Register now for the Scottish Rural Parliament

Hannah Downey

The Scottish Rural Parliament, taking place in Stranraer next month (14th-16th November) aims to bring together people from rural communities with decision-makers for three days of celebration and exploration. Participants will examine a wide-range of issues affecting rural communities and make recommendations for change.

Anyone who lives or works in rural Scotland, or who makes decisions which affect rural Scotland, can attend the event, and it is free for people from community organisations to attend.

To ensure the voice of the whole of rural Scotland is heard, Scottish Rural Action has now unveiled travel and accommodation bursaries to support attendance by people who might not otherwise be able to attend. They are now calling on community groups, voluntary organisations and elected representatives to nominate bursary recipients by emailing contact details to

Emma Cooper, Chief Executive of Scottish Rural Action, said:

“There has never been a more important time for the voice of rural Scotland to be heard, and we want to make sure that the 2018 parliament is as inclusive and as accessible as possible. 

“We know that for small community organisations, and for individual community activists, the cost of travel and accommodation can be a barrier.  We want to take those barriers away, so we have put together a number of bursary packages to help people attend.”

Nominations for bursaries from under-represented areas of Scotland will be given priority. Thereafter, bursaries will be allocated on a first come first served basis.

There is a full draft programme available online, and Scottish Rural Network will be facilitating a series of project visits in and around the Stranraer area for parliament attendees. 

The project tours will include a trip to the nearby harbour village of Portpatrick and the Crafty Gin Distillery. Delegates who register for this visit will be greeted by David Telford, the chair of the Portpatrick Community Council, who will give a brief talk about the newly-formed Community Development Trust and past and present projects launched within the local area, including community buy-outs.

To follow, guests can take part in an interactive tour from the founders of a newly built distillery, with an impressive viewing opportunity from the café bar which overlooks the Galloway Forest. Owner Graham Taylor, who was locally born and raised, distils and bottles the popular ‘Hills and Harbour’ gin on site, employing and training young locals in the craft. The gin itself consists of locally foraged ingredients, such as pine needles and seaweed, hence the gin’s name incorporating land and sea. 

Other available choices include a visit to the famous bookshops of Wigtown, home of the Wigtown Book Festival, as well as the chance to explore a full size Iron Age Roundhouse, the Mull of Galloway Lighthouse and the Logan Botanic Gardens.

You can view the full details of the project visits available here, and please note that each tour has limited spaces available which will be allocated on a first come first serve basis. To book your place on the visits programme, please book to attend the Scottish Rural Parliament first. You will then be sent a link to book your place on the visits.