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New project launches to provide funded sailing programmes for young people affected by lockdown

Image Credit: Matthew Dickens

A new campaign, Our Isles and Oceans, has launched in Scotland today which will create funded programmes for young people affected by the pandemic and lockdown. The Our Isles and Oceans mission statement is ‘Youth Opportunity and Professional Development for Sustainable Livelihoods’ and intends on, through the vehicle of sport and business, highlighting the importance of a sustainable future for the next generation through activities and partnerships with sustainable organisations and enterprises.

The cornerstone of the project will be a partnership with the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race. Through this partnership, Our Isles and Oceans and the Clipper Race will be providing funded sailing programmes for young people to learn to sail on the West Coast of Scotland.

Our Isles and Oceans is calling for 18- to 35-year-olds to apply to its initiative, as the pandemic has had a negative impact on the age group’s education and employment opportunities over the last 15 months. The charity Young Minds ran surveys* earlier this year and found that 67% of young people believe that the pandemic will have a long-term negative effect on their mental health. Our Isles and Oceans aims to provide positive experiences for these young people.

This new project will create social benefits and business growth in the UK, develop enriching participatory events, and spread positivity and inclusion throughout the British Isles. Through the programmes, businesses will work with young people to provide opportunities for professional development and will focus on building confidence and promoting sustainable livelihoods. This will be a training atmosphere where individuals will gain life experiences and will be fun, exciting and unique.

The Clipper Race is the only event of its kind which offers everyday people the opportunity to train to become ocean racing sailors. The confidence built and the skills learnt through the sport of sailing can be transferred from on deck to the workplace which is why the first Our Isles and Oceans programme to launch will take place on a Clipper Race yacht.

This summer, along the West Coast of Scotland, up to 50 successful candidates will take part in a funded sailing course on board an Our Isles and Oceans branded (68 ft) Clipper Race training yacht. Under the guidance of a Clipper Race Training Skipper, each group of recruits will be challenged to learn new practical skills, develop their self-belief and work as a team.

In addition, 10 of these recruits will then be offered the opportunity to apply for an additional four weeks of intensive ocean racing training to be held at the Clipper Race Training HQ in Gosport, Hampshire. If successful, they would receive a funded place on board the (70 ft) Our Isles and Oceans team entry which will be competing in the Clipper 2023-24 Race. Each recruit would complete one leg of the Clipper Race circumnavigation. Taking part in this endurance challenge would see them face oceans such as the North Pacific, North or South Atlantic and Southern Ocean, carrying the message of Our Isles and Oceans from a national to a global stage. The Our Isles and Oceans team will compete alongside other organisations and cities and will visit notable ports across the world.

With young people being particularly impacted this past year, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, record-breaking sailor and co-founder of the Clipper Race, hopes this new programme will make a positive change in the successful candidates’ lives.

“Sailing is so much more than just a sport or pastime as it gives you experience that is as useful in the workplace as it is on board a yacht. The sport develops self-confidence and self-esteem which is so important to restore following the pandemic.

“Everything you do on board a sailing boat is practical and I feel practical skills have somewhat been lost over the years. Knot tying is one of the obvious skills that will be learnt but the crew will also start to understand the weather, the enormity of the sea and how to cope with them both.

“Problem solving is key to sail training, as is leadership and teamwork. You’ll often find young people are judged too early. Putting them on a yacht, with a team, is a great equaliser. You’ll see things are picked up quickly and as each challenge is overcome, confidence grows, with a new belief in themselves that they can achieve anything.”

Recruitment for the Our Isles and Oceans campaign opens today. Applicants aged 18-35 can apply through www.ourislesandoceans.co.uk. The focus of recruitment will not be based on past job or work experience but will instead be based on an applicant’s ambition to take part in this special programme. The campaign is looking to assist people who may think opportunities such as these are out of their reach.

Our Isles and Oceans Founder, David Stewart Howitt, explains:

“In these challenging times, Our Isles and Oceans seeks to bring together the powerful forces of business and sport to offer an inspiring opportunity for the youth of today.

“Our Isles and Oceans will offer applicants the chance to learn from experienced professionals and to push themselves outside their comfort zone to equip them for the challenges of today’s marketplace.

“Outwardly focused and with a relentlessly positive approach, we at Our Isles and Oceans believe that there is opportunity for all given the right chance. We also want to bring awareness to the plight of the oceans and to promote the importance of sustainable livelihoods.”

