Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Summer Meeting - Sleat Peninsula, Skye

I would like to thank all those who made the Forum's summer visit to Skye such a success.  Lady Noble of Fearann Eilean Iarmain (The Isle Ornsay Estate) hosted the visit and Malcolm Younger (Islesman Ltd) made the local arrangements on her behalf.  We stayed at Sabhal Mor Ostaig (The Gaelic College), which was established by Sir Ian Noble.  We met there on Thursday afternoon, 26th May, and completed a short meeting to discuss Forum business, before being joined by several local guests.

After an introduction by Lady Noble, we heard presentations from:
  • Professor Frank Rennie from UHI about Common Grazings;
  • Isabel Moore, ‎Biologist at Skye Fisheries Trust, about Salmon and Sea Trout; and
  • Jan Wallwork-Clarke, the CEO of Clan Donald Land Trust (the neighbouring landowner), about the estate and deer management.
Photo: Stewart Dawber
Over drinks before supper, the local photographer, Stewart Dawber, gave us a show of his photographs.  This served to whet our appetite for the field visit the following day; we were not to be disappointed.  This photo is an example of his work.

After dinner, we were treated to a cultural presentation about the history of the Sleat Peninsula by Professor Hugh Cheape from the College.  After this, the weather was so perfect, with wind to keep the local midges at bay, that we were able to put the world to rights while standing outside enjoying the view across the Sound of Sleat, in the last of the light.

On Friday morning, we drove the loop road to the west coast of the peninsula and had many interesting discussions in the sunshine, while soaking in the stunning view of the Cuillins.  Among many other topics, we discussed: deer management; the interaction between moorland and woodland management; the economics of farming in the area; fishery management, which included coming face to face with Fresh Water Pearl Mussels and an Adder; and common grazings.

This visit has served to provide the Forum with some very useful contacts in the north and west of the country.  This is of particular importance as we roll out the review of the Muirburn Code and the developing guidance under the banner of the Principles of Moorland Management.  Also, if the Forum is to play a role with the development of a Moorland Vision, in whatever form this takes, good contacts in this area will be essential. The area to the north and west of the Great Glen does not get enough focus and I hope that the Forum can use this visit as the catalyst to start to correct this.

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