Category Archives: Community Announcements

Tiree Trust February News Bites

Apologies, as it has been a while since we have updated our news-bites via An Tirisdeach.

Please see below some snippets of what’s been happening over the last month. More detailed information can be found on our website.

• Lochshell Engineering (based in Wick) has been appointed to undertake the repair works at Scarinish Harbour and an agreement with Argyll Estate to gift the Harbour over to the community is at an advanced stage. A grant has been secured from Marine Scotland and work is due to commence in late February/early March.

• Funding has been awarded from the Scottish Land Fund to cover the costs associated with the Trust taking ownership of the Hynish Buildings from The Hebridean Trust. This includes funding for a 2-year development officer post. This is currently being developed and more information about the post will be announced in due course. The legal process is lengthy, and we are still not at the point of taking on the buildings quite yet.

• We have recently funded a variety of training courses on the island, including ‘health and safety at work’, ‘food hygiene’ and ‘personal license’ which over 25 members of the community have benefitted from.

• We are pleased to welcome Youth Worker Willie MacKinnon back to the office, following a short period of absence due to a leg injury. Willie will be conducting desk duties for the next month or so, we are delighted to report that he is slowly but steadily on the mend!

• You may have noticed that Tilley has not been turning over the last month. This is due to a generator fault and we are working with manufacturers to try and resolve this as part of our maintenance contract.

• The Tiree Ranger Service Guided Walk Programme for 2018 is now available online at: www.isleoftiree.com

We’ve got three new routes for you to enjoy this year, and the programme will commence in April (rather than June as has previously been the case).

• Argyll and the Isles Tourism Cooperative held a Mini Tourism Summit at the end of the month which was attended by various people involved in the tourism industry.

Scarinish Harbour Set for Emergency Repairs

Tiree Trust is pleased to report that following successful discussions with Marine Scotland we have secured emergency funds to make repairs to Scarinish Harbour. The Harbours’ Steering Group has been working with the Trust for the past 2 years to plan improvements for both Scarinish and Milton Harbours and the Trust is now seeking funds to deliver on those plans.

Marine Scotland has approved a grant of up to £200,000 for urgent repairs at Scarinish Harbour but the work must be completed by 31st March 2018. Discussions have already started with a specialist contractor capable of undertaking the work, which includes pressure grouting the end of the pier to stabilise the structure.

A funding package for Milton, which requires a larger investment of around £1.2m, has not yet been secured but discussions are ongoing with HIE and the European Maritime Fisheries Fund to secure the required funds.

Tiree Flag

The long process to create a community flag for Tiree is finally bearing fruit.

Following Barra,whose new flag, a white Nordic cross on a green background, was given the official seal of approval last year, the Tiree flag competition is now in sight. The competition itself, run by Tiree Community Council, opens at the start of April and will last one month. But there’s no harm starting to think about it now.

A similar contest two years ago in Caithness attracted over three hundred entries from as far afield as Australia and Brazil, and there is no reason why Tiree would not attract more. Young and old are all encouraged to enter. Ideas for a flag can be as simple as a scribble on a piece of paper – it’s the idea behind the scribble that is important. Designs can also be submitted fully drawn or in digital form.

Philip Tibbets from the Flag Institute will be holding workshops on the island at the end of February to show budding designers what they need to do. But designing a flag is harder than it looks! The design needs to be inspired by something fundamental to the island: its colours, its shapes, its thatched houses, its history of emigration, its music or its birdlife. The design also needs to be simple, only two or three colours are recommended, and with no lettering or crests.

Cutting the entries down to six finalists will be done on Monday 4 June, by a panel consisting of the Lord Lyon, Philip Tibbetts, Dr John Holliday, Ian Gillies, Rosemary Omand, Lachie Brown, Iain MacKinnon and Donna MacLean. The public vote will be focused at the Agricultural Show on 20 July, and in the week that follows. Formal approval then comes from the Lord Lyon, the ultimate authority on all things to do with Scottish flags.

Start looking at the Tiree landscape in a new way over the next few weeks and think what elements might make a winning design. It could be yours!