The Our Isles and Oceans campaign begins with the first series of sailing programmes in July 2021. Applications are now being accepted through the website at www.ourislesandoceans.co.uk

Image credit Matthew Dickens

Follow Our Isles and Oceans at

www.facebook.com/ourislesandoceans

www.instagram.com/ourislesandoceans

www.twitter.com/OurIslesOceans

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Covid Protection Levels

Stopping the spread of Covid starts with all of us.  Check your postcode to understand the Covid Protection level in your area.

 

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Autumn can be the best time of the year to cycle in Scotland. There’s no midges and you certainly won’t find yourself pecking due to the heat. Here’s 20 of our favourite routes.

By Alex Burns, The Herald

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harris and Lewis, Hebridean Way – With their Caribbean-esque beaches (though admittedly un-Caribbean weather) the island of Harris and Lewis became the darling of Scottish holidaymakers over the summer. They also provide some of the most remote and other-worldly sections of the Hebridean Way, an 185-mile cycle route that can be tackled in full over several days. After boarding a ferry to Leverburgh, you set off along the ‘golden road’ on Harris’ west side, with a rocky backdrop and some steep hills to tackle. The climbs are rewarded though, with impressive views of Taransay and the odd seal fishing in the distance. The Temple Café in Northton is a great spot to have a coffee and a rest in some very relaxing surroundings. The route then leads along the west side of the island, where golden sands and sparkling waters await you as a reward for your hard work. You can then continue to Lewis, where you might be joined by golden eagles overhead as you journey through the rugged peatlands.

Lochwinnoch Loop Line, Renfrewshire – Almost entirely traffic-free, this tarmacked cycle path is perfect for families or less confident cyclists. It runs for 14 miles from Paisley Canal train station, along the NCR7 cycle route to the town of Johnstone, before heading south to Kilbirnie via Kilbarchan and Lochwinnoch.

It follows the route of the railway line which makes it mercifully flat, and apart from a 300 metre section at Elderslie the journey avoids cycling on the road completely. There’s artwork along the way – including the apt Bedrock Bike sculpture – as well as wildlife to spot at the Castle Semple Loch and the RSPB Lochwinnoch nature reserve. To get back where you started you don’t have to cycle the whole thing in reverse. Simply make it as far as Lochwinnoch train station, where you can get a direct train back to Paisley in just 13 minutes.

Loop of Great Cumbrae, North Ayrshire – Most of us will have attempted this route at least once during childhood. In the summer months it is almost a right of passage to board the ferry over from Largs, hire a bike in Millport and then attempt the 10 mile circumference of the Great Cumbrae island. The lack of traffic and flat terrain has always made it a popular choice for a journey on two wheels, but the tourism market tends to dry up considerably during the winter months. But what’s stopping you giving it a go even when the weather is chilly? Sailings from Largs run from 6am-8pm on Mondays to Saturdays under the winter timetable, and 8am-8pm on Sundays, with most of the bike hire shops remaining open.

Nevis Range Mountain Biking Trail, Torlundy, Fort William – Bored of cycling around the same old residential streets? At Nevis Range, you can mix things up by riding on mountainous forest trails with total freedom – and a considerable burst of adrenaline. They have an array of trails to suit anyone up from complete beginners and families, up to a trio of black-graded trails which will appeal to mountain biking pros or those who have a fair bit of bottle. There’s blue and red-graded trails too, to suit those who fall somewhere in between, with bike hire on offer if you don’t have a mountain bike of your own to bring along.

The Forth and Clyde Canal – The best part about the Forth and Clyde Canal is its flexibility. Ambitious cyclists can follow it right the way from Old Kilpatrick through Clydebank, Maryhill, Kirkintilloch and Kilsyth before reaching the iconic Falkirk Wheel and then continuing east to Linlithgow and Edinburgh beyond. Those who are feeling less energetic can tackle the canal in whichever smaller sections they prefer: with the route mercifully traffic-free, simple to follow and lacking any kind of steep gradients. Some of the best sections are from Stockingfield Junction to Auchinstarry (which features historic settlements and ancient Roman sites) and from Linlithgow to Ratho (which leads past some charming colourful houseboats as well as the Edinburgh Canal Centre).

Four Abbeys, Scottish Borders – Showcasing some of the best sites that the Borders has to offer, this circular route encompasses the four main abbeys of the region (Dryburgh, Kelso, Jedburgh and Melrose). Challenging but feasible to complete in a day, the route can also be tackled over two with an overnight stop in one of the towns. The scenic, well-marked route follows mainly quiet roads with some brief stretches on local A roads. There are two paths that can be followed: going via Scott’s View offers a great view and a hillier terrain, while the route by Newtown St Boswells is slightly easier (but not without steep climbs of its own).

