Launch of West Coast Story Gathering Project
West Highland College UHI's Centre for Recreation and Tourism Research has launched a community-led story gathering project.
The Coast that Shaped the World is a community-led story gathering project, looking to build a bank of stories, covering the west coast of Scotland from Wester Ross and Lewis in the north to Arran and Kintyre in the south. These stories will be narrated through a website, interactive app, and innovative exhibition material to encourage locals and visitors to explore the roads less travelled across the islands, peninsulas, and coastline of the west coast.
Taking both an online and on the ground approach, the story gathering phase of the project has just launched (Friday 27th November) through the introduction of the story gathering website – coast.scot and a team of thirty two story gatherers, who will be working within their communities to gather and uncover stories, tales, and hidden gems to be shared.
Nothing is too big or too small, too detailed, or too vague. Collectively, these stories and memories will help paint a multi-layered picture of this stunning part of Scotland and help us all better understand why it is what it is today – and also how much this part of Scotland has had an impact across the globe far beyond our shores. This will be promoted as part of the celebrations to mark the Year of Scotland’s Stories in 2022.
The Coast that Shaped the World project is part of a new £5 million Scottish programme of projects to invest in the Highlands and islands to provide more and better quality opportunities for visitors to enjoy natural and cultural heritage assets. The Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund is led by NatureScot and is part funded through the European Development Fund (ERDF).
The Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund will encourage people to visit some of the more remote and rural areas and create and sustain jobs, businesses, and services in local communities. The purpose of the fund is to promote and develop the outstanding natural and cultural heritage of the Highlands and islands in a way that conserves and protects them.
The project is managed by the Centre for Recreation and Tourism Research at West Highland College UHI, and four creative consultants have been appointed to help deliver the project - ruralDimensions, Lateral North, Whereverly and Soluis Heritage. Match funding for the project has also come from Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) and West Highland College UHI, giving the whole project a value of over £500,000.
ruralDimensions with support from Lateral North have been appointed as the Project Co-ordinator to lead on gathering and curating the stories, and then working with the other consultants to bring these stories to life and promote the project.
Carron Tobin from ruralDimensions commented:
“It is great to now be up and running with this amazing project. We had our first team get together last week online and everyone is champing at the bit to get started.”
“When we embarked on this project, we envisaged mainly face to face activity but have had to adapt a lot in light of the pandemic. However, the silver lining is we know a lot of people have been reminiscing and also do have time - and will have stories from recent months that need to be captured along with those from times gone by. Collectively these stories are what has shaped the west coast to be what it is and will continue to shape it through time.”
“We are eager to capture well known stories as well as the hidden gems from across the West Coast and to understand more about local folklore. Our individual story gatherers will be able to reach out within their own communities by email and phone, on social media and when out walking the dog! We have online links to invite local heritage organisations, community groups and individuals to get involved and contribute via our survey to our Story Bank. We have completely adapted to new ways of working and through this hope to assist those not so able to work digitally and also reach people who wouldn’t necessarily get involved in more traditional face to face workshops.”
NatureScot Project and Funding Officer Susan Webster added:
“The current situation Covid-19 pandemic creates uncertainty and significant challenges to everyone, so it’s heartening to see this wonderful project contributing to the recovery in remote and rural areas of the Highlands and Islands. Gathering these stories will be a great benefit to visitors keen to learn more about this iconic area’s fabulous heritage and attractions, while also protecting the amazing history of these unique communities.”
Visit coast.scot for more information on the project, and to share your west coast stories. The website is accessible in both English and Gaelic.
Picture caption: The Strome Ferry on Loch Carron, 1969, supplied by Am Baile ambaile.org.uk
Notes to editors:
“The natural heritage includes natural habitats and wildlife, geology and landscapes. Cultural heritage includes history, language, architecture, ancient monuments, historical sites and cultural landscapes and the sectors of theatre, arts and literature. There is a close link between these two and interests often overlap. They are important locally, and on a national and international scale. They provide opportunities for the cultural and creative industries, environmental and tourism sectors.”
The Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund is funded through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) with a £5 million investment in the Highlands and Islands. The Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund will invest in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland to: provide more and better quality opportunities for visitors to enjoy natural and cultural heritage assets; encourage people to visit some of the more remote and rural areas; and create and sustain jobs, businesses and services in local communities. The purpose of the Fund is to promote and develop the outstanding natural and cultural heritage of the Highlands and Islands in a way that conserves and protects them.
NatureScot is Scotland's nature agency. We work to enhance our natural environment in Scotland and inspire everyone to care more about it. Our priority is a nature-rich future for Scotland and an effective response to the climate emergency. For more information, visit our website at www.nature.scot or follow us on Twitter at @nature_scot