A WEEK of exhibitions, events and evaluation marks the closing chapter in the story of the Discover Bute Landscape Partnership Scheme later this month.
It’s hard to believe that nearly four years have passed since Johnny Beattie used a JCB to cut the first sod of turf on what would become the new Ettrick Bay Tramway Path - but you don’t have to travel far to see the impact the Discover Bute scheme has had on the island.
The £3 million supplied by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Argyll and Bute Council, the Mount Stuart Trust, Scottish Natural Heritage, Historic Scotland and several other funders has been used to build new paths and improve existing ones, to erect bird hides and seal viewpoints, to cut back invasive plant species and to celebrate native ones, to publish books and to play host to special events such as Big Man Walking, the memorable visit to the island by a 25-foot-tall blue puppet in 2009.
The final instalment in the Discover Bute story - which actually began with the start of the ‘development phase’ of the project, way back in March 2007 - is a week-long series of events taking place at Fyne Homes’ boardroom in Gallowgate.
The event combines a look back at the scheme’s achievements over the last four years with a look forward at how the legacy of the DBLPS will be managed in the years ahead, to ensure the effect of that £3m investment in the land isn’t allowed to wither away.
“We’re hoping to show as many people as possible what we’ve been doing,” project co-ordinator Bridget Paterson said.
“Members of the public will be able to see an audio-visual presentation, with film and still photography, music and poetry, as well as seeing our final film - Discover Bute: The Movie, if you like.
“There will also be a ‘vox pop’ to give people the chance to say what they think of Discover Bute and the impact it has had on them and on the island.
“As well as that there will be a sculpture created from things the DBLPS team members found indispensable during the course of the project - chainsaws, wellies, woolly hats and even cups of tea and Blu-Tack!”
The official opening of the final event is on Friday, July 13 at 10am at the Fyne Homes boardroom, and will feature a performance by the local storytelling group, The Tale Spinners, who have been regular performers at Discover Bute events during the project’s four-year lifespan.
After the official opening of the exhibition, Robert Sinclair will give a demonstration of dry-stone walling techniques - one of many small but significant contributions to the rural landscape made by the DBLPS since 2008, both in terms of restoring landscape features and in teaching others ancient but still valuable rural skills.
Just as important as a chance to look back over the last four years, the exhibition will also feature talks on the future for Bute’s rural landscape, and on how many of those involved with Discover Bute plan to look after the island’s rural heritage in the years ahead.
From July 16-19 the exhibition venue will host talks on paths and wildlife, archaeology, hedges and woodlands and, perhaps most fascinatingly of all, the plans for an outdoor activity and heritage centre at Meikle Kilmory being led by the Bute Conservation Trust, the body in charge of Discover Bute’s legacy.
Alongside the Discover Bute exhibition, the Conservation Trust itself is organising four outdoor walks in a single day on July 14 - from the Isle of Bute Discovery Centre in Rothesay to Ettrick Bay at 10am, an archaeology walk at St Blane’s Chapel at the same time, a photography walk at Balnkailly at the north end of the island at 1pm, and a biodiversity tour in the grounds of Mount Stuart at 2pm.