Getting to know your upland plants

This summer, association member Arthur Jones from Trossach Treks ran a series of workshops about upland plants. His aim was to support other members by enhancing their environmental knowledge and arming them with some great information which they could then share with their groups in the future.

Getting to know your upland plants

Arthur ran three workshops during the summer and it's fair to say that those who went along got a great deal from the day. Here is what some members had to say about the most recent workshop:

Julie Shortreed

I thought it was excellent. I've never found wildflower ID using a book very successful - I'm never entirely sure I've identified the right plant and even if I do I promptly forget it! Arthur's anecdotes about each plant will definitely stick in my mind and all the historical and medical background information was fascinating. Arthur is an entertaining and interesting guide.

I think it is really important to have a good awareness and knowledge of the mountain environment - not only does it increase your enjoyment and appreciation of the hills but also helps to ensure that we all try to do something to safeguard that environment in the future.

I volunteer with a couple of Duke of Edinburgh award groups and I'm hoping that I can use Arthur's plant anecdotes to engender some teenage interest in mountain flora - not easy at the best of times - and perhaps give them some better ideas for their expedition aims. All in all, a great day out, really useful, and I'd definitely recommend it to others.

Michael Hide

Arthur's Knowledge of Flora is second to none, he has a story to tell about each plant that he talks about, how they can be used for food or medicine. I managed to come away from the workshop with over forty interesting facts about each plant he talked about, a must for anybody wanting to learn more in this area.

Rod Pashley

From my perspective Arthur was an example of good practice as a leader and from the start explored what each of us wanted to achieve. It was clear that even given the variety of folks attending we all wanted to expand our knowledge that would benefit the experience that we could give our diverse client groups.

For myself it was all about “you don’t know what you don’t know!” and that was correct! I loved just taking in the content of the day. One thing that Arthur impressed on us was that with each plant he had a story; some fact or fable; something humorous or otherwise; something he could tailor to different age groups.

When I got home I was able to walk around a wild area of our garden and spot over 6 of the wild plants we had seen. Before hand I would have classed them as weeds (especially those growing out of the gravel on the drive). I’m advised by Arthur that weeds are just flowers growing in the wrong place. So a very good day; great information and great company.

Helen Melone

One of the organisers in my hillwalking group had recommended this plant workshop to me as I'm doing my summer ML training in September - it was a day well spent and I really enjoyed it. Arthur really knows his topic and regaled us all with interesting facts about herb lore and Scottish history too. Great stuff!

Alan Mackay

Learning about the plants and the lore was good, but just as good was the inspiration that you provided. I'm keen to get out with a group and try to enthuse them the way you did me.

Interested? Here's a little round up from Arthur himself.

Getting to know your upland plants 1The workshops set out from Braeval Forestry carpark, near Aberfoyle & went up onto the Menteith Hills – a route starting in forestry then ascending through grass & bracken onto open heather moorland. The weather on 17th May was disappointing, as mist & rain came in, but we were lucky with the other two days & were rewarded with views from Arran to the Pentlands and north to the Balquidder hills. Participants ranged from those just starting out on their journey to become a leader to active Mountain Leaders.

A wide range of plants were discovered. Some with medical uses, others which are edible, several which were used for buildings and a further selection about which there were interesting stories or facts. The earlier participants saw more in the way of spring flowers while the August ones found a variety of summer fruits (and all had purple tongues by the end).

As importantly as looking at and hearing about specific plants the groups:
  • came to realise that many plants have interesting stories about them
  • were shown a variety of sources for further learning and identification
  • learned how talking about plants can provide an effective mechanism for keeping a group together on the hills.

I have thoroughly enjoyed running these workshops and really pleased with the feedback passed on by Belinda.


The great news is that Arthur is willing to run another series next year and in the meantime why not enjoy his article about Heather coming soon in the Septmeber edition of the Professional Mountaineer. If you have a specialist interest that could offer members the opportunity to learn something to support their awards in a similar way why not get in touch.

belinda@mountain-training.org
MTA Development Officer