Staffin’s innovative ecomuseum – the first of its kind in Scotland - has been awarded a massive half a million pound grant.
The £522,100 award from Lottery funding will now be used to further develop the unique outdoor museum which uses the landscape and its industrial past as outdoor showcases.
The funding is awarded to Staffin Community Trust (SCT) who want to enhance the Skye Ecomuseum, which opened almost a decade ago. At the time paths were opened up at 14 different sites across the Staffin district including Lealt, Brothers Point, Garafad, Brogaig, Digg and Flodigarry and attractive interpretation was installed illustrating each area’s attributes including heritage, crofting, wildlife, geology, archaeology etc.
It became the first ecomuseum in Scotland and the UK, with funding from a variety of European and national sources, including the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). Also known as Ceumannan, the Gaelic word for footsteps, the project is estimated to have helped attract thousands of extra visitors annually to Staffin and encouraged them to stay longer, which boosts the local economy.
In 2014, SCT commenced a development phase, after receiving a HLF grant, and worked up exciting proposals working with public agencies and consultants to revamp and enhance the Ecomuseum. A major economic impact report carried out by respected Highland economist Steve Westbrook estimated that the Staffin economy would be boosted by an additional visitor spend of £165,000 if the Skye Ecomuseum II project was delivered.
The proposals put forward for lottery funding included:
• Major capital works including a viewing platform at Lealt Gorge, new and upgraded footpaths at Loch Langaig, Flodigarry and Grealin-Lealt
• Significant and attractive interpretation “welcome” structures at the Storr, Quiraing and Flodigarry (the gateways into the Ecomuseum and Staffin)
• An Ecomuseum orientation point in central Staffin proving information about the different walking routes, maps etc
• Removal and replacement of all the existing interpretation panels at the 14 Ceumannan sites
• Fresh branding and marketing strategy for Ecomuseum
• A new user-responsive and mobile friendly website
• A packed events/activities programmes which includes a proposed walking festival, guided walks and tours, education curriculum pack for schools, children’s craft and storytelling events, archaeology events/workshops etc etc
• Creation of one full-time project manager’s job in Staffin on a three-year contract to run the Ecomuseum
Donald MacDonald, chairman of Staffin Community Trust, said the funding would help develop the ecomuseum.
He said: "As a committee we aspire to our theme of climb the Cuillin, walk Trotternish and for the whole of Skye this is a significant investment in our tourism and educational infrastructure.
"The fact that this funding will also create a new three-year post is also important in a remote fragile area and will help to give people confidence, pride and a sense of place
Cabinet Secretary for the Environment Roseanna Cunningham has welcomed the awarding of the grants.
She said: "It's great to see this investment in and support for Scotland's landscapes.
"Our landscapes are iconic and will provide a magnificent backdrop for these projects that will encourage people to explore Scotland's spectacular outdoors, protect our biodiversity, benefit rural communities and encourage visitors from home and abroad."