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We thought we would do something a little different – although, granted, the RiverLife project can often come up with something a little different on a daily basis – and let some students deliver our guided walk.

For RiverLife the aim is to get communities connected with their outdoors and local rivers. We expend a lot of our focus for guided walks on aspects of the rivers and their main tributaries as there is so much to talk about, but when it comes to the burns and subjects just on the periphery of the project we often don’t have the resources to delve as deep as we would like. So, when I wanted to do a Geology walk on Binny Craig and its interactions with the water environment I wasn’t sure I would have the time to dedicate to it and give it the best it deserved. This is when I thought “who better than SRUC Oatridge!”

The Craig is right on the campus, they have students from their countryside and environmental management courses who are always looking to get involved in the work of the Trust and they are able to deliver this as part of their course and get graded on it; win-win right?

And I was right! They fully committed to delivering this walk with all the students on the countryside management course delivering a talking point segment individually on different aspects of the environment and campus. Students joined the walks at different points along the route and appeared like tour guides to take us from one point to another, all supported by the course lecturer Ian Lewis. They got real-world experience in delivering the types of talks required for the line of work a lot of them are interested in and we received a guided walk that was extremely well organised and more researched then if delivered by Trust staff who, admittedly, are not experts in geology.

On the walk we learned about the history of the local area and the campus itself with a stop at Binny Mausoleum on the estate that used to hold the remains of Captain Stewart and his wife until the remains were moved due to grave robbing activity. From there we wandered through the wood with a few more talking points on Scottish weather, the importance of soil and headed up the Craig. The climb was steep and particularly windy at the top where we got a stellar view and a talk on the formation of the rock.

Careful on the descent we aimed down to the watercourse that sweeps around the hill and received some more information form our tour guides on the importance of dykes, hedgerows and the water environment. We stood and admired the large marsh/wetland that has formed from Ecclesmachan burns’ sweep around the hill. We were informed by Scot that this was a new wetland from when he was last there – it used to be a much smaller burn apparently! The cleaned water then flowed out and down on its way to the Almond.

As we worked our way back to the Campus we met more students along the way to learn about the agricultural background of the fields, the farm itself and some of the drainage and signage solutions the campus has come up with. We finished off with a pleasant wander and tour through the woodland on campus that wound its way along the burn. The day itself was very successful with a good turn-out of participants considering the windy weather!

Thank you to the students and lecturers at SRUC Oatridge for giving your time to this and for making it a very enjoyable guided walk!