Assynt Foundation

Home of Glencanisp Lodge


Welcome to the Glencanisp and Assynt Foundation blog. Here you can read what we have been up to at the Lodge and what we have planned for the future. The minutes of the board meetings are also available to read. If you would like any that are not here please contact us and we can email them out to you.

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September 2016 Minutes

Posted on 25 January, 2017 at 4:45

Board Meeting of Assynt Foundation, 6pm 15th September 2016, Glencanisp Office, Draft Minutes

1. Present – Nigel Goldie (Chair), Stewart Hill, Mandy Haggith (via Skype), Brendan O’ Hanrahan.

Attending – Gordon Robertson, Alex Dickson.

Apologies – Vanessa Ling, Jeanette McCarthy, Helen Simpson, Ken Hamilton.

2. Noted that August meeting was postponed.

3. Presentation by Boyd Alexander of CALL.


The Chair welcomed Boyd Alexander (BA) to the meeting.

BA thanked the Chairman and the Board members for the opportunity to discuss the CALL project and to exchange ideas on the way forward.

The general feedback on draft new CALL plan document had been positive but efforts were being made to provide succinct and clear messages relating to the CALL objectives.  Most consultees were happy with the vision, but BA was keen to seek more views on the general impression of CALL, its future needs, vision and structure.

BOH raised the following points that, in his opinion, needed addressing.

1. He felt that community development should be highlighted as a unique objective.

2. Job creation: This element appears in his opinion to have been largely left behind.

3. The nature of the landscape: There is a strong focus on native woodland. He felt CALL should include wider areas such as marine, peat land and mountain habitats. Specific species should also be highlighted.

4. Could more be done to develop and demonstrate a closer partnership with the crofting community?

Alex Dickson (AD) commented that the community had seen a lot of money coming into the area, but that this was still not keeping the younger generation in the area. Jobs and affordable housing were required.


Discussion ensued on the possible creation of a Community Development Company. All agreed that if such a company were to be created that it would be beneficial for CALL to be invited to be part of the set-up.

The Chair stressed the importance of the ongoing collaborative approach, working together on eg. footpaths & cycle routes, and other joint ventures, all of which CALL are currently engaged with.

MH stated that it was important for CALL to recognise the huge economic contribution that artists, crofters and other local residents made to the area. This is a significant element within the current plan and one with the potential to grow.

BA highlighted Historic Assynt’s involvement, particularly through archaeology, and confirmed CALL’s desire to be part of all aspects of community development.

BA went through a number of the headings on the refocused CALL plan for the future. Further updates will be circulated.

5. Financial Report

The notes on the finances, along with the schedules, had been examined during the Assynt Biz meeting, earlier in the evening. In general, the accounts were looking better than the predicted budget, but careful control will continue to be exercised.

The income for the Foundation had significantly increased on the previous year due to increased grant income. Costs were being closely monitored.

The Honesty Shop continued to prove popular. The Chair requested up-to-date figures for stalking. These would be provided and circulated. Action AP.

There were still a number of unknowns associated with the B&B enterprise. Laundry and staffing costs were being refined, and the occupancy during the winter months remains uncertain. There was a general feeling that this enterprise should contribute a substantial amount of income to the Foundation, once all the rooms were en suite, repairs and remedial works were complete and staffing levels finalised. There were still a number of weeks pre-booked under the old whole-lodge business model and these will of course be honoured, despite the disruption they will cause to the B&B business and resident staff who will have to move out.


The B&B enterprise opens up opportunities for events linked to the art studio and other specialist visits. It will be possible to accommodate stalking clients who have previously found accommodation elsewhere in Assynt. Full costed budgets will be prepared as a priority. Action GR/AP.

5. Governance

The Chair spoke to his paper that had previously been circulated in August. There was currently a shortage of board members, and as part of the attempt to reach a wider audience, the Chair will set out the key responsibilities of being a board member and also the varying types of expertise required. Options for co-option will be set out. The Articles will be revisited as elected directors are limited by the postcode restrictions. During the recruitment process, applicants will be asked to highlight their past experience on the application form. An AF subgroup will then carefully assess the applicants before reporting in confidence to the board. If suitable candidates are approved, they will then be co-opted on to the board until full election at the next AGM. It was agreed to move this item forward. Action Chair.

Annualised Agenda.

