Commonwealth athlete shares childhood memories of playing in woods
Published on: Monday 2nd June 2014
Scottish mountain bike champion Lee Craigie has planted the final tree within a new native woodland in Dumbarton. The Woodland Trust Scotland has planted a total of 200,000 natives trees at Lang Craigs to create a Commonwealth Grove, which will grow to become a lasting legacy of the Games. Lee Craigie reminisces about childhood memories of playing in her local woods.
I grew up in a small suburb just outside Glasgow and only a few hundred yards from a magical adventure playground of mixed woodland and peat bog. It was here I would inevitably escape given the slightest chance.
Whenever I entered this wild place I became free to explore and challenge myself away from the usual confines of being a child. It felt like the trust from of escapism.
Unlike watching TV or playing video games, when I was outside climbing trees, building dens or making up fictional worlds in the woods – the whole of me was engaged. By that I mean all of my senses: sight, sound, touch, smell and all of my body: running and jumping – whether alone or with friends. Having unknowingly explored and developed all these aspects of my young self, I would emerge from the woods at the end of a day filthy, exhausted and very, very happy.
These days I continue to play in the woods albeit in a slightly different way. I was probably drawn to mountain biking for the same reasons. The feelings of freedom and excitement you get from exploring wild places under your own steam has never lost its power for me. I get on my bike and reconnect with that child that spent long days up to her armpits in mud and leaves.
On the day I visited Lang Craigs wood, one of the 14 Commonwealth Woods, to plant some trees, the hillside was swamped with people remembering similar experiences from their own childhood. What united us all was an absorption in our task to plant new native trees within a Commonwealth Grove, while sporting grubby hands and knees and sharing a sense of satisfaction from all that was being achieved.
As well as tree planting there was fun and laughter at the foot of the hill with young people and adults alike playing tug of war and trying their hand at archery and other outdoor games. As I rode off at the end of the day I could still hear the whoops and hollers behind me.
The Woodland Trust has managed to create more than a young woodland that will become a lasting legacy of the Commonwealth Games, but a community invested in it.