Into The Woods

Children from Falkirk’s Bantaskine Primary School and the local nursery have been enjoying the great outdoors, thanks to the woodlands surrounding Falkirk Community Hospital being given a new lease of life.

A joint project between NHS Forth Valley and Forestry Commission Scotland has provided  landscaping, new paths and a teaching circle for patients, staff, visitors and the local community to enjoy.  As a result, the youngsters have been out exploring and using the new teaching circle as an outdoor classroom, where they have been developing their orienteering skills, building dens and learning about the natural environment.

Work on the area has also revealed a mature orchard laden with apples and a pond, which formed part of the grounds that once belonged to Mayfield, a B-listed Italianate mansion, belonging to John Russell, the Falkirk Provost from 1867-1879 who was similarly credited with important social and physical improvements in the area.  Ordnance Survey maps dating back as far as 1913 show both the orchard and pond.

NHS Forth Valley Director of Strategic Projects and Facilities, Tom Steele said: “Improving the look and feel of the area surrounding the hospital is important and the development of the woodland has made a big difference.  This work is also very much linked with our wider aspirations to improve healthy lifestyles and encourage patients, visitors, staff and the local community to enjoy the outdoors and be more active.”

Elaine Gallagher, Head Teacher, Bantaskine Primary School said: “Having this wonderful outside area has helped enhance outdoor learning experiences for our nursery children and school pupils. Cross-curricular themes have been taken to another level in the woodland area, with our pupils and parents enjoying this outside space”.

Gordon Harper, Forest Commission Scotland’s local ranger added: “There is plenty of evidence to show that spending time in green spaces is good for our health. Woodland areas offer calming environments and are great places for youngsters to get involved in learning about nature. They also provide an ideal ready-made playground filled with lots fun things to do”.