A warm welcome to Salt Seafood Kitchen, Coigach’s newest eatery as it opens its doors for business. Young entrepreneur Suzie MacGregor is running her restaurant in what used to be the family’s holiday chalet, close to her parent’s B&B in Badenscallie, near Achiltibuie and is offering the best of local produce.
Diners can look forward to experiencing delicious fresh seafood with a view of its source: Loch Broom, the Summer Isles and the waters towards the Western Isles. Salt opened on May 3rd to an eager bunch of hungry customers – who by all accounts were highly delighted with the experience. Reviews so far are five star so don’t hang about if you’re planning a visit.
To find out more and make a booking have a look at Suzie’s saltseafood.com
Other new business activity in the area including Summer Isles Steamie, Rachel Macleod’s laundry service which we reported on previously, Top Bun – Rachel’s husband Wez is launching his gourmet burger van business soon, so look out for that. Hamlet Mountaineering is up and running, led by Tim Hamlet who offers guided climbing trips and training, kayaking and all things outdoor, and Acheninver Hostel will be open for the summer with its new tenants Ruth Bradley and Iain Simpson. Good news all round and good luck to all.
Information about accommodation in Coigach, places to eat, things to do and what to see is available on Achiltibuie Tourist Association’s website coigach.com
This year’s Coigach Gathering takes place on Saturday 9th July on the Achiltibuie Playing Field. This is a change from the usual venue Badentarbet Green. Like most activities, the Gathering is organised by volunteers and its principal purpose is for the community and visitors to enjoy themselves while raising money for the community hall. The playing field is high above the school and has spectacular views over the Summer Isles, it also has the added advantage of being close to the hall itself – with tea-making facilities, toilets, running water and electricity a lot more accessible there. The day will consist of the usual favourites such as the Ullapool and District Pipe Band, music, local food stalls, games and a dance in the evening with The Incredible Fling Band and local stars The Rogues. Save that date!
Work will be starting soon on Achiltibuie Schoolhouse so we held a clear-out day to cut back some of the undergrowth that was beginning to take over the garden. Local volunteers armed with a various bits of gardening paraphernalia gathered on Saturday 19th March and were soon chopping and lopping to tackle the jungle. A couple of hours later and there was something of a transformation – it may not be a contender for garden of of the year yet, but there is space now, allowing access for the construction team who will be working on the building (soon we hope). Many thanks to all our volunteers for their time and effored – and missing from the picture Bill and Iain who removed several trailer-loads of branches and greenery – and especially to Lesley and Rose at the Piping School Cafe who generously sponsored the day by providing lunch for the garden army.
Where there was smoke now there is steam! Summer Isles Steamie is now open for business in the former smokehouse building. Local entrepreneur Rachel Macleod has established her laundry business and now the pleasant aroma of freshly laundered sheets is wafting through the building.
Come to the launch! Rachel invites you to the launch on Friday 19th February, so come along between 5pm and 7pm for drinks and nibbles to celebrate the beginning of this new enterprise. You can find out more about how the Summer Isles Steamie can help your business or relieve you of your own domestic chores. If you have a self-catering holiday business, or run a B&B Rachel will be delighted to tell you more, offer you a price list and discuss your requirements.
Bring along your mountains of laundry and Rachel will transform them into freshly pressed linen to welcome your guests and save you time.
In need of some clean clothes? Rachel can help with that too. You too can achieve that freshly laundered look like this smart pair – thanks to Mairead for this lovely picture.
Summer Isles Steamie
Altandhu – next door but one from Am Fuaran Bar and Campsite.
(We’ll post up the price list and opening times soon)
In the light of a revised method of connecting our turbine to the grid which will cost us less than original estimates, and with further analysis of wind recordings, the value of our project to the community of Coigach has been further refined – and it’s tremendous news! After all finance costs we are on track to deliver 2.2 million pounds over the twenty year lifetime of the project to Coigach Community Development Company for spending in our community – for wide-ranging community projects, business developments, bursaries for young folk, etc.
With this to look forward to it’s a great time to be in Coigach!
Horshader, Isle of Lewis – a small crofting community investing in the future and funding projects thanks to the village turbine.
