Health and wellbeing

Funding level: Up to £1,000


The Cathedral of Trees is situated within the Glencruitten Woods about 2 miles outside Oban in Argyll. These woods are one of the few local green spaces and are much used by the local community for walking and general recreation.
The Cathedral was created in 1921 by Alexander Mackay, the then owner of Glencruitten estate who was an early pioneer in forestry. He saw his tree planting programme as a way of helping to replace the woodlands that had been lost to the nation through the demand for timber during the First World War. Forestry work and the creation of woodland tracks was also a way of giving employment to local people - many of them soldiers returning from the trenches and in need of work. Hidden in the woodland plantation, Mackay laid out his Cathedral of Trees. Shaped in the traditional cross formation, it is entirely created out of trees, hedges and other plants. It was his memorial to the First World War, a celebration of trees and their importance to all life, a testament to his faith commitment and a place for peace and recreation.
Today the Cathedral is in some disrepair. The drainage system has collapsed over the years, causing the the paths to be eroded by rain water and making them unsafe for visitors with mobility problems. Because of the water logged ground, many of the trees and hedges have died back, some beyond redemption. Yet even in this depleted state, local people continue to visit (about 50 per week) and to find enjoyment in its special atmosphere.

In 2016, The Glencruitten Cathedral of Trees (SCIO) was formed with the aim of restoring this unique cathedral (the only one of its kind in Scotland) and making it available as a resource for learning, volunteering and recreation for the local community. We held an open consultation meeting in April, listened to people's hopes for the Cathedral’s future and now have a group of volunteers and members, all committed to the restoration and development of the site. We are also building links with local organisations and interest groups with a view to partnership working.

THE CATHEDRAL OF TREES RESTORATION PROJECT aims to reinstate the drainage system and upgrade the paths.
This work will involve:-
Clearing away overgrown vegetation at the entrance to the site,
Digging out and directing the water away from the paths and into the drainage channels,
Reducing the gradient at the entrance.
Repairing the paths, digging out stones, weeds etc, laying hard core and resetting the levels
with a smooth crushed grit surface.

Key tasks are to be carried out by a local contractor but with volunteers also involved. 80 tonnes of hard core stone and crushed grit have been donated by a local quarry for this work.

OUTCOMES will include:
More people (especially the elderly and those with mobility problems) able to access the site,
Opportunities for schools and other groups to get involved during and after this project.
A sense of achievement and well being for all involved.
A feel of 'a cared for' space.
An improvement to the ground structure enabling the regeneration and well being of the existing trees and shrubs.
Lower maintenance.
An enhanced experience for anyone walking in the woods
A significant step towards the regeneration of a living sacred space for the health and well being of the community.

Restoration of the drains and paths was identified as a priority by Jane Kelly, Garden Designer and Artist, who visited the site in March 1017 to evaluate and advise on the overall Regeneration Project.

The Glencruitten Cathedral of Trees (SCIO)

Moment of Pride

The Cathedral of Trees is a unique and beautiful place with an interesting history. Once restored it can be a rich resource that contributes to the health and well being of the local community. The commitment of all involved in its regeneration has been amazing. That's what makes me proud!

Location: Oban