Ardentinny Community Action Plan Steering Group formed

A meeting was held on Friday 12th December to set up a steering group to produce an Action Plan for Ardentinny. The meeting was chaired by David Mackenzie, National Park, and present were representatives from the Art Club, the Badminton Group, the Bowling Club, the Community Council, the Community Trust, the SWRI and the Village Hall Committee. A representative from the Church was unable to attend but hopes to come to future meetings. A steering group was set up to take the plan forward.

Ardentinny Community Action Plan – Steering Group

Marian Norris (Chairman)

Jo Carr

Val Kennedy

Dougie Menzies

Lynn Kerr

Eileen Connell

Dennis Gower

Sandra Primrose

Plan Organiser: Ceci Alderton

It is hoped that all the community will take the opportunity to have their say about various matters concerning the village. A written survey will be issued to all households in Ardentinny in January, and Ceci Alderton will conduct interviews with stakeholders. Villagers will be contacted to ask if they are willing to be interviewed. All information and suggestions will be collated and there will be a community workshop to be held in Ardentinny Hall on Saturday 21st March 1-3.

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Hall adopts free membership model at community meeting

Ardentinny Hall Management committee held an open community meeting on 10 October to inform residents on the status of the village hall and to discuss the possible future role of the asset within the community. 

For the moment the committee is keeping the hall ‘ticking over’, having reopened it for club and other bookings; ensuring that it is cleaned, that regular outgoings are paid; and making the relevant official changes of office bearers.

Management committee member Guy Elder reported on the fabric of the building. The gutters and downpipes were blocked and water is overflowing and seeping into the building and, despite clearing the back and side, the actual source of the ingress has yet to be determined. There are also no obvious drains taking water away but once they obtain field drawings of what drainage exists the committee will then decide what needs to be done before hiring a digger to make the appropriate provision. In the meantime they have applied for a National Park (building) grant to cover the cost. This has successfully reached the second stage whereby a further application has to be submitted by 20 October.

The Chair then referred to the 2015 Community Action Plan and the likes, dislikes, wants and needs of the residents expressed therein, with a view to discussing if/how the village hall asset might play a part in achieving the community’s vision for its future. There were various suggestions from the floor including the need to consult the whole community. This was agreed along with scheduling another open community meeting in the near future.
 
In addition, after many years of charging an annual hall membership fee, it was decided to provide free hall membership to all the community in line with other village halls along ‘the shore’.
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Ardentinny Community Trust AGM

Ardentinny Community Trust held its AGM on 19 September 2017 which covered the year April 2016 – March 2017. Its reported activity concerned Glenfinart Walled Garden which is the Trust’s sole project.The Trust Chair reported as follows:

The garden opened for the season on Monday 28th as part of the Forestry Commission’s Easter Eggstravaganza.
The garden was open Saturdays and Sundays 12.00 – 4.00 p.m. and on the first Friday of each month 11.00 – 2.00 p.m. (when Ardentinny Village Hall had their ‘Soup n Sandwich’ event).
However visitors were welcome in the garden any day if the gate was open or by appointment.

In April Franziska decided to return to her home in Germany. She held very informative Masterclasses which were well attended and helped to raise the profile of the garden. She encouraged volunteers and generally improved the flower and vegetable areas. Franziska shared her knowledge with all through her Gardener’s Blether. Simon Richardson was appointed as the new Volunteers’ Coordinator/Gardener and began work in July.
In the interim months volunteers and Community Payback planted out the vegetables in the polytunnel and kept the garden ticking over.

Our thanks go to Friends of Benmore Gardens who once again donated plants left over from the Benmore Botanic Garden Open Day.

Corrie MacDonald from Dunoon Grammar School Learning Centre started work experience in September 2016 travelling to the garden with a support worker every Monday.

Joe Robinson started work experience in the garden in February 2017 for his UHI College Course.

Events:
The Big Picnic, with live music from the ‘Elderly Brothers’ attracted a lot of picnickers and despite the damp start was enjoyed by all.

