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Tree-planting in January 2018

The Arran Rotary Club kindly donated 25 native woodland trees (oak, silver birch and beech) to the woodland and we are planting them this January and February on the volunteer days.

September 2017 – Woodland learning in Shiskine and Pirnmill schools

Debra and Juliette have started facilitating ‘woodland learning’ in Shiskine and Pirnmill schools this term. The staff and children are using woodland adjacent to the schools to learn about the trees and wildlife, basic survival skills and take part in art, science and storytelling activities. The woodland sites will then be available to the schools for further year-round learning.


The Shiskine site which is just a walk through a couple of fields from the school 🙂

July 15th 2017 – AGM

Our AGM this year receded a successful Folk for Roots event at Altachorvie. The full minutes of the AGM can be found on the downloads page.

Roots of Arran Forest School Leaders are helping island primary schools develop outdoor learning areas…

…adjacent to school grounds and pass on outdoor learning skills to teachers as from May 2017. So far, Kilmory Primary School has developed a mini-pond, carried out a survey of British V Spanish bluebells in their adjacent woodland and learnt how to put up tarp shelters and make hot drinks using a kelly kettle. Other activities  have included bug searches and journey sticks. Brodick Primary School explored their adjacent woodland and opened it up by removing a dense area of invasive rhododendron with loppers and saws. The children also tidied up a neglected gardening area at the back of the school and filled the many tubs with fresh compost kindly donated by the Coop for a variety of seeds including runner beans and sunflowers. This is just the start!

May 2017 – Wooden shelter nearly finished

We are pleased to announce that the wooden shelter is nearly finished! We have been working on it for the past year on volunteer days and the structure is nearly complete. We are just going to add wooden walls and windows.

 June 2015 We are very pleased to announce that Roots of Arran will shortly be given £3,000 from the Youth Philanthropy Initiative to go towards a wooden shelter for the site. After visiting the site with Keith and Juliette, a group of S2 students gave a presentation to a panel of judges about the woodland and Roots of Arran’s main environmental aim which is to protect natural woodland on Arran for education and enjoyment. The talk was made even more impressive by their invitation to Mr Struthers and his birds of prey. It really brought home to the audience that natural spaces are such a vital habitat for these birds in the wild. A number of island charities were represented and it must have been difficult to choose a winner!

charcoal drawing with the P6sFS Brodick P6 Lamlash P2 15 003


Woolly Woods 15 a 001

Woollen Woods project this May 15 which included a food or woodland life installation Woolly Woods 15 a 002 Lamlash FS P2 15 006 P2s enjoying first taste of Forest Schools


S1s visiting the new Arran Community Land Initiative site as part of a Forest School day S1 ACLI May 15 001
The Roots of Arran Forest School programme this spring included 7 once-a-week sessions in the woodland for Brodick Primary School P6 with Debra and Juliette and 7 once-a-week sessions in the Whitehouse Woods for Lamlash P2s with Juliette and Vicky. The P6 activities ranged from den-building, bug collecting, pond dipping, trees and invertebrates, whittling, knot tying, charcoal drawing, tree-planting, seed planting, camp fire cooking to playing wide games and making items out of wood such as walking sticks and bows-and-arrows plus much more! They reflected on the woodland food web, the history of the site, John Muir’s importance and how to map out their designs. There was a good turnout of parents/carers for the last session which involved a giant game of hide-and-seek which was brilliant fun! The P2 activities included bug collecting and  invertebrates, birds and trees, a blindfold game, making mini dens, bark and leaf rubbings, making big dens, making woodland ‘stew’, cooking bread on sticks, storytelling, making wings out of willow, making tree spirits out of playdough all in the spirit of cooperation. Children as young as this are encouraged to manage their own risk in the woodland by putting up boundary markers and looking for hazards. It was fantastic to observe their exhilaration with leading their own learning through play.


Green woodworking weekend May 15 002  Green woodworking weekend May 15 003 Green woodworking weekend May 15 007 Green woodworking weekend May 15 011

On 2nd and 3rd May 2015 we held a green woodworking weekend at Arran Outdoor Education Centre with Bob Fleet from Wooplaw Community Woodland and Tim Stobart from Bute bringing their expertise. One day one we progressed with making shave horses and on day two with pole lathes. The event was funded by Foundation Scotland and we are hoping to run a follow-up workshop this year in order to work on our green woodworking skills.

8/3/15Apple Tree Pruning and Andrew's Bday 15 001Apple Tree Pruning and Andrew's Bday 15 004 Hugely informative apple tree pruning workshop with Kathy Sayer. We learnt so many things about apple tree care and went down to Roots of Arran orchard, replaced two dead trees with a ‘Katy’ and a ‘George Cave’, pruned the rest of the trees and put well-rotted manure around their bases – here’s hoping they all flourish with our t.l.c.



We hosted a visit to the site on 24th May 2014 by about 20 lawyers and friends of ‘Wild Lawyers’ a group interested in environmental law – they came to learn about the community woodland and lent a hand removing sitka and rhododendron. Here is a photo of the group kindly taken by Sir Crispin Agnew.