The principle of an annualised agenda was accepted by all, whilst accepting that many of the topics could still be looked at on a monthly basis when required. Setting out such an agenda gave a clear focus and an opportunity to look at items in depth in a planned manner.

It was accepted that a degree of slippage had occurred (for example with the Membership and Crofting Reviews). SH pointed out that the Business Plan should ideally be reviewed in October, rather than June. MH suggested that individual Directors should be allocated to specific disciplines. The Chair and GR will meet to refine this document and re-circulate to Board members for final approval. Action Chair/GR.


6. Executive Officer’s Monthly Report.

GR went through his written report. 

The Board discussed the situation regarding the Planning Application for the Kiln Building submitted via E Planning by GR on behalf of Fergus Stewart (FS).  It was accepted that the matter was being resolved to the satisfaction of the Planners .

MH asked for a list of all staff, their job titles, their job descriptions and details of their contracts. Action GR


7. Proposal for Friends of Assynt Foundation

The proposal by MH was adopted by the Board. AD urged that this was now widely promoted through the normal local channels including self-catering cottages and B&Bs.

AP to check the Articles of Association and position relating to Associate Members.

Action AP

8. Review of progress on the Creation of new Crofts



MH reported that 27 expressions of interest had been received, 15 of which had come from local residents. The recommendation was to create three new Townships at:

• Cnocnaneach and Druim Suardalain

• Ledbeg

• Tileathdoire


The initial thoughts had been to create 5 new crofts in each location. BOH reported that following discussions with SNH, it may only be possible to let 3 crofts at Tileathdoire. His preference, having spoken to the Elphin Community, was for the creation of smaller units. Suggested mapped areas would be provided shortly.


It was agreed that the dilapidated old croft building at Cnocnaneach would be excluded from the letting process in the first instance.

There was a proposal at the end of the meeting to organise a meeting at Glencanisp to discuss more deeply our process for creating new crofts, including taking advice from some experts with experience of croft establishment, and holding a public session to get feedback from the Community on the proposal so far. Saturday 3rd December was proposed as a possible date for this. MH offered to take this matter forward. Action MH

In order that the Board should be in a position to decide how to move forward in the best interests of the AF, it was agreed that BOH should produce maps of all the potential land available for croft creation, so that the true scale of what was available is clear.

As soon as this was done, the Crofting Sub Committee would meet again in order to put their recommendations to the Board. Action BOH


9. Administration of Glencanisp Lodge during weddings and large events


It was agreed that all weddings and large events at Glencanisp Lodge booked in future would only proceed with AF staff resident in the building to oversee proceedings. 

10.  Glebe land & possible acquisition

Pressure is continuing to be exerted on the Church of Scotland officials, in order to finalise discussions. A willingness to sell the Glebe land to AF is understood to have been agreed in principle by the Edinburgh Trustees of the COS, but requires the final approval of the local Church Officials. Indications that funds will be made available from the Scottish Land Fund have been received.

11. AOB

AD commented on the much improved AF website, but asked that the more recent pictures of weddings, taken by professional photographers, should be added to the site. In future, he also recommended having a video of the Lodge and its facilities added to the site. This will be done when the internal improvements are complete.


Date of next meeting

Thursday 20th October 2016




July Board Meeting Minutes

Posted on 6 October, 2016 at 6:25

Board Meeting of Assynt Foundation, 6pm 21st July 2016, Glencanisp Office, Draft Minutes

1. Present – Nigel Goldie (Chair), Stewart Hill (Via Skype), Helen Simpson, Mandy Haggith, Jeanette McCarthy, Brendan o’ Hanrahan.

Attending – Gordon Robertson, Rebecca Macleod, Adam Pellant, John Venters

Apologies – Vanessa Ling, Ken Hamilton

2. The Minutes of the last meeting were proposed by HS and seconded by JM, and approved.

3. The Meeting was to be a brief one, followed by a site visit to the walkers’ Car Park. This will give the opportunity to Board Members to evaluate the need for more parking spaces and to view the area adjacent to the Loch where further recreational opportunities may be developed.

4. Actions and Matters Arising

• Crofting – The request for Applications of Interest in the creation of new crofts on land owned by the Foundation has been well received. We have had around 30 applications. The deadline has been extended till Mid-August.

• New Directors – Action NG to circulate paper next month.

