Summer is buzzing

It’s been a while since I wrote something for the blog and today seems a good day for it – with wildlife teeming in the woods on my walk today. I was heading up through the woods, on my way to take out a few Himalayan Balsam plants that survived the cull of last year – I heard a determined and high-pitched mewing from the Scots Pines and looked up to see two young sparrow-hawks calling to their parents from to top of the tallest tree. They can fly now but seem to prefer to beg for food (as a parent of teenagers I have sympathy). As I stood there the parent dived past me into a flock of tits that were calling from the hazels. I don’t think they managed to catch anything and the young continued calling.

I continued on through the woods to the open fields and flushed a peregrine from her spot at the top of one of the ancient and straggly hawthorns which must have once been part of a field boundary. She looked to be carrying a small furry thing in her tallons and quickly disappeared, presumably to somewhere more private to finish her meal. She presumably was the same bird who, one day in Spring, struck terror into the hearts of the garden birds, by stooping from the sky onto a couple of pigeons feeding on grain spilled on the ground. Although no kill was made on that occasion, the birds didn’t return to the feeder for sometime after that.

Interdisciplinary Residency

We are delighted to be hosting an interdisciplinary residency organised by Dr Emily Doolittle, of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Emily is a Canadian composer and zoomusicologist. This retreat is for academics and artists from the Royal Conservatoire and St Andrews University (and their collaborators) but will be a pilot for future artist residencies at Upper Woodburn.

SHARE (Science, Humanities and Arts Research Exchange), November 7-11, 2022

SHARE (Science, Humanities and Arts Research Exchange) is delighted to announce our first interdisciplinary residency, to be held November 7-11, 2022, at Upper Woodburn Cottages (near Milton of Campsie). Applications are due by August 10, 2022 at 17:00, and successful applicants will be notified before September 1, 2022.

Eligibility: This SHARE Residency is open to Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and St Andrews staff, postgraduate students, and recent graduates, and their collaborators, who are doing interdisciplinary work between arts and non-arts fields (including, but not limited to, the humanities, sciences, engineering and medicine). Applicants can be individuals doing interdisciplinary work or collaborative teams.

Purpose: The purpose of this residency is to give artists and researchers time and space to work on interdisciplinary projects which include both arts and non-arts fields. You can be at any stage of your project, from brainstorming to completion, and the project can take any artistic, academic, and/or non-academic form(s). This residency is best suited to those looking for a mix of individual/team working time, discussion with other residents and guests, and opportunities for informal work-sharing.

This residency will provide: – Four nights in one of the cottages at Upper Woodburn (in a private or shared room, with a shared or en suite bathroom, and shared kitchen space)

  • Four nights in one of the cottages at Upper Woodburn (in a private or shared room, with a shared or en suite bathroom, and shared kitchen space)
  • Meals from lunch on November 7 through lunch on November 11. Ingredients will be provided for breakfast and lunch, and dinner will be catered. Arrival on November 6 and departure on November 12 may be possible with pre-arrangement
  • Individual or shared working spaces
  • Woodland setting
  • Workshop and discussion with experienced interdisciplinary facilitator(s) (names TBA)
  • Opportunities to share your work informally with other residents and with the local community
  • A potential Exchange Talk, performance, or exhibit organised by RCS Research and Knowledge Exchange; a potential talk, performance or exhibit at St Andrews organised by St Leonard’s College for Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Travel costs (public transport or mileage) from Glasgow or St Andrews

Applicants: In selecting our successful applicants, we will prioritize those who will benefit from both the individual and/or collaborative working time and the opportunities for research sharing and discussion. We will also try to balance arts and research areas, RCS and St Andrews affiliation, and applicants at different stages of their careers. (A rejection should not be seen as a negative assessment of the quality of your work). We will be able to accept between 7 and 10 applicants.

Accessibility: Upper Woodburn is in a hilly, wooded location, with a gravel road. Two of the accommodations are wheelchair accessible, with accessible bathrooms. Most dietary requirements can be accommodated. If you have any access needs (related to disability, neurodiversity, caregiving responsibilities, dietary requirements, etc.), please contact to see if these can be accommodated.

Application Deadline: The deadline for application is August 10, 2022 at 17:00. The selection panel will include members of RCS and St Andrews staff, as well as the owners of Upper Woodburn. Successful applicants will be notified by September 1, 2022.

Completed applications should be sent to

We do hope you will consider making an application. Please don’t hesitate to ask us for more information!

Build a Hut Week

—– Now Fully Booked —–

Come and join us for a week with Cross Cut (a cooperative of women who design & build ecological, sustainable structures) taking part in a 5-day supported hut build. We’ll be learning as we construct a small, off-grid, timber-framed hut.

We’re building an insulated wooden hut on the site of an old potting shed that will act as an artists studio, meeting place for our artists residencies, and a base for researchers working on the woodland birds. The start of the hut construction will take place at the Hut Building course in Falkland and will be dismantled and transported to Upper Woodburn afterwards, where Cross Cut will be supporting the build, and will instruct participants in the use of equipment, skills and principles of building an off-grid hut.

