IT'S said that the pioneering 18th century Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus fell on his knees and praised god the first time he saw gorse in its full yellow-flowering glory.

And I could understand his reaction when last week, I looked upon a wide sweep of these prickly bushes covering the lower slopes of Dumyat in the Ochils.

Gorse is not everyone’s cup of tea, but the sea of yellow was quite stunning, with the coconut-scented flowers attracting pollinating insects and their protective prickles offering safe places for birds to nest.

I had parked the car at Blairlogie, and my plan was to head eastwards along the track towards Lossburn Reservoir before turning down the steep path into Menstrie Glen and then returning through the Menstrie Community Woodland.

On the first part of the walk, orange-tip butterflies floated and danced in the air, attracted by the abundance of garlic mustard, one of their favoured food plants.

These dazzling butterflies seem to have increased in numbers in recent years and they are always a joy to watch.

There was so much else to see, too, including an inquisitive song thrush that sat on a branch and watched me pass below.

When I entered the Menstrie Community Woodland, white-flowering wild garlic (or ramsons as they are sometimes known) abounded by the path side, as did drifts of blue-hazed bluebells and stunning clumps of red campion.

The sweet cascading songs of willow warblers ebbed and flowed across the trees and I could hear a yodelling green woodpecker in the distance.

Menstrie Community Council bought this wood in July 1998 on behalf of the local community, with help from the Heritage Lottery Fund, and have created a truly special place.

This wonderful haven is a great example of a community getting together and protecting their environment, thus providing a better place for both nature and people.