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IMG_7605_300DPI (2) IMG_7615_300DPI (2)Community Copse Tree-planting Day on Sunday 9th March 2014 – 18 volunteers turn up to lend a hand and then have lunch in the gathering circle.

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Small Grants Success for Roots of Arran Community Woodland – 16/01/13

The Roots of Arran Community Woodland was established 10 years ago on a forestry commission-owned site of recent clearfell. The group has worked hard over the last decade to plant it up with a variety of native trees, establish a network of walkers’ paths, an orchard and a pond to benefit wildlife. These efforts have been supported by Arran Trust grants over the last three years. School groups have used the site over the last three years to achieve their John Muir Award and have taken part in tree-planting, art activities, pond dipping and removal of invasive species.  The group has just received confirmation of a grant from the Ernest Cook Trust to continue offering ForestSchool sessions to local primary schools run by two qualified ForestSchool leaders this year. In addition to this, the group just attracted another grant from Foundation Scotland to purchase much-needed tools for keeping invasive species at bay. ‘So far, we have largely managed to stop rhododendron gaining a foothold in the woodland’ says volunteer and resident artist Mike Bailey, ‘but we needed to purchase new giant loppers and pruning saws for our volunteer workforce to remove it more effectively’. The group hopes to start up a mid-week group this spring as not all volunteers can commit to the Sunday volunteer day. ‘So all-in-all things are continuing to shape up here in our island community woodland,’ thanks mainly to the efforts of our committee and volunteers and the small grants which we are sometimes managing to secure,’ says chairperson Juliette Walsh.

Ernest Cook Trust logo 14 Foundation Scotland logo 14

roots 14there is a volunteer in there really putting some welly into clearing out the rhoddy (Jan 14)

Roots Day October 2013

Our obsession with tarp shelters continues! (October 2013)

Our new sign
New sign carved on a slab of oak by our fab Mike Bailey! (August 2013)

spiral guiding stone 13
New spiral ‘signs’ to guide visitors to main spiral, (June 2013)

Children's watercolours of plants on siteMore children's watercolours of plants on site
Children’s watercolours of plants on site (June 2013)

Mike mixing pigments for earth drawing
Mike mixing earth pigments for paintings in his woodland den. (June 2013)

Pigment painting
Here is a way of using them! (June 2013)

Creating hard edge to pond for pond-dippers
Creating hard edge to pond for pond-dipping groups (April 2013)

Volunteers at Mike's den
Mike’s spiral planted up with 100 silver birch (April 2013)

snowy Roots Feb 13Roots of Arran Snow Feb 13snowy feb 13
Snow on Feb 13th 2013

We have been given a grant from the Voluntary Action Fund for producing a leaflet which includes a map, for visitors to the woodland and for hoodies with logos. (January 2013)

Mike’s chairs made from birch and willow (November 2012)

Mike’s Spiral November 18th 2012

Planting 450 trees is all in a morning’s work with Scout Power!  November 18th 2012

With the help of the island’s two Scout packs, light work was made of planting 450 trees last Sunday along the newly constructed paths on Roots of Arran Community Woodland site, Brodick. Fiona Kerr,  Scout Leader of Shiskine Scouts and Roots of Arran Committee member applied for the trees earlier in the year from the Woodland Trust and the varieties sent included hazel, blackthorn, crab apple, elder, dog rose, hawthorn, holly, dogwood and two oak saplings from one of the Queen’s estates to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee. Each tree is protected with a plastic tree-guard and cane to hold it in place which will hopefully enable the trees to take root successfully. This was part of a push to plant 6 million trees across the UK to help preserve the environment. Roots of Arran Community Woodland was, seven years ago, a site of forestry clear fell with no trees. Over the years thousands have been planted and the woodland is beginning to transform from an area of ugly dereliction with little wildlife value to a thriving landscape rich in flora and fauna. Roots of Arran committee would like to thank the 40 plus volunteers who took part, Andy Walker of the Forestry Commission who transported the trees to the site and resident artist Mike Bailey, who lugged equipment down to the site in his trusty wheelbarrow.

Mike Bailey’s art-in-the-woods is progressing well – see photos! (September 2012)

Trying out the lay-out for the spiral, September 2012

Whiting Bay Primary School P3/4/5 class are participating this autumn in 1 full day a week Forest School sessions planned and delivered by two Forest School Leaders with parent and teacher support (September 2012)

North Ayrshire Council has given us a grant from the Community Benefit Fund for pond-dipping equipment.(Sept 12) This will really be useful next spring and summer with visiting groups.

The second path is now underway! (September 2012) We are thinking of adding a sculpture feature to it…watch this space…

£150 was raised from the Folk Festival Ceilidh (June 12)which will go towards running costs.

We have managed to secure a second grant for path work from the Arran Trust. (

We are working on a map of the site so that visitors can pick this up from the car park in order to navigate their way around.

You can walk down to the site from the Cnoc Na Dail car park as well now – just follow the path which starts to the right of the picnic bench and heads into the plantation!

The committee has welcomed a proposal from retiring Art Teacher Mike Bailey, to create artwork in the woodland throughout the coming year (2012-13) using greenwood. As ‘artist-in-residence’ he will spend time working on these structures which promise to be both thought-provoking and meditative.


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