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 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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On the weekend of 11-12th Feb we held this workshop at The Treehouse in Lochcarron. This was a free “taster session” for those wishing to try their skills at the craft.

We had a flourishing group from complete beginners to amateurs ranging from 10-60yrs old, all keen to get whittling away. Eyes were bulging as we were met by an array of menacing weapons splayed across the table and you’d be forgiven for thinking this was a scene from Kill Bill! Thankfully our tutor alleviated our concerns as he introduced us to some of the tools that we would come to cherish over the weekend.

hghjmm hgjh hjyj

Our tutor was Bruce Kojan from Invergarry. His patience and relaxed style of teaching eased all participants into the craft. After some health and safety tips, Bruce quickly familiarised us with the three main processes of Greenwood working: Splitting, Chopping and Carving, giving each tools purpose some meaning. Bruce then showed his own beautifully carved spoons, spatulas and bowls – whetting our appetite for things to come.

After sharing cake by the fireside we focused our attention on the beautifully handmade wooden structures scattered around the Treehouse as well as chopping blocks and ‘draw horses’. We all laughed to learn that the alternative name given to a wooden mallet was “The Persuader”.

Allowing children to use Axes and Draw Knives to prepare greenwood may appear hazardous but under the careful instruction of Bruce no fingers were lost! Adults and children alike watched in awe at the ease at which the tools glided through the greenwood. The drawhorse in particular seemed to instil a hypnotic effect on some of the participants.

We then got a chance to meet the carving knives and learned how to keep them in optimum condition. For the rest of the afternoon folk started their own projects. On the veranda of the treehouse everyone diligently worked away chopping, carving and whittling. Only the sound of the river running underneath could be heard as the levels of concentration increased. Perhaps exasperated parents/teachers/partners could use a bit of Green Woodworking timeout!

img_1836img_1841img_1844img_1846On Sunday we had an equally beautiful winter’s day. Bruce brought along a woodturning pole lathe he had built himself. We learnt this hobby doesn’t have to cost you a small fortune as many of the materials were from salvaged builders merchant wood. We set about learning how to assemble the lathe and marveled at its simplicity. A lathe is an apparatus that allows you to “turn” wood, the magic of the one that Bruce has made is that its height can be adjusted to allowing all age groups to practice. After everyone took a turn we set about carving and preparing our wood to make a spurtle on the pole lathe.

The children made some arrows using their newfound fine carving skills and later got more time practicing with the axes, saws and drawhorse. By the end of the weekend everyone had something to take home; a spurtle, a spoon with detailed carving, some arrows, a fork, a pancake spatula and letter opening knife.

img_1887Thank you to LCDC for allowing the workshop to be held at the Wonderful Treehouse – can’t think of a better location! Thanks too to Forestry Commission Scotland’s Community Grant & our industrious Community Development Officer, Kristine Mackenzie for helping to finance this workshop and of course a huge thank you to Bruce Kojan for sharing his Greenwood Working Gift with us. We hope to have Bruce back again this year so if you missed out this time – watch this space!

img_1910Lynda Beveridge

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Volunteer day -March 2017


Next workparty day is 26-03-17, always a great way to jump in and find out all about LCDC’s work. The maintenance work these volunteer day’s do saves us hundreds of £’s of fundraising, and allows us to use funds instead for projects such as training courses, children’s outdoor activities and new developments.
All welcome.

Come and Find out more about us.
Join in with
tidying and landscaping at our
beautiful community site.

Sunday 26th March,  11am

 Hot food and drinks will be provided
wear old clothes.


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Job vacancies. community engagement Kirkton Woodland

We are currently seeking applicants to deliver the following fixed term contracts:-

Animateur – primary school/young families

Contract Duration:              20 total days (over March – June 2017).

Contract Description:        Design, promote and deliver a programme of creative ‘hands-on’ activities with primary school children and local people that explore the heritage and environmental interest of the ruinous village of Kirkton. A minimum of 6 school days & 8 public ‘event’ days are expected over the contract period. Prior experience of organising and delivering schools- & community-based projects preferable. Evidence of certification to allow working with young people/vulnerable groups is a mandatory requirement of the contract. 

Animateur – community/visitor groups

Contract Duration:              24 days (July – Dec 2017) and 36 days (March – Nov 2018).

Contract Description:        Design, promote and deliver a programme of creative ‘hands-on’ activities with local people and visitors that explore the heritage and environmental interest of Kirkton woodland. A minimum of 42 schools/public ‘event’ days are expected over the contract period (19 days: 2017; 23 days: 2018). Prior experience of organising and delivering schools- & community-based projects preferable. Evidence of certification to allow working with young people/vulnerable groups is a mandatory requirement of the contract. 

For further details & to apply contact:  Kristine Mackenzie, LCDC Development Officer

(: 01520 722490   or   ::   Closing Date: 15th March 2017.


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