The Staffin Community Trust (SCT) was delighted to announce in September 2016 that the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) had approved a £522,000 grant to enhance the Skye Ecomuseum experience for visitors and the island’s resident communities. The HLF award will enable the construction of a viewing platform at Lealt Gorge, new footpaths and interpretation, a central Staffin “orientation point”, a full events programme and the creation of a project manager’s job on a three-year contract.
It came after SCT recently submitted major funding and planning applications to enhance its innovative and Skye Ecomuseum, which opened almost a decade ago. It saw paths opened up at 14 different sites across the Staffin district including Lealt, Brothers Point, Garafad, Brogaig, Digg and Flodigarry and attractive interpretation was installed illustrating each area’s attributes including heritage, crofting, wildlife, geology, archaeology etc. SCT is currently working towards the project’s start date and has also applied for funding to the Coastal Communities Fund to ensure the project can be delivered.
The Skye Ecomuseum became the first in Scotland and the UK, with funding from a variety of European and national sources, including the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). Also known as Ceumannan, which is”footsteps” in Gaelic, the project is estimated to have helped attract thousands of extra visitors annually to Staffin and encouraged them to stay longer, which boosts the local economy. In 2014, SCT commenced a development phase, after receiving a HLF grant, and worked up exciting proposals working with public agencies and consultants to revamp and enhance the Ecomuseum. A major economic impact report carried out by respected Highland economist Steve Westbrook estimated that the Staffin economy would be boosted by an additional visitor spend of £165,000 if the Skye Ecomuseum II project was delivered. This is hugely important given a worrying population decline of 5 per cent and the shrinking primary school rool in Staffin. That economic report can be read in full here: Skye Ecomuseum II Economic Impact
The proposals include:
Major capital works including a viewing platform at Lealt Gorge, new and upgraded footpaths at Loch Langaig, Flodigarry and Grealin-Lealt
Significant and attractive interpretation “welcome” structures at the Storr, Quiraing and Flodigarry (the gateways into the Ecomuseum and Staffin)
An Ecomuseum orientation point in central Staffin proving information about the different walking routes, maps etc
Removal and replacement of all the existing interpretation panels at the 14 Ceumannan sites
Fresh branding and marketing strategy for Ecomuseum
A new user-responsive and mobile friendly website
A packed events/activities programmes which includes a proposed walking festival, guided walks and tours, education curriculum pack for schools, children’s craft and storytelling events, archaeology events/workshops etc etc
Creation of one full-time project manager’s job in Staffin on a three-year contract to run the Ecomuseum
SCT submitted the final round funding application to the HLF in June 2016. HLF representatives then visited Staffin in August and a decision was then announced in September. SCT has also lodged a planning application with Highland Council for the capital works. This is a hugely important project in terms of creating employment and helping boost the local economy, with an emphasis on extending the summer visitor season into the “shoulder months”.
SCT would like to thank Staffin Community Council, local crofting townships, residents and businesses including Staffin Primary School, Staffin Hall, The Wee Quilter, Skyelight Candles, Bealach Uige B&B, Quiraing View, B&B, Columba 1400, Dun Flodigarry Youth Hostel and Portree Youth Hostel, for their input and support. SCT is also grateful for the input and advice from its former development officer Marion Beaton into the first round application and to Highland Council’s access officer Donald Kennedy, Alan Melrose of Walk Deeside Ltd, Arwell Jones, Einir Young, Gwenan Jones of the Llyn Ecomuseum in north Wales; Phil McCaherty at HIE; Scottish Natural Heritage’s Alex Turner; Ruth Meekings; Jock Gordon Design Services; Fred McIntosh at the council’s transport department; David MacVicar and Ewen MacPherson at the Scottish Government’s Rural Payments and Inspections Division. It would also like to thank the consultant teams for the reports submitted including Chris York of Walking the Talk Ltd; Geoff Freedman; Muir Associates, Ross and Cromarty Archaeological Services, Steve Westbrook and MacDonald Orr Design.
There is a huge demand from people keen to explore Staffin and enjoy our spectacular scenery and learn more about the “Staffin Story”. By creating a more extensive paths network, eye-catching attractions such as the viewing platform and interpretation SCT can encourage more visitors to come to Staffin and stay longer. That in turn could spark a welcome economic boost through increased numbers of people staying overnight in B & Bs and shopping and eating locally.
Below is a mini-photo gallery of the existing Ecomuseum and its events and a link to the original website.