Rob Roy Loop, Stirlingshire – Robert Roy MacGregor was one of the most famous outlaws of Scottish history, a Robin Hood-style figure who became a folk hero immortalised in poetry and books. The Rob Roy Way, created in 2002, is an 80-mile footpath leading from Drymen to Pitlochry, following paths used by Rob Roy during his lifetime. For cyclists, there is the much shorter, eight mile loop that passes Rob Roy’s grave as it leads from Strathyre to Balquhidder and back again. This quiet, rural loop also offers views of Loch Voil, Ben Ledi, Creag an Tuiric and the Braes of Balquhidder. It will be popular with both kids and history buffs alike.

Kyle of Sutherland Loop, Dornoch – It’s become very popular to explore this corner of Scotland by car, as part of the North Coast 500. But why not see it in style by travelling on two wheels? The 35-mile Kyle of Sutherland loop twists and turns along single track roads from Dornoch to Edderton, Ardchronie, Bonar Bridge and Spinningdale. It will take a full day to do if you want to take time to stop and enjoy the views – a must – especially the ‘Million Dollar View’ above the Dornoch Firth. This is quite an arduous cycle and requires a fair bit of nerve while sharing the road with cars and lorries, so it’s not one for beginners or families.

Dock Park to Mabie Forest, Dumfries – The village of Keir Mill, in the heart of Dumfries and Galloway, was home to Kirkpatrick Macmillan, a blacksmith who is widely credited with the invention of the pedal driven bicycle. It is only fitting then, that the area has a variety of great cycle routes for the public to enjoy. One of the best is a ride from Dock Park to Mabie Forest via Cargenbridge: which offers varied terrains throughout its 11.5 miles of pleasant cycling. From Dock Park head for the Maxwelltown cycle path, which offers a run of traffic-free, flat cycling until it ends at Garroch Loaning. You will then have to cycle on the A711 towards Mabie Park Farm, which although reasonably quiet can see some cars swerving at the last minute to move into the passing places, so be sure to keep your wits about you. Once you get there you can stop before returning the way you came, or explore further into Mabie Forest.

Wild about Argyll Trail, Argyll and Bute – This varied, exciting trail runs for more than 650km past some of the best scenery in the west coast of Scotland. Evidently it’s a bit too much to tackle in a day, or even in a couple of days, but you can choose a section to try out initially and then perhaps attempt the full thing later on as part of an adventure holiday. It is best suited for gravel and mountain bikes but some stretches on quiet roads or cycle paths will suit road bikes too. The trail is a good option for this time of year, as the midges are largely gone and some of the wet and muddy sections are a little bit drier- though you can expect to still get dirty. Starting out in Helensburgh, the route takes in some of Argyll’s most stunning locations, including Cowal, Kintyre and Oban, with rivers, lochs and the sea ever-present along the way. Train stations in Helensburgh, Garelochhead, Arrochar and Tarbet, Taynuilt, Connel and Oban offer opportunities to split up the journey, while plenty of sites of interest (such as Puck’s Glen or the Allt Dearg Wind Farm) provide places to stop for a rest.

Glasgow to Balloch, via National Cycle Route 7 – There’s nothing worse than over-doing it on an ambitious cycle and then realising you have to do the whole thing in reverse to get home. Fortunately, the route from Glasgow to Balloch is peppered with train stations where you can stop off, rest your legs and rely on the train to bring you back to where you started. But if you do manage the whole full 20-mile route you will be rewarded with a great sense of satisfaction- as well as some lovely views of Loch Lomond. Start at the spectacular Riverside Musuem in Partick, or even earlier at Glasgow Green, and then follow the (largely traffic free) National Cycle Route 7 as it weaves alongside the River Clyde to Clydebank. From there, take the Forth and Clyde Canal as far as Dumbarton before heading north along the River Leven towards the lovely village of Balloch.

Speyside Way, Aviemore – The Speyside Way runs for 65 miles, all the way from Buckie to Aviemore, but the sections from Fochabers to Ballindalloch and from Nethy Bridge to Aviemore are those most suitable for bikes. Arguably the prettiest part is the section that begins in the striking Rothiemurcus estate, following the Speyside Way to the postcard village of Boat of Garten. The journey itself is scenic enough, but when you reach the village it is worth a detour to admire the tranquil waters of the nearby Loch Garten -with its pineforest, wetlands full of wildlife and dramatic views of Ben Macdui (Britain’s second highest mountain). Less experienced cyclists may wish to stop there, but the Speyside path continues to Nethy Bridge for those who want a bit more of a challenge. Be careful though – if you venture too far along the route and reach Ballindalloch you may discover the hard way that the path can’t sustain bikes.

