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APRIL 2014


Price 50p

The Voice of Balquhidder, Lochearnhead, Strathyre & St Fillans

Award winners John Murray and Richard Harris Best Regular Contributor Winner: The Villagers John Murray for ‘The St Fillans Bit’ ‘Typifies and exemplifies what local news is all about at this level: a heartfelt and honest slice of local village life.’ Best Article Winner: The Villagers ‘Broadband Update’ by Richard Harris ‘In-depth, relevant and a news story which will be of interest to anyone who has felt their blood pressure rise while waiting for a web page to download.’ Outstanding Contribution Award Winner: The Villagers ‘Agricola’ Regular contributor since 1993 ‘Awarded to volunteers who have provided exceptional service to their local community newspaper.’

Community Newspapers Annual Awards “The area’s towns and villages have a remarkable history, but also an exciting present and future. And it’s a remarkable achievement that publications, big and small, continue to capture the energy of life in these communities. People are at the heart of any good story; they breathe life into all of the publications in the same way that people breathe life into our communities. Every word which helps to bring communities together is a word well used, and it is, as always, a real pleasure to the see the time, dedication, care and love which go into these publications. It might well feel like a chore sometimes, it might well be a labour of love! But more than anything else it’s a sign that community life is alive and well (and kicking!) in the heart of Scotland.” Board of Judges, Community Newspapers, Stirling Area

E d i t o r ’s B i t This month on the front page I’m delighted to report on the Community Newspaper Annual Awards, which Gill and I attended in March. I’m simply going to endorse everything the judges said about the papers in general and particularly about our three awards. Quite an achievement when you consider the size of the field - there are over thirty Community Newspapers in our region! Hearty congratulations to all concerned. And please remember - we are a very small team at The Villagers. We would be very pleased to welcome anyone who wishes to join us, in any role, this year. If you turn to page 18 you’ll find an entertaining and interesting piece from our new young contributor, Hannah Inglis. She writes from the perspective of an onlooker during the construction in 1850 of Balquhidder’s Stronvar House, where she overhears conversations between the house’s exacting owner, David Carnegie, and his architect, David Bryce. Happy Easter, everyone! Let’s hope we’re blessed with some sunshine JJ for the weekend - at least!



The following readings were taken at ‘Bramblings’, Auchtubh, Balquhidder for the month of FEBRUARY 2013. Average max temp Actual max temp Average min temp Actual min temp

6.0 ºC 9.5 1.9 -1.1

42.8 ºF 49.0 35.4 30.0

Rainfall 36cms 9ins Strongest wind gust: 49mph on 12 February 2

Come and support our

Quiz Night Saturday 12th April

7.30pm Village Hall, Lochearnhead in aid of raising funds for a Defibrillator YOUR help is needed for this very worthwhile cause! Teams of 4 at £3 per head. BYOB. Whisky Curling and a Raffle. BLS Have purchased a PAD (Public Access Defibrilator) for Lochearnhead and now are raising the funds needed for the hot box that houses it. Please come along and support this very important fundraiser!

Balquhidder Free Pilates taster sessions running in Balquhidder on: Wednesday 23rd & 27th April Times to suit attendees. To try a class call 07766 407 578 or email You do not need to be fit, strong, young or stretchy but you will gain core strength, improved flexibility & posture, reduced neck/back/ shoulder stiffness.

The St Fillans Bit

by John Murray

Well, I know now that I have at least two readers (plus Editor Jill) since that is the number of folk who tried to identify the young lad pictured doing his ironing in the garden last month. Both were wrong and the, attire clue was a red herring. The lad was a young Howard Stanyon, better known as Oward due to his Yorkshire upbringing. More recent incomers to St Fillans won’t remember the Stanyon family who inhabited Tigh-na-Mar until three years ago and were stalwarts of village life for many years – always ready to help in and support village events. , Oward was a willing helper in the early days of the Festive Weekend when we did waterproof. This small but important , not have the benefit of the big marquee defect was pointed out to Oward who we now have, but needed shelter. We gave it thought then pronounced “’appen had a couple of the dire ‘pop up’ gazebo it won’t rain, Big Man”. It didn’t. From thingies which look lovely on eBay but memory the contraption was burned don’t actually pop up except with the aid after the weekend. of 4 bodies, one of whom needs a degree That links in nicely to news of this in structural engineering. And, of course, year’s Festive Weekend which this year after a couple of uses the incredibly thin is a two day event on Saturday 16th and bits of Chinese ‘steel’ which hold the Sunday 17th August. The provisional thing together buckle and the contraption programme is for the BBQ with Don & is dumped in the back of the shed ready Dave’s Diner on Saturday with the chariot for , skipping in 4 years’ time. Anyway, race and other favourite games in the Oward announced that having been afternoon followed by a race night type a Scout Master he was possessing of a evening in the marquee (which now ginormous scout tent which he would gift boasts a new roof, so no need for ‘Oward’s to the village. A dusty brown sack about tent). Sunday will be the Jazz lunch with 5 feet long was produced and disgorged the same caterer and band as last year onto the field a pile of bent interlocking since that worked well. Volunteers are wooden poles, a massive piece of brown welcome for pre, during and post even canvas which took 2 men to lift, along help – contact Russell or any committee with sundry stout wooden pegs and member. miles of thick sisal rope. We gazed in I was pleased to spend an hour last wonderment. week with Jeremy Osborne, the new The contraption, obviously having manager at The Drummond, and get the strong links to Montgomery’s African latest updates on the plans and progress campaign, was erected. There at once at the hotel. Jeremy has a wide experience became an obvious flaw in the things of the hotel trade spanning some 40 ability to protect us from rain – namely years. He originally underwent a 5 year that the canvas was ripped or rotten in Management Training Course with BTH numerous places and thus was far from (British Transport Hotels). BTH was a

nationalised company who oversaw the running of numerous hotels which were owned by the various railway companies in the 70s and 80s and which included Gleneagles Hotel. It was disbanded in the 80s and the hotels sold off, by which time Jeremy was Personnel Manager at Gleneagles. In recent years Jeremy has been involved in many hotel positions and it was when running a small West Coast hotel that he met Gerald Michaluk, who is now MD of Arran Brewers, the new owners of The Drummond – hence Jeremy has relocated from the sunny climes of Cyprus where he was recently running a hotel to the somewhat colder shores of Loch Earn. It is likely that the name of the hotel will change, possibly to the Loch Earn Inn (keeping the link to the early history of a coaching inn) but this is not finalised. Two weeks ago the National Park granted planning permission for the conversion of the existing hotel outbuildings (pictured above) to form a brewery which will brew lager and cider and be part of a new visitor centre, along with 32 bedrooms, three bars and three restaurants and a coffee shop. Jeremy tells me that a prime focus of the business will be the Coach Trade, linking Continued overleaf


The St Fillans Bit (Continued from Page 3)

into existing Whisky Tours and bringing many hundreds of visitors to the village. The ‘back bar’ has been open at weekends for several weeks now and Jeremy reports a healthy support from villagers. It is intended to have the main bar open by the end of March (after you read this) and serving bar meals. The menu will be plain, simple and, importantly, affordable. Thereafter the coffee shop will open in the ‘conservatory’ at the front entrance serving cakes, scones etc. along with beverages. The coffee shop will be manned so that the problems in the past of customers having to wander into the bar to get service will be overcome. Then there will be a Bistro in what is now the residents’ lounge, where every dish will contain beer in some form – fitting for a brewery owned hotel. Further plans involve a pukka restaurant and even a beer garden with BBQ on the loch side! Heady and ambitious stuff. Scottish nights are planned for the large function room for the entertainment of both locals and visitors. The jetties and foreshore of the hotel will be maintained, and Dave & Kay Naitby will continue to operate their boat hire business there. The slipway will be available for controlled public launching for a small fee. Pictured at the top of this page is the present Drummond Team: Jeremy and his wife Gwen, Miguel & Blanca (from Spain) and maintenance man Andy. I suspect that Andy will be a busy man! All very encouraging, and we all wish Arran well in the venture. I do have to mention the disappointment of some locals at the present drinks price structure which is seen by some as excessive. I know that one villager has written to Arran Brewers directly expressing his concern and I did discuss it with Jeremy who is taking on board village feedback. It is, of course, the onus on any business to set its price structure and the bottom line is the market. People vote with their wallets. I’m sure that Arran will get the right balance. Back to my ongoing topic of village business people! I have recently been overseeing works at The Sandison Hall being carried out by Jonathan Dovey (pictured right) who, with wife Lorraine, lives in Auchindoune. Most will have seen the excellent job that Jonathan has done in converting the old shop on his property known as The Milestone into a very attractive house (amusingly he is constantly asked who did the work for him). The Doveys settled in St Fillans a couple of years ago after wanting to escape the rat race in London. It was 4

Staff at The Drummond

Mom who sought out the perfect loch side location and the decision to buy was easy. The family background was in building - Dad had his own building company in London – and Jonathan started with the family business at 17. Over the years he has gathered all round experience of general builderwork, painting and decorating, and now trades as J D Builders & Decorators from St Fillans. He can carry out most trades, having developed links with other local tradesmen - so it’s good to know that we have another local, helpful and available builder. Get Jonathan on 01764 685233 or Mary’s monthly update from the Four Seasons tells me that the hotel is now open full time. She would like to thank everyone who supported the Gardeners’ Question Time in March, raising funds for St Angus’s Church. The Tarken Bistro will be serving meals all day Friday & Saturday over Easter Weekend, and then from May to August, Sunday lunch will be served in the restaurant as usual. I’d like to thank the Four Seasons for the superb resurfacing of the rear access lane at the hotel – oh, that the rest of the lane could be so refurbished! Finally this month – the Annual Great Loch Earn Boat Race will be rowed on Sunday 13th April from Lochearnhead to The Achray. Our super fit village team Demen-cha-cha-cha have entered again in the Veterans class (though based on previous performance they might well win the race outright) and this year will be raising money for Cancer Research, the charity picked by Amy Hyland (nee Wellens). Sponsorship forms are in the Village Store - this really is an event worth supporting. Usually the winners arrive at The Achray at around 12.30, so why not pop down there and cheer our gallant lads (well, they were once) in to

Jonathan at work

the finish? Then get a brew in the bar... PS My good lady wife met an ex villager last week in Crieff who commiserated with her over my death. Seems that the rumour mill got it slightly wrong. OK I did have a few days with a virus - but if you have heard the rumour, be assured that this is me, not a ghost writer. Who else could write such rubbish?

