December 2016 News

Wild Things! Winter Wonderland Celebration.  This took place on the 4th December and involved about fifty local people who have been supporting the great outdoor programmes for local young people that the organisation puts on including quite a number that take place on Findhorn Hinterland Trust managed land.   It was a magical event at the Woodland Shelter with Christmas lights and lanterns, a blazing fire and plenty to nibble on and drink.  It took place at dusk time on a frosty winter’s afternoon.  Founder and director of Wild Things!, Jennie Martin, addressed those gathered and thanked all for another amazing year.  We look forward to this becoming an annual event and appreciate the collaborative working that has been possible between the organisations and look forward to more of this in the future.

More Celebrations   The FHT Christmas Tree event and Lewis’ Mendel’s green burial happened on the same day, Saturday the 10th of December.
p1040076aA steady stream of people came for their trees and were greeted by Marilyn Gamble and Judith Berry with hot mulled drink and Christmas nibbles before going off to find their tree on the land. Didier Lecuyer, Alain Barrere, Iain Davidson and Bruce Forsyth were out there to help select and cut the trees and Kajedo Wanderer did much of the initial setting up, organising and making a great fire.  Many thanks goes to these people for making it a great event.

p1040041aIt was so good to see children returning again this year and people taking time to socialise around the shelter; it is becoming part of what Christmas is all about for the young and not so young. It also fulfils all four objectives of the trust which are conservation, education, providing recreational facilities and building community – all related to this piece of land at Findhorn.

Towards the end of the Christmas Tree event over 200 people gathered on the Wilkies Wood Green Burial ground to say farewell to Lewis.  Lewis lived in Forres and had been connected with the community at The Park for over twenty years.  He had a keen interest in religion and spirituality having been brought up as a Jew, converted to Catholicism and actively involved in pursuing Buddhist teachings and practices locally.  There was a level of lightness and humour around the service held by Interfaith Minister Chloe Greenwood and his send off was a little different but very appropriate for Lewis.

Work on the Land. img_0299a There has been a flurry of activity to use the tractor and topper to mow down the gorse on the firebreaks and some of the paths on the land. This is a necessary to maintain the effectiveness of the firebreaks and has to be done at least annually.  Mowing also takes place around the Findhorn Wind Park turbines and they pay the trust an annual fee to carry out this service.  The turbine blades are fibreglass and if there were a fire with volatile gorse below they could melt and buckle fairly easily.  Areas of the old dispersal runways also need to be kept clear for access and manoeuvring in case a crane and other machinery is needed on site.

Green Burial Land Sale.  Benefits.   Should this go through; there will be benefits all round.  The Findhorn Foundation benefits as income generated from the green burial operation has to be spent on managing the site but also the rest of the land.  This improves and adds value to the Foundation’s land asset at no cost to it and the land it owns is managed to a high standard. The FHT benefit as the green burial, along with various grants, is the main income earner for the trust; it will be good to secure this income source for its work and will help to make FHT budgeting easier.  The people reserving lairs benefit in that there is far greater certainty that the site will still be in operation when they need it.  The general public benefit as there is money to maintain the paths and woods and put on events for education or fun etc.

Next steps.  The FHT Trustees still have to make a final decision to take on being the burial authority for this long time span but if/when that is done the sales document will be drawn up in the New Year by Donna Skelly, the FHT Secretary, but also a solicitor who works in this field.  There will be an option for the FF to buy back the land from the FHT for £1 in the unlikely event of the trust ever considered selling it.  Other details will include placing a real burden on the land to ensure it stays a burial site in perpetuity.  It is good to see the FF and the FHT being able to collaborate in this way for mutual benefit and the greater good.

Posted in News

The Hinterland Fox

Late one autumn evening, I saw a great Red Fox.
I followed him among the gorse, then lost him in the rocks;
Kneeling on the yellow sand – the setting sun aflame,
I heard the sound of laughter and the whisper of my name……

Climbing amber sand dunes, I started up once more;
Saw the Fox  a – lying by some round rocks on the shore.
But the light was playing tricks, as evening autumn can;
Amongst the rocks there was no Fox, but a charming red – haired man!

He rose and came towards me, and gently took my hand
Raised it to his lips and murmured “Welcome to my land…..”
I frowned and said “You are misled. From woods to wild sea
The lichen, sand – this Hinterland – it all belongs to me!”