During Cowal Open Studios, Anthea Gage exhibited in the shed and welcomed 145 visitors to her exhibition.

The Harvest Fair, our annual fundraising event attracted many visitors and raised £1100 some of which went towards a diesel generator. Thank you to all the people who helped to make it such a success – too numerous to mention!

There was a ‘Sparkle Bomb’ the Garden event. Locals and visitors brought Christmas decorations to sparkle the children’s area.

Fundraising and Outreach:
The Trust was awarded a Tesco Groundworks’ Grant to put in Disabled parking.

A grant, awarded by Cowal Health and Wellbeing Network in February, will assist with the transportation of volunteers to the garden.

Trustees attended the Community Partnership’s Annual BBQ in Ardentinny Village Hall and their EGM and workshops in The Three Villages Hall, Arrochar.

The Garden had a fundraising stall at Dunoon Dazzle.

The garden had a stall at the Jobs’ Fair in Dunoon Grammar

A powerpoint presentation about the garden and its history was delivered at one of the TSI meetings in Dunoon, at the first meeting of the DASH Recovery Cafe and at one of the Parkinsons’ and Carers’ Group meetings. Talks were again given at the Job Centre

Visitors:
The 500th visitor of the season signed the visitors’ book in September. This did not include the visitors who do not sign the book, regular, local visitors and the people who attended the Easter event, the Big Picnic and Cowal Open Studios.

Other groups who visited the garden were: Strone Primary, Dunoon Grammar School Learning Centre and Glasgow Art Students who were staying at the outdoor centre. Carers from ENABLE and ASSIST brought their clients to enjoy the space.

Neil Black and Eilidh McKerry from the National Park visited the garden on their annual grant monitoring visit. They were delighted with the progress of the garden.

Tamara Hedderwick from the Groundworks’ grant team visited the garden to take promotional photographs.

Volunteer and Community support:
National Park Rangers regularly visited and NP Volunteers attended our Action Days on the last Saturday of the month which was extended, in July, to include the second Sunday of the month.

Tullochan Futures Group visited the garden with Steven Kenny from the National Park

The Forestry Commission provided us with marquees for our events. The village hall lent us tables and chairs.

The EXP, Youth Group spent a MAD (Make A Difference) day during the summer holidays.

ISS Facility Services Landscaping, Cowal and Bute Team, led by Andy continued to support the garden by professionally strimming the’ tump’ round the sensory garden and cutting the grassy areas to ensure maximum growth.

Two young men from the HELP Project began working in the garden on Thursdays.

The Community Payback Teams continue to be a great asset to the garden.

Development:
The storage yard was completed by attaching a large net to telegraph poles to hide our store of resources. Climbing plants were be grown up the net to further hide them. The compost bins were extended.

The shed roof was covered by box profile to make it water tight and to help preserve it for the years to come. The gutters were renewed and we are, again able to gather and store rain water in the bowsers behind the shed. This has made the watering of the polytunnel much less labour intensive.

The improvement to the water supply was completed. Water butts situated in the polytunnel and at the ends of each planting area were fitted with individual taps connected to pipe from the main bowser.

A diesel generator was installed behind the main shed. There is now power in the shed and outdoor electric sockets for events.

Sam Campbell felled several trees to make way for the parking spaces outside the wall. The Road Upgrade and 2 Disabled Parking spaces as well as parking for a minibus and 1 car were completed by Ross Macarthur Contractors ltd with a grant from Tesco, Groundworks ‘Bags of Help and Argyll and Bute Council.

Our grateful thanks go to the many supporters of the garden project who give of their time and resources and of course to the visitors who come from far and wide.

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Community Council requested to consult local authority on damage compensation and monitoring of radioactive emissions

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RNAD Coulport

At Ardentinny Community Council’s April meeting a local resident requested the following action from the Community Council as part of its remit “to help make public bodies aware of the opinions and needs of the community it represents.

The request was made in the context of past events at HMNB Clyde and RNAD Coulport. For example, the MOD officially recorded 105 ‘nuclear safety events’ in the Coulport and Faslane bases in 2013-14, and in March 2014 Ardentinny residents experienced damaging impact from blasts at Coulport.

