Snowdrops on Bamff
Bamff is a small estate in the uplands of North East Perthshire. It has been owned by the Ramsay family since the year 1232 after being given to an ancestor by King Alexander II of Scotland as a reward for saving his life. Paul and Louise Ramsay live here all year round, and their grown up children, Gilbert, Sophie, Adam and George and grandson Adam, come and go. The estate is run with an emphasis on environmental management. The farming, carried out by Andrew Mitchell and his son Peter, is organic – mainly sheep and cattle. There are both native and small commercials woods, with a wetland restoration project with beavers, the first of its kind in the UK. The European beaver, hunted to extinction in the UK in the 16th century is now in the process of being reintroduced to Scotland. “Bamff is a paradise. I love visiting and seeing the wonder in people’s faces who have never visited before. I imagine Scotland as a massive jigsaw where too many pieces are the same therefore the picture cannot be completed. Bamff has changed shape and so now it fits into the puzzle and the beaver is a corner.” Dr Alan Law, lecturer at Glasgow University, who did research on the Bamff beavers for his PhD.
Apart from the interest of the beaver dams and pools Bamff also has its own little hills, Hilton and Balduff. Balduff Hill – the further and higher of the two takes about 1 hour to walk up. On a clear day the views are well worth the walk – a circle of hills with Glenshee to the North, the Sidlaws to the South and the Angus Glens to the East. Or you can take the Cateran trail and walk in either direction for around four to five hours and we can pick you up at the end point and bring you home! (for a small charge).
Management at Bamff over the last 30 years has focused to a large extent on the restoration of a more natural environment, wherever possible – leaving verges and un-farmed areas shaggy and uncut to provide as much habitat as possible for wildlife. Fallen and dead trees have intentionally been left as habitat. Many species of bird and mammal flourish on Bamff – recently dipper have arrived in the beaver pools – an addition to the local fauna. A wildcat was seen this summer. Native woodlands have also been established on both lower ground and native pinewoods on the hill. The Cateran Trail, a six day circular walking route, passes through the estate, going right past the three biggest beaver dams. Every summer a steady stream of visitors comes to watch beavers at Bamff and many students also come to study them. Bamff estate consists of 1300 acres of farmland, woodland, wetland and hill. There are also seven houses on the estate and two flats in the main house let to local families. There is also a holiday cottage wing of the main house where visitors are welcomed throughout the year and now we have refurbished the Gate Lodge as a second letting cottage, and installed two yurts and a hideaway near the beaver pools with a bed!
Several of the people who live here also do some work on the estate. Aileen runs the office and handles the holiday letting. She is also a qualified yoga and meditation teacher. Chris is the handyman and gardener and an excellent naturalist and birder. Peter, a dry stane dyker, also cuts the topiary. Jamie, a plumber, looks after the water filters. Anna his wife helps with the website and their daughter cleans the cottages and yurts. Nick is a musician and music technologist and helps with the sound whenever there is a big party. Dick has managed teams of volunteers to build the hide and yurt platforms and install the yurts. Sophie has helped with the furnishing of the yurts. Chris and Dick all have vegetable gardens in the old kitchen garden. Other Bamff families grow vegetables close to their own houses. At Community Tree Cycle at the edge of Bamff Clive and Dick run courses in wood skills and Alice Warren, a Forest Schools Teacher who used to live in our lower flat, runs a forest holiday play scheme, Wildsparks, in the Bamff woods. Malcolm and Rachel in the top flat specialise in guided walks and showing people how to enjoy the simple pleasures of the countryside: their business is called “All Five Senses”. Bamff House (or castle) and its flats and holiday apartment are heated by a wood-chip district heating scheme and the main house is supplied with electricity by our own wind turbine. Many of the houses have wood burning stoves and some have heating systems supplemented by wood from a back boiler. Through a combination of renewable energy use and carbon sequestration through woodlands and wetlands Bamff estate is contributing to climate change mitigation.