Jerah Forestry Proposal
Menstrie Community Council's response to UPM Tilhill
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UPM Tilhill have made a proposal to plant various types of forest in 980ha of land behind Menstrie up to the Sherriffmuir Road to the north and have submitted a map showing the area affected by their proposals. Tilhill have invited a response from Menstrie Community Council and have offered to discuss possible adjustments to the plan regarding the woodland design and proposed access routes.
The writer has sought opinions from a range of groups interested in the recreational use of the area. These include:
- C'n'Do Scotland Ltd, Stirling (Guided hill walks, training in navigation and safety on hills)
- Ochils Mountain Rescue Team
- Ochil Hill Runners
- Ochils Mountaineering Club
- Ochils Paragliding Club
The Ochils Paragliding Club have prepared their own response in a separate document. The present document, in the main, summarises replies from the other groups.
Access in general
Margaret Porter, Director, C'n'Do Scotland Ltd, put the following comments in an email dated 30 October 2012:
Over the years, and still on a regular basis, we have used more or less the entire affected area for navigation training and also the 'trade routes' for access to / from the main hill tops and in crossings between the north and south over the tops.
As the forest will no doubt be enclosed in the standard 2 metre high fence, I feel a strong case needs to be put forward for improved access at least using stiles:
- To / from the tops and spot heights
- Up / down the spurs and ridges
- To all archaeological sites
- Along any existing rights of way
- To the outside ends of all rides (firebreaks).
In addition the main track ways should be multi-user suitable, and entry / exit points capable of allowing horses, cycles, push chairs and large powered wheel chairs.
The present writer endorses the last point wholeheartedly, having heard severe dismay expressed at the difficulty of lifting a mountain bike over locked gates and stiles.
Routes for walkers, runners and mountain bikers
Preferred routes in the northern parts of the area follow shepherds' well-worn buggy tracks over the grass. Hill-goers use these rather than gulleys and burn-sides which are difficult underfoot and, in many cases, impossible or dangerous to enter. Standard advice to hill-goers is to keep to ridges, as far as practicable, for the sake of route-finding, observation of weather conditions, and enjoyment of the views.
We therefore make the general request that routes be left open up and down ridges rather than along burn-sides.
In particular, we view with great concern the proposal in Tilhill's map that the public access route from Menstrie to the popular summit of Colsnaur would follow the Second Inchna Burn which is situated in a relatively steep-sided ravine.
We request that the existing well-used and clearly-defined route up Colsnaur from the Southwest be left open for access.
The Ochils Paragliding Club, also, have expressed their deep concern about the route to Colsnaur.
The frequency of use by walkers and runners in training, judged over a number of years, is least in the Northwest of the area, greater in the East and greatest in the South. For instance, in a period of an hour at the weekend, a walker or runner might meet one other in a month in the Northwest, while in the East (on the way to or from Colsnaur or Jerah farmstead via Red Brae), the number would be about 10 - 20 in a period of an hour on either day at the weekend.
Routes for hill races
The area is traversed by three established annual hill races:
Their routes follow ridges rather than gulleys. The numbers participating in recent years were:
- Ochil 2000s - 76 (2012), 69 (2011), 84 (2010), 106 (2009), 172 (2008), 59 (2007)
- Dumyat Dash - 96 (2012), 81 (2011), 61 (2012)
- Menstrie HIT - 22 (2012), 36 (2011)
The numbers of spectators is unknown but not likely to exceed the runners.
We would be interested to know:
- When do you propose to start ?
- Would you erect deer-proof fencing. (If so, where ?)
- What access would you provide where fences cross customarily-used routes ?
- How close together would you plant broadleaf trees ?
- What is your policy on ash trees regarding, in particular, imported trees ?
- Will the upper ground still be used for grazing ?
- How do you propose to restore the ground after harvesting the productive timber ?
(In connection with the last point, see, for example, the recently harvested area around NS 821 993, between the Sheriffmuir Road and the Lossburn Reservoir.)
12 November 2012