Therefore, the request was made to consult with Argyll and Bute Council “as to where compensation would be obtained should there be any damage to residents’ homes and livestock, e.g., horses; and ‘what emergency procedures have been put in place and how satisfactory are they?”  The Clyde Off-site Emergency Plan has recently been updated and can be found here. The Council has been advised that the population of Ardentinny is in excess of 50, as published in the plan.

With regard to radioactive emissions, it was requested that “the community council consult the local authority on how to ensure that there is consistent and local, independent monitoring of the safety of the beach at Ardentinny and that the results are made public.” Levels of emissions can be found in the RIFE-19 Report on Radioactivity in Food and the Environment (Dec. 2014) which is compiled by the Environment Agency; Food Standards Agency; Natural Resources Wales; Northern Ireland Environment Agency; and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency. Faslane and Coulport are specifically covered in pages 168-169 and Appendix 2, p.249 & p.254.

According to SEPA, the radioactive waste currently being discharged from Faslane and Coulport is below the current agreed limits and there are plans to agree new limits to better reflect actual discharges together with continuing conditions which require the amount of discharged waste to be minimised.

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Community Council adopts new format for meetings and Forestry criticised for no warning of military manoeuvres

Perhaps in an attempt to encourage more community participation, Ardentinny Community Council announced a more succinct approach to its meetings in the future, with any business not concluded by 21.30 being carried over to the next meeting. Also, with the introduction of prior ‘business meetings’, it was proposed that matters arising from the minutes would take a much shorter time and that other items on the agenda could be addressed more quickly. Why not come along to the next meeting and support those who work on our behalf.

The meeting of the 4th December brought to light some interesting issues:

One of two portable toilets (with cautionary notice) temporarily installed at the Baron MacInturner Forest near Ardentinny for use by the visiting armed forces. [Click to enlarge]

The MOD has promised to supply a written response to the concerns raised recently by the Community Council. A member of the Community Council also raised concern that the MOD had undertaken manoeuvres in the surrounding area during November with no forewarning to residents.

David Robertson of the Forestry Commission apologised for not having informed the community in advance but explained that it had been a last minute request for approximately forty troops in training to camp at the beach area and that it seems that they had not informed FCS of the intention to do any more than just camp for one night. He said he would get in touch with the MOD in this regard and report back at the next meeting.

The deteriorating condition of the roads and the lack of gritting and/or signage on the Larach once again predominated discussion with the Community Council promising to write immediately to the Council’s Roads department.

The subject of the proposed windfarm at Cove was raised. It was agreed that Ardentinny Community Council would circulate all residents with outline information on the proposal together with details of the next presentation to be made by the Roseneath Peninsula West Development Trust in the Queen’s Hall , Dunoon on Monday 10 December at 19.00hrs.

Finally, it was agreed to put the question of a local emergency action plan on the agenda for the next Community Council business meeting.

Proposed Cove Windfarm letter to residents from Community Council (PDF).

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The future of a village hall. The future of a community.

On Friday 15th October a Public Meeting was held to discuss the future of the village hall in light of all, bar one, of the current committee having resigned.  The Chair explained to the 28 attendees the necessity to find volunteers to take over the running of the hall in this unusual situation.

An initial reaction from one member was that noone could come forward without the books being completed and audited, as they should be. This assertion was corrected in that the books were completely up to date and in good order and that they were still within the OSCR (Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator) time limit to have them audited. Any new committee will inherit a healthy bank balance with the Flower Show grossing an increase on last year, due largely to the highly successful auction, and additional income provided by a series of Open Mornings

After some protracted discussion about the accounts and what was required to keep the hall going, a spokesperson for a presumably pre-determined group declared that they had had a discussion and that they were willing to take things forward. It was then proposed and seconded that those volunteering to do so, be co-opted by the one remaining committee member and that they contact OSCR to ask advice about how they might proceed as co-opted members until the next AGM.