Callander Mountain Bike Trails Project A local group of cyclists and other interested folks have been working towards establishing Callander as a key venue for mountain biking in Central Scotland. As part of the Bike Trossachs initiative the Callander Mountain Bike Trails Project is planning to design, construct and establish a maintenance programme for a network of mountain biking trails and supporting infrastructure in the woodland and under-utilised grounds in and around Callander town centre. At present we’re working with the Community Development Trust, landowners and other organisations to begin planning suitable locations and trails. We have produced a Scoping Document outlining all of the points in this article in greater detail. If you are interested in the project, the Scoping Document, or in becoming involved yourself then please get in touch. Email us: Info coming soon at:

Stirling Careers and Jobs Event STEP, Stirling’s business support organisation, is hosting the fourth annual

Careers and Jobs Event

at the Albert Halls in Stirling on Thursday 1 May 2014 between 10am and 4pm This is a free event and is aimed at a wide range of people, including those who are looking for work, facing redundancy, considering a change of career, leaving school, college or university, or wanting to start their own business. • This event brings together a range of specialist advice, guidance and support. As well as providing information on employment opportunities, the event will provide guidance on applying for jobs, changing career, starting a business and specialised information on tax, welfare and benefits. The event also coincides with the end of the academic year and will be a great opportunity for young people to explore future career paths. • Almost 500 people attended the 2013 event, many securing job interviews, applying for jobs and finding potential employment opportunities with others benefiting from information on careers advice, college and university courses and how to start their own business. • Why not call in to see what the options are for your future? Everyone is welcome. • For more details on the Stirling Careers and Jobs Event please visit stirling-careers-and-jobs-event/


Strathyre News

Music Group is organising a

Bottle Stall

in Ancaster Square, Callander

Saturday 19th & Monday 21 April

24th & 25th May 2014

The second Strathyre Music Festival is due to take place again! This year it takes place over the weekend of 24th/25th May, and as before, it’s hosted by local Balvaig Music Group. The Festival has been called ‘the largest community based festival in Scotland in 2014’ - this accolade is remarkable, for a small community of only 200 residents! Furthermore, the Festival has attracted Celebrate Lottery funding which is a wonderful testament to the success of 2013’s effort. Will You Be There? Strathyre is the first village in the Scottish Highlands and also resides within Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. The Festival is set at several venues in the heart of the village and enjoys the beautiful natural amphitheatre backdrop of Ben Ledi, Ben Sheann and the Two Munros - Stuc A’ Chroin and Ben Vorlich. The Festival boasts no less than 250 individual participating musicians: 53 solo acts, bands, and choirs. Strathyre and its neighbouring communities Balquhidder and Lochearnhead hold a wealth of local talent, and many will take part in the Festival. This is an essential event for pulling the local community together with a sense of common purpose, and makes a terrific contribution to the local economy, which relies entirely on tourism. The Music Festival is restoring Strathyre’s position on the map as popular tourist stop. Kenny Higgins, chairman, and member of hosting local group Balvaig, stated; “We have been overwhelmed by the interest in the Music Festival and we are delighted at the quality of the music that will be performed in support of the event.” The Festival line up includes: Adrian Spina, Deadly Winters, Stefan van de Sande (Netherlands), Jim Lee and the Edge of Chaos Orchestra (W.Sussex), Kenny Herbert and the Applebeggars, Muckle Flugga, Dwight and Jo-Ann Pereira (Malaysia), Chief Chebe African Drummers (Ghana), plus many other impressive acts. Jazz & Blues are also well represented with Callander based Jenne Mcclure Jazz band and Edinburgh’s top Jazz band Jazz Main, led by Nick Gould; also renowned drummer Phil Ragsdell and the Big Band Rhythm section for Glasgow based GCBB. The Riverside Ceilidh Band and Jock the Box will round off the Festival on the Sunday evening with a Big Ceilidh Party Celebration. Festivities start with the Festival Market and its special theme of The Commonwealth opening up from 10:00am with local crafts, food and local produce, music workshops, busking, face-painting, juggling and many other attractions likely to appeal to visitors of all ages. The opening ceremony at 11:30am on Saturday will be preceded by brass and pipe bands heralding the start of the Festivity Celebrations. Further enquiries: Kenny Higgins, Balvaig 01877 384660 6

10am - 4pm on both days. We are appealing for contributions! Any type of bottle towards this event will be gratefully received. All proceeds will go towards

Strathyre Music Festival 24/25th May 2014

Please leave any donations at any of the following drop-off points: Flutterbuys Angela & Stevie’s 8 Old Station Court The Village Shop In the porch at Clan Alpine (opposite Village Shop) The committee would like to thank everyone for their support and we look forward to seeing you at the Festival!

Dear Residents of Strathyre, Balquhidder and Lochearnhead... The Strathyre Music Festival is fast approaching and we have a fantastic line up this year. The Festivities start on Saturday morning 24th May around 10am when our much larger Festival Market Square opens with its Stalls promoting; local produce, arts and crafts.

As a result of the above and to help in crowd safety, the Car park area between the village shop and Station Court will be closed from 12 noon Friday 23rd May. In the Festival Market area, we have marching bands, Pipers and a Brass band playing and the opening ceremony is scheduled here for around 11:30am. Chief Chebe from Ghana will be teaching African Drumming and we have a continual range of music playing in the festival Square including Music workshops where you can try an instrument. There will be many attractions for all the family. The main Festival venue will be a giant Marquee in the Forestry Commission field with a stage at each end and performances will run from 12:30 pm to 1am. The tent also hosts the Festival Bar. The Strathyre Inn Dining room is a dedicated Jazz Big Band and Blues venue with performances running all day Saturday and Sunday. A further Busking area is at the Broch café with live performances all day. This year’s Festival is costing considerably more and with the high calibre of acts performing we have been forced to charge for day or weekend passes. And now the good news: In recognition of the local B.L.S community who have offered financial or other excellent support, Balvaig / Strathyre Music Festival committee have allocated a large number of Festival Weekend Passes, which will be provided to local people who have a home address in the B.L.S community. These free tickets will be provided on a first come first served basis on the first 150 Tickets ordered. This saves £10 on a day pass and £15 on a weekend pass. Donation tins will be positioned around the festival should you feel inclined to make a small donation towards next years festival costs. To apply for free passes – please email providing your name, address, email address, telephone number and the ticket types required:

• Weekend Pass Adult • Weekend Under 16 Pass • Weekend Child Pass (Under 5s) or apply through any member of the Balvaig Festival Committee on a note containing the above details. Further details on the festival can be found at

- - - - F E S T I VA L U P DAT E - - - There is a motion going through Scottish Parliament to acknowledge the significant achievement of a small band of volunteers in the small Village of Strathyre with only 200 residents who are managing to host and run Scotland’s largest community based Music Festival.  The Parliamentary Motion reads: S4M- Bruce Crawford (Stirling): That the Parliament welcomes the 2014 Strathyre Music Festival hosted by local Balvaig Music Group taking place on the 24th and 25th of May; understands that this small community of 200 residents hosts the widely considered Largest Community based festival in Scotland for 2014 and enjoys the beautiful natural amphitheatre backdrop of Ben Led, Ben Sheann and the two Munros Stuc A Croin and Ben Vorlich, which makes it the ideal place to hold such a Festival; congratulates their attraction of Celebrate Lottery funding that gives them an award of £10,000 towards their budget, with the rest consisting of local sponsorship and fund raising efforts; salutes the hard work from Balvaig Music Group, the musicians and all the others who have made this impressive gathering possible; understands that the Music Festival is restoring Strathyre, the first village in the Scottish Highlands, with its position on the map as a popular local tourist stop and realizes that the event is an essential contribution to the local economy that relies on tourism; notes that the communities of Strathyre, Balquihidder and Lochearnhead contain a wealth of local talent with many participating in the Festival and no less than 250 musicians will take part in the Festival, including 53 solo artists, bands, and choir members; further notes other events in the festival such as the Festival Market that has local crafts, food, and produce, music workshops, busking, face-painting, juggling and other attractions; and welcomes all to attend the opening ceremony at 11:30 on Saturday the 24th and to enjoy the music and other festivities.

We are also picking up some great accolades from Celtic Music Radio and a 3 minute plug from Radio Saltire which covers the whole of Scotland, where Deadly Winters (above) acknowledged the Strathyre Festival as the best gig they have played at in their 15 year history as a band - as well as the fitting tribute to the people of Strathyre for the unbelievable welcome they received.

Real Ale - Real Music

An advanced Ticket will be issued, which will be exchanged for the appropriate Wrist Band Pass on arrival at the main Venue Tent entrance – ticket office at the forestry commission field. We look forward to your support and to welcoming you to the 2nd Strathyre Music Festival. We hope you will join in the party atmosphere and give a warm welcome to all our guests. Kenny Higgins Balvaig Strathyre Music Festival 7


Church News BalquhiĐĐer Reg. Charity No. SC012316

We were pleased to welcome the Revd Stuart Fulton to take our service on 16th March. This was the first step in the process of announcing details of the impending vacancy when Revd. John Lincoln retires at the end of May. All are welcome to join us Mr Fulton has been appointed as Interim Moderator until the end of at any of the services. September 2014. He will supervise the functioning of the Church here after Mr Lincoln leaves. We were also told that there will be 9 people on the Nominating 17 April, Maundy Thursday 7pm    Committee (Vacancy Committee to you and me) with 3 from Balquhidder and Ecumenical Celebration of the Last 6 from Killin. This proportion has been determined by Presbytery based on the Supper relative numbers on the Communion Roll and attending Church. St Columba’s, Crieff                                                            There will also be an Advisory Committee appointed by Presbytery to oversee Followed by prayer vigil till midnight these arrangements. Notices outlining this are on the Church notice boards. 18 April, Good Friday                      As yet, we do not have a timetable for election of the Nominating Committee Meditations on Christ Crucified but all will become clear in due course. Meanwhile, the Annual Stated meeting 12 noon St Columba’s Crieff (AGM) was held on 23rd May at which the Annual Accounts for 2013 were 1pm St Serf ’s Comrie received as well as a Property Report which confirmed our intention to repair 2.15pm St Angus’s Lochearnhead the pointing of the west gable end wall of the Church. This has become essential and we hope will ameliorate the continuing damp problem in the building! 20 April, Easter Sunday                 Since the damp problem has been ongoing since the Church was built in 1855, Celebrations of the Risen Christ maybe we should pray for a miracle. 8am Lochside service at Jean Edwards Lochearnhead Hotel Breakfast available afterwards! 9.30am Easter Communion     The 2014 St Serf ’s 10.30am Easter Communion     St Fillan’s, Killin of the 11.15am Easter Communion     Strathyre Village Association St Columba’s & St Angus’s


will be held at

The Inn at Strathyre on Tuesday 8th April at 7.30pm.

Forms for the nomination of new committee members can be collected from the village shop and returned there once completed 3 days prior to the day of the AGM. Anyone wishing to include an item on the agenda please inform Susie Crammon on: 07891 438 539 or SVA Co: 248194 Charity no: SCO34451


Mary’s Meals When our friend Cathie van der Watt died, the funeral announcement included the suggestion that we might like to make donations to Mary’s Meals. Some of us had never heard of this organisation, so it is worth explaining that it is an international movement that sets up school feeding projects in communities where poverty and hunger prevent children from having an education. The website for Mary’s Meals explains that they provide a daily meal in a school and thereby children can benefit from being fed and gaining an education at the same time. Over 800,000 children receive Mary’s Meals every school day. The average cost to feed one child in this way for a whole school year is £12.20. It is easy to donate online via the website at or by writing to their contact in Scotland at 97A Hawthorn Street, Glasgow, G22 6HY.


CAOS does Oklahoma!

Saturday 24 May The Raft Race on Loch Doine kicks off the festivities again. The theme this year is ‘Clans’ Start building! Prize money - £100 for the winner. For the children Magwitch Monsters, Saturday and Sunday – Magwitch has many monster fun activities including: Songs, dancing, musical instruments, traditional party games, giant parachute play, bubble time & mini Commonwealth games The Mhor Bake Off This year’s cake competition’s theme is “Commonwealth Cakes” - classic cakes inspired from any of the Commonwealth countries. £100 prize money for the winner! Enter your cake before 3pm. Sunday 25 May Bake or bring your best loaf... 2 Masterchef ¼ finalists will guide you through techniques for the perfect loaf of bread. Enter your loaf into the competition... £100 prize money! Omlette Challenge As seen on James Martin’s Saturday Morning Show – it’ll be a cracking competition! Shivering Sheiks Live Music – 50s R & B A play, a pie and a pint from Glasgow’s Oran Mor - “arguably the best-value cultural event in the country.” Sunday Times Ceilidh with the legendary Brian McAlpine and Session A9 - back again by popular demand!

Congratulations to Callander Amateur Operatic Society for their wonderful production of Rodger’s & Hammerstein’s popular Oklahoma (over three nights in March at McLaren High School). What a show! It’s often hard to bring something fresh to a tried and tested musical like Oklahoma, but CAOS managed it. The show bounced along in fine style; each of the well-known songs delivered with confidence and feeling. Lorna Gallacher and Michael Coyne were excellent as Laurey and Curly - and Callaidh Stewart as Ado Annie was in danger of stealing the show as the girl who ‘Cain’t Say No’; but special mention must go to Grant Webb as the hapless ‘Poor’ Jud Fry - he brought out the particular sadness of a lonely, disturbed man with a dark obsession. There was sturdy support from Ian Milligan’s excellent band of musicians, and the chorus did themselves proud, singing with more confidence than I’ve seen before. Nice to see a good number of youngsters in there too, showing that the future of this very watchable company is in safe hands. GA

Callander Photo Club

We had a standing room only response to our guest speaker, Kenny McLean from Stirling Camera Club. His presentation was interesting, information and impressive. He shared really concise and helpful information on camera settings and how they work and he made brilliant use of photographs to illustrate. In addition, we shared member response to the call for RED photos which were pretty amazing, too. Our next meeting will be Wednesday, 9 April, 7:30 pm in the back room of the Waverley Hotel on Callander Main

Street. We will have a short presentation on informal ‘people’ photography which will lead into a presentation by Peter Bennet on using Lightroom to process photos Your photo word for April is ‘SYMMETRY’. Please send your photos to Susan at by Friday, 4 April, for inclusion on the night. New members and guests are always welcome. Membership is £8 for the remainder of this year’s events. Guest fee is £3. Please call Susan O’Boyle at 01877 339 323 for more information.

