This is where you'll find all the news stories no longer on the home page.
- November 2017
Volunteers and Trees!
We held a very successful second volunteer session on Sunday November 5th, with around 40 people helping with a variety of jobs. The age range of volunteers was from 5 years old to 75! We moved brash (some of which was burnt in a mini bonfire), removed fallen trees from paths and dyke, brought all remaining unused tubes and stakes off the hill to a secure location, and continued the ongoing maintenance of the trees planted in the spring. We also found time to fit in an expert-led dyking demonstration / practice, during which a very small section of dyke was repaired – which whetted our appetite for a longer dedicated training session in the near future.
Apart from the completion of the various jobs, the biggest benefit of the day was the great feeling of a diverse group of people working together as a team, and celebrating the community ownership of the hill.
We have recently had a beat up survey conducted by a professional forester on the contractor planting on the east side of the site. Although full details are to follow, the results indicate a very pleasing rate of tree loss at around just 5%. This result is in line with, or slightly better than, previous informal counts conducted by trustees.
Still on trees, we have noticed an apparently unsolicited gift of 14 oak saplings that have been planted on the south side of the hill. Whilst we are grateful for any free trees, we do have recently amended planting plans and schedules that we need to stick to – and we also need to be sure of the provenance of any trees. Consequently, we would ask our anonymous benefactor (or anybody else) to please contact us if you have any trees to gift to the project - rather than just planting without our consent. Because of the issues of plans and provenance, we reserve the right in future to remove any trees that are planted without our knowledge.
- September 2017
SSE Moffat Community Fund Results
MCW applied to two seperate pots of the SSE Moffat Community Fund. The large fund we applied for £72,000 for a family friendly initiative, improving access and facilities to / on site with multi-purpose path upgrades and a family cycle trail. Unfortunately, this bid was massively over subscribed and we were unsuccessful.
The second pot was our medium grant application for £9,874 for family facilities on Gallow Hill. This includes, a natural play area, picnic tables and wooden sculptures on an access gate.
The successful (after stage 1) medium grant applications were given a chance to compete for votes at a marketplace exhibition in the Town Hall. This was held on the afternoon of 17th September. More than 500 people passed through the doors to cast their votes.
We are happy to announce this bid was successful, securing the full amount applied for.
This was a great opportunity for MCW to speak to the community not only about the grant application but the project progress, the 1st phase planting and future plans. We were extremely happy with the positive comments and support the project has. Exciting times ahead....
Finally, we have opened a new social networking account with Instagram and would love you to follow us - once in Instagram search for 'friendsofgallowhill'
- July 2017
Community Engagement / Consultation Results - Funding Opportunities
As you know, one of our Project Officers has been involved in a 6-month programme of community engagement / consultation. This has included many groups in and around the Moffat area. She has met with 15 organisations / groups that have represented nearly 700 people. Engagement has been in various forms i.e. large group chats / sessions (school, scouts etc.); smaller meetings with representatives of the organisation (local nursery, Moffat Nature Reserve, Rainbows etc.); site visits (Corehead, Borders Forest Trust and Eskrigg Nature Reserve); social media posts; and a survey conducted through Survey Monkey, to gather the views of our membership, school children and the wider public of Moffat and surrounding area.
One hundred and seventy-eight surveys were completed highlighting four areas that people indicated would be a great enhancement to the Gallow Hill (these areas also featured very high in the meetings / sessions that took place during the 6-month programme). The top 4 areas for enhancement each scored over 50% (as a result of all participants who completed the surveys). Whereas, two of the areas scored 75% (from the surveys completed by Moffat Academy students). It was stated, if these developments were on the hill, people would personally or as a group / organisation, engage more than they currently do, in fact many indicating they would engage regularly (i.e. on a weekly basis).
The areas mentioned above are – Natural Play (play equipment made from wood and ropes), Family Cycle Trails, Tree House / Shelter / Hang Out / Outdoor Learning Area and Picnic Benches.
The outcome has resulted in two applications to the SSE Moffat Community Fund. The first one is for benches (including a bench for wheelchair users), natural play and a barrier with sculpted posts, which covers two areas above and the second is for upgrading paths to multi-purpose (which widens access to more disability groups) and to create a family cycle path (note, we are applying for funding from the Forestry Commission to match fund on the second application).
The final area of a shelter / hang out / outdoor learning area is being researched further. A lot of work has taken place regarding forest schools and John Muir Trust Awards to date. In the near future (date to be confirmed) a forest school day is to take place on the hill. This will be facilitated by two forest school teachers, who will give us further insights into opportunities for the Gallow Hill. Trustees along with key local educational representatives will be involved. Feedback from this session will be included in the final research and plans for funding.
We feel it is important to mention, there was a concern that the hill would change with too many developments. Therefore, the trustees felt it was important when deciding the above enhancements, they would be kept to a minimum as not to be obtrusive, blending naturally into the woodland area.