At one point a new member of the community had asked how things had got to this stage. An understandable and very relevant question. The following is a resume of events:

On 11 May 2010 the then retiring Village Hall Committee held an EGM to discuss the future of the hall in the event of there having been no volunteers to run the committee at their AGM. 7 members of the community stepped up to the plate and assumed the reins of running the hall. To say that this new committee was largely inexperienced in running the hall would be an understatement but they approached the task with enthusiasm. There were plans to introduce permanent hall signage in collaboration with the Forestry Commission and to produce high visibility temporary posters and signage to promote hall events. A questionnaire was drafted for members to elicit their views on the possibility of having internet access in the hall which, if in favour, would go to support an application to LEADER’s Rural Broadband Fund.

In view of the fact that the hall is kept alive by membership subscriptions but that the hall is used regularly by only a relatively small number of the membership in the various weekly clubs, it was decided to  ‘give back’ a little to the general membership by offering a weekly Open Morning with teas and coffees, free to members. This also provided a regular social hub for all residents and visitors where they could gather and chat and buy from charity and other stalls. The hall benefited too with regular additional income from stall table fees, sale of second-hand books and non-members’ teas and coffees.

Inevitably there were teething problems . For example, plans to run Flea Markets had to be scrapped when further research proved them to be non-viable and there was one unfortunate breakdown in communication between members who did and did not have email access. However, overall, things were going to plan, including the planning of the annual Flower and Craft Show.

It became apparent quite early on that there were rumblings of discontent in the village rumour mill but noone had approached the committee with any concerns and so the rumblings were consigned to just that – rumours. It was only at the end of July that a committee member received a call to say that members of the hobbies group were up in arms at the committee changing the name of the hall to Glenfinart Hall (the hall’s official name). The committee was astonished as it felt certain it had not changed the hall’s name but it rightly conceded that it would abide by the wishes of the majority of the membership if it wanted to change the name from its original name of Glenfinart Hall. There followed a period of robust public discrediting of the committee and a petition (see below) was organised and signed by 85 residents:

On receipt of this petition, the hall committee circulated its membership asking them to say what they would prefer their hall to be called. 70 responses were received. 41 voted to call the hall Ardentinny Village Hall while 29 voted to retain the name of Glenfinart Hall. Therefore, at the committee’s meeting on the 24th August (see minutes), which 24 hall members attended, it was agreed that future notices would carry the name Ardentinny Village Hall while the stone- engraved name of Glenfinart Hall would still remain above the door. None of the committee had a problem in accepting the democratic vote to change the name of the hall. However, what led to their resignations was the apparent demonizing of a well meaning group of people working on the membership’s behalf. It is obvious that one can never please all the people all of the time but, in an educated society, there are civilised ways of expressing grievances and negotiating solutions. This was very late in coming and was tainted by prior and continuing antagonism.

One former committee member suggested on Friday night that it might be of some consolation to the outgoing members to know that there were always such problems with the committee but that they had perhaps not been village residents long enough to have experience of it. However well-meaning the remark, this is a sad indictment of a community that appears to expect  its volunteers to abandon their self respect and submit themselves  to abuse while they continue to give of their time, money and effort in support of said community. And abuse it was. The Chair of the Public Meeting expressed her decision to resign as being due to the antagonism she had experienced over the past months. Another committee member cited bullying and there was more, which had the potential of being sub judice and therefore has no place here. That others may have been subjected to similar treatment in the past is equally indefensible and should be no justification for it to continue. Therefore, in this age of extreme need both at home and abroad, any thinking volunteer could be forgiven for choosing to channel their time and energies elsewhere.

There was a lot of talk at the public meeting of putting the past behind us and of the importance of ‘moving forward’. In order to properly move forward, we have to take account of the past, otherwise we risk just more of the same.

Some might prefer to dismiss the whole thing, putting it down to ‘typical village life’. That may be the case, depending on the village, or rather the community within it.

Communities can and do exist while tearing themselves apart. Alternatively, they can opt for a more unified and productive approach, adhering to the principles of our legal, democratic, civil, and human rights within a culture of mutual respect. The choice is ours.