A seasonal ‘Thank You!’ from Tiree Ranger Service

As 2017 draws to a close, I would like to extend sincere thanks to the following members of our community:

William Welstead very kindly auctioned his compete collection of “Birds of the Western Palearctic” to raise funds for Tiree Ranger Service. These beautiful books are now in the hands of a professional marine surveyor – so they should be put to fine use! This was an incredibly generous gift, and I look forward to finding an exciting project for the resulting funds in 2018. Thank you, Bill.

Earlier in 2017, William Welstead also donated a second telescope to Tiree Ranger Service, for use during my guided walks and events. This second piece of equipment was extremely helpful during a recent visit from the North Argyll Carers Association; all of whom were keen to learn more about Tiree’s bird life, and to see as many of Loch a’ Phuill’s denizens as possible.

Dr John Holliday has been a generous donor of his time (for both our Welcome Evenings and our Hiking through History walks), plus two additional pairs of binoculars. As with Bill’s equipment, these extra sets came in very handy with larger groups; helping each guest to get maximum enjoyment from their experience.

John Bottomley gifted a generous amount to Nàdair Thiriodh with his membership subscription. These funds will be pooled with the book proceeds, and they were gratefully received.

Many local residents have donated their time and energy to support access work (such as the overhaul that has been completed at Balevullin carpark), and to assist with the delivery of Tiree’s Great Yellow Bumblebee Project.

I am delighted to tell you that our Nàdair Thiriodh website now boasts a brand-new project page, and a sumptuously illustrated project brochure. Many thanks to Janet Bowler, Colin Woodcock and Fiona Dix for their outstanding work here.

Finally, I would like to thank the photographers that have kindly waived charges for the use of their images. It would be infinitely harder to attract interest and support for our work without these exceptional pictures: They act to inspire our audience by demonstrating why Tiree is so deserving of protection. Image donors include: Fiona Armstrong, John Bowler, Tony Davison, Christine Hall, Ian Morrison, Steve Nagy, Malcolm Steel, Colin Woodcock and Richard Whitson.

This ‘Thank You’ has been taken from the Nadair Thiriodh blog which can be accessed by becoming a member of Nadair Thiriodh, please go to www.friendsoftiree.org.uk for more information.

Community Bulb Planting

As you may remember from previous An Tirisdeach editions, Tiree was very kindly gifted a selection of planting tulips earlier this year, from a Aad van Ruiten, a bulb expert based in Holland who had links to Tiree through Dr Robert Nisbet.

Mr van Ruiten explained in his letter that he planned to visit Tiree in 2018 having been fascinated by the bulb project (The Hebridean Bulb Growers Ltd.) that took place on Tiree throughout the late 1950s. Along with the letter, Mr van Ruiten had enclosed over 100 tulip bulbs which he had suggested could be planted somewhere on the island as a homage to the project.

Last Saturday a small group got together and planted the bulbs within the grounds of the Business Centre, located in Crossapol. There are two patches just at the entrance to the grounds which will hopefully come into bloom in Spring time.

Well done to all involved, let’s hope they make for a nice display for Mr van Ruiten’s visit next year.

Tiree Ranger Service News

Sun, Sea and… Soil?

I would like to extend my warmest thanks to the community members who volunteered their time, tools and energy to overhaul the Balevullin parking area. The work was completed on a beautifully bright day, with an abundance of biscuits and good humour. The erosion pits have been filled and levelled, and the rope boundary has been moved inward from the steeply sloping section. A number of vehicles rolled down onto the beach this year. Fortunately, no one was injured (and how grateful we are for that) but this is obviously extremely dangerous. For safety reasons, the parking area has been re-marked to reduce the risk of this happening again. The posts to be extracted had the hallmark of Steve Nagy quality; whereby, like icebergs, only 10% is visible at the surface (the other 90% being set in dry cement, and practically scraping Australia). Rob Trythall reigned champion as the fastest post-digger in the west; setting most of our new boundary within the hour. John Bowler then had the opportunity to re-visit his trusty Cub Scout knot, and is likely still fiddling with it as we speak. I’m not 100% clear on whether the ‘rabbit’ goes up the tree or into the pond: Suspect John isn’t either… A huge ‘Thank You’ is also due to Lachie Brown, who very kindly transported the soil into the parking area for us – cutting down some serious wheelbarrow miles. Lachie’s help made an enormous difference to the logistics of completing this job, and allowed us to finish the task in one sitting. As the repairs establish themselves, can I ask that users avoid driving over them where possible. For the winter period, the space on the opposite side of the graveled track within the parking area should be sufficient for most occasions. With kind wishes and thanks again to all those who gave up their time; I am extremely grateful.

