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

Out for dinner last night with a couple from Perthshire, part of our growing network. Great to have a free-flowing chat about anything and everything, including lots of politics and of course land reform, not being concerned that you will be taken out of context or have anything you say thrown back at you  in the future. It is always good to meet people outside your locale as it freshens your perspective and you can develop your ideas and arguments. The food as usual was spectacular with halibut,prawns and squat lobsters being devoured over the evening, followed by the now compulsory Aron’s homemade ice creams. In my case it was the kraken r/r with apple and bramble. In such wide-ranging discussions you always find that the world is even smaller than you think. Friends of Tom and Irene in Plockton turn out to be a fisherman of long-standing and some of the land issues we were talking about were around around Blackford concerning foreign ownership of land and business directly affected communities without them having any say in what was happening in their area. I was in this area and had walked up the Danny Burn in atrocious weather with a group a few years ago and even then we passed several derelict farm buildings and I was told that there was a Clearance of sorts under way and farmers were having to leave the land to making way for larger concerns that by all accounts do not have sustainable future but lots of short-term gain. Another topic which is one of my favourites. This is the size of small enterprises especially on the fragile environment on the west coast. I had a conversation with a couple of mates about 15 years ago in which they said that if I continued to work really hard and invested in more or bigger fishing boats then I would become a manager of two or more boats, that being the natural progression in the western/capitalist way of growth. My argument was that I wanted to continue to fish and coming ashore just to make more money was not part of the plan. So far I am winning that argument. The illogicality of the argument is that if you continue to out grow your environment you end up with more and bigger boats and nothing to catch. The same applies on land in that it seems that some farmers have to get bigger and bigger. If it all about size then you have big boats and farms and very little community. Lots of small enterprises constitute a far healthier community. Once you get over the competitive nature of youth settling into a rhythm which hopefully is something the environment around you can provide for you.

The weather has been pretty broken over the last few days and it was not till today that I was back on the water and although the fishing is extremely poor it is always good to get out on a quiet day. Hoping to get round the rest of the gear tomorrow and that looks like the last day out for the rest of the week going by the forecast. Apart from one fleet where there were a few very large prawns I did struggle to break even for the day. The day has noticeably  shortened and it does seem to sap the natural energy levels. I suppose this is the start of the winter hibernation.

A couple of shifts in the Inn and a fairly positive ALPS meeting on monday evening filled up the rest of the weekend. Contract for the extraction of the Gateway Woodland is very close to being awarded with maybe a bit of alteration regarding the mulching to bring the shortfall down to manageable levels for the Trust. Although lots still to be agreed looks likely that the pier at the Coal Shed may be re instated through funding applied for by the ACC and could be a landing point for future felling operations. Towards the end of the week we have been promised  a very positive announcement regarding Applecross.

Dougal meantime is just watching the world go by.

Comments on: "Good conversation and Food and settling into Winter." (2)

  1. You’re probably not short of people offering gratuitous advice but a thought I had which I’ll leave anyway is why don’t the crofters set the estate and the council (as planners) a challenge? The crofters offer up three (or other number according to judgement of demand) affordable house sites if the estate will match that and the council will give all six (or other number) planning permission. If such a challenge were given the same sort of publicity as the Wightman campaign, the estate and council might feel backed into a corner to play ball. It would also be a way of how the “small people” (crofters) could lead the way and crack the whip at the “big people” (estate and council) and say “Go on! We’re prepared to do it, will you follow?”

    • applecrosslifeattheedge said:

      It is a really tricky one to persuade people to do. There is a bit of an impasse in that both crofters and Trust say that the other should release land and neither do. I have said this at the last meeting with the Trust so nothing new. I can only say that I have tried. A site I bought of the Trust for a shore base for a scallop farm but no longer used I sold extremely cheap to a family who quickly sold it for lots of dosh and headed over the Hill with bag of swag. did not mind that their plans had changed but when asked if they would pass on the opportunity they got to some one else they were”outraged” to be asked. Do not think it damaged the community and certainly not me but at the time was a failed experiment. Now the house has changed hands twice and is occupied 6 months in the year so big improvement. Second one was my old ancestral home sold cheap, done up and sold on to a couple who are living in it, again done through trust and it is still alive. Third one is in the process which is a site tucked away on poor land on my croft to a guy who has been here since 86 and not been able to set up in his own place. Again affordable deal with some money in form of loan to ACC and if his plans change there will be more if he for any unforseen problems/change in life plan with more to ACC and me for future sale. I trust them and this is all up front. Ideally this should be done on a community level with the community having the say on mechanisms. I do not think we are ready for this yet and although I hope not we have to decline further for emergency action to take shape. I am happy to be wrong but so far i do not think so.

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