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The last word … T There has been a bit of a delay in n getting this newsletter to n you but in the y meantime the m good news kept g on coming. o A always we As were helped by w tthe generosity of our partners o iincluding £100k raised by guests and staff of The Gleneagles Hotel through Supporting Big Tree Country. We had our first major charity event on the Cateran Trail and the successful launch of our outdoor learning project, Woodlands, Words & Wonders, is helping to connect young people with our fantastic countryside. One of the recommendations from an independent evaluation of the BTC Heritage & Access Project was to continue and strengthen our involvement with local communities and businesses. To this end the Trust has approved grants to, amongst others, The Crannog Centre and Highland Safaris, and is involved in the ongoing development of the Carse of Gowrie Orchard Festival and Wild Connections. Through geocaching workshops local businesses are being encouraged to add value to the visitor experience for their guests and the new BTC website has been designed to encourage more interaction with its users. And we’ve finally emerged from the Dark Ages as far as social media is concerned as we take tentative steps on Twitter and Facebook to highlight events and news. The last hooray from me is reserved for the successful first stage lottery bid for the Tay Landscape Partnership in association with Perth & Kinross Heritage Trust – well done to all involved. Keep up the good work everyone.

The work of the Trust is only possible thanks to support from the following:

The quarterly newsletter of Perth & Kinross Countryside Trust

Community benefits The Trust meetings in March and June saw over £25k granted to help four interesting and varied community projects. CART – the Coupar Angus Regeneration Trust has moved the focus of its works to concentrate on a path network around the town. PKCT awarded £2k toward development costs and £8k for the upgrading of Thorn Alley, a popular local path that follows the line of the old abbey wall.

The wonder of woodlands In need of a trim – the path in Coupar Angus

Alyth Hill User Group benefits from £6k for the creation of paths in the new community woodland and Pitcairngreen Village Committee will be able to protect and enhance the avenue of oak trees in the village green thanks to an award of £3,600. Areas of hazel trees growing in Highland Perthshire will now be coppiced as part of a training programme organised by The Crannog Centre. The £6k grant will ensure that the experience and skills needed for this type of woodland management are not lost to future generations.

Look what’s new on Moncreiffe Hill

Excited school children throughout Big Tree Country have recently been spending time in local woodlands accompanied by plant collector David Douglas, his Native American guide Running Fox, and his friend Henny the Hen Wife.

t their environment and drawing attention tto how their landscape was shaped and fformed over the years. It lets children take the lead on their learning experience and focuses on group working and social interaction. Children w who find being in a classroom difficult have w re esponded extremely positively as it gives th hem the chance to explore other types of le earning.

Here’s what some of the children have to say, with a bit of poetic licence on spelling… “Dear Henny, … I really enjoyed going inside the tipi. It was warm, big and interesting because you told lots of stories… I would recommend you to every other school in the world.”

Henny mid story y © Zoe

“Dear Running Fox, Thank you for showing me what I didn’t know about … I used to go past [the woodlands] I just thought it was just trees and flower but when you showed me I thought wow that is awsome. I would tells everyone I know.”

Primary schoolchildren from across BTC peered into the distant past and staked a claim on a fruitful future among a range of spring activities on Moncrieffe Hill. They discovered the ancient history of the hill with a tour of the wood and two Iron Age hill forts, and also planted trees to benefit future generations. The magic continued as the sculptures along the new trail were revealed including a wood carving of a bird of prey. The sculpture trail is now a permanent fixture on the hill, partially funded by a PKCT grant to the Woodland Trust.

Edition 8: Summer/ Autumn 2011

Bird of prey befriends Rebecca from the Woodland Tru st © WTS

Hot off the press A selection of festivals takes place this autumn in BTC. Orchard Festival – Cairn o’ Mohr hosts this year’s festival. Bring along your own apples for identification, enjoy a winery tour, and taste freshly pressed fruit juice. Saturday 1 – Sunday 9 October. Wild Connections – the wildlife festival is in its second year. Highlights include tracking the awe inspiring sea eagles. Saturday 8 – Sunday 16 October. Enchanted Forest – Scotland’s premier outdoor light and sound show moves to its new venue at the Explorer’s Garden, Pitlochry. Friday 7 – Saturday 29 October.

