The picture at the head of this post was taken in the 1920s and was found in an album of photographs which were found in a skip! (A skip!) Thankfully, a passer-by fished it out and brought it to the photographic department to be lovingly copied and catalogued.
In 1952, the Orcadian dated 17th January tells us that hundreds of Binscarth trees were uprooted by the fierce storm of that year and the final number has been suggested to be 2,000. The next week's edition showed some of the damage:
The woods have been added to since by great, great grandson of Robert Scarth, Major Malcolm Macrae, who planted 2,500 trees in 1990 and a further 'shelter belt' in 1995. Tree varieties include sycamore, Swedish whitebeam, Sitka spruce, mountain ash (rowan) and larch.
The woodlands are no longer just for the use of the owners and are frequented by walkers, naturalists and school groups who greatly enjoy exploring the now well-established trees.
'Immediately a new world of green gloom received us, different to anything else in the islands. We were moving now through an intimate sylvan world, and the sense of space and light felt elsewhere in Orkney, was lost. But this new green world was not hostile. Rather the contrary. The brutality of nature, the vast forces of energy and ruthlessness which can be felt even on a peaceful afternoon at the top of a sea crag, were in this woodland muted and softened to a delicate gentle beauty. It was a world of silence and soft whisperings. The same kind of sacred gloom pervades the interior of St Magnus Cathedral'
Binscarth Wood by George Mackay Brown - Taken from Northern Lights, A Poet's Sources
Information taken from:
Orkney's Growing Green by Alan Hodge, Living Orkney #9
Orkney Archive Reference D70/2/3 The History of Tree Plantations in Firth, Marie Sinclair
Orkney Archive Reference D70/7/16 A Brief History of Orkney’s Trees. Alex Pendry.