£2.85m Lottery boost helps communities get closer to nature

Heritage lottery funding aims to improve landscape of Highland communities such as the Cairngorms and Tomintoul. Picture: Contribute
Heritage lottery funding aims to improve landscape of Highland communities such as the Cairngorms and Tomintoul. Picture: Contribute
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COMMUNITIES in the Cairngorms and Skye are celebrating major National Lottery investment which will see large areas of landscape along with many historic and natural attractions rejuvenated, celebrated and protected.

It includes an extension to Scotland’s first ever Ecomuseum on Skye, which will have no roof.

Thanks to a major grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Tomintoul and Glenlivet Landscape Partnership will use the rich natural heritage of the region to encourage more visitors and so help sustain fragile local communities including Tomintoul, the ‘Highest Village in the Highlands’.

Environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “It’s great to see this investment in and support for Scotland’s landscapes.

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“Our landscapes are iconic and will provide a magnificent backdrop for these projects that will encourage people to explore Scotland’s spectacular outdoors, protect our biodiversity, benefit rural communities and encourage visitors from home and abroad.”

This summer the Heritage Lottery Fund celebrated a total investment of £100milliion in projects which conserve Scotland’s landscape and biodiversity, from the Flows of Caithness to the valleys of the Tweed.

Lucy Casot, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said: “The National Lottery is ensuring that Scotland’s spectacular landscape remains one of our greatest national assets, attracting visitors and making a vital contribution to Scotland’s tourist economy.

“However it’s not just visitors that benefit. With a bit of clever thinking, we can protect our natural heritage in a way that helps support people and communities.

“The innovative projects HLF has supported today will give everyone the opportunity to experience the health, learning and social benefits of the great outdoors. I am sure they will also ignite a passion for our natural world and its long-term conservation.”

The secluded hills of Glenlivet and Tomintoul were, in the 1800’s, the perfect hiding place for as many as 200 illicit whisky stills.

Today, they are home to some of the most famous distilleries in the world.

The Glenlivet and Tomintoul Landscape Partnership will celebrate the colourful history of this distinct landscape helping its biodiversity and communities to flourish.

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Twenty projects are planned over a four-year period with the youngest to the oldest members of the communities getting the chance to become involved in learning new skills uncovering hidden history and celebrating their heritage through music and events.

The plans include making Tomintoul Museum into a Discovery Centre and tourist hub

Blairfindy Castle and Scalan, an 18thC seminary, will be conserved and made safe for visitors

woodlands will be restored along sections of the River Avon

Wetland habitats for wading birds will be created and there will be improvements to paths in the area.

Meanwhile, the north-east corner of Skye is leading the way in museum innovation being the first Ecomuseum in Scotland – a museum with no walls or roof.

The spectacular coastal cliffs, grassy platforms and lochans of Staffin provide the setting for the exhibits which are themselves features of the landscape across 13 locations.

The Ecomuseum, known by its Gaelic name ‘Ceumannan’ which means footsteps, is this remote community’s answer to preserving its fragile natural environment while managing and interpreting it for an ever-increasing number of visitors.

The plans include the creation of a new network of paths adding 5.84km to the trail and a viewing platform which will be installed at Lealt Gorge waterfall.

Staffin Community Trust chairman Donald MacDonald said: “This will allow for further development of what is already a very successful project and allow us to create an identify for our region that is specific to us.

“As a committee we aspire to our theme of climb the Cuillin, walk Trotternish and for the whole of Skye this is a significant investment in our tourism and educational infrastructure.

“The fact that this funding will also create a new three-year post is also important in a remote fragile area and will help to give people confidence, pride and a sense of place.”

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