I headed to the woods for week 15 of my walking challenge.
Fife has many wonderful woodlands to walk through and explore and, next to the hills, they are perhaps where I enjoy walking the most.
Time was not my friend this week as I had to stay near to home and work. I could have easily decided to head out on to the Fife Coastal Path but as I walk the path often, I decided to head inland and explore some of the woods and forests nearby.
I decided to visit some of the Forestry Commission sites that are scattered across the Kingdom. The Forestry Commission have worked hard over the past 15 years to improve access to their woodlands allowing walkers and cyclists to benefit from their plantations.
A good example of this ongoing effort is Blairadam Forest. This forest is actually made up from several different woodlands, some commercially grown and others which are naturally occurring and the resulting combination makes for a nice area to wander around.
The Forestry Commission have marked out three short trails for walkers to follow through the woodlands all of which are ideal for people looking for a relaxing stroll or for young families looking for a mini adventure.
I personally enjoy walking the numerous others trails that criss-cross through the woods which often leads to me discovering some of the fascinating relics from the time when this area was home to mining and other industries.
An active forest
One important thing to bear in mind when walking through a Forestry Commission site is that is a commercial concern. The majority of trees grown on each site are destined for the saw mill and at this time of year, forestry operations start and the woodlands can become quite dangerous if you aren’t paying attention to your surroundings.
The Forestry Commission are very good in making sure that they inform visitors about their operations and will cordon off affected areas and pathways and they also post signage throughout the area to make sure that everyone is aware of their activity.
When walking off the established trails it is important that you make yourself as visible as possible to make sure that any of the forestry workers and machine operators can see where you are at all times. I carry a reflective safety vest in my daypack for this purpose.
Don’t be tempted to, or allow others to, climb upon the stacks of logs which are built up along the forestry roads and tracks. While the stacks can be seen as being stable there have been several incidents in recent years where people have been severely injured and sadly some people have lost their lives when the stacks collapsed upon them.
While the heavy machinery and sometimes deafening noise can often deter people walking through the woodlands, I instead find it to be a fascinating time. It is interesting to see how a modern commercial woodland works and, provided you obey all the signs, notices and cordons, it is an ideal opportunity to observe the work of the forestry crews.
Week 15 lessons
This week I became more aware of how much woodland trails offer to the walker. Whether it is because you are cocooned within nature or the fact you have been removed from the trappings of modern life, there is something very relaxing about being in a woodland. I think I will take more advantage of the woodlands of Fife to help me reach my 4000 mile goal.
With better weather being promised for next week, I am going to head towards the coast and once again take advantage of the Fife Coastal Path. The coastline of the Kingdom is a fantastic place to walk in good weather and the miles quickly disappear as you enjoy the spectacular scenery. If you have any questions about this challenge or anything Walk Fife related, then please drop me a email at firstname.lastname@example.org or direct message me through my twitter account @SDMakin.
Catch up with you again next week.