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Community Grants Scheme Deadline Approaches

The deadline for the fourth and final round of the Coigach & Assynt Living Landscape Partnership Scheme (CALLP) Community Grants Scheme is fast approaching. Individuals can apply for up to £1,000 and organisations can apply for up to £5,000 to support natural, cultural, and built heritage in the Coigach & Assynt areas. The deadline for applications is 12 noon, Monday 2nd March 2020. Over the last three years that the Community Grants Scheme has been running, grants totalling over £72,000 have been awarded across 10 individuals and 18 local organisations. The grants are boosted by in kind contributions, volunteer time, and match funding, giving the projects a combined total worth of over £225,000, allowing these heritage projects to have significant impact. Last year eleven projects were awarded funding to implement projects in the CALL area. These awards included heritage conservation, promotion of access to local heritage, and research. The Community Grants Scheme is funded thanks to players of the National Lottery through the National Lottery Heritage Fund, and Scottish National Heritage. The Assynt & Coigach Creatives (ACC) Creative Trails leaflet

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What to Spot: February Edition

February is a time when a lovely spring like day can encourage some flowers and animals to start emerging from their winter routines. Buds start to appear, reptiles come out to enjoy the few rays of sunshine, some flowers start to bloom and the birds start to sing. Already I have seen buds on hazel starting to break, flowers starting to appear on gorse bushes and grey herons flying about getting their nests ready for them to breed! Spring is coming! A few species that are likely to start appearing this month are covered below. It would be great to hear from you about when, and where, you first saw these this year. You may be aware but flowering times are getting earlier each year due to effects of climate change and it would be interesting to see how Coigach and Assynt are changing across the years. So, let’s start with having a look for trees, plants and flowers Gorse flowers – a few little yellow heads are starting to pop up over the mountainsides on these prickly bushes. Often

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January Volunteer Day

What better way to start the year than to take a wander in Culag woods and do a bit of maintenance as we go. We strolled off to try and protect trees that were planted by the primary school kids a few years ago. All are growing strong but unfortunately the tree guards are now too short, and the deer are eating the trees over the top! So, we thought we would give them an extension and allow the trees time and space to recover! Using branches from the wood and left-over mesh from the original guards, we constructed a second level of protection. It turned out to be particularly fiddly work, getting reusable cable ties through the layers and around the post, especially with cold fingers! You probably can’t notice from the photo (as they are so smiley!) but it was a pretty wet and windy day, even in the protection of the trees. Everyone worked together to make sure each tree was adequately protected, and we were pleased with the results. After a job well done, we walked

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Whittle by whittle: learning new skills on the Woodland Artisan evening course

Guest Blog by Chris Goodman Whittling. Something I associate with boy scouts and times gone by. I worry it’s not fashionable in our age of ‘smart’ or ‘i’ everything and wonder what people make of it. But whittling (or call it carving, wood working or whatever) is something that absorbs me in the moment, an activity that calms me, motivates me and fills my home with creations I’ve made for myself. And what better time of year than now to sit by the fire, work away on some fun projects and make some Christmas pressies for others (or yourself!) And so over the last 4 weeks we’ve steadily progressed our knowledge of carving techniques and how to keep our knives sharp to make a wand, spreading knife, decorative mushrooms and finally, to finish off before Christmas, some snow people. It’s been a really enjoyable way to spend my Monday evenings through December – getting to know some interesting people and seeing them go home with their own creations and increasing capability to take their new knowledge and apply it to

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What to Spot: January Edition

2020 has arrived! January is a time when a lot of our species are just trying to make it through winter. Food is a little scarcer and the pressure simply to survive, to keep breeding grounds or to migrate back home is increasing. David mentioned garden birds last month and January is still a good time to attract creatures close to home as they search for food. This month is also great for looking out for ducks, raptors and owls which can be easier to spot because of the early darkness! Here are some suggested species to look out for. A common sight in southern areas but shyer and more concealed in Coigach and Assynt is the Little Grebe (aka dabchick). Although here all year round, less vegetation means they are a little easier to find on inland lochs such as Loch na Claise, Loch an Aigeil, Little Assynt or Loch Culag. Little Grebes (Tachybaptus ruficollis) are rarely seen on land as their feet are placed towards the back of their body to help with swimming underwater. Listen out for

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The Big Climate Fightback: Tree Planting at Little Assynt

