Pairc and Kinloch HealthWalk Group enjoying a stroll to the Loch at the community woodland supported by Pairc Trust and Walk On Hebrides

As Covid-19 restrictions have eased recently, we’ve seen more visitors coming to the community woodland to enjoy the walks, the playground, paddle boarding and canoeing on the loch and generally enjoy being out of doors. Visitors have been making good use of the cabin in the main car park for shelter when the weather is inclement or the midges too fierce.

Children have had fun at the playground, especially since we have been able to treat the area to combat (for now at least) the reeds. Thank you to Iain and Rob for working on that area and making it more attractive and better to play in. The cabin now has a better rain water supply and again many thanks to the volunteers who have worked so hard to ensure it works and that the cabin facilities are clean and pleasant to use. Please do get in touch with Donnie or David if you are interested in taking part in maintaining the community woodland as a volunteer.

We are very happy to announce that we now own the cabin in our main car park having purchased it from Heb Shuttle through a funding package provided by Muaitheabhal Community Wind Farm Trust.

If you are a regular visitor to the forest keep an eye on it as we don’t want anyone abusing the excellent facility. Currently it is a rest area for cyclists and walkers but we don’t allow overnight stays!

Our regular Aline visitors can of course use it as well.

We’ve installed a new picnic bench inside the cabin
One of our volunteers services the cabin so it’s all clean!

A short walk up the hill from the main car park at Aline Community Woodland is the Children’s Playground which was created in 2013 with the support of volunteers and members of the community. The site has a fantastic selection of swings, slides, climbing frames and crawl tunnels.

The Children’s Playground is packed with fun play structures, this is just a small portion of it

Beside the Children’s Playground is a cabin which is open 24/7 for the use of visitors. We have decorated some of the walls with information posters about Lewis wildlife, flora and fauna. There are a few chairs and a bench-table and changing room. We also have a comfort facility in the cabin which is served by a rainwater tank. Outside there is a good-sized picnic table too.

Donnie Morrison and volunteer Mark Griffiths installing the information posters in the cabin around the bench table

We only ask that if you use these facilities please consider others, leave everything as if you were never there! Can you ensure that take any litter away with you or leave it in the rubbish bin located in the main car park. Above all, get out and have some fun!

The cabin and picnic table

If you spot anything that needs repair or attending to, please get in touch and let us know.

In the last couple of weeks, SurfLewis surfing school based in Sandwick near Stornoway have started to offer an exciting starting point for learning to Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) at Aline Community Woodland. Each session is around an hour and a half provides expert tuition to learn the basics of Stand Up Paddleboarding. These introductory SUP lessons are carried out on the inland fresh water Loch na h-Aibhne Ruaidhe by the car park at the Aline Community Woodland. Its a stunning sheltered spot and offers a perfect location for learning to SUP!

The lessons include lying, kneeling and paddling on the board, paddling technique, body positioning and re-entry on to the board. Any remaining time will give you an opportunity to use your new skills to navigate round the loch.

All participants must be 8 years or older and able to swim 50 metres unaided and those aged 8 – 12 must have a must have a parent or guardian participating on the lesson. 8-12 year old participants will be issued with a soft foam board to match their size for their lesson. Older children under the age of 18 must either have a parent or guardian on the lesson or viewing from the shore within earshot.

For more information about these SUP sessions at Aline get in touch with Rodney Jamieson of SurfLewis & Harris via their website www.surflewis.com or through their Facebook and Instagram pages for all the latest information on surf lessons, stand up paddle boarding, snorkelling and open water swimming opportunities in Lewis & Harris. 

We are working on the website again to update and refresh it. We plan to get this site up and running in the next few weeks.

If you have any suggestions for improvements to the site in general, photographs or videos of the community forest or surrounding area you can contribute or you think might be useful to include, please get in touch.

You can message us on our Facebook page and now on Instagram @aline_community_woodlands

If you see any urgent issues that need addressing at Aline Community Woodland you can call:

Donnie on 07770 544 670 or David on 07762 730 401

In this last week we have just concluded a feasibility study for the further development of Aline Community Woodland. The study was greatly assisted by the good offices of Community Energy Scotland and funded by Leader and HIE. The study has helped us develop our plans for the next few years and are focused on developing a Biomass business and to bring in more income to help develop the woodland through the installation of a wind turbine.

Initially we see the priority being the Biomass business focusing on the sale of firewood on a larger scale than at present and with volume production of small stove size logs as opposed to the larger logs sold currently.

We also need to undertake a lot more new planting of trees later this year and are working with the Forestry Commission on a revised plan to take this forward – so plenty to do and more volunteers required.

We also need to get the recreation area working better this year including better drainage of the area and converting the cabin into a more useful log cabin style building with tables and chairs and with changing room facilities. If you feel you can help we would be pleased to hear from you.

We also welcome all youth groups and schools to use our facilities. It’s great to see how the Harris Gun Club have developed their amazing facilities within our woodland and I’m sure there are other organisations out there who might want to work with us on developing new facilities.  There is plenty space for recreation as well as our need to improve the woodland area.

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