Congratulations to Cormonachan Community Woodlands Ltd – the first group to successfully complete their project funded by the Rural Communities ‘Ideas into Action’ (RCIIA) Fund.
The £1.8m of funding is part of the Scottish Government’s commitment to trial new and innovative approaches to community-led local development (CLLD) with 120 not-for-profit community groups successful in securing funding.
Cormonachan Community Woodlands on Loch Goil’s western side between Lochgoilhead and Carrick Castle in Argyll is an area of Ancient Semi Natural Woodlands, part of the Scottish Rain Forest and home to red squirrels and pine martens. The charity behind the woodlands received funding to install a second People Counter for the off-road access and – already in place – the group intend to use the data gathered to help with event planning and future development of the site.
The first People Counter in the main car park entrance was installed in October 2020 and, in the first full year of recording visitor numbers, almost 10,000 visitors used that entrance. This was a surprise to the group – previous estimates had put the numbers in the region of 4,000. This information is now being used to help with planning and future fund-raising.
Dee Locke, from Cormonachan Community Woodlands, says the second counter will be of great benefit:
“The second access off the road at Clach Bhadach has been even more unknown so we asked local hospitality businesses (guest houses, B&Bs & the nearby cafe) where they thought their visitors entered the woodlands. Apparently, many do just walk to the woodlands and use this small first entrance so we will have to wait a year for the yearly total but we will have the monthly totals recorded with immediate effect.
Knowing the numbers of visitors to our woodlands on a daily and monthly basis is extremely helpful in planning events as we hold Woodlands Artworks and Sculptures events each autumn, Walking Theatre events earlier in the year with occasional Open Days. We have a Red Squirrel Hide in the woodlands to watch our red squirrels and our Contemplation Shelter with an astounding view over Loch Goil.
This last year we had the indigenous Amazonians attending COP 26 visit and plant an oak tree to commemorate their visit with 100 press and various organisations attend the event. We also had the BBC Scotland’s episode of ‘Loggerheads’ filmed in the woodlands [the series starts 17 February at 8.30pm and on BBC iPlayer].”
As a charity run 100% by volunteers, the group relies on donations and grants to fund projects and keep all events and access to the woodlands free year round. Having the data to demonstrate just how well-used these stunning woodlands are will help with their future ambitions.
At present, the group are trying to raise funds for a major project: the ‘Upper Cormonachan Heritage Paths Project’ will extend the path network from 2.5km to 4km and open access to the Medieval Settlement and the beautiful Cormonachan Falls. Costing £250,000 the group have so far raised half of this and are now looking for crowd funding for the other half – every donation will help.
We wish the Cormonachan Community Woodlands all the best with their future plans. It’s great to see that the RCIIA funding is helping put their ambitious ideas into action for the benefit of the community. If you want to find out more, or get involved as a volunteer or to take part in an event, visit their website.
Funding Appeal – https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/p/upper-cormonachan-heritage-paths-project – Please support us – Thank you.