Posts Tagged ‘sir e scott’

Ranger Blog – Who said the winter months were quiet?

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Guided Walks Programme

I’ve just finished writing the Ranger Service Guided Walks programme for 2013, and have sent off the content to get the brochure produced.  A new edition this year will be a weekly golden eagle walk at Bogha Glas, provided in partnership with the RSPB. This has been one of the most popular walks of the programme, and with a 100% success rate of seeing eagles on the walk last year, it is a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness of this stunning species. We hope to have the printed programme ready by Easter, and in the meantime I’ll be uploading the details on to the NHT website’s calendar. The first eagle walk will be on the 3rd of April. On the subject of eagles, this time of year is a great time to see them – they’re very active, especially on bright, breezy days, as they will be engaged in nest building activities and courtship displays.



Over the next few weeks, keep a look out at the start points of the footpaths at Meavaig, Bogha Glas, Maraig, Rhenigidale and Urgha – soon to be appearing is a set of high quality, A1 interpretation panels, giving details about each route, and some info on wildlife watching, cultural history and land management in each area. They also feature a selection of Laurie Campbell’s fantastic North Harris images. The panels are being funded by SRDP and Comunn na Gàidhlig.


Eco Group

As I mentioned in my last post, I have been attending & supporting the weekly sessions of the Eco Group at Sir E Scott School. A couple of weeks back we spent a practical session planting willow cuttings on the school grounds, using seaweed gathered from West Loch Tarbert as mulch. We temporarily “recruited” about 15 other pupils to help out for the session! Willow is an amazingly tough tree – even if you take a cutting and stick it in the ground upside-down, it may well still grow!


Crofting Connections

We’ve tried to get the Crofting Connections programme going much earlier this year – so that we’ll be able to harvest some veg before end of the school term. We had the first session with the School pupils earlier this week – getting the polytunnel prepared for early planting. I’d welcome any assistance from local volunteers through the season, to help tend the site – email me at or call in to the office if you’re interested!


Matt Watts 11.03.2013

Woodland Creation!

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Image courtesy of Caroline Briggs

The last guided walk of the season was held at the start of the month – and what a great walk to finish on! It was the third of the “Roaring and Rutting” walks, this time out to Glen Langadale from Boglass. The glen was full of stags and groups of hinds, and we got to see a bit of action from younger stags challenging the “master” stag for control of his harem. The group also had some decent sightings of golden eagles, and a fantastic look at a mountain hare, almost fully moulted for the winter. Over the coming weeks I will be writing the programme for next year, so if anyone has any suggestions of walks you’d like to see included, feel free to get in touch – email me at

I’ve also started getting involved in the Eco-Group at Sir E Scott School – a small group of students who meet weekly to discuss everything “green” – from recycling and renewables to tree planting and vegetable growing – and then finding ways to spread their messages to the rest of the school. This week we had an interesting debate on food ethics.

Since the last walk, there has been a fair bit more office-based work going on, which is sometimes no bad thing considering the weather! I have been working on writing proposals for SRDP grant funding for two new native woodland planting projects in Glen Meavaig and Glen Scaladale. If successful , these two projects will create over 20ha (50 acres) of new woodland on Harris. We’ll be mimicking the very successful planting model used at the Ardvourlie woodland, which is now over 10 years old – using the topography to provide shelter from the wind – so all the trees will be nestled in behind hillocks and in dips and gulleys. Go back in time about 5000 years and large areas on Lewis and Harris will have looked similar to this.

On the subject of woodland, we have begun offering informal advice and assistance to crofters looking to plant trees on their land – advice including site selection, species choice, protection, management and grant funding, and assistance in mapping. We’re very supportive of anybody and everybody planting trees – so if you’re at all interested, please pop in for a chat.