• Zoning in Glencanisp policies/grounds area – Map still to be drawn up and circulated. Action BH

• Possible housing plot on Drumrunie – Ongoing. Action BH

• Draft Forest Carbon Contract (Circulated) – The Board considered this contract and approved in principle its signing. By doing so, match funding for the establishment of the new woodland creation scheme at Druim Suardalain could become available. BH emphasised the complexities of the current scheme and the uncertainties over the timing of the work, grants and other future payments. SH stressed the need for more detail on the actual figures involved but agreed with NG that AF should sign when satisfied. This contract will be a vital element in the implementation of the scheme. All were aware of the need for the project to be professionally implemented, as there could be penalties if the trees fail to become established, and areas of replanting become necessary.

• Potential acquisition of Glebe Land – A Surveyor appointed by the Church of Scotland (COS) has been seen on the land. A valuation figure is expected shortly. GR will contact the COS to enquire about the status of the old Manse itself. Suggested also that GR begin initial work towards SLF application in advance to save time later. Action GR

• CALLP – NG suggested, and it was agreed, that GR should be the Representative for the Foundation. BH and NG will also attend meetings when they are able to do so. BH will be meeting with Boyd Alexander for a general update on a number of matters.

• Departmental Budgets – KH will prepare these for all departments, based on the one currently being circulated for the Stalking Department. Action KH

• Lodge – A full Financial Appraisal of the new developments and current urgent upgrades within Glencanisp Lodge will be presented to HIE in September. Action GR/AP

• Health & Safety and Renewable Energy – These two items were deferred until next month’s Board Meeting when further data will be presented. Action GR

Date of next meeting

Thursday 18th August


June Board Meeting Minutes

Posted on 4 August, 2016 at 11:50

Minutes Board Meeting of Assynt Foundation, 16th June 2016 at Glencanisp Art Studio


1. Present – Nigel Goldie (Chairman), Stewart Hill (Via Skype), Helen Simpson, Mandy Haggith.

Attending – Ken Hamilton, Gordon Robertson, Rebecca Macleod, John Venters, Agnes Dickson, Alex Dickson.

Apologies – Vanessa Ling, Jeanette McCarthy, Brendan O’ Hanrahan.

2. The minutes of the last meeting were proposed by NG and seconded by SH. Alex suggested that a summary of the Minutes should be published in the Assynt News, in order to update the Community on the work of the Foundation. It was noted that the position of Vice Chairperson had not been filled.

3. Matters Arising

• Woodland Creation adjacent to Glencanisp Lodge, within the CALLP Project – This has been a long-running and complicated scheme which has changed in ‘extent’ and has required imaginative means to provide the funding required. The Woodland Trust will take the lead in the implementation of the approved Forestry Commission Scheme, and a Draft Management Agreement is expected from CALLP soon. This will be inspected by BOH and GR before circulation and a recommendation to the Board. Background information to be sent to MH. Item for inclusion on next month’s Board Meeting Agenda. (Action AP/GR)

• Suilven Path Construction and Interpretation – This scheme is also part of the CALLP and funding for the path improvements has been secured. Chris Goodman has confirmed £8,000 is available for interpretation of this project and a meeting within the CALL Offices is to be arranged shortly. Details will be circulated. (Action GR)

• Challenge Event – VL, BOH and GR had been looking at a number of options. VL had developed initial thoughts of using locally based organisations and volunteers. These ideas were being developed. GR had received a contact list from Amanda Bryan and was evaluating feedback from private event organisers as to their costs, margins, and recommended types of events that would deliver worthwhile returns. A further more detailed report will be delivered at the next Board Meeting. (Action GR/VL/BOH)

• Drumrunie plot – Planning Applications for plots in the initially proposed area will be opposed by Highland Council’s Planning Department. BH is looking at other potential sites in the area and will report back. (Action BH)

• Budgets – KH continues to work on the production of departmental budgets, but there are a number of practical details with the new accountancy package that require resolution. (Action KH)

• New Directors – NG is developing a briefing document setting out what the Board is looking for in new Directors. This will be designed to encourage people to join the Board and to attract the skills required. Action NG.

• Zoning of Glencanisp Policies – BOH, GR and NG to complete their initial report. This plan will include recommendations for a new site for the existing rifle range.