Guest Blog by Alison Roe   Saturday 30th November Quinag looms high on the horizon, glowing gently in the afternoon sun as I pull into the car park by the tree nursery at Little Assynt. I’m here for the tree planting event, organised by CALLP in partnership with The Woodland Trust, and we’re definitely lucky with the weather. Rain and high winds are forecast for the coming week but today it’s beautiful – cold and clear – a great day to be outside and good conditions for planting trees. The area to be planted is just a few minutes walk along the path from the car park: a little hollow open to the east with views over to Quinag. Even though I’ve arrived quite early, there are already quite a few folk busy with spades, with Elaine on hand to explain what to do. I comment on the beauty of the location. Elaine explains that they chose this particular spot for its easy access and for its suitability for planting: it’s not too steep and is mostly grass and bracken

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Creagan Grabhalta Clach Tuill – Engraved Stones of Clachtoll

One of our Community Grants Scheme recipients this year was Griogair MacAllein who led story walks across the area throughout last year. Through these walks, Griogair shared his wealth of knowledge of local folklore and history. Here he shares some thoughts on the Creagan Grabhalta Clach Tuill –  the Engraved Stones of Clachtoll:   Although an ‘Aiberdeenshire’ loon born an’ brocht up I now live in Assynt, North West Sutherland.   Diverse landscapes, from the mountainous to the low agricultural fields, yet both have the smell of salt air in the wind. The preference for seeking a new life in North America and the Antipodes witnessed individuals and families from both geographical areas escaping the potato famines and the post political changes of the 1745 Jacobite rebellion.   The clearances from the Highlands were often callus and brutal but although possibly under duress some were voluntary. In the North East the evidence seems to be the lucrative offers of affordable land which tempted the mostly rural population to emigrate. Near the coastal communities of Clachtoll and Stoer,  in NW Assynt there is

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An Autumn Portrait

One of our Community Grants Scheme recipients this year was Griogair MacAllein who led story walks across the area throughout last year. Here Griogair shares a seasonally suitable poem:   AN AUTUMN PORTRAIT Griogair MacAllein The forest floor, a canvas wet with dripping raindrops. A child brings 4 twigs – the top, the bottom & 2 sides A frame. Another child forages for leaves, 2 Pine cones, pieces of Birch bark. Granda brings reeds and a feather and the hair of a Rabbit. The children build a face on the forest floor Fenced by the 4 twigs the 2 Pine cones, the pieces of Birch bark, the leaves, the reeds, the feather and the hair of a Rabbit. Those moments in time Meant to be made. Granda watched and smiled. ‘’It’s you Granda. Smiley face!’’ Granda smiled back into the mirror on the forest floor The wind’s bite called them home. Even a dog sniffed and left the portrait untouched. The wind stayed. The 4 twigs scattered, the 2 Pine cones, the pieces of Birch bark, the leaves, the reeds,

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What to spot: December Edition

Hard to believe but here we are on the last What to Spot blog of 2019 in partnership with Coigach and Assynt Living Landscape. It may be the bleak mid-winter but, there is still plenty of wildlife to look out for throughout the area. To make the most of the short daylight hours wrap up warm, take a hot drink of your choice and simply go for a wander. Of course, you can appreciate some of our most endearing wildlife from the comfort of your own home – garden visitors. The visitors most of us are likely to see are the numerous birds that make a bee line for garden feeders at this time of year. Peanuts, seeds, fat balls and apples are just a few of the different foods that will attract a good variety of birds to your garden. The more frequent garden birds include: House Sparrow; Great Tit; Blue Tit; Coal Tit; Chaffinch; Goldfinch; Siskin, Blackbird and, of course the Robin. An added bonus could well be the sight of a Sparrowhawk sweeping through your garden; they

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A Journey through Elphin for Quite an Adventure

Having supported The Journey Through Elphin community wall-hanging. project through our Community Grants Scheme it was a pleasure to attend the unveiling of the finished wall hanging at Elphin village Hall. Earlier in the year my six-year-old daughter had won the Elphin Chicken Day Painting Competition in school. She was now looking forward to counting the chickens on the community textile. We arrived just in time for the unveiling of the sewn artwork by the youngest member of the Elphin community to the delight of the Elphin craft group members who had created the hanging, other community members and visitors. This stunning wall hanging is huge! It measures 2.5 metres by 1.2 metres. It incorporates stories and icons of Elphin on a stylized map. Such landmarks as the Elphin Tearoom and red telephone box orient the map for the observer and are interspaced with historic and personalised memories and locations. Community members explained the meaning of the image of the Elphin women arguing with the bailiffs that recalls the women’s successful actions to confound the township’s evictions during the clearances,,

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