Ronan Martin Associates.

Na naidheachdan as ůire

Catching of salmon smolts in the Applecross River

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Applecross river has been identified as a potential site for monitoring of salmon smolts with initial field work currently underway.

The behaviours of salmon and trout as they leave Scottish rivers, and the challenges they face on their seaward migrations are largely unknown. Marine Scotland Science, the government body charged with obtaining scientific information about the marine environment, is embarking on a study to examine this important question. The Applecross river may have a key role to play. Marine Scotland scientist David Morris explained: "The river is almost unique on the west coast in that it flows more or less directly into the open sea rather than through a narrow sea loch. This situation is ideal for starting to look at the directions that salmon smolts take as they enter the ocean." Pilot work will be undertaken this year in order to assess the suitability of the Applecross for studying salmon smolts as they first enter the sea.

Applecross Trust Administrator Archie MacLellan welcomed the Trust’s involvement in facilitating a study which could provide crucial information on the comparative risks of different geographical areas for salmon smolts.

Gateway Woodland

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Gateway Woodland project involves the restructuring of 78 hectares of dense and windblown coniferous woodland into native broadleaved woodland with constructed paths for public access.

The project is currently underway and the end of 2014 saw most of the trees harvested and transported around the north Applecross Coast by Ferguson Transport’s high spec lorries. Mulching of the site is in the process of being carried out and new planting of native trees will start after a new perimeter fence is erected in February 2015.

The new path which dissects the site is already popular with walkers and mountain bikers.

In addition to the new 40 hectare Gateway site, a further 35 hectares of native woodland is being planted by the Applecross Trust which will lie adjacent and form a single woodland designed to provide enhanced environmental and aesthetic benefit.

End of ALPS celebration

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

End of ALPS Party
Hebridean Barns
Wednesday 2 July 2014
6pm onwards

The Applecross Trust is pleased to invite you to a party to celebrate the end of the Applecross Landscape Partnership Scheme (ALPS), which will take place at the Hebridean Barns on
Wednesday 2 July. The evening will begin with drinks from 6pm, followed by a hog roast (and vegetarian options) and music from the Coast Road Truckers. It will be the first event held at the Hebridean barns and the roundhouse, both ALPS restoration and interpretive projects. Come and enjoy good food, refreshments, music and dancing in a fantastic setting.

It is our way of saying thank you to everyone who has shown support, volunteered, worked tirelessly, turned up to events and workshops, festival, training and meetings. ALPS is completing after delivery of more than forty projects over a four year period. We hope that you as community members see the benefit of ALPS, not just now but in years to come.

Come and celebrate with us. We look forward to having an enjoyable last evening together (hopefully midge free!).

Thank you.

Celebrating the Elder Tree

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Saturday 28 June 2014
2pm onwards at the roundhouse in Applecross.

Come and join in and soak up the atmosphere. We will be making pea shooters, elderflower cordial, elder fritters, telling stories and legends and having a relaxing afternoon in the sunshine (hopefully!).

Back to School Disco

Friday, June 20, 2014

Please support Applecross Primary School and join us at the Back to School Disco.
Date: Friday 20 June
Venue: Applecross Community Hall
Buffet from 6.30pm (come and have dinner with the whole family!)

Dress how you would have to your High School Disco – or don’t. But do come along and have some fun.

Dad Dance-off, Pop quiz, raffle, twister, guess who competition and much more. And all for a brilliant cause – Applecross Primary School.

Come along if only for the Dad dance-off.

Gateway Woodland project about to begin

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Gateway Woodland, the last in a scheme of over 40 projects that make up the Applecross Landscape Partnership Scheme, is about to begin. Contractor, Scottish Woodlands is due to start on site in June 2014 with harvesting commencing July/August, depending on approval of all permissions.

Gateway Woodland comprises 78ha of windblown lodgepole pine and sitkar spruce. The whole area will be clear felled and replanted with 62ha of broadleaf woodland. Virgin woodland planting will also take place adjacent to Gateway and will provide a natural habitat for wildlife, a resource for local timber and improve the landscape in the future.

The harvesting of the timber is likely to begin Aug/Sep, again dependent on approvals. Timber will be taken out by road along the north coast of the Applecross peninsula to Kishorn, where it will be exported by boat.

As part of the scheme, there will be upgrading to the north coast road. Costings are still being agreed and will depend largely on an application to STTS fund approvals.

There will be 300tn of timber donated to the Applecross Community Company at a cost of Ł6,600 to the Applecross Trust. The timber will be for community use.

There will also be the opportunity for short term local employment during the different phases of the scheme. More details on this to follow.

For further details, please contact Jess Whistance on 01520 744 482 or email

Gateway Woodland timber extraction

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The 11,000 tns of timber due to be harvested under the Gateway Woodland project will begin shortly. The majority of the timber will be taken out via the north Applecross coast road to Kishorn. Haulage is expected to take 22+ weeks, depending on weather and road conditions. Fergusons transport will be undertaking the work on behalf of Scottish Woodlands and there will be a strict criteria to ensure that the timber is taken out as safely as possible with as little disruption to the communities on the Applecross peninsula. We are looking for suggestions from community members on what those restrictions should be. The Highland Council has an off-the-peg criteria for all timber haulage on the roads but it is important to ensure this suits the Applecross geography and people.

There will be one lorry making two journeys to Kishorn in the summer months and two lorries making the journey to Kishorn in the winter months. However, if there are restrictions that you feel would ease any disruption to the roads or to those living on the coast road, please get in touch. Maybe you would like to see the lorry only travelling at certain times or at slower speeds in certain areas. There will be restrictions on speed and all lorries will be satellite tracked so that they can be monitored. As well as this, the lorries will all be travelling on deflated tyres to decrease road degradation.

There will be an upgrade to the north coast road as part of the Gateway project and this will be undertaken by the Highland Council with additional funding from the Applecross Trust. An initial application for funding has also been submitted to STTS. Details of final costings and exact areas to be upgraded will follow as soon as we have them.

We will continue to update the website with information on a regular basis but in the meantime, if you would like to provide suggestions on the restrictions to be imposed on the road haulage, please get in touch on 01520 744 482 or email

Nettle Day

Saturday, May 24, 2014

There will be a 'Be Nice to Nettles' day on 24 May from 2.00pm
Try some nettle soup, tea or beer.
See a display of textiles made from nettle fibre.
Have a go at making nettle string.
Dye some wool with the natural dyes that come from nettles.
Learn how to establish a nettle patch in your garden to encourage butterflies and ladybirds.
Historic remedies and recipes, legends and quizzes.

Gateway Woodland public meeting

Monday, May 19, 2014

Public meeting on Thursday 22 May at Clachan Church, 7pm. There will be presentations from Gateway Woodland contractors, Scottish Woodlands, as well as representatives from Highland Council and Ferguson Transport and the Applecross Trust. Gateway Woodland is an Applecross Landscape Partnership Scheme project, funded by Heritage Lottery Fund and SRDP. This is a chance to find out what to expect while the project gets underway, to ask questions and learn more about what the plans are for the future.

Tree Planting at Cŕrnach Woodland

Saturday, March 15, 2014

A tree planting day was held at Cŕrnach Woodland on Saturday 15 March. Seven people braved the weather and planted all 50 of the saplings supplied by Applecross Landscape Partnership Scheme. A hearty lunch was then enjoyed courtesy of the Applecross Inn. Thank you to everyone involved.

A week of iron-Age workshops at the roundhouse

Monday, October 14, 2013

The completion of the roundhouse was celebrated by a week of events, organised by Lesley Kilbride from the Traditional Crafts and Walks group.
Locals and visitors first had an opportunity to learn about dying wool with plants and lichens, collected directly from the surrounding area. The vibrant colours obtained from lungwort or elderberries are truly beautiful and anyone can experiment at home!
On the second day, the afternoon was spent weaving on a branch. Natural fleece, dyed wool, feathers, flowers, grasses and berries were used on a Y-shaped branch to create unique ornaments. Such an easy way to spend long rainy days!
Then, Lesley taught us how to make string from various grasses and plants. Although stinging nettle isn't a popular one (wonder why!), it makes a very strong string due to its long fibers.
On Thursday afternoon, Gill Fairweather started the workshop with a foraging walk. Various plants, such as chickweed, red clover and sorrel, were picked along the way, as well as handfuls of hazelnuts. All of it was then used eers for their hard work on building the roundhouse. Hopefully, it will keep hosting events for many years!

Wood Fuel day

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Clive Bowman from the Scottish Woodland Skills Centre ran two short courses that covered some of the basics of using wood to heat your home. The first course, aiming at beginners chainsaw users, was attended by 5 local people, who learned all about safety and maintenance for home use.
The second course gathered 19 people in the Community Hall, and covered the types of wood burning stove & boiler, flues & installation, wood fuel types, wood moisture levels & species, how to lay & light a fire, stove & chimney maintenance, and storing wood.

ALPS would like to thank Applecross Energy Efficiency for organising the course and providing photos of the event.
Check the AEE Facebook page for more information!

Applecross Pier and Gateway Woodland

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A presentation on Applecross Pier and Gateway Woodland took place Wednesday 18 September, 5.45pm at Clachan Church.
The pier will be used to ship the wood from Gateway first and then the pier will be for community use, pleasure craft and further exporting of wood.

The old stone pier is thought to be beyond repair so the proposal is for a new, concrete pier to be built alongside the original. In this proposal, the old pier will be used as a breakwater along the western side of the new pier. The eastern side of the new pier will be faced. A schedule of works has been set:
- September 2013: drilling/digging on site for the purposes of applying for planning. This will take place throughout September.
- January 2014: assuming planning has been granted, all materials will be brought to site and stored in preparation for work to begin
- March 2014: work begins on construction of the pier. This is will be completed by June 2014 at the very latest.

A comment box was set in Clachan Church for the members of the community to express their views on the project.

The Iron-age Roundhouse near completion

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Local volunteers gathered again to work on the building. Two Saturdays were spent under grey skies, tying and lashing dozens of hazel rods onto the larch structure of the roof. Miles of sisal string were used, fingers went sore, backs were aching but the result is there: the roof is ready to welcome the reed thatching at last!
Now it is all down to the master thatcher Brian Wilson to complete the project but without the valiant team of brave builders, there wouldn't even be a project! So thank you all again for your efforts!

Wildflower Survey

Friday, July 26, 2013

Les Bates, expert in woodland management was joined by 9 people on a warm afternoon to evaluate the numerous flower species present in Cŕrnach woodland. Selfheal, bugle, buttercups and several varieties of thistle were looked at and compared to botanical images.
A great afternoon, where coppicing benefits and ash dieback where discussed just as much as ecological diversity. Many thanks again to Les for sharing his knowledge!

Basket Making workshop

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The week-end was cold and windy, but it didn't keep six enthusiastic local people from gathering around Monique Bervoets to learn the secrets of basket making. The shape chosen by Monique was a frame basket, a very traditional basket, made in ancient times.
Under the newly refurbished Hebridean barns, the apprentices made hoops from willow and joined them with a God's Eye knot to form the structure of the basket. On Saturday, they learned about splitting willow to make the ribs of the basket and then filled the gaps with more material. Everyone went home with a rather rustic (but perfectly functional) basket:weaving a perfect is a skill that requires practice!
Thanks again to Monique for this great workshop. For more info about her work and her workshop, check

Wattle & daub hurdle workshop

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Seven people gathered in Cŕrnach to learn all about wattle weaving from expert Jane Wilkinson. Despite an early finish because of the pouring rain, everyone enjoyed crafting three beautiful screens that will then form part of the Iron Age Roundhouse.
Jane was also commissioned to weave wattle screens for the northern Hebridean barn and her work can now be admired by all!

Roundhouse volunteer day

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Once again, a volunteer day was held at the Roundhouse on Saturday 15 June. The roof structure (ring beams) was completed with locally sourced hazel rods and willow but will require more reinforcement work before Brian Wilson (thatcher) arrives in August to thatch the Roundhouse with reeds. Watch this space for more opportunities to get involved!

