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

Posts tagged ‘Carnach wood’

Community Fishery and MRD500.

Fairly relaxed now but so different on Sunday. Unknown to us a club/rally of up to 60 vehicles were heading our way. Lunch time was not very pleasant for anyone at the Inn. Getting through another shift seemed to be the main thing about the last week. There have been one or two “eejits” about and they spoil it for most. Saturday was a classic for this, group of eight guys, all good banter and craic, bar one. So much so that on Sunday morning a member of the group apologised for him. Always good to have confirmation. Another other couple refused to share a table despite seeing five twos waiting for a seat and a meal. I suppose most establishments this would be okay but this is the Applecross Inn where people look out for each other. Such is life and it is good to know the people I associate with and call mates do not act like this. As Alison and Zuzu were away at the DTAS AGM I had to nip down the road to let Dougal and Eilidh out as I was back in for the evening shift. Turned out it was not so busy and did not stay for long as the Boss had things under control. It always strikes about Applecross that you can make of it what you want. The busy life at the Inn can be balanced out by cycling down the road to Culduie,


a wander over to the seals on the rocks and just taking in the serenity and peace of nature,


this despite Dougal shouting across to the seal pups.



Times have changed and thirty years ago there would have been no seals there, managed in a different era in a different way. Back at the Inn the weather was fine


and there was a number of people eating out, hard on the kitchen but a little easier to deal with for seating. Only thing was we were a little short on the staff side as some Aussie band were playing in Glasgow taking the contingent away for the weekend.

But on balance, an elderly American couple, in for a meal on Thursday were looked after by the Boss as they arrived were given a seat in the dinning room. To cut a long story short I chatted to them, gave her our last three langoustine of the night, showed her how to tail one and left her to it. Just talking to them, being kind and on the way out she turns to me and says she will never forget her night at the Applecross Inn for the rest of her life. Sometimes it is so simple. Another couple of instances of kindness where I received a lovely card from Perthshire, such complimentary words, a sheer pleasure to read and along side another regular visitor’s appreciation puts the grumpies out of sight and mind. The end of days do that as well.



Friday saw us through in the big smoke, an unusual meeting involving trawler men and creel men, unusual in that it was pretty well controlled. There had been a meeting locally which sounded a good one to miss but this one was fairly civilised and was mediated. The main downside were the two Reps from the bigger national organisations and they were representing three boats working in the area being discussed. Also the meeting although facilitated did not have an agenda and was a little too free-flowing. Going over old ground again and again can be done in the pub without taking a day off the water and travelling on a 160 mile round trip. These discussions are taking place against a back ground of a couple of good years of fishing and continued gear conflict. The basic problem is a code of conduct that does not work, creels towed by trawlers are the fault of the creel men, according to the trawler men for being in the wrong place and the fault of the trawler men by the creelers for towing away from the “tows” and going into the shallower waters. Seems insurmountable as we have the same fundamental problem in that two different methods are being used on same ground prosecuting the same species……and that is what the position was at the end of the meeting. I suspect that the two Reps went away happy in the knowledge that very little emerged from the meeting, in fact nothing. Interesting to watch people talking from a position of power, repeating stats again and again although they are irrelevant to the discussion. That they are representing an ever decreasing group of boats seems not to matter to them, they just want access to all grounds for all their members whatever the environmental cost. The most relevant issue about the whole meeting was the idea of a Community fishery, a fishery that would benefit the small ports directly involved in local grounds. This idea appears abhorrent to the larger organisations whose members depend on a nomadic fishery. Fish an area hard, then move on to another area, do the same before returning to the original grounds to start the cycle over again. The ground is degraded so much by this method that the local and static gear works in a greatly reduced and inferior environment. The reasoning behind a Community fishery is that an enhanced fishing ground better protected by a localised fishery would produce far better returns for the Communities involved. Leaves it open to accusations of selfishness but if a whole community benefits that is somewhat dissipated. In my humble opinion the better fishing of the last couple of years is directly connected to a decrease in effort. This has been the first year for some considerable time where you can move the fleets of creels, not by much, but more so than in last few years, thus giving some ground time to recover from the constant take of the past. It was really disappointing that the idea of a Community Fishery was not taken seriously indeed cannot be taken seriously by the larger national organisations as it would restrict outside fishers from local waters. Huge amount of complicated discussions would have to take place but would be worth it to protect valuable grounds from detrimental fishing. The glimmer of hope is that the idea of a Community Fishery is being put on the table at all and once an idea takes root……..

Fishing only took place last Monday so for most of the week, due to the weather, it was just looking west. Possibly added to the mood on Sunday, flat calm bright day, and I wanted to be on the water. Rest of the week spent going back and fro to the turbine house, doing dips at the Filling Station and walking through Carnach Wood.


