts of Scots fir and larch were evidently planted for purposes of shelter, but being situated on a poor, cold, and wet soil, with a very bleak exposure, a large percentage of the plants in the northernmost one are dead or dying; while, though the other is doing better, the plants are too wide apart and branchy ever to make valuable timber. They can only have been eight or nine years planted, but are very stunted and unhealthy looking. The older woods and belts on the Highfield estate contain some very fine and clean Scots fir and larch and a lot of thriving spruce on the outskirts, while they have all a thick undergrowth of birch and oak scrub. Crossing the Altgourie road at Feabait, we come to wood No. 3, which is of much the same character as the others, only, growing upon thinner and poorer soil, and much more recently planted. It consists

mainly of Scots fir, with a sprinkling of larch and spruce where the soil is suitable. Looking to the healthy appearance and quality of much of the timber growing in this wood, it strikes the passer-by that much of the land reclaimed in the immediate neighbourhood, and made into arable, evidently at great expense, might have been put to a much more profitable use had it all been planted. The greater part is knolly or steep, and evidently too sterile ever to be made into remunerative arable land.

Squirrels have done considerable damage in these plantations, but it is no easy task to keep them down where there is such a wide extent for them to roam about in.

Around the mansion-house of Ord there are considerable belts of fine old hardwood trees, as also along the banks south of Ord Distillery. The roadsides are lined with ash, oak, and elm, and there are one or two nice hedges of beech and thorn in the neighbourhood of Ord House. At Dreim, and along the principal approach, some nice spruce, Scots fir, and larch, and a few ornamental plants, have been put in of recent years. Northeast of Tarradale village there are nice clumps of Scots fir and larch of various ages, but very little old wood. On the ridge westward there is a nice young plantation of Scots fir and larch, which marches with the Redcastle Woods, and is doing pretty well. About Muir of Ord there are nice belts, chiefly of Scots fir, which is older wood and fairly good. The grazing of these last is very convenient to the market stance, Away high up on the hill to the south-east of Feabait Wood on the Highfield estate, there is a very large extent of plantation belonging to Ord principally of Scots fir, and situated on very steep ground. This wood has a southeastern and northern exposure, and grows on a light soil above conglomerate.

Marching with this on the south there is a large plantation of Scots fir, with a sprinkling of larch, which belongs to the Rheindown estate. This is similarly situated to the last mentioned on Ord, is well enclosed, and is growing evenly and -well.

Fairburn, comprising the united estates of Muirton and Fair-burn, is perhaps for its extent one of the best wooded properties in the county. The estate is bounded by the Conon on the lower and northern side, and by the Orrin on its southern side, but near the bridge of Altgourie the march with Highfield crosses the Orrin, and follows up the Altgourie Burn. There is a quantity of alder, hazel, and willow scrub along the lower reaches of the Orrin, and some well-grown hardwoods on the fine farm of Arcan Mains, but it is about two miles up this river, from its confluence with the Conon at the Kettle Pool, that the first plantation of any considerable extent comes to be noticed, namely at Achnasoul. Here there are 160 acres of fairly

thriving larch and Scots fir, chiefly the latter, planted about thirty years ago, with a row of young and promising hardwoods recently inserted among the older trees along the roadside on the western margin. Most of this plantation has a south-eastern exposure, at an altitude ranging from 267 feet to 287 feet above sea-level, and it affords excellent shelter to a large extent of cultivated land. On the opposite side of the county road already referred to, and west of Achnasoul, there is another plantation extending over about 270 acres, and called Tower Wood, after "Fairburn Tower," which stands on a bare ridge a short distance from the northern boundary of the wood. This grim old tower anciently a stronghold of the freebooter, and connected with the legends of the Ross-shire seer, "Coinneach Odhar" stands high and roofless, on a site which commands a magnificent view of the surrounding country. The elevation of Tower Wood ranges from 240 feet to 280 feet, running from east to west along the slope which rises from the northern bank of the Orrin,and facing south. The upper part consists principally of fir and larch, but in a sheltered hollow, through which the southern approach to Fairburn Castle passes, lying between the pretty little entrance lodge at Altgourie Bridge and the Falls of Orrin, there are some very fine specimens of the pine and spruce tribes, especially a "noble silver fir," Picea nobilis, which at twenty-six years of age is upwards of 40 feet in height, towering above the surrounding trees most majestically. The soil is thin, with a gravelly subsoil, unsuitable for the Picea nobilis, one would suppose, from the general belief that this tree likes a good deep loam, free of lime, but retentive of moisture. In reality, it is a, pine which is found to adapt itself to almost any ordinary soil or exposure. In this situation, however, it is tolerably well sheltered, which is most important, as, like all such conifers, it is very liable to lose its leading shoot. Notwithstanding this common defect, its deep, rich, silvery green foliage, its remarkably large and erect cones, and its beautiful cinnamon-coloured bark, all combine to mark the Picea nobilis as one of the most striking and majestic species of the coniferous order. On both sides of the avenue, here, there are also numerous hardwoods, principally oak and beech, growing amidst a variety of spreading evergreens; while a very striking feature of this beautiful drive is the number and variety of finely grown weeping birch along the banks and around the "Falls of the Orrin;" indeed, the whole surroundings are richly wooded, and romantic in the extreme.

In close proximity to the "Falls" is a recently formed "home nursery," a most useful adjunct, and one too rarely met with. Public nurserymen very rarely give forest trees the necessary space either between the plants or between the rows, and consequently the young trees are often drawn up to a height which makes them extremely slender for their age, while their roots want that amount of fibre so necessary to a healthy and vigorous growth. Home nurseries are specially useful for remedying these defects, and for preparing plants for beating up blanks in young plantations, for training standard trees and choice pines, &c, which it would be most risky to plant out direct from a public nursery.

At various points further along this avenue advantage has been taken within the last few years of sheltered spots, with patches of better soil, to insert a number of young hardwoods— oak, elm, beech, lime, chestnut, sycamore, and mountain ash, intermixed with choice pines and evergreens. Most of these are thriving well, and promise to soften considerably the wild if somewhat sombre beauty of the surroundings.

On the southern bank of the River Orrin the hills rise steeply, and are clad with fine plantations of Scots fir and larch, chiefly the former, from their summits to the water's edge. These woods, known by the name of Bridgepark, comprise about 300 acres, and were planted about thirty years ago. They have a varied exposure, partly northern, partly eastern, and partly southern, with an altitude ranging from 200 to 600 feet. The soil, which is gravelly, overlies the conglomerate rock, and grows timber of good average quality. These woods and plantations, clothing the rugged hill sides with their rich and varied tints, combine to form a splendid effect as seen from the mansion-house and the approaches thereto. Opposite is the estate sawmill (worked by water), by which all the estate timber is prepared. Around the gardens and in the policies of Fairburn mansion there are some very fine old Scots fir and larch; while all the grounds are tastefully interspersed with clumps and belts of mixed hardwoods, evergreens, and foreign pines, which have a very ornamental appearance, and are thriving vigorously. Fairburn Castle is situated on the ridge which forms the watershed of the Orrin and Conon rivers, the ground sloping both to the north and to the south.

Along the cultivated slope facing north above the River Conon, there are few plantations of any importance except at Fairburn Mains and Achtabannoch, where there are recently formed belts of hardwoods and larch, with a few Scots fir. At Marybank there are about 130 acres of fir and larch, plantation situated on poor land and not very well grown.

Though much seems to have been done by the present proprietor of Fairburn in the planting of hardwoods, there are, except immediately surrounding Fairburn House, very few full-grown hardwoods on the property, and these are of no importance. There are a few beech and thorn hedges, but the enclosures for the most part consist of wire fences and stone dykes. The last extensive plantation on this estate is situated to the west of the mansion-house, on the outskirts of the policies.

Muirton Wood covers about 600 acres, which has a surface varying with steep rocky hillocks and damp green hollows. It contains much the oldest and most valuable timber on the property, consisting principally of Scots fir and larch, with a few scattered spruce. It has a northern exposure, with a considerable altitude, and the soil is a very shallow black loam resting on the conglomerate rock. Here and there a few dead ones are to be seen, but as a rule the trees are sound and well grown, contain-ing a high average of "cubical contents." The Scots fir appear to have thriven best. At Achonochie, and for several miles along the roadside between Muirton and Scatwell, the beauty of the scenery is enhanced by the lovely natural birch which abounds on all hands. Regarding the principal plantations on the estate of Fairburn, it may be remarked that they show signs of having suffered very severely from squirrels, and they are at an age when much damage may be done by these troublesome pests. The larches have suffered somewhat from the larch bug Adelgis laricis. The woods seem to be well opened up by shooting rides, many of which will probably serve as timber roads when required. A good many years ago it is said that a prize, offered by the Highland Society, was awarded to the then owner of this estate for the extent and excellence of its young plantations. In all there are close upon 2000 acres of excellent wood, the main portion of which was planted by the late Laird of Brahan and his mother. Their present condition proves that great judgment has been displayed in their formation, and in the selection of the kinds of trees best adapted to the soil, situation, and exposure; and we have reason to believe that, under the fostering care of the present owner, the capabilities of these extensive woods will be fully developed, and will some day, not far distant, yield a handsome return.

The principal proprietors in the parish of Contin are Sir A. G. R. Mackenzie of Coul, Bart, Mr A. J. Balfour of Strathconon, Mr Alexander Mackenzie of Scatwell, Mr C. A. Hanbury of Strathgarve, and also the Hon. Lady Ashburton of Kinloch-luichart, &c.

Contin, a very extensive parish lying to the north and northwest of Urray, is extensively and prettily wooded. Occupying its eastern half is the estate of Coul, belonging to Sir Arthur M'Kenzie, Bart., still in his minority. The western half of this property, lying beyond the Blackwater which flows through Contin, one of the loveliest villages in the north, is called Craig-darroch. Around Craigdarroch Lodge there are several fine specimens of larch and spruce, and of the common British oak, Quercus pedunculated, and there are a few other hardwoods along the roadsides. The name "Craigdarroch" was given to the rocky bank to the westward of the lodge, which is thickly covered with oak and birch, both of natural growth, but which, except for their appearance, are of little value. Tor Achilty, a rugged perpendicular elevation, is beautifully covered with richly foliated weeping birch; and on its south side, overhanging the Conon, the birch are mixed with fir, oak, alder, and willow. Below it are seen the lower reaches of the Blackwater winding onwards and joining the Conon below Moy. On the north side of the Tor the birch are much finer trees, but here there are in addition numerous finely grown larch and Scots fir, most of which, having now reached maturity, have been sold as they stand, and are being cut up by a steam sawmill at the foot of the hill. The hills surrounding Loch Achilty, a most lovely sheet of water, form a picture of rare sylvan beauty, being feathered from their summits to the water's edge, the foliage of the lovely weeping birch contrasting splendidly with the more sombre hue of the ancient pine. Comrie lies embosomed among birch and fir-clad knolls, formed of the terminating ridges of Tor Achilty. It may here be remarked, that Tor Achilty is the extreme westward limit of the common whin (U/lex europœus) and broom, neither of which are found as native plants further inland, nor on the west coast, though they have there been extensively introduced. Some miles beyond Comrie there are extensive birch and Scots fir woods, and here the Conon tumbles over a series of gneiss rocks, which abound in large crystals of schorl. On the hills from the falls of Conon to Tarvie, natural birch and bracken prevail; but below the township of Tarvie on the way to Garve, we come to the first young plantation on the Coul property. There are 112 acres of mixed Scots fir and larch in a very thriving condition, and about twelve years old. At Easter Tarvie there are other 43 acres, also of Scots fir and larch, planted about two years ago, and likewise doing well at present. These plantations are on a mossy gravel, with a northern exposure. The plants in the first mentioned plantation were, we understand, supplied and put in under contract agreement by Messrs Cocker of Aberdeen Nurseries, the terms of which we were unable to learn. The remainder came from Messrs Howden, Inverness. Beautiful blocks of garnet schist with mica are found around here. There are some old Scots fir, spruce, and alder trees about the island at Bogie, and the whole district on both sides of the river, southwards to Contin, abounds in beautiful birch.