Loch Leven Heritage Trail, Kinross – This 13 mile, 21km trail around Loch Leven is traffic-free apart from a stretch of just 100 metres. While this makes it ideal for cycling, it is also popular with families, runners and those just out for a stroll, so be prepared to be patient and ring your bell when necessary to let people know you are approaching. There are different points at which you can begin your cycle but there’s also various cafes around the loch’s circumference, so you can take several pitstops if necessary to help you complete the whole thing. While you are cycling make sure to look out for pink-footed geese, waterfowl and ducks, as the loch attracts the largest concentration of them found anywhere in the UK. A great option for a day out with kids.

Mountain bike trails in Pollok Park, Glasgow – A carpet of autumnal leaves makes Pollok Park a real treat at this time of year. But rather than exploring its 361 acres by foot, why not do it in style via the excellent mountain bike trails within the park? Despite being close to the buzz of Shawlands, and indeed the city centre beyond, the trails on offer are as good as any that can be found in the countryside. There’s a variety of difficulty levels, too: the short and flat green circuit provides an ideal introduction to off-road cycling; the blue circuit offers steeper terrain with varied surfaces (with skill and concentration required); the red circuit offers constructed obstacles to give a real taste of mountain biking and the black requires significant skill -though higher thrills- and should not be attempted by inexperienced riders.

Applecross Peninsula Loop via Bealach na Bà, Wester Ross – The Bealach na Bà is one of the most famous roads in the country. But while most people will drive up its various twists and turns, tackling the road by bike offers one of the best bragging honours cyclists can get. Holding the title of the greatest ascent of any road in the UK, the hairpin bends and 7% gradient are exhausting, but highly rewarding for the views of Skye and beyond. By starting in Applecross and heading clockwise, via Fearnmore and Tornapress, you face a fair few tough climbs before you even reach the iconic Bealach na Bà. But by saving the big climb until last, a well-deserved drink in the famous beer garden of the Applecross Inn will taste that extra bit sweeter.

Five Ferries Challenge, Argyll and Bute – Hugely rewarding – but highly challenging – this route is suitable for competent cyclists only. As the name suggests it involves taking five ferries: Ardrossan to Brodick (Arran); Lochranza (Arran) to Claonaig (Kintyre); Tarbert (Kintyre) to Portavadie (Cowal); Colintraive (Cowal) to Rhubodach (Bute) and finally Rothesay (Bute) to Wemyss Bay; cycling between each of the various ferry terminals. If you reckon you can fit all that in within a day, and feel fit enough for 55 miles of cycling, then it is well worth the effort, with the option of raising some money for charity if you do it on a sponsored basis. CalMac even sells a ticket specifically for those doing the five ferries, priced at £14.70 per adult.

Newton Mearns to Fenwick, Ayrshire – One of the benefits of the lockdown-induced influx of cyclists on our roads is that there is now genuine pressure to improve the road infrastructure for bikes. So as more of our city streets are redeveloped to provide dedicated cycle lanes, they could use the road from Newton Mearns to the village of Fenwick as an example of what to aim for. An excellent two-way cycle lane is fully segregated and kerbed off from the road for a stretch of several miles, offering cyclists of all ages and abilities the chance to try out some more adventurous routes while feeling totally safe. When you reach Fenwick it’s a short journey to the beautiful Craufurdland Castle and Estate, which has its own popular café and coffee shop where you can stock up on some well-deserved cake.

Edinburgh to North Berwick – You might imagine that Scotland’s capital city isn’t particularly enjoyable to navigate on a bike. But with the roads currently quieter than usual, and Edinburgh boasting a surprising amount of cycle-paths and traffic-free trails, a ride from the city out to North Berwick is a lovely way to spend the day. You can start at Portobello beach, in the east of the city, or a bit further along at Musselburgh or Prestonpans if you don’t fancy doing the full 55 mile route. Once you make it as far as Aberlady you will be rewarded with some quiet rural roads with minimal traffic, before joining the B1347 all the way to North Berwick. From there, hop on the train back to where you started- or cycle back if you are feeling particularly fit.