M.E./CFS/FYBROMYALGIA Living with the challenges of a chronic physical and mental debility can cause a weary frustration, anxiety and sense of isolation at times. Join us at The Old Bank in Callander at 2pm on the first Saturday of each month for mutual sharing of tips, experience and positive, comforting support.

For further information, contact Shena MacDonald 07716993021 9

View from the Park by Owen McKee I know not everyone is seeing it yet but most commentators now accept that the economy is recovering and that promise of a recovery had an influence on the National Park Board discussion on our next Local Development Plan. We are at the stage when we publish a document called The Main Issues Report which highlights what changes we feel we need to make to the current Plan. Housing is obviously a major consideration in any Local Development Plan and as we all know the state of the economy has a huge influence on whether houses are actually built. In the current Local Plan (2010 -2015) we had allocated sites for 75 house per year. It will be no surprise to anyone that during the first three years of the Plan the targets have not been met. Should we therefore cut back on the targets for the new Plan? We took the view that with some slight relaxations and an improving economy we should again aim for 75 houses a year across the Park. The full Main Issues Report will be available towards the end of April and will be open for comment for 10 weeks. Paper copies will be available at the National Park Office in Callander and online at our website No doubt a number of you have been delayed a little at Kilmahog on your journeys to Callander and beyond and put the work being done at the Leny Estate solely due to the winter storm damage. Whereas the opprtunity was taken to remove fallen trees etc. the main work was to repair and re-instate the drystane dyking and protect the views of the Leny Designed Landscape. The project was part funded by the Natural Heritage Grant Scheme. I am happy to say that the Grant Scheme has helped a number of land owners and community groups around the Park with projects to control invasive species, clear scrub to open up views, plant trees in Designated Landscapes and even to help with the clear up of the shore line of Loch Long at Arrochar. All of these schemes help both residents and visitors alike to appreciate the wonderful area in which we live. The development at Loch Lomond Shores is proving an economic boon to the Balloch area. To help other parts to benefit from visitors to Loch Lomond Shores a pontoon is being built to accommodate the Waterbus and encourage the operators to increase the 10

available service. One service which will benefit is the guided wildlife cruise which runs from Loch Lomond Shores to RSPR Inversnaid Reserve. With funding from Creative Scotland Artist Steve Messam was appointed as Artist in Residence for a period of three months. For much of the time he was in our part of the Park with the Gleonogle Viaduct and the Callander to Oban line a major attrction for him. As a result he has devised THE WHISTLES project which involves placing replica steam train whistles from the locomotives that operated along the line from Callander to Glenogle and activating them every ten the impression of the sound of travelling at speed along the track. Negotiations are ongoing with Creative Scotland for funding to have the project in place this summer.. Hopefully I will be able to tell you in the next issue of the Villagers how much of the line will be covered. 2014 does indeed seem to be a momentous year. Marking the centenary of John Muir, the Father of National Parks, we will see the opening of the east to west long distance walk, The John Muir Way, which terminates at Helensburgh. Also in commemoration of this great Scot we, with Cairngorms National Park, will be hosting a conference on 12th and 13th May. For more details go to the conference website @ Owen McKee Tigh Na Bhuth, Lochearnhead, FK19 8PR 01567 830214


Rambling Club

Sponsored by Caledonian Country Wear

The Club consists of a group of enthusiasts who meet regularly throughout the year to participate in a programme of strolls, rambles, hill walks and a Long Distance Path. Details are published on http://www. a m b l e r s . h t m in the Ben Ledi View and on posters around Callander. New members and guests are always welcome. Here are some dates for your diary: APRIL • Wed 2nd 9:30am Ramble: Comrie to St Fillans via Loch Baltachan (9miles) – contact 01786 823265 • Sat 12th 8:30am Hill: Stuc Odhar (638m) – contact 01786 825198 • Wed 16th 9:30am Stroll: Park of Keir & Kippenrait Glen (4.5miles) – contact 01786 825682 • Sat 26th 8:30am LDP: CtoC(18) Ceres to St Andrews (9.5 miles) – contact 01877 330032 MAY • Wed 7th 9:30am Ramble: Duncolm & The Slacks (10miles) – contact 01786 841240 • Wed 14th 9:30am Hill: Meall Odhar, the alchemist’s dream (656m) – contact 01786 825877 • Wed 21st 9:30am Stroll: Loch Ard Loop (4 miles) – contact 01877 330032 • Sat 24th 8:30am LDP: CT(1) Blairgowrie to Bridge of Cally (7miles) – contact 01877 330032 • Wed 28th 8:30am Stroll: Dunning Area (5.5 miles) – contact 01786-860451

We meet in Ancaster Square, unless otherwise indicated. Please bring wet weather clothing, appropriate footwear and a packed lunch. And please let the walk leader know if you plan to join the walk via the contact number given!

Balquhidder, Lochearnhead & Strathyre Community Council Minutes of Meeting held at Mhor 84 (Kingshouse) on 26 February 2014

Please note that these minutes have not yet received formal approval and should be considered as a draft version only. Present: Malcolm McNaughton (MM), Alastair Barclay (AB), Paul Hicks (PH), David Johnston (DJ), Susie Crammon (SC), Roseanne McWilliams (RM), Adrian Squires (AS), and Karen Methven (KM). Apologies: Angus Cameron, Ruth McLusky. Suzanne Player - Stirling Council (S-C), Sarah Gibson, Strathyre. In attendance: Cllr Martin Earl (ME), Stirling Council (S-C), PC Will Diamond, Police Scotland, Owen McKee (OM), National Park, and David Richards and others, Strathyre. 1) Approval of Minutes It was proposed by RM and seconded by DJ, that the minutes of the meeting on 15th January 2014 should be accepted, and this was approved unanimously. 2) Declarations of Interest SC declared her personal interest in item 7c on the agenda. 3) Police Report PC Diamond reported that, since the previous CC meeting, fourteen (14) offences had been committed in this area. They comprised one offence of disorder that had been detected; four crimes of dishonesty that had not so far been detected; and ten Road Traffic offences that had all been detected. Three of the crimes were break-ins to properties in Balquhidder, and a further offence had taken place at Lochearnhead where property was stolen from a shed. The initiatives under ‘Police and Community Together’ were continuing, as were road checks - particularly in view of the break-ins. Following an email message sent to warn people about the break-ins, Mr & Mrs Hopkins of Lochearnhead had suggested that this might be used regularly as an effective way of circulating and cascading crime information. This had been pursued with enthusiastic support from local businesses; a system has been set up and will be used in future. Members of the CC will be included. The idea was warmly welcomed and approved by the meeting. ME mentioned the new policing model and asked if it would lead to any local changes. PC Diamond confirmed that his own role would not change substantially. Shift patterns are changing elsewhere, but it has been recognized that rural areas have particular and different needs from other areas. The current arrangements (with local community officers) have worked well for many years and will not be changed drastically. There will be some minor adjustments to provide greater flexibility, but local officers will continue in post as before. 4) Matters Arising Election Ruth McLusky has been elected to BLS CC to serve Strathyre. No nominations were received in respect of Lochearnhead. PH offered to liaise with Richard Eastland and Loraine Telfer regarding the possibility of one of them being co-opted to serve on behalf of Lochearnhead. Action: PH to liaise with R. Eastland and L. Telfer. 5) Local Crime Prevention Signs Following the offences of burglary in this area during the latter end of 2013, PC Diamond had put up notices on some local roads, primarily aimed at warning visitors that thieves were active in the area. Some CC members had expressed doubts as to the wisdom of this response. PC Diamond stated that it is an established police tactic in response to such offences, with the twin aim of warning visitors that criminals are active in rural areas as much as in the towns, and also of acting as a deterrent to criminals who realize that the police and local community are aware of their activities. RM stated that such signs do not make a good impression on tourists and may serve to discourage them from stopping here at all. Some suggestions were made as to possible amendments of the wording used but there was still considerable disagreement over the basic concept. MM commented on the previous discussions over anti-litter signs, when comments had been made by National Park wardens and agents from the Forestry Commission about the indiscriminate posting of signs and the authority required to display them. DJ commented that this is a tourist area rather than a commuter area. AB commented that signs would be more appropriately used in car parks and MM agreed. PH queried whether signs could be used only when needed and not become a permanent fixture. OM commented that a Neighbourhood Watch Scheme has just started in St Fillans. This was noted with some approval since the signs used by such watches were more relevant to this particular situation. MM then mentioned the potential use of mobile, infra-red cameras, of the type used to detect animals. PC Diamond replied that evidence from wildlife cameras would not be admissible in court. Indeed, such cameras could not be placed on public roads without specific permission (under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, 2000). Even where such cameras had been placed on private property overlooking a public place, any evidence they provided could not be used in court proceedings. It was accepted that the police had power to deploy warning signs, but members asked that their views (and those of the local community) should be considered when the use of such signs was envisaged. 6) Footpath from Immervoulin to Strathyre David Richards gave a brief history of attempts by local residents in Strathyre to have a proper footpath constructed between the Immervoulin Caravan Park and the main part of the village. This had been going on for some thirty years. Transport Scotland is responsible for the A84 highway that runs beside the caravan park and leads to the village itself. There is a double bend in the road at this point, and the width is relatively narrow with land rising quite sharply on the East side, but dropping equally sharply on the West. Transport Scotland recognizes that it is a dangerous situation for pedestrians at this point but has insufficient funds to construct an appropriate footpath. Previously, there had also been an issue with a protected wall, but Mr Richards believed that this had now been resolved. He asked if the National Park might be able to provide a path. OM replied that the Park Authority did not own any property there, and was not able to provide paths itself, but could help to facilitate the process by involving other bodies. The Highway Authority could make a compulsory purchase on safety grounds. This avenue had been tried before but rejected by Transport Scotland which has its own safety criteria requiring evidence of serious injuries or deaths occurring at a particular section of road. Questions were asked about an alternative route beside the river, but the consensus from local residents was that this was not possible. ME then suggested that it would be worth holding a site meeting with Transport Scotland to find out what the current situation is, given that the road is now subject of a 30 mph speed limit. ME also suggested that SusTrans might have finances to support this and OM concurred. Mr Richards confirmed that there would be no problems over land ownership. ME added that maps would be useful. The distance for the desired pathway was estimated to be no more than about fifty yards. Action: ME to organize a site visit with Transport Scotland. 7) Correspondence 7a) Anonymous complaint on state of A85 from Lochearnhead to St Fillans On 18th February, a report was received from a couple in Lochearnhead, complaining about the state of the A85 between there and St Fillans. On 21st February, PH travelled the same route and stated that he could confirm that there are numerous defects in the road surface at various points. PC Diamond also stated that he had reported the poor state of the road to BEAR. PH stated that he had contacted Transport Scotland, as the Highway Authority responsible for this road, and asked them for a breakdown of inspections for the past two years, what defects have been discovered previously, what complaints have been made previously, how long it has taken them to repair earlier defects and what plans they have for further inspections in the future. To date, no reply has been received. It was agreed to review this at a later date to see if further action was necessary. 7b) Letter from Local Energy Scotland This body is offering free and impartial advice to local communities that are in line to receive income from a renewable energy project (such as the hydroelectric scheme at Kendrum Burn). It was agreed that this letter should be passed to the BLS Trust for information. MM to pass letter to BLS Trust. 7c) Licensing application for The Broch Café The application is for a premises licence to serve alcohol between 12 noon and 10 p.m. daily (including weekends). Members did not anticipate any objections from local residents. PH to write letter of support. 7d) Review of Local Government Electoral Arrangements The Local Government Boundary Commission for Scotland is conducting a review of electoral arrangements that will include reference to both the number of councillors to appoint in each ward, and the ward boundaries themselves. The boundaries of councils as a whole will not be reviewed. Public consultation is expected to begin in May 2014. ME commented that he the multi-ward scheme didn’t always function smoothly, but he anticipated no significant changes at present. 8) Planning Matters No planning matters had been notified since the previous meeting. 9) Matters From Local Councillors 9.1) Priority-based Budgeting A detailed report of the outcome had already been circulated to members. ME added that DRT services will almost certainly need to be re-designed, but the essential principle will remain intact. The PBB process will start earlier in the forthcoming year, and his hope was that it would not cover the same ground every year, but would focus on new and creative options once local priorities had been established. He thanked members for the feedback given at short notice over Christmas and the New Year, and stated that he believed that it had been valuable in protecting services such as local transport and the mobile library. 10) Any Other Competent Business No additional items had been notified. There was no other business and, at 8:50 p.m., MM declared the meeting closed. The next meeting is due to take place at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday 9th April 2014 at Strathyre Village Hall.


