Panoramic view of Buchan and Glenhead mature Sessile oak woodlands.

Panoramic view of Buchan and Glenhead
mature Sessile oak woodlands.

Glentrool, Glenhead & Buchan Woods

The Glentrool oakwoods are a complex of ancient semi-natural oak woodlands with an SSSI designation and which forms part of the proposed SAC for Atlantic oakwoods. Historical records show that the woodlands were present and more extensive in the 11th century.

Glenhead and Buchan woods contain high canopy trees of sessile oak.  Anderson (1967) considered the Glentrool oak remnants to be the least spoilt natural sessile oak in Scotland.   The “Forest of Buchan” appears on Pont’s map of 1654.

The Glenhead (17.3 ha) and Buchan (24.6 ha) woods are situated in a spectacular upland setting on well-drained slopes, major streams pass through all of the woodlands and enter Loch Trool.  The lower slopes of the woods, especially at Glenhead and Caldons, contain mounds of glacial debris, drainage is poor in the hollows.  The woodlands at Caldons (37.5 ha) grow on glacial eskers, the debris from former glacial streams that once flowed under the glaciers that carved out Loch Trool.  Large glacial boulders, erratics, are strewn across the floor of the woodlands.

The sessile oakwood has an NVC of W11 with Birch (Betula pubescens) as a major canopy component, the understorey consists of hazel and rowan with some hawthorn, holly and ash.  Coppicing of the oak commenced in 1820 but had ceased by 1900. Wet woodland with Alder (Alnus glutinosa) is found in undrained hollows.

Locally abundant in ungrazed parts of the woodland.

Cow wheat – locally abundant in
ungrazed parts of the woodland.

In May/June, the common cow wheat (Melampyrum pratense), together with blaeberry (Vaccinium myrtillus), are conspicuous in the ground flora in ungrazed parts of Buchan and Glenhead.  Caldons wood had, until 2004, been heavily grazed by deer and as a result the shrub layer and tree regeneration had been adversely affected.  In wet areas the common dog violet (Viola canina) supports a thriving populations of the small pearl boardered fritillary butterflies.  The woodland gorges contain oceanic bryophytes, many rare.  The woodlands have a breeding bird list of over 40 species, which include wood warbler, redstart and pied flycatcher.   The rivers support dipper, grey wagtail and common sandpiper.   Goosander occasionally breed in Glenhead and Buchan woods.

The woodland walks are regularly used by visitors from the local area, Ayr and Glasgow. The Southern Upland Way (SUW) and Sustrans routes pass through the woodlands. There are car parks at Caldons wood and at Bruce’s Stone. The latter is used as a base for walking to the Merrick and surrounding uplands. The Southern Upland Way route on the southern shore of Loch Trool links Glenhead to Caldons Wood. It follows the Water of Trool, passing   close by the Visitor Centre at Stroan Bridge.

An interpretation board has been designed for Buchan and Glenhead Oakwoods.

There is no access to the deep, open water of Loch Trool from the shorelines of Glenhead, Buchan and Caldons wood.

On-going Management

  • Expansion of the east and west boundaries of Caldons wood by natural regeneration on the former sitka spruce sites.
  • Expansion of the Buchan wood into an open area which currently supports dense bracken (Pteridium aquilinum).
  • Maintenance of fencing to prevent over-grazing from sheep, goats and deer.
  • Establishment of standing and fallen dead wood habitats for saproxylic insects.
  • Placement and monitoring of bird and bat boxes.
  • Planting of broadleaf trees along ravines to create a micro-climate suitable for bryophytes.
  • Expansion of oak woodland into former open grassland at Caldons by direct seed sowing in scarified ground.
  • Restructuring of south slopes of Loch Trool between Caldons and Buchan/Glenhead.
  • Expansion of Glenhead oak woodland to the west of the Gairland burn on dry knoll
  • Expansion of Downy birch (Betula pubescens) and Alder (Alnus glutinosa) on hill slopes to the west of the Gairland burn
  • Establishment of wet woodland along the shores of Loch Trool between Glenhead and Buchan
  • To carry out biological monitoring.