When many people hear the word ‘Kishorn’, they may think immediately of the Kishorn Commando’s… but I wonder how many people could actually point to it on a map. Believe it or not, you are more likely to see the smaller hamlets of Ardarroch, Achintraid and Sanachan on a map than you are ‘Kishorn’.
Kishorn is the collective name for several settlements on the shores of Loch Kishorn, which has depths of up to 100 metres in some places. A perfect place to build one of the largest manmade moveable structures in the world; the Ninian Central Oil Platform. But the Kishorn drydock it was built in (which is one of the largest in Europe) was only used again once after the oil platform work dried up, for building the support cassions (the round bit that the legs sit on!) for the Skye Bridge in 1994-1995. Over the past few years, Kishorn Port Ltd have been revamping the dock to make it immediately available for oil decommissioning and renewable energy work.
Kishorn Port Ltd is a joint venture between Ferguson Transport & Shipping and Leiths (Quarry), who both have operational sites on either side of the drydock. The drydock is now dry, for the first time in almost 25 years. The drydock gates have undergone refurbishment with new water-tight seals in place, along with a brand new concrete access road to the dock floor. I have been following the work via the KPL facebook page, and can share the below photos with you. I continue to watch developments with interest, and look forward to seeing the drydock fully operational once more. It is another reason why Kishorn firmly deserves its place on the map!
History Fact of the Month
There are two roads to Achintraid. The first is the ‘main’ road which is signposted, located just above the Ardarroch shore. The second road is known as the ‘wee road’, or Balgy’s road, and was the original road into Achintraid.
The road starts at the Kishorn sign (on the Lochcarron side) and follows the route of a burn, clinging on to the side of a small hill. It then drops back to sea level and re-joins the current ‘new’ road at Ardarroch. It follows the same route along the Dell, before detouring slightly from the ‘new’ road at An Dail. The current bridge over Abhainn Cumhang a’ Ghlinne to Achintraid is a new bridge and was built to accommodate wood trucks when major forestry works started at the end of the village. The stone supports of the old wooden bridge can be viewed further upriver. This bridge could only accommodate small vehicles and the new bridge opened up access to Achintraid. After crossing the river, the old road follows the riverbank back towards the sea, and joins the ‘new’ road again at the Achintraid 30mph signs. It is an interesting route to walk… here are some photos.
“New research commissioned by the Scottish Government and conducted by the James Hutton Institute estimates that Scotland’s sparsely-populated areas are at risk of losing more than a quarter of their population by 2046 if current demographic trends are unchanged.” – West Highland Free Press 30/03/18
It is no secret that the Highlands and Islands are facing the second round of Highland Clearances. But I don’t need more reports or articles to tell me this. This is old news and yet we are still facing the same problem. Of course things such as lack of phone signal, poor condition of roads and lack of year round work are other factors.
The Highlands in particular seem to be relying more and more on the tourist industry.
We welcome visitors from right across the world who come to see our landscapes and landmarks, take part in our events, and taste our food and drink. It provides a lot of employment to local people and I support the industry. But there is one question that I cannot get my head around; if we can provide housing and accommodation for all the visitors, why do we seem so unable to keep up with demand for housing for our own people? People who have local work, who want to make a life in this remote area of the country, who have started their own families here.
There are many reasons why it is a struggle to house our local people. An increase in holiday homes and second homes, and private properties means that overall housing stock has decreased. Property prices have gone through the roof and it means that when a local property (or piece of land) does become available, the majority are unable to afford to buy it. Private rental properties are few and far between, which means that some of the only options available to the majority are council properties or affordable houses. Demand is there for housing, and there is a current council house waiting list of fifty-five applications in the area of Lochcarron. There have been several small and medium sized affordable housing developments with most of these houses currently occupied. I can see just how many people have been able to stay in the area and have not had to move away just to find a vacant affordable house. But for many young people in particular, including myself, I wonder what will happen in the future. Will I have the option to be able to find a house of my own, in my home community which I am desperate to remain part of?
