Friday 28 August 2015

Introducing the Corehead shelter project

Last year we started discussing plans for an education building at Corehead. The aim was to create a small space that groups could use year round in all weather conditions and that would be built in a sympathetic way in the landscape. One of our CBSG members Paul Short runs locals woodland management company Treesurv and they put together some plans for a log cabin to be built using larch from one of our shelter belts.

We believe that Corehead is a great educational resource and so at BFT we have been working hard over the last year to figure out how we can make the building a reality. We have been facing quite a number of challenges along the way (how to finance the building to begin with!) but we are delighted to report that things are going ahead.

We are using larch from one of the shelter belts near to our Tweedhope plantation. Our contractors Treesurv went in earlier this year to mark out any suitable stems. There is a lot of wood in the shelterbelt but it soon became clear that very little of it is actually suitable for what we want to do and even less is extractable! The trees are mostly planted on very steep slopes above a small burn and to even get to the area is a challenge!
Treesurvs Doug, James and Sandra
We started the felling a few weeks back. James, Doug and Sandra from Treesurv did a superb job in felling and measuring up all the wood - it looked like a bit like a Jenga game gone wrong in there.
James and Doug were real experts on the chainsaws
Sandra climbing on top of the trees measuring lengths
And even we popped along to help.
Showing we at BFT can get stuck in as well!
And we found a few of these chaps. Proper IDs welcomed but we thought some type of wood wasp?
Once most of the wood was felled, Jake came in with his tractor and the extraction started.
Loading the wood on to the timber trailer
James measuring up
and then cutting to length
James cutting up the brash
And even our own volunteers get stuck in to help the tidy up
It is a very tricky route up to the shelter belt and the ground gets steeper the higher you go. Add in a wet summer and waterlogged conditions and it makes it even tougher. But Jake did a great job in getting the timber down where it is now stored.
The logs are ready!
Unfortunately we aren't able to start the next stage until we can find some more funding. If anyone would like to support this project or can give pointers as to where we may source more income/grant funding then please do get in touch to
Site Officer

Monday 24 August 2015

The dizzy heights of Corehead

Last weekend we held our first ever Corehead High Camp and we're pleased to report it was a HUGE success!
The high camp tradition was started by ex Carrifran Wildwood Project Officer Hugh Chalmers. We've been running them every year but never at Corehead so we thought it was about time we gave it a go.
The task was working on our march fence and our deer exclosure fence. Whilst this doesn't sound quite as exciting as tree planting (most of our previous high camps have involved planting), we had a number of really important jobs we needed to get done to help keep the trees that are behind the fences safe from munching sheep, goats and deer.
We had a good number of people signed up and despite the ongoing inclement weather (which was threatening to stop the whole thing), the sun came out just when we needed it and so we decided to go ahead.
One of our three tool and equipment drops.. we were going to be busy!
We met at the barn at Corehead and took a stroll up through Tweedhope and then on to Whitehope Knowe where we were set up camp. After getting the tents up in the dry (we all breathed a sigh of relief after that) we split up into 3 teams.
A view from our campsite which we shared with this beautiful orchid (thanks for the picture John!)
Team One were walking along the exclosure fence line and identifying wobbly posts that needed new supports.
Sue and Rory who were leading Team One
Team Two were following behind and doing the repairs as well as securing some of the exclosure gates that had come loose.
Team Two John and Ken making some repairs

A now very secure gate!
Team three were putting in a new stretch of fence line to stop any sheep that may come across Hartfell. We do have a large fence line up there but it is in very bad condition. We took a decision that in the interim period of getting that replaced, we would create a barrier further along which at least prevents them from getting to our trees.
Team Three started as John and Dave

And finished as John and Dave

Putting in a stile so walkers can cross
After a hard days worked we all had a bite to eat before some of us taking an evening stroll around our Whitehope plantation.
Whitehope at dusk looking towards Moffat

Evening sun sets in Lochan Burn

The southern uplands in all their glory
The next day we were up and keen to keep going. With some posts that we had left we did some repairs to our march fence.
Ken and Rory take the lead

Rory adding staples to the new post

Sue making sure the post was definitely in place!
This took us up to lunch when it was time to pack up and head back down.
Packing up (still in the dry!)

We even managed to do a few more repairs on our walk back down
So in summary: a great weekend, a fantastic bunch of people and all jobs done. A big success and thanks to all who participated
Site Officer

Thursday 20 August 2015

Adventure club this summer

We've had some great adventures at Corehead this summer. Over the weeks some highlights were making wild plant lip balm, finding lots of dragonfly nymphs, newtlings and other beasties in the wildlife scrapes and drinking meadowsweet cordial that we made on site.

Last week was the final session for the summer and a jam packed one it was too!

We started off making charcoal

Cutting willow to size 

Its very  important to put a hole in the top of the tin so that the gas released from the wood can escape!

You leave the tin on the fire until the smoke and flames stop coming out of the hole in the lid, when this happens it is ready to take off the fire.

The finished product

Whilst all that was going on we had a bash at dying wool using common sorrel roots and meadowsweet

Different shades!

and then there was stick whittling in preparation for marshmallow toasting

and bread on a stick :  )

Thanks everyone who came along and got involved...looking forward to the autumn adventure clubs!

Ali Murfitt
Community and Eduction Officer

Monday 17 August 2015

Junior rangers: knots, ropes and navigation

This month Richard from NTS shared some of his mountain leader skills with the Junior rangers at Corehead Farm. We covered navigation, knots, and a few abseiling methods to be able to descend difficult terrain in an emergency.

Knots! We learnt the over hand, double figure of eight and stopper knot 

The South African Abseil 

The south African abseil lets you lower your self down but requires a longer rope

A different kind of knot: this one requires you to trust your team members who lower you down 

How low can you go! 

We also completed the big butterfly count and recorded a ringlet and green veined white

Thanks Vanessa for taking all the piccies and Richard for leading a really great session :)

Ali Murfitt
Community and Education Officer 

Friday 14 August 2015

Exploring the Talla valley

On the 12th August we set out for a recording day in the Talla valley. A small but diverse bunch, we were concentrating on butterflies, moths, bryophytes and other curiosities!

 Whilst Liz headed up into Black Cleuch, hunting for interesting places where the bryophytes have not already been recorded (the bryologists have been on the case in Talla and Gameshope creating a detailed baseline of the diversity on site)  the rest of us set out to complete butterfly transects.

Changes are already taking place in the valley, with the grass considerably longer than last year. Now that the woolly munchers are no longer about to eat any germinating tree seed lucky enough to reach Talla, we found three Rowan saplings clustered together. In such a vast landscape that seems completely devoid of trees, this is truly heart-warming.

Woo hoo!!

It was wonderful to have John Wooliams along who taught us a thing or two about identification of carpet moths

Common carpet - has a thin brown line in the thick white band!
Barred straw

My favourite part was clambering down the upland stream. Here there was rich diversity of plants including tall herbs such as meadowsweet and valerian; delicate flowers in the flushes such as starry saxifrage and an cascade of mountain fern, ladies mantle and blaebarry clinging to the steep slopes.

We even found Grass of Parnassus in a wet part on the valley bottom, also known as bog star this is a beautiful flower of the marsh and moor. 

The butterflies were out enjoying the afternoon sun and included green veined whites, ringlets and the small heath


Small heath

John also spotted a scotch argus butterfly down by the barn.

Really looking forward to to the next survey day where we'll be heading up the Gameshope valley.

This is on Sunday the 23rd August and if you'd like to come out to help survey please get in touch,

Ali Murfitt
Community and Education Officer