Making woodlands in the rain at Glen Finglas!
Twenty three hardy volunteers made it through stormy weather to Glen Finglas on 3rd November for our last volunteer gathering in Scotland this year.
The theme was Woodland Creation, and two of the delegates have kindly written descriptions of the day for us, so without further ado, here they are!:
Firstly, from Benedict Bate, Volunteer Speaker:
On Friday I watched the weather forecast for Saturday’s volunteer day with interest as rain and strong winds were promised. Overnight I dreamt that the day had been cancelled due to floods preventing access. However there was no such email on Saturday morning and when we arrived at the village hall in Brig o Turk we were warmly greeted, with tea and cake, by Jill Donnachie, who seems to know all the volunteers.
Following the introductions Jill in her normal, positive, knowledgeable and enthusiastic manner gave an overview of current Woodland Trust projects in Scotland. I was particularly interested to hear of progress in the Loch Arkaig property.
Iain Moss gave us a detailed account of the technicalities of the work he does for the Trust, and indeed Scotland, in his role as a Woodland Creation Outreach Manager. Following this we moved to the visitor gateway, where incidentally there is wifi, so I was able to text my wife to tell her I had arrived safely. Here Hamish Thomson, Glen Finglas Estate Manager gave an interesting overview of the state of progress on the Estate aided by the photos and maps on the walls of the centre.
After a splendid lunch at Venacher Lochside we were engaged in a tree planning and planting exercise in some land on the estate which is no longer needed for the cattle. Iain outlined the task, clip boards, spades, tree guards and trees were produced and we set to work in teams of five to plan and plant. Rain was on and off all day and when it really set in at about 3.45pm a halt was called. By then however most of the trees had been planted and we repaired to a dry shed where Jill thanks all involved and wished us all a safe drive home through the wind and rain.
…and here are some photos just to show how tough they all were, planting in the howling gale and driving rain!
…and now from Maggie McCallum, Glen Finglas Gateway Volunteer:
In spite of a very dodgy weather forecast, a large group of WTS volunteers and staff gathered once again, this time at the amazing Glen Finglas estate in the Trossachs. The estate is a really big property – nearly 5000 hectares – covering a range of wonderful upland landscapes and habitats. See https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/visiting-woods/wood-information/glen-finglas/.
In the morning, the group enjoyed talks about the estate and the experience of volunteering as a woodland creation champion, the latter from Keith (who was brilliant!). Keith’s insights were fascinating, as he began the process of demystification of the woodland creation process for anyone who had not previously considered it (OK, speaking for myself here!!). There was a slight change to the programme, we didn’t take a walk through lovely Little Druim wood with GF Estate Manager Hamish and Estate Ranger Gwen but instead they helped us find out about the Visitor Gateway, a facility which has been open for three full seasons now. This was a warmer and drier option, since it was raining pretty seriously!
Lunch was a delicious buffet in the function space of the Loch Venachar Lochside Cafe just along the road. So, suitably fortified and pleased with the drier afternoon weather, we set off up the glen to do some actual woodland creation, under the tutelage of WT’s Iain Moss. Iain had devised a fun practical exercise for us, so we divided into small groups to set about the task of planning a woodland (with maps still dry on our clipboards). I really enjoyed this and Iain provided such a good briefing that we felt ready to give it a go. But the gathering got better still when many little trees appeared from a bag and we set about planting them, woodland creation for real. By this time, some maps were on the way towards paper mâché! Yes, the rain had come on again…. The setting was wonderful, a short distance up the glen with views of some of the most interesting landscapes on the Estate. A really interesting and enjoyable day, thanks to all who organised and contributed.
Thanks both for those wonderful stories from the day!
Scotland Volunteering Development Officer