An­cient wood­lands are given new ideas

The Oban Times - - News - GIL­LIAN CAMP­BELL ed­i­tor@oban­times.co.uk

WHEN the gates of Dunol­lie Mu­seum, Cas­tle and Grounds close for the win­ter months not all be­comes quiet un­der the his­toric cas­tle,’ writes Gil­lian Camp­bell of Dunol­lie Projects.

This is when com­mu­nity pro­ject Dunol­lie Links re­ally kicks in and a busy stream of peo­ple from the lo­cal com­mu­nity visit each day to take part in all sorts of in­ter­est­ing go­ings- on.

Dunol­lie Links in­vites lo­cal peo­ple to learn new her­itage skills and en­joy in­ter­est­ing fun projects.

Al­ready in 2017, a stag­ger­ing 76 adults, 130 pri­mary-aged chil­dren and eight se­condary stu­dents have been in­volved with Dunol­lie Links ac­tiv­i­ties – and many of th­ese peo­ple visit weekly.

Over the past few months, a very spe­cial ad­di­tion to Dunol­lie Mu­seum, Cas­tle and Grounds has be­gun to emerge in the wood­land gar­den.

Thanks to the Forestry Com­mis­sion Com­mu­nity Fund, a won­der­ful green shel­ter is be­ing de­signed and cre­ated by peo­ple from the com­mu­nity un­der the imag­i­na­tive su­per­vi­sion of Dunol­lie Links of­fi­cer Mel Davies, to en­cour­age peo­ple to share the joy of the wood­land.

It will pro­vide a peace­ful space where peo­ple can learn about the nat­u­ral and cul­tural her­itage of this lovely place and help to find out more about what lives and grows there.

It is not just peo­ple who visit the an­cient woods (at the mo­ment cov­ered in snow­drops) around Dunol­lie House and Cas­tle – it is a play­ground for an ex­tended fam­ily of furry and feath­ered wood­land dwellers.

The red squir­rels are not easy to spot but can be seen from time to time scal­ing the an­cient ma­ture trees in the qui­eter cor­ners.

The vis­it­ing roe deer, on the other hand, shame­lessly pinch a meal from the front lawn un­per­turbed by irate gar­den­ers and in­ter­ested tourists.

A fam­ily of mal­lards ap­pears each spring to march in a row from the pond to the farm fields, their path tak­ing them across the Ket­tle Tea Shop ter­race, charm­ing vis­i­tors as they pass, and when the tawny owl de­cides to have a snooze above the pond dur­ing vis­it­ing hours, news trav­els fast and de­lighted guests gather round. Mel has so far worked since Oc­to­ber on the green shel­ter with 35 adults, seven teenagers and 135 pri­mary school chil­dren, and to­gether they have been cre­at­ing this en­vi­ron­men­tal de­light.

Peo­ple, young and old, have helped in all sorts of ways to give a sec­ond-hand ship­ping con­tainer an in­ge­nious eco­log­i­cal makeover. It’s be­ing de­signed to en­cour­age and watch wildlife, to mon­i­tor the weather and as a space for learn­ing and shel­ter­ing from the wind and rain.

Grow­ing boxes, bugs’ nests, bird feed­ers, gar­lands and mu­rals all made from nat­u­ral and re­cy­cled ma­te­ri­als will dec­o­rate the walls and sur­round­ings.

One of the Path­ways stu­dents from Oban High has cho­sen to de­sign and make a wildlife ‘in­for­ma­tion sta­tion’, with the help of the tech de­part­ment at the high school, to look more deeply at the na­tive an­i­mals.

So much fun is be­ing had by so many peo­ple in the devel­op­ment of this won­der­ful green space for the com­mu­nity. Hope­fully, it will con­tinue to be en­joyed for many years to come. More from Dunol­lie next month.

Edie, Jes­sica and Alex helped to build Bran, the turf dog, at Dunol­lie.

Chil­dren from Park Pri­mary take part in wood­land art work­shops.

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