On the edge of Puiteachen forest stand the solitary remains of a dwelling: Puiteachan cottage. If trees could speak, what would they tell us about the people who lived here?
Many of the trees in this pinewood forest are called veteran trees; compared to many Scottish forests they are very old. Some of these trees would have stood when the cottage was full of life and activity.
Pollarding in the past
At Puiteachen there is evidence for old oaks, alders, ash, birch and Scots pine. These trees tell us how people used the forest in the past, as many of them show signs of pollarding. This woodland management technique involves cutting the tree trunk down to a low height to encourage more branches to grow from the trunk.
This is sustainability in action, allowing the forester to harvest poles of wood, without needing to cut the tree down dead.
Many of the old pine trees have axe marks. These are not a sign that a person failed to cut them down: it was a technique used to tap resin from the trees. People lit the resin and used it as a light instead of candles.
Search the wood and you will find axe marks on trees; signs that this tree has been harvested for fir-candles. © Peter Quelch
Two further structures here may relate to the wood's past use; a possible charcoal platform, similar to the ones found at Bonawe, and a saw mill pit for cutting up wood. Both these structures need further investigation before we can confirm their use.
The exact location of Puiteachen is grid reference NN 097 841.
The best viewpoint of the native pinewood is from a junction with a track at Achnaherrie ruin about a mile before the small Forestry Commission Scotland car park is reached. A viewpoint halfway up this track (which leads into a privately owned forest block) gives a panorama of the whole of Coille Phuiteachain with native pines and birch.
All sites managed by Forestry Commission Scotland are open for you to explore. However, not all sites have paths or signage and some are a considerable distance from car parking. We recommend that visitors consult a detailed map and wear appropriate clothing.
Please follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code and remember that historic sites should be treated with care and respect.