A view on Fishing,Community and Life on the NW coast of Scotland

Sunday saw my routine come back to a semblance of normality although I was emailing photos at half one in the morning for Alison’s presentation at The Rural Parliament on Tuesday. It was a fine morning for fishing and there were some boats on the water in the Bay but none from Applecross. Although now of the Applecross men are church goers we still do not leave the moorings out of deference to the older, traditions of Presbyterianism. I remember reading about how culture and local traditions can often help the sustainability of stocks. Off the coast of Ghana they did not fish on Tuesdays and got me thinking about the old days here when the fishermen did not want catch lobsters on the Sabbath so left the creels open on the Saturday and so they were not baited up till the Monday, thus the unintended consequence of resting the grounds for at least two. I am sure there was a competitive element then but suspect it was not as severe as now. Best fishermen catch the most in today’s thrusting economic world not as it should be…. The best should be the ones who can make a decent living while allowing the environment they catch from to thrive. The Guianese fish stocks are now depleted and mobility of populations along with the introduction of Christianity, Islam and “civilisation” are some of the suggested causes. Pulling the fisherman into a more competitive, cash orientated society, away from their previously natural state. Along with not fishing on Tuesdays they put back certain types of fish and would not fish at certain times of the year. Science has confirmed these were practises that enabled them to live within their environment, although these methods were based on adherence to beliefs in gods of the sea and rivers.

Back to Sunday and cycling along the Lochside noticed the whooper swans were a bit agitated,


more of them than usual



so there may have been a bit of territory protecting going on.




It was a lovely morning




and some of the snow was still hanging about.


Inn was reasonably busy and the split shift passed fairly quickly. Clouded over briefly but noticed a fine end to the day just south of Dun Caan.


Then a wander down the shore with the dogs after hours in the still hour before midnight. Because there is so little human activity you can hear everything from the lapping of the water to the occasional grunt or snort from a seal.

Monday saw me up at the Hydro site,




and a little bit of organising a key to fit the turbine and generator. Possibly the American and metric being the problem. Ewen has the key and a couple of mil is to be skimmed off. Bit of a muddy glaur, enough rain to make it fairly unpleasant underfoot. It was a pulling cables through day and got “roped” in for a bit..


Most of them are already across the river


but there was a tough one to pull through from the Campsite. Broke the rope just coming towards the end but sorted yesterday and all the cables through now with the help of a little fairy liquid. With the cables not going through the ducts straight away the ducts ended up with a few waves in them making it more difficult for them to come through. Everything is going ahead and making for the deadline date with backup in place and meters ordered for the last week. I am probably more stressed than the boys on site but maybe due to the delayed paperwork I have to catch up on. Also keeping an eye on storm warnings as that affects the SSE program.

Busy enough again at the Inn with all rooms occupied and most tables used. Coming across again and again people who were going to invest in Apple Juice, so if we needed a secondary issue fairly confident that there would be uptake especially with low-interest predictions in the near future. It is not that we have a low profile now with Alison sharing a platform with Nicola Sturgeon yesterday at the Rural Parliament, telling the conference about our hard won successes and hurdles we face.


Well how times change. Went to get the post on Saturday afternoon hoping there were not too many late investors as we did not want disappointed people. However it was not bad as they were mostly filled in forms of previously received BACs and cheques. Two days ago we were hoping the opposite and on Wednesday the dam broke and the river flowed our way. I was away on Wednesday evening and managed to briefly pick up on a continuation of the flow on Thursday from a slightly stressed tweet saying it was all over bar a double-check on how much was in the total. By this time I was in Edinburgh at a Social Finance Conference/Workshop, originally booked for a leaflet and investor push to have our target reached. Dai, the day before, took all the pressure off. Thought about not going down, but this becomes all-consuming and a wee break was needed to remain sane. You end up being unpleasant if the pressure becomes too much and end up saying things you regret later. At least when you know you are at that stage you can modify reactions.

