We have just bid a fond farewell to our visiting student party from Flensburg who have been carrying out fieldwork in Coigach over the last five weeks. All graduate engineers, the students who hail from four different continents, are currently undertaking post-graduate studies on the Energy and Environmental Master (EEM) Programme at Europa-Universität, Flensburg, Germany. Led by Prof Dr Bernd Möller, Dipl.-Ing Wulf Boie and social scientist Dorsi Germann the fourteen students braved wintry showers, gales and wind to visit households in Coigach to survey their energy needs. They also investigated various possibilities for the most efficient way of using any surplus electricity generated by our renewable energy schemes in the future. They looked at various scenarios in techincal and financial detail which they presented to the community at a well attended and very informative public meeting. One of the most impressive scenarios they presented, was the possibility of using excess energy from the community wind turbine and/or hydro scheme to power a district heating system concentrated on the community hub which includes the community hall, school and the social housing at Island View. Having studied a variety of options for community energy generation they found that some options would deliver a more substantial revenue stream for community benefit than others, though all were shown to be reassuringly profitable.
All this research provided free to the community is of inestimable worth to our projects and we are very grateful for the opportunity to gain from their financial and engineering expertise.
While they were very busy out in the field (and up the hill) measuring data, discussing wind and hydro energy generation, the students quickly got to know people in the community and enjoyed cups of tea wherever they went. At an impromptu ceilidh they proved to be naturals in the ceilidh world – adding Strip the Willow and other traditional dance steps to their portfolio of skills – and even have a blast on the bagpipes. However, able as they were in most areas, they had to accept a minor defeat to our local lads when Achiltibuie took on Flensburg International for a Sunday afternoon football match – and won.
Link to Community Energy Scotland’s post about the public presentation here: CES Report
You can find out more about the Scottish Government’s current consultation here: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/0046/00464887.pdf
And you can submit your own response here: https://consult.scotland.gov.uk/land-reform-and-tenancy-unit/land-reform-scotland/
Deadline 10th February so don’t tarry!
And for some extra reading try this: http://www.andywightman.com/
Fancy a breath of fresh air? Getting out and about and exploring? The new North West Highlands Geopark newsletter is out! It’s full of information on exciting events coming soon including a Fire and Ice Geo-hike in February, guided tours and workshops. Click on the link below and read all about it.
If you are coming from further afield and looking for accommodation in Coigach visit coigach.com for local information provided by Achiltibuie Tourist Association.
Project Manager – Coigach and Assynt Living Landscape Project
(Fixed Term until 31 December 2016)
35 hours per week/Job share considered
We are looking for a highly motivated individual to lead on the ongoing development of the pioneering Coigach and Assynt Living Landscape Project (CALL). This is a groundbreaking partnership currently comprising of 12 partners working together to deliver landscape scale conservation management and community benefits over an area of 70,000 hectares in the North West of Scotland.
As Project Manager you will work closely with a number of organisations and individuals, locally and nationally, to develop and deliver a range of environmental, social and economic projects in the area. You will have excellent all round project management, communication and organisational skills, strong nature conservation knowledge and a sound understanding of rural community issues in Scotland. Importantly, you will have the enthusiasm and initiative to make things happen.
Applicants should be educated to degree level in a relevant discipline, self-motivated and able to demonstrate achievements in partnership working and environmental and / or community projects. Ideally, the successful candidate will be based or willing to relocate to the project area.
For click on the link for job description:
For further information and an application form please go to:
Closing date for applications: Monday 16th February 2015
Interview date likely to be week beginning 23 February 2015
The Scottish Wildlife Trust is committed to equal opportunities.
We are looking forward to welcoming our visitors from Flensburg (see The Flensburg Connection below) and they are getting ready to travel to Coigach in mid February (not mid Jan which I had before!!!). In advance of their arrival the students have kindly sent a letter of introduction but if you are out and about in Achiltibuie during their stay, you’ll be able to meet them in person.
