We organised an outdoor learning trip to Queen Elizabeth Forest Park in August, where we learnt more about Scotland landscapes, scenery, wildlife, plants, nature, and the unpredictable weather! This trip has been supported by Forestry Commission for us to learn more about woodlands in Scotland, thank you for giving us this amazing experience.
Our day out was packed with various “adventurous” activities such as forest walks, bird-watching, foraging, wooden carving, etc. It was fair to categorise this as an “adventure” for our group, considering many of us have never experienced any form of woodland-based activity.
Ricefield volunteer Debbie McCall has written a blog to share her experience:
Our adventure began at 9am on Sunday 18th August!
Around 17 of the Ricefield team met up at Partick station and from there we all traveled by mini bus – except James and Lin who took the car. Food sorted. Raincoats packed. We were prepared to explore the Scottish wilderness, in what seemed like the middle of nowhere. Lots of misty hills, forests and lochs.
Our first location was the Lodge Forest Visitor Centre, known as the gateway to Queen Elizabeth Forest Park.
We took plenty of pictures of the waterfall, stepping on the boulders and pushing through the foliage. We then took shelter in a little bird hide and observed the birdies eating and tweeting away. The birds were tiny and adorable, from the Chaffinches, Goldcrests, Blue tits and other small woodland birds. At one point a little mouse was spotted munching on the peanuts. The gift shop was very popular – lots of cute soft toys were purchased and the views from around here were breathtaking.
The rain didn’t dampen our spirits. It is Scotland after all, when does it not rain?
Back to the mini bus! We started our journey to explore 3 lochs forest drive, a 7 mile long Forest Drive that took us past three picturesque lochs.
Our first Loch was Lochan Reòidhte, where two dogs were having a whale of a time, jumping in and out of the water. There were some stunning views at this location especially with the misty clouds so low over the hills. We took plenty of photos…mostly of the dogs.
Our next loch was Loch Drunkie. We were hungry and had our much anticipated lunch and snacks. At this point the heavens opened and the rain was a torrential downpour. But we didn’t mind the soggy sandwiches or the squelching mud. This was a true Scottish summer.
During our stroll we discovered a strange instrument in the middle of the pathway. This was like a wooden arch where you pulled at the ropes and rang bells, making all sorts of musical sounds. Lots of catchy tunes were made.
Also we discovered that it’s not always best to avoid the puddles on the path by jumping onto the grass. The forest though looked very mystical, with the long grass, vibrant green moss, toadstools and tall trees that almost touched the clouds.
The third and final Loch was Loch Achray. The weather cleared up and there was finally a glimmer of sunshine. This Loch was surrounded by beautiful Scottish heather which we took a few stems as souvenirs.
To the mini bus!
Our final destination! No it wasn’t the gift shop… though it was very pretty.
It was in fact the wonderful woodcraft workshop with the Green Aspirations team, which took place in a rustic, handmade wooden hut in woodland at Balfron Station.
Paul had given us an introduction to all the tools and how to use them and their limited supply of star wars plasters which all got used. Paul and his team mate, Ian, went through the steps in creating wooden bowls, spoons or my personal favourite… the wands!
These guys were experts therefore made all the whittling and carving look incredibly easy…. it wasn’t. Though it was highly addictive.
There was water boiling in the iron kettle where, at one point, wild nettle plants were picked and nettle tea was made, which I’ve been told is very good for you! Marshmallows were also roasted on the small fire.
Wood crafting can be addictive! Everyone was really focused on their crafting and some really didn’t want to leave!
We all had a great time with the Green Aspirations Team, and learnt some new skills!
We’ll definitely be back again!
Click here to view more photos of this trip from our Facebook Album.