Coul Mains plantation consists of 30 acres of larch and Scots fir, about four years old, and doing well now, but considerably damaged by rabbits. Below and in front of the View Rock there is a very extensive plantation of Scots fir and birch, and an older wood of mixed hardwoods, principally beech, which has a dense undergrowth, and is situated on a fair soil facing south. All the parks around Coul House are studded with rows and clumps of fine old beech, ash, chestnut, oak, and lime trees. At the foot of the paddock in front of the house there is a truly magnificent row of fourteen richly foliaged beech trees, averaging 12 feet of girth, and 50 to 60 feet of clear bole. To the left of these, and nearer the house, there is another magnificent row of seventeen, which, however, were planted rather too close, yet one or two girth 16 feet, and they will average 40 feet of bole, and 100 feet in height. The stump of a particularly large one, girthing 17 feet, is lying near, which fell in the Tay Bridge gale of December 28, 1879. Its trunk contained 256 feet of timber when it fell, and it knocked down an immense decayed ash, which in its fall brought down another large beech, also decayed. "The stem of the beech is grand and massive, its bark smooth and of a silvery cast, and when the heat of mid-summer unfolds its silken foliage, it displays a verdure of softness and delicacy, which when viewed in a park like this, amidst the sunshine and showers of summer, make it a gem indeed." There are one or two nice ash and plane trees at Coul, some of the latter covered with ivy. Among the ornamental trees on the lawn are the Cupressus Lawsoniana, Sequoia gigantea, Cedrus Deodara, Abies Douglasii, Picea pectinata, Pinus austriaca, and numerous small trees of the spruce tribe. These are growing wild and require attention, and a lot of rubbish growing among them should be removed. The present Coul House is the third built near here, and beside the almost obliterated remains of a bridge there is on an old ash to the right of the lower avenue, a board, now partly grown into the tree, on which it is said the lodge bell was fastened in the times of the first mansion-house of Coul. Right in front of the house stands a Picea nobilis, which without doubt is one of the finest in the north of Scotland. It is 73 feet high, is feathered to the bottom, and covers a circumference of 102 feet with its lower branches. It has several times lost its leading shoot by severe storms, but has always formed a new one, and has at present a good leader. It bears beautiful cones, plentifully every two years, and the forester has obtained some this year to grow from. It was propagated from seed, probably the first introduced into the country in the year 1827, and is no exception to the rule, that the natural origin from the cone or seed is the only legitimate means for raising really reliable timber trees, of prospective sturdiness of habit, and future value and development. There is a nice weeping birch in the garden at Coul, and close by outside a few oak and ash, besides one or two large and very straight birch, the wood of which, at one time so valuable for staves, is now used chiefly for cotton reels and bobbins, seven tons of the wood going to make one ton of bobbins.

There are about 2000 yards of beech and thorn hedges on the Coul property, and the fields are for the most part divided by fair samples of the ordinary hardwood hedgerow trees, oak and elm. The policy woods have both a southern and western exposure, and stand on a good clayey loam, above the sandstone formation, which from here stretches away into the lower parts of the parishes of Contin, Fodderty, and Dingwall, and is covered in some parts with a strong reddish clay. In the higher lying parts of these, and in fact in all the parishes running back into the hills, the prevailing formation is gneiss with its subordinate rocks.

Both sides of the upper avenue at Coul are lined with old Scots fir and hardwoods, a few larch and an undergrowth of spruce and birch. Much of this requires thinning and attending to. At Jamestown there is a strip of mixed plantation along the roadside, about twenty-four years old, which is also much too thick. Along the avenue to, and around Kinellan Lodge there are some nice young hardwoods and ornamental trees, and a few good hedges, while young clumps of mixed trees shelter some of the parks, and a few nice shrubs surround the farm houses. Behind and overlooking the pretty Loch Kinellan there is another young plantation, which marches with the Ord belting on the Cromartie estate, and is called Kinellan Hill plantation. Here there are 70 acres of Scots fir and larch, about seven years old, which are not doing very well. It stands on a bleak hillside, with a poor, odd moorland soil, and besides has been considerably damaged by game.

The woods on the Coul property are pretty well fenced and drained. Pyrola unifiora, Corallorhiza innata, Malaxis paludosa, Lycopodium immdatum are found in the woods near the "View Rock.

Crossing the Conon at Comrie, we come to notice the plantations on the estate of Scatwell, situated at the low end of Strath-conon, and " the loveliest spot in all that lovely glen." On the south-eastern side, where the property marches with Fairburn, the rocky surface is covered with beautiful weeping birch, and the banks of the Conon here are fringed with alder and willow. This natural wood extends to within about half a mile of Scat-well Lodge, where it gives place to a thriving plantation of Scots fir, with a sprinkling of larches. This stretches over the mossy flat and up the hillside above the house, which it shelters greatly. Along the valley of the burns here there are some older trees, but there is no notable extent of old wood on Scatwell. To the west and south-west of the house is another young plantation of a similar nature to the last; while the Mains of Scatwell is sheltered by a few old hardwoods, and the grounds around Scatwell Lodge, as well as the outskirts of the aforementioned plantations, are lined with beautiful spruce, which seems to thrive wonderfully well here. On the well-kept lawn and along the sides of the walks there are a few very pretty plants of ornamental description, which being well sheltered are growing well. The soil on Scatwell is a light sandy loam above gravel, and all the woods have a northern exposure.

On the estate of Little Scatwell (Mr H. M. Matheson) there has been a considerable extent of Scots fir and larch plantation planted within the last ten years, which apparently is thriving very well.

On Scuir Marxy (1600 feet), the bold rocky frontlet which overhangs Loch Luichart on its southern shore, several interesting and truly alpine plants are to be found, as Rubus Chamœmorus, Thalictrum alpinum, Circœa alpina, and Arbutus alpina; while over the ridges stretching westward to Mossford there are large tracts of the suberect but beautiful dwarf birch Betula nana.

We next enter the estate of Strathconon (Mr A. J. Balfour), situated in the great pastoral glen of Strathconon, through which the Meig flows, emerging above Scatwell on the south side of Scuir Vullin and Scuir Marxy to join the Conon. It may here be mentioned that the river Conon, which we have seen is bordered by such beautiful woods, is 30 miles long, flows out of Loch Luichart, and drains all the inland lakes and mountains to Lochs Rosque and Fannich, within 10 miles of the western sea. On Strathconon there are about 550 acres of wood, planted between thirty and forty years ago, and consisting principally of Scots fir with a good sprinkling of larch, and a few spruce. This is situated on the face of a hill with a southern exposure, and has a fine appearance.

High up there are almost no larch, and the Scots fir are small; but lower down the trees gradually increase in size, and have grown well, while the whole is in a most healthy state. The wood is found very useful for estate purposes, but there is far more cut in thinning than is required for such, and from the distance (nearly 20 miles) to the nearest railway station at Muir of Ord, the cost of cartage, of say pit props, is fully as much as can be got for the wood, so that it must be difficult to dispose of in such a thinly populated and pastoral district. About the grounds of Strathconon House there are pines and trees of an ornamental description, such as Douglasii, Wellingtonia, Pinus Cembra, Cupressus Lawsoniana, and a few others, all of which seem to do well. The Douglasii grows very fast, but the leaders are often broken off by the wind. The soil around here is good, and the elevation may range from 300 to 1200 feet above sea-level. Mr Balfour has for some years past been planting portions of the Strathconon deer forest, but this is purely for the advantage of the forest, and not for the production of timber. The enclosures consist of strong wire fences and good stone dykes, which latter are a great shelter. Thalictrum alpinum and Circœa alpina are to be found here.

Still in the parish of Contin, we now return to the valley of the Blackwater, at the estate of Strathgarve, which is well and beautifully wooded, the plantations clothing the rugged hillsides above the pretty Loch Garve. The older wood on this property consists of nearly 250 acres of fine Scots fir and larch, in about the same proportion, and fifty-eight or sixty years old, with a few birch intermixed. There are other fine plantations extending to over 100 acres, and made up of about 85 acres of Scots fir, 8 of larch, and 7 of spruce. All this wood ranges from forty-eight to fifty years old, and is well grown and healthy. In its neighbourhood there are about 54 acres of pretty weeping birch, most of which is also of considerable age.

The greater part of these woods stands on a gravelly soil, with a southern exposure, at the foot of and clothing the hillside on the north of the loch, and on the banks of the Blackwater to the west. There has been a large extent of ground planted here within the past twelve years, which at present gives great promise of success. These young plantations, covering about 430 acres, all consist of mixed larch and Scots fir, and are situated on a heathery slope, the surface of which is undulating, presenting rocky knolls and sheltered hollows.

The exposure is chiefly towards the north, and the soil is in general gravelly, except in hollows, where there is a good deal of alluvial deposit and where naturally the trees have done best. In the years 1871-72 and 1873, 150 acres of nice larch and Scots fir were planted, which now afford considerable shelter, and help to take away the bleak appearance of the hills overlooking Loch Garve on its southern side as seen from the road and railway in passing. Thirty acres were planted about five years ago, and other 250 acres in 1880, all of larch and Scots fir, which are doing very well. In addition to these there are 10 acres of mixed alder and willow, of about thirteen years' standing. Spring planting is in favour here, all the above mentioned young plantations having been put into the ground during the months of February and March. Bound the pretty mansion-house of Strathgarve are some fine larch, Scots fir, spruce, and birch, with nice ornamental specimens of silver fir, oak, ash, and beech, planted about five years ago, and studded tastefully over the lawns.

At Inchbae and Strathvaich, along the road to Braemore, in Lochbroom parish, there are copses of lovely natural birch, and the river banks are fringed with alder and willow.

On the estate of Kinlochluichart we again find hundreds of acres over which the beautiful silver weeping birch flourishes in all its native beauty. It is here to be found of all ages, from the gnarled old trunk to the thriving and beautiful young copse. West of the manse there is a nice wood of Scots fir with a few larch and spruce, about twenty years old, and doing well; while above and below the railway station, and stretching up nearly to Alt Dearg, there are splendid young plantations of larch and Scots fir, mixed with spruce on the low ground, all well enclosed from sheep and deer by high iron fences, and doing remarkably well. Most of this, extending to about 300 acres, has been planted within the last seven years, and stands on a moorish soil of undulating surface. North of the lodge, above the county road, there are some oaks of extraordinary size and fantastic shape, and possessing a great spread of branches. The hills around here and along each side of the lovely Loch Luichart are fringed with birch (many of the young copses being well grown), which being varied here and there with the darker green of the old oak trees, looks very well. Below and to the west of the lodge, there is a considerable extent of mixed hardwoods, few of any great size, growing out of a thick undergrowth of hazel and thorn. Bound the pretty lodge of Kinlochluichart, beautifully situated on a birch-clad hillside, there are one or two fine Wellingtonias and yew trees, enclosed by iron ring fences.

The district around Achanault, to the west of Kinlochluichart, is bleak and bare, but the luxuriant growth of creepers, amongst which the scarlet Tropasolum is conspicuous, around the walls of the hotel, is a proof of what may be done in a district apparently abandoned to desolation. Further to the westwards, around Achnasheen, there is little or no old wood except some clumps of Scots fir here and there; but on the Achnasheen, Ardross, and Strathbran estates, in the neighbourhood, a great extent of hill ground has been planted with fir, larch, and a few spruce within the last ten years. These plantations, which are mostly in the neighbourhood of Loch Bosque, face the south, and are doing well. There are besides these, clumps of natural birch on the hills, and some alder and willow scrub around the lochs and along the river sides.

The greater part of the parish of Fodderty, situated to the east of Contin, is taken up by the estate of Strathpeffer belonging to the Duchess of Sutherland, which stretches from the Loch Broom Road at Garbat over the summit of Ben Wyvis down to within little more than a mile from Dingwall. The valley of Strathpeffer is bounded on the south by the conical cliff and range of Knockfarrel, and on the north by the richly wooded Tulloch hills, the lowest of a succession of terraced elevations that culminate in Ben Wyvis, which here towers high above all, but whose huge bulk and gradual slope prevent even that monarch of mountains from creating an impression corresponding with his great height. About a mile from Dingwall, on the south side of the road to Strathpeffer, we come to notice Fodderty Hill plantation, the first on the Duchess of Sutherland's Strathpeffer estate. Its situation on the north-eastern slope of the Knockfarrel range, at an altitude ranging from 400 feet to 600 feet, is very picturesque as seen from the coach or railway, in passing up this fertile valley. The extent is about 150 acres, which was formerly covered with rough pasture and furze. The trees consist chiefly of Scots fir and larch, with a mixture of spruce, oak, elm, and beech, the intention we believe being ultimately to thin out, so as to leave the best of the hardwoods and fir as the permanent crop. The soil is a fair loam of medium depth, situated on the Old Red Sandstone formation, which comes pretty near the surface in some places, as a short distance below the plantation, on the farm of Fodderty, there is a quarry now worn out, but which yielded stone for many of the buildings about the "Spa." The trees are about twenty-four years of age, and the whole plantation is at present in a healthy and satisfactory condition. "Westwards from this, is Knockfarrel (720 feet), surmounted by the remains of what has been one of the largest vitrified forts in the country. Round the northern face of this steep conical hill, and along the narrow ridge to the west, terminating in the picturesque Druimchat (Cats Back, 800 feet), with Park Wood nestling at its base, there are about 280 acres of Scots fir, at an average age of from forty to sixty years, intermixed with some sound and well-grown larches. This ridge, which divides the Strathpeffer from the Brahan estate, is entirely or mainly composed of conglomerate rock. Running through the centre of Park Wood, which in many places is very damp, there is a narrow belt of older trees, ranging from seventy to eighty years of age. Douran, the next plantation of importance, is directly opposite, on the other side of the valley, facing south, and situated on the lower reaches of Ben Wyvis, at an altitude varying from 800 to 1000 feet above the level of the sea. The surface is covered with short heath, and the soil consists mostly of a thin stratum of peat overlying a hard gritty subsoil. This plantation extends to about 130 acres, which were planted in two sections, one in 18'77 and the other in the following year, the plants used being Scots fir and larch on the lower, and Scots fir alone on the higher and more exposed parts, a sprinkling of birch and mountain ash being introduced for the sake of variety. The trees, which were planted at 3 feet apart by the ordinary cross-cut method, are making very fair progress, especially in the lower and more sheltered spots, but in its early stages much of this plantation suffered severely from the ravages of mountain hares, which are numerous on Ben Wyvis. It is somewhat difficult of access, though not far from the Strathpeffer Station on the Dingwall and Skye Railway. Albertite has been discovered in this neighbourhood, while primary gneiss with some schist is the prevailing rock throughout the hills on this the north side of the valley. The less common botanical specimens met with on Ben Wyvis are Arbutus alpina, Saxifraga oppositifolia, Betula nana, Azalea procumbens, Alopecurus alpinus, Ajuga pyramidalis, Lycopus europœs, Arctostaphylos Uva-ursi and alpina, Rubus Chamœ-morus, Polypodium Phegopteris, Salix Myrsinites, Lycopodium alpinum, Epilobium alpinum, and Saxifraga, stellaris. About half a mile from the village of Strathpeffer, on the left hand side, where the public road commences to ascend from its previous dead level, is the gate lodge and shady old avenue leading to Castle Leod, the mansion on this part of the Duchess of Sutherland's paternal estates, held in her own right as. Countess of Cromartie. This fine old baronial residence, beautifully overgrown with ivy, stands on a slight eminence at the foot of a conical furze-covered hill, Knockaulah (800 feet), surrounded by ample policies abounding in clumps of "tall ancestral trees," and trimly kept lawns and walks. In the list at the end are to be found particulars of many fine trees growing in the Castle policies, more especially a magnificent Spanish chestnut, Castanea vesca, said to be one of, if not the finest and largest tree of the kind known in Scotland, the trunk having a girth of 25½ feet; and there is also the remains of a Laburnum of the Scotch variety, Cytisus Laburnum alpinus, which Grigor says "was the largest of British growth, the trunk measuring 9 feet in circumference, a size very remarkable for a tree of the species."