So after work it was down the A9 at a steady pace to reach the West End of Edinburgh in plenty of time to find the Roxburghe Hotel and join in a day of Social Banking/Finance. Opened by John Swinney and followed by a series of interesting and humorous speakers from Australia, Holland and Germany. A workshop in the afternoon where we talked about Community Shares. A really interesting share issue about fair trade footballs, hand sewn, from Pakistan and then was asked to say a few things about our share issue as we had three or four minutes left. Met Kelly who was taking the workshop and I had only known previously through emails. Applecross makes itself known to so many people and in so many places. Only down side is I did not display my expensive parking ticket properly and ended up with a nasty fine. Times like these I know I am a Teuchter.

Inverness was the next stop and a few trips around town as usual after several kips on the way up the road. Made sure I was north before the weather closed in. Driving along Ness bank saw the tribute lit up on the bridge.


Was supposed to meet Alison at Eden Court for a night of Treacherous Orchestra but suspected she would not get away from the computer and the Hydro Share Issue and that was the case. Only found the message when I got home as The Court wi-fi was not behaving, it is better at home. The music was top of the tree as expected,


probably one of the best concerts of live music I have been to and I am starting to notch up a few. Good to meet up with Jacky and Mark before the music started.


Good to know the music and they played the Grind album with a few of the old favourites and by the end of the night had the crowd jumping.




even tried a bit of crowd surfing and made it back onto the stage unharmed.  Mind you with three arms and two fiddles…..In fact he was very gently put down and it was the School of Excellence and Applecross contingent that were involved with this delicate manoeuvre. One of the attributes I love about Treacherous is that they so obviously into what they do


and most of the time are either laughing


or grinning their heads off while still producing some excellent sounds.


I was a little surprised at the room and the closeness of the gig and nipped out for the camera at half time. Just took a few snaps as did not want to lose contact with the music. Did not get any of the posed shots but happy with the ones I took. And they were jumping at the end as well.


John, thanking the crowd mentioned a few places where everyone came from to hear them, and of course Applecross got a mention. I do take a lot of pride in the achievements of this community from getting Innes back onto the stage safe to raising over three-quarters of a million to own its own Hydro Scheme. And the forecast meant I was quickly out the door and heading west (Treacherous on the iPod for the journey as it is now) Flurries of snow above Dingwall and the Brahn as well as Achnasheen but decided on the Hill. We locals just do not like the Coast Road especially being on the road for a couple of days. However just going round the corner, starting the long climb up to the hair pins I was thinking the Coast Road would be a very satisfying drive to end the journey. I passed the last tracks of cars and, unbelievably a motorcycle track, and slid my way to the top. Speaking to Peter, the plough, next morning he said he was impressed with my tyre tracks. Took the whole of the road to get up and over. fortunate that most of the snow was on the Kishorn side so not sliding down. Home safe by 1.00am

Saturday was another recovery day and a day that I need to refocus on my own business and try to disengage a little from the Hydro and the like. Still to be around, but needs must. Thinking along these lines as the weather was not too bad, a bit of a run in the sea from the North, but still could have and maybe should have gone fishing. Instead a trip up the road


to make a phone call and ended up on the Bealach again with the van full of Aussies and dogs. Dougal and Eilidh




used to the snow but for Taneil


and Mel it was a first.


How different we all are. Twenty three and this was their first experience of the white stuff we see every year. Come to think of it I have not been in 40c of heat so just a bit of role reversal. That and looking through photos before making up the road for work made up the day. Although we are still a bit over staffed with the Boss being away it was a fine shift. Plenty of time to speak to all the guests, Nairn, Edinburgh, Skye to name but a few. Sometimes there is little effort needed as they pair up themselves and all you need to do is see they get their food and drink and leave them to it. Honeymoon couple from Kishorn over, had to spend their first night eating at the Inn, a privilege to serve.

Finally although I am not sure it has truly sunk in but the total, amended up due to the circumstances surrounding the contract, has been reached and with ease. While walking with Dougal and Eilidh yesterday morning a thought stuck me about the difference between hope and belief. I think belief is a very strong ideal and can lead you down a long wrong road, just look at the world around us, while hope was the feeling I unconsciously used to get through the high stress levels. For me it has been stressful and for Alison, doubly so. But the planning and effort that she has put into the marketing of the Community Share Issue has been second to none. Taken its toll a bit and now she is off down the road to speak at the Rural Parliament in Musselbourgh and in the exalted company of the FM Nicola Sturgeon. Applecross is once again making itself known for all the right reasons. None of this could happen if we did not have the support of most of the community and the establishments who allowed access to their customers, the contractors HighlandEco, and all our contacts who helped us on Social Media through sharing and retweeting the Applecross message. Also the mainstream media, local and national press and broadcasters decided we had a story to tell and let us tell it through their outlets. Can only thank every one involved and appreciate all the comments coming in. Now to commissioning the Hydro and we need a decent forecast for the next two weeks, decent in that no named storms coming our way. So again thanks for helping us achieve this



Full to the Neck.

