Dawyck cycle paths – with Gerry Loose in early September

not a road

not a path

not a track

we pedal trunks

not fallen


with us

for cloud

for sun

for seed


My garden visitor was an elderly forester who had worked for the Forestry Commission in the 1950′s. One of his jobs was the collection of seed from Dawyck’s Douglas Firs. Then, as now, Douglas Fir was a commercial timber tree. Native seed was scarce, and imported seed expensive. Nothing simpler then, to collect seed from Dawycks’s Firs, even sixty years ago, matured specimens. Collect seed, stratify it, germinate and grow into year-old whips for planting out.

It was the method of seed collection, however that was interesting. In order not to damage Dawyck’s fine specimens, which conventional tree climbing spikes would have done, he used a Swiss Tree Bicycle. This bike had horizontal steel band wheels which circled the tree and to which were attached pedals. Each time the foot was lifted – pedalled – he rose a little further up the trunk.

Dressed in ordinary working clothes, with no protective equipment, my visitor cycled up the Douglas Firs, pausing only to trim protruding boughs with his handsaw, pocketed seed and cycled down the way he’d cycled up.

Chainsaws have overtaken the handsaw and cherry pickers the Swiss Tree Bicycle, but it was a fine thing to have this story and this forester’s connection with Dawyck’s vanished recent history.


( I want to have a go on a Swiss Tree Bicycle!  Frances, Project Manager)

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