The number of beautiful specimens recorded at the end shows that the ornamental trees around Castle Leod are finely grown, but there are, in addition to these, many younger specimens of rare plants, hardly large enough yet to have special mention in our limited space. With careful management and selection, quite a good pinetum might be established here; in fact, there is already the nucleus of a very nice one. The credit of having planted these trees is due to the late Mrs Hay Mackenzie, mother of the present Duchess of Sutherland, who took a warm and most intelligent interest in the management of the trees and plantations on the estate. In addition to those mentioned in the list, of many of which there are several specimens here, there are plants of the Cedrus Africana and Deodara, which, though about 30 feet high, are not well grown, and evidently too tender for this, as for most situations where they have been tried throughout this county and the Highlands generally. The Abies Douglasii and Taxodium sempervirens both grow very rapidly here, but when they get above the shelter of the surrounding trees, they lose their tops, which often have not time to ripen. The silver fir and cypress tribes flourish and cone beautifully, carrying just about the crop a healthy plant should bear, but the Abies are so thickly covered that it cannot be considered otherwise than a sign of weakness. Numerous nice trees of the Acer and Platanus tribes are to be seen, and a few American oaks, but the oak as a rule has not grown to any considerable size around Strathpeffer. There are several memorial Wellingtonias, and five fine lime trees, which though not all situated near each other are very similar, and seem to have been planted at the same time. There is a quantity of good evergreens, and the avenue is lined by two trees often found together, viz., the ash and sycamore, which stand so close that the ground is seemingly much exhausted, as a row of nice limes, planted in front of them some years ago, are stunted and not thriving well. The Pinguicula lusitanica and Melampyrum sylvaticum are found near Castle Leod. The eastern and southwestern exposures of Knockaulah, along with a strip facing north, extending in all to about 90 acres, were planted in sections eight years ago, with a mixture of hardwoods, Scots fir, and larch, the latter predominating on the lower half. This plantation is also doing well, though it seems to have been considerably checked in its first stages by the attacks of rabbits and a dense growth of whins, which have given the stems a dark appearance. At Ordhill (400 feet) the soil rests on a calcareo-bituminous rock—fish-bed schist of the Old Red Sandstone system, of a laminated appearance. Here, and at Ardivall near the head of the valley, and at Auchterneed, Blairninich, Mill Nain, and Fodderty, 2 or 3 miles lower down, there are some mixed beltings, comprising in all about 100 acres, planted twelve to fifteen years ago. The former two, being on better soil, consist principally of larch and spruce, with oak, ash, chestnut, lime, and plane trees, while the latter are mostly firs, situated on some waste gravelly patches intersecting the larger farms which occupy the lower valley These plantations are all well protected by wire fences, and appear to be doing well. In the more immediate neighbourhood of the Mineral Wells (which are now becoming so widely known), nice belts and rows of hardwood trees, chiefly beech and limes, are intermixed with numerous evergreen shrubs, tastefully laid out. At Nutwood very large specimens of the wild gean, and some beautifully grown rowan trees, are to be seen; while here, and at Inchvannie, there are considerable hazel copses, which annually yield a plentiful crop of nuts. At Inchvannie House there are also a few fairly good Lombardy poplars. The Strathpeffer plantations, mostly planted within the last twenty years, together with the trim beech and thorn hedges, and well pruned hedgerow trees, which everywhere line the roadsides, and with the clumps of hardwoods which afford shelter and ornament to the manse and the farm-houses of Fodderty and Keppoch, will add greatly year by year to the fertility and amenity of Strathpeffer, while they give this pretty valley a gentle wooded aspect, quite refreshing to the eye, close to the wild mountain scenery of Ross-shire.

Tulloch, the property of Colonel D. H. C. E. Davidson, occupies the greater part of the parish of Dingwall.

The roadside from Humberston to Dingwall, and some of the fields, are lined by rows of ash, plane, sycamore, lime, and oak trees of considerable size, some of them, however, not being very healthy. In and around the town of Dingwall there are very few trees of any importance, except, a row of finely foliaged beeches and limes round the sides of Bridaig Park, and in the well-kept grounds of Dingwall Castle, rows of oak trees at the Rifle Range, and a few poplars here and there. Dingwall, however, is picturesquely situated in the opening of the valley of Strathpeffer, the slopes on either side being beautifully wooded, and as the soil is rich and productive, the general aspect is in the highest degree pleasing. Clothing the hillside north of the town, are the fine old woods surrounding Tulloch Castle, on which estate there are about 300 acres of woodlands, consisting mainly of hardwoods, situated on the rich soil of the low grounds, and scattered in clumps and hedgerows along the slopes of Docharty and Brae, with numerous narrow belts of good Scots fir spread over the high ground. Most of the Tulloch Wood has a southern exposure, except a few thin patches of hardwoods and fir, situated at Greenhill, and again about a mile from the town, on the left side of the road to Strathpeffer, which face northwards. The altitude of the hardwoods ranges from 30 to 200 feet, and that of the conifers from 200 to 1000 feet above sea-level. The soil, which is of good quality, varying from a fair loam on the slopes of Tulloch to a stiff clay on the flats below Docharty, rests on the Old Red Sandstone formation. The farms on the Tulloch estate are well sheltered by numerous belts and hedgerows, principally oak and elm, whose roots strike deeper than most trees, and are consequently less dependent on the surface soil for their support, and being late in expanding their leaves they do not overshadow the young crops in their vicinity early in the season. Below Brae, the road to Strathpeffer is lined by old oak trees growing out of a thorn hedge on the one side, and a particularly fine beech one on the other, which latter is quite 7 feet in height, and as many in breadth at the bottom. The trees on both sides of the principal approach consist of all the common kinds of hardwoods, but not of great size or value, mixed with some very fine larch and spruce, which both seem to thrive well. In the fields to the east and in the belts above Kinnairdy, there are one or two large oak and beech trees, and a few good spruce and elm. At Tulloch Castle some beautiful specimens of silver fir and cypress grow on the lawn amid a large quantity of evergreens. At the farm-houses of Docharty and Brae there are a few ornamental trees, especially at Brae, where also some nice young poplars and a large elm or two are to be seen. The most of the timber on Tulloch estate is old, and the woods, still very fine, have evidently contained many giant trees, which have come to maturity, and been removed. There is scope, therefore, for a deal of judicious planting on this property.

In the next two parishes, Kiltearn and Alness, the principal proprietors are Sir Charles Munro of Fowlis, Mr John Munro of Swordale and Lemlair, Mr Munro of Teaninich, and Mr R. C. Munro-Ferguson of Novar.

Between the Highland Railway and the western shore of the Cromarty Firth, north of the Tulloch Woods, there are belts and clumps of old hardwood trees, principally ash. elm, and beech, with a few spruce and birch trees, and several thorn and beech hedges. The farm-houses on the Mountgerald estate are surrounded by more belts of old hardwoods, and the fields are divided by ash and elm hedgerows. At Ardullie Lodge, on the Fowlis property, there are several strips of similar old hardwoods, mixed with Scots fir and spruce, and a few nice ornamental trees and shrubs. Below Ardullie farm-house there are a few young larch and spruce, and round the house some Egyptian poplars and good hedges. Near Fowlis Station a narrow belt of old oak and beech, mixed with Scots fir, runs up a burnside from the sea-shore to Fowlis Castle, where there are some fine beech and ornamental plants. Further north is a considerable extent of hardwood, principally beech, ash, elm, and chestnut, and the fields are divided by hedgerows of ash trees. At Milton, situated on the hill north-west of Fowlis, there are some patches of old birch, ash, and alder along the river side, while higher up at Scurrahcleigh a considerable extent of young plantation, from twelve to fifteen years old, is apparently thriving well. Lower down, the Alness river is lined by natural grown birch and alder. Along the avenue and around the mansion-house of Balconie, the property of Mrs Reid, there are some splendid hardwoods, including fine specimens of ash, elm, plane, and poplar, one magnificent lime with a luxuriant side growth and enormous spread of branches, and two fine plane trees. On the Swordale estate a good deal of planting has been done within the last sixteen years, there being now about 200 acres of thriving young plantation on the property, besides old hardwoods and birch, and some ornamental trees around Swordale House.

On the Novar estates there are nearly 2000 acres under wood, which taking it as a whole may be said to be considerably the best in Ross-shire, both in quality and in extent of mature timber. On the south side of the Altgrande Burn, running up the right side of the frightful Black Rock chasm for more than a mile behind the village of Evanton, is a large extent of Scots fir and larch, chiefly the latter. The Scots fir is sound and good, and those of the larch which are not royed are also of fine quality. This disease, however, is of frequent occurrence here. All this wood has lately been sold, 80 acres being cut clean, and the rest removed as marked by the estate forester. There is at present a steam engine on the ground cutting it up into fine sleepers and staves. Along the sea-shore and at Newton there are large-sized hardwoods, including elm, beech, oak, and birch; while Novar House stands among a few ornamental trees and some more hardwoods. Round the farm-houses here clumps of hardwoods grow, the road and field sides being also lined with beech, oak, plane, and ash trees, but there are few or no hedges on the estate. Passing up the left side of the Altgrande above Evan-ton bridge, we come to a belt of poor stunted old oak, which merges further up into a considerable wood, consisting of oak, elm, beech, larch, Scots fir, and spruce, of which it contains some nice specimens, especially of beech, Scots fir, and spruce, but growing amid a considerable undergrowth of ash, birch, alder, and hazel scrub (very few of these latter trees being clean timber or thriving), and numerous creeping shrubs. At Assynt House there are a few ornamental trees and several old elm, ash, oak, plane, and beech, bounded to the eastwards by a considerable extent of Scots fir and larch, containing some fine timber. Close to Assynt House is one of the three nurseries carried on on this property, which are well stocked with healthy-looking seedlings, intended for planting up a large spread of heathery hillside situated to the west of the fine Meno-crock plantation. We understand that seed has been collected in these woods, but that it is not the custom on the estate to grow home seedlings. The most of the Novar Wood is mature, and from the quality of some specimens we observed lying cut, it should yield very reliable and valuable seed; however, there has, with the exception of small patches on Fyrish Hill and at the foot of Meno-crock, been little or no extent planted for the last eighty years.

On the ridge 2 miles west of Evanton, with a southern exposure, opposite the Swordale plantations, there is a fine wood of Scots fir about sixty years old, and very sound and healthy. This is called the Glen or Altgerach Wood, and grows on a black peaty soil above gravel and blue clay. Two miles beyond this there is a clump of very fine old Scots fir standing in a very bleak exposure. North-east of Glen Wood, a considerable extent of Scots fir, called Dingwall's Wood, is situated; it also contains timber of fine quality and large size.

Covering the southern and south-eastern faces of Meno-crock Hill, and stretching westwards behind Assynt House, there is a splendid wood of Scots fir and larch, but chiefly Scots fir, except on the outskirts to the west and north, where there are some really very fine larches. This is called Dalziel Wood, and the trees are of varying age, growing on a black loam above blue clay on the lower, and a light gravel overlying conglomerate on the higher parts. A short distance into the interior of this wood from Novar House patches of better soil exist, and here the trees are elm, oak, beech, and ash, which, with the exception of the beech, are all unhealthy looking and not valuable timber. The larch, a good many of which are marked for sale, are truly magnificent both in size and quality.

