Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Need business space?

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It was recently announced that Highlands & Islands Enterprise is supporting a Market Assessment and Feasibility Study for The North Harris Trust (NHT), into the provision of new business premises in North Harris. Following its completion of the Iomairt an Obain business development, NHT now wishes to build on this success, encouraging other businesses to create more local employment opportunities.

Iomairt an Obain

The contract was awarded to SKS Scotland, who are carrying out an initial survey to determine demand for any newly-constructed premises.

Calum MacKay, Chair of The North Harris Trust said; “This is an excellent opportunity for any businesses on Harris or nearby to give their opinion about what is needed and what they want to see in Harris.  The survey is also relevant for people who would be interested in starting up their own business but currently feel limited by lack of appropriate space or other factors.”

Calum continued; “We would encourage anyone who feels this might be relevant to them to complete the survey, which is available on line at, and make sure their opinion is heard!”

Alternatively, hard copies are available from the NHT office: Tigh an Urrais, Tarbert, Isle of Harris, and via the NHT website

The survey will be open until the 19th July at 5pm.

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Ardvourlie Woodland Observatory

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Over the last few weeks we have been working on a project to draw more people to the woodland at Ardvourlie. The 100ha broadleaf tree plantation was planted as part of the Millenium Forest program some 18 years ago. Despite there being tourist signs on the road next to the Scaladale Centre, the woodland sees very few visitors. With the help of both a university group and local crofter, we have started carrying out routine maintenance on the circular path. Our plan now is to install a building and picnic table, half way round the 60 minute walk.


The Woodland Observatory will sit at an elevated position offering 270 degree views over Loch Seaforth and up the Vigidale valley. Sitting on the existing circular path, the Woodland Observatory will be a signed destination for visitors, allowing them to rest and shelter. They will be able to watch the increasing number of birds in the maturing woodland and learn about the local environment from information panels  inside.

The building is currently going through the planning process. More details can be seen HERE with reference 18/00374

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Foreign visitor numbers rise

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Last week we hosted one of the The John Muir Trust work parties. A team of volunteers sign up to learn what’s involved in managing wild land throughout Scotland.

This time, as well as some familiar faces, there were two students that came all the way from Czech Republic to help. During the week there were the ususal beach cleans. The work-party also spent time making some improvements to the path that leaves Huisinis for Traigh Mheilein. We are very grateful for the labour, but also the technical skills that JMT bring with them to Harris.

During the week there was also another overseas visitor at Huisinis. One of the volunteers managed to capture a Rose Coloured Starling amongst the usual residents. This rarity should be in Eastern Europe/Russia at this time of year. Presumably he too had seen all the media coverage of Harris of late and wanted to pay a visit!


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Biking trails?

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The North Harris Trust is proposing to build some mountain biking trails in a few locations around North Harris. The trails will be purpose-built for mountain biking and will be graded for difficulty like ski runs.

Mountain biking is extremely popular in the UK with Scotland rated as one of the best destinations in the world for the sport. Mountain biking is worth millions of pounds to Scotland’s economy annually and has helped small scale regeneration of some local economies.

There are numerous riders on Harris and Lewis both young and old. This number swells during the summer months. Traditionally people have ridden the estate paths until the mountain bike trails in Lews Castle grounds were built in 2014. These trails have proven to be a great success with local cyclists and are frequently used by local activity centres and schools to deliver P.E lessons.

Building mountain bike trails in North Harris would be beneficial in many ways including;

  • It would give the local school a new facility to deliver National Curriculum P.E lessons.
  • It would encourage cycling and a healthy lifestyle amongst the local population
  • Provide a boost to local business
  • Be a tourist attraction
  • Take pressure (and potential damage) away from walking paths
  • Potentially create employment
  • Be a venue to hold competitions
  • Provide opportunities for people to develop, progress and achieve success at their chosen level of the sport

We are right at the beginning of this project and we need to find out how much local support there would be for such a project. Please could you spare a couple of minutes to complete the survey  below.