- May 2017
Gallow Hill Planting Starts!
A significant week in the history of the project to restock Gallow Hill in Moffat as a mixed broadleaved woodland culminated with a volunteer planting session on Sunday. The first trees were delivered on Tuesday and planting of 12,500 trees on the main part of the hill by contractors got underway on Wednesday.
Sunday afternoon's session attracted 55 volunteers, from four years to eighty and around 500 trees were planted near the gates at the top of the Beech wood access route. Soup and cakes were provided in advance of the session and the first tree was put in the ground by Tom Mulholland, Chair of Moffat Community Woodlands - the charity that owns and manages the hill on behalf of the community.
The main planting of the site is taking place in three phases - one now, one in October and the last one next March/April. Reaching this point after two and a half years has involved a great deal of work from many people. Chair Tom Mulholland commented that he had a great team around him who have pushed the project forward. Starting from some public meetings to gauge interest, then establishing a community group and then becoming a SCIO last year, the group now has approaching 200 members. The turnout of volunteers was very pleasing and Tom added "we actually had more people willing to come and help that had prior commitments, so this bodes well for the future". The area planted on Sunday funded through 'Tesco Bags for Help' scheme, which distributes funds from the 5p plastic bag levy. A statement from the trustees said "we are grateful to all our funders, including the Scottish Land Fund, SSE, Tesco and the Co-operative. In addition, on Sunday we received great help from Borders Forest Trust and the local Ranger Service in providing tools and from the Green Frog who supplied cups so we could serve soup.
- December 2016
Moffat Community Woodlands is delighted to announce that we have taken over ownership of Gallow Hill. It has taken longer than expected, but we can now look forward to starting the process of planting the Hill with broadleaved trees next Spring.
There is much work to be done, and over the next 2 years we will be looking at how the Community wishes to see the hill developed for future generations to enjoy.
Tom Mulholland, Chair of MCW commented: “It has taken longer than anticipated to get to the stage of community ownership of Gallow Hill; but we offer thanks to all those members, supporters, funders and others who have worked in the background to make this day possible. We look forward to the exciting prospect of seeing the trees grow over the next few years.”
We have received a grant from SSE of nearly £30,000. This will pay for the balance of the hill purchase (Scottish Land Fund granted 95% of purchase cost), plus £20,000 worth of planting and money for creation of ponds and scrapes. This is on top of the £8,000 received from Tesco Bags of Help scheme, which will mostly go towards planting – with a particular focus on the area at the top of the Beech Wood as a gateway to the woodland. This area will include some volunteer planting and we anticipate it being where the first trees to go in the ground.
Bids are currently in to the Co-op and to Transpennine for work on improvements to access (including paths) and to restoring the boundary dyke. Further work on developing other grant applications is ongoing.
The Trustees would like to wish all members and the rest of the community a ‘Merry Christmas and Happy New Year’. 2017 will finally be the year when we start to transform Gallow Hill into a mixed broadleaf woodland!
- October 2016
We are delighted to announce that we have appointed two people who bring considerable experience and skills to share the post over the next two years:
Mandy Layden will take the lead on community engagement, including members and the broader community, events, communication and marketing. She will also be involved in future sustainability of the project, and working with trustees to develop and implement plans for the hill including (for example) skills development courses, improved access for visitors, mountain bike facilities, arts projects and dark sky initiatives. Mandy lives locally, is a community councillor and has extensive marketing experience including working with the 7stanes network.
Ed Glenwright will lead on hill management, particularly in ensuring that the planting plan is implemented, and establishing a management plan for the hill, health and safety, working with volunteers, carrying out practical maintenance
measures. Ed has strong connections with Moffat and previously worked with the Borders Forest Trust on their project at Corehead.
Natural History Recording
Just to remind you that Dave Dick has established an interest group on Facebook [Gallow Hill Moffat Natural History] where you can provide information on sitings of plants and animals, which will be a great source of knowledge for the future.
Membership of Moffat Community Woodlands
It now stands at 188 – we aim to reach 200 within the next three months! If you would like to become a member, go to the join/contact us page.
Forestry Commission Scotland has indicated that they wish to sell off Craigielands Woodland [situated to the west of Beattock, adjacent to the Caravan park] and has asked for expressions of interest from the Community. It is an area of mature woodland of approximately 40 hectares. Beattock Community Council have not wished to express an interest, but would support ourselves doing so. We have put in an expression of interest at this stage which does not commit us to anything, and it will be early 2017 before anything formal becomes necessary which gives us time to evaluate whether it is worth us becoming involved on behalf of Beattock community.
We have been very fortunate to have donated to us an aerial view of Gallow Hill in its present state taken by a drone.
The superb video can be viewed on our Facebook page.