Their average cubical contents must be very high, and the timber of several we observed lying cut was of the very highest market value. One or two stumps of recently removed trees evidenced heart-rot, but these were situated along the steep side of a road which runs through the wood, and the rot was very probably caused by too severe a strain on the central root during a high wind. Below this road the ground is level, and the Scots fir have not done so well; indeed, the size of the larch here, as afore-mentioned, is surprising, considering that the soil is very wet, and requires drainage badly.

Immediately above the road, the Meno-crock Hill rises steeply, and is covered with a dense growth of brackens and long, rank heather, which proclaim a fair soil. Here it is that some of the very finest Scots fir in the north are to be seen. Their appearance, with dark massive trunks, and 40 feet of perfectly clean bole, standing in such numbers and with such a splendid average size, is rarely to be equalled anywhere. The beautifully clean grown condition of this timber, quite equal to the best foreign wood, tells of careful and discriminate thinning and management. The trees are very old and quite matured.

Higher up, advantage has been taken of more level ground to insert some larch, which, however, are not so large or so old as those lower down, nor in quite such healthy condition. There are here, also, some spruce and a silver fir or two ; while above this, and right up to the summit of Meno-crock, the wood again consists entirely of splendid old Scots fir. Behind Meno-crock, in the hollow between it and Fyrish Hill, there is a large extent of Scots fir about forty years old, most of it sound and good. Though still very thick, we understand a good many props were cut out of it about sixteen years ago. On the outskirts of this wood some patches of native Scots fir occur, which, however, is not of great size. Behind and west of Meno-crock the youngest Scots fir timber on the property is situated. On the southern side, and below Fyrish, there are some of the finest Scots fir and larch on the property, fully equal in quality to that in the Dalziel Wood already spoken of. High up on the southern face of Fyrish Hill some fine Scots fir stand, but have to contend with a poor soil and very bleak exposure. Eight round this hill there is a great extent of Scots fir and larch wood, which is mostly sold, and now being cut. At Contlich also, a great deal of wood has been removed within the past two years. Further round to the west, where Fyrish Wood joins Meno-crock Wood, the trees get more like those of the latter in size and quality, being younger, and not so large as farther south. These woods have suffered very little from either insects or rot; and squirrels are scarce; but many parts require some draining. The woods are mostly enclosed by wire fences and stone dykes.

At Teaninich, in the parish of Alness, there are belts of spruce, fir, and larch from twelve to fifteen years old, thriving nicely. Very large hardwoods line the sea-shore and surround the house, as also some fine purple beeches and ornamental trees enclosed by good hedges.

At Culhill of Alness there are fine old Scots fir woods mixed with larch and spruca on the outskirts, and also good hedges and dykes surrounding some pretty clumps of hardwoods and ornamental trees.

3. Easter Ross.

This division comprehends the lower lying districts of Ross-shire, along the shores of the Cromarty Firth, and "here green fields, thriving hedges and plantations beautify and enrich the landscape." The exposure in the main is eastern, the soil being generally a good loam, approaching clay, over a subsoil composed of sand, gravel, and friable clay, which in fact is the debris of the Old Red Sandstone formation. The easterly winds, however, are invariably bitterly cold, and when they prevail in spring young plants frequently sustain heavy damage by their blasting influence. Originally the eastern districts of Ross and Cromarty were intersected with numerous small lochs and swampy bogs, hut most of these have now been drained away, and either brought under cultivation or planted. The old land has also been drained over and over again, and this, combined with extensive planting, has made the climate of the east warmer, more equable, and drier than it had ever been before.

Beginning with the parish of Rosskeen, we come to notice the woods on the very valuable and extensive east coast property of Sir Alexander Matheson, Bart. of Lochalsh, the late member for the county, which, according to Mr Macdonald's report, has been the scene of as extensive improvements as were ever attempted in this country by a single proprietor, and a full and most interesting report of which was sent to the Highland Society in 1858 by the lute agent, Mr Mackenzie of Achanduinie. In 1876 there were 5000 acres of wood on the east coast estates, divided into fifty-six plantations and forty-three clumps. The trees are Scots fir and larch on the higher, and the same, mixed with hardwoods and various ornamental pines, on the lower ground. The plantations date back to the year 1847, and there has been more or less planted every year since that time. They are mostly in a thriving condition, the larches being particularly good, and growing more rapidly than the Scots fir on the soils suited to them. The expense of plants and planting, including the preparation of the ground, ranges from £3 to £5 an acre, according to the size of the plantation and the kind of trees. The fences are stone where available ; in other places they are of wire and iron, and wire and wood. The woods are all thoroughly drained, and roads are made as required, to be suitable for taking out thinnings.

There is also a small nursery here, for lining young plants, but all the seedlings are purchased from Inverness or Edinburgh nurseries. The best time, at Ardross, for planting are the months of March and April, though we understand many of the older plantations were planted in open weather from November to May. Scots fir and larch are planted by the slit method, at 3 feet apart on the moorland soil, and from 4 to 5 feet on good low ground. The extensive hill plantations are thinned during summer, and the others from October till April. The cross-cutting of pit-props is clone at a price per dozen props, of 6 feet in length. There is not much old wood on the estate, and all that is cut is needed for estate purposes. The dead branches of Scots fir and larch are removed by means of a pruning bill made here, which breaks them off with a down stroke, and with which one man will do as much work as three with the ordinary bill, and with much less exertion to himself. At Knocknairu there is a plantation thirty-four years old, and another, planted five years ago, both of which are on ground which gave a former good crop of timber, and are doing well. In the policies around Ardross Castle, one of the finest castellated buildings in Scotland, delightfully situated in the valley of the Alness, some very fine hardwoods, principally beech, elm, plane, ash, oak, and poplar, are to be seen, as well as some nice Scots fir, spruce, and larch, specimens of which are given in the list at the end. The pleasure grounds around Ardross Castle extend to 700 acres, and contain fine specimens of Araucaria, Wellingtonia, Picea nobilis, P. cephalonica, Nordmanniana, Abies orientalis, Abies Douglasii, Abies excelsa, and numerous other very good lawn trees. A good many species have been recently introduced, but much cannot be said about them until they have stood a winter or two. The hedgerows, which are well and carefully planted, consist of beech, elm, plane, ash, oak, and many other hardwood trees. The first three thrive wherever the soil is good, and the ash and oak do well after being transplanted. A great deal of transplanting was done on the Ardross estates from twenty-five to thirty years ago, and though there is not so much now, a buggy is still kept for that purpose. Numerous clumps of mixed hardwood and spruce line the fields, fences, and roadsides, and the banks of the river and burns in all directions. At Dalmore there is a small sea-side plantation, but the salt breeze has had no effect on the trees so far. The Ardross "Woods are exposed towards all points of the compass, and stand at an altitude ranging from sea-level to 1500 feet above it. Winds in the spring blow from the S.E., in autumn from the S.W., and in winter from the N.E. The greater extent of wood is on a moorish surface, with peaty soil above gravel.

The Old Red Sandstone and conglomerate rocks prevail. During long snowstorms many of the young hardwoods have suffered from hares and rabbits, and the hill plantations from mountain hares. Squirrels are well kept down.

On the estate of Mr R. B. Æ. MacLeod of Cadboll there are about 150 acres of wood, principally hardwoods and Scots fir, at present, but we understand several hundred acres of woodland were reclaimed into arable land of fair quality since 1850. The chief part of the woods are in the neighbourhood of Invergorden Castle, which is situated above the town of Inver-gordon, with a fine view of the Cromarty Firth and the opposite Sutors of Cromarty and Nigg. The soil generally over the property is light, sharp land, either on boulder clay, gravel, or the Old Bed Sandstone.

There is a strip of Scots fir above the railway as it approaches Invergordon Station, which has not thriven well, many of the trees, very small for their age, being mere branchless poles to a considerable height, probably caused by the hurtful effect of exposure to the salt spray, as the ground is near to the sea-level, rising with a gradual ascent and exposed to the prevailing wind. Coming next to the magnificent policies around Invergordon Castle, we find some really splendid hardwoods, while the beech avenue is particularly fine. Along the approach from Invergordon, and in tastefully selected spots about the lawns, there are growing some fine foreign pines and various other plants of an ornamental description. Beyond Invergordon, stretching from the sea-shore on the east to Inverbreakie Farm, there is a very thriving belt of Scots fir from thirty to forty years old, and a few other mixed beltings, planted within the past few years. Some fine larch are also to be found on Cadboll estate. Newmore, the property of Mr George Inglis, lies to the N.W. of Cadboll, and contains about 300 acres of wood, which consists principally of old Scots fir and larch. A large extent of finely-matured larch and fir is at present being cut, to be converted into railway sleepers; and the remainder of this wood, formerly about 200 acres, contains some fine large trees, which are also apparently very sound. There is another plantation, with a northerly exposure, also of fir and larch, but only from twenty to thirty years old, which is thriving better now, but has evidently suffered much from squirrels. Around the mansion-house some very fine specimens of oak, elm, and ash, and also a few beltings of spruce, were planted, and are growing nicely.

Westwards from Newmore is Kincraig, belonging to Mr R. Mackenzie. This estate has a southern exposure, and the woods, which extend to between 50 and 60 acres, consist principally of hardwoods at various ages. Around the mansion-house there are large ash, elm, oak, and plane trees, besides some nice pine and other ornamental trees; while close at hand are recently planted belts of spruce, larch, and Scots fir. Further away, behind the mansion-house, there is a considerable extent, composed of fir and larch, with some old elm and beech. The north side of the county road here is sheltered by a plantation •of fir and beech of various ages. The ground being full of damp mossy hollows, many of the trees have not done well, but on dry mounds they appear to be larger and better grown. Below the road to Alness there are some 10 acres of hardwoods, which are not in a thriving condition.

Passing to the north-east, we enter the parish of Kilmuir Easter, which consists of a narrow belt of land extending inland from the shores of the Cromarty Firth. The lower part has a rich fertile soil, and is highly cultivated; while a great deal of the higher grounds, which formerly consisted of barren moor with a mixture of natural wood, has now been successfully planted. At Polio there is a 12 acre plantation of young fir and larch, belonging to Sir Alexander Matheson. Situated to the west of this detached portion of the Ardross estates, is Kindeace, the property of Mr Charles Robertson, around the mansion-house of which some fine beech and larch trees, as well as ornamental hardwoods and shrubs, are growing. Close by there are 5 acres of good old Scots fir, from seventy to eighty years old, and very large, which will yield some sound timber. Another plantation of Scots fir and larch, from fifteen to thirty years old, with a northerly exposure, is situated on a sandy soil resting on clay.

At Kinrive there is a plantation about a mile in length by a quarter mile through, of thin natural Scots fir of rather scrubby growth, while the upper banks of the Balnagown Water are fringed with some finely grown specimens of weeping birch.

On the farm of Broomhill, a detached portion of the Kincraig estate marching with Kindeace on the east and with Ardross on the north, there are from 10 to 15 acres of Scots fir growing on a poor sandy soil, and of rather a stunted appearance.

We next come to the magnificently wooded property of Balnagown, belonging to the representatives of the late Sir Charles Ross, Bart., recently deceased, which is undoubtedly one of the best and most extensively wooded estates in Ross-shire. At Rhives House there is a 10 acre belt of good old oak, and in the grounds around it some of the largest plane trees to be found in the whole county grow, besides very fine purple beeches and foreign ornamental pines, while the approach is bordered by large sized oaks and elms. At Scotsburn, situated along the south side of Balnagown Water, there is a fine plantation of Scots fir almost forty years old, and extending over some 300 acres. This has a southern exposure, and the soil is a light loam resting on rock, and in some places on clay. North-east of Scotsburn a very thriving plantation of fir and larch was planted some three years ago, and called the Wilderness Wood. It covers about 200 acres, which we are told bore a former crop of fir, which was all cut from fifteen to twenty years ago. The trees are in a most thriving condition, the ground having been thoroughly drained, and the whole well enclosed by a stone wall and wire fence. A great many nice natural birch trees are interspersed throughout this wood.

Adjoining it is the "Bog of Balnagown" Wood, having about 150 acres still standing, which is only half the original extent under timber. It consists of Scots fir and larch from seventy to ninety years old, growing with a southern exposure on very sandy soil. In the policies around the fine old Castle of Balnagown, there are numerous belts and clumps of splendid trees, chiefly hardwoods, of which some truly magnificent specimens are to be seen, including also immense spruce, larch, and fir trees. The grounds are very fine, and are studded over with some of the very best larch, elm, and ash in the whole county, besides beautiful rock elms, and a thriving collection of foreign pines and evergreens, bordered by well-kept hedges. The soil over the Balnagown estate is generally light, except on 1500 acres, which are heavy clay; and the woods are almost on the level, with if anything a northerly exposure. A considerable extent, which was formerly under wood, has been reclaimed on this estate. Eastward from the castle is the old fir rookery, where there are some very large trees, probably about 300 years old. They are still healthy, and stand thinly over about 40 acres of ground, which has a southern exposure, and a few years ago was planted up with an undergrowth of spruce and larch along the river side. The young spruce are very healthy and promising, but the larch are not thriving. At Achoyle, west of the Balnagown policies, there are Scot3 fir of large size, and belts of oak, elm, and ash, with nice ornamental trees of various ages. Here there is also a young mixed belt of fir, larch, spruce, and hardwoods, while some nice hedges and hedgerows enclose the farm-steading. The present extent of wood belonging to Balnagown, in this parish, is about 1100 acres, as against 400, seven years ago, every year several acres being cut down and more planted.