Applestock Music Festival

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A day and night of fun and music for the family. Live bands throughout the day (final line up to be announced), organised kids activities, stalls, trapeze artists, good food finishing with The Treacherous Orchestra at the Flower Tunnel in the evening!
Book your tickets on!

New Project begins - Walled Garden Greenhouses

Friday, April 5, 2013

Walled Garden Greenhouses

A new project is in the early stages - to restore the Walled Garden greenhouses. There is limited budget but within that we aim to utilise original features and restore as much of the external building. The greenhouses will not only provide tool space and growing space in a warm, dry environment, they will also provide interpretive material which will tell the story for visitors.

Alistair McCowan has produced plans of the greenhouses as they would have been, as well as a specification for contractors. We have asked contractors to provide costs for restoring the greenhouses. Once we are in receipt of costs, we will be able to consider which elements can be included within the project. However, the main aim is that the greenhouses are sympathetic to the original architecture and provide a practical space for Peter and Jackie to work.

Coppicing day at Cŕrnach Woodland.4

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The fourth coppicing day was again a welcoming sight. A good group gathered together for some hard graft, moving the coppiced wood and clearing the site for further works. It was a cold day but welcome respite came in the form of soup and sandwiches courtesy of Judy at the Applecross Inn. Lesley Kilbride brought flapjacks and hot beverages and the group worked hard on further coppicing and monitoring of the woodland.

Planning consent granted on hebridean barn

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

ALPS is pleased to announce that planning consent has been granted on the southern hebridean barn. It has been a long wait, but work can now begin on replacing the roof to the building, restoring it to something of what it used to be, as well as giving it new life for the community to use.

Coppicing day at Cŕrnach Woodland. 3

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Once again, with the assistance of Les Bates, progress continued at Cŕrnach Woodland. A management plan has been produced to monitor the woodland, so assessing the individual trees, keeping record of the growth of shoots and anything unusual, is all part of the job.

Lunch was again provided courtesy of the Applecross Inn and is as important as the coppicing itself. A good team has emerged; one that gets on with the work and is enthusiastic about the long term benefits of this project.

Coppicing day at Cŕrnach Woodland.2

Saturday, January 26, 2013

A second coppicing day was held at Cŕrnach Woodland. Fifteen people arrived with tools, warm clothes and some chainsaws! Rain held off and Les once again hosted a busy day, splitting the fenced area of woodland into areas, coppicing and marking areas for regeneration. After a good lunch, again at the hebridean barn, looking out over the broch, children and adults alike continued to work. Adults with clippers, axes and chainsaws; the children were assisting with the smaller branches, taking photographs of progress, and building dens.

At the end of the day Cŕrnach Woodland really looked like it was stirring back to life which is a very pleasant thing to see.

Coppicing day at Cŕrnach woodland

Saturday, December 15, 2012

It was a wet and cold day in December but still, 12 eager local people turned up to take part in the coppicing day at Cŕrnach Woodland. There were children, young people and those of later years, all working alongside each other with the same aim: to protect the ancient woodland from dying out. Les Bates, expert in hazel regeneration and expert gardener, led the session, with dedicated volunteers, Gill Fairweather and Lesley Kilbride on hand to give practical advice.

The coppicing is part of the Cŕrnach Woodland project. An area of the ground has been fenced off from deer (and other stock) with the aim of monitoring growth. Some of the protected area will be part coppiced, another area will be hard coppiced, and another area will be left to grow.

Despite the weather, spirits seemed high and there was an enthusiasm to continue work. A local lunch, courtesy of the Applecross Inn, was served and eaten at the hebridean barn. Welcome respite and a chance to reflect on progress.

New Project Manager for Applecross Landscape Partnership Scheme (ALPS)

Monday, October 22, 2012

ALPS is pleased to welcome Jess Whistance as its new Project Manager. Jess is replacing Sam Bridgewater who has taken ALPS from its inception and developed it to become a thriving and successful scheme with just twelve months left to run.

Jess, who has moved up to Applecross with her family from Devon to take the role, says, “I am really excited about working for ALPS; Sam and Elodie have done a fantastic job to date and it is now my job to take the project to its completion. There is a lot to do, but we have the full support of the Applecross Trust and the whole community which is very encouraging. I hope that ALPS will leave a legacy that will benefit the community and visitors alike.”

Wild Foraging Day

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Twenty five eager local foragers joined Miles Irving for a day of wild food harvesting. Starting in the Walled Garden, Miles turned traditional gardening philosophy on its head by focusing on the culinary possibilities of weeds such as chickweed, docken, vetch, sorrel and marsh woundwort, rtaher than the more standard crop of lettuce. His message? Make nature work for you. An amble along the Applecross River then revealed a feast of mushrooms - most from the cep family - sprouting from the river banks. The group reurned to the Walled Garden where Jon Glover and his staff had prepared an amazing three course meal of a miso-type soup from locally-collected seaweed, wild mushroom risotto and panacotta flavoured with bog myrtle. A very popular day.

Second annual tree festival

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The second annual tree festival was held at the Applecross campsite on the 8th September. Focusing once again on ancient forest crafts including green woodworking, willow weaving, shelter building and music, the festival attracted about 100 people, many of whom tried their hands at various crafts.

It was great to welcome back basket maker Monique Bervoets who demonstrated some of the basics of willow weaving, with all those who visited her stall encouraged to create a woven willow snail. Returning by popular demand Bryce Reynard once again captivated the younger audience with his various creations made from birch trees, with his birch whistles and necklasses being particularly popular this year. Stig MacGregor demonstrated green wood-working on a treadle-powered pole lathe to a captivated audience, whilst Lesley and Tom Kilbride illustrated the incredible variety of hues that can be attained through natural dyeing.

Jane Wilkinson worked with local children to create a number of forest shelters which acted as a hub for a range of games with Henry Fosbrooke’s forest instrument tent once again being a hit with local children, with the most popular a giant suspended wooden xylophone.

The organisers would once again like to thank the Applecross campsite for hosting the event.

Basketry course at Cuaig

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Seven locals gathered at Cuaig to learn all the basics of basket making during a two-day course provided by expert weaver Jane Wilkinson. Helped by Jane's patience and knowledge, each attendee set off to produce their own basket from buffed and green willow. Although working with willow was found hard on the hands, everyone was eager to learn all about the different types of weaves. On top of having a great time in nice company, the attendees had the pleasure of going home with a very professional-looking basket.

The best of scottish music at Clachan

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

It is rare for musical ensembles of renown to include Applecross on their tours, so it was a treat that Mr MacFalls Chamber chose to start their Four Corners tour in the peninsula, performing in the newly renovated Clachan church. MacFalls have been broadly acclaimed for pushing the boundaries of classical music and collaborating with musicians from other genres. On this occasion they were accompanied by fiddler Aidan O'Rourke, Frazer Fifield (pipes/saxophone/whistle), harpist Corrina Hewat and pianist James Ross, each of whom originate from a different part of Scotland. All of these award-winning musicians had been commissioned to compose a new piece of music for the tour inspired by their childhood homes of Aberdeenshire, the Black Isle, Sutherland and Argyll. 71 people attended the concert (over a third of the population of Applecross!), and were treated to a programme of mixed musical influences rooted in the folk and classical traditions. At times melodic and uplifting, and at others challengingly avant-garde, those who attended the concert were inspired by the event and awed by the brilliance of the composers and the musicians. The thought-provoking programme has since been the subject of much local discussion, once again showing that MacFalls continue to push musical boundaries.

The event was the first of its kind to be held in the newly renovated Clachan Church which provided the perfect backdrop for the concert. With new heating installed, the venue acted as a warm, comforting haven against the howling elements outside, with the new toilets and kitchen area providing facilities to ensure that the event could be enjoyed by all, with suitable light refreshment in the interval. It is hoped that further musical events can be held in the forthcoming months.

Two of the musicians (Corrina Hewat and Frazer Fifield) visited Applecross Primary School on the morning of the 4th September to lead workshops with the 8 primary school attendees and five girls of nursery age.

Pilgrims Return

Monday, August 27, 2012

A day-long celebration of Maelrubha, Applecross' famous Abbot monk was held on Saturday 25th August 2012. This has now become a yearly event and follows a similar celebration held in 2011. The day started at 11am with 17 people (approximately half local) undertaking a short three-mile pilgrimage from the beautiful Sand beach (north of Applecross Bay) to Clachan. A ferrying minibus service from the Applecross Heritage Centre was available from 1030. The organisers woudl like to thank Gerry McPartlin for acting as the chauffeur and walk guide. Numbers swelled to 30 for a BBQ feast provided by the Walled Garden at Clachan at 1300, before 7 people joined local heritage expert Gordon Cameron on a heritage walk exploring the religious and cultural history of Clachan at 1500. Led by episcopalian minister Tim Daplyn, 24 people then finished the day with a Songs of Praise in the newly refurbished Clachan Church at 1630.

Maelruba was born in 642AD in what is now known as Bangor in Northern Ireland. His father Elganach was a Gael, his mother Subtan an Irish Pict. After joining the monastery of his relative St Comgall in Bangor he left for Scotland where, in 673AD, he founded a monastery in Applecross at the site of the present day Clachan Church. His Gaelic and Pictish background made him ideal for spreading the gospel to the inhabitants of the north of Scotland, and, in importance to the adoption of Christianity among the Pictish peoples of his time, he is ranked second only to St Columba (Calum Cille) of Iona. The number of churches Maelrubha founded illustrates his reach and importance; these include one at Durness and an oratory on an island in the famous Loch Maree near Kinloche. Place names dedicated to him include Amulree in Perthshire and Kilmarrow in Kintyre. Summer fairs bore his name, too, such as Fčill Maree in Contin and Samarevis Day in Forres.

Maelrubha’s monastic settlement in Applecross would have included a range of buildings including a church and living accommodation as well as a hospitium where travellers would be housed. It is believed that there was a significant scriptorium here, too, where monks would laboriously copy the gospels in the style of famous illuminated manuscripts such as the Book of Kells.

Walks in the rain

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Horrendous weather, unfortunately, for what had promised to be an amazing day on the hills and in the glens.

Five people, all local to Wester Ross, joined mountain guide Chris from Mountain and Sea Guides to ascend Beinn Bhanin in the pouring rain and swirling mist. The iconic mountain of Applecross was not looking at its best, but the group were occasionally able to view its corries which are considered amongst the finest in Scotland. Often overlooked, this fine, flat-summated mountain is designated a Special Area of Conservation, the highest conservation ranking in Europe, on account of the habitats it supports which include dwarf juniper scrub, and this vegetation type was viewed by all. Everyone who attended enjoyed the day, but were glad to be finally transported back to the Applecross Inn to dry out and tuck into a hot bowl of soup.

Whilst those in the hills were being lashed by rain, another four people joined Gordon Cameron of the Heritage Centre for a more sedate but still very damp amble around Applecross bay learning about the heritage of the area. Subjects covered included one saint, several landlords and 1500 years of history!

Local healers

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Nine locals joined Mairi MacDonald on the 10th August to learn some of the secrets of traditional healing. Based at the Walled Garden who also supplied a hearty lunch, the focus of the one-day workshop was respiratory allergies and other seasonal complaints. The day started wild harvesting a range of medicinal plants from the countryside including ribwort, eyebright and nettle, with the remainder of the day spent making preparations. Each attendee returned home with samples of the medicines they had made. Healing with native plants was once a strong tradition in Western Scotland. It is hoped that this and future workshops will help inspire a new generation to continue this age-old practice.

Local place names project advances

Saturday, August 4, 2012

An event was held at Applecross Village Hall on Friday 3rd August 2012 to disseminate some of the information gathered by the project so far, and to hopefully gather more names. The event was very successful on both counts. The attendees included members of the public with no particular prior knowledge (from with the Applecross community, and from elsewhere); acknowledged local experts; and a place name expert who has written, lectured and broadcast on radio and TV about place name interpretation.

The morning saw a presentation focussing on the background to sources for names in the Applecross area, and then looked in-depth at one particular township. In the afternoon, a ‘place names walk’ took place where attendees could go out into the landscape to see the land features and understand exactly how the names interpret what was visible before them.