Tiree Access Forum

The Tiree Access Forum is made up of individuals from a range of different organisations and backgrounds. Those represented currently include: Argyll & Bute Council, Argyll Estates, Discover Tiree, island business owners, RSPB, SNH, TCDT, TRD, Tiree Ranger Service and local watersports operators/participants.

To ensure that the access forum remains representative of our community (and the cross-section of different viewpoints and interests within it) I would like to reiterate that this group is open to all. Please contact me on: ranger{@}tireetrust.org.uk if:

• You can attend our meetings reasonably regularly

• You are interested in access issues on Tiree

• You would like to find out more about how these issues are discussed

• You would like to share your own thoughts and ideas

• You would like to help steer access outcomes

We meet once a month; normally on a Thursday evening, between 19:30 and 21:30. If you cannot commit to regular meetings, I am happy to discuss access queries by email, telephone (074) or in person. I can then raise these matters for discussion at the next session. Remember: we cannot discuss concerns that aren’t raised. There are also many different viewpoints, interests and considerations to balance between different agencies and users.

With thanks and warm wishes to all, Stephanie.

Tiree Community Council

At our November meeting, we welcomed Jamie McGrigor, one of our new Argyll and Bute councillors. We talked about the cuts that the Council were threatening to make. Sir James said that the Council would not know the exact figure until early December, but the situation was unlikely to be as bad as recent newspaper headlines had suggested. There were unlikely to be any compulsory redundancies. We made the point that Tiree had had more than its fair share of cuts recently, and that we were not going to accept any further ones.

There have been rumours about the Council closing many of its public toilets; toilets are something that Councils do not legally have to provide. We had previously registered an interest in investigating taking the Scarinish toilets into community ownership. We needed to see the fine print, however, in particular whether there would be any funds to renovate them and keep them serviced. We also need to find an organisation on the island that would be happy to run them.

We had been sent a letter from someone concerned that police cover had not been sufficient while our regular policeman was away. We had been very concerned by the description of the incident and had contacted senior police management. We had been impressed that we had been put through straightaway to speak to the Divisional Chief Superintendent. She and her deputy have arranged to come to the island at the beginning of December to discuss the incidents with the Community Council in person.

We have been concerned with the length of time taken by the opening of the new public library. We contacted the organisation that now runs libraries, LiveArgyll. The manager of the service apologised for the delay, telling us that he had been unable to authorise the painting and new shelving for the Old Police Station until the school had reported that they were satisfied with their own move into the room that had housed the school library. Pat McCann, the Business Operations Manager told us that he “was confident that we can have the library operational by the end of [October].”

We have been nagging the Council for twelve months to replace the rusted railings at the War Memorial in Scarinish. After ignoring repeated requests from us, we have now got a reply from a Council officer, who told us he had been let down by a contractor, but that the Council was now going to use its own staff.

There have been a number of further requests to reinstate the recycling and rubbish bins outside the dump, for those occasions when the dump is closed. The bins were removed after asbestos and other unsuitable items were stuffed into them earlier in the year. We still want to talk to the Council officials involved, and Jamie promised that he would put us in touch.

We talked again about the sale of land at Pier View to MacLeod Construction, rather than to the community groups that had put in offers. We had written to HIE, and their Argyll manager had promised to visit the island so that we could put our points in person.