Between Balnagown and the Firth are the fine woods on the Duchess of Sutherland's Tarbat estate. The farthest south is Kildary plantation, which is situated close to the policies of Balnagown Castle. It formerly consisted of 8 acres of Scots fir, which, after having been well thinned from time to time, was sold standing last year for £341, and is at present being cut up into railway sleepers. Alongside this patch of old wood 11 acres of fir and larch were planted in 1862, which has thriven tolerably well, except for the attacks of squirrels, which have got in from the neighbouring woods. At Tullich there are 70 acres of Scots fir and larch, chiefly the latter, about forty years old, and unfortunately rather thin on the ground as the soil is a cold, wet moorland pan, difficult of drainage, and insufficiently drained; the trees are in consequence not in a good condition, and there is a good deal of "blister" to be seen, At Priesthill there are about 20 acres of younger wood, planted twenty-nine years ago, and thriving much better than Tullich. The Logie and Balachraggan plantation consists of 109 acres of Scots fir and larch, but mostly Scots fir planted in 1871, and doing remarkably well.

Around this are 70 acres of Scots fir of the very finest timber quality, being the remains of splendid old Scots fir which once occupied the whole area. This old wood was at one time grazed by sheep, and they destroyed the natural growth of fir which was springing up as the wood got thinner. What has escaped of this natural growth of fir, along with a good many young larch, the seed for which was probably blown in from the fine Logie Wood belonging to Balnagown, are much better than the purchased and planted trees. In connection with the plantations at Tarbat, there is a nursery for beating up, which at present contains a nice lot of young larch and Scots fir, 1 year seedlings 2 years' transplanted, destined to plant the 8 acre wood in course of being cut at Kildary. A good deal of the waste ground being wet, it is the custom at Tarbat to plant in the Spring time. Along the roadside from Milton to Tornabrock, there is a considerable belt of hardwoods, with a few Scots fir, larch, and spruce, which, except a strip of older wood along the east side, is about forty-six years old, and the timber is sound and good. The trees consist chiefly of oak, beech, elm, ash, and Spanish chestnut, and the soil is fairly good, some of it having formerly been under cultivation. Near Tornabrock avenue, however, it changes to a white sand, which must have more feeding properties than one would suppose from its appearance, as there are here some particularly good larch, Scots fir, and limes, apparently quite sound, and about ninety years old. In the north-west part of Tornabrock Wood the limes and beeches are good, but the Scots fir, larch, and spruce, though of rapid growth, have a deal of roy. Further south the Scots firs are magnificent; indeed, seldom are such large specimens seen growing together in this county, while on the southern outskirt there are a few nice beeches. The soil here is peaty moss overlying fine white sand. The larch are numerous on the east side, but some are not very sound; however, their average height is great, and they will yield large numbers of fencing posts. The wood is interspersed with walks lined by a considerable growth of evergreens, which are well suited to the damp mossy soil. Tornabrock avenue is bordered by a few old beech and elm, and some large spruce, larch, and silver firs. At Polnicol farm, away to the south-west of Tornabrock, there is a clump of Scots fir and larch about forty years old, and a row of hardwoods. Along the shore near Tornabrock a belt of hardwoods was planted for shelter, and contains also a fine specimen of silver fir, Picea pedinata, Further east, at a point where the sea breeze has full play, clumps of Scotch fir were planted forty years ago, and like every tree that has been tried, has more or less been stunted in growth, a single exception being the Pinus Pinaster maritima. In the "Ladies' Well" Wood there are some very fine larches, growing among birch, elm, oak, and ash, besides several large Scots fir, many of which have been killed outright by the crows nesting among their tops. The forester says that on felling some of these he found considerable damage had also been done by gunshot penetrating the young bark, at the top of the tree, and causing resinous accumulations. In the park below there are fine beeches, two in particular, which are said to commemorate heads of the Cromartie family, with four younger trees in front representing their children. These trees, however, are probably over 200 years old, and much information cannot be obtained about them. Very fine Rhododendrons, holly hedges, and well-dressed evergreen bushes, surround the gardens; while there are also some pretty birch and holly trees, and a row of Pinus excelsa, which however are not thriving, often having lost their tops. Among the ornamental trees around and to the north of the gardener's lodge, are the Cedrus Deodara, and "the patriarch of the Cedar tribe" the Cedrus Libani (the latter planted when the late Earl of Cromartie came of age), Cupressus Nutkaenis, Picea Nordmamiiana, amabilis, Webbiana, and cephalonica, Abies lasio-carpa and orientalis, Sequoia gigantea, Taxodium sempervirens, Pinus Cembra and excelsa, besides numerous Irish yews and weeping ash. In "The Grove" below the gardens, on a richly loamy soil, there is a collection of the most magnificent beech interspersed with limes, several of the latter which had fallen having been raised and very successfully pollarded. Here there are also good specimens of hornbeam and hoary poplar, and a fine large Norway maple. Numerous well-trimmed and thriving beech hedges border the walks and lanes in every direction, while several of the fields are also enclosed by them. Crossing the river (Balnagown Water) into the parish of Logie Easter, is a remarkably good timber and chain bridge, which carries the private carriage drive over a pretty wide span at quite a romantic and beautiful part of the Grove. This bridge, which has been designed and constructed with great ingenuity and skill by the forester Mr Purves, is on the suspension principle, and while very substantial, is light and rustic in appearance. Several exceedingly pretty footbridges are to be seen at various points across this same stream, which were also designed by Mr Purves, and constructed we think at wonderfully little expense. The writer will be happy to supply their designs and specifications to any gentleman desiring to have them.

On the north side of the river, is Meddat Wood, which at one time consisted almost wholly of ash, and which has lately been well drained and planted up with mixed hardwoods and spruce, while numerous ornamental trees have been put in along the sides of the carriage drive. There are still some magnificent ash standing here, the timber of which it is said is about the best in the county. Meddat Wood has a dense undergrowth of evergreens, young ash, and hardwoods of natural growth. Near Meddat farm there are 150 acres of plantation about eighteen years old, consisting of Scots fir and larch growing on heathy moorland. There are about 20 acres of old hardwood plantation on the lower ground, which was planted up again twenty years ago. Lower down still stands a larch belt mixed with hardwoods, which is doing well. It is so near the level of the sea that high tides come up the open drains.

Marching with the Cromartie plantations, in the parish of Logie, we come to some more on the estate of Balnagown, covering about 1000 acres, and of various ages. Marybank Wood consists of 100 acres of good sound Scots fir, from forty to fifty years old, standing on a light clay soil, with a southerly exposure. A strip of larch and Scots fir, only five or six years old, marches with this, the whole extent being enclosed by a wire fence. There is another extensive plantation at Wester Laming-ton, situated to the west of Marybank Wood. The trees are Scots fir of natural growth from an old wood cut down about twenty years ago. Round its southern side, a strip of larch and hardwoods has been recently planted, and is so far doing well. Marching with Logie Wood on the Cromartie estate, we next come to another of the same name belonging to Balnagown. It consists of large Scots fir and larch, from fifty to sixty years old, mixed at the east end with oak, elm, and beech, of no great value. The larch are particularly fine trees, for while in this wood we came upon some of the Balnagown forester's squad felling a few of them, and these afforded samples of very fine timber, firm in texture, and almost as red as mahogany. Two men began the work by cutting a strip with the axe round the tree, in order to let the saw run more easily, which process is here called "dobbing," and is considered very difficult to do well without sacrificing much timber, but these men seemed to be quite expert at it, striking very rapidly, and giving a beautiful finish to the trunk.

Logie Wood has been a good deal thinned, and is now about half Scots fir and half larch, the latter averaging quite 20, while some will yield 30 cubic feet of timber, worth from 12d. to 15d. per cubic foot. The surface is undulating, and covered in some places with heath and in others with long grass. The soil is sandy, and has a northern aspect. Linster Park Wood, lying west of Logie, is a large young plantation of Scots fir and larch, with a few silver fir here and there, and is situated on gravelly soil, with a southern exposure. The soil, though naturally dry, evidently rests on a cold wet bottom, and hence, the surface being undulating, it is only on the higher mounds that the trees can be said to have done at all well. At the south end a few old beeches remain out of a large mixed wood, which we understand contained fine larches, and from which it is more than probable the seed of much the best larch in Linster Park plantation was blown, as the natural growth appears far healthier, and in every way superior to the planted, pointing to the probable foreign origin of the latter. Linster plantation is well enclosed by good wire fences. Round the Manse of Logie there are a few hardwoods, and for a mile along each side of the parliamentary road below it, two fine beech hedges, backed by a strip of rock elm, oak, and purple beech.

Marching with part of Tarbat on the south, and with Balnagown on the north-west, is Shandwick property, under trustees of the late Capt. A. G. Reid, on which there are some very large and valuable Scots fir, larch, and spruce, over 200 acres in extent, and probably from 80 to 100 years old. It stands partly on clayey and partly on a sandy soil, facing north. The hedgerows on this property are numerous and good, containing some large elms, but the hedges are poor and neglected. The mansion-house is old and dilapidated, but surrounded by magnificent hardwoods, consisting of planetree, ash, elm, beech, and poplar, with some fine ornamental pines and evergreens on the lawn, and one magnificently grown cedar.

Here and again at Ethie on the Rosehaugh property in the Black Isle, there is an amphitheatre of lias limestones.

On the estate of Arabella (Mr James Gordon), north-east of Shandwick, there are about 10 acres of hardwood belts, comprising oak, ash, elm, and beech, about forty years old, and apparently thriving. They stand with a southern exposure on a strong clay soil. The mansion-house is sheltered by fine large oak, larch, and Scots fir, while along the march with Shandwick to the sea-shore there is a strip of larch and Scots fir about forty years old, and not valuable. Hedgerows line the field sides, and are doing very well, but the hedges are poor here also.

Calrossie, the property of Mr Andrew Hall, lies north-west of Arabella, and on it there are 500 acres of woodlands, comprising Scots fir, larch, and various hardwoods. At Calrossie House, and along the county road to Fearn, grow some oak, beech, ash. and elm trees of very old standing. Near the gardener's house there are about a dozen Scots fir trees, probably 200 years old, and of Large dimensions, also some pretty specimens of Wellingtonia and other foreign plants, which seem to be growing well. The parliamentary road to Tain is bordered by good Scots fir and larch, being the remains of a very fine wood which was cut about twenty-five years ago. This has a southerly exposure, and stands on gravel, though the land over the greater part of Calrossie estate is a good loam, with here and there patches of stiff clay. The numerous clumps of wood surrounding the fields here is given as a reason for insufficient drying of corn in the stook.

Turning now towards the north-east coast, we enter the parish of Nigg, which consists of a fertile slope rising in the hill of Nigg (500 feet), and reaching down to the bay of Nigg. About the farm-house of Culliss, on the Shandwick estate, grow a few old hardwoods; and some very good younger beltings, also of hardwood, were planted about eighteen years ago. Hedgerows and hedges about here are poor, though at Wester Rarichie there are a few large beech and elms in the hedgerows. On the estate of Bayfield (Mr J. Humphrey), some very large ash, elm, and beech line the avenue to Bayfield House; and a thriving belt of hardwood shelters the road to the ferry to Cromarty. This belt is about thirty years old, and is situated on a reddish loam overlying sandstone rock, with a northern exposure. On the hill of Bayfield stands a thin old Scots fir wood, about 50 acres in extent, and filled up with some natural undergrowth. At the schoolhouse of Nigg, on the Pitcalnie property (Mr G. Ross), there are about 5 acres of Scots fir and larch, mixed with oak and elm, which seems about fifteen years old, and is apparently doing well. The west end of the parish of Nigg is covered to the depth of nearly 2 feet with light drifting sand, which on being removed is, according to Mr Macdonald's report, found to overlie a deposit of the very richest black loam. If this is so, surely it would plant at any rate as well as the sands of Morayshire, so well known.

