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 – 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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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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