A Liking for Lichen

Last week I spent my time wandering around woodlands learning about the Lichens that are associated with out Atlantic Hazel Woodlands. Along side the Assynt Field Club, we were joined by Andy Acton of the British Lichen Society for a pretty intense 5 days of Lichens. Atlantic Hazel Woodlands are classed as Hazel (Corylus avellana) that grows on the oceanic areas of the West Coast, dubbed the ‘Celtic rainforest’ as they are so green and great for biodiversity. Nearly every centimetre of bark is covered with some type of lichen or moss, creating a wonderful mosaic on the multi-stemmed hazels. Because this is such a special habitat, some of the lichens can be found nowhere else in the world. Although they are some of our most Ancient habitats they are under recorded as a woodland type and hence the biodiversity (including the lichens) is also under recorded. Hazel Woodlands are important for a whole range of associated species but in recent years their condition has suffered, for a variety of reasons. For example, we know that in some areas old


A walk on the wild side at Clachtoll

Another rough week of weather but the sun tried to shine for us and people came out to join myself, Andy, David and Avril on a walk around Clachtoll, learning about wildlife recording and its importance. So fully waterproofed up (just in case!), we headed out! Assynt Field Club, of which Andy, David and Avril are members, are corelating wildlife sightings across Assynt. The importance of this is to see how species distributions and populations change over time as well as if there are new species entering Assynt due to changes in climate or habitat. Such a species is the Vulgar or Spanish Slug (Arion vulgaris) which we spotted on a rocky outcrop near the beach. It was one of the first sightings of the day and although some may think it not be the most exciting species we could have seen, it is only the second ever record for Assynt (first recording earlier this year). A last-minute fly over by a White-tailed eagle soaring above Clachtoll led to another first sighting for one of our couples. After our walk


Another Training Opportunity – Chainsaw Training

Chainsaw Training Sponsorship Coigach Assynt Living Landscape is able to provide tuition for chainsaw training for one person from or resident in Coigach or Assynt.  The award is the tuition costs for a 4 day course Maintenance, Cross-cutting & Basic Felling (up to 200mm).  The course will be held in Contin and the successful candidate will be expected to contribute towards the course through providing the required chainsaw and fuel, personal protective equipment, their transport to the course, and their own refreshments. The training will be funded by the Coastal Communities Fund project, Coigach and Assynt – a living, working landscape.  The purpose of the training is to create sustainable jobs, and the training is focused to enable local people to secure employment. To apply for the sponsorship please email balexander@coigach-assynt.org


Assynt Learning Autumn Training

It is with great pleasure that Coigach – Assynt Living Landscape has been able to collaborate with Assynt Learning, supporting the education centre through sharing resources, to bring the following training.  Please click on the link for further details   BE ENTERPRISING, Information Session for Enterprise Programme: WEDNESDAY 19th OCTOBER, 4.30pm to 6.30pm, Assynt Leisure Centre Creating and maintaining a fertile, productive, healthy soil: TUESDAY 25th OCTOBER, 10am to 4.30pm, TREE NURSERY AT LITTLE ASSYNT Introduction to Strained Wire Fencing: WEDNESDAY 26th OCTOBER, 9.30am to 5pm, CLACHTOLL  


Baskets, Baskets, Baskets!

The latest Woodland Artisan Course was a 2 day willow weaving course with the wonderful Willow Weaving Expert Tim Palmer. Tim had previously taught a course for us and we just had to have him back for another! We had a nice mix in the group of beginners and those that had been on Tim’s courses before. The newcomers to weaving were aiming for a simple woven basket, where as the others were tasked with a challenge of a larger with more difficult techniques. Stages for basket weaving: Weave a round base with thin ‘weavers’ around thicker supporting willow (known as slath). Then add in the stakes around to form the structure for the sides when turned upwards. A weave called Waling is then used to strengthen the base and make the whole basket more rigid. The sides can be woven in several different ways such as Randing, Slewing, Pairing, Reverse Pairing, Fitching, Herringbone and Zig-zag. Once the basket is near the desired height another band of waling is completed before the slath are used to create the border for


CALL Dry Stone Wall Training Repairs Common Grazings Wall

Many thanks to Dave Goulder for leading the two Dry Stone Wall Training day.  The first days training was in Coigach on 4th May 2016.  The second day 13th May 2016 was based near Stoer Village Hall on repairing a section of the Common Grazing Wall (shown right). Thanks also to the participants John, Mike, Nigel, Patricia, and Scottie, who had an enjoyable day, and had nothing but praise for Dave and the day.  The training was made possible by the support of the Coastal Communities Fund.


CALL Social Media Training

Prep for the oversubscribed CALL Social Media Training later today.  Training is being provided by the Assynt Learning Centre and funded by the Coastal Communities Fund @BigLotteryFund. The training aims to increase social media skills, link Coigach Assynt organisations, and effectively promote the area to increase employment opertunities. Many thanks to Sharon and Monika for your help and hard work!


Creating a Highland Cup

The latest course from our Woodland Artisan project was cup carving. Wooden Tom was back to hold another great course, this time using axes, chisels Gouges and knives to carve a Highland cup based on one found in Ardgour on the West Coast created nearly 2000 years ago. We started with a Silver Birch log that requires cutting and splitting to ‘cup size’ and then carving into a finished product. One cup on the day was made from Pine, creating a beautifully stripy cup. Each course attendee got a quarter or half of the original log and, using a guide, the cup shape was marked onto the wood and excess was removed with an axe. Once a rough outline was created the bowl could start being carved – outside first and then the inside using gauges. The lip and handle of the cups were carved last with gauges and knives. Participants each took their cup home which then can be carved with a knife once the green wood has dried. Unfortunately, the winter evenings drew in too quick for us


Crofting Project – maximising the opportunities available to crofters

Crofting exists in areas where agricultural production and investment costs are traditionally high. It is widely regarded as a socially, culturally and environmentally important activity, for the sense of identity it provides, the landscape it produces and the systems of communal working it supports. The aims of this project will be to provide practical training events and sharing of knowledge facilitate the sourcing of appropriate advice and support for crofters establish two demonstration crofts across the Coigach & Assynt area provide a community mapping assistance and use GIS technology help/advice on bracken/rush control access to AECS/CAGS and any other schemes If you would like further information on the project and how it could help you please contact Anne Campbell, Crofting & Rural Projects Coordinator, by email at aacampbell@coigach-assynt.org or call 01571 844 638 or 07799494271


Demonstration crofts in Coigach & Assynt

We will be looking for enthusiastic and forward-looking crofters to take up the demonstration croft opportunity. The croft selection will be done in a competitive and transparent way. Croft development will be guided by an agreed plan and implemented by a combination of training event, the crofter him/herself, a development budget, and funding through rural payments schemes. Do you want to develop your croft?  Would you be willing to share your experiences and knowledge to help Coigach/Assynt crofters?  Many crofters have said that they’d like to see some crofting development happen in our area, so CALLP have put aside funding to have one croft in each area used as a base for demonstrations, training and advice.  Suggestions so far have included: Benefits of lime and fertiliser advice on bracken and rush control access to AECS and CAGS and other schemes and all other ideas are welcome. A few meetings (by arrangement) a year would be held on the croft, and other than some labour and willingness to try things out, there would be no cost to the host.  It is

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