Jun 03 2021

My Glen Finglas volunteering: the early years!




What a pleasant surprise to find I’d been out and about volunteering in the Woodland Trust Scotland Glen Finglas estate for ten years! I’ve spent lots of days at the site doing conservation work and meeting people and sometimes both – and still do. Compared to many of the Trust’s stalwarts, that ten years is a drop in the ocean – and I’ve not been all that consistent either, what with other activities getting in the way.  But what changes that 10 years have seen on the ground.  More of the right trees in the right place!



Readers will know that Glen Finglas is a large WTS property in the Trossachs area of the Southern Highlands of Scotland. It’s very special for many reasons, and forms a significant part of the Great Trossachs Forest National Nature Reserve.  If the GF estate is a long way from where you are, then you can see wonderful panoramas of the area in different seasons here.



The estate is about a whole landscape, not only its trees. Glen Finglas  “has has been identified as one of the most important and extensive upland wood pasture sites in Scotland…… In addition to its biodiversity value, wood pasture is also of enormous cultural importance.”  (from the Glen Finglas Management Plan  2018-2023, which tells you all you need to know!)



I first came to Glen Finglas as a National Park conservation volunteer, and the Woodland Trust Scotland estate officer at the time suggested becoming involved in people engagement events as well.  There are now several volunteer roles at the GF site, including ‘staffing’ the Visitor Gateway and the GF Woodland Working Group – there is a brilliant variety of volunteering on offer.  It’s hard to beat being in such a wonderful place engaged in something useful and fun.  Much has already been written about the importance of volunteering, its contribution to well-being and sense of community. Conservation volunteering brings the added dimension of nature connectedness.  The pandemic has brought those aspects into sharper relief so it’s always worth restating that volunteering is good for all concerned!



So, some photos of activities from (mostly) my first few GF years now follow!



Volunteers having lunch in the glen

08 April 2011  Volunteers in Glen Finglas with Graeme Auty, who was then NP Ranger in the area.  We were coppicing some hazel well up the glen that day, Graeme remembered.  I think this might have been the first time I’d volunteered at GF. Lunch breaks are always worth recording!



Trailer used to transport happy walkers down the glen for a picnic lunch  Children round an outdoor log fire with marshmallows on sticks

Glen Finglas events:   first, a Picnic Walk  29th May 2011, a  walk up the glen from the byre area with walkers fetched back in the trailer. Some cold squalls came through that day and the shelter was a great spot for enjoying the picnic spread.  This was an early people engagement event for me.  Since then lots more have followed:  school group visits, Easter events, the brilliant Halloween lantern walks, guided walks ……all good fun!  The second image was taken at a Lantern Walk on 27 October 2018, a wonderful event that takes real teamwork among staff and volunteers to create.  After the walk comes the marshmallow toasting! I expect we are all looking forward to events restarting, I certainly am.



24th Feb 2012 and 10th  May 2021: work at the Drippan farmstead remains.  Both days involved the same tasks, clearing birch from the ruins and later removing renegade sitka seedlings elsewhere.  My 2021 phone takes better photos!



  View to the snow capped Arrochar Alps from Loch Katrine

2nd November 2012, a bitterly cold day.   A celebration of the Great Trossachs Forest partnership  among WTS, RSPB and FCS, there was a sail on the steamship Sir Walter Scott on Loch Katrine.  Some well-kent WTS faces here!



Placing a marker post on the hillside Lunch break on the hill

19 April 2013.  Volunteers with NP team and Tabby Lamont, who was WTS GF estate officer/ranger at the time.  We were putting in posts on the path route at Bochastle, and having lunch, of course.


7 November 2014  We were putting in posts for signage on the Druim path, the Brig o’Turk loop  and at the Glen Finglas Gateway. There was some debate about verticality as I took these phone photos!!   The GF Gateway had just opened before the end of the 2014 season, it’s the wood clad building.


30 January 2015   A snowy day spent removing tree guards and also looking for purple hairstreak eggs on the oaks at Milton!



Ribbon being cut to open the Great Trossachs Path

17 April 2015 Photo: WTS.   Glen Finglas Gateway Volunteers doing an important job!  Duncan and John are holding the tape for Mike Cantlay, then chair of Visit Scotland,  at the official opening of the Great Trossachs Path. The GF Gateway building was officially opened that day as well.


20 October 2015   The day the Great Trossachs Forest  National Nature Reserve was officially declared.  GTF photo.  Scottish  Government Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Dr Aileen McLeod, is on WTS Director Carol Evans’ right.   Jim Christie, a tree-mendous (sorry!!) WTS contributor in so many ways, is in this one.


If you got this far, thanks for reading 🙂  And here’s to the next ten years!


Maggie McCallum

WTS volunteer, Glen Finglas



  • Jillian Donnachie

    Lovely to read this Maggie – lots of fond memories. Thanks so much for sharing and of course for your incredible commitment to Glen Finglas. Look forward to seeing you out there some time soon. Jill

    June 3, 2021 at 6:28 pm
  • Gwen Raes

    Lovely photographical story told. Time to add some more recent ones to the library 😉 . You do have a lot to look back to Maggie and I’m so happy and privileged to have you on the volunteering team on the Estate. Thanks for your many contributions and hope to enjoy them for much longer. Gwen

    June 9, 2021 at 2:50 pm

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