Portmoak Community Woodland

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Burns Supper: Saturday 23 January, 2016
Get this into your diaries now: we always sell out and those people who can remember what happened always say that it was the world's best Burns Supper. Tickets will go on sale towards the end of December. As ever Dr Bill Carr will put the poor wee beast to the sword and we've got plenty of top notch speakers, singers, reciters and mucking abouters.
                            When Bill addresses the haggis, it stays addressed
 YouTube link:  When Bill addresses the haggis, it stays addressed.

Christmas Tree Day: Sunday 13 December, 2015: 11:00 to 13:00
Come and get your Christmas trees from the Moss. As usual, this is a free event, although if would would like to make a donation you would be helping us to carry out our plans to make more improvements. Easiest is to come in at the Scotlandwell entrance and take the path straight ahead, following the signs and tapes which will lead you to our tarpaulin shelter, mince pies and hot drinks. You will be able to go out with one of our team to pick your tree. We'll cut it down for you and help you to get it back to the path. After that you're on your own.You'll need to go out onto the Moss so wellies or good boots are best. If you come in at the Grahamstone entrance, turn right on the path and you'll soon get to us.

Apple day, 13 September, 2015
Have you ever wondered what kind of apple tree you have in the garden? It may be an old variety producing unusual fruit or you may have a comparatively young tree but can no longer read the label? We had an apple identification afternoon in the Portmoak Community Orchard on Sunday September 13th. Very good attendance: 70 people and 4 dogs. The Women's Rural laid on tea and apple-themed  cakes. Apples were converted into juice. Most of the trees in orchard were identified.and labelled. The event was sponsored by the Living Lomond Landscape Partnership. 

Management Options for Portmoak Moss, February 2015
Our consultant, Robin Payne, has completed his report on ‘Management Options for Portmoak Moss’. We’re very pleased with it: it’s full of good ideas and has plenty for everyone.  It’s a detailed and hence large document, 66 pages long, but the summary at the beginning outlines the main themes. We'll be working with The Woodland Trust Scotland on the new management plan and we hope to include these ideas into a long term vision. 

Burns Supper: 24 January 2015
As usual, we all trooped into the Village Hall like haggises to the slaughter. Which Bill Carr - in the uniform of the Surgeon to Manus O'Cahan's Regiment of the Army of James Graham, 1st Marquis of Montrose in the Service of King Charles 1st in Scotland - duly did. Former MSP John  McAllion remembered the Immortal One, Fi Cooper gave us all lice. Or at least, The Louse, and Elaine Carruthers gave us another poem, now lost in the mists of time and whisky. Mike and Gerry and the Portmoak Players strummed, blew, fiddled about and sang, then Karen reminded everyone how lucky they were to have such a wonderful steering group to look after their woodlands for them. Meeting ajourned in the wee sma' hours.   

                           When Bill addresses the haggis, it stays addressed
 YouTube link:  When Bill addresses the haggis, it stays addressed.

Christmas Trees: Sunday 14 December
Plenty of people braved the blustery weather to get their Xmas tree and enjoy some mulled wine and minced pies with us. As usual, everything was free, but there were lots of donations to the Moss.

Community consultation on the future of Portmoak Moss: Friday 5 December: Well Inn: 18:00-20:00
Woodland Trust Scotland will soon be drawing up their five year management plan for Portmoak Moss. The Community Woodland Steering Group decided this was a good time to come up with some of our own ideas so with money from the Heritage Lottery Fund, matched by Scottish Natural Heritage, we’ve commissioned a team of specialists to look at all aspects of Portmoak Moss.
Please join us on Friday December 5th at The Well Country Inn, Scotlandwell, for a drop-in session, starting at 6pm.  This is everyone’s opportunity to express views on the future of the Moss and our consultant will be there with maps and various ideas for you to comment on. The event will last for an hour or two and will be very informal.
The Moss is a very special place, in so many ways, for so many people and whilst not wishing to lose any of that we also want to explore the potential to create a much more diverse set of habitats and continue to restore the function of the Moss as a carbon store and flood control mechanism. Come along and give us your ideas and opinions!

