In summer 2009, Borders Forest Trust took ownership of 1580 acres (640 hectares) of land at Corehead in order to protect and enhance the landscape and restore the natural habitats and wildlife that once flourished there. This followed an eighteen month fundraising campaign which saw a tremendous response, raising the £700,000 required to buy Corehead. This would not have been possible without the generosity of the many individuals who donated to the appeal and BFT is very grateful to everyone who contributed to the campaign.
The hills and valleys of Corehead were once covered in the native woodland and wild habitats of the Ettrick Forest. Due to centuries of intensive grazing the land is now bare and only small pockets of heather moorland and native woodland remain. The Trust plans to return these lost habitats to the land of Corehead and restore a core area of the wild Ettrick Forest to the south of Scotland.
The Devil's Beef Tub is one of the most iconic landmarks in the south of Scotland. It is a cavernous hollow in the hills where the notorious Border Reivers once hid their stolen cattle. The Devil's Beef Tub forms part of Corehead, a stunning area of the land in the heart of the Southern Upland hills of Scotland which also includes Hart Fell, the one of the highest hills in Dumfriesshire.
Corehead has great cultural and historical significance. It is most famous for its association with William Wallace, whose sister married the laird of Corehead Tower, Sir Thomas Halliday. Wallace is reputed to have gathered men from the Ettrick Forest and the Border clans at Corehead and from the Tower led his first attack against the English in 1297. The Border clans of the Ettrick Forest and Corehead area include Armstrong, Douglas, Kerr, Johnstone, Oliver, Moffat and Graham.
BFT is currently working on a detailed management plan for Corehead. We plan to restore native woodlands in appropriate areas, montane scrub on the high tops, and heather moorland and wetland wherever possible. We envisage species rich hay meadows and wet meadows within a matrix of native hedgerows on the lower lying ground and wood pasture parkland on the shoulders of the many hill slopes that lie across the site. We intend to encourage wildlife and habitats to flourish.
Corehead's blackface sheep flock are now restricted to the Beef Tub and the Skirtle and separated from the rest of the hill ground by a new stock fence. Although sheep numbers are reduced, we will keep a breeding flock of 350 ewes. The project is in its early stages, but there have been encouraging signs of wildlife. Species such as peregrine, barn owl, hen harrier and black grouse have all been seen this year. Decreasing livestock grazing on a large part of Corehead will allow the vegetation to recover, which in turn will create habitat for wildlife.
BFT has secured a grant of £200,000 for conservation management from the Tubney Charitable Trust and have also obtained funding from the Scottish Government's Rural Priorities scheme towards the costs of tree planting and access. 130,000 trees will go into the ground in autumn/winter 2010/11, forming our first native woodland planting scheme. Bringing Corehead into conservation management is a vital part of Trust's wider vision of restoring the Ettrick Forest.
To view the Devil's Beef Tub Guardian leaflet, containing further background information about the project and details of how to donate, please click here.
Corehead Latest News
Borders Forest Trust is going to join RAT - River Annan Trust, a newly formed body aimed at developing and maintaining the river ecosystems from source to sea. The RAT will be taking forward several projects, including developing a riparian ( wooded) strip along the banks of the river from Spout Craig (the source of the Annan) on Corehead to Moffat. The Borders Forest Trust will be supporting the Trust and working with them with such initiatives. This is an exciting development in the area and will increase the biodiversity of the current landscape.