You go away for a couple of days and this happens. There is still some last minute tidying up to do with a slightly bigger total. Just some small last minute local shareholders to complete. Feel stunned to be perfectly honest.9Q7Q1748

Over £100,000 Today!!

It has turned into a quite extra ordinary day. Before Dai, the postie, turned up we knew today was okay as we had confirmation of £23,000, so the pressure was off. Opening the envelopes was an experience….to be brief we have received over £100,000 investment. This may actually mean that could be in a position of closing the share issue early as we reach the £770,000. We are approaching £640,000 total with around £130,000 to go!! I am stunned by the belief so many people have in the community. We are now in the position of letting any local people who are thinking of investing to do so now and not leave it any longer. There is a local preference for investing stated in the brochure, so do not be disappointed.


The rest of the day was mundane, took a fuel delivery


and rowed out for some fine langoustine.


Borrowed another outboard but could not get the cord to pull so it was a long and healthy row out to the Varuna. The need to get to Edinburgh has diminished somewhat but may go anyway as putting and keeping Applecross on the map in certain circles is important for our future. And it rained. Next month it can rain all it likes.

Dougal Tests Flow Data.

Slow day and that is appropriate as I was on the phone to Michele of Slow Fish https://www.facebook.com/groups/slowfish/ a group of people who are trying to enhance the idea of The Commons. An idea that the common good/ownership benefits all. An idea that if we go back to looking after our environment then everyone will benefit. This model is far more sustainable than the one that we are currently using which is the guys that catches the most is the best. To the extent that he will get a cup for an even bigger grossing. I think we were on the phone for about an hour and while it was a little depressing that the general picture is quite pessimistic there are small groups of fishermen around the world who are trying to tie the catching side of fishing directly to local markets and to what their environments can sustain. A possible trip to Ireland may be on the cards to learn more.

A couple of trips up the road, the first to give Sean a hand to recycle the glass as the Inn transport is out of action. On hearing a low flying chopper we thought it may have been a search and rescue on the go but it appeared to be SSE doing a line check.


The dogs came up with me and a wander on up to the site was in order. Tail race dug out


and hear that SSE are planned for tomorrow. Generator in later this week and a big push on next week with sparkies in. The colours


and the sound of the running water


make for a better feeling with the wind stopping us fishing and the light going fast, it being only mid afternoon. Dougal went in to check the flow of the river


and okayed it.


went down to see how Geoff was getting on with the pier renovation and fine it looks. The plan is to protect the refurbishment with some armouring to the south and stop it being washed away.


Was down for working tonight at the Inn but so were half the community so decided very quickly, as I was only there on word of mouth and not on the rota, the three plus standby could work a quiet bar and headed home. Not before speaking to the lorry driver who was in to pick up scaffolding and stuff from the site. A couple of emails and phone calls and hopefully sorted. The share Issue is going from strength to strength although we are rapidly running out of time. The new total is a “gnat’s whisper” short of £540,000. Each new total is hard to comprehend when you take a step back and think about it. I can understand the level of skepticism about achieving that total but it is creeping closer and closer. Applecross may well have a future that will be in the hands of those who live here. Thanks to all investors for giving the community the opportunity to thrive in the future. Still time to invest. http://www.applecrosshydro.scot.

Alison is off to Broadband meeting on Skye and I am away to Edinburgh to learn more about Social Finance, Social Investment and Social Banks…..a theme emerging there. Meeting up in Inverness, Eden Court for a blast of Treacherous Orchestra on Friday. Possibly missing a good day of weather but there is a chance I may have another good day sometime soon…..

A Half Million and Rising.