DOCTORS BRACKLINN PRACTICE EASTER HOLIDAY ARRANGEMENTS The practice will close at 12.30pm on Friday 18th April and re-open at 8.30am on Tuesday 22nd April. If you need to see a doctor during this time, please contact NHS24 and try to avoid running out of medicines by ordering early. We will be open as usual on Friday 18th April until 12.30pm. BANK HOLIDAY ARRANGEMENTS To minimise disruption to our patients the practice policy has been to remain open during all the Bank Holidays, however due to lack of staff training and meeting times, we will close for half a day on the May and October Bank Holiday Mondays. Therefore: The practice will be open as usual on Monday 5th May until 12.30pm when we will close for a staff meeting. If you need to see a doctor during this time, please contact NHS24. Thank you for your co-operation at these times. Leny Surgery Drs Strang & Scott and Drs Mathewson & Gibson Community Nurses The surgeries and community nurses take part in various training programmes throughout the year. This is to meet the educational and training needs of all members of the practice and nursing team. The next training afternoons will be on: Wednesday 21 May 2014 Thursday 26 June 2014 On these afternoons, please do not contact the surgeries for repeat prescriptions or for appointments. Both practices and community nurse clinic will close at 12.30pm. Emergency cover will be provided by NHS24 for nursing and GPs. In the event of an emergency, please telephone 08454 242424.

Horticultural Notes

The first meeting of the newly formed horticultural society met on the 12th March - and what a great response! Lots of new ideas to put in motion for this year, and for the coming years. We are a newly formed committee and lots of discussion was had about the fact that arts, crafts and home baking was at the show, not just the plants, flowers and veg; we decided that a new name was appropriate - and the Annual Country Show was chosen. This, we felt, gave us wider scope to progress with our plans in the coming years. Watch this space! This year sees lots going on in Scotland and we have taken some of the events as our themes, such as The Homecoming, Ryder Cup Commonwealth Games and the remembrance of World War One. We are hoping to get the children more involved and encourage them to grow and get creative - and we have plans to go into the school to discuss this further. The show this year will be on 6th September in Strathyre Village Hall. I look forward to seeing everyone there - and all your produce and creativity! The show programme is now available in Strathyre village shop and Lochearnhead post office - or if you can’t get to any of those locations give me a ring and I can get one to you 01877 384 275. I will keep you all updated on progress and upcoming events. You can also find us on Facebook! Janet Richards 12

Callander & West Perthshire U3A Spreading the word. It is quite amazing that although there are 915 U3A groups in the UK and 42 of these are in Scotland, that many people still do not know what we are all about, so we were very pleased to be invited to speak to the Probus Club of Lomond, based in Drymen, show them our photos of U3A members enjoying a variety of courses from Art to Geology, Line Dancing to Languages and answer the questions about where, how and by whom the group was run. Our very appreciative audience kindly invited us to lunch and we would like to thank them for their hospitality and friendly welcome. For more information on any of our courses visit our website where you can make contact and be directed to the relevant Group Leader. Just Google ‘Callander and West Perthshire U3A’.

2014 Stuc a’ Chroin Hill Race, May 3rd

Do you need a new home in Lochearnhead, Strathyre, Killin or Callander? If so,

Rural Stirling Housing Association may be able to help

The Association’s aim is to support rural communities by providing affordable good quality homes for people in housing need. We currently have 450 rented homes and around 30 of these become available for re-let each year. We also build some new homes each year. For more details and a housing application form contact us at:

Rural Stirling Housing Association Stirling Road, Doune FK16 6AA Telephone 01786 841101 Email Registered as a Scottish Charity No. SCO37849 Please note that we encourage all applicants to also apply to Stirling Council’s housing list (Tel 0845 277 7000) Being on both lists is the best way to maximise your chances of being re-housed.

It’s that time of year again … it’s light in the morning, and the promise of time out on the hills beckons. Some folk like to walk, and some like to run. For the Stuc a’ Chroin Hill Race, you can take your pick - you can run the race, or you can join our happy band of marshals and walk out to any number of points on the route. This year, we’ll still have over 150 runners, all of whom will need water, jelly babies, guidance, words of encouragement, shouting at, and a smile or a laugh. If you’d like to help on the hill or anywhere else, drop me an email at We’ll need help on Friday 2nd May to put up marquees, Saturday 3rd May for start/finish setup, out on the hill and dismantling start/finish, and Sunday 4th May to disassemble the marquee and final tidy. As ever, there’ll be music in the evening after the race at the Inn. We’ll publish details on the web (www. closer to the day, but there will be a marshals meeting on Fri 2nd May at 9pm in the Inn at Strathyre. If you can’t make this, please assemble on Saturday morning (3rd May) at the Inn at 8am. The race itself starts at 13:00, with race registration from 10:30 till 12:30, and for those wanting to cheer the runners as they finish, the first runners usually come in around 15:00 - 15:15 and prize-giving will be on the field at 16:30. It’s always a memorable day! Steve Respinger

For Sale

Mahogany display cabinet 24”x 13”x 6ft. tall    Glass front and sides £100 ONO Tel 01877 384608

Rob Roy Country Loch Earn Tourism Initiative

Why not join us? Do you offer accommodation or other tourism related businesses around Balquhidder, Strathyre, Lochearnhead or St Fillans? Then you are welcome to join The Loch Earn Tourism Initiative group (LETI). Member businesses include; accommodation, hospitality, shops, services, outdoor activities, transport, wildlife and bespoke tours. LETI was established in 1994 to promote commercial businesses around Loch Earn. Today 40 members from 4 neighbouring villages collaborate to; share -best practices, information and news-, promote each other’s services, plan promotional campaigns, work on continuous website improvement and network with others in the tourism industry. LETI promotes the area and member services primarily via digital marketing and PR. Our website is designed to be informative. It aims to attract visitors to spend in the area whether on day trips, short breaks or weekly holidays. LETI membership is £40 per annum. Benefits include: Members page on LETI’s website promoting your business, website, contact details, photographs, social media and keyword links • Events listed on LETI’s on-line events calendar • Stories on LETI’s blog site with keyword links via www.robroycountry. • LETI PR and events publicity on-line and via targeted magazines and broadsheets (Press/Media page at www. • PR services of consultant Shena McLelland • An opportunity for you to offer business incentives to LETI member guests and customers • Invitations to attend the AGM and group meetings • Sharing best practices and deals • Business cross referrals and customer referrals • Social Media promotion via LETI digital marketing collaborators and #Scotlandhour (Twitter) • Details and advertising in the area phone directory produced by LETI • Reciprocal links with your business website • Group membership of Wild Scotland • Training workshops via Scottish Enterprise (E.g. digital marketing, customer service) • Networking with TLL&TTNP, Visit Scotland, TIS, Scottish Enterprise, Wild Scotland, STEP, The Breadalbane Group and other tourism groups and organisations in private and public sectors • Social gatherings to unwind and to experience the skills and services of hospitality members. LETI is a registered charity with a chair, vice chair, treasurer and secretary. Success of the group is dependent on enthusiastic volunteers. Positions are nominated and appointed annually. Each year we encourage and support a new chair person. If you are interested in joining LETI or have any questions, please contact Kim Proven (LETI digital marketing/ PR) Tel: 01567 830 443, email: enquiries@robroycountry. com or any other member listed on www.


BLS – Where Business Does the Talking by Iona Mchedliani

B r i a r C o t ta g e s

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to meet Kim and Fraser Proven at their beautiful home on the north bank of Loch Earn, Briar Cottages - self-catering accommodation of the highest order. I had the privilege of being shown around the historic main building of their home, as well as the two cottages they run. In addition, Kim is closely involved with the Loch Earn Tourism Initiative (LETI) which is accomplishing great things in both bringing together business owners and members of the community, as well as promoting the four villages as a wonderful area to visit. Here’s the second part of our interview, continued from last month. What does LETI aim to accomplish mainly? LETI aims to attract visitors to this beautiful region, to experience everything that it has to offer and encourages visitors to come back again for day trips or longer. It is also a great forum for businesses to support each other and each other’s customers as well as to share best practices. If you stick a pin on a map our group is so central within Scotland. We can attract visitors from all directions and promote this as an idyllic base to tour from. It’s easier to get people to stop and spend if there are more of you working together and recommending each other’s services. We also have a couple of social gatherings a year to catch up and to experience food, drink and services at member hotels, restaurants and cafes in the group. What have been some of its main or most recent achievements? Very recently, in fact as of today, we have added an “Enquire Now” button to the website for those seeking accommodation. So, normally people would visit the website looking for accommodation and have to go on to every single hotel or bed & breakfast or cottage to find out if there is any availability that matches what they want. Now they can press the Enquire Now button, type in preferred dates and essential criteria and send. The message goes to all of our accommodation members and those that match the enquiry can offer what they have. This offers a one-hit, time-saving solution to people who are fed up spending hours searching until they find a match. I just tweeted about it this morning. So that’s one thing. Another is social media. There has been a lack of confidence within the group. I am self-taught but have been singlehandedly promoting LETI on forums, directories, Twitter, Google+ and other sites for years now. Social Media is evolving and has become so important. A group of us shared our frustration at lack of time, funding, training etc. during an interview with journalist Bill Jamieson. In addition to mentioning us in the press and online, Bill spoke to the media 14

contact at the National Park on our behalf. This led to a conversation with me, then a Scottish Enterprise consultant. This resulted in free training workshops. Some members have done the introduction to social media and others digital marketing strategy. We will then work on a plan alongside a consultant. With more of us tweeting key messages, services and website address links, news will spread further faster. Years ago people used to use the word “competitor” and I think it’s almost a redundant word now because today collaboration and sharing are much more important.  I am proud to have worked with The Scots Magazine. It featured our area and business personalities in 11 pages over 2 months. Alison Inglis and I worked on a grant application from Stirling Council. That helped to fund a PR consultant who was recommended by The Four Seasons Hotel in St Fillans. Our consultant got us a piece in The Scotland On Sunday business page following an interview with Colin Donald amongst other press coverage and we are working on new plans now. This led to other contacts like Tourism Intelligence  Scotland asking if they could write an article on LETI as a good example of team collaboration. I am also proud to be uploading The Villagers to archive it on LETI’s website. It’s a win for all. We attract people to our website and our local news articles, photos and stories live on. Gill Allen sends me the publication to upload every couple of months. The Belfry news send me some of their best stories to upload too. There are quite a lot of similar businesses to yours, do you find the level of competition between you all to be quite high? Absolutely not, look at the website. We looked at the market before we built our latest cottage. There was no point in building a 3 star cottage when there was room for something a bit more upmarket. The key within the group is for everyone to look at their unique selling point. We offer 2 bedroom luxury and pet-friendly cottages with fishing, use of the hot tub, a loch garden, summer house, Sky Sports, tour of our