There were nine attendees.

A number of names not previously recorded were shared by the local attendees which have added greatly to the project, and, equally important were the traditions related to other previously known names which were explained by members of the community.

Gaelic in the Landscape

Friday, July 27, 2012

Gaelic journalist, broadcaster and environmental educator, Roddy Maclean, who has family connections to Applecross, led a day looking at some of the Gaelic place-name elements found on the maps of Highland Scotland – particularly different mountain names, colours and plant species. 13 attendees came from as far as Broadford, Lochalsh and Gairloch. Some were hillwalkers or climbers, others naturalists, others native Highlanders and new inhabitants who want to better understand and appreciate their landscape.

Opening of Archaeological Trail

Monday, July 23, 2012

A beautiful and breezy day (no midges!) and 12 people (eight local) walked the newly opened Archaeological Trail with archaeologist Cathy Dagg on the 21st July. Starting at the recently excavated and presented broch, the group walked the first part of the archaeological trail exploring the area’s history. Sites visited included a hebridean barns, the abandoned township of Torgaarve, a round house, a corn kiln and the clearance township of Langwell.

Applecross hosts returning bards

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The announcement of details of the second annual Bardic School in Applecross this week ensures that Gaelic poetry and song will again be heard this summer in Wester Ross. Applecross was once a top destination for the travelling Bards of Alba and Čirinn. It is hoped that the school, now in its second year, will inspire a new generation of Gaelic poets and singers to continue the tradition.

Organised by the Applecross Am Bealach Group, the school will run between July 2nd to July 6th and features talents of international standing, including Aonghas MacNeacail, Mairi Sine Caimbeul and Kerrie Finlay. The Bard in Residence for the week is of Lewis MacKinnon. A native of Nova Scotia, Lewis is a Gaelic singer, songwriter, author and poet and was bestowed the Mod's bardic crown in 2011. This is the first time the award of poet laureate has been given to a non-Scot for the first time in the 120-year history of the Gaelic festival.

The school will be centred at Hartfield House in the heart of Applecross glen, itself a source of inspiration for local poets of old. It can be enjoyed as a full-time residential course, although you can also pick and choose which events you want to attend on a daily basis. Gaelic and non-Gaelic speakers are welcome, with simultaneous translation available. Language classes are also available for those wishing to improve their language skills.

Work begins on Bealach interpretation

Thursday, June 28, 2012

One of the projects originally envisaged under ALPS was improving the experience of visitors parked at the Bealach viewpoint. On a fine day, spectacular views open out to Skye and beyond. At present, the car park is in a poor state of repair, with two old concrete benches and an AA topograph showing the distances and direction to points of interest such as Skye.

During the course of discussions held during the development of an interpretation plan for Applecross, it became clear that the majority of local people consulted felt that something better could be provided but that ‘less is more’, and that the Bealach was not an appropriate place for media such as information panels. To this end, plans have been drafted for a low-footprint drystone seat revetted into a small hollow a little below (ca. 15m) and to the east of the existing car park, with carved stone slabs engraved at ground level depicting the views south and westwards.

The Bealach is a perfect place to learn about geology, and in particular the impact of glaciation on landforms. It has been decided that such information provides a great story of interest, but is perhaps best provided through a separate self-guided geological trail booklet covering the whole peninsula, with no on site media. Such a trail would include discussion of the formation of the rocks of Skye, Raasay and Rhona, the hanging valleys of Beinn Bhan, the limestone beds of the west coast of Applecross, raised beaches, U-shaped valleys, glacial erratics, cross-bedding patterns (related to the deposition of eroded material by fast-flowing streams about 500 million years ago), ice scouring, post glacial screes and the formation of the beds of Torridonian sandstone.

Primary School children become plant explorers

Monday, June 25, 2012

The whole of Applecross primary school joined ecologist S. Bridgewater on Monday afternoon to learn about and practice methods of recording plant biodiversity. The school meet at Milltown Loch. Each group of three students prepared their own reference collection of plant species (herbarium), and then used these to identify the number of species in a 2m x 2m quadrat. The children recorded in excess of 30 plant species between them. Milltown Loch and its surroundings are a well-loved nature conservation area and supports nine species of orchid, including two which are nationally scarce.

New Walks leaflet available to enjoy

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The new Walks Leaflet has now been printed and is available free of charge from all outlets in Applecross (post office, Visitor centre, Inn, Walled Garden, Heritage Centre). 10,000 copies have been printed in the first instance. It will also shortly be available for downloading from this website (downloads/archives section). The leaflet highlights places of interest to visit in the peninsula and shows over 40km of trail, including over 4km of new routes developed under ALPS. It is the first interpretive output for the peninsula. Separate leaflets focusing on ecology are also available for Milltown Loch and Carnoch hazelwoods (available already under downloads.archives section).

Work is now focusing on the production of booklets showcasing aspects of the region's wildlife and archaeological and cultural heritage. The final product will be an App and book.

Beechwood seat completed

Friday, June 15, 2012

Approximately half way along the new Beechwood Trail, the more observant will have noticed a fantatsic new resting place with superb views across the bay. Carved with a verse from the Applecross bard John Mackenzie the seat was constructed with dry stone by local dyker Dan Macrae. The poem verses come from a A Praise Song to Applecross and are of significanace as they pay homage to some of the place names immediately adjacent to the seating area.

Clachan Church Given a New Lease of Life

Friday, June 1, 2012

Since 1817 Clachan Church has provided a strong sense of cohesion to the remote Applecross community. Traditionally a venue for religious worship, weddings and funerals, the church has also been used in recent years for secular events respectful to the surroundings, including music. However, due to lack of facilities such as toilets, heating and adequate lighting, and with the gallery section and windows unsafe even for public access, Clachan Church has not been used to its full potential by the local community. The Clachan Church restoration project took over three years to develop with work on-site finally beginning in November 2011. All work was completed in May 2012, and the church is once again open to the public. Funding was provided by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Highland LEADER programme, the Applecross Trust, the Garfield Weston Foundation, the Scottish Churches Architectural Trust, the Rannoch Trust and through community contributions.

Due to its associations with St. Maelrubha, Clachan is of international religious significance. After St. Columba, St. Maelrubha is regarded as the second most important saint in NW Scotland. His monastery lies within Clachan Church grounds and acts as an important Christian site of religious pilgrimage. Enhancing Clachan Church as a broad-use community and pilgrimage/tourism venue has formed part of the ambitious Applecross Landscape Partnership Scheme (ALPS) which aims to conserve, celebrate and promote access to the natural and cultural heritage of Applecross.

Scottish Plant lore

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The hottest day of the year so far and what better way to spend it than accompanying ethnobotanist William Milliken, one of the authors of Flora Celtica, around Milltown Loch to learn about the uses of the 200 known species from the area. Twelve visitors to Applecross began the walk at the northern end of the loch with many plants in flower. The marsh marigold was the first plant of focus which was used traditionally as a source of dye and as an important component of magic hoops to fend off evil! A number of edible plants were encountered during the walk including sorrel, watermint and cukooflower, with bogbean being the medicinal plant of greatest fame. One of the favourites of the day was the bog cotton with its tiny fluffy heads used as a source of fibre for the production of cloth. My favourite fact? That The Great Exhibition of 1851 featured shirts made by women from Rosshire woven from the tiny fibres of this beautiful bog-loving plant.

Further digging at the broch

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Seven members of the public joined archaeologists Mary Peteranna and Lynn Frazer to undertake test pitting on a ridge adjoining the broch to investigate an area highlighted by a previous geophysical survey as having potential remains. In glorious weather those present were taught the process of digging and recording three test pits. Sadly, no new structures or remains were found at this dig, but we hope for greater success for another test pitting session on the 16th June. Please see the events programme and What's On for further details.

Nettle day 2012

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Unlike last year's event, the wether was glorious and perfect for demonstrating the many uses of nettles. As before, the event was organised by Croft Wools in the remote crofting coastal township of Cuaig and focused on the environmental and cultural uses of nettles. Throughout the day 18 people visited the the event and were treated to a guided tour of unusual artefacts from around the world made from nettles. Demonstrations were provided on how to dye wool with nettles and on extracting the fibres from nettle stems to produce rope. The value of nettles to wildlife was highlighted, including as a food plant of the caterpillars of the small tortoiseshell butterfly.

Thanks for Leslie and Tom Kilbride for organising and hosting the event.

Events Programme published

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

It looks like it is going to be another busy summer! This week the 2012 Events Programme was published for Applecross. This can be found in the downloads (resources) section of this website or viewed in What's On. From music in Clachan Church to green woodworking, there should be something of interest for everyone. Choose from 30 different activities!

Dyking exams held

Monday, April 30, 2012

Seven locals spent a day undertaking dyking work under the scrutiny of examiners in an attempt to gain Dry Stone Walling Association accreditation. Two attained Level 2 accreditation, and three Level 1 accreditation. Under ALPS eight people have now attrained Level 1 and two Level 2 certification.

Building Survey at Applecross Home Farm

Saturday, April 21, 2012

There was a good turnout for this weekend’s training event, which introduced the methods of recording a standing building. This technique is used by archaeologists as well as architects and historians to record every detail of a historic building, its dimensions, building materials, changes over time, internal fixtures and fittings. As well as the buildings themselves we look at the evidence of old maps, other historic documents and oral traditions.

We were very pleased to be given permission to carry out a survey of the Home Farm next to the camp site. This is one of the earliest designed farm complexes on the west coast, where they are rare compared with the more fertile east coast, but as yet we don’t know the details of exactly when it was built.

The group divided into two teams to record every small detail of the building, particularly the blocked-in doorways and altered walls which show how the use of the building changed over more than 150 years. Of particular interest was one of the inner walls looking into the court, where a series of doorways had been altered, first to be windows and then blocked up altogether, and the part of the building holding the threshing mill. We were very lucky to have with us Peter who has had experience of working on a farm with a big steading and was able to explain to us how the grain, straw, hay and other feedstuffs were efficiently processed and stored to be closest to the livestock they were feeding.

There is sadly no trace of the original water-powered threshing mill, which would have been on the upper floor, apart from the massive floor joists which took the weight of the machinery and part of the chute which took the straw down to the straw barn. But there is a fascinating collection of later threshing, winnowing and bruising machinery, which was powered by a tractor as late as the 1960s

We now want to collect as many memories of the working farm as we can, to add to our survey. Do you remember the dairy? Threshing by tractor? Which crops were being grown, and in which fields? Do you have any old photographs of farm work or events at the farm buildings? If you can help at all, do let me or Sam know, or drop things off at the ALPS office or even the Heritage Centre

We would like to thank again Jimmy Frazer for allowing us access to the steading buildings and sharing his memories of farming here with us. We hope that the building survey results, as well as providing a fascinating document, will be of use in the future when the time comes to consider what happens next to the farm buildings.

An Iron Age Roof

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

With the first roof beams now in place, it is now possible to visualise what the Iron Age Roundhouse will look like once completed. It is already an impressive structure and seems to belong to the space where it sits at the edge of Carnoch wood, snug within a grove of old, lichen-covered hawthorns.

On Friday 24th and Saturday 25th, thirteen people joined Thatcher Brian Wilson to complete the next construction phase. On the first morning the ring beam was completed and the first uprights hoisted, pegged and lashed into place. Techniques of green woodworking were learnt as the pegs were fashioned into shape with a shave horse and draw knife, and different kinds of lashing were taught. However, thankfully the group could draw on tools not available to our predecessors such as a chainsaw and an electric drill. The weather was generally excellent all weekend, and fantastic progress was made. The next step? To add further roof timbers and weave willow and hazel around the conical structure ready for thatching this autumn. The roundhouse will be the focus of environmental, archaeological and craft events in years to come.

Gateway Woodland update

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Gateway Woodland Project focuses on restructuring ca. 78 hectares of partially windblown, coniferous plantation on the southern flank of the glen. This lies adjacent (to the left) of the main road as one ascends the Bealach. A smaller area (45 hectares) would be subsequently replanted with native broadleaf woodland under this scheme.

Public meetings held on the 5th and 6th December showed general approval of the project as the plantation in its current state is not a good landscape feature.