• Financial Report – The combined profit/loss of Assynt Foundation and Assynt Biz is up on budget, primarily due to the recent income generated from the filming of Edie. NG reported that he will be meeting with the producer of the film when next in London to pursue an offer by the production company to provide promotional material for AF. All agreed that it is vital to maximise the benefit of this film to AF and the area as a whole.

• Governance – NG had previously circulated a paper highlighting the recurring nature of a number of important governance disciplines. It is important that a system is implemented to ensure that these are regularly reviewed and that reports are made to the board, who are ultimately responsible for ensuring best practice within the current management structure. NG and GR will develop this list further. Much of the routine professional administration will be the responsibility of the office staff, who are responsible for record keeping. However, there are certain specialist areas (crofting, PR, arts and crafts, stalking, renewable energy, housing, membership, health and safety, risk management etc) where staff will work closely with a designated board member to deliver agreed targets. SH stressed that matters relating to Policy and Strategy are the responsibility of the Board. The job of implementation was down to the Executive Officer. (Action GR and NG will report back to the next board meeting.)

• Reaching out to the community – JV had written a paper which highlighted the importance for AF to offer opportunities for business development on its land. These could be joint ventures or private enterprise opportunities. The spirit behind this suggestion was welcomed and is enshrined within the Business Plan. All proposals will be evaluated by the board.

• Board Member Recruitment – There is a need to be pro-active. NG is working on a written specification for potential new members, setting out the role and the requirements. MH suggested we speak to other organisations and see how they do things. Agnes suggested that a group of ex directors could be set up as an advisory board, thus offering help and guidance to new Directors. Agnes also reminded the meeting that, in the past, Board members used to have days out upon the estate for management and social reasons. It was agreed that these ideas should be taken further. JV offered the opportunity for Directors to have a day on the hill with him in order to gain a better understanding of the stalking duties within the business. (Action NG)

4. Executive Officer’s Report

• Honesty Shop. The shop had been opened and was trading ahead of the budgeted figures. It had been very well received with a number of goodwill donations received along with payment for produce bought. The profile will be raised with wider publicity.

• Glencanisp Lodge. GR has been looking into options for more flexible occupancy of the Lodge. A trial run for offering B&B will be carried out next week, given that other local B&Bs are generally fully booked over the summer. Christine has agreed to move into the Lodge whilst guests are present, in order to meet and greet and take the money due. Costs and income will be carefully monitored, but a real opportunity exists, particularly following on from the success of the North Coast 500 promotion.

• Woodchip boiler – GR still trying to find the best solution for this facility.

• Hydro – GR stated that he regarded the delivery of a successful hydro scheme as his number one priority. There has been a change of Energy Minister. GR had been working closely with the previous minister to continue urging the Government to put in place the best support schemes for community renewables. Further calls to the Glencanisp Office from the Scottish Government have given cause for reassurance that the matter is being taken very seriously.

• Bird hides – No Red Throated or Black Throated Divers have nested near hides. Issues relating to Planning and Licensing consents for photographing Golden Eagles are being resolved. Alternative wildlife tours are being discussed within the Estate Office and with Northshots. JV and GR will be meeting with Tamara Lawton of SNH shortly.

• The Walker’s Car Park – JV and GR are looking at the practical issues for extending the existing car park, which is now often full. Recent requests from visitors to allow overnight campervan parking give encouragement that there is an income earning opportunity. It will be important to liaise with the Common Grazings Committee. (Action GR/ JV to take matters forward.)

• Big Lottery Fund Webinar and Glebe Land. GR and AP had taken part in an online Webinar designed to explain opportunities and funding procedures. Funds, including those for legal costs, could be available towards the purchase of the Glebe Land, currently under discussion with the Church of Scotland (COS). GR should hear from the COS shortly before moving forward with community consultation, preparation of a business case for acquisition, and applications to grant-giving bodies.

• Business opportunities. Having been unable to reach agreement for the positioning and funding of a new purpose-built building, GR suggested Chris Goodman’s woodworking business could be relocated to the garages next to the honesty shop. The floor could be simply concreted, a wood burning stove installed and suitable lighting and windows installed. It was noted that others have previously asked about unit lease opportunities, and as such it was agreed that we must advertise this opportunity to the wider community. Highland Council has indicated that improvement grants would be available for a future tenant. Issues relating to the Council Tax/rates for the new proposal and the existing Tin Bothy used by Chris will be resolved by GR. MH suggested advertising the Tin Bothy as a new opportunity but its present condition mitigates against this. GR will investigate grants for improving the latter and report back to the Board. (Action GR to report)


• Signage- GR stressed the importance of finding distinctive signage for the Foundation. This will raise the profile, provide clarity and convey the numerous positive messages that we wish to convey. MH suggested that if the signs were also in Gaelic, we could apply for grant funding. Ongoing.

