DSC01773We are in the development phase of our Forest Project.  This involves revisiting the ideas put forward during the consultation process and exploring new ideas.  Over the last few weeks I have been meeting with as many local groups and organisations as I can to discuss the opportunities and challenges presented by the project.

A new and growing rapidly group – Bute Astronomical Club organised a great event for Saturday night, unfortunately the skies decided not to accommodate us.  However Douglas Cooper and Alasdair Taylor gave interesting and entertaining presentations, along with a demonstration on the workings of a telescope.  Ettrick Bay Cafe was standing room only!  This underlined the enthusiasm for the idea of having an observatory and viewing area within our forest.

During the consultation process, access and use of the forest became a key topic.  There were 2 aspects to this – Community and Visitors.  We were all keen to understand and enjoy this beautiful environment AND we wanted to share it with our visitors.  Bring all this together and you get a bright Sunday morning exploration.

Our party consisted of James Johnstone (erstwhile guide), Angus Jardine, Douglas Cooper, Alasdair Taylor and yours truly.  Starting from Rhubodach car park, we followed the shoreline to Balnakailly Burn Bridge, our passing gave small interest to a few Heilan’ coos and a flock of noisy Canadian Geese.  The waymarked path, a little boggy in parts, is a lovely way to start The Loop.    An artwork built by the children at Stand on the Land event in October 2010 was still evident.  We didn’t pause at Balnakailly Settlement,  continuing up the path to meet North forest track.  After a bit of map searching we decided on a route North, towards our destination – a World War II bunker.  The way through is over grown and well worth the effort.  We finally emerged from Sitka Spruce to a panoramic view of Kyles of Bute.  One of the most spectacular views from Bute, offering a birds eye view of Burnt Islands and … well you will just need to go there and see for yourself.

We will need to wait on the report from Douglas and Alasdair with regards to the sites potential for an observatory however it is most definitely a fantastic site for viewing the North End of our forest and birdlife.  Please check back for updates as this idea moves from possiblity to reality.