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Louise's story: 'Learning in the woods'

I started October 2020 during lockdown. I retired and we went into lockdown 2 months later, so this wee group has been a blessing.  

My husband only lasted a few months [laughter], he’s a bowler so he was away doing his thing.  I came on my own and I started to meet the other girls who I’d never known before and then my sister-in-law and friend started coming the last few years, so I’ve introduced other people to it because I think it’s very good.  It’s nice and it’s comfortable and you do feel better when you go home. You feel more refreshed. You make that effort that day to get out. 

We learnt a lot. We were with Paul initially, who was lovely, very nice, very welcoming. Paul was very informative about everything, we don’t know how he knew such a lot of wee fairy stories. We’ve done the winter solstice and the summer one. The winter one was good because you went at night, and they had a wee fire and we had mulled wine and we had some marshmallows for the fire. He gave us all bits of wood and we had to walk around the fire, and we all had to put a bit of wood in for a reason which I can’t remember.  He’ll kill me.  We all had a wee bit of log and there was a note on it. We all had to read our own wee things and then at the end of it we had to walk through 2 willow trees together. So, it was all things like that and we really enjoyed it. I liked the company, and I liked the information. I learnt a lot.

Then after that, nearer Christmas we went down to another wood, and we made holly wreaths. We got the red dogwood and we had to manoeuvre it. You bend it into a circle. Then we had to go and get stuff.  Mine was left on a tree it was so bad but its good because it is good for your wellbeing, you know. I think it’s good that you’re out there and you’re talking. It’s making you talk to other people. That was good fun. 

One day, he had us down the Glen, that’s a nice walk and we made tents. He put us into two teams and gave us all the equipment, the ropes, the groundsheets, rugs and things and told us we could use anything. So, we used two trees, and we tied it all and we made it.  It’s not all about the nature, it’s about being together.  We’ve been down to the water to look for water voles.  Paul used to tell us about walking along the path, if there was a bit away you knew that was a trail for the animals, he said if you see it the one side and the other side, that’s where they’re walking.  It could be deer, it could be badgers. And when we were up on the forest walk, he was telling us about how back in the day they would throw all their swords into the peat, so if you went up there you could maybe find a sword. Then there was one of the days we came it was just me and my other friend Laura, and Paul, and we just had a nice walk and stopped and felt the leaves, smelt the leaves. My husband and I were out the other day and one of the trees was all shimmering and he told us about the shimmering leaves. It’s the Shimmering birch maybe. You don’t think you’re retaining stuff and then when you go back you go oh yeah, I remember that.  

Camilo has been great.  He’s told us a lot about mushrooms, and he seems to like to forage, he’s very nice, very approachable and I think that’s what it’s all about, you need to be able to speak to somebody. I think it’s very good for lots of people.  I look forward to it my Thursday walking group.  I really enjoy it.  I feel part of the group, we’re all on first name terms now and we’ve got a couple of special needs people come with their carers and that’s not one bit of a problem, they’re very nice and you kind of look out for one another. Anybody that I’ve brought has enjoyed it.  I just hope it carries on.  I know the budgets, it was nearly stopping this year and that would be a shame if it did come to an end, for me and for friends and family who are coming and newcomers you know.  



This is part of the project 'Stories of nature connections' (

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Printed from /research/projects/louises-story-learning-woods on 01/12/23 09:39:01 AM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.