• Website and Marketing – To be revisited and clarified. A wide-ranging discussion highlighted the importance of having an effective vehicle for promotion, information dissemination, commerce and administration. Many options and ideas were aired and Alex advised that a young local IT expert could be worth asking for advice. The importance of having a ‘content management system’ was stressed by MH. NG stated that the Foundation needs to be absolutely clear on what it is we are trying to say, and we need to find the best way to say it.

This matter will be re-presented at the next Board meeting in much greater detail to enable directors to approve or amend the ‘direction of travel’. The general feedback from the wider public is that the new website (a work in progress) is a vast improvement on what was there before. (Action GR/RP)

• Crofting – MH reported that the Crofting Working Group had been formed and had met. The Group comprised Mandy Haggith, Brendan O’Hanrahan, Helen Simpson, Ray Mackay, Claire Belshaw, Kirsty Macleod, and Gordon Robertson. MH had consulted with neighbouring crofting officials, Donald Strathan, Tim Wright and Ray Strang. Following a review of the Foundation’s landholdings, sites for potential crofts existed at Ledbeg, Tiliathdoire, Cnocnaneach, Glencanisp, and potentially on the land currently owned by the Church of Scotland, which may be acquired in the future. It was agreed to identify the need, and as a result the wording of a formal call for interest was agreed. This will be published in the Assynt News, The Northern Times and the West Highland Free Press as well as on AF’s website. Applicants will be asked to submit a brief summary of themselves and what particular aims and objectives they have for any croft land let to them. Applications will be submitted to the Estate Office, and this will be the point of contact. The details of the terms and conditions attached to any future lettings will be the subject of careful analysis by the Crofting Working Group, in consultation with others, and brought to a future meeting of the AF Board. Any lettings will be under the terms of the Crofting (Amendment) (Scotland) Act 2013 (which consolidates numerous previous Acts) and will not include an automatic right to buy. The Board approved the principles set out above and the process recommended. (Action GR to publish and advertise the call for interest as agreed.)

5 A.O.B. NG reported on the possibility of funding for an Arts Bothy Project. This positive news was still being refined, but there was a clear message that things were happening, and this boded well for future opportunities of joint working with the Arts Studio at Glencanisp.

6 Date of Next meeting - Thursday 21st July 6PM



May Board Meeting Minutes

Posted on 4 August, 2016 at 11:50

Minutes of Board Meeting of Assynt Foundation, 6pm 19th May 2016, Glencanisp Office

1. Present – Nigel Goldie (Chairman from item 2 onwards), Stewart Hill, Helen Simpson, Brendan O’Hanrahan, Mandy Haggith (as director from item 6).

Attending – Ken Hamilton (to item 5), Gordon Robertson, Rebecca Macleod (to mid item 7), Adam Pellant, John Venters, Agnes Dickson.

Apologies – Vanessa Ling, Jeanette McCarthy.

2. Appointment of office-bearers – Nigel Goldie was appointed as Chairperson. Proposed by SH, seconded by BH. No vice-chair or treasurer appointed at this stage. NG thanked everyone.

3. The minutes of the last meeting were proposed by NG and seconded by SH, approved, subject to amendment on social media item to include wider communication management besides marketing.

4. Matters Arising

• Challenge Event

VL has researched the topic, speaking to people locally and other communities that have held similar events. GR stressed the need to evaluate the true costs of holding such an event balanced against the potential income and community involvement. A small committee will observe and report. VL has recommended starting modestly and engaging with local businesses. NG said we need more advice and feedback, as £15,000 income has been written into the Business Plan for the challenge in 2017/18. JV raised the issue of the timing, suggesting that Oct-Feb would not be ideal because of the estate’s stalking commitments. Furthermore BH pointed out the May-Aug bird nesting period may be unsuitable. AP questioned whether the challenge should stick to main access routes. NG asked GR to work with VL to produce a report, ready for the next meeting. (Action GR & VL.)