Potential benefits highlighted were: 1) long term (10 yr +) aesthetic improvement of the landscape, 2) long-term improvement to wildlife, 3) long-term improvement for deer management, assuming that future plantings take into account deer needs, and 4) potentially improved amenity value, although this latter benefit depends on how access is planned and the actual ‘state’ of the plantation post felling. It was agreed that this latter benefit is by no means guaranteed. The possibility of new forestry roads and/or forest rides being planned in such a way as to provide either a walks or mountain bike trail was raised, although this might be constrained by available finances. There was fear that the cleared area might be left in such a state that nobody would ever be able to walk through it and enjoy it. The felled plantation of Arrina was cited as an example of felling that shouldn’t be repeated.

Potential costs highlighted were: 1) short-medium term deterioration in the landscape, and 2) loss of a potentially important woodfuel resource from a remote area. Regarding this latter point, securing a source of fuelwood both as works are undertaken and into the far future was seen as being of great importance by the community. It was generally agreed that the stacking of 3m rounds for local fuelwood use should form part of the project, although the details of how this might be paid for need to be agreed in advance.

Additional questions were raised about transport, and the need to clarify entry and exit routes into the plantation area as wood is exported as this may impact on certain local residents. It was agreed that no transport planning should be undertaken without consultation with the community, and in particular, the community of the north coast. A number of potential exit routes for the material were discussed. One would emerge onto the Bealach road, descend to The Coalshed and then exit to Kishorn via the north coast. An alternative possibility exists exiting through the glen. It is likely that ca. 400 trucks (@25 tonnes) would be required to export all material to Kishorn. The Council will likely place a restriction on the number of trucks per day, with four being a probable number. A number of people expressed concern about how this might impact on businesses and tourism.

Bealach interpretation design completed

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

One of the projects originally envisaged under ALPS was improving the experience of visitors parked at the Bealach viewpoint. On a fine day, spectacular views open out to Skye and beyond. At present, the car park is in a poor state of repair, with two old concrete benches and an AA topograph showing the distances and direction to points of interest such as Skye.

During the course of discussions held during the development of an interpretation plan for Applecross, it became clear that the majority of local people consulted felt that something better could be provided but that ‘less is more’, and that the Bealach was not an appropriate place for media such as information panels. To this end, plans have been drafted for a low-footprint drystone seat revetted into a small hollow a little below (ca. 15m) and to the east of the existing car park, with carved stone slabs engraved at ground level depicting the views south and westwards. Sketches for the design are available for viewing in the latest edition of the ALPS newsletter (see downoads section of this website).

The Bealach is a perfect place to learn about geology, and in particular the impact of glaciation on landforms. It has been decided that such information provides a great story of interest, but is perhaps best provided through a separate self-guided geological trail booklet covering the whole peninsula, with no on site media. Such a trail would include discussion of the formation of the rocks of Skye, Raasay and Rhona, the hanging valleys of Beinn Bhan, the limestone beds of the west coast of Applecross, raised beaches, U-shaped valleys, glacial erratics, cross-bedding patterns (related to the deposition of eroded material by fast-flowing streams about 500 million years ago), ice scouring, post glacial screes and the formation of the beds of Torridonian sandstone.

Music, Lights, Action.....a new training course available

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Music, Lights, Action.......

To increase the capacity to host events in Applecross in the future, a traininig course will be available related to music entertainment, providing a chance to learn the skills of stage lighting, video projection, setting up and managing a PA system and mixing sound. This will be of value to anyone interested in being involved in musical or theatrical events in Applecross or further afield. The proposed course would be led by Sean Kilbride and run over four sessions, with each lasting approximately two hours. Five people have already enrolled onto the first session.....

Course contents....

Stage lighting and video projection: How to operate the stage lighting desk and set up "disco "lights and smoke machine; how to set up screens and video projector and plug in a laptop and dvd player.

Amps and speakers: How to set up speakers and amps including CD player, small PA, Big PA and monitor system

Mixing Desk and Effects: Looking at the functions of the mixing desk, tone control, applying effects, auxilliary channels and how to use multi effects, reverb and compression.

Sound Skills: Applying all the skills learnt previously in a real environment, setting up PA and lights, mixing sound for live musicians, projecting a backdrop, and packing away.

Guided Walks Leaflet update

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Although it has enjoyed great success, the time has come to give the old Scenic Walks leaflet a facelift. This will be the first of a number of new leaflets and specialist trails booklets that will be developed over the next few months. As part of this process, the old maps are being updated with new trails added. It is hoped that the new version will prove to be just as popular as the previous one.

In addition, leaflets focusing on the wildlife importance of Cŕrnach woodland and Milton loch and on the broch will also be designed, together with a series of specialist booklets that will enable visitors to self-guide themselves around Applecross by foot. These will focus on natural history, cultural heritage / archaeology and geology. The ideas for these booklets arose out of the interpretation plan and a general desire for there to be little on-the –ground presence of information. It is hoped that this published information will provided a low footprint means of persuading visitors to part from their cars, find out more about the Applecross, visit out of season, and perhaps stay a few days longer than they might have done previously.

Archaeological training day

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Numbers were low for this training day (2 only), maybe because the words ‘plane table survey’ sound scarily technical, but in fact this is a very easy and quite fun way of making a plan of archaeological sites. Anyway, despite a lot of muttering about having to be in the shade of the trees when a lovely sunny day was happening elsewhere, we were able, in one day, to produce a useful ground plan of the site.

We chose for this exercise the slightly mysterious ruins in the coniferous plantation south of Langwell fields. There were obviously low remains of walls and a more substantial section of walling, looking like the gable end of a building, built into the drystone dyke which separates the plantation from the fields, but these do not appear on any map and nobody we’ve spoken to has any memory of what they might have been. It is unusual for even ruinous buildings to not be recorded on the Ordnance Survey 1st edition map, which was surveyed in 1875. It was very difficult, due to the trees and the tumbled rubble, to make sense of the ground plan, which made it an ideal site for plane table survey, as the distances measured from the central point are immediately plotted and the plan is immediately visible.

After clearing off the tumble we were able to plan the low foundation courses of former walls at a scale of 1:50. What emerged was a bit of a surprise: a fairly standard rectangular sheep fank, with side compartments and a central passage, together with a probable cottage to the west. It is this cottage, with lime- mortared walls, that was incorporated into the later drystone dyke.

There is a similar sheep fank up the Applecross glen, at NG 727 467, and both probably date to the introduction of commercial sheep farming, maybe in the 1820s. It would seem that this one at Langwell was deliberately demolished, which would explain why it was not recorded as a ruin in 1875. The stone was probably used to build the drystone dyke.

We hope to show the completed plan, together with any information about the site we’ve managed to uncover, at the Archaeology Fair in July

Kishorn Mines Walk

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Friday Spring sunshine brought out a good crowd (12) to explore the mining history of Applecross and look at a few other sites around Kishorn on the way.

The Kishorn area may seem a long way away from Applecross, but it was until the 1840s a part of the much more extensive lands of the Mackenzies of Applecross, which reached as far east as the River Coulin. So mining for copper at Rassal, for example, would have been controlled and financed by Applecross. After Lord Leeds bought the estate from the Mackenzies, he divided it and sold the newly formed Lochcarron Estate to Sir John Stewart, or Stuart. It seems to have been Mrs Stuart who initiated and financed the more recent attempts at iron and copper extraction.

As we walked up through the Rassal ash woods (itself a National Nature Reserve) we could see evidence of Rassal having been a ‘wood pasture’, an open type of woodland where cattle were grazed and the flat terraces, cleared of stones, were used to grow crops. The trees would have provided fencing and other construction material. The name Rassal is Norse, linked to keeping horses. The copper mine above the wood is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, so we resisted the temptation to bring away souvenir crumbs of bright green copper ore scattered through the tailings at the entrance to the mine. The mine consists mostly of an open trench, 50m long and up to 5m deep, cut into the limestone to chase a single vein of a copper ore called Bornite. To the south are the remains of a couple of buildings where, presumably, the miners lived. The mine was certainly being mined before 1762 and around 1810 a visitor wrote “The copper at Kissern [Kishorn] is of the best quality, perhaps, of any ore of that metal found in Britain”

Back down at Kishorn we walked up the hill past a cairn containing a stone cist and originally revetted with large boulders around the edge of the stone pile, which probably dates to the Early Bronze Age, and an Iron Age fortified site which may have been a broch or dun although there is now very little to see. But the old township here, whose scattered remains can be seen all around, was known as Doune, while a little bit to the north was Lag an Duin, the hollow of the fort. This was obviously a heavily populated area until people gave way to sheep.

The most interesting mine at Kishorn, the Lower Sanachan, proved to consist of a tunnel dug directly into the hillside, which was excavated in the search for copper. It seems to have begun around 1903, and from 1904 to March 1906 was being run by a Liverpool company, the costs for labour & materials in 1904 alone being Ł787-15s-3d. It carried on for few years after this, but never found any copper. A local story suggests that Mrs Stuart was having an affair with one of the miners, so kept it going as long as she could. We shared wellies to wade through the shallow water to the end of the tunnel and see the last pick marks in the rock.

The two iron mines, at Upper Sanachan and Tornapress, proves slightly less interesting to explore, as the entrance to both shafts were flooded. These were extracting iron ore (Haematite) for a very short period from 1913 to 1914 when at the outbreak of war mining was suspended and never resumed. The Tornapress mine entrance was in a particularly difficult location at the side of the stream and we all wondered at the practicalities of removing the ore from the site. Various bits of machinery, including what looks like the frames of a basket, and a winch, suggest that the ore was swung across a small stream to the base of a constructed ramp then dragged up the slope using the winch. The story goes that occasionally piles of ore, waiting to be removed, were swept away downstream when the stream rose in spate.

We took the opportunity of having a group of willing volunteers to carry some ore back down the hill. This will be used in our iron smelting experiment in the summer.

After the mines we had a quick look at the sad ruins of Courthill House, home to Sir John Stuart and to Sir Charles James Murray who bought the estate in 1882. We all admitted that despite the number of times we’ve driven past, none of us had stopped to look at the house or the burial ground with the remains of an early mediaeval chapel dedicated to St Donnan and a carved cross-slab, or the moot hill Cnoc a’Mhoid, the place of justice which gave Courthill its name (and from where those found guilty were taken up to the gallows hill) Most intriguing was the ornate entranceway bearing the Murray coat of arms and a Gaelic inscription in ornate and tricky Arts and Crafts-style lettering. I’ve attempted to transcribe it, but I won’t try to translate:

Dhe Teasairg an Tigh. An teine:san Tan
Gach aonm ta gabhail tamh an so an nochd

Fertile Soils workshop

Thursday, March 8, 2012

This was a well-attended, stimulating and thought provoking event, run by Ron Gilchrist of Greenways. Those attending (23 participants) gained a practical understanding of how to regenerate soil fertility and of the wide opportunities this presents for the individual grower and for the development of a community growing project with the aim of increasing the local growth of food and the resilience of the community. Workshops included tips on how to get the maximum from your garden/growing space,wormcast and compost production.

Carnoch woodland - Atlantic Rainforest

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The fourteen acres of Carnŕch woodland provides one of the richest regional habitats for lichens and mosses. Gloriously verdant, and with many secret knolls and boulder-strewn hollows, Carnŕch has delighted generations and once provided a source of fuelwood and raw materials for local townships. Regeneration of trees is currently poor and storms have taken their toll on the magnificent birch and hazel that jointly define this magical place. Efforts are now underway to protect the woodland, ensuring this important wildlife habitat is protected and continues to support biodiversity and provide useful resources for the local community.

Cŕrnach means either a rocky or stony place, or a location abounding in cairns. Estate maps dating to the start of the 19th Century indicate that areas of Carnŕch may once have been formerly managed as woodland pasture. The woodland itself overlies an archaeological landscape of field enclosures and field clearance piles, and possible prehistoric structures have recently been noted within its confines. Hazel woodlands of this kind are believed to be of ancient origin, and can be considered relicts of a once abundant and widespread vegetation type that thrived after the last glaciation. Whatever its origin and subsequent degree of disturbance, what is certain is that nature and human influence have interplayed to fashion the magical wildlife sanctuary that exists today.