Then he sung……

“Turn your face to the Hinterland wind,
Would you go where the Red Fox lies?
Would you come with me, would you run with me
Forever under autumn skies?”

Around his brow there glowed a crown – he laughed and bowed down low:-
“Before the Owners – there was I, and always have been so….”
Pure and low a note he sung, it shimmered through the air.
It carried hope and peace and love – no sense of discord there.

“Ownership and title deeds, concepts man invented-
Commit views to paper form, rights and laws cemented.
A hundred years, a thousand years, don’t forget your place
Among the dunes and shadows of this great and ancient place”.

The setting sun was in his eyes, auburn glints of light.
Was it the Fox beside me now? For in my dreamy sight,
I saw the night creep round the dunes and mingle with him there
“You’re not alone  – in lichen, sand and stone, I’m everywhere….”

Upon my brow I felt a touch, a gentle scented breeze:-
A blessing from the Great Red Fox – I fell upon my knees
Golden glitter, grains of sand, were swirling all around
The copper air was glowing with the song which echoed round:-

For he sung……..

“Turn your face to the Hinterland wind,
Would you go where the Red Fox lies?
Would you come with me, would you run with me
Forever under autumn skies?”

Donna Skelly,
Poet and Solicitor, Forres

Posted in News

Engage with the Land – Saturday 26th November 2016

It’s fun, it’s active, it’s sociable, it’s time spent together in nature doing good work!

Findhorn Hinterland Group Project

Maintaining our Woodland and Land

Work Party- Everyone invited, no experience needed.

Saturday 26th November from 09:30 – 12:00

Meeting Place: at the FHG work shed behind the Caddy’s House in Bag End on the edge of the woods (in case of doubt simply ask) – that’s the black dot marked “I” on the Hinterland Map

Come along and join in the fun!

Posted in Get Involved

November 2016 News

Looking After What We Have.  It was good to see some new faces at the October event where about a dozen volunteers cleared the understory of the small new woodland next to the fireplace in the southeast corner of the green burial site.  The area now gives the feeling of what the present burial field might be like once burials have taken place and the trees that have been planted start to grow.

img_0667Before the weather turned colder and damper, father and son, Will and Frances Lawrence, arrived.  They have been camping out in the woods these past weeks and helping out when Frances has not been involved with Wild Things! events or training sessions.  They have been a splendid help in putting the bee hives to bed for the winter and starting to go through a mountain of old bee equipment, cleaning frames and helping chuck out what is too far gone.

Will and Frances have also been helping Kajedo, our land manager, who has been out using the new brush cutter maintaining and widening the semi-natural firebreak which is to the west of Wilkies Wood and to the north of what has been called Lyle’s Wood.  This is where Lyle Schnadt, main builder of the Community Centre and the Universal Hall at the Park and founder of the energy conservation company Weatherwise Homes (some of its work now taken on by local firm AES Solar), was buried in 2000.  His was the first green burial on the land and you can find out more about the story of how this came about by following this link.

p1030940Another annual maintenance task has been filling in the hollows and bumps of the forest track to the burial site and on up to the wind turbines.  The FHT receives a welcome income of over £300/year, a tenth of the amount paid to the Findhorn Foundation as rental for having the Findhorn Wind Park turbines on their land, for carrying out this task.

Hygeia Foundation Donation.  John Clausen, President and Director of this U.S. charity whose mission is “to promote respect for all life and awareness of the interconnectedness of all creation,” was impressed by the positive work of the FHT during a recent visit and has arranged for an initial donation of £500 to be gifted this year with further annual donations of at least £300.  These gifts are very much appreciated and will be used wisely to promote the work of the trust.  Thank you John and Hygeia!  More information about Hygeia can be found here.

img_0676Edible Woodland Garden.             The garden has been tidied up and has been in the process of being put to sleep for the winter. Finally the fence around the information boards has been brought alive with the construction of a wooden mosaic around them. George Paul, Will, Frances and Jonathan Caddy have had fun over a couple of sessions putting this all together so do have a look when you are up in that area.  Its not quite finished and the construction could lend itself to further artistic endeavour – if you are inspired do contact Kajedo at [email protected]

Integrated Management Plan – Progress.  A contract with Chris Piper has now been signed and the scope and timeline for the work agreed.  A draft plan structure with aims, objectives and vision will be submitted to the FHT trustees for approval by the end of November with a first draft produced for you and other stakeholders to comment on by mid January, final draft incorporating changes by the end of February and signing off by mid March 2017.  It will be good to finally have clear guidelines for the FHT’s direction and projects over the next five years that incorporate and integrate information from the public Consultation Vision Document 2016, the draft Local Biodiversity Action Plan 2013-2018, the Findhorn Dunes Trust Lichen Survey and other important documents.

