Not far from Greenock, perhaps about 7 miles uphill, on the side of the old Largs road, lay the derelict remains of Garvok farm. It is a solitary and desolate place on the moor. The ruins stand on a little patch of land whose borders are flanked by weather-beaten dry stone walls.
The wind roars toward a row of tall Scott pines growing along a small path that climbs slowly from the road, and the gnarled branches of oak trees adjacent to the ancient building.
It is faced, on the opposite side of the road, by the sheet of water of Loch Thom which stretches from the Greenock cut visitor center at the base of Dunrod Hill, in the West, towards the tip of Gryffe Reservoir, in the East.
Here and there, the forestry commission had engaged, since 2010, in a campaign of afforestation, in order to get rid of Sitka spruces or larches and reintroduce indigenous trees, leaving behind dead wood strewn in heaps upon the ground, Their rugged and uneven surface smoothed over time by unabated wind and lashing rain. There are shattered trunks with bark or moss still attached in some places, branches and twigs entwined together, and needles mixed with sawdust and soil, whose brownish color contrast sharply with the green and yellow grass all around.
We arrived, in the late hour of this Saturday morning, near the abandoned farm. Friends, volunteers, under the guidance of John, wrapped in our coats and jackets. We had rallied around a warm brew of tea or coffee in the ranger’s office and then had driven the short distance from the Greenock visitor center to the small strip of land that separates the road from the loch.
The rain had stopped but the cold wind welcomed us, its violent gusts tugging at our clothes, ruffling out our hair, biting at our skin. Yet we remained undaunted and cheerful as we endeavored to gather large pieces of wood that we had carefully selected, trimming some of them, now and then, before loading them in the back of the pick-up truck.
It took a most part of the morning and several journey to carry the wood to the center. The trunks, branches and twigs where destined to be part of fences surrounding little patches of tree plantations that are mainly located near the Greenock cut pond, at the base of Dunrod Hill, fences design to protect against incursions from nearby sheep as such incursions would be disastrous for the growing saplings.