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LAMM- Harris marathon information

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The well-respected Lowe Alpine Mountain Marathon (LAMM) is coming to Harris in a couple of week’s time. The event will see 700 competitors running through the hills of North Harris.

The event will start on the morning of Friday June 1st with the competitors heading into the hills early on. Most will be camping out in the wilds on Friday night before returning to Tarbert on Saturday afternoon. We expect a large number of the competitors to leave on the Saturday evening ferry. Most are traveling as foot passengers.

The LAMM raises money for charity each time. This year there will be a contribution to Activities Week at Sir E Scott school as well as donations to the Mountain Rescue teams and Cancer Research.

It will be a busy time in Tarbert with many local businesses benefiting from the extra visitors.

Click on this link for more details:    LAMM- Information

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Beach business

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Last week saw the S3 year group from Sir E Scott School head out for the annual Enterprise Day run by The North Harris Trust.

This year pupils headed for Huisinis Gateway, stopping off at various local businesses on the way. The aim of the day is to show the pupils the opportunities that Harris offers. They talked to a number of businesses to find out what Harris has that makes them successful. A theme of water and rain emerged during the day, despite us basking in sunshine for the event. Pupils saw how rain was used in the production of whisky, electricity and salmon. They finally saw John Muir Trust volunteers repairing footpaths that were suffering from rain damage. After lunch at the Huisinis Gateway, teams presented their findings from the morning to teachers and NHT staff.

Thanks must go to Isle of Harris Distillers, River Generation Ltd, The Scottish Salmon Co and The John Muir Trust for their participation in the event.

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What to do with an old slipway?

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At the start of the year, the lease of the slipway at Maraig, to Scottish Salmon Co. expired. The site has been cleared, the derelict shed removed and the fences replaced. The Trust now has full control over it’s use.

The site includes quite a large area of hard standing. Water, electricity and sewerage are still available. The slipway itself is in good condition, but the depth of water doesn’t lend itself to launching much more than kayaks, except at high water.


Informal use of the slip has been granted in the past for local boat owners and the Scaladale Centre. They have run sailing, kayaking and gorge scrambling activities from the site. The challenge now is to determine the best use for the site, and how it can make some money to cover ongoing maintenance and upgrade costs.

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Maraig Slipway Consultation

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There will be a public meeting next week to discuss future uses of the slipway at Maraig. The Scottish Salmon Co. has recently handed the site back to the Trust. We are now looking for ideas for how the site can be developed in a sustainable manner.

Date: Tuesday 23rd January

Time 19:00

Venue: Scaladale Centre

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Refurbishment of the former Scalpay Care Unit

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In October 2016 we approached CNES with a view to purchasing the former Care Unit in Scalpay having leased it from them for a few years as accommodation. With funding assistance from the Scottish Land Fund the purchase was completed in spring 2017. When Scalpay first came into community ownership in 2013 the community were consulted as to what projects they would like to see NHT take forward in Scalpay and the repurpose of the former Care Unit was highlighted as a priority. In the short term it was agreed to lease the building to see what interest there was and for the 3 years we leased the building it was fully occupied. This lead to the decision to purchase and refurbish the building into two semi-detached houses. Funding was secured from LEADER and the Rural Housing Fund and contractors Neil MacKay and Co began work in June this year. The refurbishment is progressing well as you can see from the images below. Once the project is complete we will have a 2 and a 3 bedroom home available for affordable rental. The properties will benefit from underfloor heating, solar panels and a wood burning stove which will significantly reduce heating costs. The houses are due to be complete in January and we will then advertise for tenants. If you would like further information contact Karen on


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Water worlds: top 10 marine adventure holidays worldwide

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Lanzarote, Belize, Mexico and Harris -all mentioned in the Guardian’s article on underwater adventures.

Following BBC’s Planet Blue series, there has been an increase in interest in what goes on under the surface of our oceans. The Guardian has picked 10 trips that explore the oceans, from reef conservation in Belize to snorkel trails in Scotland.

See the article HERE

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