Posted in News

Oh Christmas Tree 2016

  • Come choose your Christmas Tree from the land
  • Make it a special event and join us for some mulled wine and a social gathering
  • Know that any financial contribution you make goes directly to conserve and protect your local environment

How it Works:
We follow the format developed by the former Findhorn Hinterland Group:
Members of the Findhorn Hinterland Trust invite you to attend a gathering starting at the Woodland Shelter in the new woodland area in Wilkies Wood from 10am to 1pm on Saturday the 10th of December.

We will have a fire and some mulled drink and nibbles before heading off to look at young trees of various sizes that need thinning. You can choose the tree that will suit your home, we will cut it to size and you can either carry it home or label it and we will take it to the roadside for you to collect. For this service we welcome donations towards the Findhorn Hinterland Trust’s work in conserving and enhancing our local environment.

The trees that are cut are mostly exotic Lodgepole Pines from the NW of North America that have become invasive on our rare dune and maritime heath habitats – this is a win/win/ win situation whereby you get a beautiful Christmas tree for your home for a very reasonable price, the land and its native fauna and flora is helped by the control of an invasive species and the FHT receives some money to help with its work on a special piece of land loved by many!

Get your tree and contribute positively to this special place.


Posted in Events

Sandy Barr’s Funeral 10 November 2016

Posted in Photos

Engage with the Land ~ Saturday 29th October 2016

It’s fun, it’s active, it’s sociable, it’s time spent together in nature doing good work!

Findhorn Hinterland Group Project

Maintaining our Woodland and Land

Work Party- Everyone invited, no experience needed.


Saturday 29th October from 09:30am – 12pm

Meeting Place: at the FHG work shed behind the Caddy’s House in Bag End on the edge of the woods (in case of doubt simply ask) – that’s the black dot marked “I” on the Hinterland Map

Come along and join in the fun!

A little effort each month from a few people can make a fabulous difference to our little piece of the Earth that surrounds this community!

Posted in Get Involved

October 2016 News

Squirrel Survey.   Last month’s group activity on the land involved a survey to record information about the presence of red squirrels in the Wilkie’s squirrelScotland is a stronghold for the red squirrel, which is the only native squirrel in the UK with about 120,000 out of the estimated UK population of 140,000 being recorded. Our woods use to have a healthy population of squirrels until three years ago when no sightings were recorded for two years.  This spring there were one or two sightings but nothing since then apart from some indications that they might be present by some finds of stripped cones.

Our survey involved recording the location, number and age of gnawed cones found in the woods with nine people working in pairs to cover different areas. Time and numbers of people only allowed us to concentrate on areas suspected of having cones present which were the NW and NE compartments.

Results indicated a considerable number of cones in the NW compartment (443) with the highest concentration near the northern track in this part of the wood and only one hotspot in the NE compartment (60 out of 62) giving a total of 505. If we take the rough estimate of 20 cones a day as a squirrel’s average food requirement, that would give an estimate of a squirrel being present for 25 days in our woods (although of course there may have been more than one present for a lesser time.) More good news is that there are an increasing number of cones being eaten over time with 104 being recorded as old, 152 as medium and 249 as new.

squirrel2Unfortunately a depressing find was made a fortnight after this survey when a dead adult squirrel was found in one of the Bagend gardens in Pineridge. There were no clear indications that the animal had been caught by a cat or how it had died although photos were taken and have been sent to the Red Squirrels of the Highlands organisation for their thoughts about this. The level of decomposition indicated that the squirrel had been dead for less than a week. The story so far does however have a positive ending with two squirrels having been sighted in the NW compartment on the 16th of October by Duncan Easter – the first since the spring! We are hoping that in time a population of squirrels will return again to nest in our woods but in the meantime we would like you to help by reporting any sightings to our land manager at [email protected]   Many thanks and wishing you happy squirrel watching in the future!

