Paths and Access

Suilven Path

Suilven is one of the most dramatic and iconic hills of Assynt. Recreational access to the summit of Suilven is having an adverse effect on vegetation and soils along the established access routes. Small sections of the path have deteriorated over the last few years and this process will only continue if the path is not consolidated and protected. This project aims to upgrade the main approach path to Suilven and repair the erosion caused by recreational access on Suilven itself. The project will create a more durable and sustainable path protecting the landscape from erosion and ensuring visitor’s experiences

Land and Conservation Management

Woodland Expansion

The project area’s existing native woodland extends to approximately 4,000 hectares – roughly 6.5% of the total land area. Much of this comprises of small, scattered fragments found along the area’s coastal fringes. Due to their small size most native woodlands are not designated, but offer considerable potential for protection and expansion to improve their connectivity and resilience. Scattered along the lower edges of the coast, lochs and lochans, up gullies and in places sheltered from the sometimes dramatic elements the area experiences, lie some beautiful, species rich woodlands, but many are in need of protection and enhancement if they

People Training and Wildlife

Outdoor and Woodland Learning

The Outdoor and Woodland Learning project encourages education about the area’s natural environment in order to nurture a legacy of understanding and respect. It is the central access point for all school activities associated with the Landscape Partnership projects delivery. The aims of this project are to: Work with schools in, and associated with, the CALL project area to deliver and facilitate Outdoor Learning Sessions on a regular basis. Demonstrate the broad range of themes which can be taught outdoors. Work closely with schools and teaching staff to assist with training and development to ensure that the project will have

Built and Cultural Heritage

Clachtoll Broch

Clachtoll broch is one of the most iconic monuments in northern mainland Britain and a Scheduled Ancient Monument. It is in a dilapidated state and choked with rubble debris. As a result, visitors can only access the broch by climbing over rubble to walk around the site on the wall head. This is both damaging to the broch and hazardous for visitors. Local concerns about the deterioration and public safety were raised in 2006 and resulted in a 2009 Conservation Management Plan funded by Historic Scotland. Further consolidation to secure the entrance area took place in 2011 and emergency propping

Land and Conservation Management

Hazel Wood Audit

The Atlantic Hazel woods are one of Scotland’s most ancient woodlands, and they are likely to have been present in the project area for over 9,500 years. People have made use of the hazel resource in Coigach and Assynt in many ways over thousands of years. They are important for a whole range of connected species but in recent years their condition has suffered, for a variety of reasons. We know that many of the old hazel stools show little or no regeneration; they are aging and will die if not protected from grazing. The aims of this project are

Land and Conservation Management

Freshwater Lochan Survey

Freshwater forms a significant part of the Assynt and Coigach landscape, with the lochs dominating this habitat. While we have a reasonable amount of data on the rivers and burns within the area, only the annual catch data provided by anglers exists for the lochs. This project will build on this existing knowledge. It will involve the various stakeholders, anglers and owners, within the community and will help with management of the resource to the benefit of the users and the fish. The aims of this project are to: Generate greater awareness and knowledge of Assynt and Coigach’s freshwater environment

Land and Conservation Management

High Value Open Habitats Survey

There has been some extremely important survey work undertaken in the past of these internationally important habitats. However, in areas this survey work is incomplete and where data is available it is often not in a modern web and GIS compatible format. The aims of this project are to: Obtain more information on a range of lesser-known but both high-value and, often, sensitive habitats in the Coigach and Assynt area. Use the information gathered to inform better overall landscape planning, including for woodland expansion. Promote better awareness of these habitats among land managers, the local population and visitors.

Land and Conservation Management

Soil Fertility Research

In the rocky landscape of the North West Highlands soil is a rare and precious resource both for agriculture and woodlands. Inland, Assynt benefits from patches of limestone bedrock which provide occasional oases of fertile soil. Although the soils of this area have not been studied in detail, recent research across the North Atlantic region and Scotland has revealed that where past human settlement existed, soil depth may have been artificially increased. In Scotland this typically involved composting materials such as household waste and ash and mixing this with seaweed, turf/peat, animal manures and sand to create very fertile soils

People Training and Wildlife

Woodland Artisan Courses

This project aims to fulfil local demand for training courses utilising local timber and woodland resources to create products such as spoons, bowls, furniture, hazel hurdles, baskets and wild food products. Courses will be organised and run over the five years in conjunction with the local learning centre at various locations throughout Coigach and Assynt. The aims of the project are to: Introduce the art of working with natural products to ensure that traditional crafts and skills are maintained and passed onto the next generation. Reconnect people with the land and uses of the natural products. Foster a desire to

