Scottish Rural Parliament: Project visits

Portpatrick Harbour
Hannah Downey & Kirsty Crichton

This year, the Scottish Rural Network are facilitating a series of project visits to kick off the Scottish Rural Parliament being held in Stranraer next month (14th-16th November). These visits will showcase some of the best community led projects in the area, and are great examples of how rural areas are amongst the most innovative, resilient and exciting places to live in Scotland.

Delegates attending the Scottish Rural Parliament will be able to choose from four different project tours, the details of which are listed below.

Tour One – Portpatrick and Crafty Gin Distillery

Portpatrick Harbour: Portpatrick is a pretty harbour town which lies on the west coast of the Rhins of Galloway. Visitors 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.

Crafty Distillery: 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.

Tour Two – Whithorn Round House and Wigtown Book Shops

Whithorn Timescape: Tour of the full-size Iron Age roundhouse from around the 5th Century BC, with expert guide and Development Trust manager, Julie Muir Watt. Local volunteers will be present in full costume, displaying Iron Age practices such as weaving, and explaining how the roundhouse would have been constructed in ancient times.

The Book Shop, Wigtown: Visitors are free to explore Wigtown, or ‘The Book Town’ at their leisure. The town is deemed the book-lover’s haven as it is home to a large range of shops and book-related businesses. Locally-raised and acclaimed author of ‘Diary of a Bookseller’, Shaun Bythell is owner of ‘The Book Shop’ in Wigtown and will provide visitors with a tour and talk of the largest second-hand bookshop in Scotland, which sells over 100,000 books.

Tour Three – Mull of Galloway and Logan Botanic Gardens

Mull of Galloway Experience: This tour will take visitors along a stunning coastal road to the most southerly point of Scotland, the Mull of Galloway. The Trust lets out an outbuilding to the RSPB, which is part of the reserve at Mull of Galloway. Visitors will have the opportunity to follow the Reserve’s circular path and observe a variety of seabirds.

Logan Botanic Gardens: This trip will comprise of a guided tour of the gardens from botanic expert and curator, Richard Baines who will highlight plants from South and Central America, Southern Africa and Australasia that are rarely seen in the UK. The warming influence of the Gulf Stream of the south-western tip of Scotland creates an exotic feel in these extensive and beautiful gardens. Those interested in photography can view an exhibition of Richard’s travels to discover plant life in Asia and elsewhere.

Trip Four – Stranraer Town Walk

The council officer responsible for the Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme, Pam Taylor and the area’s Economic Development Officer, Michael Rosie will host a tour of the waterfront and discuss regeneration plans of the East Pier and Marina. The ambition for Stranraer focuses on transforming the waterfront to reposition Stranraer and Loch Ryan as a distinctive marine leisure destination. The tour will explain this vision, and showcase the on-going projects, as well as some of the town’s historical features.

For more detailed information on the schedules of each project tour, visit the Scottish Rural Parliament website. Please note that each tour is booked on a first come, first served basis and spaces are limited. To register your interest in a project tour, you must first register as a delegate for the Scottish Rural Parliament and you will then recieve further instructions via email.