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|About||Broughtonknowe Wood is in the Scottish Borders about a mile north of Broughton on the A701. It extends to some 135 acres and was planted in the late 1980s with a mixture of native hardwoods and commercial softwoods. Walkers are welcome!|
Ten years ago Broughtonknowe Wood was a landmark, if not a destination. Anyone driving north out of Broughton could clearly see a patchwork of conifers, broadleaves, and open grassland covering about 135 acres of hillside. It was conspicuous for its lack of regimentation. The rigid compartments of conventional commercial forestry were absent. In their place were sweeping curves, mixed species, and all the messiness of nature.
Broughtonknowe was the vision of the late Major David Balfour-Scott who conceived the idea of a woodland with commercial potential softened by amenity and the beauty of native species. It was planted in the late 1980s and immediately won awards for its forward thinking vision. By 2001 David had moved from the immediate vicinity of Broughtonknowe and sold the wood to me.
All my life I have enjoyed walking in the countryside, whether in the English woods of my childhood or latterly the higher altitudes of Scotland. I have enjoyed the innumerable courtesies extended to walkers by benevolent landowners, whether these are gates, paths, or parking spaces, and saw that with Broughtonknowe I could give a little back of the pleasures I had taken from others.
I set about finding my way around and through the wood. Those who tramp its muddy paths now may be surprised to know that there were no paths at all in 2001. Of course in giving pleasure I derived much as well: days spent cutting and exploring, marking trails, instructing digger drivers, building huge bonfires. The Forestry Commission was enlightened enough to pay for some of the work. The Farm Wildlife Advisory Group paid for the large pond which is now the focal point of the wood.
Over the intervening years the wood has become firmly established as a walking destination. But the real story of Broughtonknowe, of course, is nature rampant. The ponds have self-seeded alders, bulrushes, frogs, and hungry herons. We are looking for a swan to eat the weed. What was once a bit of hill with sticks p