West Stormont Woodland Group

West Stormont
Woodland Group

Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) SC051682

Join us today to bring Taymount Wood and Five Mile Wood into community ownership


The things you do in a lockdown. I wouldn’t normally walk from the house to Five Mile Wood, I’d call in on my way to somewhere else, parking the car. It’s not an especially long walk, but since they felled most of the trees on the Bankfoot side, cavernous ditches and hollows have made the entrance to the wood treacherous, wet and debateable, and the track to get there goes on a bit and is not especially interesting. Or so I thought.
West Stormont Woodland Group

I marched out from Bankfoot on one of those dazzling, sun-struck mornings of which we’ve seen so many this April. We crossed the pleasantly deserted A9 and the field to the edges of Cairnleith Moss and turned right along the track to North Barns. The path stretched ahead in a tediously straight line, the wood in the far distance looking nearer than it actually was. At some point, I turned round to let the dog catch up.

It was a VERY straight track. North, it pointed directly at Birnam Gap, the space between the hills where every Great North Road is forced to pass. Ahead of me, beyond Five Mile Wood, the conical East Lomond Hill in Fife lay in a direct line. Suddenly, it fell into place. With these landscape markers aligned, this was the ancient route north – preceding the drovers’ track above my house, which preceded the winding old A9 through Bankfoot village, which went before the current A9. They all run roughly parallel, and all have to go through Birnam Gap. (Later I consulted the maps: this old straight track seems to have continued beyond the wood to meet the Tay at Waulkmill, then probably followed the straight road through Stormontfield, and on to Perth or beyond).

On either side, vast, treeless fields stretched forever, brown, homogenous, dusty and devoid of hedges. In a hollow beside the track were a dozen beehives. I realised the field I’d just passed did contain a crop – oil seed rape, yet to flower. That’s why the bees were there. A farm vehicle traversed the horizon on the other side, trailing an enormous boom sprayer. Dust and chemicals billowed behind it. The smell in my nostrils was like an airport runway. How on earth, I thought, did the bees keep going, while waiting for the rape to flower? There were no wild flowers in this agricultural desert.

Reaching the edge of Five Mile Wood, I crossed the gate into the ravaged landscape of felled trees. The footpath sign directed me, and I could see where I needed to be, straight ahead on the old track, but a new route had to be picked to get there. Others had succeeded; makeshift log bridges across water-filled ditches, meandering paths that skirted the boggy areas. I reached the main path which circles the interior of the wood amid the heady coconut-scent of gorse – and there I found the bees, working the flowers sprung up in the new heathland created by felling. Beautiful birches, freed from forest, leaves just opening against a vivid sky. A border of

dandelions edged the path, dancing golden and perfect in the sun of noon. Goat willows, pioneer trees of clearings, still in flower, had attracted a small swarm of peacock butterflies. In the new landscape of a one-time forest the bees and butterflies and all the creatures of the heath found sanctuary.

Returning home, I thought about how important this chameleon landscape is, set against modern farming. I thought, too, about the old straight track that entered the woods, and how its purpose was muddied by activities that had made it so hard to follow. I thought how approach and access is so important, in any plans we may have for these woods in the future.

There will be a new website dedicated to the consultation, which launches on 22nd February; details can be found at www.weststormontwoodlandgroup.scot , on Facebook, or by emailing contact@weststormontwoodlandgroup.scot

The challenge is to get you, me, all members, all non-members local to the communities around the woods, all of us starting to think these woods might be ours, to contribute to the consultation. Spread the word!



Previous Articles

Community Monthly Update – November 2023

We are really thrilled to let you know that Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) has approved WSWG’s Revised Wildwood Proposal and Business Plan for Taymount Wood. This is the first big goal achieved in our Community Asset Transfer Process to bring Taymount and Five Mile Woods into community ownership!

Read More »

Community Monthly Update – October 2023

A highlight for the WSWG Project this month has been the timely teaming up of a group of employees from Aviva in Perth with some unexpectedly lovely autumn weather for a day of corporate volunteering. On 2 October, five enthusiastic Aviva colleagues spent the day with WSWG in the middle of Taymount Wood on a range of interesting and very useful tasks, quite a contrast to their usual office based working environment.

Read More »

Community Monthly Update – September 2023

Given the distinctly seasonal change in the weather of late, we thought we would bring our Word of the Month up to the top of our September update. Psithurism: (Noun) The sound of wind in the trees and rustling of leaves, from “psithuros”, the Greek word for whispering. Enjoy your woods this autumn!

Read More »

Community Monthly Update – August 2023

This month we really want to share with you a wonderful event we had – the joint woodland picnic on 22 July with Tayside Woodland Partnerships (TWP). We pitched our gazebos in a lovely grassy glade in Taymount Wood and set out a delicious picnic spread courtesy of Alison’s Kitchen in Blairgowrie – quiches, sausage rolls and cakes galore – on portable tables kindly lent to us by Stanley Village Hall. More food and home-baking was brought by the picnickers themselves. Despite weather forecasts to the contrary, it was a beautiful day with not a drop of rain or drizzle. After lots of great chat and good food, we heard a little about each of our organisations’ respective projects and then took a walk up the main track to King’s Myre Loch.

Read More »

Community Monthly Update – July 2023

First up this month is for us to say a big thank you to a lovely group of young people from Ochil Tower School in Auchterarder who had come on a mini-bus trip to visit Taymount Wood on 21 June … and just did a litter-pick whilst they were there!! What a great example of being good citizens – enjoying the environment and taking care of it together.

Read More »

Community Monthly Update – June 2023

We want to start with a big thank you to all WSWG volunteers who helped in the Wildflower and Mining Bee Rescue Mission this spring. Many times more wildflowers have come through along the various stretches of raked verge than would have been the case had they remained swamped by gorse mulch and, as seen in the photo here, mining bees have successfully emerged where the track surfaces were cleared to help them out too. And of course the cleared sections of track make for more comfortable going again for walkers and dogs. Lots more areas still need attention, and we will keep doing what we can when we can, but thank you again to everyone who helped make a difference for nature this spring.

Read More »