A few large ash, elm, and oak trees form the hedgerows on Pitculzean, the property of Mr W. H. E. Murray, but the hedges do not appear to be thriving. At the mansion-house, and along a burnside to the shore, there is a fine hardwood belt, which also marches with Pitcalnie, and contains some nice trees about thirty years old. This has a northern exposure, and grows on a good soil overlying sandstone. By the sea-shore, along the road to Cromarty Ferry, is a considerable extent of Scots fir wood, which, however, is much stunted by the sea breeze. On the top of the hill of Nigg, and marching with Castlecraig and Bayfield, is situated another large wood of Scots fir from forty to fifty years old, which has a southern exposure, and appears to be doing much better than the last. A few ornamental trees and shrubs surround the house. On the estate of Westfield, also belonging to Mr Murray, there are some more nice ash, oak, and elm trees, and good hedgerows, as also a fir and larch plantation extending about 10 acres, and planted for shelter from the sea breeze, which, however, along with a poor sandy soil, has given it a very stunted appearance. This estate has northerly exposure, and is situated right above the sea. On the estate of Castlecraig (Col. Ross), the only trees are a few old firs, and some hardwoods situated above the rocky shore. Further on there is a strip of natural Scots fir, on the hill of Nigg, belonging to Balnagown.

The remainder of the east coast here is very rocky and precipitous, though at several spots fir woods shelter the inland agricultural district. It terminates in the headland of Tarbat Ness, with fishing villages scattered along it. On Allan, the property of Mr D. Monro, in the parish of Fearn, situated north and north-west of Nigg, there are are fine large beech, elm, ash, lime, and poplar trees, and along the approach clumps of old hardwoods and a number of good hedges, enclosing some of the best farmed land in the county.

Near the road to Fearn Station, Scots fir beltings, about thirty years old, stand on a clayey soil, and are not thriving very well: while around the farm-house of Balintore, belonging to Major Rose of Tarlogie, there are ash, elm, and beech trees. On the Balnagown estate, in this parish, there are a few hedges and scattered trees, which are not growing well. On the farm of Fearn, belonging to Cadboll, there are 10 acres of Scots fir plantation thirty years old, on a sandy soil, with a southwestern exposure. East of Balmuchy farm is another Scots fir wood covering about 15 acres, and not showing good growth. At Cadboll House there are beech, elm, plane, and other hardwoods, surrounding numerous choice pines and other trees of an ornamental description. Here there are also some fair hedges, both of thorn and beech, but being right above the open sea the woods naturally suffer much from the cold wind and sea breeze. At Balmuchy farm-house are thriving beltings, from twelve to fourteen years old, of fir and larch mixed with beech and elm ; while behind the Free Church Manse there are about 5 acres of Scots fir, not thriving, and situated on a poor sandy soil with a very wet bottom. On the estate of Rhynie (Mr J. Robertson) good beltings of Scots fir form the boundary of the property skirting Loch Eye, and there are besides, some old hardwoods and few ornamental trees round the farm-house of Rhynie.

On the estate of Geanies (Mr W. H. E. Murray), in this parish, the woods merely consist of a few acres of mixed plantation round Pitkerrie, about fourteen years old, and with a southern exposure. On Geanies property in the parish of Tarbat, northeast of Fearn, which parish we next enter, there are about 300 acres, consisting of beltings of Scots fir and larch, from twenty to thirty years old, and numerous clumps and strips of hardwoods. In the policies of Geanies House, and along part of the county road to Portmahomack, are to be seen some good hedges; while around the house are nice ornamental trees, and large beech, ash, and elms extending to the edge of the cliff above the sea. Almost the only vein of limestone in Easter Ross runs past here. A few young hardwoods about Seafield House and some ornamental trees, besides hardwood hedgerows and a strip of young fir and larch along the county road to Tain, constitute the woods on the estate of Ardboll.

At the mansion-house of Rockfield, on the property of Mr F. Munro, east of Geanies, some young mixed plantations were planted for shelter, and are seemingly thriving very well; while on each side of the approach there are nice hedges, and at the farm-house plane, beech, and elm trees. At Meikle Tarrel, on the Cadboll estate, a few old hardwood trees surround the house ; and at Cadboll Mount there are some fine hedges of beech and black thorn and a strip of fair Scots fir about forty years old, on deep strong soil, besides a few large-sized beech, ash, and elm about the steading. In the parish of Tarbat the prevailing soil is light fertile loam, lying chiefly on the Old Red Sandstone though some of it is on gravel and boulder clay.

Entering now the parish of Tain, where it marches with Logic, we come to notice the woods on the estate of Bogbain, under trustees of the late Mr William Davidson, which lies northeast of Calrossie. There are 20 to 30 acres of Scots fir and spruce planted about fourteen years ago, which have not yet been thinned, and are not large for their age. On some waste moor ground east of the railway, Scots fir, ash, elm, and beech were planted five years ago, but the soil is very stiff and retentive, and being also on the level, is very damp, hence the trees are not thriving vigorously. The hedges, however, are good. North-west of Calrossie are the Tainfield Woods belonging to Mrs Murray, and comprising 150 acres of mixed Scots fir and larch thirty years old, standing with a southerly exposure, on a clayey soil. North of Calrossie and Tainfield is Rosemount, the property of Mrs Clarke, round the mansion-house of which there are some large fir and larch, a few old beech, and some younger hardwoods, planted about twenty years ago. Situated to the south-west are about 100 acres of larch and Scots fir, with a southern exposure, and thriving well. At Rosehill (Mr W. E. Cattley of Edderton), there are 50 acres of Scots fir and larch, about twenty years old, with a northerly exposure on a fair soil. There are here also a few belts of hardwoods, planted recently. At North Glastullich (Mr A. Fraser) there are only a few clumps of old Scots fir, and no young plantations. At Moorfarm (Mr D. Ross) there are 8 acres of Scots fir and larch, about twenty years old, and in a thriving condition. A few old beech and plane trees, and some mixed beltings, surround the house; while the roads and many of the fields are bordered by hardwood hedgerows. At Easter Lamington (Mr J. R. Mackenzie), marching with Balnagown, are numerous plantations of Scots fir of various ages up to forty years, all of natural growth, from the seed of former crops now removed, but scrubby and not valuable as timber. They are growing on a ridge, with both southern and northern exposures, behind the Linster Park Wood, Marching on the north with Easter Lamington, at Mineral Bank, belonging to Provost Vass of Tain, there is a Scots fir wood, about forty years old, interspersed with a few larch and spruce. The soil is wet and mossy, and the trees are stunted and not valuable. A good deal of inferior land lies in the parish of Tain, the soil being light and scarce, and resting on an impenetrable irony pan, hardly worth cultivation. The sea has made considerable encroachments near Tain, and also at Red-castle. In the town of Tain there are no clumps or even trees of any importance whatever. West of the town, at Highfield (Mr J, Monro) there is a belt of fir of various ages, chiefly natural grown. To the north and out to the top of the Hill of Tain, lies the estate of Tarlogie (Major H. L. Rose). Fine old trees of large dimensions, beech, ash, and elm, surround Tarlogie House, and line the approach from Tain. The rest of the wood on the estate consists of about 200 acres of larch and fir planted some twenty-five years ago, on ground most of which had been cleared of a former crop of timber. There are the remains of a few thorn hedges, and also several clumps and patches of young larch and fir. All this wood has a northerly exposure, is situated on a clayey soil, and is enclosed by good wire fences. Marching on the north with Tarlogie, is Edderton, in the parish of that name, belonging to Mr W. E. Cattley. On this estate there has been a great extent, 400 or 500 acres, planted within the last twelve years, some of it quite recently. It consists of five mixed plantations of fir, larch, ash, elm, oak, lime, and spruce, situated on a fair soil resting on clay, with a northerly exposure, and all of it is well enclosed by strong wire fences, and seems to be thriving well. The only old wood is at Redburn, being a strip of larch and Scots fir, with some ash of very fine growth. This little property is splendidly wooded for its size, and has evidently been otherwise greatly improved since it came into the hands of its present owner, about a dozen years ago. Round the northern and south-eastern faces of Struy Hill, on the Balnagown property, there are 200 acres of Scots fir and larch, quite recently planted, and some enclosed extent still to plant, besides numerous other belts and clumps of small importance. Alongside these plantations, and extending to the top of Struy Hill, is Struy plantation, on the property of Sir A. Matheson of Lochalsh, which consists of about 50 acres of Scots fir and larch, chiefly the former, and is not more than ten years old. The soil here is gravel over a subsoil of clay. Three miles farther on we come to Mid Fearn, on the same property, where very extensive young plantations, seven to twenty years old, have been formed where old woods once stood, and are enclosed by iron and wire fences. There are some large beech and elm about the Lodge of Mid-Fearn.

North-west of Edderton, is the parish of Kincardine, lying chiefly in the valley of the River Carron. At its eastern extremity it is narrow, but gradually it widens towards the west into the extensive series of hills called Balnagown Forest, where it is about 20 miles in width. A number of glens and straths run up among its numerous hills, with many pleasant streams flowing through them, thus producing a landscape of great variety. First we come to Gledfield, the property of Sir Alexander Matheson, Bart. of Lochalsh, lying along the south side of the Carron. Here there are young plantations covering about 100 acres in all, and consisting chiefly of Scots fir interspersed with a few larch, planted at different periods varying from fourteen to twenty years ago. They have not yet been thinned, but appear to be thriving pretty well. They are enclosed by wire fences on the upper, and by stone and feal dykes round the other sides. Next we come to a young plantation of Scots fir and larch about 20 acres in extent, the property of Lady Ross of Balnagown. This appears to be fourteen or fifteen years old, and situated on the slope of a hill, with a northern exposure; it seems to be doing well. On Ardgay Hill, on the same property, there are 30 or 40 acres of very old oak, and the remains of some natural Scots fir interspersed with larch, pretty much thinned. Reaching the River Carron, we propose, continuing on the south side of Kincardine parish by following up that side of the river, to notice various wooded glens, and then returning down the other side of the river, take the other wooded estates which lie north of it. Leaving Ardgay, we come to Dunie, the property of the Duchess of Sutherland, and Greenyards, belonging to Mr Charles Robertson of Kindeace, on both of which estates the only trees consist of scattered clumps of natural birch, a few-oaks, and some alder trees. All along its lower reaches the banks and knolls about the river are covered with natural willow and alder.

Entering Glenmore, numerous and considerable patches of birch of large size, affording excellent cover for deer, are to be seen extending up the river side to Deanich Lodge, a distance of nearly 6 miles. Crossing the stream here, and turning down its northern side, we come to more large clumps of birchwood, natural grown, but of a smaller and more scrubby nature than on the other side of the river. This birch is young and beautiful, and being of the white-leaved silvery variety, it contrasts splendidly with the deep purple of the heather, and gives the valley a very pretty aspect. Passing on down the glen through the deer forest, we find the wood consists wholly of the natural birch, till about 2 miles from Alladale Lodge, where there are the remains of what appears to have been a forest of natural Scots fir. A good many specimens are still left standing, and these are of splendid growth and quality, equal to any foreign redwood, and with every appearance of having borne the storms of over two hundred years. They are probably native grown, and stand with a southern exposure, on deep moss over a clayish subsoil.

Two miles farther down, still on Sir Charles Ross' property, stands the beautiful new Lodge of Alladale, prettily situated among clusters of weeping birch. Entering on the estate of Picalnie, the property of Mr G. Ross, 2 miles lower down, we come to Amat Lodge, about 10 miles from Bonar Bridge, in the policies attached to which there are some very large beech and Scots fir, true natives, and about one hundred years old. One interesting feature of this pretty lodge is, that you can hook a salmon from the windows. Behind and adjacent to it, there is an 8 acre clump of Scots fir, larch, and spruce, chiefly larch, planted by the present proprietor some thirty years ago. This is in a flourishing condition and stands on the level ground between Amat-na-tua on the south, and Craighouse on the north.

Below it there is a plantation of about 200 acres of old fir, marching on the west with Sir Charles Ross' property, and on the south with the deer forest of Glencalvie. All except a very small part of this wood faces the south, the soil consisting of mossy gravel, with huge boulders of whin-stone on the lower, and of shaly rock on the higher, among which the pine roots cling. A few birch are intermixed in the thin part along the road to Alladale, but the wood is notably fir, many of the trees being one hundred years old, and of very large dimensions, averaging quite 25 cubic feet of excellent timber. At a point in this wood on the River Carron are the Amat Falls, which are very grand when the river is in spate, and abound with salmon, thus offering an additional attraction for sportsmen. This neighbourhood is very picturesque, there being a good deal of birch about the braes. Lower down we re-enter the Balnagown property, and come to "Whale Belt," so called because the late Sir Charles Ross had it planted in the shape of a whale, some twenty years ago. It is now in two belts of 10 acres each, consisting of larch and fir, with some spruce, which are all very thriving. These woods are partly enclosed with wire fences and partly with feal dykes, and are all well surface drained. Much, however, sadly requires thinning. Other two miles lower down stands Braelangwell Lodge, where there are some fine oak, elm, and larch, all of very large dimensions and handsomely grown; while the young clumps in the grounds round the lodge, planted for amenity and shelter, are formed of larch, Scots fir, and some spruce; these latter were planted about twenty-three years ago, have a very ornamental appearance, and have thriven well, All these woods stand with a southern exposure, on mossy soil over clay. Still two miles farther down the north side of the River Carron, we come to the very extensive woods of Strathcarron, also the Balnagown property. They extend 4 miles in length, by about half a mile in average width, and consist of mixed larch and fir planted over a period of three years, and now ranging from twenty-five to twenty-eight years old. The surface was formerly rough heather, and is in parts rocky and steep ; while the soil is blackish and mossy, and rests upon gravel. There are shooting and carting,"rides" cut through this wood, and it has been thinned annually for the last eight years. The average height of the larch and fir is about 24, but some are quite 30 feet.

