Sign up for Autumn Wanderings & Windings Challenge!

Anyone looking for some inspiration to help them get more active this autumn might be interested in the new, free walking and cycling challenges that we are running this October.

The Inner Forth Futures Wanderings and Windings Autumn Challenge is open to anyone who’d like to explore this fascinating part of the country on foot or by bike. IFF worked with local communities to create nine new trails around the Inner Forth area in 2019, called Wanderings & Windings, and the challenges are encouraging people to use them for their walks, scoots, wheels and cycles. Participants who complete their challenges will receive a free bespoke medal and certificate to celebrate their achievement.

The Inner Forth is a beautiful part of the world all year round, but in autumn it’s even more special as the woodlands turn golden, the skies fill again with the wild geese returning, and our coastal saltmarshes and mudflats are home once more to the many thousands of waders and wildfowl that spend their winters with us. The challenges are part of the Scotland-wide celebrations for the Year of Coasts and Waters, highlighting the fantastic seas, rivers and lochs that are a big part of what makes this country so special.

There are five distances to choose from in both challenges. Choose the distance you’d like to take on – whether you’re looking for a couple of family strolls, a few afternoon bike rides, a good leg-stretcher every weekend, or a mega challenge to do all the routes over the month! You can start any time from 1 October, and you need to finish by 31 October. The deadline for new entries is 21 October. Young people under the age of 18 are also welcome to join the challenge, but an adult over the age of 18 must register on their behalf, and be responsible for them during the Challenge.

Once participants have completed their challenge mileage they will need to submit some form of evidence to receive their medal and certificate. It can be a screenshot of any tracking app they use on their phone or other device, photos of views they’ve taken on the routes, or even simply a log of the distance they’ve covered. There’s a downloadable sheet to use. Share your photos and stories throughout the month on social media tagging us with #WAndWAutumnChallenge 

To find out more and sign up for the challenge, visit the website at https://www.innerforthlandscape.co.uk/wanderings-windings-october-challenge

  

Better connections will help protect local wildlife

An ambitious new Inner Forth project, worth nearly £120,000, is set to make five areas around the Forth better connected for our wetland wildlife.

The Inner Forth Futures Wetland Network has been awarded £119,415, thanks to a grant from the Nature Scot Biodiversity Challenge Fund, to create and improve wetland habitats at five sites around the Inner Forth between now and 2021. A total of over 15ha of new habitat will be created, with more than 155ha made better for wildlife. As wetlands also help increase flood resilience and store carbon, it’s great news for local people too.

The work is focussed at Kildean in Stirling, Black Devon Wetlands in Clackmannanshire, Bluther Wetland in Fife, and Carron Dams and Bothkennar Pools in Falkirk. Plans include creating new pools, scrapes and hedgerows; cutting back reeds and scrub to open up clear water areas; removing invasive species like giant hogweed and Japanese knotweed; installing new fences to manage grazing pressures; and carrying out surveys to assess what future work could be done.

Commenting on the award, Inner Forth Futures Wetland Habitat Network project lead Toby Wilson, of RSPB Scotland, said:

‘The Inner Forth is incredibly valuable for its wetland habitats, with some parts of international importance. This is especially true as we have lost an estimated 35% of our wetlands in the UK over just the last 40 years. This project will not only create much needed new wetland habitat, but most importantly help link existing wetland areas. This means wildlife will be able to move more easily through the landscape using a network of pools and hedgerows, allowing it to spread and thrive. We hope this project will provide a blueprint for others, so that eventually we will have a nationwide network of habitats that will help tackle the biodiversity crisis, and benefit both wildlife and people.’

The project is led by RSPB Scotland on behalf of the Inner Forth Futures Partnership, a group of nine organisations working together to help protect and promote the area’s natural and cultural heritage. RSPB Scotland, Scottish Wildlife Trust, Falkirk, Stirling and Fife Councils will manage work at individual sites.

IFF team Working From Home & Farewell to Sue

October 2020 Update

IFF Team Working from Home

Following Scottish Government guidance on the coronavirus pandemic, the IFF team (Kate & Chloe) remain working from home. This means that we will not be able to answer phone calls to the Inner Forth Futures office and have limited opportunitiest to collect post. We are still available by email and mobile phone, so please get in touch via our This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. address in the first instance and one of us will get in touch with you. Alternatively please follow our social media pages and share how you are exploring the nature and heritage of the Inner Forth this autumn. We'd be delighted to hear from you! 

Farewell to Sue

Inner Forth Project Officer Sue Walker, who has worked with us since Inner Forth Landscape Initiative began its delivery phase in 2014, moved on to pastures new at the end of September. With restrictions not allowing us to meet in a group we gave Sue a 'virtual' goodbye to wish her well in her new role and say a big thank for her work with us over the past 6 years. 

Sue, who is going to work for the Scottish Wildlife Trust on the Cumbernauld and Coigach & Assynt Living Landscapes projects, commented: 'It's been a fantastic six years working in the Inner Forth. It's not only a unique and amazing landscape, but over the years I've been here I've met and worked with some of the friendliest and most helpful people you could imagine. There are so many folk who are incredibly proud of the area, and work extremely hard in all sorts of ways to make the Inner Forth special. They have made my time here a real pleasure, and I will miss them all. Thank you everyone!'

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.

 

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