Bickerton Wood, near Whitburn, Bathgate, West Lothian |

Bickerton Wood, near Whitburn, Bathgate, West Lothian |

Bickerton Wood is a fine young but maturing woodland, set within easy reach of the central belt of Scotland. This large yet manageable woodland has grown well since its planting nearly 20 years ago and is comprised mainly of alder on a south facing gentle slope, with a wide path running through it. This path allows both easy access and also brings more light to the woodland floor, benefitting all kinds of flora and fauna such as the plentiful small birds which feed and nest here or the myriad of wild flowers such as the lesser celandine. The bird songs and calls at either end of the day are enchanting, especially in spring. In the evening the sunlight filters through from the western boundary and in mid summer, from the north western edges of the woodland too, further adding to the beauty of this special part of the day.

This northern end of the woodland has a pretty and peaceful burn which gurgles gently along the entire northern boundary. This is a lovely place to sit and contemplate both nature and this valuable resource to the wildlife of the wood: whether it is watching the visits of the dragonfly, damselfly or the beautiful flowers of the iris, it is a special place.

At the southern end of the woodland is a large clearing which offers many opportunities. Some planting of native species or fruiting trees would further enhance the seclusion and create a great place for cooking and camping with the family. The south facing treeline of the clearing is home to orange tip butterflies and would provide a terrific spot to hide away and quietly watch nature go about its business. This will be a very rewarding experience because, as well as mammals such as roe deer and foxes, you are likely to spot a variety of larger birds including collared doves, buzzards, owls and even the elusive jay.

The clearing has an interesting heritage because it was previously a quarry used for clay extraction. It may be possible to allow water to naturally occur here once again, forming a large pond which would further benefit much of the local wildlife as a home for amphibians, a watering hole for deer and a hunting ground for the ever patient grey heron.

The level access from the road to the woodland is suitable for a normal car and benefits from a handy turning area and large bench. The woodland is just maturing well, and would benefit now from some sympathetic thinning. The easy access is of particular benefit if timber for craft projects or domestic firewood was required. Felled timber can be stacked beside the turning area, for seasoning and easily loaded into a car or van when required.

The purchasers of the woodland will be asked to enter into a covenant to ensure the quiet and peaceful enjoyment of adjoining woodlands and meadows.

There is a growing interest in hut, bothy and temporary shelter building, especially in Scotland; for those interested in erecting a hut or shelter, here is some interesting and very helpful guidance from Reforesting Scotland’s Thousand Hut Campaign. Your Local Planning Authority should also be consulted.

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