People Training and Wildlife

Crofting Project

Crofting is a unique social system which stems from the Highland clearances of the Nineteenth Century and has played a crucial role in shaping the landscape, natural environment, cultural heritage and social economy of all the crofting counties. In the project area there are three main areas under crofting tenure; the Coigach Peninsula, the Assynt Coast from Lochinver north to Stoer and then east to Kylesku and the townships of Elphin and Knockan on the eastern edge of the project area. Crofting is the primary form of small scale land tenure in the project area and a key part of

People Training and Wildlife

Sustainable Deer Management

Deer management in Scotland is overseen by SNH, with decisions and actions at a local level undertaken by Deer Management Groups (DMGs) who co-ordinate activity between the land-owners and managers within each area. The CALL area falls with the West Sutherland Deer Management Group (WSDMG) which itself is split into four sub-groups, two of which fall within the CALLP Scheme area. Deer range is one of the primary land uses in Coigach and Assynt and deer management impacts on the local economy (by generating income), the community (by employing stalkers and support workers) and the environment (by the impact of

People Training and Wildlife

Marine Project

The culture and prosperity of Coigach and Assynt has been linked to the sea for centuries but as sea health has diminished many of those links have been lost. This project builds on previous work undertaken, particularly that of the Highland Seashore Project, to give greater prominence to the local marine environment. The project area includes the Wester Ross Marine Protected Area (MPA), designated in 2014, one of around 30 across Scotland. MPAs form part of a network of nature conservation sites around the Scottish coast aimed to protect and aide recovery of important habitats and species. Several groups have

People Training and Wildlife

Natural Heritage Data Project

The Assynt Field Club set up a website in 2009 to provide a window to Assynt’s natural heritage and landscapes for local residents, visitors to the area and the wider scientific community.  It also encourages observations to be contributed.  From 2013-14 the website received 1,441 contributions. The previous website only allowed the display and storage of limited information from these contributions. Through this project a modern, vibrant website will be created to replace the previous website, improving public access to large quantities of currently inaccessible natural heritage data.  By showcasing and interpreting the landscapes and natural heritage of Assynt, this

People Training and Wildlife

Community Grants Scheme

The Community Grants Scheme (CGS) will support activities at a community level that complement those taking place through the wider Landscape Partnership Scheme (LPS) and provide benefit to people living within the project area. The intention is to encourage as wide a range of groups and individuals as possible to have involvement with and benefit from the LPS. The CGS will seek to support projects which broadly meet the Heritage Lottery Fund’s (HLF) nine outcomes, whilst contributing specifically to at least two of these. Small grants will be offered on a yearly basis, at different rates and amounts, on the

Paths and Access

Postie’s Path

The Postie’s Path is a spectacular coastal walking route linking the communities of Coigach and Ullapool. It was the main land-based communication route to Coigach until the early 1900s used by postmen carrying royal mail to and from Ullapool. Today it is much loved and used by locals and visitors alike. The path is mainly a mountain route passing through wild land. The two more accessible ends of the path are more widely used, offering short walks to places of interest like the impressive Iron Age hill fort at Dun Canna. The path needs considerable repair and improvements to increase

Paths and Access

Acheninver Coastal Path

The Acheninver Path has been used by walkers to access the youth hostel for at least the last 100 years. It links to a network of local paths forming a circular route that includes the core path between Achduart and Culnacraig and onwards from Culnacraig round Ben More Coigach to Strath Cannaird. To the north the path links to a rough track which runs up to the Achlochan Peninsula. The current path to the coast at Acheninver is uneven, eroded and waterlogged in places. The connecting coastal route to the Broch at Achlochan lacks clear way-markers and easy access. As

Paths and Access

Polbain Coastal Paths

The Polbain Coastal Path will be a new path built to complete the circular recreational route around the crofting village of Polbain, connecting the existing Polbain Peat Track and Waymarked Hill Path. The aim is to make more accessible the rich cultural and natural heritage of the Coigach coast from Polbain to Big Dornie by building a new path that is widely accessible to visitors and residents of ‘mixed abilities’. Having a designated path will limit disturbance to habitats, wildlife and livestock.

Paths and Access

Quinag Summit Paths

Quinag’s paths are exposed to some of the most extreme weather that the Assynt area experiences throughout the year. The paths are also extremely popular with both local and visiting hill walkers, and have predominantly evolved over time due to recreational access. They are currently in mixed condition as a result of this access and the harsh climate. The erosion not only has a detrimental effect on the paths but also impacts on the soils and vegetation. The project aims to repair the eroded sections of path by using a pre-emptive and light touch approach. John Muir Trust will use

Paths and Access

Culag Woods and Little Assynt Paths

Culag Community Woodland Trust Ltd (CCWT) owns and manages on behalf of the community two areas of land in Assynt for amenity use: Culag Woods – a 40 hectare mixed woodland in Lochinver, and; Little Assynt – a 1,200 hectare estate approximately 5 miles east of Lochinver. Both contain a variety of paths which have been worked on at various points since CCWT was established in 1995.  Technical upgrades and repairs are now required on short sections of several paths to improve old pitching, replace wooden steps and improve drainage to reduce the impact of future adverse weather and keep

