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

Whose Woods Are These? I think I know…*

This is the first in a new series of posts for West Stormont Woodland Group. From fear or repeating myself, I thought I'd write about the fact that each month, the woods have a Gift for us. And every month, there is at least one challenge that faces us - whether physical, philosophical or organisational - in contemplation of owning woodland as a community.
West Stormont Woodland Group

February’s Gift: Gorse Flower Tea

Of course, there are gorse bushes in flower in February in Five Mile Wood. There are gorse bushes in flower in the woods every month of the year, providing pollen and nectar for insects out too early or too late in the season. Some ancient lecher noticed this and spawned the saying “When gorse is not in flower, then kissing’s out of season.”

Gorse in flower in a cold and clenching winter such as this of 2021 is a gift indeed. It’s too cold to detect the rich coconut smell from them which can be almost overpowering in high summer, but the gold dazzles against the grey landscape of February or peeks through the smothering snow. Gorse has been used for many purposes, from feeding tough-mouthed horses in winter to sweeping chimneys. It’s a nitrogen fixing plant, like all the pea family, and imparts fertility to the soil. Burn it, and the alkaline ash is good for cleaning soiled linen.

The flowers themselves are used to make a yellow dye, and whether it worked or not, some dairies insisted that feeding gorse to milking cows made for a rich yellow butter. I don’t use gorse for any of these things, but I do make gorse flower tea. It looks wonderful swirling around a glass teapot and you might catch a breath of that coconut smell. Don’t expect to taste it; it’s a very subtle (or absent!) taste. If you look hard you may find early shoots of nettle in the woods to give the tea some substance.

But don’t pass the gorse on to anyone else – allegedly, making a gift of gorse guarantees you’ll end up fighting. It’s the woods’ gift to me in February, and I will have no quarrel with the woods.

A Challenge for February? Whose Woods Are These?

I think the woods are used more now than I remember in over twenty years, Evidence for that lies not just in who you meet, but in new tracks veering off, in small acts of clearance, in scattered pieces of art, in well-maintained articles of recreation like the new swing in the picture. Using the woods implies a sense of ownership, a vested interest, a certainty of relationship. A future.

West Stormont Woodland Group

But are we all buying into this? And will that feeling of belonging translate into an actual belonging? If Five Mile and Taymount Woods are to be taken into community ownership, it’s essential that community identifies itself, makes itself heard and provides the evidence of its existence that will count.

This month, West Stormont Woodland Group will begin a Community Consultation on the proposals the group has been working on for the two woods (or, as it’s widely seen, the one wood with a gap in the middle). Of course, Covid restrictions have forced the consultation to be mostly online, but this shouldn’t be seen as a problem – taking an event online in my recent experience amplifies and multiplies its reach and scope. 

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!

*Quoted from the opening lines of “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost. Appropriate, given the question and the number of snowy evenings.



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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