You may remember that, a little over a year ago, I passed my driving test (woohoo!) This has had a big impact on my life, and particularly on my daily walks with Bruce. Instead of just striking out from my front door, I can now drive a few miles, and explore further on foot. One of my favourite walks over the past year has been the circuit from Milarrochy Bay to Balmaha and back, along the West Highland Way, following the shores of Loch Lomond, starting and ending at this tree. The woodland around Loch Lomond’s south-east shores abounds with wonderful oak trees, which, between the 17th and 19th centuries were managed in a semi-industrial fashion for the production of charcoal and dyestuffs. Sessile and English oaks sit side by side in the woodland, aged by time and weather, their twisted roots and trunks defining the edge of path and shoreline. Being a focal point for the particularly lovely view west across the loch, the spindly specimen at Milarrochy bay is probably one of the most photographed trees in Scotland. I am deeply fond of this tree, and can’t help photographing it too. I love its twisted roots and limbs, its distinctive combination of delicacy and sturdiness, its profound resilience. In all seasons it is utterly beautiful: each time I see it it is different, and yet it is always itself – “still, and still moving” as T.S Eliot put it in East Coker. I’ve taken photos of the tree in all seasons and weathers. All of these photographs were taken with my phone, and I think you can probably tell that I upgraded my old model last February. . . The photograph at the top of this post shows the tree last weekend, and here it is over the course of the preceding year.






April. The first really warm weekend – there was a holiday mood and crowds in shirt-sleeves suddenly appeared lochside.

May 8th

May 21st



August. I have seen this wild-swimming couple out in the Loch several times, and on this beautiful August day, rather wished to join them.


48 thoughts on “a year in the life of the Milarrochy oak

  1. Your tree posts always make me smile as I have taken many a photo of the same tree! Although only when passing by as I don’t live in the area. I worry that it will fall over one day.


  2. Wait…. THE Bonnie Bonnie Banks O Loch Lomond? It’s amazing! That song has been in the “fairytale” category in my mind, unchecked and magical, since childhood. This is great! It’s thrilling to realize it is a real place and real dogs really walk on water there! Thank you so much for the wonderful tree-year.


  3. When you send us a post like this it’s as if for a little while we are standing beside the loch with you. I think trees have many stories to tell. Thank you sweet Kate.


  4. Ahhhh, what an interesting timeline. Nice to see the changes over a year’s time of one particular subject, a tree growing at the edge of a lake. Particularly like the photo with snow on the mountains in the background. Thank you for sharing your special pictures.


  5. I love the idea of making this same photo over and over again through the seasons. Sometimes we just have to stop and see what surrounds us. Thank you for sharing :-)


  6. That is beautiful. How old do you think this oak is? I am amazed it can tolerate having its roots submerged for so much of the year.


  7. I have certain trees which I have loved over the years. Great kid climbing trees and what not. Now that we are on the tundra with less trees—-they are even more special. They are such great friends to have watch over us all!


  8. I remember last year when you were working towards passing your driving test. How nice that you are now able to drive to this beautiful spot and go walking. I’ve enjoyed watching this special tree pop up on Instagram, and it was fun to see the pictures put in chronological order here on your post. I find it quite surprising that the tree can be under water so often and still survive.


  9. Kate, thanks for sharing your photos and meaningful relationship with this beautiful tree. This past April, my sister and I walked part of the West Highland Way, and we made sure to spend part of an afternoon at this very spot. We had it all to ourselves that day, though I was hoping that you might suddenly come along! ;)


  10. Huge congratulations on your driving anniversary,it must feel very liberating to be in charge of your own wheels and to go where and when you want.
    I always love seeing your pictures of this tangled and gnarly old tree…for some reason I always think it’s quite small, but the picture in May (is that Ella Gordon with Bruce) shows the tree looking way bigger than I had expected….how did you stop laughing long enough to shoot that little film of Bruce?


  11. A visual delight! And a tenacious tree! Thank you.
    I am a firm believer in going back to the same spot that is moving and recording it visually again and again and again in different light and season. This reminds me of du Maurier’s heroine in Rebecca sharing with Mr. DeWinter over breakfast a little about her deceased father – a painter who painted the same tree over and over again because he believed if there was a person, place or thing that you liked, you should stick to it. I agree.
    Wish I had the book at hand to quote directly. Great foreshadowing and practice.


  12. That Bruce is so full of joie de vivre that he is not only a source of strength and comfort to you but to all who view that video clip. So glad you have him and he, you. And such a wonderful place to walk


  13. That series of pictures seems to be a fair comment on the level of rainfall locally too. I’m surprised the tree has grown as well as it has if it has its feet in the water for so many months per year.

    Thanks for sharing.


      1. I had to google Loch Lomond because I couldn’t figure out how an oak tree could survive salt water! We have a wee tree on the road to our cabin that for many years was a stump — a wet year caused it to send out branches, and it’s growing again. I haven’t photographed it as extensively, but watch it with attention — our tree friends.


  14. I love this series of photographs! It’s like visual poetry :) I walk I ashdown forest everyday with my dog and kid and it’s so beautiful to observe the forest constantly changing with the seasons.. At this time of the year it can look completely different from one day to the next :) thank you for sharing this with us!


  15. Herregud. Eg vil og gå den turen og ta bilde av det treet!! Så utrolig fint. I allefall klarer godeste Kate å skrive vakkert og interessant om det hun skriver om. Nesten som våre oppgaver på VKA tenker eg….hehe

    Har du vært på Eidsvåg husflidengros? Møyfrid hadde vært der og sa de hadde et bra utvalg av bånd der også. Vet jo ikke helt hennes forhold til det. Ikke sikkert vi har samme mening om ‘bra utvalg’ og ikke :) Men har sjekket åpningstider og de er jo ganske kjipe, mand tirsd torsd og fred til tre, onsdag til seks. Ikke lørdag 🙁 (tenkte det kunne være hyggelig lørsdagsutflukt…)

    Ha en fin dag på jobb! Lyttet til podcast Marthe og Marthe episode 7 i går, om felling og forming. Kan anbefales 😊 Svan

    Sendt fra min iPhone

    > Den 4. nov. 2015 kl. 09.31 skrev Kate Davies Designs : > > >


  16. A beautiful post. I was interested to see how the tree was at times situated on a tiny island as the waves lapped its roots, whilst in other months it stood proudly on the banks of the loch. The colours of the vegetation and the different weather conditions also added to the different views. You are very fortunate to live so close to such stunning scenery, thank you for sharing with us.


  17. When I was a kid my parents had caravan at millarrochy bay, where we spent most weekends. My friends and I walked down to Balmaha regularily. a great area, hiking, boating! Coincidentally at the same time I lived in milngavie, off strathblane road. (In Canada now tho!)


  18. Sounds like you’ve been “Tree Following”! It’s something that Lucy over at looseandleafy used to co-ordinate, but has handed over to squirrelbasket – on a certain date of each month, people go to their chosen tree and observe it, note what’s going on with it (e.g. bud burst, insects nibbling it, fungi errupting from it..)and take photos to share with the rest of us. This oak you’ve photographed is certainly intriguing, what with the waters of the loch lapping around its roots… Thanks for showing it off to us!


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