Participants from all over Argyll & Bute came together to celebrate Branching Out and launch the new poetry trail at the Moss Wood site in Bute Community Forest. The Branching Out celebration represented a culmination of three years of work - over 350 outdoor woodland sessions engaging with over 200 people across Argyll & Bute. Branching Out co-ordinator Sara said it was a "splendid day". 

The poetry trail was designed and created by Branching Out participants with the support of Jessica and Gordon from Woodwatch Heritage Bute.  Prose and artwork was placed along a new trail through the oak and birch woodland.  

Over the last three years the Branching Out programme has been delivered by ACT’s Branching Out Leaders who are extremely passionate and empathic freelance outdoor activity practitioners. They work in partnership with the NHS Community Mental Health Teams and various third sector partners.  A hot lunch is always available, cooked over the camp fire and travel is provided (in Cowal & Bute) by Interloch Community Transport.

One Bute participant was moved to say “…I have taken part in the recent series of Branching Out days and the additional sessions in the Community Forest.  To my surprise, like others in my group, I have benefited enormously… We live in this beautiful place but it has not occurred to us to be involved outdoors. We have lacked the confidence and the logistics have been an enormous barrier.

…the staff all take a sincere interest in the wellbeing of each individual.

I'm writing this feedback because I am aware of how difficult funding can be to come by. I would like it to be known that lives are changed. The projects, which are visible from the road, give the people involved a sense of achievement. I don't know of many mental health projects which the participants talk to the general population about, with pride.

Katie and Julie from ACT attended the celebration day and were moved by the experience. Julie thanked Sara and the Leaders for the hard work they have put in to make the Branching Out project such a success.

Katie said of her experience: “It was great to meet everyone involved with Branching Out. It was a reminder to take the time to reflect on how good the project is, and the very real benefits it’s delivered to those that went on Branching Out. The variety of what I have been able to see and do while I am on placement at ACT has been really educational and enlightening. Thanks to those who were there for making me so welcome and to those at Moss Wood for the use of their lovely forest!

The poetry trail is open to the public and is a short journey from Rothesay or Rhubodach, on the A886. 

ACT's Branching Out project is currently seeking funding to continue the successful programme across Argyll and Bute.

The poetry trail is at Moss Wood on the Isle of Bute ACT Development Manager Julie, and Branching Out co-ordinator Sara. Attendees were asked to lay inspirational stones around the poetry trail.
Examples of poetry on the trail