Friday 2 June 2017

Knoydart - A model of community led sustainable land use and development

The Knoydart peninsula is usually and lazily described as the UK's last wilderness". It lies between Loch Hourn to the North and Loch Nevis to the South . It's only accessible by sea or on foot through the mountains. It's isolated, rugged and wild but it's not "wilderness". The hand of man is evident everywhere in the plantation forestry, sheep farms, fencing and dirt roads.

The weather is always like this

In the 19th Century seriously wealthy people bought highland estates to underpin their status and ritually kill the wildlife ( deer stalking) usually while wearing fancy dress, Harris tweed suits with knee breeches. The fancy dress carries on but they now get to the hill on all terrain vehicles , not ponies.

A long string of owners came and went, including a Nazi sympathising Tory MP  from Hertfordshire, until 1998 when the Knoydart Foundation raised sufficient funds to buy the estate on behalf of the community.

This week we visited Knoydart for the Kilchoan old guys annual excursion ( you need white hair and a bus pass to join). In 2016 we walked the perimeter of the Isle of Rum National Nature Reserve ( see blog June 2016). This year we had two walking wounded so back packing and bothies were exchanged for Roger Trussell's luxurious bunk house and comfortable beds.

Forestry and Tourism are the main drivers of the Knoydart economy. The Knoydart Forest Trust is a community led charity that manages the Foundation's woodland and that of it's neighbours. Tree length timber is exported by sea, building lumber is milled here for house building, bridge building and firewood is sawn, split and delivered.

The paddle steamer "Waverley" came into the pier on Wednesday with about 200 passengers if they each spent £5 on a coffee and scone it would be a boost for the tea shop, There is also a community run bunk house and campsite above the long beach,

The Old Forge pub was famous once,  for food, good beer and hospitality. Check out TripAdvisor before you pay a visit. Try the "Road End" cafe at Airor where Veronica's fish and chips rival Rick Stein's place in Padstow.

As a group with a combined age approaching 400 years we are not
Affordable housing
easily pleased or impressed. We were this week. What the Knoydart Foundation is doing looks like a model of community led sustainability. Go and see for yourself

Old guys annual excursion - Knoydart

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