Woodland Shield: 19 November 2014: We are the Champions, My Friend!
Kinross-shire Civic Trust announced the award on Wednesday evening, 19 November, of its Woodland Shield. Inaugurated soon after the Trust’s inception in 1991, the competition is open to schemes within the County of Kinross and Glenfarg Parish, to encourage environmental improvement schemes and a diversity of wildlife, including the planting and management of woodland and promoting public access for the benefit of future generations.
There were six entries for the 2014 Award with the winner being Kilmagad Wood, Scotlandwell, a community wood established jointly by the WOODLAND TRUST and PORTMOAK COMMUNITY WOODLAND GROUP.  The judges commented “that the new wooded area dovetailed into the relic natural woodland and that there were obvious signs of community involvement and useage.”    Here's the Press Release.

November 2014 Newsletter
As with gardening, so with community woodlands.  This has been a time to enjoy the fruits of our labours.  Many of the apple trees in the community orchard in Kilmagad Wood have been covered with fruit and our third harvest has been the best yet.  We’ve seen a wonderful increase from just one apple on the young trees in the first year, to several hundred this time.  It’s great that the hard work of planting and pruning is producing results..

We filled a basket with apples and put it in Kinnesswood Shop and we’re grateful to them for  making  space for it and allowing people to help themselves.  Of course, being a community orchard, the idea is that people should pick their own and if we get a good crop next year we’ll make sure everyone knows that they can do that.

There’s a huge range of fruit trees in the orchard , bearing eaters and cookers in every colour shape and size.  We’re still learning about their different ripening times and some take ages.  If you walk up through the orchard you may yet find some apples there, as well as hazelnuts on the bushes.
Portmoak Moss is also a rewarding place to walk at this time of the year. Red squirrels have been spotted regularly and there’s a huge array of mushrooms and toadstools.   The Portmoak Community Woodland Steering Group have no wish for the fine autumn days to end but we are waiting for a spell of wet weather to give us the right conditions to replant the sphagnum moss which we rescued before the mulching work in August.  The exact method hasn’t been decided but one or two of the committee are rather keen on firing it across the bog through water pistols, so watch out for strange antics in the weeks ahead.

Major activity: mulching: August 2014
The restoration of the raised peat bog in the centre of the wood moved to the next level with major works on the core area of the Moss.
Volunteers collected rare sphagnum moss ahead of the  work starting and will replace it later to give regeneration a jump start.
The reason for this radical piece of conservation work is that too many areas of the peat dome were remaining dry, despite damming the ditches and removing the birch and pine regeneration. Louise Batchelor of the Portmoak Community Woodlands Steering Group said: “We need to get rid of the tree stumps and other raised areas in order to make the central area as boggy as possible. Achieving true bogginess should also make it difficult for trees to grow back and improve conditions for bog-loving plants and insects.”
The mulching work – churning up the surface of the bog - was carried out by large machine and took most of August to complete. The many creatures of the Moss weren't forgotten. An environmental assessment was done to ensure protection of the small population of red squirrels, while important breeding places for dragonflies and damselflies were excluded from the working areas. Also, the timing of the work was planned to commence at the end of the ground nesting bird season. 
Scottish Natural Heritage recommended the work and are supporting improvements to the raised bog habitat through their Green Stimulus Peatland Restoration Project . The Gannochy Trust are supporting access works.

Wild textures: Thursday 24 July 2014
The RSPB ran a series of guided sensory explorations of the Loch Leven Landscape, including an event on wild textures at Kilmagad Wood.

