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Freshwater Lochan Survey Project Completed!

As you explore Coigach and Assynt you can’t help but notice the enormous amount of freshwater lochans; it’s no wonder that this is an important habitat for wildlife but also a large attraction for visitors and anglers. Many a photographer, artist and ecologist have flocked to the area to see the beautiful views the lochans enhance and the wildlife they sustain. Within Assynt alone, angling has been found to be worth £345,840-£432,300 per annum to the community. Even with this being the case the freshwater lochan habitat is little understood, often impacting on the management of the lochan system and could cause biodiversity loss or even a reduction in fish stocks. West Sutherland Fisheries Trust identified this as a problem and working with Coigach & Assynt Living Landscape Partnership have increased the understanding of what the current situation in our lochans is. The findings have now been gathered into a report and will help devise future management plans. Dr Shona Marshall from WSFT and a team of 12 volunteers and staff set out to carry out the research over 2018/19

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Corona Virus CALLP Update

The situation with the coronavirus has caused various discussion within the Coigach & Assynt Living Landscape Partnership (CALLP) team and the Scottish Wildlife Trust with regards to local and national response, and immediately required, responsible action.  This has taken into consideration the wellbeing of the partners, the CALLP team and the wider community, as well as the commitment and ambition to implement the CALLP Scheme.   Most importantly the message from the government is that we all now need to minimise non-essential contact.  Therefore, as the employer, the Scottish Wildlife Trust has instructed all the CALLP team to implement the following measures:   where feasible all team staff to work from home the CALLP office will be closed to non-essential visitors no activities, events or meetings will be held or planned, unless held online or by phone   The CALLP team will continue to help partners to coordinate the implementation of the more than 28 projects within the Coigach & Assynt Living Landscape through telephone and electronic communication.  Where projects are not able to achieve their objectives, due to unforeseen

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Tapping into Nature: Woodland Artisan Courses

Guest Blog from our course leader Chris on the recent Birch Sap course. As I slowly get to know other wood carvers around the country I’m becoming aware that everyone has their speciality – some people make spoons, others cups, some people make incredibly intricate wooden jewellery while others build houses out of logs. This has got me wondering what my speciality is within the world of wood working. At present I make spoons, cooking utensils, cups, bowls, furniture, pendants, tool handles and charcoal while I heat my wooden home by burning wood and also spend time in woodlands foraging for nuts, fruits and edible fungi. I feel that I’m a real generalist incorporating lots of tree related products into my daily life. And maybe that’s my speciality – making a living from trees and the wider woodland that they form, using them to provide a financial income as well as for heat and shelter and for some of the food that helps me survive. Collecting birch sap is another piece of this jigsaw as it serves as a healthy

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Taking the Posties Path – Gabhail a’Chreig

In the 1860’s postman Kenneth McLennan carried the mail twice a week from Ullapool to Achiltibuie, a distance of 23km. Today’s Posties Path is still challenging but runs for a shorter distance, covering the 11km between Achduart in Coigach, and Blughasary at Strathcanaird. Although both ends of the path are incorporated into core paths (Culnacraig Circular and Dun Canna Core Paths), the central section of the route is still a serious undertaking with treacherous sections. Improvement to the Posties Path are being implemented by the Scottish Wildlife Trust (in coordination with Keanchulish Estate) as a project within the Coigach & Assynt Living Landscape Partnership (CALLP) Scheme. The aim of the project is not to provide an aggregate-topped path, similar to other CALLP projects such as Acheninver Path or sections of the Suilven Path, but rather to improve access over the most awkward sections and obstacles. Early one sunny morning in March I walked the path with the Scottish Wildlife Trust North Reserves Team to review the work so far. Starting from Achduart on the Ben Mòr Coigach Estate we walked

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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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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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