Kim Proven

“B listed” thatched cottage and so on. Others will offer remote, secluded accommodation, extra services like boat rides, fresh eggs, daily scones, more bedrooms, cheaper prices and so on. The important thing rather than thinking of somebody as a competitor, is to think about filling accommodation in the area. If I do a good job, I am going to fill the popular weeks in my cottages quickly, and then someone will contact me looking for Ryder Cup week accommodation or Highland Games and Commonwealth Games weeks. I will highlight the Rob Roy Country website, the new Enquire Now button or offer to fill it out and send it for them. By getting them to stay here they then spend money in the area on food, drink and activities. So we help each other. I always say to people round about, “please don’t put the phone down without offering a local alternative or they may go to St. Andrews or the Lake District. Keep them here!” For you, what’s the busiest time of the year? It’s an interesting question because The Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park just emailed a survey asking the same question. We are busy all year round. We do not let every single night and there are more people milling around the area in the peak months like July and August but we attract visitors all year. There are less people visiting the area in winter. Some hotels shut down. I often wonder are less people here because there are less places to eat and things to do, or do the services shut down because there are less visitors? When we first came here we did 44 weeks out of the 52 in Little Briar, our pet friendly cottage. I don’t want to acknowledge a seasonal cycle. My aim is to provide reasons to visit in any season. In winter there can be distilleries, car tours, wildlife, skiing, folk music nights by a fire, sledging, walking, stalking, eating, golf, switching off, romantic indoor relaxation by the wood-burning stove and if it’s raining - wow, you should see the waterfalls. They’re absolutely amazing! When it’s dark and there are no clouds, here we’re one of the last bastions of no light pollution, so the

an advantage to offer space so that guests can be comfortable lounging around inside and within the grounds without feeling that they have to go out to find a lovely view or place to picnic. Deer come into the garden most nights so if you sit around long enough you will spot one. I have heard people say “Oh, we’d better go out,” then, “I’ll maybe go out tomorrow,” as they enjoy the ospreys and kayaks or whatever is going on around them here. The good thing about that is that they leave feeling that they want to come back and enjoy all the things they missed. There is room to extend or expand but maybe the next owners will apply for that. Fraser and I work on continuous development and improvement but no more expansion. Statues mark the slipway to Briar Cottages, Loch Earn

stars and moonlight are incredible. Glencoe is just up the road for winter sports. Some people just like to sit here or in the summer house with a heater in winter and look out to Loch Earn, Stuc A Chroin and Edinample Castle in any weather. Storms are dramatic. In Spring, the ospreys return and mallards bring their ducklings to us. One mother puts her nest on the thatched roof! The colours in Autumn make the best photographs. People come here for birthdays and anniversaries which means potential bookings any time of the year that they were born or married. Most people want value at the price point they are prepared to pay and to have their essential criteria matched or surpassed no matter what season. Including Christmas? Yes, Christmas and New Year were completely sold out.  We add decorated Christmas trees plus prosecco and cake in Briar Steading and wine and festive biscuits in Little Briar. New Year guests tend to come to the village hall dance then we treat them to a BBQ on New Year’s day! Okay we had to use the garage for shelter this year, but we have been lucky in

past years, bowling or putting on the lawn and setting off fireworks. Do you have plans to expand? Would you ever consider building another cottage? It’s an interesting question. We sold our boat and built Briar Steading which launched in 2011. Maybe if we were in our twenties we would think about it but one of the beauties about this environment is the space. We did apply to National Park planning for a romantic one-bedroom, balconied, honeymoon cottage with a spiral staircase in place of our double garage. It was rejected! So we focused on building this one [Briar Steading]. If both properties are full then only 8 people maximum have to share and enjoy the viewpoints, picnic tables and space. If there were 2-4 new lodges on the three acre site it would be more demanding and less peaceful.  I think it would spoil what people like about coming here, which is the space and the choice - they can join in with us - we invite them in to see the cruck ceiling and to use our loch garden - if we’re sitting they are welcome to join us, or if they want they can go up to the top of the hill and be alone. It is

Finally, your house has a fascinating history, could you please tell us a little about it? Briar Cottage is a B listed thatched cottage. It was known as Easter Achraw until 1900 when Isabelle McLaren changed the name. There was a baby born here in 1727, a little girl called Christian, whose family were MacGregors, but they changed their name to Murray in a time when it was illegal to use the surname MacGregor. Then came 200 years of MacLarens who had the tenancy here. The cottage was owned by the Campbells of Breadalbane who also owned Edinample Castle. MacLaren is an ancient name in this area as many readers will know. The connection makes an interesting story when people come to see the house. MacLarens come from all over. Some of the relatives of the people who lived in the house as children have visited and told us stories. Peggy MacLaren was the last of the MacLarens to live here and the last MacLarens to be buried in the ancient MacLaren burial ground up at Earnknowe. Her niece told me that her grandfather had been a train driver. Before the Beeching cuts, the Lochearnhead to Comrie line passed behind our grounds. When family were on the train he would slow it down and throw their luggage into the garden to save them lugging it back. I spoke on a radio show “Houses With A Past”. A lady then wrote to me afterwards and said “I knew Jenny MacLaren (Peggy’s sister). In 1927 she used to cycle up to Glen Ogle Farm to babysit for my sister and she swam in the loch every morning, no matter the weather!” It turns out that I am related to Janet McLaren born Comrie 1690 married to my 7 times grandfather Patrick Stewart, smiddy at Lawers Estate, so I welcome visiting McLarens as cousins. The cruck ceiling is the original Scots pine.  The previous owners were going to throw it out. Fortunately they got Historic Scotland to come and have a look and they helped restore it. This house has seen a lot of coming and going since the early 18th century and possibly in dwellings on this old crofting site   centuries before. Interested parties please refer to: or for LETI: 15

McLaren High School News

Junior Ski Course, 2014 As you can see from our main photo, the 30 boys and girls who took part in this year’s Junior Ski Course at the resort of Bormio in Italy had a great time. Despite some overcast weather at the beginning of the week the investment of time on the dry slope at Tillicoultry began to pay off with fresh snow every morning and the chance to make some tracks. . By the end of the week, the clouds relented, leaving an azure sky with very welcoming sunshine. At last the panorama opened up and everyone was keen to ‘strutt their stuff’ in these perfect conditions. What a climax to a great week. After a great day on the slopes, final farewells were made with our instructors at a short presentation ceremony. The instructors were very quick to compliment the group on their skiing abilities, their willingness to listen and learn, as well as their manners and the respect they demonstrated for one another. Flavio’s group was singled out for exceptional credit being described as the most outstanding school group he had ever worked with! Clearly ORCA values cemented - great memories of a great week! The end of yet another very successful Junior Ski Course. Battle of the Bands The McLaren High School heat of Battle of the Bands took place on 20 February and it was a great success with both performers and the audience having a brilliant evening. A total of £104.30 was raised for charity. Well done to Gregor Flynn S4 who organised the event. In third place were The Princess and the Polka Dots - the pop, rock, alternative group. In second was the Circle of Thirds - with their folk tunes that had everyone clapping along. The tension was mounting, and as Mr Fleming announced the winner to be Cameron Roxburgh the whole audience, along with all the performers on stage, erupted into cheers for the well deserved winner of the night. Cameron was over the moon! Cameron had this to say: “It’s the second year of Battle of the Bands for me. I honestly never thought I was going to win as everyone


Cameron Roxburgh

else was so amazing. Things like this never happen to me! 20th of February was a wonderful night, there’s something rare about performing in a school in front of so many people, it doesn’t happen often. Hopefully, it will continue.” Burns Supper On 25 February (a little bit later than the traditional 25 January!) McLaren High School held their first Burns Supper in over a decade. On arrival the guests were greeted by McLaren’s Traditional Scottish Music group playing in the social area. Our chairperson for the evening was Mr Steve Allan and the merriment kicked off with Callum Hall (S3) piping in the haggis followed by Mr Niall Williamson giving the “Toast to the Haggis. We enjoyed a lovely three course meal, provided by Mrs Leckie and her canteen staff, with traditional Scottish food being eaten. Following the meal, we were lucky

Burns Night performers

enough to have Mr Fergus Wood giving an indepth “Immortal Memory” which he finished off with a song that we all joined in with. The evening moved on to pupil’s participation with Ava Dinwoodie singing “My Love is like a Red Red Rose” and she was accompanied by the McLaren String Quartet. Craig Russell (S5) “Toasted the Lassies” and Amy MacDougall (S5) replied on behalf of the lassies. More music was performed by Lauren Third (S6) and poems were read by Alistair Orr and Eilidh Strang (both S6). Our second guess speaker of the evening was Mr Charlie Methven who did a fantastic rendition of Tam O’Shanter

Tam O’Shanter. He was very animated in the delivery running about the hall and capturing everyone in the audience leaving them wanting more. The nights entertainment was rounded off with 4 Highland Dancers (Kayleigh Glen, Gillian Harvey, Beth Hunter and Nicola Craig) before we sang Auld Lang Syne. It was a wonderful evening enjoyed by all and we hope that it will be first of many more Burns Supper’s to come at McLaren. Lauren Third, Samantha Boyle and Gillian Harvey S6 Under 18 Central Cup Finals at Stirling County RFC On Tuesday 4 March the senior team competed for the Under 18 Central Schools

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Cup at Stirling County RFC. The inexperienced team arrived enthusiastic to play in what could be their last game for McLaren High. A few call offs, and a late arrival, meant that the boys started the first game against Balfron High one man down. Unfortunately, by the time they were back to the full compliment, Balfron had run in two scores to go 12-0 ahead. Ollie Wesley scored to make the score 12-5, however Balfron scored again to extend the lead to 19-5, and this is how the game finished. McLaren then lined up to face Larbert High. McLaren fought bravely, and kept the game close until half time. However, a few injuries and tired bodies had an impact on the performance, and Larbert won 19-0. Special mention and thanks to the large number of S6 pupil who have played their last full game of rugby for McLaren High School. The majority of these players have played in a school team since S1. Thank you. McLaren High at the Scottish Schools Alpine Series Championships

On Monday 10 March McLaren A ski team (pictured above: Finn Saunders, Lachie Fingland, Drew Galloway and Dan Hesp, all S2) finally went up to Glencoe for the last of the 2014 Alpine Qualifiers (after it had been postponed twice because of the usual Scottish weather!). We were only told the week before that we would be moved up from novice to the experienced category. The first timed runs started very quickly. All the racers skied very well and got down fairly quickly. Finally the first runs ended and we were told that there weren’t going to be second runs because there wasn’t enough time. We were late for the prize giving which was fine because we didn’t win anything. But when we went to get our individual results we were told that we had qualified for the finals because we were the fastest male team on the day! After school on Wednesday we went up to Aviemore to stay the night at a youth hostel, so we didn’t have to get up extremely early. In the morning we went to the slopes and went straight up. Once we got off the Funicular Railway we could barely see 5 meters in front of us, but anyway we looked at the map and set off down a run that eventually took us on to the right run. By the time we got to the top of the course we were out of the cloud and it was a beautiful day. We pretty much went straight into course inspection; the course was quite long and got very rutted by the end. The first runs started and everyone did very well, by the second run it was very rutted and the course wasn’t as easy. We were competing against racers from the Scottish Schools, British schools and Scottish junior ski team. We gave them all a run for their money but at the prize giving we unfortunately didn’t quite make the podium, but we also didn’t come last! At the end of the day we went home proud of our performance. Also well done to the McLaren B ski team (Craig Fingland S4, Regan Dingwall S4, James Ronald S4 and Connor Ramsay Clapham S3) who came 4th in the Nevis Qualifier but unfortunately didn’t get through to the finals. Better luck next year boys! Finn Saunders S2


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Stronvar Stories

Hannah Inglis steps back in time to 1850 with the history ‘news’ on Stronvar House.

g Fact Time

There has been a house on the site since the 16th - 17th century. The house was renamed Glen Buckie after the Stewarts took over. Carnegie then changed the house’s previous name to Stronvar once he bought the estate in 1849. John Lorn Stewart had the house rebuilt in 1825, and the stables (Stronvar Farm) were added in 1828. David Carnegie was a Scot who was brought up in Sweden, after his ancestors fled there after they supported the Jacobites at Culloden 1746. Carnegie made his millions by brewing and refining sugar in Sweden.


oday I overheard David Carnegie, the man who had the idea of rebuilding the house, and David Bryce the famous architect, discussing ideas. Carnegie was asking Bryce if he could design a new church as well as the house. “I think I could,” said Bryce, his voice matter-of-fact. “And how much would you want to be paid for this? Could I maybe get a ‘two for one’?” Carnegie asked, a little too seriously. I saw them exchanging the architectural drawings. “Oh yes, these are fantastic!” Carnegie exclaimed. “But maybe you could move the turret to the left wing?” Bryce let out a muffled sigh. “Of course Mr. Carnegie.” I could hear Bryce shuffling back towards his desk and the sound of slate scratching against the paper. “Very well Bryce,” said Carnegie, “I shall see you tomorrow.” I heard the sound of Carnegie’s footsteps inching towards the door. I cringed! I ran out of the tiny wooden hut, which was Bryce’s workplace. I hid behind a giant tree outside as Carnegie sauntered past me towards his carriage. The weather was awful; the rain was like claws as it scratched against my bare arms and my blue cotton dress. “Scottish weather,” I muttered to myself. I watched as Carnegie climbed inside his stupendous carriage, drawn by six horses, all grey in colour. As the carriage pulled away and the horses started moving forward down the steep hill, I saw a small rental sign on the rear of the carriage. I whispered the word “cheap” and then I tutted.