Moths and butterflies: Saturday 28 June 2014
Duncan Davidson, the butterfly recorder for the East of Scotland and moth recorder for Fife and Kinross, gave a hugely entertaining and informative talk in the festival marquee, attended by 18 adults and 8 children.  He pointed out that learning how to identify butterflies was easier than learning the alphabet as there are only 22 species of butterfly in  Fife and Kinross. 
After the talk we headed up onto the hill above the Bishop-shire golf course, to put our new-found knowledge to the test. Of course, it wasn’t quite as easy as it sounded, to identify butterflies flitting through the undergrowth, but we saw plenty including a number of pretty ‘ringlets’, meadow brown and the lovely common blue.  
Duncan had also set up a moth trap in Kilmagadwood, on the previous evening, and caught some weird and wonderful specimens, including the poplar hawk-moth and the brightly coloured garden tiger moth.

Dragons and Damsels of Moss and Loch: Wednesday 25 June
A ‘damsels and dragons’ walk in Portmoak Moss led by George Guthrie of Butterfly Conservation, attracted 15 adults and 2 children.  The group walked either side of the main drainage ditch across the peat dome and, equipped with nets and jars, hunted damselflies and dragonflies. Thanks to George’s expertise we saw all 3 damselflies present in midsummer. Seen close-up, they are beautiful insects, very brightly coloured.  We caught the large red as well as blue-tailed and azure damselflies.

Birds in the Moss: 26 April 2014
Our local bird recorder for Perth and Kinross, Scott Paterson, has been surveying birds in the Moss for a while and he led a walk to see what we could see and hear: in the end we got 27 species. The full list is here.

SEPA volunteers work day: 21 February 2014
A number of SEPA volunteers, some who came from as far away as Dingwall, worked on the south side of the path to dig out  feeder drains from the main drains. This will make the dry areas in-between much wetter. Everyone worked hard and they produced 17 drains in a couple of hours!  It will be interesting to see the effect on the water table of this little experiment.

Burns Supper: 25 January 2014
The legendary Burns Supper - and once again the well oiled PCW team did the imortal poet proud. And, as usual, they were especially well-oiled by the end of the evening. The haggis was once again dealt with by Dr Carr. When Bill adresses the haggis, it stays addressed. This time it was videoed, so soon you will be able to watch again without needing to send your clothes to the cleaners. The immortal memory was by Gerda Stevenson - very classy - and the Portmoak Players and Mike and Gerry set the whole thing to music.

Christmas tree event: 15 December 13
A great success. Christmas trees were all free, but a lot of people gave donations so we raised a bit more money for the coffers - which one way or another will all be spent on our community woodlands.

Portmoak Moss lantern event: 25 October 13
The first lantern event in Portmoak Moss, on October 25th, was a huge success with more than 230 people turning up.   The rain cleared up in time for around 400 tea-lights to be distributed along a mile of paths, inviting people to wander deep into the woods. Some brought their own home-made lanterns while pupils at Portmoak Primary constructed a giant paper lantern dragonfly which greeted visitors as they made their way round the Moss.

There were other surprises, in the shape of magical woodland characters like  ‘Thumblefin’ (the elf-goblin) and two flying fairies (pictured). And mysterious music provided by a phantom woodwind player (Krys Hawryszczuk) ,who no-one could detect amongst the trees.

Real wildlife was also on display, thanks to George Guthrie of Butterfly Conservation, who set up a moth trap to help people identify and count the moths that make Portmoak Moss their home.  Walkers also enjoyed hot chocolate and camp fire music before they headed home.

This was the first evening of its kind organised by Woodland Trust Scotland with help from the Portmoak Community Woodland Group. Jill Donachie of WTS said: “Thanks to Lochend Farm Shop for hosting our shuttle bus transfers, to Tullibole Castle for use of their fairylights and to the many volunteers from around the community who helped everything run smoothly. It wouldn’t have been half as good without you.”