Green Circular, Dundee – The Green Circular has been a popular cycle route in Dundee for 25 years, but it has recently been upgraded with some resurfacing at the Riverside Nature Park and Trottick Ponds as greener travel becomes a political priority. The 26 mile circular route skirts around the circumference of the city while avoiding the busy centre itself: leading from Invergowrie along the waterfront to Monifieth, where it cuts north up towards Arbroath Road and then Baldovie Road before weaving through Drumgeith Park and Finlathen Park. From there, head towards Trottick Ponds and then Templeton Woods to take you to Camperdown Park to finish. A free map of the route is available online or from cycle shops across the city, which also includes additional suggestions for routes around the outskirts of the city.

Wild about Argyll Trail, Argyll and Bute – This varied, exciting trail runs for more than 650km past some of the best scenery in the west coast of Scotland. Evidently it’s a bit too much to tackle in a day, or even in a couple of days, but you can choose a section to try out initially and then perhaps attempt the full thing later on as part of an adventure holiday. It is best suited for gravel and mountain bikes but some stretches on quiet roads or cycle paths will suit road bikes too.

The trail is a good option for this time of year, as the midges are largely gone and some of the wet and muddy sections are a little bit drier- though you can expect to still get dirty. Starting out in Helensburgh, the route takes in some of Argyll’s most stunning locations, including Cowal, Kintyre and Oban, with rivers, lochs and the sea ever-present along the way.

Train stations in Helensburgh, Garelochhead, Arrochar and Tarbet, Taynuilt, Connel and Oban offer opportunities to split up the journey, while plenty of sites of interest (such as Puck’s Glen or the Allt Dearg Wind Farm) provide places to stop for a rest.

Glasgow to Balloch, via National Cycle Route 7 – There’s nothing worse than over-doing it on an ambitious cycle and then realising you have to do the whole thing in reverse to get home. Fortunately, the route from Glasgow to Balloch is peppered with train stations where you can stop off, rest your legs and rely on the train to bring you back to where you started. But if you do manage the whole full 20-mile route you will be rewarded with a great sense of satisfaction- as well as some lovely views of Loch Lomond.

Start at the spectacular Riverside Museum in Partick, or even earlier at Glasgow Green, and then follow the (largely traffic free) National Cycle Route 7 as it weaves alongside the River Clyde to Clydebank. From there, take the Forth and Clyde Canal as far as Dumbarton before heading north along the River Leven towards the lovely village of Balloch.

Speyside Way, Aviemore – The Speyside Way runs for 65 miles, all the way from Buckie to Aviemore, but the sections from Fochabers to Ballindalloch and from Nethy Bridge to Aviemore are those most suitable for bikes. Arguably the prettiest part is the section that begins in the striking Rothiemurcus estate, following the Speyside Way to the postcard village of Boat of Garten. The journey itself is scenic enough, but when you reach the village it is worth a detour to admire the tranquil waters of the nearby Loch Garten -with its pineforest, wetlands full of wildlife and dramatic views of Ben Macdui (Britain’s second highest mountain).

Less experienced cyclists may wish to stop there, but the Speyside path continues to Nethy Bridge for those who want a bit more of a challenge. Be careful though- if you venture too far along the route and reach Ballindalloch you may discover the hard way that the path can’t sustain bikes.

Loch Leven Heritage Trail, Kinross – This 13 mile, 21km trail around Loch Leven is traffic-free apart from a stretch of just 100 metres. While this makes it ideal for cycling, it is also popular with families, runners and those just out for a stroll, so be prepared to be patient and ring your bell when necessary to let people know you are approaching.

There are different points at which you can begin your cycle but there’s also various cafes around the loch’s circumference, so you can take several pitstops if necessary to help you complete the whole thing.

While you are cycling make sure to look out for pink-footed geese, waterfowl and ducks, as the loch attracts the largest concentration of them found anywhere in the UK. A great option for a day out with kids.

Mountain bike trails in Pollok Park, Glasgow – A carpet of autumnal leaves makes Pollok Park a real treat at this time of year. But rather than exploring its 361 acres by foot, why not do it in style via the excellent mountain bike trails within the park? Despite being close to the buzz of Shawlands, and indeed the city centre beyond, the trails on offer are as good as any that can be found in the countryside.

There’s a variety of difficulty levels, too: the short and flat green circuit provides an ideal introduction to off-road cycling; the blue circuit offers steeper terrain with varied surfaces (with skill and concentration required); the red circuit offers constructed obstacles to give a real taste of mountain biking and the black requires significant skill -though higher thrills- and should not be attempted by inexperienced riders.

