Earlier this month I visited Scotland’s most southerly point, the Mull of Galloway to meet representatives of the Trust which has taken on community ownership of the area.
The land is also home to an RSPB nature reserve and I also got the opportunity to meet RSPB staff and volunteers. The Mull is home to a broad variety of birdlife including guillemots, razorbills and kittiwakes.
After all of the work to finalise the community buy out, it was great to meet with members of the Trust and hear their plans.
The Mull is an area of outstanding natural beauty and there is real potential to build on the already popular wildlife and nature tourism to bring positive benefits to the region. The area already attracts 16,000 visitors a year and the Trust operates a number of small cottages which are available to holiday makers.
The Trust also operates an excellent museum covering the history of the lighthouse and visitors can scale the 115 steps to the top. The lighthouse provides stunning views over the Solway and the Irish Sea and I can’t recommend it highly enough to visitors.
Community ownership will help to ensure that work to continue attracting people to the area strikes the right balance with maintaining the local environment.
The Trust is working closely with the RSPB and its volunteers to open up visitor and education opportunities on the reserve to allow people to learn about the area’s important birdlife. This partnership working is key to creating a shared vision for the area that promotes and protects its natural heritage.
The experience of the Trust can be an inspiration to other groups across Scotland who are interested in community ownership. I hope that such groups will get in touch with the Trust and visit the Mull of Galloway to find out how it can work in practice.
There are wonderful opportunities to volunteer with the RSPB and in the lighthouse museum run by the Trust and people interested in getting involved should get in touch with each organisation.