“Dear David, I really enjoyed working with you … I learned all about the different types of trees and that you brought a tree from North America called a sicka bruse and learned all about the new plants and that you can even eat nettles.”

David Douglas makes an excellent role model. Not only did he walk vast distances, m he stopped often to look, listen, and absorb h the natural world. Everywhere he walked he made notes of his observations. m

Barrie

T activities are supported by the Great The Outdoors activity pack to be distributed O to schools and supplemented by a range of online materials compatible with the o Curriculum for Excellence. C i © Zoe Barrie

David outside the tip

T There will also be training days to encourage teachers to continue the e learning outdoors and instil them with the confidence to do so.

And our favourite so far … “Dear David, … I was amazed that the 3 deer we saw didn’t run away! They were so cute but we all know we are not allowed to take living things home.”

Plant collecting with

David Douglas

© Zoe Barrie Our new outdoor learning project, Woodlands, Words & Wonders features the three characters played by Greenspace Ranger Fergus Cook, bushcraft expert Ian Macfarlane, and professional storyteller Claire Hewitt. And it’s a huge hit with schools.

Based in woodlands within walking distance – where possible – of the school, the project uses a tipi for storytelling, complemented with a series of activities to give children a taste of the kind of adventures the plant collector may have encountered. The experience immerses children in the world of David Douglas, whilst making them more aware of the possibilities of

Running Fox demonstrates his bushcraft skills © Ruthvenfield Primary School

Contact: For further details on this and all of our projects contact 01738 475255

www.pkct.org


Projects on the go …

Cateran Trail Yomping the Trail Following the launch by Michelle Mone, the inaugural Alliance Trust Cateran Yomp proved a triumph. Of the 230 participants, the first to cross the finish line was a team of four soldiers from Yorkshire, completing the 55 mile route in an amazing 14 hours and 27 minutes. Participants walked through the night to arrive back at the event hub tired but elated.

Michelle Mone puts the guys throu gh their paces at the launch © Stripe Com munication

The organisers, Wildfox Events, laid on a number of fun activities including clay pigeon shooting, archery, fireworks, live music and a community market at Kirkmichael. There was even a dragon standing guard at the picturesque Auchintaple Loch. The event benefitted from the invaluable support of local people and volunteers. Boar burgers from Bamff Estate and strawberries from local farmer Peter Thomson provided sustenance and the community café at Kirkmichael also fed the hoards at the local check point. Most importantly, the Yomp raised over £200k for the Soldiers’ Charity and The Prince’s Scottish Youth Business Trust.

Earlier this year, willing members of the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers were put to good use for a week of work on the Cateran Trail. Learning as they went, the group replaced a ladder stile with a new self closing gate. They also rebuilt a collapsed section of a dyke following instruction from a professional drystane dyker.

rane Ready for the off © Malcolm Coch

Mid Yomp

On a blisteringly sunny day in July (yes it really was hot), the group cleared rhododendron from an ancient wall next to the Trail on the Pitcarmick Estate. The work not only revealed the old wall and a ditch which can now be cleared, it also opened up long obscured views.

SSE volunteers starting work ...

Back to the grind

Upgrading your experience PKCT works k h hard d tto ensure that those walking the Cateran Trail have the best experience possible.

Getting the team together © Malcom Cochrane

Local writer Linda Cracknell was an extremely popular choice as host for last year’s Big Tree Country Awards as was the poem she wrote for the occasion – extracted below.

