Let's make every day World Wildlife Day!

#WorldWildlifeDay happens every year on Tuesday 3 March. We have an amazing variety around the Inner Forth, and you can find out more about it through the Wildlife pages. But sadly there are many species that are struggling, because of climate change, plastic pollution, habitat loss and invasive species. Why is this news?

Because 2020 is a massive year for wildlife and the environment. With COP26 happening in Glasgow this November, and a similar conference on Biodiversity planned in China, this is the time when we need to encourage as many people as possible to get involved. Globally, wildlife is under threat, with up to 1 million species at risk of extinction because of the things we as humans are doing to the planet. So let's make sure every day is World Wildlife Day! We can all help pass on the benefits that a thriving wildlife and environment can bring us by thinking hard about the way we live - what we eat, what we wear, how we travel, and probably most importantly, what we ask of our decision makers. 

A Winter Wander

January has been pretty wet and windy but that didn’t deter the Inner Forth Futures team earlier this month from taking a day to get out of the office and explore one of our newly created ‘Wanderings and Windings’ trails; Route 1 First Forth Bridges.

With the team of three all coming from different directions, we met at Stirling Station; conveniently the start point for the trail. Heading south-east from the station, we easily picked up the route and were delighted to spot our first waymarking roundels. Following the route through Braehead we were aiming for Millhall; the site of Robert the Bruce’s defeat of the English army at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, also taking in the hidden heritage of the Millhall bing and former colliary. There are some great interpretation panels from the Bannockburn heritage trail here that really helped set the scene.

We then wound our way round the edge of Balquhidderock woodland through to Telford’s Bridge; built in the early 1800’s and quite striking with its unusual, almost circular, construction. Where again we learned about the Skeoch mills and the importance of the Bannock burn in tartan production during this period.
 

Image: Telford's Bridge, Bannockburn. Kate Kirkwood/ IFF

Wandering west, we headed for the Bannockburn memorial and visitor centre in search of a cup of tea and some lunch – and they did not disappoint! The team dug into hearty helpings of vegetable broth and some delicious cakes, to keep up our energy levels of course! After a brief stop to see some of the props from the ‘Outlaw King’ we were on our way again.

The route then took us along Tinker’s Loan, a picture-esque track which was evidently popular with other walkers, crossing over a great wee 18th century packhorse bridge. The track follows the Bannock Burn before heading north-west towards Gillies Hill, a community-owned ancient woodland and site of former hill forts. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to stray too far from the route, but we could have easily spent some hours exploring the area and keeping an eye out for red squirrels.

Image: Entrance to woodland at Gillies Hill. Kate Kirkwood/ IFF

Leaving the woods at Cambusbarron, we began heading back towards the centre of Stirling taking in the views from the edge of Stirling golf course. Looking west with the River Forth meandering its way slowly across the landscape and iconic Stirling Castle sitting proudly to the north-east, you can really begin to understand why it remained a stronghold.

By this point, the rain we had been forecast all day made its appearance and we decided to head back to the station. We all agreed that it was a great way to spend the day; taking in an area, some of the team know well, from different perspectives and finding some absolute gems of hidden heritage.

If you’d like to know more about this route or any of the other Wanderings and Windings trails, you can find them here – along with GPX files and further information about the project.

 

Winter Wanderings Photography Competition Winners

A call for keen photographers to share their pictures embodying the spirit of adventure and exploration was raised with the #WinterWanderings Photography Competition. Running from 19th December right through the holidays until 16th January, we received over twenty fantastic images that captured the many faces of the Inner Forth – from woodland cycles in Fife and riverside ambles in Clackmannanshire to candid moments with wildlife in Falkirk and exploring derelict buildings in Stirling.

Five shortlisted entries were then shared on Inner Forth Futures’ Facebook and Twitter accounts for a public vote which gathered fantastic support – thank you to everyone who took part!

The winning entry was ‘Day Break at Kinneill’ by Mhairi Mcainsh; depicting an early morning walk with her dog on Route 7: Bo’ness & Linlithgow Ramble.

Image: 'Daybreak at Kinneil' by Mhairi Mcainsh

The two runners up were; ‘Bo’ness in Winter’ showing a fantastically frozen scene by Charles Colliar and ‘Evening Reflections’ by Gordon Dochard showing a glassy Gartmorn Dam reflecting the evening’s shadows.