The current committee is as follows:

Remaining elected member:
Merle Ferguson

Co-opted members:
Sandra Davidson (Chair)
Eileen Connell
Margo Hendry
John Ulliott
Roy Harrison
Jo Wilkinson
Buddy Laporte
Babs Marshall

Copy of Petition (August 2010)

‘To the Ardentinny Hall Association Committee

We the undersigned wish to voice our opinion on the committee decision to refer to Ardentinny Village Hall as Glenfinart Hall.

While we acknowledge that Glenfinart Hall may be the name above the door, the hall was donated to the people of Ardentinny by the Leschallas family and, as such, has since been known and valued as Ardentinny Village Hall.

Your decision to attempt to change its identity and tradition is something we feel strongly about, especially as there was no approach for discussion or consultation with the people of Ardentinny and in particular the Village Hall members.

We would like the process of the Hall Association committee paying the Forestry Commission for new name boards postponed until proper consultation has been carried in regard to what the village would prefer the hall to be called.’

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Hydro Steering Group – Appeal for Additional Members

24 residents attended a public meeting in the Village Hall on Tuesday,  31 March to discuss the formation of a Hydro Steering Group for the proposed Hydro schemes in Ardentinny.

Chairperson, Dougie Menzies explained that the purpose of the meeting was to set up a Steering Group which would be tasked with drawing up the Constitution of a future Hydro Trust and the appointment of its Trustees which would then manage the income from renewable energy projects on behalf of the community.

He said that a pre steering group had been formed after the developer Co Hydrover approached the Community Council. This group of 8 included Ian McInnes MBE; Councillor Bruce Marshall; and National Park representative, David Mackenzie. However, they were keen to recruit a wider group of people in order to tap into the wealth of ideas and skills across the community to establish a formal Steering Group.

It was stressed that it was not the intention to discuss the project in detail, as it was in the very early stages and it was suggested that the developer was already experiencing delays liaising with Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS).

Mr. Malcolm Crosby, FCS Project Manager for Onshore Renewables informed us that, while he had been unaware of Tuesday night’s meeting, the developer had met with representatives of Ardentinny Community Council in January and that normal procedures for progressing the project were underway. He explained that FCS’ solicitors must first check the Titles of the land in question and that that process had begun. In the meantime, the developer can conduct walk-over surveys, something the Chair affirmed had begun, but any investigative drilling work etc. must wait for their solicitors’ report and its acceptance by the developer.

There will be an opportunity to discuss the project with the developer at a future public meeting later in the year but the current focus is to open up membership of the Steering Group to everyone in the village.

Ian McInnes suggested that it would be useful to have the publication of the Community Action Plan coincide with the developer’s public meeting. An example of a project that they have already been involved in is that of Kilfinnan Community Forest.

It was pointed out that the future Hydro Trust would manage income from all Hydro Schemes. For example, Ross MacArthur’s private scheme, which is a  little further on, would be included. Indeed other renewables projects could be included which are not necessarily limited to hydro. David Mackenzie referred to other Trusts which handle not only income but outgoings where communities have decided to invest in certain schemes in order to obtain a greater return.This could be another item for consideration by the Steering Group.

A question was raised as to how open Trust membership would be and the response was that that would be a decision for the Steering Group. FCS have published regulations on “Defining an appropriate community organisation” for communities to receive community benefit from developer-led renewable energy projects on the National Forest Estate   Also Argyll and Bute Council’s Onshore Renewables Community Benefits Consultation results, which are currently being collated, could be another useful information source for the future Steering Group.

The Chair then asked for volunteers to join the Steering Group and a further 8 came forward. The group comprised:

Dougie Menzies

Ian McInnes

David Mackenzie

Bruce Marshall

Neil Robinson

Val Kennedy

Marian Norris

Eileen Connell

Rob Bray

Malcolm Bartley

Linda Naismith

Jeanette Riley

Catriona McPhail

Guy Elder

Lynn Kerr

Bill Williamson

Anyone else in the village who would like to join is welcome to do so. If you are interested in participating, contact Dougie Menzies on 01369 810307. 

