Friends of Duchess Wood Spring Newsletter 2019

Argyll and Bute Council to end their role in managing the wood

As highlighted in the last newsletter and discussed at the 2018 AGM Argyll and Bute Council decided at a meeting of the Helensburgh and Lomond Area committee in December to end their involvement in managing the wood when the current Management Agreement with Luss Estates comes to a close in summer 2020.

The council’s preference is for either another organisation to take over the management of the woods or for the community to buy out the woods from Luss Estates. As we agreed at the AGM we do not see ourselves being in a position to support a buyout although we will support any organisation that might take over the management of the woods. The position if neither of the two options comes to fruition is unclear.

Matt sums up a recent DWLNR Committee meeting: “I am afraid that the strategy for ABC’s withdrawal from the Management Agreement is extremely sparse. It would appear to consist of a public drop-in session to gauge the appetite for a Community Buyout. Whilst this might be useful, if only to confirm our fears, it does not form a fully rounded plan including a financial analysis of how ABC are going to extricate themselves from Duchess Wood. Personally, I sense that at the top there is a desire to simply walk away but it is very unlikely that Luss Estates are going take that lying down.

To my mind, there needs to be an analysis of the situation which captures all the stakeholders (not just us) and the financial implications. I doubt very much that will happen. However, we will be involved and I will ensure we are involved at the heart of future decision making.”

The council will be holding a “Drop-in” event at the Civic Centre on 25 April where interested parties can come and find out about the wood and how they might get involved in its future. FODW will be involved in further discussions with A&BC to secure a long-term and viable future for the wood that allows it to continue to be enjoyed by all. For example in researching other management models Luss Estates and FODW have recently attended a Community Engagement and Walk event at Doune Ponds,

Woodlands in and around Towns (WIAT) Grant

Having accepted our Management Plan for the woods the WIAT grant has been approved by the Forestry Commission and £1300 passed to the Council. This allows access to other FCS funding and action now is to start implementing the Management Plan.

Sandy Abel

We were saddened to learn recently that Sandy Abel had died. Sandy was a stalwart of The Friends and gave us a much practical help and professional advice on woodworking and other matters – for example, he made the map boards and their stands, carried out a major repair to the lower South East bridge, and did a lot of work on the ponds, including donating the fearsome sharp digging hoes. We will miss his contribution and send our condolences to his family.

Top Dogs Day

Over forty dogs and their companions attended the Top Dogs event on a very sunny 31st March. There were stands from a variety of dog organisations, including, Craig vets, SPCA, Guide Dogs and other organisations. Following the success of this years event it is hoped to make next year’s even bigger and better!


Sadly we are still seeing instances of vandalism and theft (of furniture etc). We endeavour to rectify events as quickly as possible but please be vigilant and report anything suspicious.

Persimmon Homes dump waste in wood

Last autumn Persimmon were caught dumping soil and other waste on the wood. This was reported to the Council, Luss Estates and SEPA and was a breach of their planning permit. The SEPA report is still awaited but meanwhile Persimmon have cleared the site although they seem to have caused some damage to tree roots in the process. The intention now is to let the site recover – it is possible a woodland meadow might be the end result. This has not been helped by polystyrene waste dumped by sub contractors blowing onto our wood!

News in brief

Kevin’s Bench Alan Lewis kindly donated a bench in memory of his dog Kevin. The bench as been installed at the viewpoint near the upper pond.

Ponds Fences have been installed around the lower pond and on the path to the upper pond. We have received the £500 grant from Action Earth with covers the bulk of the cost of hard core for the new path to the upper pond and all the willow planted alongside the 2 new fences and the arbour round the bench at the upper pond and wigwam located to the north of the Pony Field.

Venture Scouts Local Venture Scouts held a rather damp brash burning evening last autumn.

Maintenance Regular maintenance has been carried out and we have recently done some repairs to fencing and to the Thurgood Bridge. Lomond School and the “Branching Out” team has continued to offer its support and have helped in clearing drains and ditches.

FODW is a voluntary, non-political local community group and a registered charity. It works co-operatively with other groups such as Community Payback, The Access Trust, the Helensburgh Green Belt Group, and a range of other bodies especially Argyll and Bute Council’s Duchess Wood Local Nature Reserve Committee which is responsible for the wood. We are grateful to them for the contributions they make to the successful running of the wood.

Membership of FODW costs £10 per household per year and requires no obligations although volunteers to help with simple maintenance tasks are always welcome.

Current FODW Trustees are: Matt Offord (Chairman) Martin Grafton (Secretary) Bill Hassall (Treasurer) Morag Young (Membership Secretary) Stewart Campbell, Rachel Bailey, David Lewin, Richard Horrell, Paul Blackburn and Pete Minting.

YOUR VIEWS Please use the Contact form on the website to send us any information/queries

Website – Facebook – @FODW1

Charity number SC039527