The Former Hydroponicum and other news

Spring cleaning!

Following a meeting (open to all those on Coigach’s electoral roll) on Thursday 14th May in Achiltibuie, and extensive community consultation the directors of CCDC have agreed not to pursue re-registration of Community Interest in the former hydroponicum site. Whatever happens to the land now, we hope it will will bring some benefit to the community in another way – and CCDC has several other projects on the go which are keeping us busy.

Achiltibuie Schoolhouse: we we will soon be taking over ownership from The Highland Council adn will then lease the property to Highland Small Communities Housing Trust (HSCHT) who  will refurbish the building and convert it into two rentable flats.

Former Achiltibuie Smokehouse: since Summer Isles Foods packed up and moved to Alness, the empty building is now in community ownership. We have appointed Alison SInclair as the new Development Officer who will take this project further towards refurbishment and a new lease of life.

Community wind turbine and hydro scheme: we now have Locogen (a multi-disciplinary energy company) on the case so we’re making progress on these all-important projects that will in turn help fund all the other things we have to do.

Old Dornie Harbour: needs extensive improvements to make it fit for purpose as it is essential to our local fishing, fish-farming and leisure industries and we need to find funding to do this. Eventually the income from the renewables projects will help.

Broadband: connectivity is as important in Coigach as it is anywhere – perhaps more so given our remote location so we want to make sure our community doesn’t get left behind.

Paths: in partnership with Coigach Assynt Living Landscape we are working on improvements and developments to the local paths network to improve infrastructure for visitors and locals alike.

Acheninver Youth Hostel: this is SYHA’s last year of leasing the building however we hope to help owners Scottish Wildlife Trust find new tenants as we don’t want to lose this iconic facility that has been bringing visitors to Coigach for about 70 years or more.

And we have the office to tidy up….

And perhaps also  time for a little reminder that CCDC’s directors are hard-working volunteers who put in many hours of their valuable time for the benefit of the wider community.  We’d all like to wish Peter Muir all the best on his retirement and thank him for the many years of work he has contributed – both as employee and the countless extra time he has put in particularly in regards to our renewables projects. And thanks too to Ben Walton, who has been our treasurer for the past four years and has now stepped down as a volunteer director.

Here’s who we are:

Volunteer Directors:
Chair – Iain Muir

Vice Chair – Iain Scott

Phil Shaughnessy

Ann Macleod

Steve Husband

Employees:

Anne Campbell, Local Development Officer

Linda Macleod currently standing in for Anne Campbell as Local Development Officer who is on sick leave

Alison Sinclair, Smokehouse Development Officer

Julia Campbell, Local Development Officer

And we have over 100 members – that’s over half the community!

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

CALL of nature…

Ali Beag's boat in Coigach
Fame in Coigach

Coigach and Assynt Living Landscape

Communities and nature, working together:  YourCALL

CALL Development officer Viv Halcrow invites you an event in Coigach :

              Are you interested in:

  •   Wildlife?
  •   Interpretation?
  •   A Coigach tree nursery?
  •   Access?
  •    Come along and hear about projects CALL is considering for Coigach
  • MONDAY 28th JANUARY
    Coigach Community Hall, 7.30 – 9pm
    Coffee & cake provided

            Your support and input is important, to make things happen
It’s all up for discussion…
Please come and share your ideas – thank you!
More info: Viv Halcrow 07739 428211 vhalcrow@coigach-assynt.org

Good Wind Forecast

Coigach Community Development Company

At last night’s directors’ meeting we met Andy Oldroyd of Oldbaum Services Ltd (www.oldbaumservices.co.uk) who gave a brief but very encouraging resume of his analysis of the data Oldbaum have been collecting from our meteorological mast on the site of our proposed community wind turbine. Meanwhile, Atmos Consulting Ltd have almost completed their very thorough report which examines  the environmental  issues including ornithology and we are looking forward to receiving that within the next few weeks. Another step nearer to our submission for planning permission!

Site Visit to Achavraie Burn

A walk to the head-waters of Achavraie burn

On Friday 28th October, John Duncanson and Gordon Robertson (Consulting Engineers) came for a look at Achavraie Burn, the site for proposed micro-hydro scheme for Coigach. Accompanied by Steve Husband and Alison Hitchings of CCDC’s energy sub-group and local businessman Peter Drake who was one of the main movers and shakers responsible for Coigach’s splendid Community Hall.

For this joint venture for CCDC and landowners Scottish Wildlife Trust a new company – Ben Mor Hydro Ltd –  has been formed and following tendering and interviews BMH Ltd was delighted to appoint John Duncanson to carry out a feasibility study. The study will consider all aspects of the scheme and will carry the process through to the planning stage.

Complementary to our proposed wind turbine, this is another promising project to make use of our natural resources: every rain cloud could potentially have a silver lining for the Community!