What is a Wwoofer? you ask. WWOOF stands for World Wide Organisation of Organic Farmers and we try to operate on organic principals in our garden areas. We attract young folk (sometimes not so young) who wish to spend time working on a farm, in a garden setting or around the horses.
Last year was our first year of taking on wwoofers and it was a revelation. We took in a number of young ladies (we currently only have accommodation for ladies)and were delighted with the calibre of folk we got (not so sure if they were delighted with the calibre of folk they got!)
This idea of taking on wwoofers arose when I took a bus-load of students to the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh (You've got to visit) to a 'Working in Horticulture' Open day for students from throughout Scotland. One of the guest speakers was a young lady who had 'WWOOFED' in some foreign countries and had now returned to the UK to pursue her career in horticulture. She spoke with such enthusiasm and love of the people she had shared her experiences with that it really struck a chord with me. Now a few years later. I hope that Pathhead can engender that same enthusiasm in those who come to work and experience our wee bit of paradise in cold and rainy Scotland.
Here's a few reviews that we've recieved this last year. I'm pretty proud of them. For once we must be doing something right.
Canada • January 2023
Do you love grouchy Scottish people? Do you hate being cheerful? Do you love weeding? Then Pathhead is the place for you! I felt at home the moment I arrived at Pathhead. Ally and Jan are kind and welcoming; upon arrival you will slip into normal Pathhead life - chaos, hilarity, swearing, rain, mud, community, and so, so much fun. Perhaps there's too much weeding, but it's broken up with interesting jobs like fencing (not the cool, sword kind), building glasshouses, caning trees, building and demolishing walls, painting, helping with riding lessons, mucking out horses, and more! Perhaps the chickens are elderly and a little worse for wear, but you'll have fresh eggs, and you can learn to speak fluent chicken like I did (much to the consternation of those around me). Perhaps Ally will ask you to paint but not know where the brushes are, or refuse a cup of tea because you only use oat milk, but he will welcome you into his home, introduce you to his friends, loan you books, talk about them for hours, cook you Scottish specialities (can you say potatoes!?), wax lyrical about the virtues of Kirrie, Dundee and Angus, and make you feel at home. Perhaps Allan will growl if you are too cheerful in the morning, but he will invite you in for cups of tea, take you on wonderful walks, and make you feel included. Perhaps Ryan will roll his eyes if you are enthusiastic, but he will be endlessly helpful and make every job perfect. Go to Pathhead - it's wonderful!
Reply from Ally
Now, what can I say about Kristen that won’t incriminate me? Kris is the most irritatingly happy ‘morning person’ that I’ve ever met. She greets you in the morning singing some bloody annoying ‘Disney’ type song where you expect the birds to be flying around her head tweeting and for her to be accompanied by cartoon rabbits and other cute furry things. First thing in the morning, I just want to strangle the cute furry things – especially the @/?##%$£@ rabbits, of which we have far too many anyway. And Kris would come a close second to the rabbits if she wasn’t so damned useful. First job of the day, Kris collects eggs, cleans out chickens (still singing) and she speaks to them. (I think the chickens put up with her ‘cos she feeds them.) Whatever job happens to be needed; Kris can do it. Weeding (she sings), turning soil, (she trills), helping put out the horses (she gets quite operatic). Painting signs (she hums) and being Santa’s elf (at which she excelled) – she sings carols. She knows the words to every song she sings perfectly, and, in all seriousness, she has a beautiful voice and is pitch perfect. I still don’t want to hear it first thing in the morning though. Kristen was with us for three months. She is a clever, articulate and sober individual (one glass of sweet cider). She joined in with everything and was an integral part of our clan while she was with us. She is a very hard worker and really can turn her hand to anything. Kris was great!
