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15 Oct 2020

Your Gift in Action

A group of people wearing red t-shirts are standing, socially distanced, in front of a large archway under a blue sky.
Our staff are ready to welcome back visitors thanks to your support
The impact of coronavirus on the Trust has been catastrophic, with a third of our projected income for 2020 wiped out and further losses anticipated in 2021. We rely on our earned income and generous donations to protect Scotland’s heritage.

Thanks to our supporters, we’re beginning to take positive steps towards recovery. We cannot underestimate the key role you have played in this, and want to thank you sincerely for supporting our charity during these immensely difficult times for us all.

We’d like to highlight just a few of the many ways our staff continued to protect Scotland’s heritage throughout lockdown and how your donations are helping the places they care for reopen and begin to recover.

Glencoe and Glenfinnan (Emily Bryce, Operations Manager)

While Glencoe may look wild and unmanaged, a huge amount of work goes on behind the scenes to conserve its precious landscape, history and wildlife. After the visitor centre closed to the public in March, our team continued to complete security checks, litter picks and essential maintenance tasks throughout lockdown.

When restrictions on movement started to ease, Glencoe and Glen Etive became popular destinations for people keen to get outdoors and enjoy nature after months indoors. While it’s been fantastic to welcome tourists again and reopen our visitor centre, the high volume of visitors inevitably places pressure on the glen’s habitats and facilities. This is made more challenging by some walkers and campers, who like to enjoy their access rights without the responsibilities that come with this.

On one occasion, a stretch of safety fence protecting a large drop into the River Coe gorge at An Torr was removed and burnt in a campfire (the campers also left us all their tents, rubbish and human waste too). Abandoned face coverings are another item that we regularly encounter on our litter picks right now.

We’re working with our local community, police and Highland Council on long-term solutions to some of these challenges. But without the support of our members and donors, our charity wouldn’t be able to afford to carry out any of these tasks – whether it’s repairing vandalised fences, removing rubbish or, perhaps most importantly, encouraging visitors to cherish these places as much as we do.

We’re also delighted to welcome back our footpath team. With 60km of well-trodden mountain paths in our care at Glencoe National Nature Reserve, regular maintenance is vital to prevent erosion to this iconic landscape. The popular routes up to the ‘Hidden Valley’, Coire Gabhail and the infamous Aonach Eagach ridge are receiving our footpath team’s expert attention this year.

A man holds a spade in a valley on a mountainside.
One of the footpath team working at Glencoe

It costs us hundreds of thousands of pounds every year to protect Glencoe. We’ve missed almost a whole summer’s worth of income from our visitor centre and continue to miss many of our international visitors, so your donations are crucial to helping us see through this pandemic.

Branklyn Garden (Jim Jermyn, Property Manager/Head Gardener)

When lockdown was announced, Trust gardeners were advised to only undertake the essential work needed to protect the gardens we care for. As the only gardener left to care for Branklyn Garden in Perthshire during the lockdown, I had to prioritise our work to protect the garden and make sure our limited resources were put to best use.

Branklyn attracts visitors from across the globe to see our renowned rhododendron and alpine plant collections and we also hold several National Collections of plants, including Meconopsis and Cassiope, so this was a huge responsibility.

There was lots to do, including watering plants in our glasshouses and conservatories as well as our borders, planters and lawns on dry days. I progressed with the border planting that had already started and created a weeding and mowing schedule for the worst affected areas.

A wheelbarrow filled with garden rubbish and a yellow bucket at the side of a path
Maintaining Branklyn Garden through the pandemic

Branklyn has reopened but you may notice some differences from the last time you visited. We’re behind with the weeding and our lawn edges may not be as sharp as usual. In some borders I wasn’t able to stake and net our plants, so they may look a bit more ‘free-flowing’ than usual and flop over the paths. There’s been an almost 400% increase in visitors compared with last year, so we’re busy ensuring that all our facilities remain clean and safe.

Being able to get out into the green spaces of our gardens and landscapes was a much-needed breath of fresh air for visitors after months of restrictions. It’s thanks to our donors that we could continue to protect these havens during lockdown and reopen the garden to visitors. I’m passionate about Branklyn and have worked here for many years – I’m deeply grateful for your support, which has allowed us to protect the garden and helped to fund its recovery.

Culloden (Raoul Curtis-Machin, Operations Manager)

Last year was phenomenal for Culloden. We welcomed our highest number of visitors, our learning team engaged with more people than ever, and our shop was shortlisted for an international award! My team were looking forward to beating these records this year, but coronavirus put a dramatic stop to all our plans.

We closed the visitor centre and museum at Culloden when lockdown was announced, but essential work continued on the battlefield, where a variety of livestock, including goats, Highland ponies and Highland cows, graze all year round. They’re an environmentally friendly and cost-effective way to ensure scrub tree growth doesn’t encroach onto the battlefield. During lockdown, staff fed, watered and checked them daily. Your support helped us keep our animals strong and the battlefield well cared for.

A Highland cow stands in a field on a cold day
Primrose, one of Culloden’s Highland cows

As well as feeding the animals, I was also busy trying to protect the battlefield from yet more planning threats. We have objected to the latest large-scale intrusive development and are advocating a new direction in how to protect the battlefield. Piecemeal, inappropriate development is without a doubt our greatest challenge for Culloden’s future and we’re galvanising the support, expertise and input of Highland Council, Historic Environment Scotland, the Scottish Government and others to tackle this.

We reopened the visitor centre in August and our hard work in creating one-way systems, PPE and take-away catering has paid off, and the visitor route is working smoothly. I want to say thank you to all the supporters who’ve enabled us to adapt our shop, café and toilets to ensure our visitors’ safety. It’s been so nice to welcome people back to Culloden and I’m grateful to everyone who has helped us on the road to recovery.

A group of people in red t-shirts and face coverings, keeping socially distanced, in front of a large banner
Staff at Culloden ready to welcome back visitors

Thank you to everyone who has supported our Save Our Scotland appeal.

Emergency Appeal

We need your help, more than ever. Please help us protect Scotland’s heritage. 

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