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

Posts tagged ‘Sand’

Hectic Community Activity.

Relaxing after a fairly easy but long shift at the Inn. The evening was smooth and everyone got their seats just as they arrived and even some just drinking got seats. Still many Europeans about and busy enough. Last night was busy but not over the top. One quite amazing coincidence was that the competition that the Applecross Community Company are involved in https://www.mandsenergyfund.com/projects/applecross-energy our biggest rival is the Glenalmond College. Not sure how they applied as a community but never mind, we had a big group, an Aston Martin car club staying. One of the group was a music teacher and house mistress of , yes, you have guessed it Glenalmond College. The odds of that happening would have been off the scale. The two days were full of appreciative comments about food and service and the Boss would have been well pleased had she heard half of them. Advertising continues regarding the competition and after Sand and the InsideOut I went to the Filling Station.


Weather has broken and there is a very distinct autumnal feel to everything. The rain has added to the brisk wind, a constant southerly blow, sometimes south-east and sometimes southwest but pretty strong and unworkable for me. The mornings have not been too bad but by 10 it is up again. Although it feels a bit lazy  few jobs are getting down, some grass cutting, harvesting apples


and a few veg.


Did not go out to do the fleet which is still on board. No let up on the weather front in sight so plenty of time for that. Despite the autumnal feel there is no let up on the efforts of the community its to work away at various schemes.

First had a visit about a community skiff build. This was first mooted a couple of years ago but nothing happened. It came up again at the Community Council and was given to a member of the public to take on. I think, as others have got involved, it will be a runner. Around £5000 is needed, a place to build it and I reckon we already have the skill and enthusiasm to build it. It does feel the time is right and the fine example from Sheildaig is acting as a spur as well as moves from Lochcarron to build one.

Next and also at the CC meeting the fund-raising and purchasing of defribulators is cracking on. It looks like all the funds are being raised, and very quickly, within the community. Despite the low numbers living here there is a large amount of generosity and good will around. May end up the best covered area if you ever have heart trouble on the west coast. Scheduled to be installed and paid for in November.

On going as well is a fund-raising venture for setting up a War Memorial. I have not been involved in this but hear it is going well with events, past and planned getting the target total closer and I believe the Trust have said they will match fund the amount. Local guys who work with stone are going to erect the Memorial.

Then onto another example of what is happening here. There is a group setting up an Applecross Brewery following the example of the boys from Strathcarron. The Red Cow is becoming one of the big sellers at the Inn and I am sure once the Applecross brewers get their brews underway it will be another success story for the place. Local investors again and seems to be progressing nicely.

Whether it is as a result of the Competition noted above


there is another group planning a swimming pool and gym. If the private wire goes ahead as planned the power needed for this venture could be green and cheaper than what is available from the grid. Quite an amount of activity in such a wee place.

Despite so much going on the need to mix all this activity with a bit of time out is essential. That is why I ended up walking on Sand




although the Competition took me up there a walk on the shore is essential on such a day. Dougal is never far away and just loves running


along on the expanse of Sand


sometimes just stopping to let the wind on his ears.


They did do the professional stuff first


before going onto the Sand beach.




I was sent out today to take a few photos with the Roll Out info Pack that we received from M&S. Decided that one of the photogenic spots would be where Monty Halls did his wee series when he was in Applecross a few years ago. It was a bit breezy to set up getting the backdrop of the beach. Took some photos of which more later and then was diverted to the beautiful weather, deserted beach and rushing wavelets. The best bit of community involvement is it takes you to places, it’s that simple. Dougal and Eilidh helped in the advertising as did the Boss at the Inn. It is little wonder that people are drawn to come here.


Desecration of a Sanctuary.

Sometimes you just feel angry and then a little despair when you realise how little you matter in the grand scheme of things. Our local paper, the WHFP, published an exclusive on its front page letting us know that the Raasay Range is going to be doubled in size. That is the area called the Inner Sea Area which is a strictly no fish zone. In its current form it has the unintended consequence of an MPA and a conservation area. Now, if the expansion goes ahead this may be the last straw for some creel boats fishing the Sound, both beside and within the proposed closure extension. The anger comes from the fact that there has not been one iota of consultation with the local fleet, either through our associations and Marine Scotland. The despair comes from the inevitability that the closure may well go ahead. The grounds up for closure produces some of the best quality langoustines off the Scottish shores, second to none. Recently there has seen an upsurge in the lobster numbers and some prawn boats have gone creeling for lobsters. Squat lobsters and prime scallops also come from this area. £10s of thousands of pounds worth of seafood enter the local economy and this is threatened by this move of the MOD.


The fishermen who have gear in these areas will be directly affected but all the boats working the grounds around here will feel the consequences. Where are all these creels going to go? The grounds will be chock full of gear and we will be going back to the days when every second fleet of creels will be foul on our neighbours. A simple example of the effects of this proposed action, The Auk, a scallop diving boat, currently moored here, works these grounds during winter and early spring. While here she needs fuel and buys from the Applecross Pier Users Assoc helping us survive and keep our Pier solvent, skipper pops into the Inn so it is all circulating monies. Now she will lose 30/40 days that she fishes on these grounds.

