Blog: Simon Bowers, Muiravonside Countryside Ranger

This is a blog written by Simon Bowers, the Countryside Ranger for Muiravonside Country Park.

Since my last update Muiravonside Country Park has moved on considerably, I have continued to engage with the local community and had several enquiries from schools and colleges wanting to use the park and get involved in possible projects on the site.

The continued work with Maddiston Community Council and Avonbridge & Stanburn Community Council has started to benefit the park greatly. The joint bid from the park and the Community Councils have given use our first success in being awarded 1260 edible hedging whips from the Woodland Trust. These will form part of the new community growing and orchard area, which will provide hedging to link the existing orchard at the old mill building with the proposed new orchard at the end of the proposed community growing area. There has also been a joint application to the Forth Valley Orchard Project for funding for the trees and tools to establish the new orchard. 

I was invited to join the local history group in Maddiston and duly accepted the invitation to attend the twice monthly group. I took along a box containing items linked the history of Muiravonside Country Park, and the result that came back is quite staggering! They were able to tell me about the estate from the early 1700’s. I will continue to work with the history group on joint applications for interpreting the history of the park as this was one of the key strands for development of the park which came out of the community consultation.

Our first volunteering day happened at the end of September with a good attendance to help start clearing the New Parks lime kilns. This was done in conjunction with Historic Scotland as the kilns are a historic monument. Historic Scotland have also suggested that the trust apply for a grant to refurbish the remaining stone work replacing decaying stones from the arches and repointing the front of the kiln.

Forth Valley College has started to teach in the park with a regular Friday session for 11 students. They have been given the project of restoring the old rose garden opposite the play area and introducing insect loving plants. They are also planning to build a demonstration insect hotel next to the dovecot with other bird and insect boxes being installed around the main visitor centre.

Braes High has continued their involvement with the park and has concentrated on the reconstruction of the wishing well at the farm. This is almost finished with the student having learnt valuable skills and once completed they will be moving on to other projects around the park.

A successful community led site event happened at the end of August with the Dalmatian Welfare Charity fundraising day. There was around 80 Dalmatians in the park taking part in the day helping to raise £850 for the charity. After receiving feed back from the organisers they would like to use Muiravonside as their preferred venue for next year, they also helped support the park with the Steadings Café taking a record amount of money for a Sunday. This event was followed by a ‘cache in trash out’ event which saw local Geocachers hunting for the new caches and litter picking the park at the same time. Around 20 bags of rubbish were collected during the day and the park now has 11 more Geocaches in the park. 

This October the Ranger Service will be helping 1st Falkirk Brownies, achieve their environmental badge with two events planned, one at the brownie hall and one in the park. Taking bark and leaf rubbings, building an insect hotel and making a bird seed feeder to take home..

New Parks Farm continues to improve with the addition of new fencing along the entrance road for the Highland Cattle field and reinstalling a fence across the field to create a new paddock for the Shetland ponies. Through doing this work we have created space to re-home three new goats in the paddock previously used by the Shetland ponies. One of our other empty paddocks has been converted to accommodate our new rare breed Bagot goat; all of our new goats have become firm favourites with members of the public.

The farm has continued to make the enclosures more interesting for the animals through installing scratching posts; this will continue this winter with the remaining enclosures having scratching posts and trees being planted for shade.

Published on Tuesday, 21st October 2014

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