Agnes talked about the fun day the Foundation held a few years ago and how it was a success, made money, and had the community involved, highlighting that events can be run without costing a lot of money.

5. Financial Report

Ken went over April budget vs. actual and the cash flow. Issue raised of Deer Management Group fees, and likelihood that these will increase in coming years.

Department budgets – Ken will provide more detailed breakdown of stalking budget having spoken with John. (Action KH) [Ken left meeting.]

6. New Directors

The Directors had a private meeting before the Foundation meeting to discuss new directors. As part of that discussion, it was agreed to co-opt Mandy Haggith onto the board. Mandy was welcomed and thanked. NG stressed the need to find more directors, and produced a paper about elections of directors. HS suggested a mentoring programme for new directors. NG and SH suggested re-running advertising in Assynt News for directors. HS volunteered to put something in. (Action: NG to circulate paper.)

• MH suggested that staff may have a roll in picking potential directors. JV also pointed out that the community needs to know that they can come and ask questions at any time.

• GR raised the need to have important paperwork in the office on file, such as insurance papers. NG wants to see all files sorted out, and transferred onto central electronic files for easier access.

7. E.O. Report

• Honesty Shop

GR talked about progress to date. Stuart will be making new shelves for the display of merchandise and has painted the interior. It is hoped that the shop can be open shortly. The Northern Times are keen to run an article on this development when appropriate.

• Croft Creation

GR recommended allowing the current grazing tenants of the area of land let at Drumrunie to work with the Foundation in creating a croft on this land. This would be a quick fix whilst the Foundation also worked on creating new crofts for others at Ledbeg. BH and MH were in favour of an open allocation process for all new crofts including at Drumrunie, in which case there would be no guarantee that the current grazing tenants there would get the crofting tenancy. MH suggested a working group, with someone from the Assynt Crofters Trust invited to join. It was decided that MH, GR, BH &HS would be on the working group. (Action: working group to produce a report.)

• Deer Management

The required Deer Management Plan is being produced by BH as an independent contractor. BH reported that the recent Section 7 meeting resulted in our cull numbers being reduced at Drumrunie, which should be favourable with our neighbours at Inverpolly and Eisg Brachaidh. There has been an increase in deer numbers at the eastern end of Glencanisp Estate near Ledbeg. BH has submitted an SRDP application for reducing deer density from 9 to 7 deer /km2 on that area.


• CALLP Druim Suardalain Woodland Scheme

Recent progress towards a management agreement with The Woodland Trust for Scotland (WTS) has been made. The WTS would be paid our SRDP grant directly, in order for them to bankroll this and other future CALLP woodland projects on our ground. Action: GR will circulate email about this. Helen asked about social and economic outcomes and risks from our woodland creation schemes. We will know more detail on risks once management agreement with WTS is drafted.

[Rebecca left meeting.]

• Film Crew etc.

The filming of “Edie” had created much hard work for the Estate and Lodge staff but the long term benefits will hopefully reap dividends for the Foundation and the community at large.

“How Scotland Works” programme featuring John with Andy Summers undertaking ‘eagle photography’ had been aired and was very well received.


• Premises Licence – now obtained. Thanks to Jeanette.

• Hydro

Gordon is hopeful that hydro development may be possible within the 5 year timescale of the Business Plan. We will know in two weeks if a grant from Local Energy Scotland of up to £40,000 is approved for a Feasibility Study for a 100kW scheme. GR to meet with Dr Paul Monaghan MP and SSE to discuss grid issues and alternative outlets for future electricity generation.

• Angling – Shona Marshall of the West Sutherland Fisheries Trust will send her report from recent electro-fishing to GR.

8. Website

Draft new website, combining both AF and Assynt.Biz trading activities, has been set up by Richard. It is ready to make live and is intended to replace both and existing websites with one co-ordinated site.

Agreed GR to authorise content of blog posts and if unsure may check anything contentious with NG.

NG asked for photo requests to be more specific.


9. Glebe

Agreed to progress discussions with Church of Scotland Trustees towards possible low-cost acquisition of the Glebe land. (Action: GR)


10. AOCB

Reports/Reviews at board meetings – Action: NG to plan in advance for various specific topics to be covered at different board meetings alongside normal business.


