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NEWTONHILL COMMUNITY WOODLAND
For those who remember the days of the old dump, it is amazing to see Newtonhill as it is today. Some may even remember further back to when the site was used as a stone quarry? Despite the telltale sign left from past, the site is generally regarded as a fine example of environmental restoration.
The transformation of the dump into a community woodland in 1996 provided a valuable recreational facility close to Wick. During the landscaping process, the 11.6 ha site under went dramatic changes. The old car wrecks were crushed and stacked on site and helped form the viewpoint! Masses of rubbish was levelled and covered by topsoil and later planted with trees. Run -off pollution from the waste was reduced by planting reed beds around the perimeter ditches and also provided new habitat for wildlife. Much of the ground was planted with broadleaf tree species and shrubs which provided further shelter and food sources for wildlife.
Managed by Highland Council as Community Woodland, the site is available for all to use and features a range of facilities such as a bridle path, network of paths, and picnic benches.
The woodland is now more accessible to the people of Wick with the new link path leading from the town. There have been recent improvement works taking place around the woodland such as the upgrade of the bridle path, clearing of overgrown paths, new boardwalk, flagstone flowerbeds and installation of finger posts. An upgraded self guided leaflet will shortly be available on site to guide visitors around the woodland illustrating points of interest and wildlife expected to be seen in particular areas.
Highland Council, Planning and Development section, have supported most of these works and extra funding has become available through the 'Friends of Newtonhill. This community group aims to promote the conservation, protection and improvement of the woodland for the benefit of local people and to raise environmental awareness. The group has managed to tap into additional funding sources such as the Highland Biodiversity Project and the Highland Access Project. With the Highland Council Ranger Service, the group has been involved in several community led projects such as litter picks, maintenance days, bird box erection, tree planting and environmental awareness raising events. With these improvements, it is hoped that the site will become more attractive to local people to visit and also increase the usage for school groups.
Many of the younger members of society have taken an interest in the woodland and it is hoped that practical activities and talks will help foster an understanding of environmental issues and the importance of such a site. The 1st Wick Scouts have adopted the woodland as part of their World Heritage badge and the younger Beavers have been involved in planting up the new flagstone flower beds. The Caithness Critters have planted trees and assisted with litter picks over many years. Night walks have been popular with some of the children from the Pultneytown Peoples Project and Wick Girls Group.
The woodland today serves as an important wildlife area and attracts a range of recreational users. Why not visit the woodland at your leisure or attend a fun afternoon at the Easter Open Day on Sunday 20th at 2pm. This event has been organised by the Highland Council Ranger Service and 'Friends of Newtonhill woodland', in association with the Pultneytown Peoples Project. A range of events will be available including a children's egg/bonnet competition (2pm), children's mini treasure hunt (2.30pm), 'Green gate making' demonstration, nature walks and display/ stalls. Everyone is welcome!
Picture - Marina Finlayson - Highland Ranger