I write this with a mixture of heavy heart, sadness and disgust at the act of vandalism I have just witnessed at a breathtaking and unspoilt location on the banks of Loch Doine.  An iconic view has been ruined forever.

before_afterI’m not exactly sure when I first started photographing this tree, but I’ve been coming here since my first year at University which was 1987. My film images have no date but for arguments sake, lets say it’s been 20 years and I’ve photographed it 2 or 3 times a year at most, and some years not at all,  but in all that time I’ve never seen another photographer, and I certainly have never seen another photo of the same view. But there may be other images somewhere, and if you have taken this shot, I’d love to hear from you.

It’s not a well known location for several reasons. The tree is not visible from paths or the road, and for many months of the year the approach is waterlogged, making it difficult to reach on foot. Another aspect is that you have to cross a firing range to get here. There are always red flags flying at the gates and notices say that access is prohibited at these time, so it’s safe to assume this has put many people off going here for many years. But for my part, I’ve had always sought permission from the landowner to go on the land and I’ve pretty much had the view to myself any time I’ve been here. I’ve been very fortunate indeed.

I’ve captured many images of this beautiful view over the years but I’d never shared any of them online. I’ve always been fearful that by sharing my images, the location would be found and it would be ruined like the famous tree on Rannoch Moor. But, I took the plunge two years ago and posted one of my images on the Flickr website. Within hours I was receiving many requests for the location and it worried me so I just kept silent. I didn’t post any more till a few months ago and again I had numerous requests to know the location. Again, I never divulged the location.

As I said above, I’ve never seen anyone here but at the start of the year I started seeing litter around the shoreline. As the months went on, more appeared and then I started seeing the remains of small camp fires and this meant that people had started to come here. And as you can see below, the tree is now gone. It was cut down for firewood by the looks of it and presumably by campers and drunks. The shore is littered with broken bottles, chairs, tables, pots and pans. It’s impossible to say who was responsible but amongst the debris is a broken tripod. Presumably photos were taken and I’m sure the people who did this will post photos online.

I did consider that the tree might have been cut down by the farmer but the saw marks look like it’s been hacked with a small saw.  And why would anyone cut a tree half way up the trunk? It makes no sense.