NG suggested that there may be an opportunity for the Board to undertake an ‘away day’ event in order to develop skills and learn about relevant enterprises of value to the Foundation and the Community. Action. NG to provide further info at next Board Meeting.


Date of next meeting – Thursday 16th June.



April Board Meeting Minutes

Posted on 4 August, 2016 at 11:25

Minutes of Board Meeting of Assynt Foundation, 15th April 2016, Glencanisp Office

1. Present/ In Attendance/ Apologies

Present: Stewart Hill (Chairman), Nigel Goldie, Jeanette McCarthy,

Vanessa Ling, Brendan O’ Hanrahan

In attendance: Ken Hamilton, Rebecca Macleod, Adam Pellant, Gordon Robertson, John Venters.

Apologies: Helen Simpson

A moment’s silent reflection was observed, in light of the recent death of Helen Steven, who served for many years as a director and previous Chairperson of Assynt Foundation, and who put in much work and enthusiasm in support of the Foundation and the Assynt Community.

2. Minutes of Last meeting

The Minutes were accepted as read. Proposed by Jeanette and seconded by Nigel.

3. Actions and Matters arising

Departmental Budgets – Budgets are in the process of being prepared for each Department and will be available at the next Board Meeting in May (Action Ken)

4. Financial report

Profit and loss account – the expected grant income had been received.

KH is on schedule to have the accounts ready for the Auditors in July.

5. Executive Officer Report

• Glencanisp Policies Area Master Plan – Gordon, Brendan and Nigel are to walk the ground and produce an outline with map, within 2 months, for the June Meeting. (Action Gordon)

• Lodge – Gordon will produce a Lodge maintenance / repair schedule – Timescale for this to follow, as contractor’s estimates will be required.

• Honesty Shop – Work to start shortly. Need to get it painted, cleared out and a name for it, and get fridge, freezer and stock. The costs are all in the Budget.

• Ledbeg House – Decision required on rental levels and the need to balance these with existing neighbouring rents. Local rents vary greatly with some as high as £50 an acre. Ongoing.

• Social Media – Need to have structured management of communication. Item for next Board meeting.

• LES grant – Confirmation from LES has been received that a development grant for another hydro scheme may be available. Gordon will check that this grant offer woulds not adversely affect AF’s state aid position.

6. Business Plan

The Business plan is complete, with only a couple of formatting adjustments to be made. Ready to be put on the website. The two main concerns of the plan are

Challenge Event – Suggestion of getting a consultant for guidance. Stewart suggested that we invite other community charities such as Culag Woods and Assynt Leisure. Suggestion of a system for recording the volunteer’s hours. (Action Vanessa and Gordon)


Artist in Residence project – no match funding in place. In order for it to go ahead in year one Nigel asked if the foundation would agree to provide the match funding to an estimated level of £700. Agreed.

Next Meeting Thursday 19th May



Call for Interest in New Crofts

Posted on 20 June, 2016 at 9:45


Assynt Foundation has a long-standing ambition to ‘put lights back on in the glens’ by establishing new crofts and thus creating long-term opportunities to contribute to local livelihoods, diversify access to land and, potentially, enable access to affordable housing. A working group is currently exploring possible locations at Tileathdoire/Drumrunie, Ledbeg, Cnocnaneach and Glencanisp with a view to establishing crofts of varying size and land type.


These crofts will be established and regulated according to crofting law. They will be life-long, heritable tenancies, with an annual rent payable to Assynt Foundation, with no automatic right to buy or assign. All croft tenancies have a residency requirement: tenants must live within 20 miles of the croft. (For more information see At this stage, we cannot guarantee that any of the crofts will have planning permission, services or access for houses.


Once the crofts have been established, there will be a formal application process for the tenancies. Selection of tenants will be by an independent panel using a points system, which will be consulted on and made public. Criteria are likely to include current place of residence, age and realistic plans for use of the land.


We are now seeking expressions of interest in the new crofts. This is not part of the formal application process but it will enable the working group to assess how many crofts of what size and what kind of land will best match demand for crofts and common land.


If you have any questions please contact one of the working group: Gordon Robertson, Brendan O’Hanrahan, Mandy Haggith, Claire Belshaw, Helen Simpson, Ray Mackay or Kirsty Macleod.


