I think February was a mistake.....






“When God was making the months I think February was a mistake, like a burp. There it was, small, dark, and prickly. It had absolutely no redeeming qualities.” 

Did you know......On rivers with a high level of angling pressure, trout become more able to distinguish
between any sort of food item that has a piece of nylon attached and one that hasn’t!

The Beast from the East - Special Extended Edition!

As I was about to hit enter on the keyboard, and commit the monthly blog to the cybersphere, the so called, "Beast from the East" made an appearance. With such a once in ten year event, it seemed worthwhile to see what this would actually mean.



For us around the Loch, frankly, I was wondering what all the fuss was about - we had much heavier snow here around the middle of January, and it didn't even rate a mention in the Courier, let alone the Scottish or National Press. So it was a slightly smug me, sat with a glass of wine, in front of a woodburning stove, replying to concerned family and friends via "whatsapp", "Are you OK"?, "Are you safe"?, "yep, it's just a blow, what's all the fuss"

However over Thursday and Friday, it's become apparent, just how bad things are South of Perth and beyond, and how dangerous things are. My daughter works and commutes from her home in Wiltshire to Bristol every day, and seeing that they were about to be visited by Storm Emma as well, it prompted me to start enquiring as to her safety - however businesses are being fairly prudent, and she had been told to go home and take today off, as a precautionary measure.

The poor folk trapped for almost 20 hours on the M80 outside Glasgow, were certainly deserving of sympathy, and the knowledge that this isn't the first time. I remember when I was working in Edinburgh in 2010, it started snowing heavily, and I sent my colleague home, only to find that he became stuck in a similar snow bound jam on the M8 for almost 24 hours, and the Scottish Government vowed it would never happen again!
The debate now centre's on whether HGV's should've been on the road, during the Country's first ever "Red Alert", a new system, introduced a few years ago. The First Minister clearly feels that it is the transport operator's fault - however, like all things, it is never straight forward - what does a "Red Alert" really mean? Voluntary codes of conduct are rarely effective, perhaps the Police need powers to allow them to ground HGV traffic during such times for the safety of all? Who knows? For us in Rannoch, the ability for HGV's to deliver goods to local stores and business is absolutely key. Our shopping choices are limited, whether it is the Countrystore, or the Co-op in Pitlochry. On top of that, we have a greater reliance on delivery drivers - where else do you get to know people like Alan from DPD, or Ken from Parcelforce by first name. I suspect, once it all clears, we'll go back to weather complacency, until the next time.

So, all we can do, is help the bird population survive the killing windchill we are left with, by ensuring that the feeders are topped up - it's going to be a very cold introduction to Spring, or so it seems.

A Braver Soul Than I

During the weekend that saw some of our heaviest falls of snow for sometime, and when temperatures plummeted to -13.5c, (Dalwhinnie, hailed as the coldest place in the UK), one brave soul paid a visit to Rannoch, to indulge her passion for Wild Swimming. Laura Ormiston, who is 24, suffers from a condition called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, this is a group of disorders that affect connective tissues supporting the skin, bones, blood vessels, and many other organs and tissues. defects in connective tissues cause the signs and symptoms of these conditions, which range from mildly loose joints to life-threatening complications



Laura believes that swimming in a freshwater Loch such as Rannoch, surrounded by our wonderful scenery, helps her cope with the condition, and gives her some respite from the symptoms.

You can read the full story that appeared in the Sunday Post here: Laura and Wild Swimming


We Need Your Help!

Chairman, (Sorry, person), Bob, discovered that the Highland and Strathtay Action Partnership, have up to £1500 to grant, to deserving causes that promote inclusion and access within the Perthshire Highland Area for the coming year. We feel that such a grant helps, us, and the wider Rannoch community, achieve some of the aims that have been expressed under our own action plan, or the Rannoch Community plan, (see the poster below).




OUR PROJECT DESCRIPTION

A volunteer-led initiative to build awareness of the Rannoch Environmental Heritage through developing a mobile interpretative exhibition space accessible to the Rannoch and Tummel, and wider Perthshire communities, local schools and events. The project would focus jointly on volunteer engagement and development, as well as developing appropriate materials.
WHAT NEED ARE WE ADDRESSING ?

