In order to restore neglected woods round an old psychiatric hopsital, a Partnership was formed comprising Reforesting Scotland, the NHS, Argyll Green Woodworkers Association, the Scottish Association for Mental Health, and Lochgilphead Community Council. Funds were raised, and work began in 2004, involving many users of mental health services, disabled people, young people, contractors and volunteers, and the site was opened as a public park in 2007, with all-abilities paths, facilities and interpretation.

Key design features

The threshold arch and signage welcomes you into the wood, access is straight off the carpark and signs show where you can go. All-weather paths makes an otherwise inhospitable wood accessible to a wide range of people. There are opportunities for both quiet solitude and busy socialising. The project makes good use of borrowed landscape with spectacular views out across the Loch and access to the hills behind.

The activities that take place there

There are opportunities to learn new skills, including nursery work, forestry, timber processing, woodworking and construction. The wood also hosts art and music projects. One particular theme is the promotion of ‘mindfulness’ in patients – appreciating the present moment without anxiety about the past or future. The wood also caters for staff taking breaks, hospital visitors and the local community.

Health benefits

“For people who I refer I think a lot of the benefit is a feeling of achievement in actually doing some work in the woods, seeing the benefits of their work. There’s certainly the benefit of exercise; there’s the benefit of fresh air; there’s the benefit of working with others on a project.”

A user’s perspective

“I was diagnosed with breast cancer and it can be a bit of a shock to the system, and that was just at the start of the woodland project, and it just helped me to see it progress, and it’s helped me progress in my health. It’s just an excellent place to be.”

Website: Blarbuie Woodland



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