The craze for creel trees lighting up Scottish coastal communities this Christmas

The love for the Christmas creel tree is catching.

The creel tree at Tarbert harbour in Argyll and Bute. PIC: David Alexander Elder Photography.

Coastal towns and villages across Scotland are embracing the popularity of the Christmas trees made from towering lobster pots, stacked high and festooned with fairy lights.

Ullapool led the way with the festive tribute to its fishing heritage, with its creel tree first lit up in 2016.

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It now attracts thousands of visitors a year and has inspired other coastal communities to build their own versions, with creel trees now found in Orkney, Tarbert in Argyll and Bute, the Isle of Harris and Applecross in Wester Ross.

Scotland's original creel tree at Ullapool, which was first built in 2016 and now attracts thousands of visitors a year. PIC: Ullapool Fire & Light.

As well as lighting up coastal communities for Christmas, the creel trees are seen as a good sustainable alternative to traditional fir trees. They also withstand high winds and attention from hungry deers.

Mark Carrington, of the Applecross Inn, said: “I have been going to Ullapool for years and I love their tree so I thought we could try and do one here. We have got a creel fishing heritage here so it’s a nice tribute to that. We also get a lot of deer in the garden here, but we don’t have to worry about them trying to eat the creel tree.”

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At Murrays Seafood Restaurant in St Margaret’s Hope, Orkney, owner Gina Brown has been “taken aback” by the positivity surrounding her creel tree, which has been put up for the first time.

The creel tree at Murrays seafood restaurant, St Margaret's Hope, Orkney. PIC: Peter Kitney.

Ms Brown said: “I never expected it to be such a hit. It’s the first year we have done the creel tree and it’s just works for us given we are a seafood restaurant. We have our own boats, three scallop boats and a boat we use for lobster, crab and langoustine so we have plenty of creels.

"We saw the tree in Ullapool, loved it and thought we would do something similar. People have been really supportive, they love it and there have been lots of nice comments.”

In Tarbert in Argyll and Bute, the creel tree stands proud at the harbourside.

Councillor Anne Horn, SNP member for Kintyre and Islands on Argll and Bute Council, said it was the second year the village had put up a creel tree, with firefighters building the festive beacon and locals bringing them hot food and drink while they worked.

Councillor Horn said: “We did have some problems with our old Christmas tree and occasionally we lost a tree in the harbour. When you live in an exposed area, things happen to trees.

"We feel it was really appropriate for Tarbert to have a creel tree. Our firemen put it up and the creels came from a few different companies, who have been very generous in their support. People love it.”

A creel tree can also be found at Leverburgh on the Isle of Harris with creels also placed around the bottom of the new stainless steel tree in Stornoway, which was funded by the Western Isles Lottery.

Janet Paterson, of Western Isles Lottery, said: “We went for the stainless steel tree as it saves chopping down a tree evey year and we put creels around the bottom to reflect our fishing heritage. People thought it looked horrendous at first, they thought it looked like scaffolding but now it’s all lit up, people are happy.”

The new stainless tree in Stornoway also features lobster creels at the base. PIC: Contributed.

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