Paths and Access

Glencanisp Nature Trail

The centre for the community owned Glencanisp Estate is the Glencanisp Lodge area which contains the office for Assynt Foundation, a Community Arts building, a pole barn, a local pottery and a walled garden.  This area also marks the start of the path to Suilven, a walk and hill climb which takes on average 9 hours to complete.  There is also the Glencanisp to River Inver Loop Path, the circuit of which takes approximately 21/2 hours to complete.  At present there are no way-marked shorter walks and no paths allowing exploration the ground and wildlife found in the vicinity of

Paths and Access

Glencanisp Wildlife Hide

Black throated divers are synonymous with the Assynt and Coigach areas.  Black throated divers are classified in the UK as an Amber List species under the Birds of Conservation Concern review, and as a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. The area’s lochs are breeding grounds for these rare and special birds and offer the opportunity to study them and their habitat.  One such loch is Loch Druim Suardalain near to Glencanisp Lodge, where breeding pairs of black throated divers have successfully raised young over the past few years.  Otters also regularly visit this loch.  A viewing hide

Paths and Access

Landscape Routes App

Through the development of a North West Highlands Geopark business plan, community consultation and a workshop focused on developing an interpretation strategy for Coigach and Assynt, it was noted that although interpretation and information on walking routes and landscape is a key part of visitor experience, digitisation into an app would create a central hub and improve access to this data. The aims of the project are to: Produce an app providing interpretation of the landscape from walking and driving routes passing through the project area. Highlight the geology that underpins the landscape of the local area and link it

Built and Cultural Heritage

Salmon Fishing Bothies

Commercial salmon fishing was carried in Coigach for over 300 years, up to 1995. During its commercial heyday the local salmon fishery was an important employer and contributed significantly to community wellbeing. In addition to the main base at Badentarbet, up to eight smaller fishing stations were operated at different locations along the extensive Coigach coastline. Each fishing station included a boat slip, a net drying green and a purpose built bothy for a crew of four. This project seeks to continue the legacy of an important local fishery by preserving and restoring three well-crafted wee 19th Century buildings and

Built and Cultural Heritage

Badentarbet Net Shed

Commercial salmon fishing was carried in Coigach for over 300 years, up to 1995. During its commercial heyday the fishery encompassed a number of buildings at the Badentarbet Fishing Station, and amongst the remaining buildings is the 180 year old former Ice House building (last used as a net shed) which faces further deterioration and permanent disuse. The aims of the project are to: Retain the authenticity and charm of the formerly busy Badentarbet fishery by preserving features that will allow the area to continue be one of Coigach’s main attractions. Restore and convert the building to a viable space

Built and Cultural Heritage

Tanera Mor Bothy

The Isle of Tanera Mor had a population of around 120 people at the start of the 20th Century. This figure fell steadily through the first decades of the 20th Century, until the early 1930s when the last inhabitants left the island. Today just nine of the buildings used then are habitable (after upgrades and refurbishments over the past 50 years) with the others in various states of ruin and abandonment across the island. One or two of these ruins are in relatively good condition and restoration work in the near future could consolidate these structures providing a new lease

Built and Cultural Heritage

Achlochan Coastal Heritage

The natural shelters of the Achlochan peninsula, its coastal location, the presence of inland fresh-water and readily available construction materials have sustained settlers since the Iron Age. Geologists believe the lochan reed bed – the largest in Wester Ross, and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) – was once a sea loch and in more recent times a working waterway. The peninsula’s ruined broch is one of the few in North-West Scotland and the nearby World War One rifle range and drill hall are similarly rare. Remains of 19th century kelp kilns and boat nausts (or shelters) point to

Built and Cultural Heritage

Artist in Residence

Artists, selected through a process of recruitment and interview, will spend time in the project area living and working alongside either a single project or possibly a number of projects, to explore how the project’s processes and outcomes can be expressed and interpreted in artistic forms. The periods of the residencies will vary according to the specific project(s) in question, the preferred medium of the artist selected and wider community engagement outcomes identified. The aims of the project are to: Engage the people of Coigach & Assynt, as well as visitors, through active participation in the creation and expression of

Built and Cultural Heritage

Music & Tales of Coigach & Assynt

A living landscape is more than just scenery; it is the interaction between people and place. Stories, music and song reflect these interactions, helping us better understand where we have come from and where we might go. Coigach and Assynt have a wonderfully rich cultural heritage – the area was Gaelic speaking until three or four generations ago and it has produced more than its fair share of musicians, many of whom have achieved national acclaim. The Summer Isles Festival, first held in 2012, showcases some of the best of this local talent, serving as an inspiration for future musicians.