If you would like to express an interest in becoming a crofter on Assynt Foundation land, please send us your name, contact details and a short summary of why you would like a croft and/or a share in common land. If having a croft house is important to you, please state this (but note what is said above on this topic). Please send no more than 1 side of A4 in total by 1 August 2016 to Gordon Robertson, Assynt Foundation, Glencanisp, Lochinver, IV27 4LW, 01571 844100.




Posted on 6 June, 2016 at 10:50




The idea of opening an Honesty Shop evolved from comments received from the many visitors who walk through Glencanisp on their way up to Suilven and the surrounding countryside.


If only we could have a cup of coffee!! I’d die for a bar of chocolate or an ice cream!! Is there a soft drink or snack outfit nearby? I guess everything will be closed.


Well!! We believe that most of us like to be trusted. So we have set about converting, in a very simple fashion, the old laundry below the Estate Office. We have started with limited items for sale, but hope that the visitors themselves will tell us what is missing and how we can make their day more rewarding.


Make yourself a coffee, tea or hot chocolate. Have a cool drink, ice cream or snack. Defend yourself with midge repellant!! If you are staying in self catering accommodation, why not try one of Christine’s home made pies. Delicious.


We also want to promote local crafts and businesses in a co-odinated way, with the aim of enriching the visitor experience and helping local enterprise to thrive.


We are definitely not a major Supermarket, and we are starting small, on a limited budget. Please support our wee enterprise and enjoy that secret something that will just add to your day.






Not so dark skies

Posted on 23 May, 2016 at 9:50

Beautiful Glen Canisp is one of two “Dark Sky Discovery” sites in Assynt, a place where the night sky can be viewed without any light pollution. Glen Canisp has “Milky Way Status” – the highest accolade.

This means that there is so little light pollution here that the entire Milky Way can be seen when the skies are clear, and what a stunning sight it is!


At the moment our sun is just passing the peak of “solar maximum” – the time in the sun’s cycle when we are most likely to see the Aurora, or Northern Lights. Aurora season was amazing this winter despite us having passed the peak of solar activity, with the lights visible on many nights. We are unlikely to see them again until after autumn however, as the summer night skies are too light.


However, another amazing phenomena is about to be visible from our northern skies - Noctilucent Clouds. Noctilucent clouds, or “Night Shining Clouds” are tenuous cloud-like phenomena that are the ragged edge of a much brighter and pervasive polar cloud layer called polar mesospheric clouds in the upper atmosphere, visible in a deep twilight. They are made of crystals of water ice. Noctilucent roughly means night shining in Latin. These clouds are little known to the public, but are absolutely stunning to see.


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Retirement - A warning for the Workers!

Posted on 23 May, 2016 at 9:50


Retirement is when you plan to put your feet up, do nothing or only do

what you

want to. Nothing could be more boring or tedious. You've spent your entire

working life building skills and knowledge, all to go to waste in retirement!

Not likely. Becoming a Director of the Assynt Foundation opened up a

whole new

world for me. An opportunity to apply some previously gained skills but more

importantly to learn a lot about how estates work, how they need to be managed

and how the land of Assynt can be managed for the benefit of the community.

Hard work but certainly rewarding and satisfying - better than putting

your feet



I'll drink to that!

Posted on 23 May, 2016 at 9:45


For some time now we have been trying to obtain a licence to sell alcohol and organise entertainment at Glencanisp, and it has finally arrived. The many weddings that we have at the Lodge can now benefit not only from a bar at their reception, but also enjoy a drink from our “honesty bar.” Up until now, each event has had to apply for an occasional license, and this gives us the flexibility to offer more services than before, and more convenience for our guests.


The road to obtaining the license was made very smooth by David Inglis of the Highland Council Licensing Board, who was incredibly helpful all along. The only hiccup we had was when we put in our application form that alcohol would be stored in our Gun Room. This is a room that was used in the past for the storage of ammunition and has toughened glass windows, so we thought it would be ideal. Very soon however we had a visit from the police team in charge of licensing, wanting to know if we were planning to sell guns and liquor, our own version of the Wild West!

It was soon sorted out much to everyone’s amusement, and the friendly officers brought some beautiful weather up with them, and stayed a while to walk and take photos.


We now have to go about setting up our honesty bar in the Lodge. It’s planned to have a selection of malt whiskies and some organic beers for the guests to enjoy. Of course they can also bring their own, or order special items from our staff as well. All in all another great reason to come and visit Glencanisp.