On November, 1939, the Newfoundland Commissioner for Natural Resources made an important radio announcement.

He called upon Newfoundland lumberjacks to volunteer to go to Britain, where they were desperately needed to cut down trees for the war effort. In response, the Newfoundland Overseas Forestry Unit (NOFU) was formed.

Dalmochie Camp was one of thirty-five NOFU forestry camps set up across the Scottish Highlands. The camp was built on the slopes of Craig Coilleach, across the River Dee from Ballater.

The first job for the Newfoundlanders on arriving in Scotland was to build the camp. They built log cabins, including bunkhouses, a cookhouse, a recreation hut, an office and a tool shed. The cabins were draught proofed using moss gathered from the forest, which was stuffed tightly between the logs.

On entering Pannanich Wood, now fully restored with trees, it is difficult to believe that these slopes were once cleared of trees in service to the war, but only a short way along the track into the forest you can discover the remaining traces of the lumberjacks' camp.

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The Newfoundlanders

On a coal delivery run one Saturday morning, local resident Ian Cameron had his first glimpse of the Newfies Camp.

Only a child at the time, he was sitting in the cab, between the driver and the deliveryman, when the truck was brought to a sudden halt.  A crawler tractor blocked the road in front. Ian had never seen such a machine.

"The roadside was covered by stacks of logs dragged from the hill above and, to my amazement, and clear memory, the crawler tractor proceeded to turn at right angles and then climb vertically over the log pile, clearing our road," Ian Cameron (2008) in Plant & Roots; a social history of Ballater.

The crawler tractor was an example of new equipment brought by the Newfoundlanders that made cutting the trees easier.

The Newfoundlanders felled the trees on the hill and loaded them onto carts. They were taken to Ballater train station to be transported on to their final destinations.

A wet November and December turned the roads to mud and work became dangerous. The Newfoundlanders, however, continued to cut trees to the confusion of visiting wood merchants.

"When it comes the snow will make the road," the lumberjacks confidently said W.Passingham (1941) in Illustrated News.

The Newfoundlanders were used to working in heavy snow back home and relied on it to be able to use sledges to pull the wood down from the hill.

Visiting Dalmochie Camp

The exact location of Dalmochie Camp is grid reference NO 380 960.

Start from Ballater. It is located east of Aberdeen and north of Perth on the A93.

The Lumberjack Trail is a delightful short walk of just over a mile (2km) and appropriately starts at the old Royal Station in Ballater. The walk then leads down Bridge Street, the main road through Ballater, and crosses the Royal Bridge over the delightful River Dee. The trail enters Pannanich Wood. A little further on are the remains of the loggers' camp.

For those who want a shorter walk, there is a small car park at the wood. Drive over the granite bridge from Ballater, turn left and you will see an entrance into the wood on your right. You can park there.

All sites managed by Forestry Commission Scotland are open for you to explore. However, not all sites have paths or signage and some are a considerable distance from car parking. We recommend that visitors consult a detailed map and wear appropriate clothing.

Please follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code and remember that historic sites should be treated with care and respect.

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