Léana France • October 2022
What can I say about Pathhead? It was my first trip alone and for such a long time in a country I didn't know (3 month), and I was welcomed in a team, a family, they immediately made me feel comfortable and like a full member of the farm.. Always in a happy mood and kindness, the working days passed so quickly that I did not see the end of my stay coming. Proud of their country, Ally and all the team will not hesitate to teach you Scottish words (especially at the pub), and to advise you of wonderful walks to do to discover these fabulous surrounding landscapes such as "the wow walk" ask Ally, he will tell you where is it, or historic places like Glamis castle. The added bonus of riding and having fun with the horses after work was just a fantastic opportunity. I was very happy at Pathhead, so much so that when I had to leave, I could not wait to come back next year. Whether at work, during meals at Ally's house (we ate greats meals, even the lasagna), or even at the pub, there is never a dull moment in Kirriemuir ! Special mention for the chickens and wild haggis ! Thank you so much for everything, it was a delight to spend my summer with you ! Cheers, Leana
Reply from Ally
Leanna stayed with us for three months. Brave lass. Leanna comes from a farming family in rural France – and it showed. Willing to turn her hand to just about anything and was a very capable and reliable pair of hands. She undertook any and every job willingly and didn’t worry about the repetitiveness of some of the work (weeding and glass-cleaning comes to mind). She was great at helping out on the yard and was extremely competent around the horses. She helped with the pony club camps during the summer holidays and was very kind to the children. She shared the accommodation with a few different girls over the time she was with us and was a very pleasant companion to all who stayed. I know that she has made some good friends while staying here and is still in contact with them. During her time off she would go walking (haggis hunting) and visiting places with her pals. She could have done guided tours around Glamis castle by the time she was leaving, she’d been there so often. Leanne can ride very well and took part in some of the lessons and competitions on the yard, showing her competence in a nicely understated way. We had a teaching session where we were ‘teaching our teachers’ and had our staff riders pretending to be beginners (good fun). All our ‘beginners’ were given a bit of paper describing what kind of rider they were to be, hesitant, frightened, over-confident, poor leg control, poor balance etc. Leanne was to be the one with poor balance! I watched her performance and couldn’t believe she didn’t fall off. I was horrified and amused in equal measure. She was really good at being bad. Leanne is a very good cook and is a ‘foodie’ enjoying cooking and eating different cuisine. BUT she is a bit weird. She is very French – but doesn’t like garlic and aint too keen on onions (really strange!) but she ate them in my mince and tatties and never even noticed. She makes the best tiramisu we’ve ever eaten but was deeply insulted that we said it was the best, ‘cos some of us don’t usually like tiramisu and it didn’t taste like tiramisu.. But it was SO good. Yum! Leanna is a very expensive young lady to take to the pub. She drinks brandy and we’ve never seen her drunk. Leanna was an absolute dream to have stay with us. She was a delight and we are sorry that she’s headed home. We hope she has a wonderful return to college (she did allegedly study while she was here – but I never saw it) and we hope that she comes back as she’s promised (threatened) next year. Ally and Jan X
Myriam Belgium • October 2022
I had a nice time at Pathhead and I am really happy to have had the opportunity to go there ! Kirri is a wonderful village and the whole area as well! Jane and Ally are nice and it was amazing to go to the pub with them and to meet their great friends ! I was really pleased to eat with them a few times as well ! There are really beautiful landscapes and cities to see in the area and Ally gave us a ride to a beautiful walk ! It is a great place to go to !
Reply from Ally
Myriam is a quiet wee soul. You hardly knew she was there most of the time. She was a lovely lass to have working for us. She is a good weeder and a good tidy-upper in the yard and in the glass house. BUT Wow! you should see her weild a big mash hammer. We were knocking down a block wall in the main stable block and Myriam did it almost all herself. She is a machine. One tough wee cookie.
She was rubbish at sweeping but I hope she's learned how to handle a broom by now after her stint at Pathhead. Myriam shared the caravan with Chris and the pair of them went walking together up Corrie Fee and did a Munro (big hill). Poor Chris was pechin' as she went up the hills and said Myriam treated it as a minor walk and didn't even break sweat. Myriam is an independant lassie and seems very happy in her own company but was good fun and very sociable when we took her to our local pub. I would definitely recommend her (especially for a demolition company)
Annalena, Austria • September 2022
My sister and I spent two lovely weeks at Pathhead farm during which we learned many things about farming, gardening, horses, and Scotland more generally. Ally and Jan (and their staff) are very welcoming and give their best to make you feel at home. There is a small village close by in which you can do some basic shopping and go for a cup of coffee. Ally was nice enough to drive us around on our days off and there are many things to see! Working hours are correct and there is always room to negotiate tasks as Ally tries to take into consideration your interests. We can only recommend going there and meeting Ally and the small farm community for yourselves!
