As final plans were being put in place last week for the 7th year of Kinnordy Estate Days, the outlook did not look good for the RHET Angus Countryside Initiative (ACI) event. However, there was a sigh of relief when the first day arrived and along with the 172 children from the Montrose cluster schools came some sunshine!
The Montrose pupils, from Borrowfield, Ferryden, Lochside, Southesk and St Margaret’s were able to enjoy the day in relatively warm conditions and the exceptionally late spring did have one advantage, as on the arable set they were able to see the ground preparation and tattie planting happening. In past years pupils have sometimes seen tatties with their leaves already above the ground.
The weather for the 2nd day was even better, with real sunshine at times for the Dundee schools to enjoy. 178 Primary 6 pupils from Ballumbie, Charleston, Fintry, Gowriehill, Lochee and Longhaugh took part in the same sets, learning about gamekeeping, how horses used to work on farms and some of the things the timber grown on the Estate is used for. The animal participants in the day as always proved popular, with a gundog display, a close encounter with Barry the gamekeeper’s ferrets and Kirk the Clydesdale from Camperdown Wildlife Park pulling logs.
The two day event was again made possible by financial support from the Nineveh Trust, which meant that RHET ACI was able to make it completely free for the schools that took part, even paying for the buses that transported them.
For some of the children was their first real experience of the Angus countryside. Bruce Christie, Chairman of RHET ACI said “We are very grateful to Lord Lyell for letting us come to his Estate again and for the involvement of several of his staff in the event. We have had some great schools taking part this year and some of the questions the children asked were even making the set providers think!”
Carol stressed her thanks to all the volunteers who had given up their time to run the sets and steward the pupils around the Estate. ACI Project Co-ordinator Carol Littlewood said “As with all RHET events we depend on our volunteers and partner organisations to give up their time for us. The recent weather didn’t help, as so many of our volunteer farmers are busy trying to catch up with their own work on the farm.”
The Estate Day experience includes a session pond dipping in Kinnordy Loch with Angus Council Rangers and it was noticeable that the tadpoles caught and returned this year were quite a bit smaller than last year’s, due to the late spring. Fred Connacher, Tree Officer from Angus Council taught the children how trees grows and had a tree trunk marked up with the dates in history that the tree had lived through, whilst Steph Keen from Tillhill Forestry explained to the children about the types of trees grown on the Estate the job of a forester.
RHET ACI hopes that the pupils go away from the day having had a great time, but also understanding and thinking a bit more about where their food comes from and how farming and the environment work together. Hopefully we achieved that, as on the way back to the coaches one of the Longhaugh pupils said to their steward that it had made them want to be a farmer. I’m sure our volunteers would agree that there are a lot worse thing you could do!