Acheninver (or Achininver) Youth Hostel has been an iconic part of the local landscape for a long time. A former croft house, it became a youth hostel in the 1930’s when hiking and hosteling was the new big thing. Since then people of all ages (some more youthful than others) have stayed here: walked The Rock (the Postman’s Path from Ullapool); climbed the local hills, enjoyed the scenery and made friends. Many have returned and remember the hostel fondly as their introduction to the area – and some have never left!
Summer 2015 looks like it will be the hostel’s last in its current form as the Scottish Youth Hostel Association (SYHA) are giving up their lease on the building; it is currently owned by Scottish Wildlife Trust as part of the Ben Mor Estate. At present, the future looks uncertain but we feel there is an opportunity to create a new future for the hostel. The accommodation is basic but the location is stunning and there is currently a shortage of short-stay, budget accommodation in the area.
Nothing is set in stone, and we are discussing various options but would welcome comment or notes of interest from anyone who might be interested in taking over the lease and running the hostel as their own business. It would suit someone one with energy and enthusiasm, and an interest in outdoor activities who would like to develop a business but perhaps does not have the capital to buy a property and start from scratch. It’s not going to make anyone a millionaire but there is the opportunity to increase business through extending the season (the hostel is only open in the summer months) and encouraging group activity bookings, or reducing the dormitory accommodation and offering a slightly more luxurious stay in private rooms. It may also be possible to benefit from SYHA’s advice and ongoing support as an affiliate. All is subject to negotiation and agreement with SYHA, SWT and CCDC.
Common room with kitchen area, upstairs Dormitory (8 beds), downstairs dormitory (8 beds?), family room (4 beds), warden’s accommodation, showers/toilets, sheds.
Access is by foot along the burn from the car park at Achavraie – there is a rough path but only passable by appropriate vehicle (quad, 4×4). The path continues down the Acheninver burn to the sea where there is a sandy beach.
If you would like to know more and are considering an exciting challenge in one of the most beautiful parts of the world (we have stunning scenery AND a friendly community!) please get in touch. You might even like to come and stay this summer and see for yourself. Or if you stayed in the past and have happy memories, or would like to make some suggestions for improvement please let us know.
Coigach is part of a National Scenic Area and the North West Highlands Geopark. The hostel overlooks Loch Broom and the Summer Isles and is a 25 mile drive from Ullapool (where the ferry departs for Stornoway and the Western Isles). There is a very rough path from Ullapool round the base of Ben Mor Coigach – suitable only for experienced and very hardy walkers. Or you could come by small boat or canoe as there is a sandy beach nearby.
Contact: Julia Campbell, Local Development Officer, CCDC
phone: 01854 622 379 (home)
write: Coigach Community Hall, Achiltibuie, Ullapool IV26 2YL
facebook: Coigach Community Development Company
visit: fly/train to Inverness, bus to Ullapool, bus to Achiltibuie – or drive approximately 25 miles north of Ullapool.
From the Album….
Highland Council Resources Committee has approved the transfer of Achiltibuie Schoolhouse to the Coigach Community Development Company on terms to be finalised with the Director of Development and Infrastructure. This good news means we may shortly be working with Highland Small Communities Housing Trust (HSCHT) to transform the vacant schoolhouse into two flats for rent. The plan is to lease the building to HSCHT who have the expertise and experience to take the project forward, oversee construction work and manage the tenancies. We are very happy with the working relationship we have with HSCHT and are grateful to them for their advice and support so far. Through HSCHT, substantial funding is already in place thanks to Nationwide Foundation (Shelter Empty Homes Initiative) and we are optimistic about attracting more to ensure a high standard of development. Although tenancies will be managed by HSCHT, CCDC and the community will have a say in the criteria for tenancy, eg: key worker, family connections, someone working or coming to work in Coigach and/or able to demonstrate social and economic benefit to the community. The plan is to convert this solid Victorian house into two flats: one downstairs with access by the existing front door, and the other upstairs with access round the back. With the addition of modern insulation, new wiring and an energy-efficient heating system we are looking forward to seeing two cosy, comfortable homes and a few more people living in the heart of the village. The “before” picture – note the wobbly chimney pot and overgrown garden. “Requires substantial upgrading but offers delightful views of the Summer Isles and Loch Broom. Convenient for local amenities including the community hall …. and school”