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Conservation charity scrambles to save Corrieshalloch Gorge 

The National Trust for Scotland is going to extreme lengths to protect one of Scotland’s most spectacular gorges from the effects of invasive plant species – including abseiling and enlisting the help of ‘gorge scramblers’ to root out the problem.  


Work has begun at Corrieshalloch Gorge, one of eight National Nature Reserves (NNRs) managed by the Trust, to remove Rhododendron ponticum and Japanese knotweed, which have spread in the ravine and downstream along the river Broom.  


Conservation workers will abseil into the gorge to identify spots where the species have grown and – depending on the size of the plants – inject, weed-wipe, or spray them with measured doses of herbicide. Japanese knotweed, in particular, has a reputation for being difficult to extract, spreading quickly and surviving for long periods even when dormant.  


Both species are also notorious for reducing biodiversity, causing the loss of local flora and fauna. Rhododendrons block out sunlight and prevent other plants from growing, while Japanese knotweed can loosen river banks with its aggressive root systems.  


The move will protect Corrieshalloch Gorge’s diverse range of native trees – including aspen, hazel, rowan, birch, pine, and wych elm – and its rich assemblage of mosses, lichens and ferns. The gorge is also home to a variety of wildlife which depend on its flora, such as red squirrels, woodland birds, ravens, and golden eagles.   


Rob Dewar, Nature Conservation Advisor (North) at National Trust for Scotland, said: “Both Rhododendron ponticum and Japanese knotweed are a very serious threat to the rich diversity in the gorge. These plants are in a very extreme place to access, but we need to take thorough measures to make sure we identify the areas affected and remove the invasive species.” 


In addition, the Trust is being helped by Scotland’s ‘gorge scrambling’ community; regular visitors to Corrieshalloch. The pastime involves people making their way up or down a mountain river course, jumping into pools, and swimming under waterfalls to experience nature in a different and more personal way.  


In the pursuit of their hobby, gorge scramblers get into areas that might not otherwise be accessed by regular surveys – they could spot colonies affected by the invasive species that no one else would. 


The conservation project at Corrieshalloch Gorge is part of the National Trust for Scotland’s programme to invest almost £60 million over the next five years. It is also an example of the ‘100 Ways’ the National Trust for Scotland is protecting Scotland’s heritage and is among the Trust’s priority projects for 2018-19. 


Rob Dewar added: “The gorge scrambling community is acting as our eyes in the difficult depths and corners of Corrieshalloch – we’re also working with them to develop sustainable adventure tourism at the site. We want to use their knowledge as much as we can to tackle colonies of the invasive plant species that may otherwise be missed – they can make a real difference to the future of the gorge, all while doing what they love.  


“The control of Japanese knotweed and rhododendrons is part of a larger project with other landowners to protect biodiversity on this river catchment. The work at Corrieshalloch is a great example of the extreme lengths to which we will go to protect Scotland’s natural heritage, preserving our history and culture for current and future generations to enjoy.” 



Issued by Frame PR on behalf of the National Trust for Scotland. 


For more information, please contact: 


Peter McFarlane, 0141 559 5840/07412 739 093,    

Rory Weller, 0141 559 5840/07841 720 006,  


Images of Corrieshalloch Gorge can be downloaded at:  


The National Trust for Scotland is the charity that celebrates and protects Scotland’s heritage. It relies on the support of its members and donors to carry out its important work of caring for the natural and built heritage of Scotland for everyone to enjoy. 


Every day, the hundreds of thousands of members, donors, volunteers and staff at the charity help to protect Scotland’s natural and national treasures for us all to enjoy. From coastlines to castles, art to architecture, wildlife to wildernesses, we do what we do… for the love of Scotland. Join us at 


We protect:  

  • 8 National Nature Reserves, 
  • 38 gardens and designed landscapes,  
  • 46 majestic Munros,  
  • 400 islands and islets,  
  • 26 castles and great houses,  
  • 300,000 precious artefacts,  
  • 76,000 hectares of countryside.  


In the next five years, we’re aiming to: 

  • Spend £57 million improving the visitor experience and condition of heritage in our care 
  • Increase annual visitor numbers to more than 5 million 
  • Grow membership to more than 490,000 
  • Increase donations to more than £10 million, and  
  • Create active learning experiences for more than 100,000 people of all ages and backgrounds every year. 


From coastlines to castles, art to architecture, wildlife to wilderness, we encourage people to connect with the things that make Scotland unique while protecting them for future generations. 


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