Lovely Guest Blog from volunteer Griogair MacAllein.


The beautiful Autumnal seascape looking over the Minch from Eisg Brachaidh on the Auchiltibue road was the ideal location for a morning of ‘fruitful’ gathering of ‘DOG ROSE’ hips {Rosa canina}.   The seed will be ‘treated’ at the ‘Little Assynt Tree Nursery’ for planting next year.

Watched on by basking Common Seals on the islands, a group of volunteers from the Coigach & Assynt Living Landscape Project and the Tree Nursery, armed with bags and buckets set about collecting the familiar red fruit perhaps best known for the bottles of ‘Rose Hip Syrup’ once familiar in family bathroom cabinets.

Basking Common Seals © Griogair MacAllein

For those of a certain age {myself included} lining up in primary school to be given a daily spoonful of ‘Rose Hip Syrup’ which contains Vitamin ‘C’ as a replacement for the lack of citrus fruit after the second world war. ‘Scurvy Grass’ was an unpleasant alternative.

Children in the 50s and 60s were also sent out from classes to collect the ‘Dog Rose’ hips, and in the former decade, earned 3d per pound!


Per chance, there came by on her bicycle the ‘Tolkien Lady’ {as I call her} politely saying we reminded her of the ‘Ent’ – ‘Tree Shepherds’ from J.R. Tolkien’s ‘Lord of the Rings’.

Intrigued, I delved into Tolkien and discovered the ‘Ent’ were conceived from the thoughts of ‘Yavanna’, ‘Queen of the Earth’ and ‘Giver of fruits’ in the “Ages of the Lamps’.

The ‘Ents’ tended the’ Great Forests of Arda’ as ‘Shepherds’ and ‘Guardians’ – as I see it, apt for this occasion and throughout the seasons of growing, nurturing, planting and tending the local woodlands largely by volunteers from the Culag Community Woodland Trust and the ‘Little Assynt Tree Nursery’ amongst many others throughout Assynt.

Griogair collecting rose hips © Vickii Campen / Scottish Wildlife Trust

However, I also came across more palatable alternatives for the ’Dog Rose’ syrup recipe – poured over pancakes, panna cotta, sponge cakes and ice cream is apparently an added treat.

Also, replacing tomato juice in the vodka of a ‘Bloody Mary’ with ‘Rose Hip Syrup’ creates a ‘Bloody Rose’!

So, while the November month is still young tarry not and venture out in suitable clothing to guard against the prickly, protective branches of the ‘Dog Rose’ and gardening gloves and seek out said bushes.   Remember to leave some for the birds though!

P.S.   Thank you ‘Tolkien Lady’ for sharing the ‘Ents’ and if you read this please get in touch.




Coigach & Assynt Living Landscape

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