The next day, 65 men and 3 women walked from their houses up towards the building site. The men got straight to work in the awful weather; they built up tall walls of stones for the house, and it was extremely hard labour. The women had a stall at the grassy area of the site. They were all huddled together in shelter from the rain, and on the stall surface were a few rolls and loaves of 18

bread. I walked towards the stall and took a roll from the basket and paid for it. One of the women smiled and thanked me. I set off down towards the small wooden hut as Carnegie’s carriage pulled up alongside it. The horses snorted as they halted - they looked so tired and extremely bored as I bit into my roll. Then Carnegie climbed out of the carriage. The horses breathed a sigh of relief! Carnegie wore a long black coat and, for a man with millions of pounds, he wore old tattered grey wellies on his feet. His butlers gathered around him suddenly. One of them was carrying an umbrella and was holding it over Carnegie’s dazzling hair. They followed him towards the little wooden hut where Bryce was working (or hiding). The butlers stood in front of the hut - they were like puppies that were learning to obey their master. Carnegie pounded on the door. “Bryce! Open up!” he shouted. I watched as Bryce opened the door. He had black circles under his eyes, his skin was very pale and I guessed he had been working all night, judging by the ink marks scattered all over his hands. Carnegie strutted inside like he owned the place (well, he did!). His butlers still stood outside - I imagined that their tails were wagging happily. I had to get a closer look, so I snuck behind the side of the hut and peered through a window. I saw that the room was scattered with books, and there was ink on the pillows of Bryce’s tiny bed. There were drawings hung up all over the walls. The poor man, I thought. Carnegie and Bryce entered; Bryce let Carnegie sit in his desk chair. “Good lord man, what has happened!?” Carnegie looked amused as he saw the mess of Bryce’s hut. Bryce never spoke. Carnegie started speaking again, “Anyway, the workers are from the village, and I am still wondering if they should be paid or not. I am going to see how they do with their brick work.”

Stronvar House

Bryce nodded wearily. “So, Bryce... the drawings. Are they ready?” “No, sir,” Bryce coughed. “I still need to finish the back part.” “Bryce. I NEED those drawings right now. The house is already being built.” “Mr. Carnegie, I just need a few days to rest.” A few days? I thought the man looked like he needed a month! “Fine. Have your days off. I guess I will just need to employ another architect. Maybe your nephew, John.” Carnegie huffed like a child. “No sir, please!” Bryce pleaded. “Finish them,” Carnegie grumbled. “and take a bath, will you? You smell like a skunk.” I looked over at the building site. I watched as my two-horse carriage pulled up. I smiled and ran over towards the horses. “Dasher, Donna!” I hugged my two beautiful horses, they sniffed my hands. I fed them a carrot each. Was Carnegie actually blackmailing Bryce? I thought in disbelief as I sat down inside the small carriage. I looked out of the window and saw the men working very hard in the dreadful weather. I watched as the women gossiped as they were still huddled together away from the rain. I really hoped they got their fair share of money.’ Hannah Inglis Stronvar House Building Site

g Fact Time

David Bryce was a famous Victorian architect whom David Carnegie employed to design Stronvar House. Bryce also designed the new church. Bryce was born in Edinburgh - his father was a successful builder. He is now buried in Edinburgh New Calton Cemetery beside his nephew John Bryce, also an architect. In 1850, 65 men and 3 women were all strangers and temporarily living in the village. They were employed to build Stronvar House.

Gardening A P R I L An excerpt from Jonathan MacDonald’s forthcoming book The Gardener in the Glen which is loosely based on a true story of Murdo and his exploits with Betty MacCrimmon, the lady he gardens for in a remote village in Torridon. A strange event occurs that leads them on a great journey of discovery. A week had passed since he had been for hotpot at Betty MacCrimmon’s. Besides other menial jobs, Murdo had spent time organising his cherished dahlias which had been drying out through the winter in the potting shed. This job he quite enjoyed, taking care to clean off all the compost and to carefully place them out on old newspapers with a sprinkling of sulphur dust to ward off disease. As the tunnel heated up they would be forced on until the bright little shoots appeared only to be nipped off and rooted using his beloved “strike” compound. The trays of dahlias took on the appearance of old dead fingers poking up out of rude pictures from old newspapers. One big clump of “Honka Surprise” found itself in the Sun, cushioned on one side by Madame Bernice - an elderly lady who had run an underground brothel enterprise in Birmingham and who had to repay £1.4 million pounds of her ill gotten gains. Some very big names in the political and business world, it was alleged, had helped her flourishing business. On the other side was the tragic story of David Crammond who had fallen off his roof whilst drunk, trying to improve his television reception during an ill fated third round cup tie between Stirling Albion and Rangers. There was a picture of Mr. Crammond in his Albion strip; he had been a life-long supporter of this ancient club and his passion had finally killed him. It helped pass the time on this fiddly job and as he recalled the old saying ‘yesterdays news is today’s fish and chip wrappers’ he felt it was only a matter of time before the EU would ban their use for his dahlias. But for now he was safe from the Brussels bureaucrats. He would never have bought these papers but secretly enjoyed a quick romp through the tittle tattle when doing this job each winter. In fact he secretly hoped that Andrew at the Post Office would always give him the out of date red tops rather than some boring newspaper like the Telegraph. Perhaps people in the village only bought the Telegraph, he thought, hence the oversupply of unsold Sun whose sales no doubt slumped when the campsite closed for the winter. Betty MacCrimmon was probably a Telegraph reader, he imagined, but she was definitely all Sun from the waist down. She was much older than him but he harboured a sort of guilty crush on her

and many kind words of encouragement had only exacerbated his admiration. Her garden was awash with colour. A complex salad of greenery with bright speckles of plants mixed into perfect slots. She had even told him over the hotpot that “one should eat the colours of the rainbow” in her elegant west end Glasgow accent, which he secretly found quite mesmerising - albeit somewhat put on. His own Orcadian drone seemed no match for Betty’s cheerful and at times excitable skirl. He even remembered that she once said that accent is best displayed in the garden. Last summer at her garden party (where everyone and anyone got an invite) the west end accent now took on all points of the compass as her many friends and neighbours flocked to see a marvel. Her garden was one of those rare sights that perhaps may go completely unnoticed to the outside world. However, she took great pleasure in the local people enjoying it even if for only a day. Nerines however were Betty’s passion - and she was an accomplished breeder. These were a special treat for her visitors and she took great care to time the flowering to coincide. She had been gifted a small collection by Sir Peter Smithers, a retired civil servant who had been the very first Secretary General of the UN. Her work with them had produced some lovely colours and her pride and joy was Nerine “Vorfruede”. This plant was reckoned to be a milestone in those Guernsey lily circles of which Murdo was not very familiar, but knew them to be populated by people of exceptional breeding and class. Earl of here, and lord of there, he knew them as. It was the greatest breeding achievement in perhaps 150 years being

Guernsey Lily Nerine

bright scarlet red in colour and now it was gone and its loss had transpired to take over Betty MacCrimmons life more so than its possession. “There is something I forgot to tell you last week, Murdo, which I think we should discuss over a glass,” she called to him as he finished sweeping up. Moments later a bottle of her favourite Chateau Puysserguier had been opened, and taking several delicate sips, Betty leaned back heavily into her wicker chair which creaked musically. “Murdo... I have some very dramatic news for you,” she whispered. Murdo was as silent as an owl - and even her chair seemed to stop its squeaking to listen in. “Do you remember the missing Guernsey Lily, my Vorfruede, my baby?” “Of course,” said Murdo. “Well, I heard an interesting tale at bridge last week which I would like to share with you, and with your help may result in its safe return”. Betty leaned forward and picking up a silver knife in her left hand wagged it around in air a little then with a sudden jolt bashed the blunt end on to the old pine table. “Murdo, we must act quickly. There is no time to lose. More Puysserguier?” “Just a little,” he hesitated.

Gardening Classes begin Tuesday 15 April Contact us to reserve a place! Open 7 days a week: 9.30am -5pm Huge selection of plants and stock

On the main road A85 going East just before Comrie Contact: Jonathan MacDonald and the Riverside Team

Tel: 01764 670800 Best wee garden centre we’ve ever been to!” Mabel MacKay, Perth


Rusty McD is back with another 5-minute interview about animal pals in the community - furry, feathered or scaly...

5 minutes with... Mhairi, and three large friends... and more! This month I received the most enthusiastic welcome I have had to date from four exceptionally friendly dogs and their lovely owner, Mhairi Green. The 5th dog, Monti, was too elderly to stand up for a welcome but he had been given a bath especially for the occasion of the interview and was looking very smart. So, Mhairi - who do we have here? I have Buster who is 3 and a lurcher, Monti who is 16 – she’s a black lab who I got from the Lee family in Balquhidder. She’s is an old girl now but a lovely dog. Jess is 7 and is a lurcher that I got from the people who used to run the Wee Mindin. I also look after my Mother’s dog, Diva who is 14 and Max who is 13. My Mother lives with me. I also have Twinkle and Shadow, my two cats who are twins – brother and sister. Diva doesn’t look much like an Alsatian… No, we call her ‘loppy lugged’ because her ears aren’t pointy like a normal Alsatian. How do you manage to exercise so many dogs? I walk the two at a time - two in the morning and two in the evening. And do they all get on well together? Yes – they are all good friends. Buster has separation anxiety though and he is really clingy and needs attention all the time – I can’t really leave him alone without him barking constantly. He was put back into dogs homes fifteen times before he came to me. It has taken two and a half years for him to settle down but he is making progress. He also has a dairy allegy which I have to be aware of.


“Sorry, no room for humans!”

Have you always had lots of dogs? Yes, always – I have had about twenty one dogs over my whole lifetime. I have also had eight cats. My Mother had twenty four cats at one point. I don’t really tend to go looking for dogs but do get called a lot to take on dogs who are homeless or who have problems. Sadly I lost three dogs and my previous cats in a house fire – it was really upsetting and was caused by a faulty socket to the tumble drier.

Do you make much use of the loch? My son wakeboards – he came third in Loch Stock which is a big wakeboarding competition. Thank you so much for introducing me to your dogs and cats – it was lovely to meet you all.

You must be very accommodating – they seem to have the run of the house! Yes – all the dogs and cats sleep in my bed – we all cuddle around each other. The cats definitely have the dogs in check though – they are very much in charge! Have you always lived in Lochearnhead? Yes – I’ve been here all my life, my Mother and Grandad also lived here. They went to Lochearnhead primary school as did I and my four children. When my daughter, Toria, went there it was just her and 9 boys! It’s a pity it is now closed. And what do you like about living here? It’s what I have always known. I love the walks but I suppose I take the place for granted. I like to go to Stirling for the day but I always really appreciate coming home.

