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

“Exits, Entrances and Crossroads” by Margaret Lear

Is there an artist in the wood? There is, really, only one easy way into and out of Five Mile Wood - at least in October. That's from the south end on the Stanley to New Mill cottages road - currently a bit of a no man's land thanks to the dualling of the A9. Here the track is clear, broad, made for forestry vehicles - and you can even park! At the north end, there is also the old straight track I've written about before, from South Barns and beyond that, with a diversion to Bankfoot. Follow the line of this track and it will take you to Dunkeld, once a mighty ecclesiastical seat. I learned last week that from Dunkeld to the wood it's five miles - hence the name.
West Stormont Woodland Group

I wonder what happened to One, Two, Three and Four Mile Woods?

But once through the gate at the end of the straight track, the going is tricky. At this time of year, wellies are essential, thanks to the legacy of ditches, boggy ground and waterlogging that followed the felling of the trees here. When did it become the norm for forestry practice to leave such a mess? However, with care, agility and thanks to the enterprising actions of previous walkers using felled timber to ford the worst ditches, you can get to the main path that circles the wood.

Deer, birds and other animals have their own paths off into the undergrowth, but for humans, the area where trees were felled before the Commission ceased to work are becoming impenetrable. Gorse crowds thickly on either side of the track, requiring constant maintenance to keep it from meeting in the middle. Self-seeded birch, larch, Scots pine and willow are all growing well, but there are no paths between them in this baby wood. Then there are the trackside deep ditches, another legacy of forest drainage operations, not impossible to cross but very off-putting.

So walkers, joggers and cyclists stick to the circular path and leave the wood by the way they came. Someone on Trip Advisor found the wood disappointing, and the circular track through felled forest boring.

But I wonder. We undervalue landscapes that aren’t “finished” – such as newly planted gardens and self- seeded woods at the start of succession. The prettiest part of Five Mile Wood may be the winding bike- track under mature trees which shoots off from the main path near the south entrance, but the burgeoning growth of pioneer vegetation in the centre – the “gap site” as some call it – is vibrant with hidden life, resounding with the flickering flight of small birds and bubbling with amphibians and aquatic life in the ponds and ditches created for drainage.

Even the nuisance gorse is a rich nectar source for pollinators and home, each bush, to thousands of spiders and other invertebrates. It’s not what we are schooled to believe beautiful, but in terms of ecology and resilience, it is every bit as valid as ancient oak climax woodland. Not all landscapes can be measured in human terms – though the amount of carbon sequestered by rapidly-growing trees and shrubs will be enormous and far greater than that in a carefully-planned, gardenesque setting. And humans need carbon sinks as much as every other life form. People like to have choices, though. Choices about where to enter the wood – entrance points close to all the settlements that lie within walking distance. New tracks to follow, new routes to explore, the chance to come out into the sunshine at a different point from where you went in. Paths that cross, diversions, sidetracks, viewpoints. I don’t think they should be the main focus of the wood, or dominate the richness of undisturbed wildlife in the centre. There must be places that are no-go areas for humans, where nature can get on with it, and prove, as ever, that she will make a better job of it than we can.

And then, let our tracks meet and link wood to wood, as we learn to walk more, and be more in nature and less apart from it. Then we will lose our expectations of park furniture and entertainment, and realise the woods aren’t, in the end, all about us.



Previous Articles

Community Monthly Update – March 2024

It is a disappointing thing to have to do, but a surprisingly rewarding thing to have done. We are talking about picking up someone else’s litter. We all know Taymount Wood car park occasionally suffers from fly tipping, but it is regular littering which is more of a chronic problem, clogging the ditches, being strewn around the verges, blown into the brambles and nettles, overgrown by rank grass, buried in the soil, or crushed by vehicles if not removed regularly.

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Community Monthly Update – February 2024

First up this month, a big thank you to the Community Payback Team from Westbank in Perth who very kindly made an impromptu stop when passing to remove the worst of some fly tipping they spotted in the Taymount Wood car park in January. A heap of black bin-bags full of spent growing medium and general rubbish had been dumped near the entrance gate a few days earlier. They were unable to clear it all up in one go but are going to come back to complete the task for us. Moreover, they have offered to keep a watching eye on the site in future and clear up what they can. That will be such a help.

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Community Monthly Update – January 2024

Unusually, we’re starting this Monthly Update with a “What’s Coming Up Next” item! This message is principally for people in the Stanley and District community but we’d love to suggest all villages in the West Stormont area follow suit with their own aim of becoming a Biodiversity Village.

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Community Monthly Update – December 2023

It’s another year end and this time WSWG member Françoise from Stanley has created an exquisite 2024 calendar of “Wildflowers and Friends” she photographed in Taymount Wood this year to help raise funds for WSWG. Having gone for a print run of 50, these gorgeous calendars are available on a first-come, first-served basis for a donation of £10 (or a bit more if you wish!) with net proceeds going towards the purchase of the woods.

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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!

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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.

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