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Famous Clootie Well welcomes visit from Black Isle schoolchildren

By Philip Murray

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Hannah (P7) left and Emily (P6) right - both Munlochy Primary School - hang their offerings a the well.
Hannah (P7) left and Emily (P6) right - both Munlochy Primary School - hang their offerings a the well.

Schoolchildren visited the Clootie Well in Munlochy last week to learn a little bit about local history and culture as well as how to help protect the environment.

The pupils from Munlochy and Tore’s primary schools joined Forestry and Land Scotland rangers and environmental arts worker, Gordon MacLellan, for a day of activities.

The children spent the morning making biodegradable offerings and clooties and enjoyed storytelling sessions. The pupils also took part in sensory activities within the forest and a wildlife woodland challenge for the older children.

Recreation Ranger, Kirsty Knight, said: “It was a great day out for everyone.

“As well as learning a bit about the history of the Clootie Well, the children made some biodegradable offerings and clooties to hang on the branches on trees surrounding the well.

“It was a fun and easy-to-understand way of learning about ancient traditions, about local customs and about how to look after the environment.”

Clootie Wells are associated with Celtic sites and are places where people would leave offerings in a bid to invoke healing powers to cure their ailments.

Hannah (P7) left and Emily (P6) right, making their offerings and clooties.
Hannah (P7) left and Emily (P6) right, making their offerings and clooties.

The well – a natural spring – still attracts visitors from far and wide. Visitors dip their cloot or cloth in the water and make a wish or say a prayer before attaching it to a tree. The offerings have to be biodegradable because, it is said, the illness will disappear as the offering rots away.

FLS encourages any visitors to show respect for this important cultural site and leave only small biodegradable offerings that will eventually fade and disappear.

This was a key message that FLS rangers delivered to the schoolchildren.

Munlochy Primary School head teacher, Ben Sharp, said: “We are so fortunate to have such an historical site near the school.

“The local community knows it well, but the Forest Ranger team, brought it to life for the children.

“Gordon MacLellan’s story telling created further magical, imaginary worlds where the pupils were able to unleash their creative sides.”

Ollie (P6), of Tore Primary, showing his biodegradable crafts.
Ollie (P6), of Tore Primary, showing his biodegradable crafts.

The pupils’ visit was one of the last before FLS closed the main Munlochy car park and restricted access to part of the woods to allow felling operations.

The works, which began last Thursday (March 21) and are anticipated to last four weeks. During the work FLS will fell trees that are at risk of being blown over in strong winds and damaging houses in Munlochy.

Kirsty added: “These restrictions are temporary but are required for the safety of the public and our workers.

“There is still parking at the Littleburn side of the woods, and visitors will still be able to access the Woodland Trail on the south side of the Big Burn.”

The thinning operations will allow more natural light into the nearby houses and bring a more diverse and brighter atmosphere to the surrounding woodlands.

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