May 14 2019

East Lothian gathering – such a perfect day

The first Scotland volunteer networking event of 2019 was a great success.  Fifteen volunteers, four members of staff and renowned arboriculturalist Donald Rodger shared the day together in the beautiful village of Garvald, at the Whittingehame Estate and Pressmennan Wood.


After the usual update from me on volunteering and Woodland Trust Scotland news, Sarah Cooley and Naomi Tilley from the Campaigns Team gave an entertaining talk about the Woods Under Threat Detector and Super Campaigner volunteer roles.  We also heard from Anthony Parker, a Woods Under Threat Detector volunteer,  who delivered a very interesting talk about his role.


Next, a pass the parcel game with interesting questions about tree and woodland protection and campaigns was well planned by the Campaigns team and good fun!


Pass the parcel Campaign Team style!


We also all had the pleasure of meeting Adam Cormack, who attended the event and is the new Woodland Trust Head of Campaigns.   It was great for him to meet some Scotland volunteers and he thoroughly enjoyed the day!


After a delicious lunch provided by the local pub, we headed out to the beautiful Whittingehame Estate; we had obtained special permission to see the Whittingehame yew, on a private estate, and not usually accessible to the public.  The Fortinghall yew is the oldest and most famous in Scotland, but the Whittinghame yew is surely the most spectacular!  It’s a cathedral of a tree; to reach its interior you need to walk through tunnels of tumbling branches in this very unusual layering form of the tree.  Inside has a magical quality, and its gravitas and secret atmosphere has long rendered it a meeting place for important meetings, such as the alleged plotting by Mary Queen of Scots to murder Lord Darnley.  Donald Rodger did a wonderful job of telling us about the yew and its ecology and history.



There are other spectacular trees on the estate, such as other layering yews, in front of which the group gathered for a photo.



Donald, who has written the book entitled Heritage Trees of Scotland also showed us a eucalyptus variety that is special to Whittingehame.  It was so great to be able to learn from his extensive knowledge.


Donald Rodger telling us about the Whittingehame eucalyptus.


Last but not least, we headed to our Woodland Trust Pressmennan Wood for a walk around, taking in the beautiful lake and the “Glingbobs and Tootflits” sculpture trail.  Sadly our site manager and also local volunteers had to pull out of the day, so we didn’t get the full immersion in woodland management plans, but it was a lovely walk nevertheless.





Thanks so much to all who came along.  Bookings are still open for our remaining three events including our conference on 28th and 29th September!


Matilda Scharsach

Scotland Volunteering Development Officer





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