Knowing a little of the history of the setting up of the Range from first hand and speaking to people who went to the meetings I have this feeling of foreboding that this is all done and dusted. The fact that the only discussions I have heard taking place has been between Qinetic and the MOD and this has only been about the date of the announcement confirms this view. The meetings that took place in the early 70s were conducted by naval officers sent up from Deep South and they promised that nothing they were planning would affect the fishing practices on the Inner Sound. The next meeting that took place two different officers would arrive on the scene to announce fishing restrictions, when pulled up about what was said at the last meeting they used the term, “we cannot vouch what was said previously”. And so it goes on to the extent I was told the experienced fishermen stopped going to the meetings as they no longer could take the disrespect. They were known as gentlemen and were not used to being treated in this way. When you are told it won’t matter too much as you take your creels ashore each night and the ground needed is only 15 mins from Kyle, it exposed the ignorance of the officers sent up to dissuade the fishermen of the  proposals.But you realise that plans were set in motion many years before, when you hear that the Hydro boys were puzzled by the size of the power cable that was laid into Sand five years before the first meeting with the fishermen was held in Kyle in the early 70s. Also told the specifications for the weight-bearing placed on the causeway at Kintail was as much as 200 tons. You can understand my cynicism. I don’t imagine for one minute that this has been planned in the short-term but like the seventies, we have to deal with long-term planning from the establishment, the difference this time the MOD are not dealing with fishermen who are trusting and may not be so gentlemanly. And to think over the years I have complied with just about all their wishes around the Range. Can safely say that my fishing has never held up or interrupted a trial and when requested have left gear unhauled at my cost in order for Trials to continue. Cooperation and partnership are a vehicle that goes in both directions. Would I rather see these on the Sound



or the static gear boys that have  a far more sustainable connection to their environment like generations before them.



So I feel free to speculate on the back of so little consultation and information. We do not even know who is a contact, who do you go to put your case to.  I am not interested in State secrets just being treated with a little respect. This news has been preceded by the rumours coming from the shore side of the operation. We have been hearing that millions of pounds are going to be spent on redeveloping Sand which looks as though this is linked closely to the offshore closure. Interesting to note that after Monty Halls left the veranda that was built for the programme had to be taken down as it had not planning permission. I don’t for one minute imagine Applecross Community Council will be dealing with any such planning decisions.No idea about what the building works are going to be, some saying it will be underground. At my worst moments I think Applecross is going to be turned into a Coulport type base. How out of character can you get for this peninsula, a Sanctuary where people come to enjoy, recharge and head back to their hectic lives in a better frame of mind. Who in their right minds would change such a Sanctuary into a Destination that provides a Govt with war materials and methods to kill? But that,  I am sure, has never crossed the Strategists minds. I sometimes feel as though I am living in a Farce, a dark one. Parting thought is something I read recently, it’s about time we get round to”socialising profit and getting private industry to stand on its own feet”. So much corporate business depends on public contracts and are priced accordingly. That’s it.

Sand Thoughts.

Looking out the window now with the rain, pushed along by a strong south westerly, hitting the window, was very pleased to have found the energy to go up the Sand path with the pooches. Hard to believe that my Mum, when she was district nursing here after the War came along here to carry out her nursing duties on the North Coast. IMG_9714   IMG_9697 Should have the odd photo lying about somewhere and will have to go looking under the stairs. After Tuesdays fishing the weather has taken a bit of a dip and nothing has happened at sea for the last thee days. Two shifts at the Inn, both reasonably busy but still having plenty of time to chat and make people welcome. Apart from the regulars there is a constant amazement about how busy the place is but by the end of the evening they come up to you and tell you they now know why, having had a welcome and some amazing food to enjoy. Easy to keep the kitchen happy or at least in the know that what they are doing is being appreciated out front. Sometimes it can get a little remote when you are stuck behind the scene churning out the impressive meals. Although a little pressured for the odd half hour or so it is an amazing experience and such a variety of conversations to engage in. Although things are starting to tick over quite nicely and getting used to the tired feel to the season due to the many hours of mostly enjoyable work. With lots of stress conversations going on over the last couple of days, intrigue it was good to go on to the Sand track and just lose yourself in thoughts and enjoy the spectacular views both north and south. There cannot be many other more beautiful places in the world, certainly many of the visitors think so. IMG_9715 The west coast of Scotland must rate as one of the best destinations in the world. IMG_9740 Everything is so much simpler when you are out of reach, it is sometimesIMG_9729 best not to know some people’s opinions and up on the hills of Applecross they certainly do not matter. Always enjoy constructive criticism and think about it check it over and either take it on board or argue against it. Some you just cannot reply to as it is just a series of assertions and prejudged opinions of what they think you think and/or write. I am more and more comfortable with my evolving views, partly because I can find the space like up on the Sand path, and they evolve without having to do anyone down. As Mark Twain was reputed to say “Loyalty to a petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul”. I find myself being drawn more and more to the grass roots political movement of the RIC and The Common Weal where the teeshirt says “All of us First”. Very simplified version of community but you have to start some where. Our Community Company has and will be criticised for not doing everything when everyone wants with governance and whatever desired service, but there are huge efforts behind the scenes and a steep learning curve underway. Again the constructive criticism can be used to correct any faults and failings. Top of the Sand path is an excellent place to think these things through and there is so much more to say but in this years rather febrile atmosphere little by little is best. Having a sit up there and imaging 50 years ago to a couple of hundred years to when the area was covered in trees is so peaceful. Watching Dougal and co chasing about in the heather only just managing to ignore the red deer on the horizon. IMG_9702 Looking north across the timeless landscape you see the MOD building at Sand and although you cannot see it, the Community Broadband mast on Rona taking the latest technology over to Applecross. IMG_9706 There are lots of technical discussions going on to see how these speeds can be increased to the next level of band width. Already 5mbs, although far better than BT, will not satisfy demand in a couple of years. Back home took 4o+ ticks of Dougal. This year is, and not just here,  proving to be the worst year for ticks since I have come back to Applecross. Killed hundreds, taking them both before they attach and after, missing the occasional marble, finding it on the floor. Both on the way and way back the views up here are awesome IMG_9746   IMG_9722 on a day like today and rejuvenating. Breezy though. IMG_9758 Now Saturday afternoon and the rain back on again and a request to come to work early meant a heavy morning at the wood. Younger house with No3 at home and handy for a bit of lifting and splitting. Also for boat launching, there will not be many other medical students doing the chores like these while waiting for exam results. 10338840_10203248288121460_3912345751048752750_n Also a bit of colour from last years sojourn in Africa was being framed. Bought in Zanzibar on the way home from  six weeks of charity work in Malawi. The life of an Applecrossian has always been full of experience. IMG_9655

