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Raffin: Part Three

August’s monthly volunteer day took place last week, a joint effort with the John Muir Trust Volunteers. The aim: to tackle the next bay south from Raffin. Unfortunately, it was a little walk in from an available car parking place, but this didn’t deter the JMTers, and off they went to search for the next lot of marine waste to take off the beach. The weather was damp to say the least, but we were all wrapped up in waterproofs and, as I am sure you will agree, they did a stellar effort in retrieving the washed in rubbish. As always, alongside collecting the litter we are looking out for washed in birds or sea creatures but also the mermaid’s purses! Last time we found 4 in total, 2 large Flapper Skate cases and 2 Catfish cases. This time 4 again but 3 Flapper Skate cases and 1 Catfish. Recordings of these get reported to Assynt Field Club. As far as I understand the Flapper Skate cases have only been found along the Raffin coast within CALL. Once we had

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Orographic Performance comes to Little Assynt All Abilities Path

Last Tuesday we had some visitors to Coigach & Assynt Living Landscape by the name of Oceanallover. Currently they are on a tour of Scotland, performing their amazing Orographic piece. When we were first contacted about hosting a performance, we were intrigued and a look at their website and past events just made us want them to perform in the amazing landscape Coigach and Assynt have to offer event more! Myself and Laura spent days brainstorming on a place that would be perfect for their performance which is inspired by mountains, emotion and ecology. One site visit to Little Assynt and we knew it had to be there. We sent pictures of our walk and the views over to Oceanallover and Feral Arts, who are the producers for the show, and they all agreed this would be the place! After months of planning, the time came for us to meet Oceanallover on the Monday before the performance and show them around the site. The weather had other ideas and thick cloud and heavy drizzle obscured the mountains and most of

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End of road for £200k Suilven path restoration work

On 21st June 2019 a small ceremony was held to mark the completion of the repairs on the Suilven Path. The ceremony was attended by directors of the Assynt Foundation, and representatives of the Coigach & Assynt Living Landscape Partnership and the John Muir Trust, and by the project’s coordinator Chris Goodman who is now concentrating on developing his local woodcraft business, having recently stepped down from his former role. To mark the handover, a framed print of one of Chris Puddephatt’s photos was presented to the Assynt Foundation by John Muir Trust. Chris had been commissioned to document the Suilven Path project through photography and blog posts, which can be found on the Suilven Path page. Read more on the John Muir Trust website (opens new window)

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A Return to Raffin

June’s monthly volunteer day was held at Raffin Beach, caring out a second beach clean on the first strip of the beach and moving onto the second. The John Muir Trust run working holidays, and this was the week they were up in Coigach and Assynt, all 10 of them joining the CALL volunteers to help clean the beach. It was an absolutely beautiful day. When we stopped for lunch it was hard to get going again and not just bathe in the sunshine! Despite the temptation, the volunteers carried on all day, collecting 250kg of bagged rubbish plus a lot of large plastic items and even a tyre. An amazing effort and so happy that we managed to get to the next stretch of beach. Our previous clean was 8 months ago and thankfully the rubbish had not returned to the state of before. Alongside collecting marine litter, we were also keeping our eyes open for any birds or creatures that had been washed in or any mermaid’s purses, the capsules made by Skates and Catfish for their young.

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A hill walk celebration

The P7 John Muir Award finale involved a hill walk up Quinag today. We were guided safely up the mountain by several mountain leaders, including the head teacher of Ullapool High School, Robbie McFedries who joined us to spend some quality time with next academic year’s S1s. It was wonderful seeing how the P7s from the area’s primary schools have gelled; getting to know each other over the duration of the year with this high school transition programme as we have met up to discover, explore, conserve and share a special place from the locale of each school. Our day together today provided the opportunity to get up high and look over the landscape that incorporates all these locations. We managed to get brief glimpses as clouds shifted and cleared intermittently. There was support all round as we faced the challenges ahead of us. For many it was a first time up a hill, and everybody did extraordinarily well. We are so proud of each and every P7 for going for it and embracing the walk, which wasn’t always easy.