Newton Mearns to Fenwick, Ayrshire – One of the benefits of the lockdown-induced influx of cyclists on our roads is that there is now genuine pressure to improve the road infrastructure for bikes. So as more of our city streets are redeveloped to provide dedicated cycle lanes, they could use the road from Newton Mearns to the village of Fenwick as an example of what to aim for.

An excellent two-way cycle lane is fully segregated and kerbed off from the road for a stretch of several miles, offering cyclists of all ages and abilities the chance to try out some more adventurous routes while feeling totally safe.

When you reach Fenwick it’s a short journey to the beautiful Craufurdland Castle and Estate, which has its own popular café and coffee shop where you can stock up on some well-deserved cake.

Edinburgh to North Berwick – You might imagine that Scotland’s capital city isn’t particularly enjoyable to navigate on a bike. But with the roads currently quieter than usual, and Edinburgh boasting a surprising amount of cycle-paths and traffic-free trails, a ride from the city out to North Berwick is a lovely way to spend the day.

You can start at Portobello beach, in the east of the city, or a bit further along at Musselburgh or Prestonpans if you don’t fancy doing the full 55 mile route.

Once you make it as far as Aberlady you will be rewarded with some quiet rural roads with minimal traffic, before joining the B1347 all the way to North Berwick.

From there, hop on the train back to where you started- or cycle back if you are feeling particularly fit.

Green Circular, Dundee – The Green Circular has been a popular cycle route in Dundee for 25 years, but it has recently been upgraded with some resurfacing at the Riverside Nature Park and Trottick Ponds as greener travel becomes a political priority.

The 26 mile circular route skirts around the circumference of the city while avoiding the busy centre itself: leading from Invergowrie along the waterfront to Monifieth, where it cuts north up towards Arbroath Road and then Baldovie Road before weaving through Drumgeith Park and Finlathen Park. From there, head towards Trottick Ponds and then Templeton Woods to take you to Camperdown Park to finish.

A free map of the route is available online or from cycle shops across the city, which also includes additional suggestions for routes around the outskirts of the city.

Applecross Peninsula Loop via Bealach na Bà, Wester Ross – The Bealach na Bà is one of the most famous roads in the country. But while most people will drive up its various twists and turns, tackling the road by bike offers one of the best bragging honours cyclists can get.

Holding the title of the greatest ascent of any road in the UK, the hairpin bends and 7% gradient are exhausting, but highly rewarding for the views of Skye and beyond. By starting in Applecross and heading clockwise, via Fearnmore and Tornapress, you face a fair few tough climbs before you even reach the iconic Bealach na Bà.

But by saving the big climb until last, a well-deserved drink in the famous beer garden of the Applecross Inn will taste that extra bit sweeter.

Five Ferries Challenge, Argyll and Bute – Hugely rewarding -but highly challenging- this route is suitable for competent cyclists only. As the name suggests it involves taking five ferries: Ardrossan to Brodick (Arran); Lochranza (Arran) to Claonaig (Kintyre); Tarbert (Kintyre) to Portavadie (Cowal); Colintraive (Cowal) to Rhubodach (Bute) and finally Rothesay (Bute) to Wemyss Bay; cycling between each of the various ferry terminals.

If you reckon you can fit all that in within a day, and feel fit enough for 55 miles of cycling, then it is well worth the effort, with the option of raising some money for charity if you do it on a sponsored basis. CalMac even sells a ticket specifically for those doing the five ferries, priced at £14.70 per adult.

https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/18832239.20-scotlands-favourite-autumn-cycle-routes/?fbclid=IwAR11ZiNEucmhaKcClc6islNuXtw4rNqRplYF4ifl4w1W_vcuEXPXR0801TQ

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Scottish Seabird Centre seeks new Chair for board of trustees

Award-winning marine conservation and education charity, the Scottish Seabird Centre, is recruiting a new Chair for the charity’s board of trustees.

This follows the news that current Chair, David Windmill, will be stepping down after 8 years leading the board. This is in line with the charity’s governance procedures as Mr Windmill has served two full terms. Mr Windmill will remain as Chair until a successful appointment and handover has been completed.
The charity is looking for the new Chair to help them deliver on their 2020-2025 strategic plan, and to build on the success of the recent refurbishment of their marine Discovery Experience, a five-star visitor attraction dedicated to inspiring and educating people about the Scottish marine environment.

The opportunity comes soon after the Scottish Seabird Centre revealed that significant support from individuals and organisations, following its first public appeal in 20 years, helped the charity manage the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

CEO Susan Davies said of the recruitment process: “David has been an asset to our charity, leading our Board through some challenging times. We will be sorry to lose him. We are now seeking to appoint a similarly enthusiastic and committed Chair who will steer the next phase of our journey as we look to further our conservation and education activities, whilst continuing to innovate within our visitor attraction.”