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Mixed views on proposed Cove Wind Farm

Ardentinny Community Councillor Malcolm Bartley raises a point with Murdo MacDonald.

Ardentinny Community Councillor Malcolm Bartley raises a point with Murdo MacDonald.

A crowd of 70+ crammed Blairmore Village Hall on Saturday 24 November to attend Kilmun Community Council’s Open Day to discuss the proposed Wind Farm at Cove. The meeting began with the Roseneath Peninsula West Development Trust (RPWDT) giving their presentation of the proposal. They cited the reason for the development as being an attempt to save their dying community and projected that revenue earned from the grid would go towards financing affordable housing, which in turn should help save the local school; the provision of sheltered housing; play areas and other projects identified in their Community Action Plan.

Chairman of the Trust, Murdo MacDonald also reported that the Trust had recently changed its Memorandum and Articles to permit it to give funds to communities other than its own and that it was planned to give £22,000 annually, for the initial 15 years of the windfarm’s lifespan, to an independent body set up for the purpose of receiving these funds for the communities of Kilmun, Blairmore and Ardentinny, as they would be the most affected by the development. These communities would decide how they wished to spend the money and the RPWDT would require an annual report on how it had been utilized.

After having had the opportunity to view the PowerPoint presentation and accompanying information panels, the Trust invited questions from the public. Issues of concern raised were
– the proximity of flight paths.
– the potential effect on a nearby nature reserve.
– the noise factor and how it may be magnified travelling across Loch Long.
– the effect on house prices
– the visual impact on Shore residents, visitors, and ferry and cruise ship passengers.

All of these concerns were answered with specific reference to the Draft Environmental Impact Assessment which had been undertaken. However some of those present were unconvinced and there was prolonged discussion and disagreement regarding the photomontages used to portray the visual impact from specific points in Cowal. The RPWDT explained that these had been produced in accordance with statutory regulations.

When the RPWDT left there then followed a discussion by the attending public, chaired by Kilmun Community Council’s Chair. Here concerns and criticisms were reiterated and it was mooted that the sum being offered to the Shore communities was unacceptably low.

However, not everyone was against the development project. Some were supportive of the RPWDT’s efforts to rescue its ‘dying community’ and to address the bigger picture of the future of the younger generation and their children etc. One gentleman reported that he had done some considerable research on the internet which was inconclusive on the issues raised because he found that where one piece of research would support a particular argument, another would refute it. Another summarised by saying that the RPWDT had made their presentation supported by research and documentation but the counter-arguments from the floor appeared not to have similar documented support.

The Chair concluded that Kilmun Community Council could either do nothing or object to the planning application on behalf of the community, if it had a mandate to do so. Ballot forms (see below) together with a template objection letter had been distributed to residents and those in attendance, in order to elicit their opinion regarding the development. There were complaints that these ballot forms displayed a bias although Kilmun Community Council vigorously denied any intention of this.

When asked what would constitute ‘a mandate’ the Chair responded saying a simple majority, i.e., e.g., of 1. Completed forms should be returned to Strone Post Office before Friday 30 November and any completed by residents of Ardentinny will be forwarded to Ardentinny Community Council to be dealt with by them.

Download Ballot form/Template objection letter (PDF).

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Nature Trail closure – protest appeal

We reproduce below correspondence received from Marian Norris, Vice-Convenor, Ardentinny Community Council, which relates to the closure of the FCS Discovery Trail.

