Hey! You with the Loppers!
Hello, my name is Nic Bullivant and starting at 10.00 a.m. next Wednesday October 11th I’m inviting you to the first in a new programme of Kirkton Woods Volunteer Days – actually half days to begin with – which we plan to run a couple of times a month over the winter, spring and autumn months until Christmas 2018. And we’d like you to come along, lend a hand and Enjoy Yourself! Even if you can’t manage that date, look out for others, and they won’t all be on Wednesdays, either.
What will we be doing?
Well, just to get warmed up we’ll be clearing up some more of the old dead branches from around the ruins of the old Kirkton settlement within the woods and its new footpath – so that they can be better appreciated by visitors, better accessed by local school children who are doing project work there as well as creating a nice picnic table/reception area at the threshold for a Grand Opening in Spring next year.
Branches & felling debris on Kirkton blackhouse ruin
Over the weeks and months to come we’d like to:-
- clear encroaching gorse from the Cnoc an Staing public footpath up through the crofts to the Viewpoint;
- provide something a little more stylish and welcoming at the Viewpoint than the present ‘plank’ seat; (see picture)
- install new timber signs and plaques incorporating artwork that the primary school children are producing to explain the heritage and wildlife interest in the woods;
- prepare an area of cleared ground for a Public Tree Planting Event planned for late February 2018 that will involve the school and anyone (i.e. everyone) from the area;
- improve access, drainage and way-marking along the old drove route through the forest;
- develop a new entrance for woodland visitors/walkers from Kirkton Gardens
oh, and finally – the Big One!…
- help build a new timber forest classroom/wet weather refuge at the Timber Stackyard.
Artist’s Impression of new Forest Classroom
Do I need to have a background in woodwork, landscaping or forestry to get involved?
Absolutely not. This for anyone who can simply spare a few hours once or twice a month and who just wants to get out for a bit and do a Good Turn. If you can push a wheelbarrow, or use a pair of loppers/secateurs – or even just bring along some biscuits and help make the half-time hot drinks – then you will be Most Welcome. We hope to ensure there’s always a range of tasks to choose from to suit all levels of strength and ability and to make everyone feel involved, busy and part of the team.
Will it be cold, wet, hard work?
Well, it’s only going to work if it’s fun, and we can’t guarantee fine weather every time, that’s for sure. Yes you will need to dress warmly with sturdy footwear and bring waterproofs in case it rains (see What to Bring below). We have a Bad Weather Refuge which will allow us all to get out of the wind and wet whenever needed. The whole session will last a maximum of three hours but there will be an obligatory half-time break for a warm drink, rest and get to know who else is as mad (keen) as you to turn up in the first place!
Why is it on a Wednesday morning?
No reason really. We had to choose some day of the week to get the Programme started and – if you get in touch and/or turn up we can talk about another Regular Day (or even time of day) that best suits you. So do get in touch if you’d really like to get involved but just find the current timing impossible or impractical. We want to capture as much local enthusiasm (and energy!) as possible.
OK – how do I get involved?
It would be really great if you contacted me beforehand just so I know how many chairs, biscuits and hand tools I need to provide. But you don’t have to. You can just turn up on the day and you would be just as welcome. You can drop me an email at email@example.com. Alternatively you could ring The Smithy on 01520 722232 and leave your details (or any queries) on the answer machine there so that I can register your interest or get back to you if required. Thank You.
What to bring?
As mentioned earlier, you should dress for The Outdoors: warm, hard-wearing clothes and boots/wellies that you might use to do gardening (say) or hill-walking. Definitely bring waterproofs and a warm hat. At the moment we don’t have many Volunteer Tools and are therefore hoping that those people who have them might bring some of their own along at least at first. The first task is some branch and woody debris clearance work so any loppers, secateurs, pruning or bow saws would be the most appropriate tools. Obviously some robust gardening gloves are best if working with cutting tools like this. If you have a garden fork or spade then they might be useful as we pick over the ground to make it suitable for future grass seeding and picnic tables. If you have no tools or simply are unable to bring any along then that’s OK. We will have a small array of tools that you can use. Don’t forget to bring some personal refreshment for the half time break (a mug, flask of tea/soup and some food to keep you going). There will be a ‘Kelly kettle’ going so there should be hot/boiling water available on the day so even just a mug and a sachet of powdered soup, hot chocolate or the like would be sufficient with your snack food.
Where to meet?
The meeting point is the Kirkton Woods stackyard: if you drive/walk up the new forest haul road (located halfway between the school and the old kirk) you will reach the timber stackyard where we stockpile all our logs and firewood. There is a large blue metal lorry container there on the right hand side which is where we’ll meet up, drop off bags, food, tools, spare clothes etc and discuss the plans for the morning. The area where we will be working is then just next to the stackyard so no distance at all to walk to and from the shelter to the work area.
And (again) what exactly is the point?
Where to start!…
- You’ll be contributing to and improving your own ‘backyard’: planting trees, enhancing new ponds, developing new walks and rest areas, building new structures and social spaces in the woods that will ultimately make Lochcarron an even better place to live and recreate.
- The fresh air and gentle exercise should be good for you.
- You may meet new (like-minded and different) people from your community that you never even knew existed.
- You’ll probably develop skills, knowledge (and confidence?) you never even knew you were capable of.
Remember Kirkton Woods has only been in community ownership a little over 2 years. But it is now Ours and Forever. And you can help shape its brighter, more environmentally friendly and more accessible future.
See you at 10 on Wednesday then!
PS look at all these people who think this is a good idea and have put money into it. Thanks, folks! N.