The fir, we are told, has been used for propwood, staves, and barrel headings; while the larch has as yet been used chiefly for fencing posts, there being very few trees large enough to make "sleepers" of. Owing to a great variation in the size of the timber, a lot of it being only fit for cabers, it would be almost impossible to give a fair idea of the average cubical contents. The fir has evidently done best, many of the larches being royed; while a great many more, with their tops decaying, show evident signs of the "larch disease." Marching with the Strathcarron plantations, on their eastern side, is the property of Invercharron (Mr A. Littlejohn). It is well wooded, and lies between the Kyle of Sutherland and the mouth of the Carron. The woods overlook the Kyle and the fine arable farm of Invercharron Mains. They consist chiefly of larch and fir of medium growth, the oldest and best grown having evidently been removed; but within the last two years a good deal of young plantation has been formed, and fenced in clumps and belts on the hill overlooking Invercharron, for purposes of amenity and shelter; while along the roadsides and among the thinner parts of the old wood a great deal of spruce and ornamental trees have been put in as undergrowth. Near the mansion-house, and on both sides of the county road to Culrain, well-grown and handsome specimens of larch and fir are to be seen ; while there are some fine hardwoods, beech, and elm, with other ornamental trees, in the grounds.

At Relonie, belonging to Mr Sidney Hadwen, about 8 acres of young plantation, consisting of Scots fir, larch, and birch, have been formed, and the rest of the wood is made up of some old weeping birch and oaks. Northwards from Relonie, and marching with it, is Culrain, the property of Sheriff Simpson. On this estate several hundred acres in extent of young wood have been planted within the past dozen years, on a bare hillside, with a bleak northern exposure. The trees are a mixture of larch and Scots fir, with a good deal of spruce in the more sheltered spots, where the soil is deeper and better. Most of these plantations, however, are on light, rocky, sandy soil, and are all enclosed by wire fences with wooden posts, having iron droppers between. They afford evidence of careful and judicious preparation and planting. One very pretty feature here is Sheriff Simpson's pretty little shooting lodge, so romantically situated on the heathery hillside among clusters of weeping birch, and overlooking the Kyle.

The estate of Strathkyle, belonging to Mr G. G. Mackay of Glengloy, is a model of extensive and judicious planting. The ground now occupied by thriving plantations was at one time a bleak desolate moor, without a tree on it. This was planted up with Scots fir and a few larch, hardwoods and poplar being put in on the most sheltered parts; but Scots fir, where alone, thrives best here. These plantations, laid out within the last twelve years, contain eight and a half millions of plants, and extend in one block over 3950 acres, being enclosed with a ring fence of wire upwards of 20 miles in length.

Further up Strathkyle is Inveroykel, the property of Mr. C. M. GaskelL where similar extensive plantations of Scots fir and larch have been recently formed.

4. Wester Ross.

On its western side the county is bounded by Applecross Sound and the southern part of the Minch. The coast line here is very much indented, and exceedingly rugged and winding, indeed, so irregular is it that, following the sinuosities of the shore and the numerous lochs and bays running in, it measures over 300 miles, though traced in a straight line it is only about 70. Although this division certainly comprehends the main body of the county, it consists almost entirely of high hills and sheep grazings; and its woods being of no great extent or value, we shall merely refer briefly to the best wooded estates.

The rainfall of Ross-shire varies to a considerable extent, being given at 30 to 70 inches on the west and 30 to 50 on the east. The difference is to some extent explained by the fact, that the winds, which for eight months of the year blow between the points S.W. and N.W., travel over the wide Atlantic, and the rugged hills on the west cause them to discharge most of this moisture before they reach the east coast.

Beginning with the parish of Glenshiel, there are on the Kintail estate, the property of Mr J. T. Mackenzie, only a few clumps of Scots fir near three of the farm-houses, and some natural wood, birch, alder, and hazel near Shiel Hotel. On the Glenshiel estate, the property of Mr J. E. B. Baillie of Dochfour, there is a patch of larch, below which Loch Duich,

"The outstretched lake embosomed 'mong the hills,
The eye with wonder and enchantment fills."

The trees are about fifty years old, and are now being cut for local requirements. There is another strip of larch about forty years old near, and a considerable extent around the farm house of Ratagan.

Near the Parish Church, and on the estate of Letterfearn, belonging to Sir Alexander Matheson, there is a strip of wood, several hundred yards wide, extending from the sea to the top of the hill. It consists of larch, spruce, and various kinds of hardwood. At the end of Loch Duich is the Drudaig Wood, over a mile in extent, and consisting mainly of larch, spruce, and hardwood (beech, oak, ash, &c). On this estate there is also a large amount of natural wood, chiefly ash, oak, alder, and hazel.

The next two parishes to the north of Glenshiel, are Kintail and Lochalsh, but with the exception of Strathglass, in Kintail, lying in the valley of the River Beauly, they belong entirely to Sir Alexander Matheson, M.P.

At Inverinate, on the north side of Loch Duich, there is a large plantation, about thirty-five years old, and some trees of longer growth, the whole extending over perhaps 1000 acres, and consisting of larch, spruce, and mixed hardwood. On the side of Loch Ling, a plantation about twenty years old forms the march between the farms of Bundalloch and Camusluinnie; and there is another of the same age at the end of the loch near the junction of the rivers Ling and Elchaig. Along the side of Loch Duich for nearly three miles natural wood, chiefly oak, ash, alder, hazel, and birch, abounds.

These woods are all in Kintail, where the climate is foggy and moist and the mountains lofty and rugged; while in the neighbouring parish of Lochalsh the soil is rich, and produces good pasturage. At Balrnacara, in Lochalsh, there is a wide stretch of wood, probably 1500 acres or more, in which, though some of the trees are older, the most are about fifty years of age. They comprise the usual Scots fir, larch, and mixed hardwoods. Near Duncraig, the west coast seat of Sir Alexander Matheson, beautifully situated amid a perfect labyrinth of evergreens backed by a range of stupendous cliffs, there is a considerable extent of larch and fir plantation about twenty years old, and a lot of natural wood, chiefly birch, as also similar plantations of considerable extent near Strome and at Nonach. The former, 2 miles east of Strome, is about thirty years old ; while the latter, situated at the head of Loch Ling, was planted about sixteen years ago.

The parish of Lochcarron belongs to Sir A. Matheson, M.P.; Lord Wimbourne, Achnashellach; and Mr Murray of Lochcarron, and is much less wooded than the adjoining parishes. On Sir Alexander Matheson's estate the only wood is at Attadale, where, though the plantations have been mostly cut, there is still a considerable extent of natural wood, and again at New Kelso. On Achnashellach there are young plantations of Scots fir and larch, interspersed with mountain ash, and some spruce and ornamental trees about the house. On the opposite side of the valley there is a strip of natural birch, and some old Scots firs in Glencairn, and in the forest of Coulan. It may here be mentioned that all the old Scots fir wood in the parishes of Lochcarron and Applecross is of native growth. With the exception of a small plantation at Tullich, there is little or no planted wood on Mr Murray's estate, but long stretches of natural wood, chiefly birch, run along the north side of Lochcarron. At Shieldaig, however, in the parish of Applecross, a good many Scots fir and a lot of birch grow along the south side of Loch Torridon. The chief wood in this parish is on Lord Middleton's estate, where there are trees of large size, There is also a small plantation at Ardglass, on the Torridon estate, belonging to Mr Duncan Darroch.

The principal proprietors in the parish of Gairloch are Sir Kenneth S. Mackenzie, Bart. of Gairloch, Mrs Banks of Gruinard, and Mr Asgood H. Mackenzie of Inverewe.

The surface of this parish abounds in lofty mountains, affording a meagre pasture for sheep, with here and there glens and straths tolerably fertile in propitious seasons. Quartzites are to be found here, notably at Kinlochewe, where the sharp-ridged summit of Ben Eay consists of quartzite almost as white as snow. The situations of the woods in the Gairloch property are principally about Flowerdale House, along the south of Gairloch Bay, at the foot of Loch Maree, and along a great part of its shores and on its islands.

Between Loch Rosque (noticed in Mid Ross), and Loch Maree, the only woods are patches of natural birch, oak, and alder. Along this road detached boulders of all sizes and more or less finely polished, are to be seen on the moors and gravel banks in all directions.

At Kinlochewe Hotel there is a young plantation of Scots fir, larch, and spruce, and some old hardwoods. Two miles beyond this the road skirts the shore of Loch Maree, through a natural wood of birch and Scots fir. These Scots fir have a peculiar bluish tint, and seem to thrive best in the neighbourhood of Kinlochewe.

Around Talladale there are some oaks and birch, and just beyond it a beautiful plantation of Scots fir, larch, and birch. The larch here are very good, and are about forty years old.

The islands on Loch Maree are more extensive than those on any other loch in Great Britain, except Loch Lomond, and are covered with wood of native growth throughout. The abundance and rich tint of the heather is a striking characteristic. Isle Maree, one of the smallest, but the most interesting, both historically and arboriculturally, of the whole group, is covered with larch, holly, and other trees beset with undergrowth. Foolish tourists have killed a holly tree on this island by sticking coppers in its bark. Wise ones, in the interest of themselves and trees generally, take them out. The scenery of Loch Maree, though very fine, illustrates the characteristic fault of Scotch mountain views—the want of real green fertile valleys and waving woodlands, to break the monotony of the bare hills and moorland lochs which crowd upon every hand.

Between Talladale and Flowerdale the wood consists of birch coppice here and there along the loch and burn sides.

At Flowerdale there are very old sycamore trees, also elm, ash, lime, beech, horse chestnut, and silver fir of no mean dimensions, as may be seen from the list at the end, their size comparing favourably with those grown in more favoured situations. From Flowerdale to the Gairloch Hotel the road is on part of the way flanked on both sides by fine timber, of which the larch, ash, and beech are specially prominent.

The pass of Kerrysdale, a narrow little ravine, is fringed with birch and fine larch, which both here and at Flowerdale are about seventy years of age. Altogether there are over 1000 acres of wood on the Gairloch estate, a good deal of which is of natural growth, especially birch and Scots fir. Larch is the principal tree grown and planted here, and it does remarkably well, reaching a great height, and producing fine timber. The soil is chiefly gravel, though in some places a yellow loam above rock. The larches and firs planted fifteen years ago are doing well, and some extent is planted nearly every year. The seed of native fir in Kinlochewe forest is wisely gathered, and seedlings raised and planted from it in a nice little home nursery. Thick planting, that is 3 feet apart, is the custon here, all plants being put in during March; and we are told the entire cost, including plants, preparation of the ground and planting, is about £8 per acre. Thinnings are given away free to crofters for roofs of buildings.

The sea-coast rises steeply in cliffs, and the woods do not suffer much from the salt sea breeze. They, however, suffer a little from the Adelgis laricis, and somewhat from caterpillar; but blackcock, hares, and rabbits do the most damage.

There is little or no extent of young plantations on the Gruinard and Letterewe properties, and the most of the wood lies on the northern shore of Loch Maree, and along the banks of the Gruinard. It consists chiefly of natural grown birch and oak, and some, but very few, larch, which are about forty years old.

Entering next the parish of Lochbroom, we come to some Scots fir and birch in the valley of Dundonell, which is grassy and pleasantly wooded. There is also a nice plantation opposite Dundonell House. The principal woods in this parish, however, are on Braemore, the property of Mr John Fowler, by whom they were planted mostly within the last eighteen years. Exclusive of a number of clumps and belts interspersed at suitable points throughout the valley, there is one large plantation, enclosing, we should think, 1000 acres. It begins near the march of the property opposite Inverbroom House, and extends up the slopes of the valley continuously for some miles, to its termination at the summit of Corriehalloch, near the entrance lodge. The soil and climate are evidently most favourable, as seldom has the writer seen trees growing in such variety, and showing such perfect symmetry and vigorous, healthy growth. On the higher slopes fir and larch abound at an altitude reaching to 700 feet. On the lower and more sheltered situations almost every species of hardwood is to be seen, interspersed with Wellingtonias and other choice pines, all of them thriving and handsome specimens. Nowhere have we seen that beautiful tree, the mountain ash, grow with such luxuriance as here at Braemore, along the edge of the frightful Corriehalloch,

"Among the loose crags, whose threatening mass
Lay hovering o'er the hollow pass,
As if an infant's touch could urge
Their headlong passage down the verge."

These beautiful woods at every point give evidence of judicious treatment; and we have pleasure in adding, that we believe much of the success which has been attained is due to the fostering care of Mrs Fowler, a lady who delights in devoting much of her leisure hours to superintending in person the work of planting, pruning, and thinning. There are also rows of Scots fir, larch, hardwood, and alder scattered over the level ground between Inverbroom and Inverlael.