Hunt the large Heath Butterfly: 14 July 13
Butterfly Conservation Scotland and Portmoak Community Woodlands Group ran a butterfly event. Duncan Davidson, of Butterfly Conservation, trapped and identified moths and butterflies on Portmoak Moss on the Saturday night and Sunday morning, then he showed us on what he found: about 70 species, with the most populous having more than 200 individuals. The event was well attended with more than 30 people taking part in a walk over the the Moss, especially looking for tte Large Heath Butterfly. Which we failed to find. Oh well, it was still great fun and we learnt a lot.

SNH funding secured: March 13
Major success from the Boginar! As a result of the ideas generated and the connections made we have secured a significant piece of funding from Scottish Natural Heritage to improve the dams, inhibit unwanted birch regeneration and develop a more detailed management plan. Work is underway.

Fruit tree pruning course: 10 March 13

We held was a well attended training day on how to prune fruit trees, run by "The apple man" the guy that we buy our fruit trees from.

Burns Supper: 26 January 13

Our advice was not to miss the legendary Burns Supper and once again our sound guidance was heeded by the people of Portmoak: it was another sell out success. As usual, the poor haggis had a rough time of it, being spread to the four winds, and the four walls, the ceiling and the floor by our local medical practitioner, who's good at that sort of thing.

PYO Christmas tree: 16 December 12

Christmas is too commercialised - but that didn't stop us have having a pick-your-own christmas tree fund raising event on 16 December 2012. Big turn out, lots of trees taken and donations made. Many people never got any further than the mulled wine table.

Boginar: 16 November 12

In order to prepare for the next management plan, we are organising a Boginar on 16 November 2012. A number of experts in various aspects of the restoration, management and development of bogs and mosses will gather to discuss options for Portmoak Moss. Topics include biodiversity, habitat, ecology, hydrology and community engagement. The agenda is here and the final report is here.

2009 - 2012

We're alive and well and still busy. Too busy in fact to keep the website up to date - sorry about that. Big things have included buying the plot of land on Bishop Hill just above the Kirk and doing a lot of planting. In addition to native trees we have created a large community orchard which includes many apple trees, cherries, plums and pears. And of course, every year has started off with the legendary Burns Supper. Pieces of haggis everywhere.

Burns Supper: January 09

Another haggis, another sticky end.


Sponsorship: December 2008

And yet again... Once more ExxonMobil generously provided a grant under their Volunteer Involvement Programme to help our activities.


Lunatics in charge of the asylum: Nov 09

In order to help to buy the new piece of woodland, we put in just about our entire bank balance. We needed to raise some more money fast, but nobody but a mad person would gives us a donation. No problem - this is Portmoak and if there's one thing that we've got plenty of...

So it was Sing-Along-A-Sound-Of-Music.

An Austrian gentleman

and an Austrian lady

and an Austrian singer

and another two Austrians

A bishop and a nun

and another two Austrians

A brown paper package tied up in string

More brown paper etc

and another brown paper package, this time with a hill, also made out of brown paper

Edelweiss and a bee which might sting

Some favourite things

Part of a herd of goats

I am sixty, going on seventy



(And another Austrian)

That's enough nuns, Austrians, goats, brown paper packages,...


Thanks to Dick Crighton for recording this marvellous event for posterior. It was one for the anals.

A nun

Another nun, another Austrian

Two more nuns, one girl in white dress


The empire expands: October 08

We have now bought more land for planting trees. This is the field that runs from the Scotlandwell access to Bishop Hill - you know the one, it's got the styles. The Woodland Trust have raised enough funds to cover acquisition and  costs for basic access works, tree planting and maintenance over the first five years. The purchase was finalised on 31 October 2008. The actual design of the woodland  and access to it will have a large input from the local community and there will be publicity about this early in the new year - watch this space for details. We expect tree planting will take place in 2009 at the earliest. This land is oor land!

Burns Supper: January 08

It was the usual full house, with the haggis once again being dispatched by Dr Carr. The poor wee thing never stood a chance and we expect to be picking bits of it out of the cracks in the woodwork for several months yet. It was led to its final execution by Ms Carruthers who was got up in various items of black and white tat in lieu of proper Poozie Nancy attire. The bagpipes of Cameron McArthur muffled its last cries and Fifi Cooper undertook the Selkirk Grace in its honour.

