The Little Mitchellwood Project

This was the first project of BDCH and involved the restoration of a neglected piece of woodland on the edge of Biggar. It is just off Lindsaylands Road, at the corner of Langlees Road. It was restored into a small woodland recreational area with wildlife conservation importance.

The woodland is leased from Lord Clydesmuir, at a nominal rent, for a period of 50 years. The name of the wood is derived from Elizabeth Mitchell who planted the wood some 60 years ago. This first project was supported by Leader+, Awards for All, and Forward Scotland.

The balance of the funding was given by sponsors who kindly donated goods and services. The work was done by  a small dedicated band of volunteers who donated their valuable time.

In all weathers, the volunteers worked energetically to clear old, dead remains of trees and shrubs and also to clear rubbish and rank vegetation. Paths, suitable for wheelchair access, have been created, an entrance and drystane dyke built, new trees and shrubs planted and some seating provided. Children from the local primary school helped in the planting of spring bulbs. Little Mitchellwood was opened to the public in the late summer of 2008 when the work was completed and the new planting established.

There was an emphasis on ensuring a wide range of native plant species and on creating a suitable habitat for wildlife. Wildlife is encouraged by the provision of bird and bat nesting boxes, by log piles for other small animals and by including trees and shrubs to provide berries and fruit. Signs on plants will help both young and old in identification and encourage school pupils to learn more about nature.

The woodland owes it name to the memory of Miss Elizabeth Mitchell (1880-1980) who planted the woodland, which was a part of her estate.

Miss Mitchell believed strongly in providing open spaces in the proximity of housing estates, which the wood adjoins. She was the first lady town planner in Scotland and the then owner of the Langlees Estate, bought by her father when she was a child. For many years she lived at Langlees House after early years in Edinburgh, before spending her final years in Stirling. In her time Miss Mitchell had been involved with the Rowntree Trust (while she was at Oxford University), and the development of the new town of Letchworth. She was instrumental in the development of Scotland’s first new town, East Kilbride.

It was believed she had gifted the woodland to the town of Biggar, which then was an independent town with its own provost. That was not the case and it was sold along with the rest of the Langlees estate to the late Lord Clydesmuir (Ronald). In 2004, the then Lord Clydesmuir (David) granted a 50 year lease at a peppercorn rent, to BDCH to restore the woodland as a community resource.

The Little Quarry Project

The Little Quarry sits beside Langlees Road, just a hundred metres or so beyond LittleMitchellwood. The quarry once supplied stone for local buildings but was, in more recent times, planted with trees and now supports a nice little woodland with a mix of conifers and broadleaf trees. BDCH entered into a 25 year lease agreement with the owners, the Simpson family, to manage the woodland for wildlife and people. Most of the work was completed during 2008.

To start with, many bags of litter were collected and disposed of while funding was sought to carry out access improvements. The Big Lottery Fund and Scottish Natural Heritage both contributed to footpath works, fencing, hedge and tree planting and a sign.

The footpath runs in a short loop around the quarry and if you stop for a while, you may see a treecreeper hunting for insects as it hops up the tree trunks or a flock of blue tits and great tits twittering in the canopy.

To further improve the woodland for wildlife, some of the pine trees will be felled and replaced with native broadleaved trees like birch and oak. We also plan to fell the small sycamore trees which can spread quickly and cast a dense shade over the wildflowers. Some of the wood will be left to rot as dead wood provides a valuable habitat for beetles, birds, fungi and small mammals. We have also planted a new hedge along the roadside that links the Little Quarry to Little Mitchellwood making it easier for birds and animals to move between the two woodlands. The hedge is made up of 10 different species including hawthorn, blackthorn, elm and holly. We’ve also included gooseberry, loganberry, blackberry and crab apples which will provide a valuable food resource for birds and people in the autumn.

Please come up to the Little Quarry to have a walk round and enjoy this quiet little corner of Biggar.