Volunteers celebrate 20 years of improving Highland woods

A SMALL but dedicated community group of outdoor enthusiasts is celebrating 20 years of improving their local woodland.

Members of the Craigmonie Woodland Association. Picture: Contributed
Members of the Craigmonie Woodland Association. Picture: Contributed
Members of the Craigmonie Woodland Association. Picture: Contributed

Since 1996 the members of the Craigmonie Woodland Association have maintained and improved the waymarked trails in Forest Enterprise Scotland’s Craigmonie Woodland at the edge of Drumnadrochit.

The trails are part of a network that includes Woodland Trust Scotland’s Balmacaan Wood, the ‘Glen Coiltie Loop’ and the ‘Affric Kintail Way’.

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Sandra Reid, for Forest Enterprise Scotland’s team in Inverness, Ross & Skye said: “They’re a fantastic bunch of people and great to work with.

“Some of the original members are still very involved with the group – which is great going seeing as many of them were already retired when they started the group.

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“Their work has improved access for many locals and visitors including the local schools and nursery. Dog walkers, runners, cyclists and horse riders have all benefited, too.

“It’s a great testament to the benefits of healthy living and getting active in the outdoors.”

The group has also carried out other projects such as tree planting, clearing, siting bird boxes and bat boxes, interpretation materials, supplying Christmas logs for pensioners and clearing rhododendrons.

To help mark the 20th anniversary, Jan Bell, one of the founding members, has composed a song celebrating some of the personnel and the groups achievements over the years. Other original members who are still with the group include Alan Bell (MBE for service to the Glen Urquhart community) who has been Chair for 20 years, Sandra Bardwell (Secretary and Treasurer) and Duncan MacDonald.

In 2002, along with Woodland Trust Scotland, the Group received a Small Woods Commended Award from the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland at the Highland Show at Ingliston.

Forest Enterprise Scotland is an agency of Forestry Commission Scotland and manages the National Forest Estate on behalf of Scottish Ministers.