The coppiced habit. Nature or nuture? Cŕrnach is classified as an Atlantic Hazel Woodland, and is one of many similar woodlands scattered across the West Coast of Scotland. They are all recognised as being of great conservation interest and often support a high diversity of lichens.

Although hazel is conspicuous in such habitats, other trees such as birch, oak, rowan, elder and ash can also be abundant. Much of the hazel specimens within Cŕrnach appear coppiced, but although stems of this light-demanding species have undoubtedly always been cut for a variety of purposes, the species is naturally multi-branching at its base. The existence of this growth form is not due to coppice activity, and it is doubtful whether Cŕrnach was ever managed in an initensive cyclical manner to hazel woods in southern England .

Carnŕch’s Carpet: When it comes to mosses and lichens then Scotland – and particularly the West Coast of Scotland – is viewed as being of international importance. Scotland has 60% (ca. 750) of Europe’s known species of moss in only a small percentage of the land area. The lichen flora is even richer with 1,500 species recorded. Much of Carnŕch’s conservation significance relates to these groups of plants that cover the ground and tree trunks. Over 140 species of lichen have been recorded from the woodland, of which four are nationally scarce. Three are on the EU red list of threatened lichens. Many of the lichens of particular interest grow on old growth trees, and their presence indicates that the air is unpolluted and that the woodland is ancient. In contrast to the lichen, the 100 resident mosses and liverworts are most conspicuous on the abundant boulders. In part, the abundant presence of lichens and mosses in this habitat is due to the open nature of the woodland, which has been influenced by grazing pressure from deer.

Future management: Long term plans are being developed to ensure the biodiversity of this beautiful and important woodland continues to thrive for generations to come whilst enhancing its amenity and social value. Interventions are likely to include the use of temporary fencing within parts of the woodland to allow natural regeneration of trees, and small scale selective cutting of some of the hazel stems of lesser lichen value to supply craft materials for community use. Whilst deer management will always be needed, grazing is likely to be required to maintain the open structural form that favours the development of a rich lichen flora.

Applecross Bardic School 2012

Friday, March 2, 2012

The 2012 Bardic School is scheduled to take place between the 2nd and 6th July 2012. We are thrilled to announce the attendance of Lewis MacKinnon who will be a key speaker. A native of Nova Scotia, Lewis is a Gaelic singer, songwriter, author and poet and was bestowed the Mod's Bardic crown in 2011. This is the first time the award of poet laureate has been given to a non-Scot in the 120-year history of the Gaelic festival. The role of Bard is an honour given to an individual who has contributed to the Gaelic literary world and carries an ambassadorial role for the language and culture. It normally extends to a period of three years.  We look forward to hosting him in Applecross in the summer.

By popular request, Skye-based poet Aonghas MacNeacail will be returning to the school in 2012. His writing has appeared in literary journals all over the world, and he’ll be presenting a new collection of selected Gaelic poems and a pamphlet of poems in Scots. We’re also delighted that Ruairidh MacIlleathain will again be joining us. Ruairidh is well-known in Applecross and is a Gaelic broadcaster, editor and journalist with a particular interest in Gaelic learners. Kenneth MacDonald, formerly of the Department of Celtic Studies has also confirmed his presence as a speaker at the school.

Work on South Coast Deer Fence started

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

There has been so much talk about it for so many years, and many doubted it would ever happen. Yet in January, construction finally started on the 8 km South Coast Deer Fence.

Already the fencing of Toscaig and Cuduie townships is complete. The fencers’ sights are now looking northwards and focused on negotiating the trickier sections at Culduie and Camusterrach. The proposed fence line is not for the faint hearted and encompasses long sections of near solid rock. On current predictions, work of the near eight kilometre line should be completed in May. Most of the materials have already been delivered and stacked and are being taken to the sites required overland using a four tracked Swedish army vehicle. This has provoked considerable local interest due to its unusual look, low footprint and amphibious nature. Some materials, however, will need to be heli-lifted where access is particularly difficult, with this due to take place at the end of February.

The presence of the new deer fence allows for local agricultural improvement and should provide greater diversity of land management options, including enhancing local wildlife. Discussions are currently underway with local crofters to agree on a package of projects that will help realise all the potential benefits the new fence allows.

Clachan Church udate

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The autumn period saw all necessary consents finally granted (Planning, Listed Building, Scheduled Monument!), with the last bureaucratic hurdle being the issuing of the bat license which was finally approved by Scottish Natural Heritage in mid November. This permit allows works to Clachan roof, but stipulates that all roof work must be completed by the 1st May 2012.

In November works focused on excavating a shallow trench from the church towards the gate in which the necessary electric conduits and water pipes could be laid. This work required the presence of archaeologists throughout, in case any unexpected structures were uncovered. Historic Scotland insisted on such caution being shown due to the monastic associations of Clachan. During this work some stone structures were uncovered and recorded, although the nature of the consent provided did not allow us to investigate further. The stone work could have been part of an old track or perhaps the corner of a room of a building.

The first phase of work also involved the building of an All Access toilet and store room in the entrance hall, and the installation of heating. The toilets will be locked at all times other than when there is a service or other event. The heating system chosen was an air source heat pump. Heating Clachan is a problematic affair due to the large, high interior space and lack of insulation. The units chosen reflect the only realistic compromise that is as green as possible, affordable, and that impacts to only a minor degree on the amazing aesthetics of the building.

The second phase of work will begin in mid February when scaffolding will be erected to allow the necessary roofing work to be done, with the new windows also installed at this time. A temporary ‘floating road’ over the existing entrance path site will be constructed at this stage to protect the ground and facilitate vehicle access during this construction period. It will be removed subsequently. Work will also secure the balcony making it safe for access.

Work is scheduled to be completed in mid May, although it will take some weeks and perhaps months thereafter for the site to return to its former turfed, fully green state. This will be achieved by seeding if necessary.

The Social Network

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

On popular demand, a social media course is being planned after Easter. Social Media is becoming a part of our culture, ingrained in the fabric of society and changing the way that we communicate forever.

Social Media technology such as Facebook, Twitter and Blogging has been developing for over 30 years, and acts like a community bulletin board, just online. It is a great mistake to dismiss it as a short-lasting fad for compulsively communicating teenagers with too much time on their hands. It is an exceptionally powerful tool for business and can function like newspaper adverts, website promotion or going to a trade show or conference. The big difference between social media marketing and traditional/regular marketing is that the former is free and its impact can be clearly measured through on-line tools such as Google Analytics and SocialMention.

So....if you want find out more about what Social media is and what it could do for you, are just interested in setting up your own Facebook page to communicate with family, or want to see how Social media can help improve income to your B&B or business, why not come along? Please contact Eldoie for further details.

Applecross Archaeology update

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Applecross Archaeology Training Project kicked off in 2011 with the first investigation focusing on the Torgarve corn kiln. This was followed by a weekend of geophysical training. Geophysical methods in archaeology are largely adapted from those used in mineral exploration, engineering, and geology and typically use magnetometers, electrical resistance meters, ground-penetrating radar and electromagnetic conductivity meters to create maps of subsurface archaeological features. Susan and Alastair, otherwise known as Rose Geophysics of Orkney, led a group of ten through the techniques of Gradiometer and Resistance survey over the ground where the former township of Langwell is thought to have been.

In practical terms the gradiometer survey consisted of walking at an even pace between two points counting to twenty, while the resistence survey consisted of sticking a probe into the ground at metre intervals. All day. We all agreed that the actual fieldwork was pretty tedious and the excitement lay in the results. Unfortunately, these could not be seen immediately as the data had to be processed. We now have several plans of the survey area showing different results and, while it is clear that there are a lot of responses indicating former human activity such as burning and ground disturbance, we were maybe slightly disappointed that clear building outlines did not emerge as anticipated. However, we can now narrow down the township area to within and south of the double row of drystone dykes, and areas of concentrated response indicate where we could go on to do test pitting to investigate the township further.

Applecros Burial Ground Mapping

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Local volunteers have continued to help the surface mapping exercise. Section I of the old graveyard has now been completed and work is well underway on Section II (There are four sections – I, II and III in the old graveyard, and the new section IV to the south of Clachan Church.). Section I has yielded over 300 individual person records so far from visible headstones. Where possible, genealogical and biographical data is being added. Gravestone photography is complete. Next step is to unify the file sizes of photographs to reduce load on computers and subsequent web usage. Documents have been provided to the Heritage Centre which detail unmarked graves at Clachan. This information cannot immediately be verified and will be incorporated when the time is right. For spring time, we need to look at the possibility of permissions from Historic Scotland and other stakeholders to carry out a below surface probe (to 30cm) to uncover and record fallen headstones. However, this process is fraught with ‘regulatory requirements’ and requires further volunteers to de-turf and lift stones.

Citizen Science. New Biodiversity Records

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

There is increasing involvement of the general public in the UK in collecting wildlife and scientific data. In the UK in recent years, high profile initiatives harnessing the observational and recording powers of dedicated amateurs include the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch ( and the Nature’s Calendar survey co-ordinated by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology ( Both have been influential in collecting data informing on aspects of regional species decline and the impact of climate change on wildlife. Such projects have harnessed the enthusiasm and skills of the public and generated huge datasets that could not have been created by professionals.

Although nothing as grand as these projects has been undertaken in Applecross, the addition of wildlife books at the Inn and Walled Garden and dedicated posters calling for information on butterfly sightings have generated a superb source of local wildlife information. 2011 has seen significant wildlife records accrue with over 100 species recorded in 300 sighting events. Some of these, such as observations of the orange tip and peacock butterflies have been the first ‘official’records of these species in the peninsula and have been forwarded to Biological Recording Groups enabling updated atlases of these taxa to be produced. Applecross is still considered a regional ‘black hole’ for species records; not because the species don’t occur here, but because nobody has ever formally recorded them before. Hopefully 2012 will yield new wildlife sightings.

Smiddy dyke procurement complete

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Procurement to restore Smiddy dykes occurred in the late autumn, with seven contractors from around Scotland providing tenders to repair the conspicuous walls that line the final descent access route to The Street from the Bealach . The work was awarded to Darren Jones (Applecross) and Geoff Walker who provided the most competitive bids. Work should begin in April 2012.

Access audit and training with the Fieldfare Trust

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Andrew Johnson of the Fieldfare Trust visited Applecross on the 12th and 13th December to undertake an access audit of all recently built paths, and the popular network of paths in the glen area. Training was also provided to 12 people on disability, the provision of intellectual/physical access, discrimination and the Equalities Act 2010, and also to a further six local providers of guided walks on how best to provide information and lead walks with disabled members of the public.

New Design and dyking contract opportunities

Friday, December 9, 2011

Design contract opportunity

An opportunity has arisen to undertaken design works for the development of interpretive outputs (leaflets, booklets and panels) related to ALPS. Expressions of Interest for tendering for the work should be directed to Sam Bridgewater, Project Manager, Applecross Landscape Partnership Scheme, East Wing, Applecross House, Applecross, IV54 8ND. Tel: (01520) 744482. Email: Deadline for tenders will be the 21st December 2012.

Bealach dyking contract

The Applecross Landscape Partnership Scheme is seeking to implement a programme of drystane dyking restoration works on the historic dykes of the Bealach na Bŕ. Expressions of Interest for tendering for the work should be directed to Sam Bridgewater, Project Manager, Applecross Landscape Partnership Scheme, East Wing, Applecross House, Applecross, IV54 8ND. Tel: (01520) 744482. Email: Deadline for tenders will be the 21st December 2012. A contractors’ meeting to discuss the work schedule has been organised for the 5th December 2011.

Holy Well update

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Holy Well itself has now been repaired and a small spur path constructed to allow access to it. Information on it has been compiled for interpretation. Some vegetation clearance is still required around the associated ‘Spout Well’. A new culvert on the road has been agreed with the Council (who will pay for it) to improve drainage in the area and improve water quality.

