Scotland’s largest regional park inspires people

Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park rangers recently helped their 11th ‘Branching Out’ group to achieve John Muir Awards.

Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park rangers recently helped their 11th ‘Branching Out’ group to achieve John Muir Awards.

Participants come from the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) Greenock and, for some, this is the only day they spend out of the house in a week.

Mike Holcombe, senior countryside ranger at Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park, said: “The project’s strength is the teamwork and sense of achievement the group experiences and the John Muir Award is the icing on the cake.

“Receiving an Award certificate at the end means a great deal to participants and many are inspired to go on to the other levels.”

Over the past three years, 120 people have taken part in the 12-week Branching Out programme at Clyde Muirshiel. They explore local wild places through walking, learn new woodworking and craft skills, get creative outdoors by building natural art sculptures, and give something back to the environment through practical park management tasks such as fencing and building wildlife habitats.

Participants report improvements in both physical and mental health. Some become more active; they engage positively with other people; take responsibility for a place and feel included in a community.

A recent participant, Carolynne, said: “Being around people for a length of time has been really positive. It breaks the isolation that some of us were experiencing. Stepping back from a task and seeing everyone working together is brilliant!

“I have lived in Greenock all my life but had never been to Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park before this. The place is beautiful and I didn’t realise how close it was. There is so much scope with the environment, so much to do here.”

After presenting Carolynne and 10 other participants with Award certificates, John Muir Award Scotland inclusion manager Kim McIntosh said: “It is clear that the project has made a big impact. It is great to hear that they feel physically fitter, happier and are really enjoying being out in nature. They have also made a real positive difference to the environment in the Regional Park.

“It is fantastic to celebrate the group’s achievement.”

Find out more about Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park

Read more about Branching Out

Find out more about the John Muir Award