Luxuriating Lurcher


*Once in demand by Victorian miniaturists,

Old Nyati

the tiny pin-feather comes from the leading edge of a woodcock’s wing and only two such feathers occur on each bird (one on each wing). This month, Old Nyati paints a vivid picture of a very old forge in the glen where he lives.

There is a secret place in Balquhidder hidden away on a small hill amongst the trees where there are traces of a Bloomery Mound. How many people know what that is?   Another one of Old Nyati`s findings perhaps? Well, yes it is, and has been known of for some time by those who have an interest in such things. The Gaelic name of this place means ‘Hill of the Fair’, but that is another story. There are clues. Take a look at my photographs: bits of rusty scrap iron? Old stones? All found in this area. Let me reveal what a bloomery mound is.  We have to go back a long time medieval times, Roman times, even Iron age times. Those bits that look like stone were found with a metal detector; they are in fact heavy  lumps of partly forged iron, and were discarded from the bottom of a rudimentary forge. Try to imagine the scene: bearded men in kilts, talking in an ancient tongue that we cannot understand; smoke amongst the trees; the sound of hammer on iron with the smell of sweat and wood smoke. Here were the people of the Glen, burning charcoal in a crude forge, with bellows made of animal skins to force the fire to a high temperature. The iron ore was obtained nearby - it was called Bog Ore. Look for those places where red coloured water issues from the ground, but be careful not to sink in; it is here where the ore was dug out.  Not far away is another place showing traces of where oak wood was burned to make charcoal. Quite a hive of industry. Things like knives and pots would be made - weapons, plough shares, spades, forks, sickles for cutting the corn, chain work and many other things that local people needed to survive. This particular area would have been home to only a very  small enterprise - perhaps just one family whose menfolk had the skill to build and use a forge, to produce the iron, and the blacksmithing knowledge to make it into useful things.   One of the pieces of clinker photographed is of a shape that indicates it was at the very bottom of the clayformed forge. This would be a sort of pot shape held between rocks and soil, with a hole at the bottom where the bellows fitted in. Someone would work the

From top: The Bloomery Mound, showing the remains of the stone hearth in the foreground; a nearby rock showing where pointed objects (Swords?) were sharpened; vitrified ore and slag discarded when the clay forge was opened. The two pieces on the right show the profile of the bottom of the clay pot.

bellows to blow into the charcoal fire; the dried ore would be mixed with this and heated until it began to melt. In this crude form it would be raked out and beaten to separate the ore from the ash. This would be repeated many times until the semi pure iron was obtained and could then be made into useful objects.  This is the way in which Rob Roy’s sword would have

been made - by someone with great skill and a reputation for sword making. If only we could take a look into the past and see those men at work! But it only takes a little imagination to see them. Choose a quiet moment, lean against a tree for a while and let your imagination do the rest. They won’t mind you looking.      Time Team - eat your heart out!  21

Rangers’ Review By Gareth Kett

Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park

Change is in the air. While we look forward to the return of migratory summer birds and bid farewell to some of the waterfowl, the trout fishing season is underway, already bringing the usual mix of positive and negative impacts to the area. In addition Visit Scotland will soon be moving into the downstairs area of the Callander National Park Office. The Ranger Service is looking forward to working alongside Visit Scotland in providing information for visitors to the area. This will be the first operational year for the semi-formal campsites/picnic areas on Loch Lubnaig. It is hoped that the sites will develop a friendly atmosphere, attracting visitors of all ages, with a marked reduction in the anti-social behavior that has plagued the area in past years. The kiosk at the north site, together with the Broch at Strathyre, mean that getting coffee and a snack around Loch Lubnaig will be easier than in previous seasons and the provision of facilities at the north site will take away the need to plan Loch Lubnaig visits around toilet locations or to venture into the forest across the A84. Over the winter period the Ranger Service has been assisting the communities of St. Fillans and Lochearnhead with the clearance of the old railway between Lochearnhead and St. Fillans as part of the initial ground work of the project to turn the old railway into a cycle route. Early last autumn rangers cleared fallen trees from both approaches to the Glentarken Burn. The 30m (approx.) bridge over the burn had long since disappeared, so the first major step of the project on the ground was the instillation of a replacement bridge, which was successfully achieved by contractors back in December. Subsequent storms brought down trees all along the line, which the Ranger Service has since cleared. While the project is nowhere near complete, it is now possible to walk the route between St. Fillans and Lochearnhead, although the track is very boggy in places and some detours are needed to bye-pass sections of the track that are now included in private property. Future work on the project will include drainage and surfacing work, subject to funding. The progress to date is a credit to the determination of the St. Fillans and Lochearnhead communities involved as well as to National Park Community Development Advisors and Recreation and Access Advisors. Last week the Ranger Service completed 22

the final Loch Earn Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) of the season. Bird counts were a little low this year, as was to be expected with the wet, mild winter. With areas such as Loch Occasional being flooded for much of the winter and raised water levels on permanent lochs submerging marginal areas of grass, reeds and rushes, water birds have had their pick of areas to use over the autumn and winter period, often remaining hidden in the vegetation. In colder, drier years birds tend to congregate on larger permanent water bodies and so are easier to see. I’m pleased to say that Neil Bielby, who co-ordinates WeBS in our area, has been able to resume carrying out WeBS on Lochs Voil and Doine with year, so we have focused on Loch Earn and Lubnaig. The species list this season for Lochs Earn and Lubnaig is: Mallard, Goldeneye, Tufted duck, Goosander, Little grebe, Mute swan, Whooper Swan, Canada goose, Grey heron, Cormorant, Dipper, Grey wagtail, Oystercatcher, Great Black-backed gull, Lesser black-backed gull, Black-headed gull, Common Gull, Common buzzard, Red kite and Peregrine falcon. Birds of prey are also included in WeBS. We have been assisted throughout the autumn and winter by National Park volunteer Steve Roberts. Many thanks Steve. The Ranger Service has also been carrying out WeBS on Lochs Venachar, Arklet, Achray, Ard, Chon, Katrine and Lomond. You may have noticed a couple of wildlife cameramen in the area since the beginning of the year. They are working for a company called Tigress Productions and are making a series of documentaries on the wildlife of the National park and the surrounding area. Gordon Buchanan will be familiar to some of you through wildlife documentaries that he has been involved with around the world. He has just completed his period filming with Tigress productions. Tom Walker is just starting out on his career as a wildlife cameraman, but has already contributed some brilliant photography to The Great British Year. Tom will be joined by wildlife cameraman Steve Phillips for the remainder of the year. As usual if you have any wildlife sightings to report or any queries please contact me on my email address gareth., or on the Lochearnhead Office number 01389 722040. If I’m not in the office please leave a message and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.


Gordon sets up a shot

Scottish Wildlife Trust Callander Members’ Diary 2014 15 April 7.30pm Member’s slides + brief AGM topics include Honey Buzzards, Orchids around Callander, Snow Leopard, Pearl-bordered Fritillary and Kestrels local update At Waverley Hotel, Main Street, Callander. Admission £2 members, £2.50 non-members, free to full-time students. Includes tea/coffee & biscuits. 18 May Walk: Birds of Braeleny 9:30-12:00 Free Please book with Lesley Hawkins 01877 339080 or

Farm Forum: Many Questions... but Few Answers! Figures were released by the Government recently showing that thousands of cattle are still being slaughtered every year due to bovine TB. New figures just released showed that 36,620 were killed in 2013 alone. That is almost 90 every day. The Uk farming minister, George Eustice, said, “Our efforts to control bovine TB have kept outbreaks steady over the last ten years, but we are still nowhere near an acceptable position. Today’s figures are another reminder that we need to do all in our power to bear down on a disease that is costing the taxpayers millions each year and is taking a terrible economic and emotional toll on our farmers.” The Department of the Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (Defra) consulted on a 25 year TB eradication strategy last summer, which included proposals for disease surveillance, pre and post movement cattle testing and wildlife controls including culling and vaccination trials on badgers. The final strategy is scheduled to be published quite soon. Let us hope something

meaningful and indeed possible comes out of it. It is vital that answers are found soon because at present Scotland is faring better than England but badgers do seem to be on the increase. My only comment as a non-technical farmer is that I reckon it would be far easier to vaccinate the cattle rather than the badgers! The current unrest in the Crimea and the possible repercussions, including Europe’s reliance on oil from the region should make us even more aware of the importance of a far greater degree of selfsufficiency in food. The fact that some food can be imported at a lower price than home supplies is maybe true just now but with improving standards of living in less developed countries, and the consequent increase in wages, this will not always be the case. Add to that a shortage of oil which makes the world go round; the situation could change very quickly. It is therefore incumbent on us to keep things in balance - by that I mean the production of food and the environment. Badgers are not the only bone of

contention. We have the ongoing and increasing problem with geese in many areas and they seem to be on the increase - I have seen about one hundred in a field not so far from here and that is a relatively new departure (sorry, arrival). They contaminate more grass than they eat. A comparatively recent addition to the problem in specific areas is the re introduced sea eagle that is said to be causing severe problems with lambs and even adult sheep - mainly in the West but no doubt in time elsewhere. It may be a rumour but I heard one suggestion was to move the nest sites to more suitable locations. That hardly deserves comment other than to suggest it will simply make the eagle fly further and probably whet its appetite! Agricola

Scottish Wildlife Trust It was fitting that in SWT’s 50th Anniversary year our talk on Wildlife Reintroductions was given by Jonathan Hughes, newly appointed CEO. Extinctions may occur naturally but human intervention has long played a major role via habitat loss, hunting or persecution. Elk were in Scotland until the 9th century and bears until the 10th while wild boars became extinct by the 1600’s. Over the last 200 years we have lost wolf, lynx, beaver, polecat and right whales. Amazingly, the last great auk on St Kilda was killed as a witch in 1840! Mosses, lichens and flowering plants have mainly disappeared in land-use changes. Colonisation is the ‘natural’ recovery of threatened species such as the osprey that was extinct in Scotland by 1916 until a pair from Scandinavia arrived at Loch Garten in 1954. After a slow start and a lot of help, there are now ~250 breeding pairs, several in the Trossachs. Fulmars have spread widely from St Kilda, goshawks are staging a come-back, great-spotted woodpeckers are common and otters have spread to every county in England and Scotland following legal protection. Introductions, not by conservationists, began with the Normans bringing brown then the Romans introduced rabbits and pheasants. More recent invaders are

Canada geese, grey squirrel and American mink. In the plant world, rhododendron ponticum and the ‘unholy trinity’ of Himalayan Balsam, Japanese Knotweed and Giant Hogweed now threatens native species. LLTNP have estimated £25M to remove them from the Park while Defra has estimated £1.56bn to eradicate JK alone from the UK! Re-introduction/Re-establishment aims to establish a species in an area from which it has been become extinct. Red kites once cleaned every town by scavenging on rubbish but were persecuted to a few pairs in South Wales. Legal protection and introduction of birds from Sweden have made them a common site across Britain. White-tailed sea eagles, extinct by 1918, were re-established in Western Scotland in 1975 and Fife in 2008, occasionally now seen locally. The Trossachs now has a healthy population of water voles and the Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels project is building on its successes in many areas, probably aided by increasing numbers of pine martens. Beavers were in Scotland in the last ice age but hunted to extinction in the 16th century. The 5-year re-establishment project in Knapdale, studying their health and environmental impact, ends in May 2014. A decision on their future is expected in 2015, along

STOP PRESS: Chocolate beaver now extinct!

with 150-200 ‘unregulated’ Tay beavers. Translocation, moving wild individuals or populations from one part of their range to another, may be considered when habitat is threatened eg. 80 wood ant nests have been moved away from the A9 upgrade and small blue butterflies have been moved near Irvine. Future projects are tightly governed and debated within the Reintroduction Forum, chaired by SNH. While bears and wolves are unlikely to be on anyone’s shortterm agenda, lynx are a ‘hot topic’. SWT currently is supportive but not actively campaigning for their re-establishment – maybe in 10 years when the beavers are ‘in the bag’? Lesley Hawkins 23