Master dyker returns to continue training

Friday, November 18, 2011

Due to popular local demand, master dyker Seumas Campbell from Uig, Skye was invited back this week to instruct both Level 1 and Level 2 courses, with five doing the former and four locals from Applecross who passed their Level 1 exam earlier this year continuing their skills and focusing on the construction of wall ends. The weather was very unseasonal and gloriously sunny until yesterday when it finally broke. For the most part the course focused on the dykes of Culduie with many broken sections repaired, although mid-week the group built a low wall around the Iron Age Roundhouse that the community has slowly been constructing. The organisers would like to thank Seumas for coming again, and for the dykers for helping with the roundhouse project.

Work begins on Clachan Church

Monday, October 31, 2011

Work finally started on restoring the iconic Clachan Church today. The contract was awarded to William MacDonald and it is estimated that repairs and improvements to the building in keeping with its existing aesthetics and heritage will take six months to complete.

Clachan Church was built in 1817 and is B-listed by Historic Scotland as a building of regional importance. The area of the church and burial ground is a Scheduled Monument and is considered to be of national importance. Much of the significance of the site relates to its association with a monastic settlement founded in AD 673 by Saint Maelrubha.

Interpretation plan completed

Monday, October 31, 2011

After many public meetings, management group discussions and amended drafts, an interpretation plan developed under the auspices of ALPS is now available for the Applecross peninsula. This does not attempt to prescribe specific media for specific locations, but outlines broad themes and guides a general approach to interpretation (see ''downloads'' tab bottom left to view!).

It has been generally agreed that all interpretation should have a low footprint, with little visible on-site media. Instead information will be in the forms of hand-held literature and Apps with the Heritage Centre being the primary information hub. The ALPS management grpoup would like to thank Interpretaction for their help in developing the plan.

Autumn series of Applecross Historical Society heritage talks begins

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Applecross Historical Society, with support from ALPS, has held two successful evening talks so far this autumn with more to come. The Society’s programme kicked off at Applecross Village Hall on Thursday 15th September when noted author and historian William MacRobbie from Achgarve, near Laide, delivered a fascinating talk on the MacKenzies of Gruinard and Letterewe while taking a few detours to explore the dark deeds of Meyrick Bankes, a Victorian-era landlord of dodgy repute. Thirteen people came along to hear about the famous MacKenzies, and about Bankes, a man so desperate to increase his land holdings that he diverted the course of a river, and once served eviction papers on three generations of a family he’d thrown out of their original home … as they made the best of living in a cave!

On 13th October, again at Applecross Village Hall, Roddy Maclean, Gaelic broadcaster and author, presented a fantastic and hugely entertaining journey through the origins and meanings of Gaelic proverbs connected to drovers, cattle and dogs. Twenty two people attended, and learnt how proverbs about legendary warrior heroes Finn Mac Cumhaill and Ců Chulainn are just as appropriate for today’s 21st-century lexicon.

Encouraging the shoots of a woodland craft industry to grow

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Between the 3rd and 5th October 14 adults and 11 local children joined woodsman Mike Ellis to learn basic greenwoodworking techniques. Of these four, attended full time for the three days. Using Carnoch hazel woods as a source of greenwood and the campsite flowertunnel as a venue for the workshop, the course was successful in teaching the basic skills required to work with greenwood, including the use of a shave horse, adze, axe and draw knife. As part of the event the local primary school children collected ca. 500 hazel nuts that they hope will help ensure the future of the woodland. There was much debate over the course of the three days as to how Carnoch should be managed, and whether it was possible to reinstigate coppicing of it with a view to supplying local craft materials.

Such was the success and popularity of the course that Mike has been invited back to give a one week coppice and greenwood skills course in the spring 2012.

First Bee Keeping Course held

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Bee keeping and honey production is a traditional pastime once associated with Applecross, with the Walled Garden being the centre of this activity in times gone by.

15 apprentices took their first flight towards keeping bees on Saturday 24th September, guided by Tim Daplyn, a local expert in the craft. This first day was designed to introduce people to bees and the history of apiculture, with topics including hives and equipment, bee behaviour and anatomy. It was the first of many sessions scheduled for the autumn and winter period. It is hoped that the first bee nuclei will arrive in Applecross next summer and that a co-operative of bee keepers will once again operate in Applecross. Two seasoned bee keepers from the past attended, and were on hand to give additional advice on the practicalities of bee keeping in Wester Ross. The organisers woudl like to thank Tim Daplyn for leading the session.

DIY Website course

Friday, September 23, 2011

Eleven people from Applecross attended a one day practical hands-on workshop organised by Business Gateway. The course covered basic web building and maintenance skills on a website created by themselves. Local businesses and photographers will certainly benefit from these new skills and will help promote the beauty of Applecross!

A Festival of Trees

Monday, September 12, 2011

To celebrate the tenth anniversary of the North Applecross Woodlands, a tree festival was held at the Applecross campsite on the 10th September. Focusing on ancient forest crafts including charcoal burning, green woodworking, willow weaving, storytelling, shelter building and music, the festival embodied the essence of what a community woodland can be: a beautiful diverse tree-dominated landscape providing a source of enjoyment, creativity and economic activity for local people. Throughout the day between 85 and 120 people visited the stalls and tried their hands at various crafts.

Monique Bervoets taught the basics of hurdle weaving and the creation of woven willow fish was tried by almost everyone who visited the event. Bryce Reynard was a definite hit with the local children who flocked around his stall of birch crafts eager to make caterpaults, whistles, kaazoos, forks and knives. Les Bates was transformed into a storytelling wizard, and inbetween demonstrating charcoal burning, ran three story telling events in a yurt attended by a total of 32 people, the majority of whom were children. Throughout the day Stig MacGregor quietly went about transforming a birch log into a rattle on a pole lathe and was the focus of attention of many budding woodworkers who were amazed by the precision engineering that can be achieved with a treadle-powered lathe operated by a skilled practioner. The North Applecross Woodlands Company gave away native trees for people to plant throuhout the day and provided information on their important work in the north of the peninsula, whilst Lesley Kilbride demonstrated natural dyeing from a cauldron, colouring wool grey (with alder roots), yellow (with birch leaves) and a light red (with madder).

Mid afternoon, Gill Fairweather disappeared to Carnoch hazel woods with a group of local youths to demonstrate shelter building and fire lighting, and enjoyed toasted marshmallows during a heavy downpour. Finally, Henry Fosbrooke and Amy entertained a great number of visitors in the forest instrument tent by showcasing a range of instruments including a giant suspended wooden xylophone and assorted drums. The music tent was another hit with local children, and all who entered were encouraged to play. Those that attended the event left inspired by the many uses of trees.

The organisers would like to thank the Applecross campsite for hosting the event.

Monique Bervoets kindly shared her photos on the following link:

Celebrating Maelrubha

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

In 673 Maelrubha chose Applecross to be the base from which to spread the Christian faith among the Northern Picts. Remote as it seems today, 7th century Applecross was central and strategically important to the sea-faring Celts. Maelrubha’s journeys took him all over the Highlands and islands. During his travels his name took on many different forms: Maree, Malruy, Mury, Malrubius, Mulray. Many sites are associated with his work and some came to be venerated as places of pilgrimage. After 51 years of missionary endeavour Maelrubha died on 21st April 722 and is believed to have been buried close to the Clachan Church at the head of Applecross Bay. The church calendar lists the Feast of St Maelrubha as 21st April. However a strong local tradition places Latha Fheill Ma’ Ruibhe (St Maelrubha’s Day) on 27th August. It is the latter date that was been chosen for local celebrations in Applecross this year.

The day’s celebrations started with 25 people making the three mile pilgrimage from Sand to Clachan on a glorious sunny but windy morning, with the walk providing fine views to Raasay and Skye. Others unable to do the walk (8 people) were treated to a guided walk around Clachan Church and its environs by Gordon Cameron of the Heritage Centre. All present were then treated to a superb BBQ feast at the head of the day prepared by the staff of the Walled Garden. A further guided walk highlighting the places of religious and historical interest took place in the afternoon (32 people attending), with the event rounded off by an ecumenical Songs of Praise service at Clachan Church (35 people attending). Throughout the day tea and coffee was available from a small marquee at the head of the bay with children’s activities including scallop shell painting and a Maerubha themed treasure hunt.

Beechwood Trail Open!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

It has taken three months to complete, but the 750m Beechwood Trail was officially opened on the 27th August by Janet Bowen, Lord Leftenant of Rosshire. The event was led by a piper with 30 people attending.

During the high season especially, dodging vehicles has long been a constant cause of frustration for visitors and locals alike as they navigated around the bay area, with traffic detracting from the views and their enjoyment of a walk. This was especially true of families herding small children and prams.
Although not the only place in need of improved access, the ‘Beechwood Trail’ as it called, is perhaps one of the most significant. It is the first major structural project to be completed under ALPS and links The Street to the bay area, the Walled Garden, Applecross House and the many woodland and river walks in the glen.

With this path completed, the contractor will now focus his efforts on the path around Clachan (450m), and the path line linking the Heritage Centre with the Cruary-Sand path (650m), dispensing with the need for anyone to ever walk on this section of the busy road. The Cruary – Heritage Centre path was started in May, but work is still required to improve its drainage which failed in a few places after the prolonged heavy rain after Easter. The final part of this present contract will be to upgrade the drainage of the frequently flooding Arboretum Trail.

Bryophyte and lichen diversity of Carnoch woodland now available on the web!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The final reports on the bryophtes and lichens of Carnoch woodland are available for downloading from the the downloads section of the homepage. Much of the conservation significance of Carnoch relates to these two groups of plants.

Return of the scythe men to Milton Loch

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Monday evening saw a group of anglers from the local Angling Society entering Milton Loch to begin to cut some of the rushes that are now beginning to dominate this once more open freshwater ecosystem. This is the first time since WWII that vegetation management has been practised on the loch, and similar tools were being used to those of 50 years ago – scythes, saws and sickles. The work conducted comprises part of a management plan to help protect the biodiversity of the loch whilst enhancing its amenity value.

Managing Milton Loch for biodiversity and amenity

Monday, August 8, 2011

A management plan has now been completed for Milton Loch with this document also collating all known information on the biodiversity of this site. The management plan is available for downloading from the downloads section of the homepage.

Bat Watch 2!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

At Milton Pier, another cloudy sunset saw the gathering of eight people (six visitors and two from Applecross) around bat expert Steve Austin for a bat walk. Although the midges should have provided a substantial feast, the pipistrelles expected by the group took a little time before showing up. The group finally heard the first signs of their activity on the road between Milton and Shore Street.

As the group walked past the newly opened Coal Shed and took the Beechwood path, the detectors suddenly showed a burst of activity, translating the ultrasounds of the bats' echolocation system into crackling and spluttering (raspberry sound) bursts. Steve explained that the 'raspberries' actually corresponded to the accelerated emission of ultrasounds the bats used to lock in on their target. By the amount of ultrasonic raspberrie sherad the group could tell that the pipistrelles were well fed!

Flower Feast

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Six visitors and six locals joined Dr. Sam Bridgewater for a wild flower walk at 10am around Milton loch, one of Applecross' best-loved semi-natural features. Approximately 50 species were found in flower (from the ca. 200 known for the site), and although five species of orchid were spotted, unfortunately they were past their best having bloomed synchronously a few weeks previously. In addition to flowering plants, the group spotted a common blue butterfly and a horse leech. Sam provided background to the history of the loch and its past management and discussed proposals under ALPS to manage it for fishing and wildlife.

Keeping the books

Monday, July 11, 2011

Seven people from Applecross joined anther from Lochcarron to attend a one day book keeping workshop organised by the Business Gateway to help support local societies and businesses keep account of their financial transactions. The course was popular and covered the broad principles and procedures in accounting systems, cash fow forecasts, profit and loss statements and statutory returns.

Bat Watch!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The sun was setting behind Raasay around 1015 when six people (two from Applecross and four visitors) joined bat expert Steve Austin for a local bat walk. Initially the weather was a little too windy, cold and wet for bats, so Milton pier was abandoned and the group moved down to Applecross bay in search of bat activity in a more sheltered area. By the sycamores just north of the Applecross Inn the first signs were detected and the three bat detectors flicked to life clicking crazily as they detected a single feeding pipistrelle tracking through the trees. The bat detectors worked by picking up, altering into the range of human hearing and then playing through a loudspeaker, the ultrasonic echolocation calls.

