Ancient woodlands are given new ideas
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.