Multiple interpretation panels were installed in Ardvourlie Woodland by NHT staff on Wednesday (1st March 2023). The information boards highlight visible archaeological remains that are present throughout the woodland area.
The discovery of these archaeological remains was due to a walkover survey that North Harris Trust commissioned in Glen Vigadale. The walkover survey was performed in advance of the development of a shared use and mountain bike tracks project in the area. National legislation and local authority planning policies encourage that any cultural heritage assets should be identified and protected in advance of development where possible. The survey identified and recorded fourteen features including seven structures; shielings, two possible dairy safes, a dike, a dam, two rock shelters and a probable marked stone. Due to this discovery, the proposed cycle track will have two adjustments to avoid disturbance to these precious assets.
The interpretation panels are now placed around the Ardvourlie Woodland to inform the public of these historical structures.
The panels were partly funded by the Net Zero Tourism Fund administered by Highlands & Islands Enterprise.
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Green Cat Renewables has submitted a screening request (23/00024/SCR_L) to CnES to determine the scope of any Environmental Impact Assessment that would be required to accompany a planning application to replace the three existing turbines at Monan, Ardhasaig.
Monan Wind Company (MWC) was set up as a joint venture between The North Harris Trust (NHT) and Windflow UK. It developed the windfarm, with turbines being commissioned in 2015. Windflow’s portfolio of windfarms, including Monan, was sold to Constantine Wind Energy (CWE) in 2021. Monan windfarm is now wholly-owned by CWE.
MWC has tentative plans to install three new wind turbines measuring up to 86m to blade tip. The existing turbines are 46m, however the height of the proposed turbines is what was originally consented for the wind farm The new turbines would be located in close proximity to the current turbine positions and use existing access tracks. Three bladed Enercon turbines are being considered. There are a number of similar machines throughout the Western Isles. Enercon has a service team based on Lewis.
The request for screening states the magnitude of the change to the lansdscape caused by the proposed turbines is thought to be minimal, given the presence of the existing wind farm. A comparison document submitted claims very little difference in theoretical visibility. There will be very few places where the wind turbines would be visible after construction that do not have visibility of the current wind turbines.
The submission goes on that any future planning application would be accompanied by a full assessment of potential environmental impacts from the proposed development, including landscape and visual, ecology and hydrology.
Many thanks to all those who came out to meetings, returned surveys, or made a special effort to speak with NHT Directors or Staff during our annual Community Consultation during November last year. As usual, the feedback from the community was broadly positive and supportive, and we were encouraged by good turnouts at some local meetings.
Various specific points were raised on a wide range of subjects, and some suggestions made for NHT to action. These points were spread among our strategic areas of people, economy and environment, and included topics such as housing availability, small business opportunities, crofting community support, and tourism management.
As a result NHT Directors have assessed the points raised by the community and determined the immediate workable actions for each topic raised, to be delivered over the coming 6 to 12 months. A full summary of topics raised and the resultant action planned can be found here.
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A number of people have asked recently, “What are those grey boxes on poles, either side of the footpath?” Well, they are people counters and are used to build a picture of traffic levels on the key paths in North Harris. The counters unfortunately can’t differentiate between cows, deer and people, so there has to be some interpretation of the raw data delivered. This data allows us to focus maintenance activities and assists the search for funding.
This year saw the first post-pandemic visitor season, with numbers approaching those seen in 2019.
Lacasdail Lochs – Urgha
This is the first full season with a people counter in place on the circular walk around the middle loch at Urgha. In the period Jan-Oct there were 4169 counts. In the core summer months – Jun – Sep there was an average of 21 people per day passing. This is way beyond our predictions when we started to build the new track.
This well-trod path along the cliff from Huisinis toward Mhelein had 11,549 counts April-Sept. If we assume the majority of walkers go out and return the same way, the number of path users would be 5774. This is of similar size to the 2019 pre-Covid figure. That gives an averages 35 people per day.
The counter located at the entrance to the building only operated until August when the batteries failed. To this point 18,643 people entered and exited the building in the five months to Aug. This averages 169 people per day. Traffic was busiest at the start of June, then died back, increasing again towards a peak at the end of July. This number is down on the pre-COVID high of 41,317 in 2019.
Scalpay Eilean Glas
The counter is located out near the lighthouse. If we assume the majority of people walk out and back the same route, 7735 people passed the counter, with an average of 46 a day. During the winter i.e Sept 2021 – April 20222 the number of people passing was 4835, making this an all year-round destination.
