Scottish Woodland Trust

In the effort to coax my three-year old along to aid in my eclectic “To Do” for this blog, I try to entice him that we are ‘going on an adventure’.  While for me it often is just that, for him it is often long car journeys interspersed with visits to sites where good behaviour is paramount.  He usually gets a sweetie out of the deal.  That is until the day we set out to find a piece of untreated, indigenous ash wood to experiment for my Beltane Plank Smoked Salmon (which is coming by the way), and a real adventure ensued.
After several futile calls to builder’s warehouses, lumber yards and many fruitless trawls around the internet, we were directed to the “Scottish Woodland Trust” a small artisan wood mill.  Now most businesses and charities make some effort to be accessible but finding this site was like searching for Brigadoon.  After driving about 20 minutes on a country road to the town of Oakley, you have to find an unmarked entrance to what was once Inzievar Estate, now Dynamic Woods of the National Woodland Trust Charity.
After finding the unmarked entrance – travel down this unmarked road

The feel of the place brought to mind the scene from The Chronicles of Narnia, when the children return to what was their Kingdom of Cair Paravel, only it is hundreds of years later and they realise what appears to be a dense overgrown forest was once their apple orchards.  You are aware that this was likely a wealthy estate, but the woods are so dense that they block out what little sunlight makes it into Scotland in the first place, and completely disorients you as well.  It was about now that my son started to freak out.

The “Sign” for the shop
Somewhere along your travels down the unmarked road, you have to live in hope of seeing this sign post – see it?  Well, I certainly didn’t.
See it? Yeah, me neither!
After several wrong turns we were re-directed back to this sign, which even close up is so less than clear and finally found our destination.
The House the Forest Hides… Inzievar
But look what we found in our wanderings – Inzievar House.   A spooky gothic looking beast that emerges from the woods in a very surprising manner.  The house was built for one Archibald Smith-Sligo in 1855-6 by the renown architect David Bryce.  The Smith-Sligo family owned several coal mines in the area and the Forth Iron Works in Oakley.  As in the case for most estates, the public was not allowed on the grounds, but the house did host a very important guest in Jules Verne, the french science fiction author, who detailed his account of the house in his book Backwards to Britain.

Illustration of the Grand Salon of The Nautilus from Jules Verne's 2000 Leagues Under the Sea, based on interior of Inziever House

Even groovier was that Verne was to have based the interiors of the submarine The Nautilus from his classic novel, 2000 Leagues under the Sea on those of Inzievar House.  The house is now a collection of private apartments and is sadly no longer open to the public, but one was recently for sale so you can have a peek here….http://maloco.co.uk/property_pdfs/1276267034.pdf.

Oh, much better!
See what a wrong turn can teach you?  Anyway, back to our original mission to find the elusive Scottish Wood – that is clearly marked once you are already there – very helpful.

A small but fabulous mill

Apparently, Scottish Wood is the commercial arm of a much larger not for profit organisation call Woodland Trust.  The overall woodland was purchased in 1995 and is now open to the public  for education, walks and school trips.  The Scottish Wood focuses on  raising money from the sale of wood convenanted to the Trust to be used for local, environmental and community projects.

Woody hits the shop

They have a “shop” ( kind of) that you are free to rummage around to find what you are looking for….either in rough or very rough form.
Luxuriate amongst the selection
And you can ask to have your selection milled and cut to size right there on the spot.  On my first visit there was artisan furniture maker (didn’t get his name) loading up a fair bit of stock onto his rugged looking Landrover, with wife, toddler and dog in tow – tres idyllic.

Until next time...

Well we finally found our ash planks, took a quick detour 2000 Leagues Under The Sea, and emerged from the mysterious wood blinking away the magic of the experience – eager to return now that we know where the heck it is!  I think a family walk in the woods is on the agenda as well.

Comments (1)

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  1. Heather Gross says:

    Seriously, how tall is that child?!
    Oh and I love this story, I find your adopted country to have some MAJOR way finding issues in general. No doubt to keep invading marauders off-kilter (my first Scottish pun, lol).

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