It was with delight that I heard about the Scottish Government’s commitment to building thousands of new homes. But, one of the first places to be allocated these new homes was Inverness. I don’t live in Inverness, and I do not know what potential housing problems, if any, the city is facing. But I rolled by eyes. In this community, along with the wider area, we are used to being knocked back time and time again as priority is given to the city. But as proven in Applecross (as you will see below!), we can make our voices heard. We need to shout about our housing crisis and stop this second round of Highland Clearances before it gets any worse, and before our local populations get even smaller.
Another problem we face here in this remote part of the West Highlands is investment. I thought that the £315million region deal might fix some of these problems, or at least go some way to making them smaller problems. I was proved wrong. At least, I was proved incorrect about some of the money being spent on the West Coast. The money is being spent on Inverness, around £265.5million so far. And today, on the 5th May as I write this, I read an article from Transport Scotland and the Scottish Government announcing their delight at being able to progress with the public consultations for the second Inverness Bypass. And how will it be paid for? With money from the region deal pot. I am furious, what an absolute disgrace. Another knock back for us. Our roads are a disgrace, we have been waiting for new Achnashellach and Stromeferry bypasses for years, public toilets are being closed, our bins could be collected once every three weeks due to cuts, the winter gritting was almost non existent this year due to more cuts (ah yes, because some of our machines have been taken to Inverness) – the list is endless. I intend to fight for this money because we deserve it and we have put up with being forgotten about for too long.
The Kishorn Playing Field Club had a very successful first session on the Dell in April, the first session of 2018. Almost twenty children attended along with some enthusiastic parents too! We started off with some warm ups, before moving on to football dribbling skills. The group then broke into two; one played a game of football and the other played ‘Kubb’ (an ancient Viking game which can become very competitive!). We also had a fantastic turnout on the 13th May in the sun! Our next session is on Saturday 9th June (see below).
For more info about the dell sessions you can visit: http://www.kishornplayingfieldclub.wordpress.com or facebook.com/kishornplayingfieldclub. If you have any questions or queries you can also email us at email@example.com
The KPFC are also going to set the ball rolling for re-instating the Achintraid playpark which was removed by Highland Council a few years ago due to the equipment no longer being fit for purpose. It is a well missed meeting point for young and older children and we hope to arrange several public meetings to gauge interest and get design ideas. We will of course keep the community updated with our plans, and look out for adverts about these public meetings.
A date for your diary is Saturday 9th June – we have organised a community beach clean in conjunction with the Countryside Rangers and Scottish Sea Farms. We also hope to have an evening BBQ and entertainment/outdoor ceilidh… a tug of war has also been mentioned along with some sports run by KPFC. Watch this space for further details!
After reporting in the last blog post that all had gone quiet with the Stromeferry Bypass, we have an update. But not about a replacement option.
From the 3rd September, the Bypass will be subject to overnight road closures to allow major works to be undertaken on the hill slope above the road. It also means that during the day the road will be diverted onto the railway line via a tramway system (which was first installed back in 2011 when the Bypass was closed for several months). Traffic will be taken through the tramway in convoy, in one direction at a time. This means that we should expect long delays for up to twelve weeks from the beginning of September, along with the overnight closures. Final details and timings will be published in due course and I will of course keep you updated.
Our neighbouring community of Applecross won their campaign to stop the planned daytime closures of the Bealach na Ba in April. Instead, overnight closures will take place from the 11th June to the 21st July to allow for the continued installation of broadband cables. The pass will be closed from 6pm in the evening until 0730 the following morning. This closure will take place seven days a week. It does prove that even in our small rural communities you can still make your voices heard, even if you have to shout a wee bit louder!
