Alexander Mackay, a Businessman with many interests at home and abroad, bought the Estate of Glencruitten near Oban in 1916 after his former home in Broughty Ferry burned down. Although in his sixties, he was a man of huge energy and soon started a programme of forestation over much of the estate which at the time was mostly moorland and rough grass.
Planting trees was a way of bringing the land into useful production, it was also a way of contributing to the replacement of woodlands lost to the nation through the demand for timber during the Great War. Furthermore, it gave employment to local people, many of them ex service men recently returned from the trenches and in need of work.
As the years passed, Mackay noticed that the trees in one valley, a beautiful spot with a view towards Ben Cruachan, failed to flourish. Rather than abandon the area, he decided to redeem it by draining the land and and creating a ‘Cathedral of Trees’.
The year was 1921, a time when many local villages were creating monuments to the fallen. Mackay intended his Cathedral of Trees also to be a memorial to the war, but a living memorial – one which looked towards peace time and the regrowth of hope.
Volunteers working on the paths 2017