A wildfire has affected roughly 10 hectares of native pine woods in Glen Lui, on the National Trust for Scotland’s Mar Lodge Estate near Braemar. It's thought to have been started by a camper's fire, prompting calls for hillgoers to take extra precautions in the current dry weather, and never to light fires in woodland.
The blaze broke out yesterday afternoon (18 June). It was fought by local crews from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS), staff from the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) and from the neighbouring estates of Invercauld, Balmoral, Mar and Glen Tanar, and brought under control by 7pm yesterday.
An early morning inspection of the site today (19 June) confirmed that the fire has destroyed blaeberry and scrub undergrowth among tracts of mature Caledonian pinewoods. Though damage to the woodlands looks drastic, according to the NTS, the majority of mature trees are only scorched and there is a good chance that the low lying undergrowth will regenerate naturally. The damage does not appear to have reached canopy level.
David Frew, the National Trust for Scotland’s Property Manager for the Mar Lodge Estate said:
'We are extremely grateful to the consummately professional crews from SFRS and to our neighbours and friends from other estates for their help. They have ensured that the wildfire was brought under control as quickly as possible and that there were no casualties.'
'It is frustrating to report that there is a very high likelihood the fire was caused by carelessness. The cause of ignition appears to be a fire at a campsite where we found an abandoned barbeque grate.'
'This is a completely needless situation and a reminder that anyone embarking on a trip into the countryside, particularly during a dry warm spell, must take care and avoid the use of open flames.'
'It seems we have been relatively fortunate as things could have been a lot worse. Some patches are still smouldering, and ongoing dry and breezy conditions for the next few days might lead to re-ignition and we are remaining vigilant for that reason.'
'The best thing visitors can do in the meantime is to use their common sense and follow well publicised good practice if they plan to camp out in the area.'
Will Boyd Wallis, the Cairngorm National Park Authority’s Head of Land Management and Conservation said:
'The Cairngorms National Park is an extremely important place for nature and wildlife so the message from us is really quite simple – never light a fire during long dry spells of weather or in woodland or on peaty soil.'
'We want people to enjoy the Cairngorms National Park and have a great holiday but not at the expense of our wildlife and the important habitats that support them.'
Mar Lodge Estate is one of the most heavily designated areas in Scotland for its natural beauty and ecological diversity, and recently featured in the BBC’s Winterwatch TV programme. Glen Lui is a particularly popular area for wild camping.
At its height, the wildfire was being fought by 11 fire crews utilising 10 appliances drawn from across the north of Scotland, aided by 14 NTS staff and 15 staff from surrounding privately-owned estates. A helicopter was used to water bomb the blaze and ambulances had been placed on standby.