Reply from Ally
Lets get one thing straight from the start. Kirriemuir is Not a small village! It is a huge metropolis, the centre of my wee universe and everybody (sniff) insults it -even Jan, who comes from Stonehaven, which isnae much bigger. and doesn't have Peter Pan or Bon Scott just some poor bugger that invented the Pneumatic tyre or something. What use has that been to the world, I ask you? Anyway, besides insulting Kirrie, I can honestly say that the girls were brilliant. Happy to undertake any and all tasks with enthusiasm and grace. nothing was too much trouble. I had them hedge trimming, painting, doing horsey duties as well as gardening, grass cutting and of course, weeding (of which there is always loads to do). They were a very happy addition to our team in the time they stayed with us and I would highly recommend both for any wwoofing visits in the future.
France • September 2022
I recommend at 100%!! It was my first time as a WWOOFer, and my first time in a farm, and I have had the most wonderful experience at Pathhead. Ally and Jan are such amazing hosts, and the farm in itself is a beautiful place, really taken care of by everyone who works there. My work as a WWOOFer was very divers, always fair and it taught me a lot. The region of Angus is amazing, and it has been a pleasure to have the opportunity to discover it, thanks to Ally who was always willing to take us to beautiful places. I will always remember Pathhead and the people who live there, the long chats we had by the fireplace or at the pub, and its magic atmosphere. I would never have dreamed a better place to spend my two first weeks as a WWOOFer. Do not hesitate, just go to Pathhead!
Reply from Ally
Clem was a great addition to our wee team of wwoofers. She was always happy and easy going. A great wee worker, happy to get involved in whatever jobs needed doing, even washing endless panes of glass from our glass house which has now finally been moved to its new home (pictures to follow).
Clem worked really well with Leanna and the pair of them went and did some walks together up the glens and got toured around a wee bit by me. I think they both loved Glamis Castle. Of particular note: Clemence can sing! She has a beautiful voice and sang along to our friend Dave's guitar playing one evening in our local pub. It was wonderful. X
Germany • August 2022
Where do I even begin? My stay at Pathhead was absolutely incredible, exciting and just lovely! Ally and Jan always were super nice, bought us all the food we wanted (and definitely needed ;)), cooked tea for us, introduced us to Scottish culture and in general were happy to show us around in beautiful Scotland anytime. Not only they were nice, but also Pathhead's staff couldn't have been better at making me feel the most welcome!
I really enjoyed everything about the farm. Playing my part as a Wwoofer, either working in the tree nursery or with the horses/kids, was a special experience that taught me a lot! One of the best things for me as a horserider at Pathhead was having the opportunity to not only work around horses but actually being able to ride the ponies and teach the little children myself! Even the 'boring tasks' such as weeding ended up being a fun and memorable experience because I was lucky enough to always be around other wwoofers from other countries sharing the same live-situation as me! I would go back anytime to visit the genuine friends I was able to make at Pathhead and relive the amazing month I got to have in Kirri!
Reply from Ally
First thing to say about Lilli is - she can eat! We've never seen so much food be consumed by such a tiny frame. As a somewhat rotund big eater myself -Jealousy is the only word I have to describe my feelings about Lilli. She has the metabolism of a ten year old on a diet of Irn bru (if you don't know what that is, you have to visit Scotland). Lilli was a wonderful asset to the farm. She worked predominantly with the horses and helped out during our pony club camps. All the kids in the camps adored her. she had such an easy, friendly way about her, was a very good rider and a great helper and instructer. She added some different ways of doing things into the mix and was so up for pony club games and competitions that she was able to challenge some of the children to go that extra mile. Lilli helped out in the nursery area a wee bit, weeding and watering etc. but her talents were most definitely put to greater use on the yard. She made great friends with everybody working at Pathhead and fitted in well with all her fellow Wwoofers and with Jan and I. Not sure if she always got my sense of humour??? but that just made Lilli all the more entertaining for me. She says she'd like to come back next year and, if so, she will most definitely be greeted with open arms. We were delighted with Lilli.
France • August 2022
my experience at the Pathhead farm went very well. The activities I was able to do were varied both at the equestrian center by helping during summer camps with children and at the level of the nursery and gardening. Jan and Ally are adorable, always listening and helping with the slightest problem. They also made us discover the local culture through different festivals. This experience was great and I recommend it 100%
Reply from Ally
Meline (Mel) was a lovely lass. She immediately fitted in with the other two wwoofers staying at the same time. She was funny and kind and had a very quick wit. She was also very good at making funny faces. She said she'd like to be an actor. I reckon she's got star quality. As a wwoofer, she was a good worker, getting involved with the horsey things on the farm and looking after ponies and pony clubbers very well. As far as working in the nursery went, she was a good but -unskilled labourer, good at weeding and plant protection, grass cuttting and keeping the areas tidy. she also enjoyed a wee shot of the digger and got involved in painting of the stables and surrounding wood work. We very much enjoyed having her with us and would welcome her back again.
