Sithean is situated on a working hill sheep and cattle farm.
The farmland covers many habitats, including heather-covered
hills, rough and wet grasslands and ancient woodlands. We have
Black Faced hill sheep and Luing suckler cows which we manage
as extensively as possible. The Luing cattle are a hardy native
breed which were bred from the Highland and Shorthorn breeds.
They do well on the rough grazing and play a vital role in maintaining
the environment by grazing down rough grasses in the winter, allowing
a wealth of wild flowers (including many species of orchid) to
flourish in the summer, providing a food source for butterflies.
The cattle also help in the natural regeneration process of the
ancient woodlands here.
Luing cow and calf
In 2002 we entered the Rural Stewardship Scheme which is a government
scheme aiming to promote the local biodiversity action plan. We
carefully manage areas of 'open-grazed grassland for birds', 'wet
grassland for waders' and 'species-rich grassland' - these areas
promote the skylark, dunlin, song thrush, linnet, curlew, snipe,
barn owl, oyster catchers, sandpiper, golden plover, reed bunting,
redshank, curlew, swallow, hen harrier, buzzards, kestrels and
the brown hare. Most of these species are seen around the
farm. We no longer have golden eagles nesting on the farm,
but we are often visited by both golden and sea (white-tailed)
eagles. 'Water margins' are managed as part of the RSS to protect
the banks of the burns from livestock and grazing, helping maintain
populations of otter, vole, pipistrelle bat, sparrow hawk and
common frog. In 2011 we fenced off large areas of hill to enhance ground for the black grouse population, it is always such a thrill to see these gorgeous birds. You may also see red or roe deer, red squirrels,
peregrine falcons, ospreys, woodpeckers, newts, lizards and adders.
Buzzard in flight
the North East of the farm is an SSSI (Site of Special Scientific
Interest) - the Glen Nant SSSI - ancient oak woodlands which were
coppiced to make canon balls for the Napoleonic war. Charcoal
circles are still visible in the wooded areas of the farm. The
Nant forest has wild cats, black grouse, badgers, rare lichens
and fungi, and the wood ant, which can make amazing ant hills
up to a metre high. We have excluded livestock from this area
to allow for natural regeneration
of the birch, alder, oak, rowan and ash trees.
We try to minimise the environmental impact of the farming activities
just as we do with the self catering business, and our own lives.
We use the grazing to enhance the natural habitats and wildlife,
and we farm extensively to protect the ground.
is always something wonderful happening nearby: the breathtaking
sight of the pale, ghostlike male hen harrier; the unforgettable
drumming and beating of the snipe seeking a mate; owls calling
from all around at night; stag rutting calls in October; woodpeckers
drilling in the woods next to the house; cuckoos calling in May, and so much more.
In the house there are several wildlife guides and books, and OS maps of the area. We are happy to lend our visitors a set of binoculars, please ask.