The Painted Rock Trail opening event last Thursday attracted 50 visitors who took part in a variety of activities.

The trail was opened by Rosemary Mulholland, the projects lead volunteer, who invited the children to place the painted rocks in their chosen spot along the trail. Rosemary said ‘through the painting of your rock and the placing of it along this trail, you are becoming a part of the history of the forest. The trees you see here will grow taller, then they will be felled and new trees will grow in their place. Throughout all of this your rock will be here, showing the way along the path for all the visitors to come.’ A colourful new sign by Tim Stobart marks the start of the trail along the access track in Rhubodach Forest.

The group walked along the trail choosing their favourite spot to place their rock. Everyone stopped at Bruce the Spruce to make a wish before continuing along the path to Pigtail Bridge. A game of Pooh sticks was attempted but due to the recent good weather the burn was too shallow and the game was aborted. The group moved along the trail further to the picnic area at the end where Rosemary explained how the work of the Trail Blazer volunteers would be continuing and appealed for new volunteers to step forward.

The group headed off to the secret glade for secret storytelling about the secret forest creatures – the contents of which I can’t possibly reveal!

The pond dipping led by Glyn Collis revealed a budding Diving Beetle colony with large adults and larvae (which look remarkably like baby Chinese dragons). Two species of water boatmen were spotted, pond skaters, lots of newts, fly larvae and water snails. There were lots of squeals (mostly from a grown-up!) when the extra-large diving beetles were spotted in a net. Everyone was fascinated by the unexpected landing of a Greater Horntail Wood Wasp on the pond, which was quickly rescued to excited exclamation.

The wicker bug making led by Maria van Oostend was a popular activity with scenes of great concentration as people of all ages created dragonfly’s, butterfly’s and an assortment of non-bug offerings such as birds and leaves. New forester Ben Robinson showed his softer side with the careful creation of a wicker flower.

The Woodland Trust Art Competition received a host of new entries, with children completing drawings of grasshoppers, bumblebees and ladybirds. Accuracy was foregone for the sake of creativity and colourfulness. The competition continues until the 28th August and entry forms can be picked up from the Bute Forest Office.

Thanks was given from the Forest Manager Emma Cooper and Director Jim Mitchell to the volunteers whose hard work made the day possible – including Richard Matts, Rosemary Mulholland, Glyn and Dawn Collis, Tim Stobart, Ian Carmichael, Maria van Oostende,  Anne Bissell and Jenny Meade and of course all of those who created the new forest trail.