IMMINENT CLOSURE OF ARDENTINNY NATURE TRAIL

This is a picture of the Ardentinny Nature Trail, and a copy of a letter I have sent to the Forestry Commission. I have also asked for the support of the Ardentinny Community Trust, Ardentinny Centre, Strone Primary School, the National Park and Councillor Bruce Marshall. I would be grateful if all those who, like me, would like to retain the Nature Trail for the village, put in your protest by writing to

David Robertson :  david.robertson@forestry.gsi.gov.uk

Argyll District Office, Glenbranter

Gordon Donaldson: cowal&trossachs@forestry.gsi.gov.uk

Cowal and Trossachs Forest District, Aberfoyle, Stirling, FK8 3UX

Simon Hodge:

Forest Enterprise Scotland, 1, Highlander Way, Inverness Business Park, Inverness IV2 7GB

2014-02-18_12-54-29

Dear Sir

As vice convenor of Ardentinny Community Council, I would like to make a formal protest at the plans of the Forestry Commission to close the Nature Trail and Bird/Squirrel Hide at Ardentinny.  I visit it frequently, and think it is a wonderful facility for the village. I have watched squirrels and many species of bird, and the hide has also been used by the local camera club. Many varieties of wild plants can be seen, and I have particularly enjoyed the profusion of violets and primroses in the Spring. The information boards were of great value to visitors and also of educational value to local schools. I understand that Ardentinny Centre will be following the John Muir scheme this year, and as a trained John Muir leader I can state categorically that the nature trail would be invaluable to support this study. It would also be very useful to any local school following the Forest Schools syllabus.

Ardentinny residents are grateful to the Forestry Commission for the new toilets it has provided at the beach and for its continuing grass cutting and removal of litter. The number of visitors has increased recently and is likely to continue to do so with the interest in the restoration of the Walled Garden and the Coronation Wood, and the re-opening of the Outdoor Centre, and the continued attraction of the beach and forest paths. It is ridiculous that just at this time the Commission should make the decision to remove one of its best and most creative amenities.

The Forestry Commission has cut back its Education and Recreation activities considerably over the last few years, and while I understand the financial restraints they have to work under, this would seem to be a comparatively low cost facility.

I would be most grateful if you could consider any strategies by  which we could keep this great addition to forestry education. I am sure there must be possibilities that volunteers could assist in the maintenance of the trail, and perhaps we could join together to restore the information boards so that this facility would be available for future visitors and schools for a long time to come.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely

Marian Norris

Vice Convenor Ardentinny Community Council

 

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Squirrel selfies and squashed apples

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My best side? Red squirrel admirer goes for the close-up.

Ardentinny Community Trust held a Harvest Fair at Glenfinart Walled Garden on Saturday 12 October. Now a regular item on the Cowalfest programme, this year the garden could offer so much more and it did!

In addition to the recently completed Sensory Garden, inspired and recorded by the BBC’s Beechgrove Community Garden’s programme, there was a host of other attractions. There was apple juice pressing by young and old alike with John Hancox from The Commonwealth Orchard.

Argyll chef, Alison Sycora, provided harvest cooking demonstrations which produced delicious vegetarian dishes such as oat groat risotto. Artist and ceramicist, Bill Williamson attracted crowds all keen to learn how to throw a pot or two and the Walking Theatre Company’s time traveller, Scot Ansgeulaiche, had visitors entranced by ‘stories that have been hidden in the stones of the walls and plants in the grounds of Glenfinart Walled Garden’.

Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park Volunteers provided bird-box-making lessons and Cowal Red Squirrel Group were on hand with information, advice and a very special friend – a giant red squirrel who, with the garden’s resident fairy, ensured that the kids were entertained.

Of course, there was also an abundance of the now renowned Ardentinny home baking to take away or wash down in the spacious tea tent and for a glimpse at the far and nearer past, there was an audio/visual record of the garden’s progress to date.

Among the visitors was MSP Mike Russell who had this to say about the day:

“The walled garden has become a tremendous asset for the community and the amazing progress made since I was last there is a huge testament to the hard work of so many. The open day was tremendous fun and very informative and it was good to see so many people from outside the area there and keen to participate. All those involved deserve a great deal of praise for what they have done, not least for creating such a peaceful and positive space which touches many lives.”

The garden will have its last regular opening to the public this Saturday from 11am until 3pm. and will reopen at Easter 2014. However, during the winter months, Glenfinart Walled Garden will be open to volunteers and groups and individual visitors are welcome to come along by appointment. Those interested in visiting the garden during the winter should call 01369 810275 or email info@GlenfinartGarden.org.

[Click image to enlarge]

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