This is a voluntary role. Full details and application pack are available on the charity’s website www.seabird.org

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Leading conservation and education charity, the Scottish Seabird Centre has revealed that it has been saved from closure, after its first public appeal in 20 years raised over £200k and resulted in the launch of a new Friends initiative.

The devastating impact of closing the doors of its five-star visitor attraction in response to the COVID19 pandemic, left the charity facing potential permanent closure in April.

Thanks to the overwhelmingly generous support of the public, members, funders and emergency grants the award-winning charity has weathered the immediate financial storm and has been able to re-open their doors to the local community and visitors. The charity has even launched a new Friends initiative in response to the number of people who wanted to find a way to regularly contribute to the charity.

Scottish Seabird Centre CEO Susan Davies said: “I’d like to say a huge thanks to all our members, funders and supporters for their incredibly generous support. They have saved us from a very immediate threat of permanent closure and we will be forever grateful to them. It’s been a fantastic start on our road to recovery from the financial impact of COVID-19.”

“The incredible response to our appeal shows the support we have for continuing to inspire people about the amazing marine wildlife and habitats found around Scotland’s coasts. This has led us to develop and launch our new Friends of the Scottish Seabird Centre scheme. Our new Friends, alongside our existing supporters, funders and members, will play critical role in ensuring that we can continue our vital work in the years ahead”.

Despite the positive news the future remains uncertain and the charity is preparing for challenging times ahead.

With a significant period of their peak tourism season lost during lockdown and restrictions reducing normal visitor capacity by almost 70%, the visitor experience is currently only providing a fraction of the funds that the charity needs to continue its vital work to help conserve Scotland’s marine environment.

Explaining the significant role in their Friends initiative will play in the Scottish Seabird Centre’s continued recovery, Fundraising Manager, Charlotte Bray said: “We’ve been so delighted at the amazing response to our appeal. Not only have people been giving one-off gifts, but we’ve also seen a rise in people wanting to give a small donation monthly.

“This is a great opportunity for us. Regular giving is fantastic for our charity as it means we’re able to plan and deliver our important education and conservation work for the future, knowing that we have the support.

“The new Friends scheme is particularly designed for people who aren’t able to make use of our membership benefits – for example those who don’t live nearby – but still want to know they are doing their bit to support Scotland’s amazing seabirds and marine environment.

“We’re really looking forward to welcoming our first Friends on board.”

For more information or to sign up to the Scottish Seabird Centre Friends scheme visit www.seabird.org.

Wild Scotland Conference 2017 Afternoon Sessions

This year the afternoon structure of the conference has been changed based on feedback from previous conferences. You wanted more time to network and meet other people in the industry so here it is. Our afternoon sessions are the place to hand pick your experts, get the right advice for your business and meet other local tourism business owners.

Below is a list of the experts who will be at the conference and a brief outline of what they plan to cover.

Confirmed Experts

Slow Adventure

‘Slow adventure’ is a new and marketable tourism concept that encourages people to enjoy and experience the outdoors at a slower pace and to engage with remote, wild and nature-rich places. Our experts are here to encourage buy-in to this ‘ethos’ and discuss how businesses can capitalise on these opportunities.

SME Clustering and Collaboration in Slow Adventure

Discuss with the ‘slow adventure’ Project Officer how businesses in a Lochaber case study are collaborating to create slow adventure ‘itineraries’ and packages and improve their marketing. Input from a SME will help to give a business perspective on the attractions and benefits of clustering together.

Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland

Join in the discussion around new apps and widgets that Developing Mountain Biking have created. Learn more about these great resources, how to implement them, and what benefit they can bring to your business and the sector as a whole. Take the time to talk to these experts about what road and mountain bikers are looking for Scottish businesses to provide.

The Posh Agency

The Posh Agency founder and managing director will be here to discuss the wide world of digital marketing and beyond. Hear about their day-to-day activities offering Professional Online Services in Hospitality through Communication and gain valuable advice.

Scotland Outdoors

Scotland Outdoors is one of the leading magazine in outdoor and adventure in Scotland. Join David, editor at Scotland Outdoors and hear about what his readers are looking for; the right way to pitch to journalists (and the wrong way!); and current trends in the field of journalism.

Scottish Enterprise
This session will allow you to ask questions with Alan and ICT specialist from Scottish Enterprise. Discuss topics like web design, online marketing and making the most of your social media. Get the insider tips on international marketing and discuss your business system with the Scottish Enterprise expert.