Monday 6 – Friday 10 June

We hope the week will, not only be a time to learn new skills, but a time to make new connections with others in a beautiful place. There will be time for exploring the woods and relaxing together over food in the evenings.

We have accommodation in the Pavilion and the Roundhouse for participants to stay in, or you can come on a daily basis if you live nearby – there are buses that stop at the end of the drive that start at Buchanan Street Bus station in Glasgow, and stop at Bishopbriggs, Kirkintilloch and Kilsyth.

So if you’re interested in hut design and off-grid buildings and are want to get an overview of how to build them – come along and join in!

More Information

Cross Cut is a cooperative of women who design & build ecological, sustainable structures from locally sourced timber, and regularly run workshops to pass on their passion and skills to others. They will be keeping us on the straight-and-narrow during the week. Cross Cut are running a Build School at Falkland in May and the hut they are building during that week will be reconstructed during this work-party saving time so that we can experience the whole process of building, insulating and cladding a hut in an accelerated timeframe.

All participants need to be over 18 years old.


The cost will be £250 for the five days including all lunches.

Accommodation (Mon/Tues/Wed/Thurs/Fri) is provided in the Pavilion and the Roundhouse and will cost £150 per person sharing a room (if we can make this work with the numbers) and £250 if you have a room to yourself. If you are staying in our self-catering accommodation, just bring your own breakfasts, lunch is provided and we will coordinate about shared evening meals when we know who is coming (cost not included). Accommodation in the Roundhouse only is available Sunday 5th at a small additional cost.

About Upper Woodburn:

Upper Woodburn is a small native woodland at the foot of the Campsie Fells with three self-catering cottages. June is a wonderful time in the woods and gardens with incredible wildlife and the rhododendrons in full bloom (we are working on a plan of how to remove the rhododendron ponticum but, until then, they will look spectacular in June!). The dawn chorus will be at its height – if you can get up at 5am…. You can find more information about us here:

Optional Activities

We are just getting started at Upper Woodburn, having taken over this magical place in June 2021, so are experimenting with additional activities. With it being June and the height of the dawn chorus, Kat will run an optional extra activity of a dawn chorus walk if there is demand – for those that need help in identifying the species – and an evening badger stake-out.

If you are interested in either of these let us know when you book.

If you have any questions please get in touch with Kat

Cross Cut are a worker’s cooperative who combine the passing on of skills for sustainable building within their own construction work and projects and are established to be accessible, collaborative, affordable and sustainable in what they do. – Photo Cross Cut –

Good Rhodies – Bad Rhodies!

22 April 2022

We’ve got all sorts of rhododendrons at Upper Woodburn. Some specimen ‘nice’ rhododendrons that don’t spread and look beautiful and are generally well behaved. Like this beautiful red one that sets off the sunset behind the roundhouse so nicely and has just flowered this week.

Unfortunately we also have plenty of the Rhododendron ponticum, a highly invasive species which is threatening woodlands all over Scotland. At present they are mainly in the gardens and the lower oak woodlands, but we have a plan to try and take out all the ponticum to help protect the woodland.

We started with a huge one that was completely overshadowing the Lodge and the outdoor seating area. We’ve made good progress so far taking down the multi-storey giant. And I have just received some Scotia Seeds native wildflower mix to plant on the bare earth that’s left.


25th July 2021

We went badger watching last night. Inspired by the photos of a guest, Lee Mills, who managed to capture some photos of badgers really close up while on a walk through the woods, we decided to go on a stake out.

We had the essentials- midge head-nets, snacks and a picnic blanket to sit on and we took it a few hundred yards up behind the house close to one of the badger runs and just sat. As the dusk settled we heard rustling and then saw a badger tobogganing down a steep mud slope and trot along the path below us. Soon after another followed and another and we watched them for an hour foraging and wandering around the little gulley.


5th June 2021

I have a troublesome relationship with rhododendrons. On the one hand Rhododenron ponticum is a highly invasive species that is a particular menace to Scotland’s rare habitats, particularly the west coast’s Atlantic oak woodlands. And on the other hand they are absolutely stunning when in full bloom. But it’s not just the ponticum we have here – there are lots of incredible specimen rhododendrons too. I’ll need to get rid of the ponticum at some point but this year ….. I just enjoyed them

Here’s some more photos ….

An Ocean of Bluebells

10th May 2021

The bluebells are looking absolutely astounding this week. The ground is so densely covered with them we had to walk really carefully to get these photos. The wood sorrel is also flowering – also called the Alleluia flower because it flowers between Easter and Pentecost…. which I suppose is about this time of year! Sitting in the woodland listening to the birds singing was something really special.

Here’s some more photos ….

Woodcock walks

15 March 2021

Today I saw two woodcock – I flushed them out of the fallen leaves in two different parts of the wood. As one of them clattered off I heard a Nuthatch – relative new-comers to Scotland from further south, but they are a particular favourite of mind with their call that I always think sounds like a man whistling for his dog