Some members of our Aline Community Woodland volunteer group have recently completed the renovation of the map and information plinth in the main car park at the woodland. A carefully constructed wooden canopy has been erected over the new map and revised information boards. New wildlife information boards have been posted too. All of this work has been kindly funded by local and national organisations.

For some time, people visiting the Aline Woodland have been asking if we can make it easier to make a donation towards the maintenance and upkeep of our beautiful community-owned asset. With much appreciated support from funders, we’ve been working toward erecting voluntary donation ‘stations’ around the site.

The children’s play area is a much loved facility visited and enjoyed by families from all over Lewis and Harris and people visiting our islands from all over the world. We recently installed signage which includes information and guidelines, options for making a small donation by text or by scanning a QR code (suggested voluntary donation £2) and a secure money box for good old fashioned cash.

The Coach Parking area is now fully operational and we have erected signage by the roadside for drivers and in the coach park with information and guidelines for users including for visitors in camper vans who want to stay over-night. There is now a donations box in the coach parking area for cash, text and QR code with simple pre-set donation amounts of the suggested £10 per stay for coaches during daytime and for those parking overnight. We simply ask visitors using the site for overnight camping to keep their stay to between 6pm and 10am and to respect this resource by taking any rubbish away with them when they leave.

Our volunteers are now working to complete a new, covered information stand in the main car park. It will feature a large map with information panels about the site, the wildlife and flora, features of the woodland, and the boardwalks, tracks and paths (including the Hebridian Way which passes through part of the woodland). There will also be a donations box and cashless options (by text or QR code) to enable visitors to support our fantastic community asset.

One of our intrepid volunteers checking and servicing the facilities

Our volunteers have continued through this autumn and winter to keep up with cleaning and servicing the cabins at the main car park and by the children’s play-park. Some work was completed to repair small sections of the boardwalk. Many thanks to visitors and friends of Aline for getting in touch to let us know where there has been a problem.

Repaired boardwalk

The newly laid and upgraded paths joining the new coach parking area and the main car park has been completed now. We are working on new signage for both car parks and updating the information plinth.

Recently the access slope up to small car park cabin was improved with a roll of chicken wire to help prevent slips. As always please be aware of the weather conditions when you are visiting and take care on the uneven stone paths and occasionally slippery boardwalks.

Slip prevention on the small cabin access slope

The new coach parking area

The new coach parking area at Aline Community Woodland is now completed and the main public car park has been re-surfaced and greatly improved. All this good work is thanks to funding through Crown Estates and grant assistance from Muaitheabhal Community Wind Farm Trust.

Our volunteers continue to care for the site on a weekly basis, ensuring the cabins are clean, the play area is safe to use, any rubbish is cleared, rainwater in the tank is at an ample level and that the facilities are fit for purpose. Thank you to everyone who helps with these tasks and to our visitors who enjoy this most valuable community project.

Two of our excellent volunteers at Aline Community Woodland

We are also hoping to do some further work in the coming months at the car park to improve the signage and interpretation board.

The Pairc and Kinloch HealthWalk Group are planning a walk at Aline on 8th October along the Hebridean Way boardwalk and old road towards

Some substantial new work is now underway at Aline Community Woodland to create two coach parking spaces in a separate area from the public car park. This will mean tour coaches will have dedicated spaces to park up and visit the site. The project has been generously funded through Crown Estates and grant assistance from Muaitheabhal Community Wind Farm Trust. We will publish updates on the work being done and more photographs in due course.

The next Pairc and Kinloch HealthWalk Group will be meeting on Saturday 25th June at Aline Community Woodland setting off at 11am. The group will be walking on the west side along the board walk and then along a short part of the Hebridean Way path towards Griamacleit. The HealthWalk Group is supported and encouraged by the NHS Walk on Hebrides initiative and Paths For All, a Scottish charity which promotes walking to improve physical and emotional well-being. There is no need for special walking gear. They will be meeting in the main car park and there is some additional parking below the children’s playground up on the hillside. Everyone is welcome is to join the walking group as a guest.

Aline Community Woodland will soon be getting another 400 seedling trees delivered from The Woodland Trust to plant on our site. We need volunteers to help plant them during the second half of April. Its a really fun thing to do. We’ve had volunteers of all ages supporting our recent tree planting projects and we’d like to invite you to join us for the next sessions. Get in touch here, or on our Facebook and Instagram sites and we’ll let you know dates and times.

A brief update on the gate posts at the entrance to the pathway to Grigaspul by Loch Seaforth. Thank you for the really excellent work done to restore the gates to their former protective glory.

We also need to remind our visitors to please take rubbish home whenever you can and/or to use the bin provided in the car park. Dog owners: just a reminder that your pets are not allowed in the childrens’ playground to ensure that everyone is safe.

The red area is the planned coach parking area at Aline Community Woodland

For some time now we have been aware of the need to have some dedicated coach parking at our woodland so we are pleased to report that we have now received planning permission for a space for two coaches. This will allow touring coaches to stop off for a break allow visitors to go for a walk in the woodland. It will also provide a nice break to allow for a visit when travelling between Stornoway and Tarbert. The parking space will be at the mouth of the Grigaspul track and separate from the main car park.

We have been successful in getting some funding towards the costs through a grant award from Muaithbeabhal Community Windfarm Trust and will now look at the need for any additional funding and next steps required  to bring the project to fruition.

Recent storm damage to the deer gates at the start of the track down to Grigaspul which will be repaired shortly

Some people will have also noticed the storm damage to the deer gates near the playground. The damage occurred during one of the recent ‘mega’ storms we had here in the Western Isles. We hope to have the gates repaired and restored in the next couple of weeks. Thank you to everyone who contacted us and sent messages to alert us that this had happened. If you see anything that needs to be flagged up, repaired or if indeed you want to offer some time volunteering at Aline Community Woodland, please do get in touch.

Young volunteers at Aline Community Woodland

Toward the end of last year, volunteers coordinated by Rob Tai finished planting tree seedlings on a section of the Community Woodland on the west side of Aline forest. Thank you to everyone involved including a couple of young folk who gave their time up for the project. All the support is much appreciated and makes a real contribution to the future of this fantastic resource.

New gate installed on the west side opposite the car park

Every weekend, our volunteers take turns in servicing the playground and car park cabins while also checking the swings and slides for safety, picking litter and taking note of any repairs that need to be undertaken to the fences, gates and boardwalks. Recently we had the west side gate repaired after storm damage and we hope its now actually much improved. We rely on our visitors to let us know if there are any issues that need to be dealt with and to help, where you can, to keep the woodland paths clear and safe.

New signage at the children’s playground

At the playground we have now erected a ‘no dogs’ sign and ask that everyone respects this request to ensure that children using the area are safe and that its kept as clean as possible. There is a public refuse bin in the car park. A new set of steps has also been constructed for the big slide to make it easier, and safer to climb to the top.

We are also planning to add visitor books to our cabins, so please leave a comment, suggestion or message if you have time.

Doro, Rowan and Mark out preparing the ground for planting the tree seedlings

A group of Aline Community Woodland volunteers gathered in early December to start planting some of the 420 tree seedlings we were given by The Woodland Trust. The group worked up on a cleared area beside the path on the west side of the woodland, which is also part of the Hebridean Way.

The volunteers planted a mix of trees including Alder, Downey Birch, Grey Willow, Eared Willow, Aspen, hazel and hawthorn. Rob Tai, one of our volunteers has organised a second planting day on Thursday 10th December meeting in the main car park at 10am. If you are interested in taking part send us a message here, find us on Facebook and Instagram too.

Rob and Jan S busy planting
Jan G with seedlings ready to plant