Font Size

Layout

Menu Style

Cpanel

Welcome to the Scottish Community Land Network

This site is for people interested in the management and ownership of land-based assets by communities in Scotland. A Scottish Community Land Network, you might say... As you know the internet is a big 'place' with everything about anything so we brought you relevant news and events, and provide opportunities to share ideas with other people interested in this subject. There are almost 1000 members, and more than 800 articles in our archive.

 

Scottish Community Land Network will not be kept up-to-date after March 2012. However, a new site is being produced by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, and details will be published on this site as soon as they are available.

The most recent articles are available on the home page - previous articles are in their relevant topic areas (browse the 'Topics' menu on the left).

Assynt - magic carpets, deer and puppies?

User Rating:  / 1
PoorBest 

A day spent climbing Ben More Assynt probably isn’t good preparation for interviewing community land groups.  So it was just as well that Mark Lazzeri from the Assynt Foundation had a bouncing dog to leap on me every time the sunburn and tired legs started to get the better of me.  To add to the entertainment, generic viagra decease the power had gone off in most of North West Scotland, check so a stream of interruptions kept me alert as the options for powering Glencanisp lodge were debated.

 

Glencanisp lodgeAssynt is probably one of the names that immediately spring to mind when community buy-outs are mentioned.  The Assynt Crofters were the very first community buy-out, successfully purchasing their estate in 1993.  More recently, the Assynt Foundation took control of the Glencanisp and Drumrunie estates, which included the rather run-down Glencanisp lodge.  Since 2005 the Foundation has been working to restore the lodge, despite the original and somewhat over-ambitious wish list for renovation works coming in at an estimate of £5 million.

In-between peeling the bouncing dog off the ceiling and starting a search for gas lamps, Mark explained the reaction to such a high cost:

“The trouble with grant applications is that it’s often the same form whether you’re applying for a tenner or a million quid.  So there’s a tendency to think that you may as well make it worth your while and go all out, looking for funding for everything in one go.  The original estimate for the lodge renovation was based on restoring it to perfection and we had to take a step back and work out what we really needed.  So far, the works have cost £1.3million and that’s including the woodchip boiler, solar panels and a new deer larder.”

woodchip boiler systemIt was clear that Mark was a practical, out-of-doors kind of guy, and I wondered how that fitted with undertaking a restoration project that included more interior decoration than a Changing Rooms Christmas special.

“The original bid didn’t include a cost for a clerk of works, so I ended up doing a lot of that job whilst the building work was going on.  That meant I had to get up to speed on building restoration pretty quickly.  I certainly know a lot more about Wilton carpets now than is really healthy for a man of my age!”

Along with some questionable carpet knowledge, Mark also felt he’d developed an unhealthy obsession with the bill of quantities for the project.  “You need to go through it with a fine toothcomb at the outset, because if something is missed out and the works are delayed as a consequence, that’ll be your problem, not the contractors.”

The lodge restoration work is mostly completed now, and there were paying guests enjoying supper by candlelight whilst we were there.  The Foundation still has to work out exactly how it’ll manage the lodge as a business – how involved do they get in setting up individual courses and retreats, or do they pass that onto other businesses?  If they want to help local businesses develop they’ll need to take a fairly hands off approach, but still do what they can with the resources they have available.  Getting too involved in the fine detail of paying guests takes a lot of time and there’s a lot more that the Foundation wants to achieve.

As a manager of 18,000 hectares of land in the North-West Highlands, inevitably much of the Foundation’s work focuses around stalking on the estate – in order to shoot deer either with a rifle or through a camera lens.  Photo-stalking is the more vegetarian-friendly version, as featured on Nick Crane’s recent TV programme.  Processing the outputs of photo stalking takes little more than a press of a button on a keyboard, but processing the outputs of deer stalking is altogether more complex.  Butchering a deer is a skilled but messy business, but makes a dramatic difference to the price per kilo that the estate can expect to receive.  And, as Mark pointed out, it’s an important part of the food chain, which people need to be in touch with to understand where their food comes from and how it’s produced.  One of the ideas the Foundation is also considering is the establishment a community cattle herd as well, so that local people have more of an opportunity to reconnect with their food supply.

Northwest Scotland's iconic landscapeIt’s an idea that seems to make sense – people are becoming increasingly conscious of the journey their food’s taken to get to the plate, but not everyone’s able to develop their own small scale farming operation.  And if community land projects can help to reconnect people with the land, that’s surely all to the good?  If community land management can be educational, as well as make financial sense, the long term achievements will be far greater.  Although there will be a challenge in getting recognition for this kind of ‘outcome’ when considering the value of community ownership, particularly when looking at the bottom line.  We’ve all heard about the importance of the ‘triple bottom line’, but in economically straitened times it is often the social and environmental benefits that get left out of the equation.