Went up earlier on Sunday morning to catch some residents before they left for Inverness to give out some prospectuses and leaflets. It was mentioned on Saturday evening in the passing and as the birthday party was in full flow and followed the old instinct and left it for the morning. As it turned out she was an accountant and had to be on my toes but seemed to answer all the questions okay. An intense half hour to start the day. All these conversations, tweets and Facebook postings are probably a bit much for some people but if one posting or tweet or conversation gets an investment it will be worth all the work. After a burst, mid-week, it settled down a bit but over £31,000 came in today and there is a recorded delivery heading off when the PO opens on Wednesday to get the cheques in on plenty time. And time seems to be of the essence as yet another hurdle has been cleared with the half million investment passed today. Think it is now £504,000 give or take a few hundred. Great to see the support from the likes of Sunart who keep tweeting and retweeting our message. Got some photos of the turbine coming over the Hill,


a bit of a pull for Mick’s truck


but at three tons well under the eighteen gross limit for the Bealach.



The turbine was made in America


and seems there was a Dougal overseeing this as well.


The boys are coming back over and we are hoping that the local SSE boys will be here this week with cable laying, control board fitting, gasket fitting on the pipe works and pipe going onto the tail race. Weather pretty coarse today, although a little quieter in the morning,


so did not make it up to see if there was any activity, so windy we had to come off the beach as the sand was being blown into our eyes and even Dougal was bothered.


Yesterday was one of these shifts at the Inn that just flew by. The banter was good in the morning with the Aussies, teaching each other new words, same words but saying them in a different way, although dreich and craic have not entered the Aussie vocabulary yet. Tadoo took a while to work out but it is one of those things that stop you donating blood for a year seemingly. Think there was definitely a good reaction to winning the Friendly award and although I thought it was to be an extremely quiet day the ten that wanted to eat at two changed that. With the others that kept wandering in we did around forty lunches.


Felt easy-going and chatted to just about everyone and not because one has to but because one wants to. Some staff have to do a bit of intensive training over the winter though.


Today was very unproductive and just blew by, this one did not have a name but strong winds worked up to full on gale by the afternoon. Not too much langoustine on the horizon.

What a complex mix of emotions over the last 48 hours. Starting out at the back of eight and a quick look in to see Mick on site already done an hour and a half. Roofers away having completed the House and Mick was just doing a site tidy.


The next stop after following the gritter over the Hill



was to Kyleakin for the first MoD public meeting five days before the “consultation” ends. Using inverted commas as calling the process so far a consultation is disingenuous. Generally consultations are carried out at the start of a process and ones the Scottish Government carry out last at least twelve weeks not 35 days increased to 49. We were given the controls over the land and sea that the new bylaws allow, the road to Sand, the foreshore and for me the right to close the outer sea area when the need arises. Passage over the Range is also in the hands of the Range operators. When asked for assurances that these powers will not be used we were told “ordinarily”, “don’t think at the moment”,”fishing can broadly take place”, were the responses when asked for reassurance about the outer sea area. There seems that little can be done about the inner sea area as the cabling and ducts have already been built and placed at the cable corridor coming out of Sand. It would be better for relations and an element of trust if we were told what we already know. What is happening at Sand is not maintenance but the new investment. Hiding behind a maintenance program and not being totally honest about the work at Sand is not helping us working together. The Range expansion is needed for the new technologies and bigger structures being put in the water. The socio/economic study has not been carried out so we do not know the dramatic effects of this will be on the local economy. An example, £1500 of local shellfish landed to the Applecross Inn becomes £4500 as value is added creating employment and profit on the peninsula. And that is for one week in the summer. Despite the awkward questions asked we have to find a way to exist together and continue good relations on the ground as long as possible. Ian Blackford called for a suspension of the process until studies have been properly carried out and assessed. I have my doubts but still hope to be fishing these waters my father and grandfather have long after Trident has been deemed obsolete.

So started with hydro and now back onto hydro with a quick leafleting of the “top table” before calling in and seeing Sandy as to when we hope to see SSE in Applecross. The problems of Abigail have turned out not to be so severe as hyped by the media. There is a line that keeps tripping and other smaller problems but Monday seems to be on the cards for work on the connection. Again like the MoD there is a huge difference with the people on the ground and how they have to deal with pressures from above and outside. How that affects us here may be further down their list of priorities and the local guys can do nothing about it. As long as we realise these pressures we can keep lines open locally and work with guys that know and sympathise with our situation.

