Spring in Scotland – Wooploft

It is Spring, or so we are told. I have had the best skiing in Scotland for a long time. Who needs the Alps.

I have just returned from visiting Wooploft with two of my children to see how it fared in the Winter. Wooploft is the ‘den’ that we made with my son’s primary school class, cantilevered over the banks of Allan Water at Wooplaw Wood. It is overdue a blog.

Pupils from Tynewater Primary School’s P7 class designed and built the structure last year under the auspices of International Year of the Forest, and with a grant from the Forestry Commission. The aims included to teach the children about the properties of wood, its use in buildings and an understanding of how it responds to local environmental, climatic and cultural conditions. The choice of building, materials and location was largely left to the children.

The original intention was to build the structure in the playground of their school at Pathhead. However in the end bureaucracy and health and safety regulations got the better of us and we instead chose to build the structure 17 miles away at Wooplaw Community Woodland in the Scottish Borders, between Lauder and Galashiels.

In fact the term ‘Hut’ misrepresents the complexities and challenges we encountered. The full history and background of this project can be found on my Projects Page.

With the benefit of hindsight,  the design was perhaps too ambitious (it was an amalgamation of the children’s own designs) but once we decided to go with it, we were not to be dissuaded. The sense of excitement felt along the way and achievement by the end of all the pupils, who played an active part throughout the construction process in Spring/Summer of 2012, was both humbling and rewarding. The name, evocative of the building’s location and lofty position overlooking the Allan valley, was chosen following a competition among the P7 pupils.

Would I do it again? Yes . But this would not have been possible without the backing of teachers like the form teacher, Mrs Fiona Kenny, the head teacher, the committee of Wooplaw Wood and all the help from the community, both in the donation of time and materials.

You can visit Wooploft any time, in the beautiful grounds of the first community wood in Britain – Wooplaw. There is a Wooplore APP which can be downloaded free that describes the wood including an interview with my son, one the pupils, describing the making of Wooploft.

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