About halfway down the side of Lochbroom, on the road to Ullapool, we come to the snug little property of Leckmelm, lately purchased by Mr Pirie of Aberdeen, who has done much, by planting and otherwise, to beautify the place. Here the trees are chiefly fir and larch, with a few hardwoods, mountain ash, and some choice pines, where the soil is or can be made suitable. Running almost parallel with Lochbroom, is Rhidorroch glen, one of the prettiest in the district, as seen when approached by the drive from Ullapool up the side of Loch Achall, on the west shores of which there are beautiful clumps of natural birch. Higher up the glen, above the lodge, some fine old natural Scots fir are growing among a lot more birch. Other glens and straths in this parish are similarly clothed with birch and alder, such as at Langwell, Drumruinie, and around Lochs Shinas-kaig, Oiskaig, Lurgain, &c. in the Coigach district of the parish.

5. Hehridean Lewis.

The extent of the Lewis Long Island is 561,200 acres, or about 880 square miles; its greatest length being 40 miles and breadth 24 miles.

The mean temperature of this island, for November and the three winter months, is about 39°, and that of the other eight months about 49°.

The woods on this island all belong to Lady Matheson of the Lews, and are situated for the most part in the neighbourhood of Stornoway Castle, overlooking the magnificent harbour of Stornoway. In the vicinity of the castle large and well-grown specimens of the ash, elm, plane, oak, beech, and larch are growing on a loamy soil above gravel and rock. They were planted previous to the estate being purchased by the late Sir James Matheson, and are probably sixty or seventy years old.

In the "Willow Glen," close by, there are good specimens of ash, elm, and alder trees, above which several nice silver firs, spruces, and larches rear their heads. The subsoil here is clayey. At Marybank, and in a glen to the south of Stornoway Castle, at an altitude ranging from 20 to 30 feet, there are some fair larch, oak, ash, and plane trees, with some nice silver firs and spruces on the south side of the glen. Between this glen and the castle there are, in addition to numerous larch, common spruce, and silver fir, several nice ornamental trees, including Picea nobilis, Abies Menziesii, Abies Douglasii, Abies canadensis, Pinus Strobus. Pinus Cembra, Cupressus Lawsoniana, Biota orientalis, and Arau-earia imbricata. The hardwoods, which are numerous and good here, include purple beech, birch, ash, mountain ash, horse chestnut, Spanish chestnut, beech, and gean.

At Cleascro, 8 miles from Stornoway in a westerly direction, there are 50 acres of plantation, containing larch, spruce, silver fir, beech, birch, and mountain ash. This is situated with a south-westerly exposure, on the steep slope of a hill, 3 miles from the. sea, and contains some well-grown specimens of each tree. The silver fir is doing particularly well on this island, as it outfaces the strong south-west wind, and bears the keen sea air, while the Scots fir does not reach any great size, or appear to thrive well. The best trees on the island are to be found within three hundred yards of the sea. Further inland, especially where there is any depth of peat, they are more stunted in their growth ; while they also appear to thrive best away from the exposure of the prevailing winds, viz., west and south-west, which blow with great violence during the winter months.

Timber Sales.

It is very difficult to obtain correct statistics regarding the current prices and probable prospective value of Ross-shire timber, owing to the want on most of the estates of detailed accounts in this department of estate management, so that we are able to append only a few notes of information picked up throughout the county, and willingly given by timber merchants dealing in Ross-shire wood.

The quality of the timber, in texture, clean growth, and freedom from roy, is about equal to any in Scotland, except perhaps some from the Athole Woods. The greater extent being comparatively young, a good deal is used for fencing and other estate purposes and for crofters' outhouses; nevertheless a considerable quantity goes to Invergordon and Tain, and some is sent to Inverness and elsewhere.

High railway rates not only keep down the prices of larch and fir in Ross-shire, but almost forbid the despatch of its hardwood to Dundee and other manufacturing centres ; while, regarding foreign timber, we understand that in many cases the rates of carriage from a shipping port to an inland town are only one-half what they are vice versa. Is this fair?

The Highland railway runs near the best Ross-shire woods, to the timber from which the few prices quoted below refer, so that the latter must not be taken as representing averages over the county, because in many districts cartage alone would nearly absorb the whole price obtained.

Larger sizes of larch have decreased in value from 2s. to 1s. 6d. in the last seven years, and find sale for various structures specially requiring durability, including waggon framing, boat building, railway sleepers and telegraph poles, and barrel heading and staves.

The fall in price is due very much to the fact that the Government Board of Trade will now brand fish barrels made of spruce and Scots fir, though they also allow larch barrels to be rebranded once, thus saving the cost to the curer of fresh ones, for one year. Besides this, spruce is now being used in the south for sleepers. We have heard the belief expressed that larch is likely to be largely used as street paving.

Besides barrel staves, large fir, fetching from 8d. to 10d. per foot, is sold here chiefly for manufacture into railway sleepers (creosoted at Forres), and into deals of various sizes for external uses. Some small fir and larch thinnings are of course sold for prop wood, but the price obtained over the Highlands is very low, caused by the receipt at the mines of quantities of very worthless, unsafe stuff, and the choice they there have of clean wood from Norway.

Prices of Ross-shire hardwood are, as aforesaid, much handicapped by carriage rates, but good ash and plane offer the best prospect of continuous demand, the former fetching 1s. 6d. per cubic foot, being useful for tool handles and cartwright work (there being very little good elm in the county); while plane fetches about 1s. per cubic foot, for pattern and instrument making. Beech is very low in price at present, but sells for machinery work, rough pieces also, being used for buffer heads, and clean straight wood for boat keels. Not much oak is sold.

Though foresters can rarely compete successfully with wood merchants in the manufacture of timber, still there are several estate saw mills throughout the county which are found very useful, and the mountain streams which everywhere abound afford convenient power. Most of the large lots are sold standing, and if not an entire clearance, the forester, to prevent misunderstanding, and damage to adjoining trees, does the felling, the purchaser getting the brushwood, and generally giving it to the farmers who cart the timber for him.


In his excellent paper on "The Comparative Return from Capital invested in Cropping, Grazing, or Planting Land upon Hill and Moorland," published in the Transactions of the Highland and Agricultural Society for 1878, Mr J. B. Smith says— "Again and again the cry comes to us across the Atlantic that the forest primeval is being recklessly demolished, and that in a few short years its timber producing wealth will be exhausted. At home, in these days of high wages (as compared with the social and political condition of the working classes even fifty years ago), when the ruling axioms should be, ' quick productions and quick returns,' these doubtless ought to form the basis of all profitable enterprises. Though many of our noblemen and gentry derive a good income from their plantations alone, for which they have their ancestors to thank, and though the home demand for timber, and foreign imports, are both still on the increase, we yet find them doing little or nothing for posterity in the way of planting." This, unfortunately, may be only too true, speaking generally, but it can hardly be applied to the landlords of Ross-shire, who are an intelligent, enterprising, and liberal class, and the extent and number of plantations laid out throughout the county within the past fifty years, much of it within the last thirty years, as can be gathered from the foregoing Report, shows that they are now, at any rate, fully alive to the advantages, direct and indirect, to be derived from planting both to themselves and to posterity. Some sixty years ago Ross-shire was probably as far behind in this respect as most counties in Scotland, but many thousands of acres have been planted since then, and the landed proprietors in some of the other counties in the north would do well, both to themselves and to the community generally, were they to follow the good example shown them in the way of extensive planting by the proprietors of Ross-shire.

It must, however, be admitted that the woods and plantations of Ross-shire, like those of several other counties, are, as a rule, more neglected than any other department in the general management of its landed property, whether this arises from the lack or misapplication of knowledge, it is not intended here to discuss. That such is the case, however, no one will deny, the fact being too apparent to all who take the trouble to look into it. It is much to be regretted that neither the practice, science,. nor literature of arboriculture has kept pace with its sister sciences of agriculture and horticulture, although Ross-shire is quite as advanced in this respect as some other counties more favourably situated, and the management of its woods very much better than in the past. The long period that trees require to arrive at maturity and become a source of profit (most of our timber trees taking more than a man's lifetime), may in great measure contribute to their neglect, and curtail planting operations, seeing how seldom one man reaps the full benefit of what he plants, while returns can be had much sooner from other investments. This in reality, however, ought to be one of the best reasons why their management should be both well understood and receive regular and systematic attention. The forester, unlike the farmer or gardener, making a mistake one year, cannot rectify it the next, as it would generally be too late. Those experienced in the culture of woods declare that land worth only 10s. per. acre per annum, should be planted, as the best investment of money; and further that land planted, yields not less than £1 per acre of rent from the date of planting onwards for sixty years. Allowing this to be so, how much more profitable must it be to plant land not worth more than 2s. sometimes less than 1s. per acre for grazing purposes. Of such land there is a large extent in this county still available, and well adapted for the growth of timber, if systematically surface drained a year or two previous to planting. While this is the case, no one travelling through Ross-shire but must have observed many tracts of land at present under cultivation, which should never have been reclaimed. In the distribution of plantations a common mistake is, that the belts are frequently too narrow, in consequence of which the shelter they were meant to afford is insufficient, while the trees themselves are stunted and comparatively valueless. Again, some of the larger estates go to the other extreme by planting immense tracts in one situation, which are apt to be unwieldy and hence often neglected, while other portions of the same property are suffering from want of judiciously placed plantations for shelter and amenity. Estates with a proper outline of plantations have a rich, warm look about them, and this has a tendency to influence both purchasers of landed property and tenants more than may at first be supposed.

Owing to the strength of the prevailing winds, burning the surface before planting is not practised in Ross-shire, except for increasing capillary attraction on spots with a wet subsoil. In such places (though drainage as a rule is well attended to), plants much too young may be observed struggling for existence, and not planted nearly thick enough to dry the soil much. Wire fences are the general enclosures, as they are least likely to afford entrance to deer and sheep, by forming drifts in a snowstorm. Thinning is sometimes indiscriminately done, and is often too long delayed. On the light soils of this county very little conifer pruning is done, and is not to be recommended, except in selecting a fresh leader for plants which have been topped by game, especially roe-deer, mountain hares, and the blackcock (Tetrao tetrix), from which hill plantations in Ross-shire have suffered considerably. Few improvements enrich the general appearance of a country, or increase the value of a property more, than hedges, and in Ross-shire, though scarce, they are fairly well managed. The time best adapted for tree planting in this, as in other counties, of course, varies according to the situation and condition of the soil; the rule which is most in favour being to plant in dry soils and favourable exposures in open weather, during early winter, and in the higher and colder exposures in spring. The greater extent of the plantations in Ross-shire being on open heathy ground, slit or cross-cut planting with the common spade, sometimes not very carefully done, is generally the mode pursued for the younger ages of fir and larch; the hardwoods being pitted into the deeper and more sheltered soils. The cost of slit planting, varying with the convenience of the situation, may be said to average about 8s. per acre for labour alone. Not for some years back could forest trees be purchased so cheaply as at present.

other kinds being in proportion.

The rearing of Scots fir seedlings from their own woods is successfully practised on one or two estates, but this seed is collected from planted trees, not from native pine. Nevertheless, careful superintendence in collecting the seed only from the best and soundest specimens, is necessary to ensure success. Home nurseries as an auxiliary, not as an entire substitute for public ones, are much more rare than they should be in this county. Their advantages are too well known to need comment here. Prominence has of late years been given to the system of growing timber from self-sown seed. Where circumstances are favourable, this plan well deserves attention; and there is a considerable extent of this kind of wood throughout Ross-shire, especially on the Redcastle property, where, however, it has not had a fair trial

the woods being much damaged by squirrels. An important, if not the main advantage of this system is, that the trees grow up varying considerably in height and strength, thereby admitting more air, while the stronger and best trees not only prevail, but benefit. This system appears to be the one mainly practised in the State Forests of Germany, regarding which Captain Campbell Walker, Deputy Conservator of Forests, Madras, in his very interesting Report, gives it as his opinion that we are as far behind Germany in the knowledge and application of scientific forestry as we are in advance of her with regard to agricultural pursuits. If this be so, it is to be hoped the "International Forestry Exhibition," held in Edinburgh in 1884, will be the means of awakening a more genuine and lively interest in this very important branch of our national resources.

General Remarks.

The pests of our pine forests exist, but have not done very extensive damage, in the woods of Ross-shire. Scots fir suffers in different localities from the caterpillar, beetle, and weevil, but only to a comparatively slight extent. The larch, more especially in the richer soils, has the sooty appearance, due to the larch bug Coccus laricis, besides suffering from the rot, blister and other constitutional diseases. Trees in exposed situations are frequently found decayed through the overstraining of the tap root, which is sometimes mistaken for one or other of the prevalent diseases affecting the larch.

There are some districts in Scotland in which, without an intimate knowledge of the salubrity of the local climate, one would not expect to find trees of great magnitude. Ross-shire, for example, we do not generally associate with a capability for raising heavy timber, but the accompanying returns should change the views on this subject, which may have been entertained by many people. Splendid specimens of hardwood trees are therein recorded, while the introduction of ornamental varieties throughout the county is every year becoming more general and is very successful. Growth from cuttings and seed of the latter should certainly be more practised.

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