Eagle Observatory – Mhiabhaig
Located at the entrance to the Observatory, this year we saw 8855 visitors, with an average of 52 a day. This is slightly up on the 2019 figure at 8561.Traffic is consistent throughout the season, tailing off at the end of September
Community Woodland – Aird a Mhulaidh
Located at the entrance to the woodland, Apr-Sep 2022 brought 1023 visitors averaging 6.3 people per day. This closely matches the winter count, demonstrating that the woods are being used by the local community, year-round. There was traffic each day throughout the summer, with an increase towards the end of August. This marks an increase from the 4 people per day counted in the 4 months in 2019 before work started on the Woodland Observatory.
Postman’s Path – Urgha
The counter was only re-installed on the path mid-season, following the construction of the new fenceline and a bridge replacement. As such, it had a short 2022 season counting 1389 people in the 70 days Jul – Sep giving an average of 20 people per day.
Many summer visitors come to North Harris for the landscape. The numbers above prove how popular the footpath network is. The Trust maintains the path network as best it can but receives no direct funding from the local authority, path users or visitors. As mentioned above, the counters give us justification for grant applications to assist with the major repairs.
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During the holiday period the North Harris Ranger will lead a number of new walks. In addition to the regular Monday “Whale and Dolphin Walk” and Wednesday’s “Eagle Walk”, we plan to explore some of the lesser trod paths on the estate. There are both long and short walks to cater for all abilities.
The North Harris Trust Strategic Plan 2022-27 can be found here.
This was published as the result of an internal process to develop Trust priorities over the winter 2021-22 leading to a presentation at the NHT AGM in March 2022. Community feedback and partner organisation input on subsequent drafts was sought before approval of a final version by the Trust Board in May 2022.
The Annual General Meeting of The North Harris Trust will take place on Tuesday 8th March 2022 at 7.30pm in Tarbert Community Centre. Please consider taking the time to come along, find out what we have been doing, ask questions, make comments, and contribute to our future direction. All are very welcome.
At this meeting candidates shall be appointed to four vacancies on the Trust Board of Directors. If you are resident in North Harris and think you might be interested in serving on the board for a three-year term, please contact the Trust on 01859 502222 or at email@example.com
The Annual General Meeting of the North Harris Trading Company is also scheduled for the evening of Tuesday 8th March 2022 in Tarbert Community Centre, at 6.30pm. All are welcome.
Today we had the pleasure of hosting the S2 year group from Sir E Scott School in Tarbert. They have been working with resources developed by Community Land Scotland to understand more about Community Land Ownership and the role it can play in strengthening our communities. North Harris has examples of renewable generation, social housing and business space – all community-developed, within ten minutes drive of the school.
To start the day, a hike up the Monan track to understand what’s involved in building a windfarm. After this, a trip to Bunavoneader to see a hydro-electric generator in full flow, stopping on the way at Ceann an Ora housing development. Finally, a stop at Iomairt an Obain business Units in Tarbert to understand what’s involved in creating business space and securing tenants who will create new job opportunities.
From a Trust perspective, these events give us the chance to show pupils the type of work we are involved in. It will also hopefully spread the word that community-ownership can be a good thing.
With the sun shining, everyone is so much more motivated to get out around the estate doing stuff. Now we have the maintenance team in place, the list of jobs is slowly shrinking. One day there’s bench painting going on, the next footpath maintenance, but all interspersed by a bit of Visitor Management.
The volume of cars on the road has jumped, and this puts pressure on the limited carparking at the beach hotspots in Harris. We are routinely informing and educating visitors, especially those that think it OK to restrict access on our narrow roads, by parking half on the verge. Huisinis is one busy spot on a hot summer’s day! We recently added a few more parking places at Huisinis Gateway and spent some time marking them out to get best use of the space. The hydrant has also now been concreted in and since painted for visibility.
On the other side of the estate, work has been continuing on the new path at Lacasdail Lochs. We have been working for a while now on a path down the eastern side of the loch to link via the existing bridge to the Urgha to Maraig path. This will eventually complete a circular route around the loch. Progress ramped up this week with the hire of a Polaris 6×6 ATV. With its extra capacity, 40 ton of stone was shipped 800m down the path in a few days. The bridge is almost in touching distance!
Next week will be back to doing smaller jobs round the estate, whilst shoulders and backs recover!
Funders for this path include Paths for All, Crown Estate and Western Isles Development Trust.