Outdoor Activities for Children July 2017

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Volunteer workparty 18th June 2017

Volunteer workparty
All welcome.

Come and Find out more about LCDC.
Join us for tidying, weeding &
cleaning around the Smithy
& Treehouse.

Sunday 18th June,  11am

 Hot food and drinks will be provided


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We had glorious sunshine on Monday 1st May at the Treehouse.  A group of children came along to learn all about what birds are up to this time of year and how we can help them.  Everyone can do their bit to help birds as they are busy preparing nests and feeding their young. Birds really do have superhero status after long journeys, preening themselves to win the heart of a mate, fighting to get a mate, building nests and then the endless arduous task of feeding the nestlings. luck had it that help was on it’s way.

Armed with empty plastic bottles, children made their own bird feeders.  Giving a second life for a plastic product otherwise destined to the recycle bin.

In groups the children were assigned a bird challenge, learning what their birds eat and need to survive on before going on forage to find the goods.

We examined a birds nest and marvelled at just how intricate it was.  Two groups were given the challenge of making their nest  using only natural materials.   We studied  the differing sizes of bird boxes, discussing which birds nest in each as well as the fascinating habit of Blue tits covering the edges of the hole to make it smaller to deter predators.      We discovered human hair can be a welcome addition to nest building.  The children combed their hair with their fingers watching it drift away for the birds to collect this precious commodity later.

Children found dry twigs to fuel the “Kelly Kettle” – a portable kettle that uses firewood to boil water.  After a safety demonstration and an opportunity to fuel the kettle, we melted fat into a pan to make bird seed cakes which could be hung from trees after they set overnight.  There will be more use of the Kelly Kettle on some of our forthcoming events in the summer holidays.

On Thursday 4th May we had an In-service day – and another Sunny one too!  Children came along to learn all about helping Minibeasts.  Linking in with the bird project on Monday, children learned that many birds need insects to feed their young!

After a lengthy bug hunt (Lynda gave them a real challenge to find all 15 bugs) we set about making some “Bug Hotels” using items otherwise intended for landfill.  YES,  I hear you cry! We have found a use for old odd socks at last!   Stuffing the old socks with wool, dried grass and moss the children then hid their old socks – now homes for many minibeasts under grass.

We cut up bamboo and packed them tightly together to provide more hollow homes.  Some children used a power drill to make holes in logs for solitary bees and placed logs in shaded areas for deadwood – a precious fodder for minibeasts.

An old air brick came in handy too – stuffed with rolled up corrugated cardboard and dried grass – there will be booming colony of creepy crawlies living there too.

The Birds and Minibeasts at The Treehouse have received great assistance from the children of Lochcarron and Applecross this May.  Thanks to Avril Mackenzie for her kind donation of Bird Seed and to LCDC for the use of the fantastic Treehouse as a venue.

Lynda Beveridge





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The Strathcarron Artisan Dairy Project.

The Strathcarron Artisan Dairy Project.


West Highland Dairy is run by Kathy and David Biss, is located around 10 miles from LCDC’s main base. They produce a variety of cheeses and other dairy products for sale via their farm shop and local outlets. Cheese and Dairy product workshops are offered throughout the year.  WHD also produce a variety of hard cheeses and mould ripened cheese which take 9 months to mature. Their premises are small and located within the curtilage of their own home. WHD regularly attended our market days, in 2014 they approached us explaining that they wished to retire within the next few years. They had worked hard to establish over 30 years their well-known brand, and wished to pass on their business and knowledge to a local organisation with an agricultural background West Highland Dairy currently produce a variety of cheeses, ice-cream, yoghurt, crème fraiche, preserves, butter, cheese based desserts. The fact that their premises are small limits the range of products they can produce after much discussion it was agreed to further investigate the idea – would it be feasible?  Could we pull it off? Could we arrange the finance for a new build at Strathcarron – many ifs, buts and maybes?

HIE provided us with a small grant to allow for further investigation

Transferring the Business;

LCDC has land available for a new build, West Highland Dairy are willing to donate their business, customers, & brand name. Also much of their equipment, stock at cost, and remain on board as consultants for two years after the build is complete. They would train two cheesemakers to take over from them on retirement. WHD owners are heavily involved with the Cheesemakers Association of Scotland, within the next 2 years they wish to establish a Scottish School of Excellence – a perfect opportunity to provide such a facility at Strathcarron with on-site conference, catering and dairy.


Current Development Stage;

Planning permission has been granted for a new build on land owned by LCDC. £56k initial Development funding has been awarded by the Lottery Assets Fund to appoint a design team appointed (architect, QS, safety engineer, structural engineer, land surveyor). An application for Building Warrant approval was recently submitted.  We are currently working through the Stage Two Strategic Plan for submission to the Lottery Assets team for the main funding. Other sources of funding are being investigated. The estimated capital costs are £1.8million plus vat. If successful we aim to complete the build by Spring 2018.
The Build incorporates;

* Artisan cheese manufacturing facility.