                               

Image: 'Bo'ness in Winter' by Charles Colliar                                                                               Image: 'Evening Reflections' by Gordon Dochard

Congratulations to all the winners and special thanks to everyone who took the time to enter their photographs. We will shortly be uploading the shortlisted entries to the Inner Forth Futures gallery. We hope that you will continue to explore the Wanderings and Windings trail and continue to share your adventures with us through social media.

 

Winter Wanderings Photography Competition

Three images; a woman cycles over Old Striling Bridge, two people sit on a wall beside Blackness Castle, a man cycles towards the camera through a woodland.

Images: Doug Shapley/ IFF

‘Wanderings & Windings’ are nine heritage trails around Stirling, Falkirk, Fife and Clackmannanshire, encouraging people to explore the wildlife and history of this unique landscape at the heart of Scotland.

The trails were developed by the Inner Forth Futures Partnership, through an NLHF-funded project that worked closely with local communities around the Inner Forth to create a suite of day-long, waymarked and promoted walks and cycles. The routes use existing paths and tracks to help people explore the landscape and discover some of the many hidden gems to be found around the Inner Forth. These include nature hotspots, historic buildings, riverside views, cultural landmarks and simply places to escape from the bustle of urban life.

Now the trails are live, we’d love to see any photographs that you take on the routes that embody the spirit of exploring the Inner Forth, whether on foot or by bicycle. Your images can include the built, cultural or natural heritage of the area or possibly all three!

The competition is free to enter, and is open to amateur photographers of any age.

Prizes include:

Afternoon tea for four with a glass of fizz

Classic Afternoon tea for two

RSPB Puffin 8x32 Binoculars

Closing date: Sunday 5th January 2020

Entry instructions:

 

IFLI partnership wins top national award

The Inner Forth Landscape Initiative (IFLI) has won a national planning award. It was one of just four organisations from across Scotland that have been recognised in this way for their partnership working in the Scottish Awards for Quality Planning 2019, which are considered some of the Scottish Government’s most prestigious awards.

Partners and project staff receive the award from Kevin Stewart, MSP

The Inner Forth Landscape Initiative was a £4m partnership programme that ran between 2014 and 2018. Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, it delivered over 50 projects to conserve, enhance and celebrate the natural, built and cultural heritage of the unique landscape at the upper reaches of the Firth of Forth. As a legacy of the partnership, Inner Forth Futures (IFF) is now continuing to work towards its aims.

There were a number of awards up for grabs, including ones for partnership working, plans, process, people and place. IFLI’s award is in the partnership category. Four criteria were used to select the winners by an independent judging panel. They looked at innovation in the project; the impact that the project has had; the transferability of the project and lessons learned from it. The final decision was made by Scottish Ministers.

Scottish planning policy says that ‘The planning system has a vital role to play in delivering high-quality places for Scotland.’  IFLI aimed to deliver this, working together as a Partnership, bringing local people and communities together, and acting as a catalyst to bring in investment and resources to help protect and enrich the area’s unique natural, historic and cultural heritage.

Commenting on the award Dave Beaumont, RSPB Regional Director, and Chair of the IFLI (now Inner Forth Futures) Board, said ‘It’s absolutely brilliant that this award celebrates the Inner Forth Landscape Initiative’s partnership, because real, meaningful partnership working was at the very heart of our acheivements.  The fact that all the partners want to continue working together to secure IFLI’s legacy after the end of our HLF funding, and that Fife Council have now also joined us, is testimony to that success. The Inner Forth is such an important area where wildlife, heritage and conservation all come together and the success of IFLI is a great example of multiple partners and agencies recognising this. IFLI was an exceptionally good start to an ongoing programme of work that will restore ecological function, conserve built heritage and link this together with improved and appropriate access and interpretation.

Caroline Clark, Director Scotland to The National Lottery Heritage Fund, added:

"This is fantastic news and we congratulate all the partners for the sterling work they're doing. The enormous pressures on our environment mean that we have to approach its restoration and conservation on a bigger scale than ever before and the Inner Forth Partnership have had the foresight to do just that. With the help of National Lottery funding, they worked hard to help communities around the Inner Forth reconnect with nature, which often lies overlooked on an industrial landscape, while helping to conserve and protect it. Congratulations on the recognition of your impressive partnership working."

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