The group then moved to the head of the bay and onto the half-finished beechwood path and saw and detected a number of pipistrelles tracking up and down the line of trees in what appeared to be a figure of eight route. During the evening, our visiting bat expert Steve Austin provided a background to bat behaviour and ecology.

Return of the bardic tradition to Applecross

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The finest collection of Gaelic bards and singers to appear together on the same bill anywhere in the country? That is arguably true of the Applecross Bardic School which started today and will continue until July 1st. With Mňd gold medal-winning singers and conductors and some of the most gifted Gaelic poets of our generation, there will be something for everyone to enjoy as the Venture Trust building hosts a week of workshops, language classes, lectures, nature walks and traditional Scottish meals ... all rounded off with a cracking Friday night cčilidh! 25 people enjoyed the first day's events, with 15 being full-time residential attendees for the week. The Applecross Bardic School will be taking William Ross and his love poems as a theme. The life of this poet was discussed by Aonghas Dubh MacNeacail on Monday morning, and will be interpreted in song by Kenna and Seumas Campbell later in the week. The poet Rody Gorman presented his own work in the afternoon and discussed issues of Gaelic poetry translation. He will be returning tomorrow to lead a creative writing workshops. Later in the week the school will also feature Maoilios Caimbeul, and Pŕdraig MacAoidh speaking about Sorley MacLean, a more recent poet who poured out his heart in dynamic, world-renowned verse, while Kenneth Thomson will discuss how he arranges Sorley’s work for Gaelic choirs a century after Sorley’s birth. Contemporary bard Meg Bateman will be discussing her work on Wednesday. There’ll be Gaelic classes for all levels of ability throughout the week and a unique focus on the Applecross Gaelic dialect on Tuesday. You can book in for the full week at the Venture Trust, with reduced prices for students, senior citizens and children; or you can pick ‘n’ choose which events you want to attend. Of course, with a line-up like this, you wouldn’t want to miss out on anything, would you?!

Eleven species found during Dragonfly Day

Monday, June 13, 2011

Despite (or perhaps because of) the good weather, this was a poorly attended event (two from Applecross/Kyle area), with a further four participants involved for part of the day. This was a shame as a treat was missed. Those who attended on the 11th June saw some of the area's most beautiful, fierce but fragile creatures close at hand. Dragonfly expert Jonathan Willet gave an illustrated talk in the morning on dragonfly ecology and taught those present how to identify the region's species as adults and nymphs. After coffee, with colanders in hand the group went to Milton Loh and then ventured up into the lochans ca. 2 km E of Milton. The technique of 'guddling' was taught and those present had the chance to see 10 species either as flying adults or nymphs including: the Azure Hawker, Common Hawker, Golden-ringed Dragonfly, Common Blue Damselfly, Blue-tailed Damselfly, White-faced Darter, Four-spotted Chaser, Large Red Damselfly, Black Darter and the Common Darter. During the day three new species were added to the 10km x 10km grid square NG74 Odonata list taking it to 12! Thanks to Jonathan and Babs for coming over and sharing their infectious enthusiasm with us.

Work begins on Iron Age Rounhouse construction

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Work has begun on constructing the replica Iron Age roundhouse with five members of the community asissting with the felling of larch trees kindly donated by the Applecross Trust on the 16th March. These will provide the foundations of the basic structure.A design has been finalised for the roundhouse, with groundworks/drainage of the site now complete. Ten people were involved in debarking the timber on the 30th May ready for the laying the foundations posts. The next session of work will be laying the foundation posts. Please contact Elodie ( for further details if you would like to be involved.

Taking the sting out of a wet afternoon

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Saturday the 21st May, and yet another howling day (how many in a row now?), but nevertheless, seven hardy souls ventured to the remote township of Cuaig to learn about the environmental and cultural uses of nettles. The afternoon started with a warming bowl of nettle soup and glass of nettle beer (a highly recommended combination!), before those present were treated to a guided tour of unusual artefacts from around the world made from nettles, including a fishing net and a shawl. Demonstrations were provided on how to dye wool with nettles (green or yellow is obtained depending on the mordant used and the material of the cauldron (iron for green)), and on extracting the fibres from nettle stems to produce rope. In addition, a method of obtaining garden fertilizer from nettles was described. Finally, the value of nettles to wildlife was highlighted, with this maligned plant being an essential fodsource for many animals, including the caterpillars of the small tortoiseshell butterfly. All those present agreed that they would never look at nettles in the same way again. Thanks for Leslie and Tom Kilbride for organising and hosting the event.

Willow weaving workshop with Jane Wilkinson

Friday, May 6, 2011

Twelve people took part in the two day workshop on the 16th and 17th April at Ri-aulaidh Cuaig led by Jane a professional basket maker and wood craft teacher. The weather stayed fine so we were able to work outside with our sticks set into the ground.

The first day we made hazel and willow hurdles that can be used for plant shelters in the garden or be the basis for an internal wattle and daub screen that may be included in the round house being built on the edge of Carnoch wood. The second day willow pea-cone structures were made, some reaching an impressive two and a half metres high which proved to be a challenge to get into a car for the journey home. Luckily only two people had to travel further than Applecross so car boots and windows could be left open.

Everyone had a good time not only learning some of the skills of hazel and willow weaving but enjoying each other’s company and working together. It was good to see four new local potential basket makers ‘hooked’ who had never done any willow work before and along with everyone else achieve such great results under Jane’s expert guidance.

First Aid Training

Monday, May 2, 2011

Last Saturday, ten members of the community attended a one-day 'basics' first aid training. The course was delivered by Donald Beaton, a first aider at work and trainer for St. Andrews Ambulance Association. Although the sun was shining outside, the attendees resisted the temptation to go to the beach and instead followed with great attention Donald's lessons. From the simple bandaging of an injury to cardiopulmonary ressuscitation (CPR), they learnt how to deal with an emergency before the arrival of medical care. The Applecross Inn, the Applecross Campsite, ALPS and local businesses and societies now have nominated employees for first aid.

Exploring Nature’s Larder

Monday, April 25, 2011

Wild food expert Miles Irving visits Applecross

Unfortunately a break in the fine spell of weather, but nevertheless, the lure of learning about spring wildfoods was great enough for 27 people (approximately 1/3 local to Applecross) to join Miles Irving on Easter Friday to forage around the bay.

The event started in the Walled Garden where Miles turned normal gardening philosophy on its head by focusing on the gastronomic possibilities provided by the commonplace weeds (including woundwort) that grow amongst the cultivated species that usually take centreplace in the kitchen. After discussing the relative merits and methods of preparation of such species as ground elder, common nettle, white dead nettle, hogweed and bittercress, the party moved towards the bay grazing on route on lime leaves, watermint, sorrel and brooklime. Close to the spout well Miles discussed the dangers of harvesting and the importance of plant identification by focusing on the deadly poisonous hemlock water dropwort which can look similar to flat leaved parsley. All members of the carrot family should be treated with great caution. On the beach there was significant discussion of the value of seaweeds both as a food (deep fried wrack anyone?) or as a basis of stocks, with scurvy grass, yarrow, sea sandwort and orache (only peeping trough the sand at this time of year) all the focus of animated discussions, with various members of the group also adding their own personal experiences.

The event was extremely successful and everyone left inspired by Miles' infective enthusiasm and love of wildfoods. The organisers of the event would like to thank Miles for sharing his knowledge so generously with us. Due to the popularity of the e vent, we will try and organise a further one later in the season.

Applecross stories

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Applecross stories were aired and shared at the first of three informal sessions at the Community Hall and school in Applecross on the 4th and 5th April. The story-gathering is part of a process assisting the local community to devise appropriate interpretation for the area.

“We came away inspired by how much people who live there care about Applecross,” commented Verity Walker, who is facilitating the project on behalf of ALPS and the local community. “People talked to us about everything from how difficult it is for local youngsters to secure land, or housing or work here to tales of shipwrecked monks, the best walks and places to explore - and even issues surrounding the sustainability of local prawn fishing.”

Natural concerns regarding the erosion of old ways of life were expressed by long-standing residents, while others spoke movingly of the spiritual significance of Applecross to them as newcomers. What quickly became clear was that while no two people may stay in Applecross for exactly the same reason, there is much common ground in terms of people’s appreciation of its unspoiled natural beauty, peace – and a strong feeling of sanctuary, although not necessarily in a religious sense.

Children from the local school spent an hour with the team sharing the important things about Applecross to them. “It was fantastic to hear them describe how they love building dens in the woods,” project associate Stephen Wiseman pointed out. “That’s something so many children elsewhere can no longer experience.” The children sang songs, unprompted, in both Gaelic and English to illustrate stories they told, such as the famous tale of the eagle which stole a baby.

“The story-gathering process is just as much for local people, especially more recent arrivals, as it is for visitors,” Verity said. “It’s about making sure that everyone who visits or who lives here connects with the unique qualities of this community and landscape – and that is just as much about the present as it is about the past.”

Those who missed the story-gathering sessions can still find out a bit more over Easter. Look out for the ‘Applecross – your story’ sheets which will be available from the Potting Shed, the campsite, the Applecross Inn and the Applecross shop/PO between now and the end of April. They’ll tell you a bit more about the project and ask your advice – return it (to wherever you picked it up) and you could win a meal for two at either the Applecross Inn, the Potting Shed or the Flower Tunnel.

Novice dykers pass first certificate

Monday, March 21, 2011

Under the watchful eye of master dyker Dave Goulder from the Dry Stone Walling Association, five dyking apprentices from Applecross took their first steps to mastering this craft as they sat their DSWA initial LANTRA Level 1 exam on Saturday 19th March. 'Sat' is perhaps not the apposite word here, as all candidates spent seven hours of hard graft on their feet, with each rebuilding 2m of wall along a famous stretch of dyke on the approach to Applecross. All candidates passed with ease, and it is hoped that they will continue through their qualifications and help ensure the future of a craft in a landscape that is in part defined by its striking dykes.


Monday, March 14, 2011

Despite it being bitterly cold, eight members of the community joined the archaeologist Cathy Dagg on Saturday 12th March to try an finalise the route of the proposed Archaeological Trail (Timewalk) that will provide new access to many of the hidden and currently inaccessible archaeological gems of Applecross.

The group met in the campsite carpark and after wistfully discussing the old mill at a the model farm, and what a superb project it would be to restore it, set off on the proposed route. The first stop was the impressive broch which has been excavated over the past few years led by the Archaeological Society, and which will shortly be open to the public to enjoy. After passing an old silage and two hebridean barns of national importance but in a poor state of repair, the group departed from an existing track through a plantation, passing by some old scalloped walled fields of considerable antiquity - possibly dating back to the bronze age - which were last used in the 1800s, before pausing at the abandoned Torgarve township. Next stop was an old malting/grain dryer, which was thought to be an ideal location for an archaeological training event, and then two possible roundhouses (further research required) and an intruiging collection of buildings at a side of another plantation close to Langwell Clearance Village. It was thought that this might have been a pig farm related to the township, but again, further investigation is required to clarify what the collection of buildings were used for.

The final stop was Langwell township itself, which once supported a population of 1,000 before all inhabitants were evicted during the Clearances. It was mid afternoon by this time, and although the views were stunning across Applecross Bay, the cold was beginning to be felt by everyone, so it was decided to return to the campsite at this stage.

The event was a success and enjoyed by the hardy souls who ventured out, and plans are being developed to link all of these heritage sites.

