Ruth Tittensor

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What's So Special about Peat?

Glen Water, Ayrshire. Photo Ruth Tittensor ©



Welcome to the Reviews Page of Ruth Tittensor, Countryside Management Consultancy, situated in Ayrshire’s historic countryside, close to the boundaries with South Lanarkshire and East Renfrewshire.

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From Peat Bog to Conifer Forest: An Oral History of Whitelee,
its Community and Landscape

British Wildlife      Jonathan Spencer 

This excellent account is a powerful testimony to the landscape, its people and its wildlife and to the resilience of all three in the face of profound change. Obtain this book, and organise a similar oral exploration of the past for your own cherished landscape. As the Whitelee experience has shown, it’s bound to be interesting, bound to be worth the effort and it’s sure to be a revelation.

Amazon     Mark Reed

This is a beautiful book - beautifully written, beautifully spoken (much of it is formed of quotes) and beautifully illustrated with historic and current photographs of the area. Obviously this is a book that will appeal to people who have a specific interest in these kinds of environment, which I am . . . I've always wanted to get the chance to do something similar with people who have lived and worked in uplands. As it turns out, talking about the book with my family, my father-in-law actually did peatland draining in a former job, so he was fascinated to see all the photos of the forestry operations and machinery too! I'm doing environmental research close to Whitelee and this book is essential reading to get my head around the background issues and the people. But this isn't just a work thing - Ruth Tittensor's writing is evocative without over-romanticising things, and the language and dialect of her interviewees is full of humour and metaphor. When coupled with the photos scattered throughout the text, this makes for a rich and rewarding reading experience.

Ecos     Roger Sidaway

Ruth Tittensor has produced a remarkable oral history of the 6000 hectares that were planted with Sitka spruce between 1961 and 1992 on the Whitelee plateau 20m south of Glasgow. . . .  she ably demonstrates the value of listening to the community. This work of scholarship is meticulously researched and beautifully illustrated with photographs taken by both Ruth and her husband Andrew Tittensor . . .

Areas like Whitelee may seem ‘marginal’ to the professionals but not to those with a deep attachment to the land such as farmers, foresters and biologists. Their vivid account of change at Whitelee is complemented by many knowledgeable local specialists, such as the lichenologist, and land managers would do well to tap into their expertise. But what is particularly revealing is the value of indigenous knowledge. Ruth Tittensor makes a compelling case for using oral history and tapping into local knowledge to understand a place in its full sense, instead of relying solely on ‘experts’.

Lallans     David Purves

A braw buik this, an a publisht record o a hantil dedicated wark. The Whitelee Forest Development, cuiverin afforestation o muirland peat, haes involvit plantin around 10 million trees, an important tymelie projek, agin the backgrund o the public debate anent the vailyie o peat bogs in relation ti carbon dioxide emission an climate chynge . . . Whitelee Forest is gey ill ti access bi road, an the area involved canna be descrivit as cuiverin onie parteiklar community, or variant o Scots . . . Verbatim accounts o the dangers o stravaigin in the peat bogs ir gien, and thir confirm that here we ir daelin wi onie parteiklar local dialeck o Scots leid.

Scottish Forestry     Scott McG Wilson

This is an interesting and very attractively illustrated book, reporting the outcomes of oral history research into the creation and management of the Whitelee Forest in south-west Scotland. The study utilised the semi-structured interview techniques frequently adopted within Participatory Rural Appraisal and other modes of rural enquiry of similar kind over the past two decades, both at home and overseas. The reporting style remains very faithful to that philosophy, letting transcribed contributor responses speak for themselves within a framework of secondary interpretation and commentary by the author.

BRISC Recorder News No 75      Tom Huxley

For readers old and young Ruth Tittensor has done a magnificent service in putting on record an important story about changing Scotland and about a huge cast of players. The background essays on, for example, peat formation, hill farming, forest workers’ holdings and management staff are masterful summaries of complicated subjects. The numerous colour photographs and their captions are top-notch; and the maps and layout all excellent. The publisher also deserves warm congratulations for his several contributions, not least his seminal decision to publish this story of a forgotten bit of dour countryside.


Alexander Fleming,
Darvel and Antibiotics

Journal of Biological Education    David Slingsby

The booklet is well presented and easy to read yet it is scholarly and packed with interesting information.

It would form a useful resource for Years 8-11(GCSE/Standard Grade), would also be useful background for general studies and the development of medicine, as careers information, in Continuing Education and for the discerning tourist who visits Darvel in the footsteps of the great man.