Then we learned that we'd be doing it in Motherwell!
So, not a day out in the wilds replanting some of the mighty Caledonian Forest stripped by the greedy landowners of times past but, accompanied by visions of the massive Ravenscraig steel works that once dominated the area, we found out we'd be a wee bit closer to home. Still, maybe we'd be helping regenerate some of the devastating effects that place must have had on the land.
Then we got there and found that we'd be planting some hawthorn hedging on the edge of a council estate, and it was raining!
We were working on part of the Greenlink under the supervision of the Central Scotland Forest Trust. The Greenlink is a 5km cycleway providing a sustainable transport route through the Motherwell communities of Orbiston, Forgewood and Daisy Park, basically following the course of the South Calder Water from Motherwell town centre to Strathclyde Country Park. The local council had already done a huge amount of work clearing years and years worth of fly-tipped rubbish amounting to over 100 skip loads so it was looking pretty clean and green.
Our site was in Forgewood and, after a bit of health and safety instruction regarding the tools we'd be using and some of the potential hazards we might find in the undergrowth, we headed off across a very soggy footlball field towards the hedgerow on the edge of the Greenlink pathway. Our task was to clear any debris away from the gaps in the hedge and help fill in those gaps by planting new hawthorn bushes.
It wasn't really what we'd been sold on as a means of offsetting the company's carbon debt as we were supposed to be planting about 140 trees to compensate for a years worth of corporate travel and energy use. I'm not sure how many hawthorn bushes that would add up to but hedgerows provides an invaluable source of cover for wildlife like birds and foxes and they've been on the decline over the years so at least we'd be doing something positive.
Susan and Michala, our overseers from the CSFT, were great. They were very helpful and informative and got mucked in with us troops. They also laid on lots of hot tea, coffee, biscuits and fruit, which was very welcome given the atrocious weather. Anyway we stormed ahead and had planted all of our bushes by lunchtime so we headed up to the Forgewood Community Centre for some shelter from the rain and a bite to eat. Again, thanks to Susan and Michala for arranging that too.
The work all done, we got treated to a guided walk along part of the Greenlink and to see how much had been done in making it a successful project. We strolled up the path from Forgewood to the Old Mill Hotel, probably a couple of kilometres, and back again and it was quite a pleasant walk as the weather had eased off a bit and the sun popped out for a while. Michala even thought she saw a kingfisher on the river, which makes a change from empty Buckie bottles.
The Greenlink, with quite a few plans to enhance it in the future by adding such things as more cycling tracks and a garden allotment area for the local residents, has all the makings of a good community project and I wish them all the best for the future.