France • July 2022
My stay at Pathhead is unforgettable. I spent my days with incredibly nice and generous people at the farm. At work, the missions were various and really enjoyable. I learnt a lot of things about gardening and weeding, and it was also great for me to take care of horses ! On my free time, I discovered the cities of Kirriemuir, Dundee, and Edinburgh. Ally and Jan were always here to drive me or pick me up somewhere. I also tried Scottish homemade meals such as haggis and mince and tatties, which were absolutely delicious. If you want to spend a good time with great people, don’t hesitate anymore. Really. It was definitely the best experience of my life.
Reply from Ally
Suzzane was the first wwoofer to apply to work with us. It's not an easy thing to invite a completely new person into your space and expect everybody to hit it off perfectly - but - we really did. It has been a great experience having Suzzane (and Kristen - we always think of them as being a team), working with us. They hit it off immediately and we hope (think) that they'll be friends for life after their time with us.
Anyway, Suzzane, worked hard, was happy to undertake any task, whether it be cleaning out the chickens, weeding (She;s really good at that) or painting (good at that too) or grass cutting (Hmm! Wouldna' know a straight line if you drew it for her - neither would Kristen). She was of the happiest disposition and was so easy going and kind, we adord having her stay.
I called my two lovely wwoofers my guinea pigs and before they left they presented Jan and I with two very cute guinea pig ornaments. We were very touched. We had the girls in for their tea a couple of times and gave them proper Scottish fair. I think I convinced Suzzane that the native, wild, Angus glens haggis could compete easily with her fancy French cuisine. I even took her up Glen Clova so that she could go haggis hunting up to Loch Brandy - but she never saw any (they are very elusive at this time of year) but I did introduce her to a Heilan' coo with some wee calfs. She seemed to like that. The girls had time off to go to Edinburgh for a weekend, where I think they had a very enjoyable experience. Jan and I also took them to our local pub where iI think they also had a good time (rather slower paced than the bright lights of Edinburgh) but Suzzane can drink Guiness with the best of them. Impressed! I would recommend Suzzane to anybody as a great Wwoofer and a wee star.
United Kingdom • June 2022
I had a wonderful experience at Pathhead. The farm is a bustling place full of friendly faces, and the hosts Ally and Jan were very welcoming. I was there for three weeks and stayed in a caravan with another WWOOFer, with whom I made great friends. The caravan was comfortable and had everything we needed. Ally and Jan made some Scottish meals for us (we love wild haggis and mince and tatties!) and invited us to join them at the town pub. We worked pretty regular hours (9-5 with an hour lunch break) and most of the work consisted of planting trees and veggies, weeding, cutting grass, chicken care, and potting flowers, with some maintenance and horse-y stuff on the side. Since we were both new to gardening and farming, staff were great at explaining what to do and why. It was cool to see the farm change even during just our short time there. Over the weekends, my fellow WWOOFer and I enjoyed exploring the area, visiting Edinburgh one weekend and the beautiful Loch of Kinnordy another. We also got to explore much of Kirriemuir (and the Cairngorms are not far off either!). Ally and Jan were wonderful hosts whose generosity really made us feel at home. In the process, we learned about the region, heard some great stories (tall tales?), and learned about gardening. I left only a week ago, but miss it already!
Reply from Ally
Kristen was a pleasure to have on the farm. She shared accomodation with Suzzane who is French and the pair of them got on brilliantly. I called them my guinea pigs because they were our first Wwoofers and I couldn't have asked for two happier, easy going and hard working young ladies. (Please see some of the pics of what the girls got up to, and the wonderful wee present we got from them. we loved it). Kirsten arrived knowing very little about gardening or horses and during her time with us I think she has learned a fair bit about the gardening side of things, weeding, watering, sowing, grass cutting anfd general maintenance (Painting). We even managed to get her on a horse for the first time. Kristen is a very smart and articulate young woman with a very happy disposition. She is a good worker, is easy going and turned her hand to whatever she was asked to do. She likes wild caught Scottish haggis and can eat like a horse (she's just a wee lassie) and she can talk for Scotland. More Kristen's please