* Retail outlet for local produce – food and crafts.

* Café serving locally sourced artisan food with a Dairy viewing platform – 32 covers with additional decked area.

* Conference room – 12 covers.

* Office space/workshop for hire.

* overall the project will provide 12 jobs, a mixture of full time, part time, seasonal with a number of skilled appointments. It will be open all year around.

    Potential revenue streams;

* Dairy produce – on-site and existing customers.

* Café sales.

* Retail sales – produce and crafts.

* Conference room customers  – e.g. local businesses.

* Cheese making and Dairy related training workshops (1-3 days).

* Trade from the on-site existing 5 artisan businesses and Visit Scotland Information Point. The site is located on the North Coast 500 route and part of the Wester Ross Biosphere.

* Events and workshops.

PHASE TWO (post Year 2);

West Highland Dairy collects milk from Tain weekly using a small milk tanker pulled by a Land Rover.

The ultimate aim is to produce our own milk. Early negotiations with local crofters and two farm estates, all rearing cattle, show enthusiasm for such an initiative. The concept would involve 8-10 producers
rearing cattle suitable for the purpose, a mobile milking machine would call to the premises daily and collect the milk. In the past West Highland Dairy has used milk from cows, goats and their own flock of milk sheep.

Wendy Barrie, the Director of the Scottish Food Guide, together with her husband Bosse Dalgren, a Swedish heritage farmer, form part of our advisory team. Bosse has a huge amount of experience
working with low impact, heritage cattle breeds capable of producing the highest quality milk yield. Wendy has a wealth of marketing experience regularly in conversation with the top chefs, food outlets and restaurants such as Gleneagles and Harrods. West Highland Dairy and Wendy Barrie have worked together for a number of years.
We would particularly welcome along to our Dairy steering group, especially anyone with experience in the catering industry, project development and business financial projections.

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May Outdoor Activities around the treehouse

Monday 1st may, making bird feeders 10.30 – 1.30 pm
thursday 4th May 10.30 – 1.30 pm monibeast discovery.
booking required 01520 733 232

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April holiday activities at the treehouse.

 April Holiday Activities at The Treehouse 

In celebrating Kirkton woodland and Settlement of Kirkton we have organised some activities over the Easter Holiday Break.   These activities are free to attend.  Please ensure children come dressed for outdoors and have snacks/drinks & any medication with them.  Parent/Guardians will be asked to complete a consent form on arrival so please arrive 5mins prior to the event.  Numbers of participants are limited so please book in advance to avoid disappointment.


DATE/TITLE: Tues 18th – Fire lighting & Cooking outdoors over an open fire

Times:- 10.30am – 1.30pm

Venue:- The Treehouse, Lochcarron

Learn techniques to light your own fire and make your own bannocks (pancakes) outdoors at the Treehouse.  Using a traditional barley cereal grain to make “baremeal bannocks”   – why not have a try?

Limited Numbers so please book to avoid disappointment. Ages 8+

DATE/TITLE:  Wed 19th – Shelter building & outdoor games

Times:- 10.30am – 1.30pm

Venue:- The Treehouse, Lochcarron

Fancy making your own shelter?   Come and join us for some fun outdoor games and learn about shelter building.

Limited Numbers so please book to avoid disappointment. Ages 6+

Bring your own packed lunch and waterproofs.

DATE/TITLE: Thurs 20th – Storytelling

Times:- 11am – 1pm

Venue:- The Treehouse, Lochcarron

“Coorie roon” the fire at the Treehouse and listen to some tales.  Be captivated by stories of Pipers and coo’s.  Open to all ages, families with young children very welcome.

Bring your own packed lunch or food to share,  no need to book in advance.


Please contact Lynda Beveridge by email on beveridge.lynda@yahoo.co.uk to book.


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Engaging with Lochcarron Primary school pupils.

AS part of our ongoing ‘Haven on Earth’ project to develop Kirkton community woodland. we are undertaking some community engagement work, and working with the pupils from Lochcarron Primary school.  Lynda Beveridge and Paul Swan have started things off with some school visits this March.

In view of the ruined settlement at Kirkton Community Woodland pupils were asked to consider; why did the former residents of Kirkton choose to settle there? Having examined the local OS map,  Pupils set about constructing their own ariel view of a settlement using natural materials.  They were assigned team projects e.g Settlements, Roads and Paths, Water and Rivers, Vegetation & Mountains.  With great gusto and teamwork pupils set about making their own settlement comprising of a Tipi, houses, grazing enclosures, places of worship, roads, bridges, rivers, forests, flora and fauna and mountains.  Not to mention a harbour with marina and pier, an ancient stone circle, an ant sanctuary and their very own version of Rio’s  “Christ the redeemer” overlooking the settlement.  Great work for the pupils of Lochcarron Primary school!

We hope to see some of them at our Easter Activities Programme at The Treehouse in Lochcarron.

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