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Tapping into Nature: Woodland Artisan Courses

Guest Blog from our course leader Chris on the recent Birch Sap course. As I slowly get to know other wood carvers around the country I’m becoming aware that everyone has their speciality – some people make spoons, others cups, some people make incredibly intricate wooden jewellery while others build houses out of logs. This has got me wondering what my speciality is within the world of wood working. At present I make spoons, cooking utensils, cups, bowls, furniture, pendants, tool handles and charcoal while I heat my wooden home by burning wood and also spend time in woodlands foraging for nuts, fruits and edible fungi. I feel that I’m a real generalist incorporating lots of tree related products into my daily life. And maybe that’s my speciality – making a living from trees and the wider woodland that they form, using them to provide a financial income as well as for heat and shelter and for some of the food that helps me survive. Collecting birch sap is another piece of this jigsaw as it serves as a healthy

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January Volunteer Day

What better way to start the year than to take a wander in Culag woods and do a bit of maintenance as we go. We strolled off to try and protect trees that were planted by the primary school kids a few years ago. All are growing strong but unfortunately the tree guards are now too short, and the deer are eating the trees over the top! So, we thought we would give them an extension and allow the trees time and space to recover! Using branches from the wood and left-over mesh from the original guards, we constructed a second level of protection. It turned out to be particularly fiddly work, getting reusable cable ties through the layers and around the post, especially with cold fingers! You probably can’t notice from the photo (as they are so smiley!) but it was a pretty wet and windy day, even in the protection of the trees. Everyone worked together to make sure each tree was adequately protected, and we were pleased with the results. After a job well done, we walked

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The Big Climate Fightback: Tree Planting at Little Assynt

Guest Blog by Alison Roe   Saturday 30th November Quinag looms high on the horizon, glowing gently in the afternoon sun as I pull into the car park by the tree nursery at Little Assynt. I’m here for the tree planting event, organised by CALLP in partnership with The Woodland Trust, and we’re definitely lucky with the weather. Rain and high winds are forecast for the coming week but today it’s beautiful – cold and clear – a great day to be outside and good conditions for planting trees. The area to be planted is just a few minutes walk along the path from the car park: a little hollow open to the east with views over to Quinag. Even though I’ve arrived quite early, there are already quite a few folk busy with spades, with Elaine on hand to explain what to do. I comment on the beauty of the location. Elaine explains that they chose this particular spot for its easy access and for its suitability for planting: it’s not too steep and is mostly grass and bracken

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Sounds around Suilven

The crunch of gravel underfoot… leaves rustling in the breeze… birds singing… the odd giggle (or scuffle!). And the quiet stillness in between. If you happened to be down at Glencanisp yesterday afternoon, you may have been surprised to suddenly happen across eleven mostly-silent 8-10 year-olds. It was certainly a surprise for us to discover how quiet they could be, and how absorbed they became in listening and recording sounds during a workshop delivered by CALLP’s Artist in Residence, Alex Mackay. Alex has spent the last few months popping up and down between Glasgow and Assynt to collect recordings as he interprets Suilven through the medium of sound (more here), and he’s spent his latest visit sharing his passion with others. We began inside where we listened to some of Alex’s creations, guessing the subjects of his musical compositions, along with a couple of BBC Planet Earth recordings. Imagine 11 facial expressions after discovering one of these turned out to be the noises of vultures tearing at a zebra carcass, in which the sound recorder had been strategically placed! Alex

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Orographic Performance comes to Little Assynt All Abilities Path

Last Tuesday we had some visitors to Coigach & Assynt Living Landscape by the name of Oceanallover. Currently they are on a tour of Scotland, performing their amazing Orographic piece. When we were first contacted about hosting a performance, we were intrigued and a look at their website and past events just made us want them to perform in the amazing landscape Coigach and Assynt have to offer event more! Myself and Laura spent days brainstorming on a place that would be perfect for their performance which is inspired by mountains, emotion and ecology. One site visit to Little Assynt and we knew it had to be there. We sent pictures of our walk and the views over to Oceanallover and Feral Arts, who are the producers for the show, and they all agreed this would be the place! After months of planning, the time came for us to meet Oceanallover on the Monday before the performance and show them around the site. The weather had other ideas and thick cloud and heavy drizzle obscured the mountains and most of

