Could 2014 be your year to become a Tree Trailer? A new project is encouraging people to visit a host of fabulous tree collections in Scotland
Have you ever hugged a tree? Go on, try it if you havenâ€™t. It might seem like an odd thing to do but hugging a tree, especially a big fat trunk, is sure to bring a smile to your face.
Earlier this month, 931 people grinned as they all hugged a tree. They did so at noon on 1 December and held the hug for a full one minute.
The huggers were taking part in a Tree Hugging World Record attempt at 11 National Tree Collections of Scotland sites.
The Scottish bid has broken the last world tree hugging record (set in England by 720 huggers) and is now being sent to Guinness World Records in the hope that it might be verified.
Tree Trail Scotland gets under way
The Scottish Tree Hug was also the launchpad for a project called Tree Trail Scotland.Â The aim of the Tree Trail is to encourage more people to visit all 15 National Tree Collections of Scotland sites.
At each site, Tree Trailers can have a special passport stamped with a unique stamp. When they have â€œcollectedâ€ all 15 stamps, they will be entered into a NTCS Tree Trail Hall of Fame.
Tom Christian, project officer at NTCS, is excited to see the Tree Trail Scotland project get under way.Â He said: â€œIt is clear by the number of people who turned out at the World Tree Hugging Record attempt that so many Scots are interested in trees.
â€œBut there are still so many people who do not realise the wealth of fabulous historic woodlands and specimen trees in Scotland.
â€œWe hope that the Tree Trail Scotland initiative will encourage more visitors to our sites to discover more about Scotlandâ€™s acclaimed trees heritage.â€
Scotlandâ€™s great trees heritage
It was in the 17thÂ and 18th centuries that Scotlandâ€™s adventurers and botanists set off to explore the world. Many brought back specimens and seeds of plants and trees and it is these non-native trees that we are able to celebrate today in Scotland, hundreds of years later.
Tom said: â€œDuring this period there was an unprecedented level of tree planting in Scotland and the wider UK and this is part of the heritage that we have today.
â€œThe landscapes that were created back then â€“ and the vision that these planters had â€“ can still be seen in the 21st century.Â I think that many of us take these landscapes and scenes for granted but when you visit some of the NCTS sites you can learn a lot about our tree history and heritage.â€
Like bagging Munros
The new Tree Trails project is sure to capture the imaginations of Scots and visitors to Scotland.
Robert Cubey and his family are Tree Trailers. So far, Robert, his wife Suzanne and kids Ross, 12, and James, 10, have visited the botanic gardens in Edinburgh and Dawyck.
Robert, of Edinburgh, said: â€œRoss and James like the idea of collecting things and so the Tree Trails list gives our family a focus for a day out.
â€œWe also like walking and being outdoors as a family. I can see the Tree Trails Passport appealing to lots of families like us.â€
Start this winter
Here are the highlights of eight of the Tree Trails collections. These are open this winter.
1) Scone Palace, Perth
Scots botanist David Douglas planted many trees here including a magnificent Douglas fir that’s still there. You can also visit the amazing Pinetum with its towering North American conifers.
2) Crarae Garden, Inveraray, Argyll
The magical woodland garden overlooks Loch Fyne. Tree species include those from the Himalayas and magnificent southern hemisphere beech trees.
3) Drumlanrig Castle, Thornhill, Dumfries & Galloway
The grounds of the castle contain some of the oldest plantings of specimen trees in southern Scotland and some of Scottish botanist David Douglasâ€™s original introductions, including a superb Douglas fir.
4) Glasgow Botanic Gardens, Great Western Road, Glasgow
The gardens were founded by Thomas Hopkirk, a distinguished GlasgowÂ botanist, in 1817. Today there are walks through Â woodland copses and exotic tropical oases. In 2014, a new project, The Tree Hub, will offer details about the importance of trees to the past, present and future of Scotland.
5) Loch Ossian, Corrour Estate, by Fort William
The only ways to reach the Corrour Estate and Loch Ossian are on foot and by train. There is no public road in, so youâ€™ll need a sense of adventure to visit the woodland around Loch Ossian, which was planted by Sir John Stirling-Maxwell, one of the founders of the Forestry Commission. Between the 1890s and 1930s, more than 70 tree species were planted here and the remote location only adds to the wonders of the place.
6) Kilmun Arboretum & Puckâ€™s Glen, Argyll Forest Park
From colourful maples to rare conifers and Australian eucalypts, Kilmun is the place for a walk around the world of tree species. Can you spot the 162 different species?
7) Lang Craigs, near Dumbarton
Lang Craigs is the place to see one of 13 Commonwealth Woods, chosen to commemorate the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
8) Camperdown Park, Coupar Angus Road, Dundee
Nineteenth century landowner Lord Robert Duncan planted many of theÂ 190 species of trees in this mature woodland.
Follow Tree Trail Scotland on Facebook or Twitter. See the website at www.treetrailscotland.com