YOUNGSTERS from several local primary schools left their classrooms behind for a special trip last week.
For children headed down to the woods near Fallside Nature Park - and thankfully there were no big surprises!
The visits were organised for pupils of Aitkenhead, Bothwell, Lawmuir, Sacred Heart and St John the Baptist primary schools as part of a naming contest.
The area has lain vacant and derelict for many years, but is being developed by Forestry Commission Scotland.
Extensive work has already been carried out to improve the site, including the planting of 20,000 trees, installing new footpaths and improving drainage to make it less muddy.
Compost has also been laid from recycled timber and garden waste, helping trees and wild flowers grow.
Local schoolchildren were invited to enter a competition to come up with a new name for the area, and groups were treated to talks and escorted visits to the new woodland for inspiration.
Community engagement ranger Julie Hamilton said: “The project is part of our ongoing programme to help transform these sites into attractive woodland greenspace for communities to enjoy.
“The schools have been out in all kinds of weather planting trees and finding out more about the site to give them ideas. They’re really excited about the chance of coming up with a new name.”
Gillian Hosie, teacher from Lawmuir PS, commented: “We had a great visit to the site with the children. The ranger was incredibly patient and took the time to answer the children’s questions. The children learned so much about the woodland.
“We are especially excited about the plan for the outdoor classroom and can’t wait to get the children back when it’s finished for some outdoor activities.
“The kids are really enthusiastic and we have already chosen our class name. We are looking forward to the announcement to find out if we have won.”
Bernice Brady, teacher at St John the Baptist PS, added: “We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the woodlands. The kids loved it and were excited by all the paths and places to play.
“We were out for almost two hours in the pouring rain and not one child complained – they didn’t want to leave. It just shows how much they were enjoying themselves.”
The new name will be unveiled at an official opening event in April and appear on Forestry Commission Scotland signage at various access points surrounding the site.