The winners were St Madoes Primary School, Cairn o’ Mohr Winery and the 10th Perthshire Scout Group, with projects perfectly encapsulating the theme – Celebrating our Natural Heritage. Project Officer Robbie Gordon designed and hand carved the new-look awards and entrants were piped in by PKC Greenspace Ranger, Fergus Cook. This year, as part of the International Year of the Forest, the theme is Trees Matter! There are the usual three categories of Education, Community, and Local Business.

All the volunteers had such a great time that BTCV members hard at it they vowed to come back next year – though obviously there’d be no guarantee of good weather!

Many years of water running from the hill above Spittal of Glenshee have caused significant erosion of the Trail, compounded by increased walker numbers. Extensive work to dig drainage ditches and put in new sections of path has helped alleviate the problem.

Trust rewards Sweet manure, and streets in bloom, jams and jellies, strawberry wine cherry crumbles baking in school kitchens the smell and taste of Big Tree Country’s finest

As part of Scottish & Southern Energy’s Community at Heart project, an enthusiastic group from Perth volunteered its services on the Cateran Trail.

There be a dragon

Chill out time © Malcom Cochrane

Voluntary services

BTC Award winners outside The Gleneagles Hotel © Zoe Barrie

Working with local writer Linda Cracknell, a new BTC creative writing project aims to strengthen these ties. Linda

Cracknell will lead writing For the first stage of the workshops © Zoe Barrie project, Linda will host community writing workshops ffunded d d th through h th the International Year of the Forest to inspire local people to put pen to paper.

Dates will be circulated via our websites, community groups and local press.

Signing up to social media

All-inclusive outdoor activity

Tay lottery winner

In keeping with the findings of an independent evaluation of the Heritage & Access Project, we’ve been looking at different ways to promote BTC.

In llate June llocall tourism i businesses were presented with a new way to attract visitors and offer something different for their guests … geocaching.

J l brought July b ht welcome l and d exciting i news from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

We were already in the process of upgrading the BTC website to make it more user friendly and allow people to engage with it. Our biggest leap forward has been on the social media front. We decided it was time to learn how to tweet and post on Facebook. See how we’re doing by following our tweets or signing up to be our friend. BTC: www.facebook.com/bigtreecountry and www.twitter.com/bigtreecountry Cateran Trail: www.facebook.com/caterantrail and www.twitter.com/caterantrail.

New drainage improves the track at Alyth Hill

Perthshire Big Tree Country has strong literary connections – Burns, Beatrix Potter, Sir Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson.

David Douglas will lend a hand at the workshop to encourage those taking part to think about the connections between people and place. The events will be based in our tipi at three of our main BTC sites – MacRosty Park, Kinnoull Hill, and the Birks of Aberfeldy.

Closing date: Wednesday 5 October Full details on the Trust website.

Creatively writing

Together with PKC (ERDF Developing Rural Tourism Project) we held a demonstration workshop and were delighted by the enthusiasm of participants: “Just a short note to thank you for such an informative and enjoyable afternoon. Geocaching really is an exciting opportunity for us all to further develop tourism and our businesses – I think we will get really hooked on it!” In fact, so successful were the workshops that there are already plans afoot for others in the coming months.

The Tay Landscape Partnership (TLP) a joint project with Perth & Kinross Heritage Trust – was awarded £100k in the first of a two stage application. Covering 200 square kilometres, the project focuses on the Tay Valley, aiming to protect and conserve the area as well as encouraging local communities to reconnect with their heritage. Proposed reed-bed management, protection for orchards, conservation of historic buildings and new path networks to improve access are all part of the TLP. The £100k provides the resources to carry out research in order to develop the in-depth second stage application. If successful, the area will benefit from a further investment of around £1.5 million from HLF and other partners. p

Other recent improvements have seen new self closing gates at Runavey and close to Bridge of Cally, and further drainage work on Alyth Hill and Pitcarmick. For the future, an extensive section of track near to Kirkmicheal is to be resurfaced and further drainage and path improvements will take place along the section running through Pitcarmick Estate.

Cache found!

View along the Tay Valley


Perth & Kinross Countryside Trust Newsletter Winter 2011