Now on the way to Inverness and a quick call into Eilean Donnan castle to drop off some hydro leaflets.


The drive through Cluanie




to Invermoriston was beautiful,




shafts of sunlight on snow and water made for a very pleasant journey. Bit of a shop, a kilt pickup, snooze and was ready for the Award Dinner.

A curious mixture of an evening as it turned out. Met Tanya, of Kylesku Hotel fame, on the way in for a short photo shoot, then being mistaken for a musician who played at a friend’s wedding in Pitlochry, before making our way into the dining room. Speeches quickly over and the food was astounding. Pressed salmon, baby squid and crab, the venison fillet or the parsnip ice cream….take your pick and that was amongst many other delights. And after some fine, fine music we fire through the awards. There is a big screen that shows the various establishments up for the awards playing on repeat. Phil and Donald are shown prominently much to the repeated amusement and whooping from part of our table. We settled into the social drinking part of the evening.


Great to see Kyleskhu win hospitality award. There is great camaraderie between some establishments and the Kyleskhu guys are coming down to the Applecross in a couple of weeks. Judy said Tanya went a little pale when I said it would be a good idea for us to go up there. And apart from Kyle winning the young ambassador of the year the whoop of the night came when Judy won the Friendliest Establishment of the Year.


We agreed ahead that Steve would go for the Most Informal and I would accompany the Friendliest. A fine honour to accompany one of the finest landladies in the country. This photo is courtesy of Pammie, one of our friendly staff.


Lots of congrats all round, people who I had served, seemingly, were coming up to us and the photos were taken some better than others but great feeling of achievement all round.


The lady who had mistaken me for the musician came back and explained I had told her at the Inn about how the langoustine were caught. She was with the Dolphin Centre, shortlisted but had not won. She came back over after we had won and explained, word about sustainable fishing is getting out there. Then news seeped in about Paris and the awfulness of our world. You could not have two extremes. The opulence of the our room to the death and despair some Parisians would have been feeling. Kept quiet but Son No3 was over in Paris for the week. Found out via Caroline at breakfast he only knew about it in the morning. You stop your mind going to “what if” places. It is coming closer and it brings home what has already been already happening in other countries for the past decades. Decent people are on the move to get away from these inhuman acts. The dehumanizing of war, whether through drones or suicide bombs, helps the cause of destruction of everyone’s civilisation. Neither work, the only results are fear, horror and hopelessness. The festivities continued although there were many mentions of the Parisian horrors. On an aside I wonder what new law Dot was trying to get Fergus to pass next week.


Taxis duly arrived and I went in the sensible one back to the hotel and not on to Johnny Fox’s as I had already pushed my boat well away from the shore.

All the was needed yesterday was to buy a kilt, get home in one piece, check and bail boats




and do an easy shift at the Inn. A good evening at the Friendliest Inn in the Highlands. Almost forgot, a couple of quieter days on the fund raising front but still the total climbs to just over £470,000.

Tag Cloud

Wee Ginger Dug

Biting the hand of Project Fear

Beyond the Horizon

Commentary and Sustainability Policy Analysis from Dr Calum Macleod

Lenathehyena's Blog

IT'S NOT ROCKET SALAD................. in the Land o' cakes and brither Scots

Scottish Communities CAN

Scottish Communities Climate Action Network

Beyond the Bloomin' Heather

A critical discussion of the history and politics behind Scotland's most beautiful landscapes

Jean Urquhart MSP

Independent Member of the Scottish Parliament for the Highlands and Islands


Re-imagining a just and green society

Derek Bateman Broadcaster1

An ongoing dialogue

derek bateman broadcaster2

My first and last ever blog (probably)

Small Scales

fishing with the triple bottom line


e-learning, networking, and the UHI


It's got a backbeat. You can't lose it. If you wanna dance with me.

derek bateman broadcaster2

My first and last ever blog (probably)

Jessica's Nature Blog

natureinfocus.WordPress.com weblog

Shawndra Miller

Giving voice to the world’s remaking in an age of crisis


Just another WordPress.com site

Life at the end of the road

the trials and tribulations of an accidental crofter


A Highland GP on life the universe and anything...


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,697 other followers