There has been lots of progress on the Meeting House conversion since my last blog post. All the windows have now been replaced and there are new Velux windows on the rear slope of the roof which will no doubt be letting a huge amount of natural light. There is a new wider entrance door and a small metal chimney pipe is just visible above the back slope, which means that the stove has now been fitted. The walls have also been painted and it is looking very smart! It will be good to see smoke coming out of the chimney pipe and lights on in the windows, which hopefully isn’t too far away.
I have seen lots of newly born Kishorn lambs (maybe you have too – send in your photos!) – here is a quick reminder about the rules and regulations around sheep worrying:
From Police Scotland:
Under the “Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953”, farmers or crofters have the right to kill an offending dog as a last resort, when other forms of intervention have been unsuccessful. The owner or person in charge of the dog can be charged with an offence and be fined up to £1000, as well as being made to pay a compensation order. The Local Authority can also apply for an order to have an offending dog destroyed. Crofters or farmers, and also members of the public, are encouraged to contact police via 111 (connects to Kyle (or sometimes Lochcarron) police station) or 999 in an emergency to report livestock ‘worrying’. For the sake of the livestock and of your dogs, can I politely ask all dog owners in the community to make sure that their dogs are kept under control at all times when there is livestock nearby. Sheep and livestock ‘worrying’ will not be tolerated. Thank you.
April and May have so far produced some very high tides and a large number of ‘good weather’ days – perfect for the KOWS (Kishorn Outdoor Water Swimmers)! Here are some photos of high tide at the beach, and also at the River Kishorn bridge at Tornapress. It is not often that the river disappears!
While walking between the cattle grid at the old caravan park and the main village (Sanachan), I spotted this stone by the side of the road which I have never noticed before. This must be a mile-stone – as the name suggests, these stones were used to mark distances before the days of digital counting or google mapping! I have seen plenty of these mile-stones before, and have been told that there could be one near Courthill too which I intend to find!
Here are the current opening hours for our own Kishorn businesses:
Kishorn Seafood Bar
Open every day between 10:30am and 4:30pm, and also open between 6pm and 8pm on most evenings (reservations for the evening recommended – contact the seafood bar to confirm evening hours). It has revamped daytime and evening menus, a new internal paint scheme and a new outdoor ‘coffee corner’. Still the same amazing local seafood plus some new dishes! Tel: 01520 733240 / Web: http://www.kishornseafoodbar.co.uk
Patterns of Light Gift Shop
Now open Monday to Friday 10am to 4:30pm, Saturday 10am to 5pm, and Sunday 11am to 5pm. A very wide and large selection of paintings, books, gifts (and the all important sweets and icecream!) plus see more of Hannah’s amazing hand painted slates and stones – I am sure these will continue to be very popular!
Tel: 01520 733388 / Web: http://www.patterns-of-light.com
Bealach Cafe & Gallery
The newest business to the Kishorn portfolio! Open Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 5pm, closed Monday. Delicious home baking and scones, and very good coffee along with a wide selection of breakfast and lunchtime meals and snacks. View the gallery too next door and Tornapress Furniture. Located next to the famous ‘Bealach na Ba’ sign!
Tel: 01520 733243 / Web: http://www.thebealach.co.uk
It is also worth mentioning the village’s two artist studios; the Boatshed on the road to Achintraid and also Brynaport studio, located half way through Achintraid. Both are well signposted and are really worth a visit, particularly if you are looking for paintings and art of the local area and further afield. There are so many different interpretations of our beautiful landscape and it is interesting to view each painting, and see how the artist(s) have put this landscape onto paper.
The landscape is one of the main selling points for people coming to the area. When living here, you can sometimes take it for granted. Sometimes I just like to sit and watch the activity on the loch, the birds singing and flying between trees, and the clouds clearing to show blue skies and let the sun through (yes, sometimes we do loose the rain!). And even though you may not see it on a map, or just intend to pass through it, stop in Kishorn for a while. Eat here, stay here. Slow down and take in the views over Loch Kishorn to the Isle of Skye. Despite being a small and remote place in the West Highlands of Scotland, there is more to Kishorn that you might think.