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

To Taymount Woods, the Long Way Round

We met up at the Taymount Wood car park, Linda and I, put on our boots and turned away, not into the gate. This was to be the long road to the woods, a circular walk via the disused railway line which once ran as a ponderous branch from Stanley across the River Tay to Coupar Angus.
West Stormont Woodland Group

The embankment is reached from the Taymount Mains farm track, and you then head towards Kinclaven and Ballathie, across open country, under disused bridges and past a little railwaymen’s shed made of sleepers with a brick chimney still in place. Although today’s challenge for us was to find and walk the narrow path through the northern finger of the wood, the line itself offered a few challenges – a chilly wind and stretches of water where the rains of March hadn’t percolated the poorly-drained soil.

You turn north-west away from the line before you get to the grounds of Ballathie Hotel, crossing the road and continuing north up a rough track beside the Old Smiddy. The track goes past several houses and in the past, we’d stuck to it, until it vanished at a farmhouse. Then we’d scrambled witlessly through fields and fences and bits of scrub till we arrived, somehow, on a track in Taymount Wood. This time, we were determined to find the “proper” path. So, we left the comfy track when it turned the bend and continued up to the edge of the wood. People had been this way, but not many, and it wasn’t clear how far in we should go before we turned left. Google satellite was remarkably unhelpful.

Jed alone knows the way…..

Dogs have many uses. Everyone thinks of companionship, protection and exercise machine, but an intelligent dog is a wonder at Finding the Path. While we stood wondering and wafting around, Jed set off into the unruly herbage with a look of collie dog purpose, nose to the ground. Sure enough, when we followed, there were the vestiges of a footpath. It doesn’t take many human footprints – and barely one canine print – to inform Jed this is The Way to Go. We continued, scrambling after him, and he didn’t lead us into any blind alleys. At times, we were on the point of losing faith, but then the path would reappear, on the other side of a boggy stretch or a tangle of bramble and brushwood.

Barriers to progression

Windthrow had put up many of the barriers that challenged us. I discovered I’m at an age where I’m a bit stiff for limbo-dancing under fallen trees, and my sense of balance (never my strong point) for climbing over them was precarious to say the least. There were points when we even doubted the dog, but then to our great surprise we encountered someone going the other way – an ecologist doing a survey of small mammals for West Stormont Woodland Group no less – who assured us that a. we were on the path and b. it was passable, if a tad wet in places. Well, we certainly found the wet places and finally stumbled out onto the hard forestry track that would eventually take us through the main wood and back to the car park. The challenge wasn’t quite over – several metres of scratchy, mean-minded gorse had colonised the track to meet in the middle, and we suffered quite a few scratches and tears before we were through it – noting jealously how impervious the coat of a collie dog is just about anything.

Nae pasaran!

And the gift from today’s walk? There were lots – newly unfurling larch leaves, frogspawn in a drowning bit of track, skeletons of last year’s ferns, the beautiful vertical grandeur of the trees that hadn’t blown down, some chestnut brown bracket fungi left from the autumn. But as soon as we entered the wood on our optimistically rediscovered path, we heard the chiff-chaff call nearby. The earliest of our summer warblers to arrive, this is a small brown job of a bird, indistinguishable from willow and wood warblers unless it keeps still and stays a metre away from you. This one didn’t – they never do – but the call, exactly like the bird’s name, sets it apart. We never saw our little warbler, but the mocking “chiff-chaff-chiff-chiff-chaff” was never far away. It was, I am sure, laughing its little head off, but we chose to find it encouraging. When we found ourselves safely “out of the woods” and into the wood, it went off to scoff at something else. It made us appreciate all over again the wide range of habitats the woods provide for many bird species, residents and summer or winter visitors. I look forward to more birdsong in Taymount Woods this spring.



Previous Articles

Community Monthly Update – June 2024

Our main focus this month has been collaboration with all sorts of people and organisations in our ongoing programme of events in Taymount Wood and outreach activity for the WSWG Project. Each and every event has been a source of real joy at seeing so many people benefitting in so many ways from spending and sharing time in our lovely woodlands on a diverse range of activities. Whilst we cannot claim to have beaten the record set in 2019 for our oldest participant at a WSWG event (she was an amazing 96 years old!), at only 5 weeks old a little treasure beat the record of our youngest attendee to date by a whole 11 weeks! How cool is that? Read on to find out more about these wonderful, moving and uplifting events.

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Community Monthly Update – May 2024

We are really delighted this month to start with the announcement that the winner of the WSWG April Photography Competition in the Children’s category is Dougie from Highland Perthshire. His stunning and clever photograph was taken at the head of Loch Rannoch, looking west, on Saturday 20 April. Such a beautiful, calm scene in our precious Perthshire countryside, but just look at the perfect capture of the beautiful splash effect at its heart. A truly super photo.

Congratulations, Dougie. Thank you very much for taking part in this competition and your well-deserved prize will be making its way to you very soon.

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Community Monthly Update – April 2024

On Sunday 14 April, a lovely bunch of people turned out for a WSWG Guided Climate and Biodiversity Walk in Taymount Wood to celebrate the start of the new Perth & Kinross Climate Action Hub (PKCAH) for which funding has been secured from the Scottish Government.

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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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