Wild Scotland
Wild Scotland will be hosting a table with our marketing expert and a member of our board. Take this opportunity to find out about Wild Scotland’s marketing plan. Talk to the board member about everything Wild Scotland related.

Scottish Bloggers

As two established bloggers specialising in the Scottish tourism industry, Neil and David can offer insight into the value of bloggers, how best to approach and work with them and how to gauge and measure success from digital campaigns. This will include the role of social media and search marketing as well as the importance of forming collaborations with industry partners to mutual benefit. In addition to bringing in influencers to boost your digital marketing, both can also share insight into internal content creation and how to compliment your brand with content that shows you in the best light and underlines your key messages.

VisitScotland
Take this opportunity to speak with Industry Relationship Manager, Cassie McEwan, about the opportunities and business support available through VisitScotland: from free web listings, to Quality Assurance, to internationalisation.

Justin Reid

Justin Reid TripAdvisorHead of Destination Marketing Sales, Trip Advisor

Justin is responsible for all TripAdvisor destinations across Europe, Middle East and Africa. For him the key focus for any destination should be to ensure they are getting their best content in front of the right audience at the right time. Previously Justin spent 12 years at VisitBritain, during which time he was Head of Digital and created the social media channels that are so successful today. He’s also spent time at an internet start-up company specialising in Facebook apps and an agency side specialising in employee branding.

Merry Christmas for everyone at Wild Scotland. We hope Santa was good to you all!

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Image: Paul Tomkins/VisitScotland

 

 

More than £1bn for faster UK broadband in autumn statement

Chancellor to say local authorities will be offered chance to bid for slice of £740m to trial superfast 5G mobile networks

Broadband internet router
The lights on the front panel of a broadband internet router. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA

The chancellor will deploy more than £1bn to boost broadband speeds for up 2m homes and businesses as part of an infrastructure plan to be outlined in the autumn statement.

Responding to calls from business for the government to back the digital economy, Philip Hammond will back a £400m digitalinfrastructure fund, which the Treasury expects will be matched by private sector investors.

He will also offer local authorities the chance to bid for a slice of a £740m fund to trial superfast 5G mobile networks, linking them to fibre-optic systems to provide greater wireless capacity.

The move follows announcements that £1.3bn will be released for maintenance and improvements to the road network and £2bn for extra science, and research and development spending.

Hammond is concerned that Britain is falling behind in the race to install the latest fibre-optic networks that allow TV box sets and large data files to be downloaded quickly.

South Korea, Japan and China have moved more quickly than most other developed countries to introduce fast broadband and mobile networks. Last year South Korea claimed it would lead the world in 5G, making it a destination for business investment and digital businesses. In September China asked telecoms providers to bid to install 5G networks in major cities after a year-long trial.

The Treasury wants businesses to be “well placed to exploit the opportunities arising from 5G and future digital services,” according to a source. It expects smaller broadband operators to borrow from the digital infrastructure fund to compete with BT, Virgin and Sky for customers who need faster connection speeds and capacity.

Families will find they can download a series of Game of Thrones in one minute once they are connected to a 5G network, the source said. “Full-fibre is the future of broadband, helping people to share digital content faster with friends and family, stream Ultra-HD TV without buffering, and use virtual reality to change how we engage with the world.

“It’s also more reliable and secure than traditional copper internet cables, so businesses and consumers will always have internet access when they need it,” they said.

Britain already has one of the most comprehensive digital networks among developed world economies, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), but it also ranks as one of the most expensive for consumers and businesses to use.

More businesses are connected in Spain, France, the Netherlands and Germany than the UK, according to OECD figures, though it is not known whether the cost of a monthly connection is a deterrent.

The CBI listed a digital infrastructure fund on its list of demands for the autumn statement and is expected to welcome the government’s move. Hammond will say that the funding could increase to nearer £1.5bn over the life of the project, which runs until 2021, once private sector funds are included.

Jim Wolff

jim-wolff-pic-bwJim is Head of Digital at Scotland’s leading advertising and marketing agency, The Leith Agency, looking after strategy and production of all things digital, mobile and social.

He’s worked with some of Scotland’s most iconic brands, from the Famous Grouse, to Royal Bank of Scotland, AG Barr, and the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. He’s also instigated some high profile digital events like Edinburgh’s first Twestival and Scotland’s first Music Hack Day. And when it all gets too digital, he’s partial to getting on a bike and slugging it out in the rain.