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!