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Help conserve the landscape at country park

Published Thursday, 03 August 2017

Walkers at Chatelherault Country Park. Copyright Archibald Photography Ltd

Volunteers are being offered a unique opportunity to help carry out vital path repair work at Chatelherault Country Park.

Enthusiastic volunteer conservation and heritage enthusiasts can get involved in vegetation clearance and carpentry projects to help improve the biodiversity value of the woodland and enhance the visitor experience at the 5-star visitor attraction Chatelherault Country Park, the most visited designed landscape in the Clyde and Avon Valley.

Volunteering will take place on various Wednesdays from 10.15am – 2.30pm, along with an additional day on Thursday 14 September:

  • Wednesday 6, Thursday 14, Wednesday 20 September
  • Wednesdays 4, 18 October
  • Wednesdays 1, 8, 15, 22 November
  • Wednesdays 6, 13 December

The work is being carried out as part of a larger Chatelherault Woodland Management and Conservation project, which will see the special and historic area returned to its former glory thanks to funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and LEADER supported Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership (CAVLP), Forestry Commission Scotland and South Lanarkshire Council.

Nestled at the heart of a steep and densely wooded valley, Chatelherault Country Park is one of the most important and biologically diverse natural habitats in Scotland, containing the Cadzow Oaks, deemed a ‘national treasure’ through their status as one of the most significant remnants of ancient surviving woodland in Scotland. Thousands of people enjoy the 10 miles of stunning and varied woodland and gorge trails along the Avon River within the 500 acre park each year. Chatelherault Country Park is a nationally valued as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Special Area of Conservation (SAC), and is one of the most important ancient woodlands out of the six that make up the Clyde Valley National Nature Reserve (NNR).

This new volunteering project, managed and part-funded by Clydesdale Community Initiatives (CCI), will enable volunteers from all walks of life to gain practical experience of conservation while carrying out essential consolidation and repairs at a unique heritage site. Volunteers with an interest in conservation are warmly invited to join in with hands-on conservation activities. 

Hands-on volunteer activities will include: clearing non-native species (conifers and rhododendron), moving fence lines to create new link paths, clearing debris and improving pathways along National Cycle Route 74, helping with preparations for the National Nature Reserve 10th Anniversary Celebration event, and constructing and installing benches from timber milled at the NNR celebration event.

Helen Thomson, Placement Support Manager with Clydesdale Community Initiatives says: “Chatelherault is a wonderful site and we are grateful to South Lanarkshire Council for inviting our volunteers to make a valuable contribution to the site’s conservation. The work will be great fun too as our volunteer sessions are very sociable and enjoyable for any adult volunteers joining in.”

The volunteering sessions are supported by South Lanarkshire Council Ranger Service. Team Leader, Mike Brady, explains: “Anyone can volunteer. It doesn’t matter what experience you have, what skills you have, or how much time you can commit, everyone has something to give. This work will make a vitally important contribution to the ongoing management of Chatelherault County Park.”

As part of the Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership scheme, this volunteering project is one of over 70 projects which celebrate the unique landscape and cultural heritage of the area. It is a vital element of a programme of work taking place at Chatelherault Country Park which enhances the historic and natural features and improves access for visitors. Other aspects include the removal of non-native conifers and regeneration of native deciduous woodland, path maintenance and the repair of the White Bridge, and Life in the Cadzow Oaks deadwood invertebrates survey.

The project is part of a host of volunteering opportunities available through the programme.

Donna Marshall, CAVLP Programme Manager says, “Volunteers are at the heart of everything we do through the Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership. Without the contribution made by volunteers locally, projects such as the conservation of Chatelherault would struggle immensely. By taking part in these sessions, you'll be able to meet like-minded people who care about the Clyde Valley and want to make a difference.  It is also a great way of improving your physical health and mental wellbeing.”

Enthusiasm for looking after the historic designed landscape of Chatelherault is all that is required – no previous experience is necessary as full instruction will be given, and all tools and hot drinks will be provided. Volunteers are only asked to bring a packed lunch, waterproofs, and lots of energy and enthusiasm. The ground is likely to be wet and uneven so wellies or sturdy boots are also essential.

Other volunteering opportunities currently available through the Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership include Life at the Cadzow Oaks deadwood invertebrates survey volunteering, Clyde Walkway Community Links path surveying, community clean-ups at Jock’s Burn, Carluke and gardening at Lesmahagow Allotments. For a full list of volunteering opportunities and how to get involved, visit www.clydeandavonvalley.org/join-in/volunteer

To volunteer to take part on the conservation activities at Chatelherault or to find out more, get in touch with Clydesdale Community Initiatives by contacting colleen@cciweb.org.uk or call 01555 664211.