We now have our own 500. I was a little surprised to get a bill for the Music Room door along with the Community Hall hire for the ceilidh, even more surprised that on a Sunday evening it was priced at £500. Think of a number and quadruple it. The guys who run the Community Hall are not exactly advocates of the Community Company so there may have been ulterior reason for the rapid bill issuing. On the positive side the door was bought, fitted and possibly even varnished by now, all by volunteers, with most of it being paid by the door takings. Key is still missing but no one is mentioning that. Small town life can be very amusing at times. MRD500, music room door £500.

True Value.

Feels a bit like having walked up and over Liathach a couple of times in the last couple of days. Although still very part-time at the Inn I knew that they were a little short-handed out front and also there were a few big bookings for Saturday evening, so offered to come in a couple of hours early. Accepted with some alacrity and so at 4 pm there was a constant flow of customers until things quietened down at around 12 pm. Had a little dip into the past as well as there was a little local/staff session going on concurrently with the amazing food that kept coming out of the kitchen. The only difference is that I have moved on from being involved in the said “sesh”. Such a better feeling the next morning both physically and financially, that is not to say that it is not good banter you hear from that corner. The Boss intervened at one stage to keep things under control, sounding ominous with out shouting is a skill honed over the years and receives instant quietness, lasting 15 mins. Actually Saturday evening was a stroll to this lunchtime when we were panned again, may be what the season is going to be. The big groups are easy for front of house but the kitchen have to deal with 10/15 orders all at the same time and hats of to them for getting it right every time. All I had to do was get the orders right. Have to say over the two days the number of compliments about the food and how it all works are endless. No delays, lots of banter and great atmosphere are some of the reasons why people from Mexico, Germany, France, Norway, Manchester and Lochcarron have all visited this weekend. There are so many familiar faces now, just working the two seasons through the week. I missed many of the regulars only working the Sunday lunch shift, but now am starting to see them year in year out. It is a very personal Inn and people want to know what has happened since the last time they visited, having made the connection to the community through the Inn and it’s working. New faces in the form of Lena May and Charlotte have bolstered the defences for a wee while so leaving at five today was not too guilt ridden. Hopefully with Son No1 and Jill leaving for the Walled Garden that will take some of the summer’s pressure of as visitors sample another amazing eating place on the peninsula.

Although it feels as if I was at the Inn all weekend Saturday saw me ankle-deep in the proverbial….. loading up a number of fish boxes for the garden’s raised beds, lovely black mature compost produced by Jimmy’s cows now long since gone. may have moved around a half ton, so my back says and as I had the Dougal family with me I wandered into Torgarve and then down the Carnach track.


Always such a peaceful place and feels so ancient and timeless,


stones and rocks covered in thick layers of moss and lichens.


Dougal and his Mum love it being new ground for rodent hunting.


Through ALPS there have been some experiments on how to regenerate a bit of new growth, and with some success, as the area is scattered with many fallen birch and hazel. You can easily imagine the inhabitants of the Broch using these grounds as a working forest. It also ties in with a little post that got me back into a little meditation which hopefully will keep a balance with the frenetic world of rural Applecross during what I think will be a busy summer season. The appearance of Spring is finally breaking through the winter gloom, it always does, but it was a little late this year. The arrival of the compost, the seeds and seed potatoes are all indications the cycle of life is started again.

Leaving the house this morning looking across to the south end of Raasay looked as though south of Sconser was an island in the light.


Another little excitement was a phone call this morning that had so much in it over a period of 45 mins. It was genuinely exhilarating and if a fraction of what was talked about comes to fruition then Applecross will benefit immensely and it will experience a growing capacity to be able to look after itself and may be a model for other communities to regenerate in ways that overcome the restrictions they are coming up against at present. Some communities are well down that road already in many ways and I really liked the story I heard from Knoydart. The community shop is being refurbished, good story in itself, but the local community building company is doing the work and the wood they are using for the shelving has been grown and processed in Knoydart. What more do you want from a community, so often said that a local economy is six times the worth when the money is generated locally and spent locally. And this is what happens through the Inn with its local employment and local produce  generating money to be spent in the local shop or Community Filling station. This morning’s phone call was based on human value and not sterling value. The sterling value comes automatically when the human value is to the fore. Regular visitor, Mike always sparks of these thoughts which never deny the reality of day-to-day living but question the true value of life and he is back in town. I suppose some of the thought provoking part of the weekend was fielding quite a few enquiries as why there was no music on Saturday evening. Pinny and the Breakers were supposed to play but cancelled due to the untimely death of Dougie, one of our very popular electricians, some members of the band coming from the same village. There is still a sense of disbelief in the area and one can only offer sympathies and condolences to the family and friends of a popular and helpful man.

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