Each year Earth Day grows more pertinent and urgent. This year, having witnessed the pause and risin...
On the edge of Rannoch Moor in a remote corner of the Scottish Highlands, Corrour is a 57,000-acre estate of carefully managed forests, wetlands, lochs and mountains. Until the 19th Century, Corrour would have been a wilderness that shepherds occasionally wandered through. In many ways, it is unchanged today — there are no public roads for 17 miles, and the train station is one of the most remote in the UK. The varied wildlife found on the estate includes golden eagles, black grouse, wild cats, deer, otters, pine martens and red squirrels (12 were reintroduced in 2018).
Since 1995, Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin have owned and managed Corrour with the hope of restoring habitats. In 2007, the chair of the John Muir Trust helped to establish a 25-year management plan, approved by the Forestry Commission. Since 1998, Corrour has planted 390-acres of native woodlands. In 2017, the team started to restore the Corrour’s peat bogs, and so far, they have cleared 423-acres of commercial conifers. The deer population is being carefully monitored to enhance biodiversity.
Guests can access Corrour’s varied wildlife and landscapes via the Station House restaurant, a seven-bedroom (with additional bunkroom) lodge and 11 holiday cottages. Accessibility is a priority; Corrour hopes to build eco-cabins to provide lower-cost holiday opportunities, and by working with the Ramblers’ Association, footpath networks now welcome over 12,000 walkers every year. The 19th Century buildings have been restored using traditional building methods while improving their energy performance.
Corrour joined The Long Run in 2019 and committed to a holistic balance of the 4Cs – Conservation, Community, Culture and Commerce – as a means to contribute meaningfully to the biodiversity and the people of their local region.
Corrour is a true wilderness with no public roads, and yet the estate works hard to serve the nearest communities. By working with the head of the former Ramblers’ Association, Corrour has improved public access and footpaths and now welcomes over 12,000 walkers each year. There are plans to install eco huts to provide lower-cost adventure and wilderness holidays and, since 2016, The Signal Box has provided people with limited mobility a chance to enjoy the wilderness. The estate’s Biodiversity Action Plan includes the protection of jobs and access. Estate workers and their families are housed in high-quality properties closest to local schools. Schools and colleges are invited to visit the estate – the Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team run training exercises for older pupils. Where possible local companies and suppliers are used, and money is often donated to local causes.
Corrour’s estate buildings have all been restored or rebuilt using traditional methods and local materials. While traditional styles are maintained, modern techniques heighten energy efficiency. Gardens are all naturalistic with no use of pesticides or fertilisers. Part of Corrour’s 25-year vision is to restore the landscape to how it would have looked thousands of years ago.
Besides income from holiday cottages, the Station House, small-scale forestry, and native wild deer (through stalking and venison), Corrour’s financial viability is underpinned by a hydroelectricity business. Using the expertise of two Scottish firms, Corrour has built four hydro-electric ‘run-of-river’ schemes. They provide enough renewable energy to power Corrour and, via the National Grid, 3,500 homes. The schemes are designed to minimise the impact on the landscape. During low river flow, for example during droughts or when the rivers freeze, the hydro automatically shuts down to preserve the natural ecology.
Lapa Rios and Pacuare owners and avid conservationists Luz Caceres and Roberto Fernandez recently p...