Archaeology and Wildlife Walks and Talks.  Michael Sharpe’s walk and talk about the archaeology of the area was well attended withp1030834a fourteen people initially gathering under the woodland shelter to view some of the artefacts he has found over the past ten years whilst investigating the area. These included scrapers, parts of funerary urns, human bone fragments, flint chippings and necklace beads from the Bronze Age. The group then walked out to an important site near the sea on the way locating cracked cooking stones that had been used thousands of years ago and hearing from Michael about how the landscape had been formed, had changed and where archaeological finds are most likely to be found.At the site people became aware of the far greater concentration of artefacts in the p1030820aarea including an obvious shell midden where our ancestors had discarded shellfish shells after collecting and eating them. They were also aware that over the next few decades the whole area would no doubt have been completely eroded by the encroaching sea. The group then proceeded to a nearby area where there was a burnt mound – a large collection of cracked heating stones that had been left piled up. After a short question and answer session, Michael was thanked and people disbanded, all with a greater sense of connection with their local past.

It was disappointing that only two people attended Dan Puplett’s wildlife walk on the 11th September as it gave an excellent insight into the creatures living parallel and fascinating lives next to us humans who generally are totally unaware of even their presence. A highlight was seeing the regular snuffle holes made by badger in the grassland area near the wind turbines. Others were seeing evidence of fox, uncovering a devil’s coachman beetle, getting to examine a Southern Hawker Dragonfly up close and watching a flock of Longtail Tits and other bird species flit through the bushes. The feedback has been that people would like both these events to be repeated to allow those unable to come to have the opportunity to attend – we will see what we can do for next year.

Integrated Management Plan Progress.  Funding has been sought for a consultant to take on putting together this important document – an action plan giving details on the FHT’s development priorities, timescales and funding possibilities for the next five years that will be developed from the Public Consultation report, Local Biodiversity Action Plan and other documents. However it has become clear that to progress this more quickly and to be able to freely select the consultant of our choice, the FHT will have to fund this itself.  The trust is looking to take on Chris Piper a local consultant that put together the very successful and useful previous plan for the Findhorn Hinterland Group in 2009.  He has good background knowledge of the area, a good track record in this field, could start immediately and is willing to do the plan for a very reasonable fee.  More information will be provided about this next month once details have been sorted out.

Posted in News

Community Woodlands Association (CWA) Conference 2016

On the weekend of the 1st and 2nd of October, the CWA held its annual conference in Forres (at Horizon Scotland in the Enterprise Park).   Eighty-five delegates attended representing many of the over one hundred and fifty community woods scattered throughout Scotland and on this occasion with some representation from groups in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

p1030890aThis year’s theme was ” Community Woods: Learning and Earning ” and five of us from The Findhorn Hinterland Trust which was one of the host groups, went along.

Jonathan Caddy was well received as one of the introductory speakers, giving a presentation on what we had all done on the Hinterland since its inception ten years ago and how we hoped to move forward.p1030878a

Site visits on Saturday were to Darnaway Forest, Sanquhar Woods and the Findhorn Hinterland .  Twenty-four of the delegates were shown round the Hinterland with Kajedo and George as their guides. Together we were able to feel the joy that the woodland and heath lands of the Hinterland give.

Of particular interest to us were the workshops and discussions on involving young people and the wider community.  Accounts of work with the NHS, children of all ages, p1030884atraining schemes for young people in enterprise and forest related skills were just a few of the stimulating inputs.  It was interesting to hear of the challenges and successes of other groups and how much we all had in common. The links between people and woodlands was a constant theme, as was the need to work towards making our projects viable for the long-term future.

We left with lots of food for thought and look forward to investigating exciting possibilities further.

Have a look at the photo gallery for some more pictures.

George Paul
FHT Member
3rd October 2016

Posted in News

Community Woodlands Association Conference Photos

Here are some photos of the Community Woodlands Association Conference held on the 1st and 2nd October 2016.

Posted in Photos
Findhorn Hinterland Trust, Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) SC045806
228 Pineridge, Findhorn, Forres, Moray IV36 3TB