This free community event at Borgie Breco woods was a joint venture between ourselves, the North Sutherland Community Forest Trust, Fèis air an Oir and Forestry & Land Scotland.
Thursday 20th July 2023.
We all gathered at the Borgie Breco Spiral Wood carpark on what turned out to be a lovely sunny afternoon.
Our walk leaders and storytellers were Hilary Wilson and Alexandria Patience. We began with Hilary explaining a little about the history of the Spiral Wood. The trees were planted as part of a community Millenium project in 2000, A’Chraobh (The Tree), with each tree representing a letter in the Gaelic alphabet, based on the Gaelic Ogam Tree Alphabet. There are carved stones around the spiral walk depicting each tree with the English and Gaelic name, and at the centre is a twisting drystone wall, its stones taken from a nearby clearance village. Here is a link to the artist involved, Sue Jane Taylor which includes some photos from the opening back in 2000.
Our afternoon was to involve a walk through the trees to discover a little more about them and their Gaelic names and to create some intuitive art at the centre of the spiral with items collected as we progressed through the wood. Alex ensured that everyone (children and adults!) had a bag to collect leaves and all things treeish. Needless to say no trees were harmed in this process all leaves etc were picked from the woodland floor.
On our saunter through the wood we were entertained by Alex with stories about the magical protective powers of the rowan tree , the folklore of the willow and the symbolic strength and wisdom of the hazel. Hilary played some delightful tunes on her guitar and taught us to sing a little in the Gaelic. We avoided the deadly clutches of the kelpie as we crossed the river bridge by clasping our rowan leaves close for protection.
The children (and some of us adults) took it in turn to write the modern Gaelic tree names on small stones and place them at the designated spot for each tree species. We looked closely at the variations of shape, form and colour in the tree leaves, listened for the sounds of the “quaking” aspen and searched for acorns beneath the oaks.
Finally we reached the centre of the spiral where the magic hare awaited us, and we set about creating our woodland art, Andrew Goldsworthy style. The children created some beautiful leafy sculptures and collages, and Hilary gave out some acorns and natural wood discs for them to decorate and take home.
To round off the afternoon, hot chocolate and other refreshments were served at the Borgie Cabin, thanks to Sarah Kerr from North Sutherland Community Forest Trust.
Many thanks go to our own Hilary Wilson , local storyteller Alexandria Patience and Jess Kaye from Forestry and Land Scotland, and also thanks to John Wright for the photography and capturing the essence of a delightful afternoon.
A free community event that was open to everyone.
Unless otherwise stated, images by John Wright ©
Words by Susan Kirkup.