The Immortal Memory was by Lesley Riddoch - that's right - the wee lassie who's on the telly - and John Williams in his address to the lassies went into detail about hurdies and distant hills. Wendy MacPhedran's reply was pretty cutting about the attributes of the local chaps, but since that included the webmaster there won't be any more details. Mike McGinness had the short straw of doing Mosses, Waters, Staps and Styles, which is the bit where everyone gets telt what the Portmoak Steering Team pretend to do when they have their meetings in the pub. He went into bog snorkeling in great depth (geddit). For those who didn't receive sufficient detail, an impenetrable graph is provided elsewhere.

This year the Portmoak Haydn Players became the Portmoak Portmoak players - they gave us some Burns songs played to their own new orchestrations. The  offenders were Jo Falla, as usual caterwauling in public, and barely drowned out by Irene Barnes, Krys Hawryszczuk and Mairie Leggatt, puffing, blowing and plunking respectively. Further musical entertainment was by Gerry Marshall, plucking and wailing.

Then there were the poems. The Burns Police will have noticed that there wasn't a single legit one. Elaine Carruthers got stuck into Kate O'Shanter and Jeff Gunnell, showing great sympathy towards Mr and Mrs Batchelor's recent traumatic battle with nature, gave us 'Frae a Mouse'. You get that next, but not before we lay the blame for the whole ghastly event firmly at the the door of Dave Batchelor who was the Chairman and overall mastermind.

Frae a Mouse

You thought I was a tim'rous beast
An' cats put panic in my breast
But though I'm sma' I'm no' the least
O' all your trouble,
For insulation's a fine feast
When turning homes to rubble. 

In your den wi' comfy seating,
Playing, laughing, drinking, eating,
Your pleasures long, but mine are fleeting,
Outside in the cold.
Yours all due to central heating,
Mine, brief moments hold. 

But lofts are cosy, like a womb,
And in I creep from cold and gloom,
And chewing plastic plan your doom.
On pipes, sharp teeth I try.
And downstairs, in your human room,
You're not so warm... or dry. 

Thy wee-bit housie, now in ruin!
The ceilings are all water spewin',
The carpets now all need renewin':
A lang damage roster,
An' all December tradesmen queuin'
Tae say, "That'll cost yer!"


The loss adjuster's pencil scriv,
The list o' damage that I give,
Frae pipes all leaking like a sieve.
Your mattress in the bin.
And you all must away tae live,
At Lomond Country Inn. 

So now I've won. My home's all free
From pesky people chasing me.
No cats, no dogs, no repartee:
I've won my glory!
I'm even on the BBC,
In wee-bit newsie story. 

But though I niver thought it twice,
You'll now tak' pesty man's advice,
The best laid schemes o' Men an' Mice,
We cannae forward map.
My outcome, just a throw o' dice,
'Tween poison and the trap. 

So now I'm gone, but so are you.
But you'll be back, but I might too,
For like all nature we must sue,
To live through winter weather.
Not killin' many for the few,
It's Mice an' Men t'gether!

Sponsorship: December 2007

And again... ExxonMobil generously provided yet another grant under their Volunteer Involvement Programme to assists with our activities.

