On Saturday 27th June, I spent a wonderful afternoon with the Inverness Field Club on a visit to Abriachan Forest Trust. I found about the Field Club when I attended a lecture on the Ness of Brodgar by Nick Card, which was organised by the Club and after some research on Friday for things to do on my free Saturday I came across the Club’s list of excursions and lectures online. Their next excursion was a field visit to Abriachan the following day which fitted in perfectly. So after some hasty emails and text messages, I showed up at the meeting point- not really a hundred percent sure what a Field Club is or does, and a bit apprehensive about meeting new people. However, I quickly realised I did not have to worry as I was so warmly welcomed by the Club and its members!
The Inverness Field Club meet for lectures and excursions to explore, help better understand and enthuse about the local environment, history and heritage. Or as one member told me ‘a lot of –ologies’!. They have such a diverse range of interests and life experience, from dragonflies to glacial formations in the landscape, and are always eager to share their knowledge and learn new things.
Our trip to Abriachan involved a guided tour of the work the Abriachan Forest Trust by Suzann Barr, as well as a talk about the history of Club which first met at Abriachan over a hundred years ago. In that sense, this place is very special to the Club, and I could really appreciate the connection to the place. It was also where Honorary Member Katherine Stewart bought her croft in 1950 and her desire to live along traditional lines have been captured in her books ‘A Garden in the Hills’, ‘The Post in the Hills’ and ‘A Croft in the Hills’.
As I used to live so close to Abriachan, many were surprised when I admitted I’d never actually been. I’d heard a lot about it as they have connections to the local area- especially schools as they facilitate educational visits and forest school work which is an area in education that I’m very passionate about. The forest area was bought by the community in 1998 and developed into a social enterprise to provide local employment, educational activities and recreational space. They have spaces for pond dipping, forest exploring and a wonderful forest classroom space. Suzann showed us the pond, the hide and the treehouse- all connected by beautifully built walkways to make the forest accessible. We looked for dragonflies (however none were to be found) and also saw house martins, newts and swans with their newest cygnets- before heading back to the classroom for tea and cake.
It was a lovely way to spend a Saturday, and I wish I had a vehicle as I would love to get involved in more of the activities at Abriachan. However, after updating my calendar I realise that between, working, digging and visiting Edinburgh I have no free days in July! This makes me very happy as I can learn new skills, complete some exciting work projects and catch up with old friends. I finally feel like I have a bit of direction and a little bit of a foundation here. Getting involved with the Inverness Field Club and other things that are going on have really helped. Now I should probably go and pack my bag ready for my fist four days at Cromarty’s Medieval Burgh Project– I have my trowel and my Archaeology Skills Passport ready!