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Matthew's story: 'New skills, new places, new knowledge'

So four years ago I used to come on Sundays. They were once a month, the Nature Ninjas, and I particularly remember now, because we’re doing it again today at this same spot, the scything.  I really enjoyed both being in the environment and in nature, and getting exercise and fresh air. I enjoyed the activity and meeting quite a diverse group of people.  

There was a lot of litter picking, but it had to be done. And some dead hedging, some cutting back of invasive plants around Cumbernauld House, Cumbernauld Glen. At Broadwood Loch we were walking and picking litter up as we went, so it wasn’t that strenuous an activity.  Scything is quite an intense activity and it’s quite strenuous. It’s good exercise, but actually it’s learning a new skill.

Going to different places, something that struck me when I was trying to get to where they were meeting, you’d be in a housing estate one street away from where the path was to the wildlife reserve and people wouldn’t know it was there. People didn’t know where Seafar Woods was. Just 2 minutes’ walk and you’re out of sight of the roads and everything.    

I stopped doing that 2 years ago, it must have been the start of the lockdown. When I was doing it then I was still working, which is why I did the Sundays, whereas now I’m retired. I didn’t realise that the Tuesdays and Wednesday ones were starting again, so this is good.

I’ve also recently been going on the Wild Ways Well walk which is more relaxed.  I’ve learnt an awful lot from Camilo, especially identifying mushrooms and a lot of other things as well, the trees and about beechnuts for instance. I’d not known about them dropping every 3 years in large quantities. And it’s just a good atmosphere.  We’re walking along and just chatting to people and sometimes stopping and listening to the water, so it’s more meditative and so…a bit of a contrast. 


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

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Active Project


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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.