> Lauder's Hidden Jewel
Lauder's Hidden Jewel
Lauder's Hidden Jewel
Deep in the heart of Lauderdale lies a hidden jewel. Threepwood Moss is one of Scotland’s last lowland raised bogs. Far from wet scrub land, in summer, Threepwood Moss is a vibrant hue of purples, oranges and greens. The air is full of the scent of bog myrtle while the curlew’s song drifts over the landscape.
This kind of habitat is so rare that it has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and the European Union has declared it a Special Area of Conservation.
Lowland raised bogs formed after the last Ice Age 10,000 years ago, in saucer-like clay depressions left after the ice retreated. Waterlogged and marshy, they were ideal places for sphagnum mosses and other bog plants to grow. As the sphagnum continued to increase, the dead plant material accumulated under the surface until the bog became raised above the surrounding ground level – hence the term “raised bog”. It is the dead plant material beneath which forms peat.
Threepwood Moss is home to many rare and beautiful plants and animals. Among the plant rarities are Small Tussock Sedge, Meadow Orchids, Globeflower, Tea-leaved Willow and Lesser Twayblade Orchids.
Since 1800, the extent of raised bogs in the UK has diminished by a staggering 94% from 95,000 Ha to 6,000 Ha. Most have been lost through drainage for agriculture or by cutting for fuel. Scotland has two thirds of the remaining fragments and some of the best examples in Europe. Threepwood Moss is the only raised bog left in the whole Ettrick & Lauderdale area so it is very precious. However, at one time it too could have been lost.
Drainage ditches had been dug by farmers keen to “improve” their land. The ditches started to dry the bog out, allowing stronger plants like heather and birch to take over from the delicate mosses and other bog species.
The restoration of Threepwood Moss has made real progress. The ditches were dammed to stop the bog drying out, and trees and scrub were removed. This increased the water level, allowing the bog plants and wildlife to thrive again. The work was managed by Scottish Natural Heritage, but continues to be nurtured and conserved by the current landowner who takes enormous pride in the historic relevance and variety of wildlife on the site.
Sitting adjacent to the Moss, lie three interlinking ponds which are fenced off, attracting all sorts of waders including Lapwing, Curlews and Oyster Catchers.
Although there is no public access to the site, you get a good view from the minor road between Blainslie and Threepwood, just outside Lauder. If you do go and see it, reflect on the fact that it remains as it was in the Bronze Age and is perhaps one of the few unchanged landscapes in the South of Scotland, all thanks to the conservation efforts and consideration of the current owner.