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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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Going Wild in the Woods

Last week our 7 day Woodland Activity Leader Training came to an end. This is a little sum up of the week! What are the benefits of outdoor education?: exercise, resilience, learning coping strategies, risk awareness, sustainability, build immune system, develop skills such as problem solving, confidence, suits different learning styles, love and respect for natural world, knowledge, personal development, social, motor skills, coordination, stress reduction, balance, wonder and imagination, awaken the senses, wider context understanding, fresh air, muscle development, help sleep, reduce depression, reduce anxiety, economic benefits (free learning, reduce pollution and better education) and most importantly its FUN!!! What are the worlds needs for it: biodiversity loss, pollution, climate change, loss of natural spaces, fragmentation of habitats, natural resource depletions, increase in loneliness, depression, anxiety, stress – ‘epidemic’, disconnection to environment, diabetes, obesity and an increase in health issues. And there are many more for both! Outdoor learning’s value is constantly growing and is supported by many government bodies, charities and legislation, giving children every chance to experience their environment and love it while learning. Many have heard

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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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The challenges and joys of Outdoor learning in the North West highlands.

It can be challenging matching the weather with a suitable location and delivering the theme that schools are currently working on – here’s why? We had an interesting time last week at the Outdoor and Woodland Learning Project here in the CALL corner of the North West Highlands.  Working with Achiltibuie Nursery and Primary Schools on their woodland life cycles topic, a session was planned in Culag Woods, Lochinver.  Culag Woods is a small 40 hectare (100 acre) mixed woodland which is managed by the local community for amenity, education and conservation purposes.  Its varied species of trees, beach areas, network of paths and interesting features, such as a dragon egg, giant spiders and a slug makes it a fun and ideal location to run outdoor learning sessions.  But the current weather patterns tried to do their best to disrupt our day! Last Monday the forecast was for rain from 10am to 2pm, exactly the time we were planning to be in the woodland, so we headed out all kitted up in full waterproofs, woolly hats and wellies (#scotlandinjune). The

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Monthly Volunteer Day Update

This year CALL have been running a monthly volunteer day. Each month we get together and spend a few hours helping one of The CALL projects. Our first in January unfortunately was called off due to snow and ice. The plan was to start the year with a litter pick in Culag Wood and enjoy a gentle walk. Not quite to plan but there were some beautiful views with the snow. It was a fantastic day for our second event. Again, in Culag Wood (after a slight change of plan from being at Little Assynt), we were clearing some of the Sitka Spruce saplings to use for wildlife platforms. Thank you to the volunteers that came and joined me, we managed to get enough wood in record speed! Unfortunately, March’s event was cancelled due to myself, being ill and unable to run the event! Apologies from me. So, let’s look forward to April where we will have two volunteer days. 11th April 2-4pm Beach Cleaning in Culag Woods down the Higgledy Piggledy Path. 25th April 10am – 1pm Monthly Volunteer

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Recording wildlife sightings in Assynt – A quick nature walk through Culag Woods

The Natural Heritage Data Project was one of the first projects of ours to get going and part of that project was to set up a new website for Assynt Field Club which would let people submit sightings online. The site has been up and running for a year now and has seen a big increase in visitor numbers and lots of sightings have been submitted. So I thought for a blog post I’d go for a quick walk in the woods to show how the reporting system worked. (If you want to skip to reporting click here). I headed off out of the office and into Culag Woods. I could hear birds tweeting away but couldn’t see them, until 2 chaffinches flew across the path ahead of me – too fast for me to take a picture. After hearing lots more birds but not seeing any I decided I would at least try to find some lichen or fungi to record a sighting of – you don’t have to be quick to get a photo of them! I headed

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Primary 7 Go Wild!

Since April, Primary 7 pupils from Lochinver, Stoer, Achiltibuie and Ullapool have been part of an exciting transition project ‘Discovering Wild Places’. It has given the pupils the opportunity to work together to discover, explore and conserve wild spaces, and share their experiences, fulfilling all elements of the Discover level of the John Muir Award, before they head into S1 at Ullapool High School. Pupils have experienced mountain, woodland, and freshwater environments over the last few months…. Back in the hailstones of April, pupils braved the cold to visit the base of Quinag to carry out heather monitoring in a mountain environment. © S Pease Fortunately the sun shone when they completed important tree seedling sampling in Culag Woods later in the month. Pupils learned how to take GPS coordinates and tag seedlings so the same trees can be sampled by next years’ P7s to monitor the effects of deer. © S Pease Wildflower identification and tree measurements were on the menu when pupils visited Little Assynt Estate in May. They also got hands on experience with tree seedlings at Little

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Pre school Visit

Pre school pupils enjoyed a visit to Little Assynt Tree Nursery last week. They have been learning all about trees. Each pupil picked a tree from the nursery to plant in Culag Wood. They are going to save the world!  

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