Westray Development TrustNews

North Isles Partnership – Westray Responses

Below is a list of project ideas raised at the public meeting as part of the North Isles Landscape Partnership Scheme consultation carried out by Orkney Islands Council. The list of projects were suggested after considering what makes the North Isles special, the threats to these qualities and how the landscape partnership scheme could address these to help preserve our landscape heritage. The answers given to these questions are provided after the list of project ideas.
This stage provides an opportunity for people to provide any further comments in relation to the project ideas including which are the most important for the landscape partnership scheme to consider. Comments can also be provided in relation to the attached questions.

Project ideas:
1. Viking sea trail;
2. seal cameras i.e. as used in North Berwick bird centre which can rotate and easy to maintain;
3. Fitty Hill which provides great viewpoints;
4. North Isles learning centre(to note Westray Learning Centre funded by Development Trust) could include expanding upon/update of work done in Westray Geology book [Westray Flagstone];
5. drystone dyking (currently taught in school), as such each isle with own skills/specialisms with potential for student summer school classes;
6. path improvements and/or interpretation at Noup Head lighthouse;
7. community heritage gardens;
8. traditional crofthouse at South Hamar (has had funding) could have new use i.e. Westray Energy;
9. bird hide/viewing area at Noup Head;
10. improve Castle of Burrian walk and/or interpretation mill at Castle of Burrian;
11. creation of village path guided trail;

12. project on the history of agriculture;
13. starter crofts;
14. finishing the castle improvements;
15. improvements to accommodation available such as campsites in the landscape;
16. increased mapping, interpretation and marketing of heritage for the North Isles as a whole;
17. training in archaeology and landscape scale assessment of importance with community led assessment surveys to document all aspects of heritage;
18. linking viewpoints between the isles-look at one island looking back at you;
19. to strengthen and raise awareness of relationships with other isles i.e. travel, education and events such as pupil exchange /inter isles school trips which could rotate venue annually to help link to other North Isles;
20. promoting boat building skills with potential to have North Isles competition;
21. ranger post which could involve more than one isle, training local people, combine with outdoor access role, seeking further funding opportunities etc.

22. research/monitoring post such as bird monitors, coastal erosion, archaeology, geo-physics to help develop isle role in relation to natural issues (could also promote research sought by specific isles through schools/Kirkwall Grammar School/College etc. with Faraday project as an example);
23. webcams to help monitor wildlife and ferry harbours, ideal for visitors to check weather and could be available on same website for all the North Isles;
24. opportunity for North Isles to bring development trusts together to takes scheme forward after delivery of projects;
25. phone apps for isle stories (similar to those done for Stromness);
26. promotion of isles and attractions via video whilst traveling on the ferry;
27. restoration and use of red telephone boxes as tourist information points with audio when pick up phone;
28. documentation and presentation of isle geneology/family names (photographic record of families outside home);
29. documentation and presentation of isle dialects;
30. documentation and interpretation of isle geology;
31. oral history of impact Ro-Ro ferry has had on the North Isles;
32. opportunity to have North Isles as a dark sky reserve and related viewing point potential

33. opportunity for each isle to have training specialisms associated with heritage such as peat cutting, drystone walls to renewables and habitat monitoring that could be hosted on specific isle relates to.
Q1. a) What makes the North Isles special:
Group 1-communities strive to do thing for ourselves due to onus on Kirkwall; self-reliant; can turn hand to anything as cannot rely on services find elsewhere; knowledge of the landscape including where can grow produce; enterprising; more intimate relationship with the landscape; extent of land cultivated; peaceful; great community spirit; variety of landscape- hills, low lying ground, cliffs, sandy beaches; lots to see; coastal scenery and associated landscape; connected community of young and old; broad sandy bays; different way of life; long summer days, light, clear skies, stars, clean air;
birdlife; seals; puffins; community activities and events over winter; inclusive community- old and young have a *…+ place; freedom and safety, kids can be kids; wildlife (puffins and seals); continuously settled communities for thousands of years; dialect unique; people skills- fishing, farming, building etc. highly developed; Nordic heritage;

Group 2-cultural tie in between people and place; use of natural resources; link to sea and soils; environmental heritage; sense of identity; variety of communities; sense of family; small population; evolution crofting to larger farms; work ethic- linked to legacy and successful delivery of projects; environmental [..]; natural heritage;
Q1. b) Threats to these:
Group 1- fewer teenagers on the isles; dilution of dialect (television and teaching impacts); coastal erosion; climate extremes (sea levels); poorly maintained paths; managing volunteers (benefits for their time); loss of key artefacts; no small boat access (see Westray sailing club)

Group 2- ageing population; fewer alternatives for work; lost cultural and trading links between the islands; centralisation of resources; fixed links; coastal erosion; no succession planning; multi purchase of land;
Q1. c) How can be addressed through Landscape Partnership:
Group 1- addressing skills and resources including geneology, preserving field names, drystone dyking, monitoring coastal erosion and strawback stools/carpentry (i.e. Westray chairs); budget for outdoor access for local usage to enable prioritisation of path design/specification issues; bring people together (festivals/events) but co-ordinate with other isles to have North Isles specific events body; Viking sea trail, regatta, shipwrecks;
Group 2- promoting new techniques; museum status; de-centralisation to increase jobs and remote housing; increase skill set; maximum opportunities through curriculum for excellence; facility for learning for secondary education and hostels shared in the northern isles; media attention to advertise the islands; through analysis of limitations and solutions; recognising and celebrating successes;

Q2. a) What makes Westray special:
Group 1- brilliant heritage centre; Westray dialect; local history recorded in books and pamphlets; Westray skiffs; Westray regatta (largest in Orkney); basking sharks/orca; Westray is the “The Queen of the isles”; important archaeological sites; closer to arctic circle than to south of England; long indented coastlines; Fitty Hill path; strong sense of community (volunteering/fundraising); land mass with onus on farming; several close up wildlife spots; Pierowall- busy village, fishing industry, baking, arts and crafts; swamping sands as part of changing landscape; sea bird cliffs at Noup; one side of the world’s shortest flight; Pierowall reflections (see walks and illustrations); Westray has one of the best localities for viewing Puffins and Corncrakes (as well as a key area in Orkney for Corncrake recovery); kelp green (along Rackwick north of Pierowall) golf course history (currently working with Development Trust); North Ronaldsay sheep on Holm of Aikerness;
Group 2- high level of industry despite population; high use of natural resources (local ability to utilise); self-sufficiency and charity fundraising; breadth of school curriculum; good education and health system

Q2. b) Threats to these:
Group 1- lack of properly accessible paths; discontinuation of passing on farming heritage as no family members to pass it on to;
Group 2- distances from market; cost of transport; limits of transport; depopulation; shortage of housing; lack of planning; overinflated house prices due to 2nd homes/retirement village north;
Q2. c) How can be addressed through Landscape Partnership:
Group 1- making outdoor paths fully accessible where possible; helping continue farming/fishing heritage i.e. promote farming techniques;

Group 2- moving from passive to active heritage; promoting all heritage locally and to visitors; ranger or agricultural advisor; multi island events- sharing heritage and skills locally and sell to tourists; build on Sunday sailings; marketing of the north isles