Walks leaders required

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Applecross Landscape Partnership Scheme is looking for a number of individuals to take guided walks around the Applecross Bay. A good knowledge of the local area and expertise in one of the following fields is essential:
- natural heritage
-historical heritage

Please contact Sam Bridgewater on 01520 744 482 or email

Deer management and reforestation talk

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The final talk of the winter period was given on February 24th by Peter Duncan of Scottish Natural Heritage. Formerly reserves manager of Creag Meagaidh National Nature Reserve, Peter shared the experiences of deer management at Creag Meagaidh, which is managed primarily to provide access and wildlife benefits. Historically, Creag Meagaidh faced the same management challenges experienced by some regions of the Highlands and the West Coast of Scotland, not least of which is a dwindling level of native forest cover and lack of regeneration due to overgrazing. After reviewing the potential classic options available to them to promote reforestation such as the use of tree tubes (too expensive; too visually intrusive; likely to be blown away) or erecting a deer fence (too expensive; too visually intrusive; high maintenance costs, problems with snow, restricted access issues; problems with bird strikes; difficult to obtain natural woodland development due to the possibility of even aged and single species of tree dominance; hard to maintain a natural ground flora once the fences are removed.) in the mid 1980s they decided instead to drastically reduce deer levels, and have since seen a massive increase in regeneration and associated wildlife spreading from remnant forest patches. He stressed, however, the importance of maintaining and managing a deer population as a degree of grazing is important for promoting natural woodland development.

The Creag Meagaidh experience shows that it is possible to maintain deer populations at a level where their numbers enable forest regeneration, but which also allows for traditional recreational/management pursuits such as stalking to continue, although client-based stalking is clearly more challenging. In essence, Peter provided a location-specific case study where there was a move towards management that attempted to reconcile the management needs of all species and habitats, deer included, with deer-associated livelihoods not necessarily threatened by such an approach. Indeed, he suggested that the health of the reduced, but remaining deer populations at Creag Meagaidh has been significantly strengthened as a result of this management, with more available food for them during the winter enabling them to survive. Despite initially facing huge criticism and opposition from neighbouring estates, as the benefits of this practice have become more apparent, other reserves and estates have introduced a similar management practice including Abernethy and Glen Feshie. Peter made it clear that this solution has worked for Creag Meagaidh and that it is possible to allow natural regeneration of trees and habitat restoration to take place in the presence of deer. Should native woodland development be the main objective of land management, he suggested that the no fence option is worth considering

Applecross Rocks!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Geology weekend (Applecross Rocks!) started with the arrival of Donald Fisher – chartered geologist and geo-ranger with the North West Geopark – who spent the afternoon of the 28th January at Applecross Primary School. The eleven pupils (and two teachers) were introduced to some basic geological concepts (including the ‘Principle of Superposition’!), and examined different kinds of rocks including local sandstone and gneiss, and rocks from the Ullapool area whose form and chemistry have been influenced by an asteroid impact (thought to have been somewhere in the area we now know as the Minch). This caused great excitement. In the evening Donald gave a talk to 19 members of the community. This initially comprised a whirlwind tour of British geology, before the Applecross peninsula was discussed in detail and the main features of interest highlighted. After the talk, all attendees were invited to view aerial photographs through stereo pairs, and all who did so were amazed at the 3D views these optical instruments provided.

The following day 13 people met with Donald for a minibus tour of the geological wonders of Applecross. Highlights of the tour included and examination of the raised beaches of the Lonbain area, outcrops of Lewisian gneiss on the north coast, and deformities of Torridonian sandstone related to the nearby Moine Thrust event. Unfortunately the weather became inclement for the drive over the Bealach and the anticipated views to Skye and the Cuillin Ridge were not revealed. Nevertheless, it was clear to all who attended that the top of the Bealach is potentially an ideal place to interpret some aspects of geology, and there was lively discussion on what form this might take. The need for any interpretation to have a low footprint and be in keeping with this much loved wilderness area was highlighted.

Minibus tour account by Peter Modler

The excursion began at the limestone pavement on the beach at the Milton end of Shore St. This is Karst Limestone, a hard sedimentary rock laid down in the Jurassic period. Rainwater has interestingly made some caves at other sites in Applecross.

We moved to the raised beach area on both sides of the bay caused by rising and falling sea levels and at the council yard we were able to see for the first time the prevailing stone in Applecross – Torridon Sandstone, a very hard sedimentary rock laid down a thousand million years ago.

As we moved around the coast Donald declared that the three raised beaches visible at Lonbain/ Calakille to be ‘world class’. Rapid glacial movement was evident with rounded hummocks filled with glacial till. Looking over at Rona the rocks there are all Lewisian Gneiss (three thousand million years old), but are on the same level as the Torridon Sandstone (a thousand million years old), on which we stood. This difference can be explained by a fault line between the two sites, which was then exploited by glaciers gouging out the deep channel between them. Lochans running parallel with the direction of glacial flow are typical of ‘rock glacial landscape’ of North West Scotland.

Rocks rounded by glaciers running north and west were seen at Fernbeg and at Arrina we had our first close up of the oldest rocks on the planet, Lewisian Gneiss. Dykes of crystalline quartz (highly irregular in shape), were visible in the Lewisian Gneiss at the steep brae. These dykes are igneous intrusions ie. Magma fissures, where some of the Lewisian Gneiss is turned under pressure into feldspar, quartz and hornblend.

Approaching Tornapress from Shieldaig we saw world class geological features, peaks made of Torridon Sandstone where severe glaciation has resulted in corrie formation.

At Rassal we saw limestone which was part of the Moine Thrust, this is a fault running from Durness to southern Skye, where older rocks are folded over younger ones. The discovery of this phenomenon at the end of the nineteenth century revolutionised geology.

Crossing the bridge over the river Kishorn we came upon a superb site – the exposed rock face showing obvious signs of repeated rock sedimentation and erosion.

Ascending the Bealach and approaching Loch Coire nan Arr Donald pointed out fantastic glacial scenery, huge rocks (glacial erratics), which were deposited after the last Ice Age. Further up the Bealach we stopped to examine scree slopes on the right of the road, formed by rock breaking off due to constant freezing and thawing. Screes are very unstable and can only exist below a rock face, making life difficult for road maintenance.

Finally, at the car park we had an overall view of glacial activity; Donald concluded that in his opinion we had an unbelievable asset in our midst with various sights as good as anywhere in the world. How we should display them or feature them was a matter for further discussion – possibly a trail led by an enthusiast? Or perhaps display boards at the Heritage Centre or inside the renovated Hebridean barn?

Discovering the Diversity of Carnoch's Carpet

Monday, January 24, 2011

Two moss specialists from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh visited Applecross on the 21st and 22nd January to help the community discover the incredible bryophyte diversity of Carnoch hazelwoods. Over 85 species were identified during the visit. Scotland is renowned for its luxuriant moss flora, and Carnoch woodland was found to have a typical and very healthy lowerplant flora for a mature hazelwood in this location and on such a boulder-rich substrate.

During the course of their visit, the two experts taught eleven local children the skills they needed to become plant collectors, with pupils of the Primary School making their own moss reference collection and inventing common names for the many types of moss they found. This event was followed the next day by a community moss walk where eleven adults were taught the basics of moss biology and how to identify a few of the most distinctive and abundant species. The event was completed in the Applecross Inn with lunch, a pint and a session getting close to mosses using microscopes. The organisers of the event would like to thank Liz Kungu and David Chamberlain of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh for sharing their expertise with us.

Bronze Age Apprentices

Monday, January 17, 2011

Another howling weekend, but the driving rain didn't dampen the enthusiasm of all those who attended the weekend Bronze Age craft techniques course held in the Community Hall on the 15th and 16th January. The course was run by the renowned Ullapool-based thatcher Brian Wilson. The event was planned as a precursor to a community-led project to construct an Iron/Bronze age hut on the edge of Carnoch hazelwood which will form a venue for environmental, archaeological and craft educational events.

31 people attended on the Saturday, with 22 returning on the Sunday. Several participants came from the East Coast after seeing publicity for the course in the West Highland Free Press. Day one introduced the type of roundhouse structures known to have been built in the Bronze/Iron Age, and the community was asked to consider the size, form and purpose of the structure they wanted to create. After a visit to the proposed site and the hazelwoods after lunch, the day concluded with a consideration of dyking techniques. The following day focused primarily on thatching with the particpants given a tour of the various materials that have historically been used for this purpose in Scotland. The course was a great success and the organisers wish to thank all those that supported and attended the event, and Brian Wilson for sharing his knowledge with us. The community now understands the considerable challenges it faces before its goal of creating a roundhouse can be attained, but everyone in attendance was of the opinion that it was an exciting, feasible and very worthwhile venture to pursue, and are looking forward to starting the work later this year.

Local support for smoothies, lungworts & Old man's Beard!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Despite a cold and damp January afternoon, 13 adults attended the community lichen afternoon in Carnoch Woods. The two lichen experts Andy Acton and Anna Griffith provided a guided tour through the woods highlighting some of the most conspicuous lichens and those of particular conservation interest. The group were subsequently joined by 11 children and teachers from the Applecross Primary School for an hour. There was lively discussion on the management options for Carnoch Woods, and how its conservation interest can be maintained whilst enhancing its cultural value, with a group of craft enthusiasts keen that the woods are valued as much for the array of socially useful products they can supply as for the pants they protect. Andy and Anna provided guidance on how the health of the lichen flora can be monitored by the community. The children enjoyed seeing, feeling and smelling different kinds of lichens, using a magnifying glass to view wildlife and attempting to find hazel trees their own age.

Work begins on Smiddy Wood

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

After a successful SRDP application, between Christmas and New Year 2010 Scottish Woodlands began grinding the old stumps and brash of the seven hectares of felled coniferous plantation area of Smiddy Wood. This work will provide the foundation for the subsequent seeding of a grass parkland, the development of a small-scale 'food forest' and the planting of new areas of native woodland. Once the grinding of stumps is complete, the next phase of the work will be to construct a deer fence around the area. Is anticipated that this phase work will be complete by Easter 2011.

New contract awarded

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

We are delighted to announce that after a very competitive tender process, George Mundell was awarded the contract to construct the three new paths planned for the Applecross bay area, and the repair of the existing arborteum path. Work will begin in Easter 2011 and should be complete by mid summer.

New ALPS website launched

Thursday, December 16, 2010

We are very pleased to launch our new website.

New contracts awarded

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

We are delighted to announce that after a procurement process generating significant interest, the Community Interpretive Planning Project contract was awarded by the Management Group to Interpretaction (Black Isle), website design and maintenance to Ronan Martin Associates (Skye), and Evaluation and Monitoring to Rowan Tree Ltd (Inverness). We look forward to working with these orgajnisations over the coming months. Thank you to all those who an expressed an interest in the work.

Dyking training course announced

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A five-day introductory training course on drystane dyking is now confirmed between the 20th and 26th of January. Please see 'Training' for further details.

Fund raising target for Clachan Church reached

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Thanks to a grant of Ł52,000 from LEADER which was announced today, and financial support from the Applecross Trust, fund raising for Clachan church is now complete. These grants will enable work to start on Clachan Church in the New Year, restoring this historic building and improving its facilities so that it can be used and enjoyed by all the local community.

Broch presentation and path building. The final stage!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

After a long and very productive season of excavation, work has begun on the final presentation phase of the Applecross broch. Path building work has started with Innes Hutton (Skye) undertaking the path work, with presentation guided by the conservation archaeologist Martin Wildgoose (Skye) and the Archaeological Society. Weather permitting, work on both aspects should be complete by Christmas 2010.

January events finalised

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A range of evening events, weekend workshops and talks have been finalised for January 2011. These include moss and lichen education days in Carnoch woods, a weekend training course on Bronze Age construction techniques and a geological fieldtrip. Please see 'What's On' for further details.

Heritage Curator in post

Monday, November 29, 2010

We are delighted to announce that Gordon Cameron will be taking up his three-year post of Heritage Curator in the Heritage Centre from today. Gordon will be assisting the Historical Society to modernise the services of the Heritage Centre, and will be leading many of the Partnership projects relating to cultural heritage.

Newsletter launched

Monday, November 1, 2010

The first edition of the ALPS newsletter was launched today. Published quarterly, this local magazine will keep the community informed about what is happening under ALPS, as well as including articles of local natural and cultural interest.
Ag adhartachadh dualchas
beairteach, fiadh-bheatha & cultar
Taobh Siar na Gŕidhealtachd

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