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


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


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


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,,


Woodland Activity Leader Training Oppertunity

We at CALL are delighted to announce that we have placed available for the residents of Coigach and Assynt to join us in bringing a new training course to the area. Wild things!, from Findhorn (https://wild-things.org.uk/), have agreed to come over to our beautiful part of the world to deliver their Woodland Activity Leader Training (WALT) programme. So, what is this course all about? Let’s hear from Wild Things! “If you are interested in enhancing your skills to lead groups in a woodland environment, training to become a Woodland Activity Leader will provide you with the learning and knowledge you require. Woodland Activity Leader Training is an accredited outdoor learning course and an alternative to forest school training. The General Teaching Council of Scotland has accredited Woodland Activity Leader Training with professional recognition. Teachers from across Scotland attending our Woodland Activity Leader Training can apply for GTCS professional recognition, towards their continued professional development, upon successful completion of the course. Accredited as a Level 2 Award, Woodland Activity Leader Training is a practical training course, filled with inspirational ideas and activities, that will provide you


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)


Assynt & Coigach Creative Trail

Guest blog by Lesley Muir, Chair of Assynt & Coigach Creatives, on the release of their Creative Trail leaflet, funded through our Community Grants Scheme Assynt & Coigach Creatives (ACC) is an association of local Artists and Makers who have come together to create an attractive, map-based Creative Trail leaflet bringing and guiding visitors around the Coigach & Assynt Living Landscape (CALL) area to exactly where (and when) locally made creative work of all types can be seen and purchased. The Creative Trail map leaflet is intended to enhance visitor experience in the area – opening eyes to the work of local creative people using local materials: wood, horn, wool etc, local recorded music, work by local writers, ceramics, art, photography, and sculpture which all heavily reference the flora, fauna, landscape and cultural heritage of the CALL area and which all contribute so much to its current cultural flowering. Alerting visitors to the main local markets and art and craft outlets also helps local producers of specialist foods. Download Assynt & Coigach Creative Trail Leaflet (pdf) The main funding for


A Journey Through Elphin

One of our Community Grants Scheme recipients this year is local textile artist Jan Kilpatrick. Jan proposed a project called “A journey through Elphin – past and present”. The project would create interpretation of built and natural features of the township through the creation of a community made wall hanging. Find out more about how Jan and the local Craft Circle group made the wall hanging over at Jan’s blog. Read more on Jan Kilpatricks’ blog (opens new window)


Funding awarded to heritage projects in Coigach and Assynt

Eleven heritage projects in Coigach and Assynt have been awarded a total of £23,938 through the Coigach & Assynt Living Landscape Partnership (CALLP) Community Grants Scheme. Projects benefiting from funding include archaeological research into the historic local processing of kelp, support for low level guided story walks, and support for the restoration of Culkein jetty. Boyd Alexander, Scheme Manager, Coigach & Assynt Living Landscape said: “Our community grants are made thanks to National Lottery players. I’m delighted that CALLP is to be able to support such a wide range of local natural and cultural heritage projects throughout Coigach & Assynt. These modest awards are matched by in-kind contribution and additional funding, leading to a combined investment in the area’s heritage worth over £85,000, allowing the projects to have a significant impact. It is a particular privilege to be able to give small projects initiated by individuals valuable funding that means plans can be turned into reality.” Julia Barton, grant awardee for #LitterCUBE project said: “I am delighted to receive this award. I look forward to working with the CALL communities to


Spring Clean Take 2: April Volunteer Day

As I arrived on site the heavens opened, ‘another wet beach clean’ I thought. I was wrong. By 11am the sun pushed through as volunteers started to arrive. We were all soon removing all the waterproof layers as it turned into a glorious day. We concentrated on the sandy straight of the Bay of Stoer shoreline between the rocky outcrops; Clachtoll Broch to the left and Stac Fada to the right. The beach started off quite colourful with small pieces of rope, plastic, twine and fishing line. By the end of the event we had removed 18.5 Kilos of rubbish from the beach! A fantastic amount. We all retired to the bench for well-deserved rest and biscuits when a few divers caught our eye. We scurried to get binoculars and scopes out and found that the bay was in fact full of diving birds of all types. To top it off a pair of White-Tailed Eagles flew over, being mobbed by a Raven and a Hooded Crow. A list of all the species seen in the bay are listed below.

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