By involving local volunteers from a mixed and diverse range of backgrounds to create both a promotional and educational/training resource we see this initiative as but one avenue for laying the foundations for a key heritage resource. We envisage our output will be part of the proposed community hub to create a heart for the area. This initiative will address all age groups particularly for younger and older people and engage those who are socially or otherwise isolated. Our ambition is to strengthen our community and promote its assets - to preserve and protect for our local people, visitors and future generations. The project would further disseminate awareness of our heritage throughout Perthshire.
HOW WILL THE PROJECT BE RUN?

The project is a partnership initiative comprising Loch Rannoch Conservation Association, Rannoch Paths Group, and new Open Space Forum linked to the Rannoch Community Trust. These bodies have
a number of differing environmental and protection roles but have a shared vision to promote access to our special places and to promote understanding and preservation of the conservation and bio-diversity of Rannoch.

The project steering group will have overall leadership with representatives from all three bodies. The
project will be co-ordinated by the Loch Conservation Officer who will provide both continuity and stability to the initiative and will be accountable to the project steering group. The project will also draw from existing relationships with residents and estate owners; Forestry Commission; PKC Green Space Ranger; Schools; SNH & John Muir Trust; and SSE Vista project.

The first phase of the project will focus on promoting the project throughout Rannoch and Tummel
area with a view to highlighting its benefits. The second phase linked to the first will be the engagement and recruitment of volunteers and key stakeholder supporters. We envisage these phases to be implemented by the summer 2018. The third phase will bring together the volunteer led project team who will co-determine and produce how the project should assist in supporting them and any likely training/briefing induction. The fourth phase will focus on the research for creating interpretive material and how it will be presented. Finally, the fifth phase will be the outward dissemination of the exhibition locally and throughout Perthshire over the autumn and winter / spring 2018/19. On-going, we anticipate a core group of volunteers to sustain the initiative thereafter to be the heritage support base for the proposed community hub.

The funding is awarded on a "First Past the Post", voting system, so we need your vote. When you vote, you will be asked for an email, and your postcode, but no other personal information. You will also be asked to vote for 2 other worthwhile causes, so the choice is yours.

Finally, both I, and a member of the board, will be hosting a stand at The Tryst, Pitlochry, on the 17th of March 2018, and it would be great to see you, apparently there will be tea, coffee and cake.

Voting forms are in the Countrystore, or online here:

https://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/4220612/Highland-and-Strathtay-Decides-Online-Vote-2018-Highland-Ward

Watch Out For....

Scolopax Rusticola, or Woodcock to you and me. This large bird is of the same family, Sandpipers and Snipes. These are an Autumn visitor, here from Finland and Russia to escape their harsher winters. They are common around the Lochside at this time of year, displaying a really disconcerting habit. During the day they find clumps of undergrowth to sit in, being perfectly camouflaged to protect them
from predators. As you drive your vehicle along our wintery dark roads, they wait until the last moment
before launching themselves straight up into the air, scaring both driver and passenger, (well passenger
mostly). Nocturnal by nature they wade along the Loch shoreline, searching for worms, beetles, spiders, caterpillars, fly larvae and small snails.
The final part of the excellent BBC Scotland, "Out of Doors" Radio Programme concluded with, "the eerie sound of an owl, captured by our sound engineer". He, or she, needs to come and live near me - we're surrounded by the things - there is nothing eerie about 5 or 6 Tawny Owls all conversing with one another at 5am, I can assure you.

It is not too late to catch National Bird Box Week, you can find out more here, NBBW

Become a Friend of Rannoch
If you are interested in keeping in touch with our wonderful area, supporting the work that we do, or just want to show your support, you can do so by signing up to our "Friends of Rannoch" scheme. It only takes a moment, and won't cost you a penny. You can find out more here:

Friends of Rannoch




The snow arrived in Rannoch with a vengeance on Thursday the 18th of January, with several inches, if not feet being deposited on Thursday, Friday and most of the weekend




A perfect field of snow at Camghouran

As the sun set on Saturday the 20th of January, temperatures were plummeting to -15 degrees c.

In March We Will Be Looking forward to......

The first signs of Spring. In fact any sign at all would be most welcome.

The start of the new fishing season from the 15th.

The "Highland Decides" grant decision on the 17th of March


Contacting the Loch Rannoch Conservation Association

You can visit our website here, http://www.lochrannochconservation.co.uk/ or email info@lochrannochconservation.co.uk

You can email the Loch Conservation Officer here, lrca.permits@gmail.com  regarding any fishing, camping, or boating matter.

You can ring or text to, 07770 293559

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