Migraine just a Memory.

On the way up to the inn on Wednesday looking north to the “Blind Sound” with the northerly breeze blowing, bright sunshine and a haze appearing across the water stopped for a photo and time out.


Through the Gap you can see the cliffs of Staffin and further off the Harris hills. Later, after taking Aron a lift home on the way back up the road the Chamain was looking so peaceful and this was at 10.45pm.


Dougal thinks he is tucked in for the night on the couch after collecting his seven ticks for the day.


Yesterday things ground to a halt, well they did not start as I woke up with a migraine well under way. Without going on too much about them they stop everything although this one was not too bad to cope with as I had missed the start of it and was comatose for about 6/8 hours yesterday while it was under way. Another added bonus was that I was only sick twice…so a good migraine but work out of the question and fretting over missing out on a beautiful day on the west.

The contrast this morning was complete, as at seven taking the dogs out for a wander over their domain,a listen to a Mhairi Campbell/Dave Francis composition, and then down to the pier for a day’s fishing on the Sound.


Most of the fleet was away at the same time this morning apart from the consistently early Kingfisher.


As expected the northerly breeze was up quite early and it was hard work but balanced against yesterdays fiasco it was a good to be alive day. Managed 400 pots up as I was trying to keep the Inn going for the weekend. I know they do not mean it but it is a little off-putting hearing some visitors complaining that they had travelled 400+ miles for the langoustine and why are they not on the menu. Explaining to them it is not a super market aisle that we go down and buy them off the shelf can be taken the wrong way. I think it is just symptomatic the way people live now. If they want something they just go out and buy it, and if they can’t, they don’t understand why not. My day was cut short, as I started hauling my last fleet of the day, a hydraulic pipe burst so it was away in with a few more prawns than expected. The weekend should be sorted at the Inn and we have some hanging in reserve over the side of the Varuna. Funny little moment occurred when hauling a fleet at Sand noticed bait not as I had left it and jumped to what turned out to be the wrong conclusion….some pirate was hauling my gear. Easily solved when I called Billy at Sand to see if they could track any new boats in the area. Hardly finished conversation when another boat called up, a little sheepish saying it was probably him as he was hauling another boat’s gear by arrangement and realised half way through the fleet that it was the wrong one. We have a good community of fishermen and it is good to know that there are no rogues at the creels and there has n’t been over the years I have been fishing….other methods of catching prawns has it fair share and just about to a man none live locally. It was around here a butter fish came up in a creel. Always good to say the fish I take photos of and do not keep to eat go back alive over the side. We do not do discards working the creels.


So left the Inn and some happy chefs cooking off langoustine, tails and squat tails. Alison is over in Skye at the Community Land gathering and will be meeting up with like-minded guys and networking, as one does. It is always good to get out to keep one’s perspective. The LRRG’s interim report has had a bit of an all round panning in the press and at Edinburgh. It just seems to concentrating purely on community ownership of land and there are so many more issues to be addressed than this. But it seems the prediction is that any reforms remain untouched until after the 2014 Referendum so as not to rock any establishment boats.

Who would have thought that Jeremy Vine would be mentioning Treacherous Orchestra on his prog, but that was the case today. Been listening to two fabulous new albums this week, Adam Sutherland’s Squall and Hugh Lawrie’s Did n’t it Rain. That as well as watching Nashville there is a little burst of good new music about just now.

Dougal and family’s day trip to Sand

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