The arrival of autumn heralds some familiar sights and routines on the estate.
This year’s crop of calves, grown on the hill and moor of the glen over the summer were weaned from their mothers and transported from Applecross this past week, bound for pastures new. A total of 20 beasts, comprising steer and heifer calves will now be settling into their new home in Cumbria. Another 8 heifers are going slightly further afield, to a new customer in Snowdonia. The appeal of the Applecross Fold, considered one of the oldest in the country, continues to attract interest from Highland Cattle breeders near and far.
This stag season, a central feature of annual deer management on the estate, was affected by the restrictions on guests travelling this year. Deer population numbers have declined in recent years and the traditional cull of up to 60 of the older and weaker animals was, this season, reduced by half.
With Halloween past and the festive season round the corner, the estate staff start the process of preparing the ‘Pensioners’ Firewood,’ a practice which has been undertaken annually for the past 20 or so years. Started as a way of utilising the rhododendrons which were being cut as part of an eradication programme, the initiative was to provide local pensioner households with a trailer load of logs. It continues with cutting and splitting of wood being a main job organised and carried out by The Trust team towards the end of the year.
Mike Summers, a lynch pin of the estate for 25 years will be ‘retiring’ from his role at the end of 2020 and interviews were held recently to find his replacement.
Staff restructuring will allow Mike to continue as Highland Cattle stockman. He will be ably assisted in this role by Floortje van Schuppen who will take a more developed role in the daily husbandry.
It is planned that Isabelle Kerjose will develop into the holiday letting co-ordination role vacated by Mike and will also continue to be responsible for landscape care and path maintenance.
The Trust is appointing Iain MacFadyen into a central role of maintenance and co-ordination. Iain has, most recently, been in charge of operations at Langwell Estate, Ullapool where he spent 15 years as Stalker, Cattleman, Shepherd and property maintenance person. He will be coming to Applecross with his wife Joan.
In a further, yet subtle change in personnel, Zuzana Vojackova will expand her current role as book-keeper and administrator for Hartfield Applecross Ltd by adopting the Trust book keeping, so ably carried out by Susie Whiteford for the past 16 years.
Susie intends to continue her role with the Trust but the day-to-day book-keeping will be replaced by other aspects of administration.
The Trust continues the processes of transferring ownership of the Hydro field and Torgarve Woodland to Applecross Community Company. It is hoped that this process will be complete around the turn of the year. With the timber extraction route from Torgarve planned to be through the Smiddy Wood clearfell site, the Trust and Community Company will liaise on the combined timescales for timber transport and the Smiddy Wood replanting work.
The new general-purpose shed nears completion and will be ready for use once an electricity supply is secured. This fit-for-purpose structure will make the two existing estate workshops – at Clachan and at the Stables – redundant. Work is underway in developing options for both these buildings. The Clachan workshop lends itself to be used by Tery and Daniel McCowan as part of their existing business while, for the Stables, a use which allows for retention of original features and integration into the Policy environment, is being explored.
As the autumn develops into winter and we gain a degree of breathing space from Tourism based activities, focus will go towards updating of Trust website and also the facilities that it seeks to promote.
In recent years the Trust has provided donations to some of Applecross’ young people as they embark on their journeys into further and higher education. The Trust is looking to further develop its scholarship programme and provide details of this on its website in the coming weeks.
Hartfield Applecross Limited, has, like everyone else, experienced a difficult season due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, once open again, and with extensive restrictions and procedures in place, business has been positive. Bookings were extremely high over the summer period, right to the end of October, and customer satisfaction looks to be the same. The new refurbished bedrooms have proved very timely, allowing guests to have their own private facilities, and the overall upgrade of the building has been well received.
On the other side of the hill, developments at Kishorn have been much in evidence during 2020. The continued success of Kishorn Port Ltd in securing projects to the Dry Dock and the expansion of the Fish Farm hatchery under The Scottish Salmon Company are providing significant infrastructural developments which should aid socio-economic benefit for many years to come.