May 24 2019

The importance of what we do

by  Maggie McCallum

Glen Finglas Woodland Engagement volunteer


Recently I was struck by the connections among the different activities of WT volunteers when I met some lovely people at Glen Finglas.  The couple I spoke with were considering different areas of woodland available within the beautiful estate for dedication in memory of a loved one.


They had enjoyed their walk in spring sunshine and were happy to chat about their day when they called in at the Lendrick Gateway Centre, which is the visitor centre for this beautiful Woodland Trust estate.  They praised the paths they’d walked, their condition and design, and were happy to have someone to talk to about all this.  The relative they had lost had connections to Scotland, and although all concerned are from south of the border, that connection had led to their choice of Glen Finglas for their woodland dedication.


Staying nearby during the visit, the gentleman had been intrigued by a large tree in the grounds of their hotel.  He expected it to be an oak because of its bark and size and was concerned it was not yet in leaf.  He wondered what kind of tree it actually was.  We talked about the late leaf habits of both oak and ash, especially in these northern climes.  An opportunity for some meteorological folklore:


Oak before ash, we’re in for a splash,

Ash before oak, we’re in for a soak.


Of course, it rains anyway!


We had a look at the Woodland Trust Ancient Tree Inventory website which showed our visitors an easy way to find significant trees on a map, albeit on my tiny phone screen! And, yes, it is a veteran ash tree that stands at the water’s edge in the grounds of the hotel, rejoicing in a girth of 4.5 metres.


Later, I called in at the hotel with my camera.  Using the camera lens (I had no bins with me) I could see the ash buds were starting to burst at last.  Who should be in the car park at that point but the same couple!  I apologised if it looked like stalking, they had piqued my interest and it’s on my way home from the Glen Finglas Gateway.  They were pleased to be chatting and finding out a bit more about trees, and then I left them to enjoy their surroundings.



The veteran  ash tree at the hotel



Early bluebells on that April day


Garlic mustard on the same day


That encounter left me reflecting on the value of being in nature for processing significant life events, the stories behind weather lore and the importance of the different roles volunteers perform – checking paths, locating and recording significant trees, raising awareness of nature’s calendar, and meeting visitors to our woodlands, to name but a few.  It all fits together.



This happened at the very end of April. But every spring is different, and we are so fixated with the weather in these parts that we can spend endless time comparing one spring with another.  Here are some links to follow if you are interested (these will be well known to many of you, of course!)


See the Royal Meteorological Society Weather Club site for a 2012 discussion of the science related to the oak and ash weather lore:


Follow budburst as it took place across the UK (link takes you to ash budburst, this spring 2019):


The Woodland Trust Nature’s Calendar project is a huge database for the study of seasonal nature phenomena, we can all contribute if we like


And the map search for ancient trees:


Enjoy the spring!



1 Comment
  • Matilda Scharsach

    What an interesting and insightful post, Maggie. Thanks for being such a helpful source of info for Gateway visitors, and keeping so up to date with resources that people can use to broaden their connection with nature and to support the work of the Trust. Keep up the good work and hope you don’t get splashed on or soaked too much this spring!!

    May 24, 2019 at 3:21 pm

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