Matt Watts, North Harris Ranger, 22 November 2012

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Work Experience

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This week we have had the pleasure of hosting an S3 pupil from Sir E Scott, for work experience. I think Fiona came with the idea of doing some cushy office work. The picture shows a rare moment behind a desk. Fiona’s taken to publishing pieces on the web-site for us.  We’ve tried to show her the variety of things we get up to at the Trust, so she’s been out watching the lads coppicing trees at the Biomass plantation. She’s been out with the Crofting Connections team, helping out with the growing projects at the Poly-tunnels. I don’t know yet, if she knows she’s helping out fixing the track up Glen Meavaig tomorrow. I hope she’s OK with a shovel. Then on Thursday, it’s guided walk day. The highlight of the week – a day with Ranger Robin. The catch is she’s come on the week that takes in a climb of the Clisham! Maybe Friday we’ll let her back behind a desk.

Do you think we’ll get pupils wanting to come for work experience at the Trust next year?

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Enterprise Day 2012

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Last week, staff from the North Harris Trust organised an Enterprise Day for S3 pupils at Sir E Scott School. This is the second time we have run the event, and the feedback this time was even better than before. Robin, David, Mark and Alistair from the Trust took part, assisted by Miss Livingstone and Mrs MacKay from the school.

The day kicked off with Ranger Robin taking the group of 19, 14 year olds to see the new Eagle Observatory. Despite the low cloud, the group remained remarkably dry. They all squeezed into the building to hear about the local nature and the eagles that soar above the site –on a clear day. By chance Robin had been on both radio and TV that morning talking about the Observatory. Most of the pupils, and even HMI school inspectors knew about the Observatory, before he said a word!

After a trek back down the valley, the coach moved on to the Ceann an Ora housing development. The pupils heard about the population issues in Harris and the work that the Trust is doing to create jobs and housing to address the outmigration problem. Before lunch, the pupils took in a quick trip to the Urgha Community Recycling site, where they heard about the reuse and recycling activities. They also saw first-hand, the wind-turbine, which powers the site.

In the afternoon, back at the school, there were presentations from local businesses, and team tasks. Thanks must go to David Cameron from Harris Hotel, Paul Finnegan from Meavaig Hatchery and Donald John MacKay and his wife of Luskentyre Tweed who took time out to help with the afternoon activities.

The event was designed to open up the eyes of local teenagers to what goes on around them in Harris. It aims to teach the pupils that there are opportunities in Harris, and moving to the mainland after school is not the only choice. Evaluation sheets completed by the pupils after the event showed that 72% of attendees could now see more opportunity for themselves in Harris.

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Crofting Connections prize carrots

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 It’s the first year of the Crofting Connections program, being run at Sir E Scott school. It’s the first time they’ve entered a fruit and vegetable competition – and they’ve got thier first rosette!

Robin, our Ranger has been helping to run the practical sessions at the polytunnel in East Tarbert. Of the wide selection of fruit and veg, that the pupils had been growing, he selected carrots, mange-tout, potatoes and courgettes to enter into competitions at the North Harris Agricultural show.

Up against stiff competition from old hands who’ve been showing for years, the pupils got a third prize for their carrots. The other categories need some work!

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Wind Turbine proposal for West Tarbert

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Today we lodged a planning application with the council for upto three 5kW wind turbines on land behind Sir E Scott Primary School. North Harris Trading are working with Community Energy Scotland Trading on a project to install a number of domestic-scale turbines on community owned land throughout Scotland. The proposal in West Tarbert is to install either one or two Evance Iskra 5kW turbines to feed “green” energy into the Primary School. One final turbine will be installed to feed the Croileagan. Both organisations should benefit from cheaper energy bills and the knowledge that they’re reducing their Carbon Footprint.

The turbines in question are the same model as the one installed behind Tarbert Garage / Spectral Lines. It has a grey finish, so blends in well with the rocky backdrop. The site has been chosen as a compromise between wind resource, land ownership, proximity to the consumer and clearance from other obstacles. The site is already congested with the main power line to the island going north to Stornoway and the main supply to South Harris passing through. The site is upwind of the surrounding households. This should mean that for the majority of the time any turbine noise would be taken away up the hill.

The formal planning process is now underway. If anyone wishes to get more details of the proposals, or talk through their concerns, then visit us in the Old Hostel or call on 01859 502222.

Further details of the turbine are available on the manufacturers site at:

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