Burns Supper: January 07: press report by Margaret Crighton

It was a full house'in Portmoak Hall on January 27 for the annual Bums Supper organised by Portmoak Community Woodland Group. For the first time, dapper Dave (Batchelor) gave up his chairman's seat to a lady, Elaine Carruthers, who warmly welcomed everyone. Cameron McArthur start­ed off the evening by piping in the haggis which was carried in by Elaine's younger daughter Louise, dressed as Poosie Nancy. Young Jack McDonnell confidently gave the Selkirk Grace then Dr Bill Carr addressed the haggis and in his swashbuckling way, while wielding his claymore, broke the plate! The Immortal Memory was given with great clarity, enthusiasm and knowl­edge by Lenny Herd, who is an ex-president of the Paisley Burns Society. He is a good friend of Dave Batchelor and both play in the Scottish Jazz All Stars Band. The reason for Dave's absence from the chairman's seat was revealed when he gave a very humorous 'Address to the Lasses' and then the reply, befitting the atmosphere and occasion, was given by his wife Louise! During the evening, the musical entertainment was provided by the Portmoak Haydn Players — Irene Barnes, Louise Batchelor, Krys Hawryszczuk and Mairie Leggatt as the instru­mentalists with the singers Jo Falla and John Batchelor (Baritones) and the indomitable Jessie Pryde (Dave's mother, Soprano). An excellent 'Bill of Fare' was provided by Richard Scott, Kinross, which included Scotch Broth, the traditional haggis, neeps and tatties followed by the pudding Tipsy Laird' The annual report of the work done in the Moss, entitled Mosses, Waters, Slaps and Stiles' was well presented by Bob McDonnell (Jack's dad) and inter­spersed with the speeches and eat­ing was the communal singing of a number of Burns's songs — 'Comin' thro' the rye', 'Rantin' Rovin' Robin', 'A Man's a man for a' that', 'Green Grow the Rashes, O' and 'Scots Wha Hae'. There was a large raffle with the first prize being one of Matt Hogg's handcrafted wooden bench seats — the timber having been taken from the Moss. The lucky win­ner was none other than the sword brandisher — Dr Bill Carr The Community Woodland Group would like to thank the following for their kind donations, in alphabetical order Buchan's Garage, Diageo, Matt Hogg, Lochend Farm shop (Stackyard Kitchen), Loch Leven Larder, Lomond Country Inn, Turfit, Well Inn and Wellside Motors. The excellent evening concluded with the traditional singing of' ‘Auld Lang Syne’. 

Sponsorship: December 2006

ExxonMobil generously provided a grant under their Volunteer Involvement Programme to assists with our runniing costs.

Management Plan for Kilmagad Wood: 16 November 2006

The draft Management Plan for Kilmagad Wood was discussed. Key document are below.


Management Plan


339KB   .pdf

Kilmagadwood Key features


127 KB  .pdf

Management Proposals


218 KB  .pdf

Woodland and Craft Event at Portmoak Moss: 7 October 2006

Event to help the Woodland Trust Scotland and the Portmoak Community Woodland Group to restore the raised bog at Portmoak Moss. Young birch trees were removed.  A trained craftsman demonstrated techniques for making tools and jewellery from wood. One delighted member was able to make the perfect present for his wife: a broomstick.

Kinross Show: 12 August 2006

As usual, we were at the Kinross show. As a little fund-raiser we were able to sell some trees which we had taken from the Moss the previous week.

Biodiversity day: 18 March 2006

In March 2006 we ran a biodiversity day, supported by funds from the Scottish Executive Biodiversity Action Grant Scheme. Here's what went on, along with some of the presentations.




 7KB      .pdf

Portmoak Moss: an historical perspective

A time-line of the evolution of Portmoak Moss

469 KB .pdf

Biodiversity action plans

Introduction and overview on biodiversity

73 KB   .pdf

Bog restoration: theory and practice

The development of peat bogs and what we are doing at Portmoak Moss

30 KB    .pdf

Sponsorship: December 2005

ExxonMobil generously provided a grant under their Volunteer Involvement Programme to assists with the costs of producing our 2006 Portmoak Community Woodland calendar. 

Burns Supper: every January

The Portmoak Community Woodland Steering Team organise a Burns supper each year.

It's always a sell out success, with top notch speakers, musicians and reciters. The haggis is dispatched by Dr Bill Carr. It's not exactly clear why you need a medical degree to dissect a haggis, but anyway, it's handy to have him on hand just in case he pole-axes one of the audience while he's at it.

Look out for publicity fliers in January. Don't miss it:  book early.