But in the meantime, I needed to undertake some animal management of my own – my own dog Oscar had decided it was time to introduce himself to Lurach the bouncing dog. A beautiful friendship was clearly about to develop, aided by the flickering candlelight from the lodge and the stunning location.  Without some quick action on my part, the Foundation would soon be developing a community puppy herd rather than anything else.

 

 

 

Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4

Assynt foundation

 

A day spent climbing Ben Moore Assynt probably isn’t good preparation for interviewing community land groups. So it was just as well that Mark Lazzeri from the Assynt Foundation had a bouncing dog to leap on me every time the sunburn and tired legs started to get the better of me. To add to the entertainment, the power had gone off in most of North West Scotland, so a stream of interruptions kept me alert as the options for powering Glencanisp lodge were debated.

 

Assynt is probably one of the names that immediately spring to mind when community buy-outs are mentioned. The Assynt Crofters were the very first community buy-out, successfully purchasing their estate in 1993. More recently, the Assynt Foundation took control of the Glencanisp and Drumrunie estates, which included the rather run-down Glencanisp lodge. Since 2005 the Foundation has been working to restore the lodge, despite the original and somewhat over-ambitious wish list for renovation works coming in at an estimate of £5 million.

 

In-between peeling the bouncing dog off the ceiling and starting a search for gas lamps, Mark explained the reaction to such a high cost:

 

“The trouble with grant applications is that it’s often the same form whether you’re applying for a tenner or a million quid. So there’s a tendency to think that you may as well make it worth your while and go all out, looking for funding for everything in one go. The original estimate for the lodge renovation was based on restoring it to perfection and we had to take a step back and work out what we really needed. So far, the works have cost £1.3million and that’s including the woodchip boiler, solar panels and a new deer larder.”

 

It was clear that Mark was a practical, out-of-doors kind of guy, and I wondered how that fitted with undertaking a restoration project that included more interior decoration than a Changing Rooms Christmas special.

 

“The original bid didn’t include a cost for a clerk of works, so I ended up doing a lot of that job whilst the building work was going on. That meant I had to get up to speed on building restoration pretty quickly. I certainly know a lot more about Wilton carpets now than is really healthy for a man of my age!”

 

Along with some questionable carpet knowledge, Mark also felt he’d developed an unhealthy obsession with the bill of quantities for the project. “You need to go through it with a fine toothcomb at the outset, because if something is missed out and the works are delayed as a consequence, that’ll be your problem, not the contractors.”

 

The lodge restoration work is mostly completed now, and there were paying guests enjoying supper by candlelight whilst we were there. The Foundation still has to work out exactly how it’ll manage the lodge as a business – how involved do they get in setting up individual courses and retreats, or do they pass that onto other businesses? If they want to help local businesses develop they’ll need to take a fairly hands off approach, but still do what they can with the resources they have available. Getting too involved in the fine detail of paying guests takes a lot of time and there’s a lot more that the Foundation wants to achieve.

 

As a manager of 18,000 hectares of land in the North-West Highlands, inevitably much of the Foundation’s work focuses around stalking on the estate – in order to shoot deer either with a rifle or through a camera lens. Photo-stalking is the more vegetarian-friendly version, as featured on Nick Crane’s recent TV programme. Processing the outputs of photo stalking takes little more than a press of a button on a keyboard, but processing the outputs of deer stalking is altogether more complex. Butchering a deer is a skilled but messy business, but makes a dramatic difference to the price per kilo that the estate can expect to receive. And, as Mark pointed out, it’s an important part of the food chain, which people need to be in touch with to understand where their food comes from and how it’s produced. One of the ideas the Foundation is also considering is the establishment a community cattle herd as well, so that local people have more of an opportunity to reconnect with their food supply.

 

It’s an idea that seems to make sense – people are becoming increasingly conscious of the journey their food’s taken to get to the plate, but not everyone’s able to develop their own small scale farming operation. And if community land projects can help to reconnect people with the land, that’s surely all to the good? If community land management can be educational, as well as make financial sense, the long term achievements will be far greater. Although there will be a challenge in getting recognition for this kind of ‘outcome’ when considering the value of community ownership, particularly when looking at the bottom line. We’ve all heard about the importance of the ‘triple bottom line’, but in economically straitened times it is often the social and environmental benefits that get left out of the equation.

 

But in the meantime, I needed to undertake some animal management of my own – my own dog Oscar had decided it was time to introduce himself to Lurach the bouncing dog. A beautiful friendship was clearly about to develop, aided by the flickering candlelight from the lodge and the stunning location. Without some quick action on my part, the Foundation would soon be developing a community puppy herd rather than anything else.

 

 

You are here: Home Content Community case studies Assynt - magic carpets, deer and puppies?
sitemap