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Woodland Activity Leader Training Opportunity

We at CALL are delighted to announce that we have places available for the residents of Coigach and Assynt to join us in bringing a new training course to the area. Wild things!, from Findhorn (https://wild-things.org.uk/), have agreed to come over to our beautiful part of the world to deliver their Woodland Activity Leader Training (WALT) programme. So, what is this course all about? Let’s hear from Wild Things! “If you are interested in enhancing your skills to lead groups in a woodland environment, training to become a Woodland Activity Leader will provide you with the learning and knowledge you require. Woodland Activity Leader Training is an accredited outdoor learning course and an alternative to forest school training. The General Teaching Council of Scotland has accredited Woodland Activity Leader Training with professional recognition. Teachers from across Scotland attending our Woodland Activity Leader Training can apply for GTCS professional recognition, towards their continued professional development, upon successful completion of the course. Accredited as a Level 2 Award, Woodland Activity Leader Training is a practical training course, filled with inspirational ideas and activities, that will provide you

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Mindfulness in the Woods

Mindfulness is a word that is becoming more common to hear and a practice that is growing and benefitting many people from all walks of life in our society. Simply put, it is a mental state achieved by focusing awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting feelings, thoughts, and physical sensations. We recently concluded an 8-week Mindfulness in the Woods programme* with P4s, 5s and 6s from Lochinver Primary School. The sessions offered an experiential, hands-on and progression-based approach to learning about Mindfulness. The aims of the programme included equipping our local young people with tools to nurture happiness and kindness, tend to difficult feelings while developing resilience, and feel empowered to make choices about their life and learning through increasing connection with themselves, others and the environment around them. All of this took place in the woods, with a tepee tent for shelter and the sounds, smells and sensations of nature to enhance our explorations. The subject for each of us was our own mind, and some deep and interesting thoughts and conversations came out as

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John Muir Award “spring”-ing back into action

As the daffodils bloom, buds emerge on trees and the mornings are increasingly filled with the poetic profanities of birds beginning to stake their claim on nesting sites and seek mates, so too our John Muir Award is springing into action after a brief winter hibernation. Kicking off with a whole year group session on 6th March, the P7s reflected on their Award activity so far and explored further who John Muir was and what he meant when he said, “we all need beauty as well as bread”, with a deeper exploration of what the word “beauty” actually means. The day culminated with walking 1000 steps (in the spirit of Muir’s 1000-mile walk) around the green by Ullapool river, stopping every 200 steps for a pause to notice the beauty around us. We have since led an Explore day with Lochinver P7s, initially splitting into pairs and searching the area for nature objects to match descriptive opposite words, and then trying to guess those words of other group’s findings. Later in the morning we filmed nature documentaries about the wildlife

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CALL at the Assynt Games

After a pretty grey start, what a fantastic day we had for the games! The organisers did an amazing job of putting on a wide range of entertainment alongside the more traditional highland game events such as the hammer throw and caber toss. We had a great time meeting so many people from the local community and far beyond. Alongside our information on the area and projects we are currently running, we set up an activities corner for kids. This included animal origami, the return of the fish shoal tree and creating our own woodland throughout the day. Many wonderful creatures were created! We also had local native trees and beautiful Honeysuckle from the Little Assynt Tree Nursery for sale. We had a great time at the games and hope to see you all again next year!

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John Muir Trust blog on Hill to Grill

One of our helpers for the Outdoor and Woodland Learning project’s Hill to Grill programme this year was Quinag Conservation Officer Romany Garnett from the John Muir Trust. Here is her blog post about all the activities the Ullapool High School pupils got up to over several days learning where venison comes from. Read it here

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