Acheninver Youth Hostel to Lease

The Hostel

 

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!

Acheninver Hostel Prospectus 1

Acheninver Hostel Prospectus 2 Plans

 

 

Rock and Roll!

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.

NW Highlands Geopark Newsletter

If you are coming from further afield and looking for accommodation in Coigach visit coigach.com for local information provided by Achiltibuie Tourist Association.

Coigach

Interested in running Acheninver Youth Hostel?

Hostel front view

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!

Happy Hostellers in 1946
Happy Hostellers in 1946

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.

Accommodation:

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

email:      info@coigachcommunity.org.uk

phone:     01854 622 379 (home)

write:      Coigach Community Hall, Achiltibuie, Ullapool IV26 2YL

tweet:    @coigachcdc

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….

Hostel Acheninver Burn