A number of people had contacted us telling us how disappointed they had been in the recent visit by Brendan O’Hara, our MP. His mailing arrived the day before his arrival, and his surgery had only been scheduled to last one hour. We have written to Mr O’Hara, but so far have not received a reply.

We have been trying to get to the bottom of why Loganair is not able to schedule the larger SAAB aircraft if the number of passengers is too high for the Twin Otter. This is still work in progress.

We agreed to appoint a (non-voting) Advisory Member to boost our numbers.

Dr John Holliday, Ian Gillies, Jessie Gray and John MacCaskill were present. Rosemary Omand and Aisling Milne sent their apologies.

If you want to raise any points with us, please get in touch at doc.holliday@tireecommunitycouncil.co.uk

Kirkapol Dig Success

As the last turf was replaced, the team involved in the excavation of Cnoc an Fhoimheir ‘the hillock of the giant’ could reflect on two successful weeks. Dr Colleen Batey from the University of Glasgow came to the site and agreed that there was no sign of a Viking boat burial. The last few days could then be focussed on exploring the cist itself in painstaking detail.

The stone chamber was beautifully constructed using four massive and unusual slabs of stone. As several people remarked, these slabs must have taken some finding amongst the boulders of Tiree gneiss, showing how much effort had gone into making this monument. Removing the sand a trowelful at a time, the archaeologists discovered more bones and a flint thumbnail scraper. We found that the capstone, as it was lying, was not aligned with the structure of the cist. In addition, one of the smaller stones blocking the side of the cist looked very much like a piece of pink granite from the Ross of Mull. This would have come from the Skerryvore workshops in Hynish some time after 1838.

A team on the island, lead by Myra MacArthur, has now started the laborious process of wet sieving the sand found inside the cist, finding fragments of pottery, charcoal, a cowrie shell and fragments of modern slate! All of this suggests that the grave has been opened several times in the last four thousand years, sometimes through the side, but at least once by taking off the capstone – not an easy task without modern machinery!

Two other trenches were opened nearby after magnetic tests suggested structures. In these, we found more pottery and flint tools, as well as buried plough marks from fields lost under the sand. The land we have called Lodge Farm since Lady Victoria Campbell lived next door in The Lodge, near a stream and a medieval mill site as it is, has been home to people for thousands of years.

The response from the island has been fantastic, with around twenty volunteers digging, scraping, cleaning and holding survey poles, and over fifty visitors coming to inspect the dig. Almost all the pupils at the school were given a tour of the site.Several cakeswere donated; they did not last long.The weather, you could say,was “mixed”: a mixture of breeze, gales, soaking showers and wind. The sun did shine one day.

At this early stage, Cnoc an Fhoimheir looks to be a grave dating from the Bronze Age, around four thousand years ago. The bones appear to be fromoneman, presumably one of high status. An analysis of the bones, flints, pottery, and charcoal by experts in Glasgow will give us a lot more information. Carbon dating and isotope analysis will tell us the exact date of the bones, as well as information about where he grew up. This will all be included in the full report, due to come out early next year.

The last day was spent returning all the soil into the holes we had dug days earlier. Apparently, this endless cycle of earth moving is what archaeologists do. The cist itself has been covered over and temporarily turfed. Our aim is to restore the bones carefully back in the grave in a few months time, and then replace the capstone. Forme, as a first-time digger, opening this grave and finding a man’s skeleton was a powerful moment, and I feel I want to respectfully put it all back together again. There is always a debate about the merits of leaving monuments like this alone to sleep their historical sleep. I feel that, in this case, it was important to try to understand something about some of the earliest peoples that settled on Tiree. There has been a lot of interest around the island and beyond, and I have already been asked by some of the volunteers to set up a group to organise the next dig!

We are grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund for the major grant that made this possible, and the additional funding from the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and the Windfall Fund.

Dr Darko Maricevic from the University of Bournemouth makes the final archaeological visit of the year in October. He would like to continue his earlier work using geophysics on more of the island’s lumps and bumps

.Centimetre by centimetre,we are starting to discover more about the past of our ‘secret island’.

