It’s that time of the year when we start preparing not only for the contract planting, but also for our volunteer weekend planting. This year has been a great year for our high camps, with two taking place last spring and another coming up this 27 and 28 October at Gameshope.
The first high camp of the year was in the beginning of April at Wildwood where 19 of us joined together for a weekend’s planting. We met up at the car park and made our way to our new high camp base, which was just passed Games Gill on a wide meander on Firthhope Burn. Here we had erected an ex-army arctic bell tent complete with a wood burning stove. This meant that in the evening we had somewhere to join together. Once everyone had finished putting up their tents we headed up Firthhope Burn to around 750m up on Firthhope Rig, where we found our drop of 2,010 willows (600 tea leaved, 2,010 downy willow and 200 bay willow),which we then proceeded to plant. We were so lucky with the weather, with the clouds clearing as we ascended, leaving us with glorious views through Carrifran.
That evening after we had all eaten, we got the fire going in the bell tent and sat and shared stories and tea. It was so good to have a communal space, where we could enjoy each other’s company in the evening, instead of only having our tents to disappear into. Quite a few ideas were thrown around in this time together as to what could be our next additions to the high camp, like a pot of stew awaiting volunteers… hmm watch this space!
The following day we managed to finish off planting all the trees that were taken up, which was a great achievement. We even found time, on the way down, to remove quite a few vole guards from the trees by Holly Gill, until ready to call it a day, we headed back to the car park, very satisfied at having completed everything that we had set out to do, and more.
Our second high camp was at the end of April and was at Gameshope. As has become the way for our camps here, the bothy becomes our base, a place to cook, meet and share. So having met everyone by the main gate we headed up to the bothy, which is around a 30min walk. It was good to see that the trees that we had planted the previous year along the river were all doing so well. Tents were set up around the bothy and very soon trees were going into the ground. The 24 volunteers managed to plant over 3400 trees during the weekend (1000 downy birch, 2000 eared willow and 400 bay willow), a marvellous achievement indeed! In the evening we all met up in the bothy to get warm, cook food, and have a real chance to get to know one another. A great evening was had, and feeling well rejuvenated the next day’s planting was a pleasure, with plenty of sunshine, good company, and lots of trees being planted, what more could you ask for!
So now this October, we are heading into our fifth high camp at Gameshope, who knows what tales we will have to tell, and new friendships and bonds forged?