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John Muir Award “spring”-ing back into action

As the daffodils bloom, buds emerge on trees and the mornings are increasingly filled with the poetic profanities of birds beginning to stake their claim on nesting sites and seek mates, so too our John Muir Award is springing into action after a brief winter hibernation. Kicking off with a whole year group session on 6th March, the P7s reflected on their Award activity so far and explored further who John Muir was and what he meant when he said, “we all need beauty as well as bread”, with a deeper exploration of what the word “beauty” actually means. The day culminated with walking 1000 steps (in the spirit of Muir’s 1000-mile walk) around the green by Ullapool river, stopping every 200 steps for a pause to notice the beauty around us. We have since led an Explore day with Lochinver P7s, initially splitting into pairs and searching the area for nature objects to match descriptive opposite words, and then trying to guess those words of other group’s findings. Later in the morning we filmed nature documentaries about the wildlife

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Hill to Grill 2019 finale: “The Apprentice meets The Great British Bake Off”

For the finale of this year’s Hill to Grill programme we were invited by Ullapool High School to come and sample the venison burger recipes designed and prepared by the pupils. The pupils spent a day creating a recipe, cooking, making packaging and designing a marketing campaign for their burgers. All their hard work was presented to a panel of four judges for scrutiny and questioning in the style of “The Apprentice meets The Great British Bake Off”.  There were several imaginative recipes and adverts, with the winning team producing a “Dragon Burger” a nicely balanced chilli burger and the strapline “It’s too good for this world!”. Other recipes included additional ingredients such as turmeric, cheese and wild garlic. Thank you to all of the S2 pupils for their hard work, the judges – Jo Munro from the Frigate Café in Ullapool, Ullapool High School parent Sue Pomeroy and CALLP’s Laura Traynor and Vickii Campen. Thank you also to Greenlees Butchers in Lochinver who supplied the venison mince for the food challenge and the burgers for the barbecue on the

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Happy Heritage Treasures Day!

Today is #HeritageTreasures day so we’re sharing some of the heritage treasures being conserved and enhanced through our partnership scheme, made possible thanks to players of the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund. Lets start big with the iconic mountain Suilven, where the path has been mightily improved by John Muir Trust over the last two years under the Suilven Path project. Suilven also holds a Heritage Treasure of its own: the mysterious wall that runs across its ridge, shown here while a helicopter delivers bags of stone for the higher up path repairs. No one quite knows why it’s there. Old boundary? Destitution relief work? Who knows. One of the reasons for repairing the Suilven path is to protect the Heritage Treasures at risk from walkers’ footfall such internationally significant bryophytes (mosses and liverworts), peat beds (important for carbon storage), and plantlife like this orchid next to the new path. If the 19km trek up Suilven and back is a bit much, the Assynt Foundation is also home to the Glencanisp Nature Trail. Built in 2017 the trail is a

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Learning The Way!

By Katrina Martin, CALLP Education Manager (Job Share) Ever since I stepped into the role of Education Manager for the Outdoor & Woodland Learning Project I have been excited at the prospect of delivering an Outdoor Learning session themed around paths, especially given the variety of paths and access projects CALLP has. Like many of us, I enjoy going out for walks and accessing beautiful places. Yet until relatively recently I didn’t give a second thought to where I was placing my feet. A growing awareness has cultivated an appreciation for the impressively hard graft and the people involved in path work, which I feel is a valuable thing to share given that most of us find ourselves traversing footpaths at some point or another, and will be increasingly so in Coigach and Assynt! With the imminent completion of the Suilven path work, we were presented with a great opportunity to bring a path-themed Outdoor Learning day to fruition on a collaboration project with John Muir Trust Paths Project Officer, Chris Goodman, and the Assynt Foundation. For the past couple

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We’ve ‘Done’ Suilven

Guest blog by Chris Goodman, Path Project Officer for the John Muir Trust I look at my watch, it’s 5.30pm and it’s still a long walk back to Glencanisp from the steep slope on the north side of Suilven. It’s the last day on site of the path repair project and it’s been all hands on deck getting everything finished off. The last bit of pitching has turned into an epic with the steep ground above collapsing, water gushing out of a spring and an ever spreading mess of peat. Xabi, Luke and Alec have been toiling away with it all day and it’s finally done. We set off from Glencanisp just after 8am and it’ll be 7pm before we get back down, but the job’s done. In fact that’s pretty much the whole Suilven path project done (bar the final paper work). Three years of project development and fund-raising and two summers of hands-on construction and it’s done. But as with a hill walker celebrating they’ve ‘done’ Suilven, a path repair project is never done, because a hill can

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