Blackmuir Wood, on the edge of the Highland spa town of Strathpeffer, is home to a magical, if slightly haunting, collection of wooden statues, an eclectic mix of animals and figures ranging from scampering squirrels to the hammer-wielding god Thor.
Hewn from the hefty trunks of Douglas Firs and hidden away in a clearing by a cluster of cabins just a short walk from the Forestry Commission car park, they are an unexpected treat for visitors to this quiet corner of Ross and Cromarty.
While the striking figures of Thor, a woman and child, a man with a child on his shoulders, a workman with hammer and one of the famous Lewis Chessmen, amongst others, are obvious enough, the plethora of animals take a little more finding.
The carvings are the work of the late Allister ‘Ashie’ Brebner, one of the builders of the Secret Howff in the Cairngorms. After 40 years running guided holiday company Highland Safaris with his brother-in-law Derek Hulme, Ashie, an accomplished wildlife photographer and film-maker, developed a talent for wood carving and, from a workshop at the former Strathpeffer railway station, turned out sculptures that found homes across the Highlands. He died in 2018, aged 83.
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