Dr. John Holliday

Tiree Ranger Service – Autumn Access Update

As we enjoy a slight lull before the competitive watersports season begins, I would like to update you all on some of our ongoing access issues:

At the beginning of this year, I informed you of our aspirations to provide a new, permanent and sustainable parking area for Crossapol Beach. This is still very much our goal. However, progress with our intended project partners has been somewhat glacial.

With support from SNH we are now working to a spring 2018 delivery. Delays such as this are extremely frustrating: Pushing this project has taken up a considerable amount of my time. Nonetheless, with the extra room for planning, we are making progress towards an improved final result. I would like to thank all of the guests, local residents and local business operators who have respected the temporary arrangement at Crossapol. Your cooperation and consideration has been greatly valued and appreciated during this tricky period – there have been no issues to speak of.

At Balephuil, access to Balephuil Bay is shifting. Following a change in apportionment, the current, badly degraded access track will no longer be in use. Recreational access to the beach will follow a new fence line to a fenced parking area. This change has been implemented by graziers through the proper and necessary channels. The beach will still be fully accessible for larger events by prior arrangement. On behalf of the Ranger Service and AccessGroup, I would like to thank the graziers for maintaining and improving access to this site at considerable trouble and expense.

At Balevullin Bay, repair work on the erosion damage commenced at the start of the season – my sincere thanks to those who assisted with this task. This autumn, we plan to continue the patch-repair of the erosion damage in the parking area; in addition to moving the rope boundary back to reduce the likelihood of vehicle rolling. New signage concerning the use of handbrakes will also be installed to this end.

I think it’s fair to say that there was a little controversy last month, with regard to the Croft Camping scheme, my role in managing it and the role of Tiree Ranger Service generally. My job is shaped by the community: I work to directives provided by the residents of Tiree, in addition to some core requirements from SNH. The Ranger Service post is fully transparent. Details of our aims and activities are available to view in the Tiree Ranger Service Development Plan – downloadable from the TDCT website. By joining community boards and committees, those with ideas for the improvement of Tiree Ranger Service and/or the Croft Camping Scheme have the power to influence the direction and remit of this post.

At present my duties include the management of Freedom Camping. I would like to remind those with strong views on the ranger post and what it achieves that I am available to discuss my work by appointment. Indeed, I welcome feedback and fresh insight.

As a professional, I extend courtesy to every person that I deal with; regardless of whether our views are aligned or not. I expect to be treated with the same level of courtesy as I dispense my duties on Tiree.

Stephanie Cope, Tiree Ranger Service

Tiree Community Council Meetings

Following a very short summer recess, the Tiree Community Council Meetings will resume as of September.

The first one will take place on Wednesday the 6th of September, following on from the usual pattern as the first Wednesday of the month. The start time is 7:30pm in An Talla and all are welcome. The agenda for the meeting is detailed below. Please also note the  Tiree Community Council took the decision earlier in the year to remove AOCB from the meeting agenda, this however doesn’t mean they don’t want to hear from you and would encourage all members of the community to let them know about any issues of concern. You can do so in a number of ways, email, written letter or having a chat with a community councillor. Please visit www.tireecommunitycouncil.co.uk for more information

MEETING ON WEDNESDAY 6th September 2017 7.30pm @ An Talla ALL MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC WELCOME

1. Welcome and Apologies

2. Correspondence

3. Minutes of 7th June 2017 and matters arising

4. Tiree Community Council Elections, co-options and forward planning

5. Caledonian Maritime Assets (CMAL), Pier-head proposals

6. Tiree – Glasgow Air Service, implications following removal of security

7. Scottish Government, meetings during July/August, update.

8. Transportation updates

9. Public Library

10. Tiree Flag, verbal update

Please note. Tiree Community Council holds a monthly pre-agenda private meeting, which normally takes place approximately ten days following the public meeting. The meeting is solely to agree agenda items for inclusion and discussion at the following month’s public meeting. No decisions, other than these, are taken.

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