Strathyre Primary School News Strathyre Litter Picking Class 2 went out litter picking on the 20th of February. We left after the first break and came back at five past 12. We went around Strathyre cleaning up the village. We went from the school down the road towards the swing bridge along the path to the play park and back up the road to the school. We collected 6 full bags and 2 half bags full. The village looked a lot cleaner after our litter pick. Secret Friends Class 2 have been doing a social activity and have secret friends. We wrote our names on a piece of paper and put them in a tub. Then everyone picked a name out which wasn’t to be told to anyone and this was our secret friend. We had to be nice, extra nice to this person and at the end of the week we had to reveal who our ‘friend ‘was.   Think Dance This year we are taking part in ‘Think Dance’. We do this every 2 years. Mrs McDonald takes this as part of our curriculum.  This year we are doing ‘Strictly Strathyre’.  We are dancing the ‘cha cha’ which Mary and Alistair Barclay have taught us the moves for. We are also dancing to ‘Tutti Frutti’ and ‘I’m Walking on Sunshine’. We are performing in the MacRobert Theatre on Wednesday 30th April. Tickets are on sale now for this from the MacRobert and they are £6.50. It is Active Stirling who organise this and they film every school and we can get it on DVD. Everyone looks forward to doing this and even the teachers get all excited. During dance practice Mrs McDonald and Mrs Keenan dance with us. It is great fun. Please come along and watch us perform at the MacRobert. Amelia Dennehy   World Book Day  On March 6th we celebrated World Book Day; most people dressed up as a character for their favourite book. Nursery children came and the P7 and P6 have made little picture books to give to them. We all paraded round the big class to show what we had dressed up as.  In the morning we all went over to the mobile which was decorated as a reading tent. We chose a book and sat quietly reading. We had a book swap, we brought in a book and put it on the table and we were able to swap it for another book. After lunch we did activities like art and reading to the little class and the nursery children. It was fun filled day. Amelia Dennehy    Green Flag This year on Thursday 27th of February, our school was inspected for our 4th Green Flag for being an eco-school. The person who came was called Alistair Davidson, He came to the school and told everyone who he was and what he was going to do. The eco committee showed him round and told him 24

Clockwise, from top: Litter Picking in Strathyre; Think Dance in the Village Hall; some quiet reading for World Book Day; showing Alistair around the forest.

what we do to be an eco-school. After break, class two took Alistair on our John Muir forest visit which is where we go every Thursday. When we got back, we sang him our eco code song and the p7s showed him our fair-trade power points, he was also shown the school year Power Point. At the end of the day, he told Mrs Smith that he was very impressed with our knowledge and that we do outdoor activities even if it’s raining. The next morning, the teacher got a call saying that we had earned and had been awarded our 4th Green Flag. This is a wonderful achievement for the school and one that everyone took part in. Rebecca Ramsay Clapham

Ukulele! We would like to send out a great big thank you to the committee of Strathyre Music festival who very kindly donated twelve ukuleles to the school. We already had a dozen - which we had to share. This now means that everyone in the class can have one! Nyree Watson and Kenny Higgins came and presented the class with them. We really appreciate this very kind gesture and maybe if we practise, practise and practise we might be able to play at the Music Festival in May. We are planning to play them at our Easter service in the school which we are having on Friday 28th March in the morning. Thank you once again!

This article marks the end of my first year at Lochearnhead, and what a busy year it has been! The summer kept me busy with road safety and the usual issues on the loch sides; then over the winter I was kept busy with the weather and the roads, then to top it off the area was hit with several housebreakings. On the whole, I have thoroughly enjoyed the past year and look forward to several more years here. I must pass on my sincerest thanks to you all within the local communities.  I have been made to feel welcome from day one and whenever I have enquiries, I know I can rely on your assistance.    Looking ahead to the next 12 months, the intention is to continue with my efforts to make residents and visitors alike, feel safe within the local communities and hopefully we can all work together for that same common goal.   I am always keen to hear feedback from you on what we are doing right, and what we could do differently so feel free to share your thoughts and I will take them on board. If you tell me there is a particular issue I should be looking at, then I will see what I can do to assist.   Recently, local residents informed me of vehicles speeding as they travelled north towards Strathyre within the 40mph limit. That is now an area where my colleagues and I are targeting drivers.   Another local resident suggested using technology to better effect to keep residents updated on local issues, which again I took on board and I have started setting up an email list of local residents. I must thank LETI for their assistance and providing me with the majority of the emails addresses for local businesses and what residents they had contact address for. The plan as it stands will be to allow me to pass on information very quickly, and that way we can stop the good old rumours, which can often hamper our investigations. When an appeal for information is sent round, I will pass what I can and as quickly as I can. This ensures, particularly around thefts, that descriptions of persons and vehicles are circulated so that everyone can remain vigilant. I will also pass on information about road closures, where possible after weather or an RTC and for that purpose, the local supervisor also has access to the email list so that we can keep the community up to speed with what is happening. If you wish your details added onto the list, drop me an email.   The fishing season started last weekend and many of you will have noticed the return of busier loch sides. Operation

Loch Lubnaig

Ironworks has now started, so every weekend the local officers will be dealing with the Antisocial Behavior and other issues within the National Park, and will be working alongside the Ranger staff. Some of you may be aware of the first incident of note, which occurred on Loch Lubnaig, just South of Strathyre. Several people were arrested for crimes of disorder and violence, which resulted in them remaining within police custody. They were then released with conditions that they cannot enter the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. Hopefully this message will pass around quickly that these issues will not be tolerated and they should expect to be dealt with robustly.   Plans are already in place for boat patrols to be carried out on Loch Earn, with both Police and Rangers onboard and the other plan is to utilize mountain bikes to access areas which are not accessible by vehicle, and also be less noticeable to the campers so hopefully catch more people committing the crimes.   I would encourage you to contact police if you are aware of any issues on the loch sides, as we can often nip issues in the bud early on before it gets to the stage where groups cause disorder and start to resort to violence.   Work is still ongoing to look at possible solutions to tackle the issues within the National Park. On a local level, it has been reported in The Villagers on numerous occasions, about the proposed Clearway along the A84 from Callander to Lochearnhead, then on the A85 from Lochearnhead to St Fillans. The matter has been referred to Transport Scotland by the National Park, and we await their reply, which will probably be a local consultation. There are also plans being submitted to local council regarding Clearway designation along South Loch Earn Road, and along Balquhidder glen.   The other proposal at present, which is currently being explored, is an alcohol ban across the area of the 5 lochs project. It is hoped that this would discourage the unruly campers from coming into area in the first place, as they would no

longer be permitted to consume alcohol, in a manner similar to what is in place along East Loch Lomond. For anyone who has visited this area both before and after the implementation of the byelaws, it is clear to see the effect that they have, and hopefully if implemented, will serve a similar purpose in this area. As the weather improves and we see the roads becoming busier, we will again begin focusing on road safety. This will be progressed through local campaigns such as Operation Drayton.   My colleagues and I will continue with speed checks in the villages, and will be assisted by the Trunk Roads Policing division. I will also be assisted in the coming months by pupils from Strathyre Primary, where they will assist me with speed checks and any drivers found to be speeding will be again dealt with robustly, by the kids!   Over the course of the summer, as you are aware, there are several large events taking place across the country which will ultimately require policing. Planning of these events has already started, with all officers across Scotland eligible for deployment. In order to keep that to a minimum locally, I have started planning for local events that will require a police presence, such as the Highland Games and Music Festival. Can I ask that if you are responsible for any event in this area, no matter how big or small, taking place during June, July or August, that you contact me with details of dates and times, what the event is and numbers expected. It will allow me to update our systems, and provide a police presence if required.   As always, I can always be contacted on 101 or for those who prefer email, I can be contacted directly at william.diamond@     Regards, PC Will Diamond



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• The Villagers’ Contacts • Jill Johnston Editor Gardeners Cottage Balquhidder FK19 8PB 01877 384227

Gill Allan Production Manager Stronvar Farm Balquhidder Lochearnhead FK19 8PB 01877 384203

David Johnston Advertising Coordinator Gardeners Cottage Balquhidder FK19 8PB 01877 384227

Other Contacts...

Helen Clark Business Manager 07971 648743

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• DIARY DATES • We e k l y A c t i v i t i e s Monday

Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday

APRIL 8 12 15 24

Bowling - St Fillans Pilates - Balquhidder Village Hall - 6.15/7.30pm sessions (Contact Abbey Arkotxa 01877 384671) Keep Fit - Lochearnhead Hall - 10.30 to11.30am Gaelic Playgroup - Balquhidder Hall - 10.30am to 12.30pm Scottish Slimmers - Lochearnhead Village Hall - 7pm to 8pm Badminton - Balquhidder Hall - 8.00pm Country Dancing - St Fillans LEGS - Lochearnhead Hall - 6.30pm - (see p.2) Pilates - Balquhidder Village Hall - 9.50am to 10.50am (Contact Abbey Arkotxa 01877 384671) Yoga - Balquhidder Hall - 11.00am to 12noon (contact Ann Cobbett 01877 376291) Youth Club - Lochearnhead Hall - 7.00 to 9.00pm Metafit Classes - Strathyre Village Hall - 8.00pm Choir Occasional - Balquhidder Hall - 7.30pm to 9.00pm Playgroup - Lochearnhead Hall - 10.00am-12 noon. Mel Brydie 01877 384668 Ballroom Dancing - Lochearnhead Hall

2014 AGM Strathyre Association - 7.30pm - Inn at Strathyre - see p.8 Quiz Night Defib Fundraiser - Lochearnhead Village Hall - 7.30pm - see p.2 SWT Members Slides and AGM - Waverley Hotel - 7.30 - see p.22 Community First Responder Info Evening - Inn at Strathyre - 7pm

MAY 2014 10 Race Night - Lochearnhead Village Hall - 7pm - see p.2 24/25 Strathyre Music Festival - see pages 6/7 24/25 Monachyle Mhor Festival Weekend - see p.9 Councillor Martin Earl Stirling Council, Old Viewforth, Stirling FK8 2ET 01786 443497 Mobile 07881 310 922 Councillor Alycia Hayes Stirling Council, Old Viewforth, Stirling FK8 2ET 01786 443497 Mobile 07881 310 924 Councillor Fergus Wood Stirling Council, Old Viewforth, Stirling FK8 2ET 01786 443497 Mobile 07824 496 019

Lochearnhead Contact: Ali Ferguson 01567 830 405 Strathyre Contact: Wullie Dalziel 01877 384 384 Mobile 07768 221661 St Fillans Contact: John Murray 01764 685 487 Mail Order Distribution: Hilda Astbury 01877 384 681

The Villagers’ Photographer Alistair Barclay is available to attend village functions and take photos if contacted in plenty of time. CDs of photos are also for sale. Please phone him on 01567 830453

CHURCH SERVICES Balquhidder, Lochearnhead, Strathyre and St. Fillans CHURCH OF SCOTLAND

Balquhidder Parish Church Registered Charity No. SCO12316 Sunday 12 noon Minister: Rev John Lincoln The Manse, Killin Tel: 01567 820 247 Dundurn Church, St Fillans Sunday11.30am Minister: Rev Graham McWilliams Tel: 01764 671 045

ROMAN CATHOLIC Callander, St Joseph the Worker Sunday 11.30am Saturday Vigil Mass 5.30pm from May through to September Killin, in the Episcopal Church Sunday 2.30pm Father Jim McCruden 2 Ancaster Square, Callander Tel: 01877 330 702

SCOTTISH EPISCOPAL CHURCH St Angus’s Church, Lochearnhead First and third Sundays of the month: Holy Communion at 11.15am. Second and fourth Sundays of the month: Evensong at 6.00pm Fifth Sunday of the month: please see church noticeboard. Vestry Secretary - Mary Barclay Tel: 01567 830453

Tvapril2014 lo res  

Lochearnhead, Balquhidder, Strathyre and St Fillans village newspaper. Events, stories, news, photos, services and more.

Tvapril2014 lo res  

Lochearnhead, Balquhidder, Strathyre and St Fillans village newspaper. Events, stories, news, photos, services and more.