CCDC is delighted to report that Acheninver Youth Hostel looks like having a brighter future. Scottish Wildlife Trust, who own the building and the Ben Mor Estate on which it sits, are inviting applications to lease the hostel. This offers someone with energy and enthusiasm an exciting opportunity to build a business and a life for themselves in an amazing place in the North West Highlands.
Acheninver Youth Hostel is on the Coigach Peninsula, and forms part of the community known sometimes as Achiltibuie (though strictly speaking, this only refers to the area from the church to the school). Roughly, Coigach covers the coastal area from Reiff to Culnacraig – (about 10 miles) with a population of approximately 250.
We are looking for someone with good ideas and practical skills who can: maintain and develop the hostel in some way to benefit the local community and economy; keep Coigach on the map as a great place for visitors and create a rewarding future for themselves as part of that community.
Coigach has spectacular scenery with mountains, moorland and a rugged coastline interspersed with sandy beaches overlooking the Summer Isles. The area is understandably popular with walkers, climbers, kayakers and anyone who enjoys the great outdoors. There is a small primary school, a hotel, two pubs, a couple of cafes, a craft shop and a comfortable community village hall which is a great asset. Coigach is part of a National Scenic Area and is also within the North West Highlands Geopark.
“But what do you do in the winter?” is a frequently asked question. The answer is we just get on with it! People work all year, go to school, and those that are involved in the (largely seasonal) tourism business sometimes remark that it’s good to have a bit of time to catch up! Though small, we are a very sociable community – regular community events at the village hall are well attended, well fed and fun. There are opportunities for people with shared interests to get together: skiff-rowing, music, singing, dancing, fishing, walking, photography, circuit-training, crafts – there is very little opportunity to get bored and no excuse to avoid exercise!
However, the area is not without its challenges. Described as “fragile” the community has suffered as result of de-population and a lack of opportunities for (particularly) younger people. Many of our young people have embraced education and a sense of adventure and gone off to find out for themselves what the wider world has to offer. This is good and Coigach has a broad and far-flung diaspora. Unfortunately it has become increasingly difficult for people to return to or come to live in Coigach. This is partly due to a lack of available, affordable housing and employment. CCDC (Coigach Community Development Company) was set up in 2010 to tackle some of these challenges and to help create a sustainable future for the community. We currently have planning permission for a wholly community-owned wind turbine which will generate an income to invest in local projects. We have two part-time employees funded by HIE (Highlands and Islands Enterprise) and as well as working on our development plan, we support and promote any projects which we feel will benefit the community. Hence our involvement here.
So come on if you think this is for you – details of the application process are in the Acheninver Hostel Prospectus documents below and the closing date is 21st February so don’t hang about!
The latest from CCDC in one handy place: CCDC Newsletter November 2015
And if you like the look of Coigach, or know it already come and visit:
Saturday 5th December:
Achiltibuie Winter Market
(further info on Facebook –Achiltibuie Winter Market)
Local crafts, food, wood fuels, bric-a-brac and more.
Soup and sandwiches on sale in aid of Coigach Community Hall.
** Calum Stiven from Community Broadband Scotland is coming along for an informal chat – a chance to find out what options might be available for Coigach ***
Link to Community Broadband Scotland
Tuesday 29th December:
Coigach Christmas Ceilidh
Music, merriment and dancing in Coigach Community Hall All welcome – tickets at the door.
Achiltibuie Tourist Association has a variety of accommodation on offer if you fancy a winter break – or are already making plans for next year.
If you heard us on BBC Scotland Out of Doors (broadcast Saturday 7th November, and available on iPlayer until early December) you will know that the hostel is now closed and the lease between owners Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT) and the Scottish Youth Hostel Association has now come to an end.
You’ll see from our previous post that the hostel’s future was in question and we invited interest from people who would interested in taking on the lease (if that was an option), and there was a very positive response. We were able to tell the owners that there were, (as we suspected) willing folk out there who were keen to take on the lease, run the hostel or at least find out more about it.
We have since been told by SWT, that after much deliberation, they have decided they to sell the hostel in early 2016. This would come with burdens that would take into consideration (and benefit) the hostel’s heritage, and the local community – and there has been some interest in this too.
More recently we understand that has not been finalised so if you are interested in the hostel – either to lease or buy please get in touch and we’ll forward your enquiry on to SWT. Alternatively, you can get in touch directly: