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 – 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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