Wednesday 30 July 2014

Survival Skills

I woke up to the sound of rain on the window and wondered if any folk would be coming out to Corehead this day...

and treck out they did, (with a little help), 14 hardy souls, keen to survive the mist and rain and build a shelter.

We made an A - Frame shelter out of fallen branches

Some of us had a go at different types of knots, including the famous clove hitch

Then we wove bracken, a few rushes and some docks in between.

and created a great place to hang out (survive!)

As the sun came out we emerged to have a go at lighting fires and toast time a more inventive fire side snack will be had I promise!

So that's the last of the summer holiday Corehead adventure clubs...we'll be organising similar activities in the future. If you have any ideas or suggestions or would like to find out more please do get in touch at or leave a comment here!

Community and Education Officer

Monday 28 July 2014

Potions and Lotions

In our second adventure club of the summer we set out to gather and learn about wild plants

our first foraged plant was meadowsweet which is growing in abundance in the wet areas of Corehead

Happy foragers

Checking for bugs!

Did you know..that meadowsweet cantains a chemical (Salicylic acid) very similar to aspirin and was traditionally used to reduce pain and inflammation.
It also makes a tasty drink! great on hot sunny days.  

We then went for a walk gathering a variety of plants as we went including yarrow, red clover, greater plantain and chickweed.
We infused them in oil and added bee's wax  to make a ointment.

Community and Education Officer.

Clipped at Corehead

What a beautiful summer we've had so far, with some days up at 30 degrees, our flock of sheep must have been very grateful to have their fleece removed!

Back to the hills, lighter and (probably) happier!

Our flock is cared for by local farmer Jim Mitchell. We keep Blackface sheep as this is a hardy breed well adapted to life on the hills. Both females and male Blackface sheep have horns, black (or black and white) faces and legs and coarse wool that shields them from rain and biting winds.

Most of the fleeces were bagged up for sale, but we've kept a few behind for craft workshops we will be running in the future.

Community and Education Officer

Thursday 24 July 2014

To buy or not to buy....

Last night we were invited to a community meeting at Moffat Town Hall.

There is a site just north of the main town centre which has come up for sale. It had a previous crop of conifers planted which have recently been felled. The community have been given the option to purchase the site and we were asked to have a look at it and give our thoughts.

We were of course delighted to be involved as it is great to see a community come together and support any biodiversity initiatives. 

Our woodland projects manager Tim and myself took a wander over the site before the meeting and jotted down a few things that should be considered before the community make their decision. 

There is certainly lots of potential at the site but as ever these things need to be considered in the short and the long term. Current restocking requirements, management planning, access, drainage, insurance, health and safety, boundary maintenance and designations are all things to throw into the mix. And then of course there's the question of funding. Some grants may be available but they come with a heavy administrative burden which would also require a lot of work.

The decision now lies with the local community as to what happens next. On a positive note it was great to see that this was even being considered. The community of Moffat clearly care about the environment around the town and we hope to see many more of them joining us at our sites to enjoy and help look after these special places.

Site Officer

Wednesday 23 July 2014

High Camps part deux

Last weekend saw the 2nd of our annual high camps. We had a bumper turnout with a good number of hardy volunteers who were prepared to make the hike up to Little Firthhope and brave the elements - all in the name of the bog bilberry.

Our task last time was the same. We managed to get a second round of materials in (see previous posts) to continue with our peat restoration works. That meant another 500m of jute mesh and another 30 coir rolls.

Making camp in the mist
Everyone worked really hard on the first day (despite the 'inclement' weather) and just like the last high camp, we finished most of the work on day one.  We even managed to get a full peat depth survey completed over at Rotten Bottom.

Volunteers at work
This was followed by a welcome rest in the evening where a few hardy souls took a walk into the mist up to White Coombe whilst the others relaxed and had a bit of banter at basecamp.

Relaxing after hard work
On the second day the sun shone and we were ready for another day in the hills. We divided ourselves into two teams: one focused on the removal of the small tree guards around some juniper that were planted in Little Firthhope. The second team built a number of natural peat dams. We finished the day  by sprinkling sphagnum moss over the jute mesh which will hopefully help to speed up the natural recolonisation process. This has already started in some places as the picture below shows.

Revegetation in netting placed in August 2013
It was another great weekend and a huge thanks once again to everyone who came along.

Maybe see you next year?

Site Officer

Wednesday 16 July 2014

What a run, what a view!

The moffat run..heads out on the Old Edinburgh Road, then up the (VERY) steep hill at Ericstanes.

With stunning views of Corehead Farm we felt we'd better run it and promote the project at Corehead.

so we got out the running gear and joined in the fun.

The busy streets of Moffat

Flying up the road!

Finishing the race

members of our steering group manned a water station halfway up Ericstanes hill

and all runners received a leaflet about Corehead in their memento bag with rather sore legs, we can say it was definitely worth it!

 Ali and Lynn

Hunting For Dragons

20 eager Dragon Hunters came to Corehead for the first our of new adventure club outings.

We heard a tale of Dragons from long ago and how their magic and dragon powers can be seen in many creatures alive today!

 We then went searching..

 and found many small beasties including Greater Diving Beetle larvae. A ferocious predator who's jaws contain enzymes which starts digesting its prey from the first bite!

Look at those jaws! 

We were very happy to see baby newts halfway through metamorphosis. Soon their gills will be replaced by internal lungs.

and there were plenty of Damselfly nymphs

as well as a mysterious see-through creature. Can anyone identify it?

In the river we found mayflys, caddisfly larvae,  fresh water shrimps and we even caught a fish!
Kick sampling in the stream

Our prize catch 

After a bug hunt in the meadows ...

 every good dragon hunter needs to know how to start a fire

and to eat marsh mallows!

Looking forward to future adventure clubs, next week its potions and lotions!

Community and Education Officer

Friday 11 July 2014

Hagglund: the beast of Carrifran

A few pictures to share from the recent trip up to Little Firthhope. We have another Peat Restoration High Camp planned in for next weekend and we had another load of jute matting and coir rolls to deliver.

As access up there can be tricky enough, we are very lucky to have the use of Hagglund. She's an ex Swedish military vehicle, now owned by local fencing contractor Derek Murray. There is nowhere she can't go and a trip up to Carrifran (via Talla and Gameshope, our neighbouring property) is no problem.

Up at Little Firthhope to drop off the materials
Our handiwork from last High Camp (in the sun!)
We were able to take some piles of tree guards off the site and some old fencing materials. We did leave some stakes up there for building wooden dams. These help to slow down the flow of water and reduce further erosion.
Derek securing some of the fence posts on the back
Introducing Hagglund
Through the eyes of the beast
A beautiful view  - the 'puddle' in the distance was Gameshope Loch a few months back!
Site Officer

Thursday 10 July 2014

Carrifran meets Corehead

Last Tuesday our Carrifran volunteers came to help over at Corehead. The task.... have a guess.... BRACKEN!

We've written a few previous blog posts on bracken so do revisit those for more info. But we just wanted to share a few pictures from the day spent in Tweedhope which give a flavour of what we were up against. Armed with jungle knives and a few canes, we went in to find those trees....

This is what we were working in

It can be quite easy to lose a volunteer in this stuff (cue adding that to the risk assessment)

Oh.. spotted another volunteer

Anyone spot the tree?

Some of our handiwork. These trees can now enjoy the sunlight and hopefully spurt up a bit more before the bracken dominates again.

Site Officer