Alladale – A highland estate
I began my research for Tiggy’s story in the Highlands of Scotland, where we’ve been told Tiggy is working at a deer sanctuary. I have always loved Scotland, and I jumped at the chance to stay at the Alladale Wilderness Reserve, which is the inspiration for the Kinnaird Estate.
With red deer stags on a frosty February day at Alladale.
Alladale is 23,000 acres of glens, rivers, lochs, mountains and forest. As Charlie Kinnaird explains to Tiggy in the book, many estates in Scotland fell into ruin through mismanagement of land, excessive logging, and the extinction of large predators. I had the privilege of learning from the rangers at Alladale how they were tackling what is a huge conservation project. Alladale’s aim is to restore the land to its former glory by replanting the forests and reintroducing wildlife.
Like Tiggy in ‘The Moon Sister’, I fell in love with the grandeur and vastness of the landscape. It is simply wild, a precious ecosystem that is fighting for survival.
One of Alladale’s conservation projects is the reintroduction of the Scottish Wildcat, which has become almost extinct in the UK due to persecution by farmers and cross-breeding with domestic cats. At Alladale I had a chance to see these cats up close, and like Tiggy, the rangers work hard to get them to breed and therefore ensure their future.
A grumpy wildcat in its enclosure.
As well as wildcats, Alladale is also host to Highland cattle, wild boar, red squirrels, red deer, golden eagles, and European elk. You can find out more about the Alladale Reserve here: https://alladale.com/