SELECT creative and craft business could soon moving into cost-effective idyllic workshop and studio space at Cashel thanks to a partnership with one of the UK’s fastest growing hydro electric plant developers, DHG Hydro.
And as well as providing the income for Cashel to establish a creative hub, the hydro company’s ongoing investment and profit sharing is enabling the site’s owner – The Forest Trust Company, a subsidiary of the Royal Scottish Forestry Society – to extend its popular network of woodland paths and renovate other site buildings and facilities.
“We are hoping our buildings will become a hub for creative activity – the location is perfect for architects or artists of all disciplines as well as blacksmiths, glassworkers and crafts such as weaving,” explains Ted Carr who took over Cashel’s managerial role a year ago – a voluntary position – after three years serving on the board that governs the site for the Forest Trust Company.
“The income from the hydro scheme is helping us realise the board’s vision on making better use of the space and buildings for both businesses and education.
“Without the partnership it could have taken us a long time to find the cash necessary for re-roofing, insulation and necessary services like water and electricity.”
Ted – and the board – is keen to support businesses by keeping rent as low as possible and attract the kind of businesses that would welcome interest from visitors.
“I’m particularly keen to hear from folks who wouldn’t mind visitors passing through and asking questions about their work – perhaps even offering classes or workshops at Cashel,” adds Ted.
“And while the facilities may be some time in development, now is a good time for anyone interested in space to get in touch.”
Cashel was privately owned and run as a sheep and suckling cattle hill farm until it was bought – with funding from the Millennium Commission and donations – by the RSFS in 1997.
“At the time there was a big push to have more deciduous trees in the area and the RSFS saw an opportunity to create a native forest fitting with the hard woodlands of Loch Lomond,” says Ted.
After passing to Forest Trust Company ownership rowan, birch, alder and aspen were planted alongside centuries’-old ash and oak from loch level up to the maximum practical height to grow trees.
With the funding came a responsibility to provide public access and also education which is afforded via a 12km network of paths and the visitor centre which currently features displays and information about the woodlands along with indoor and outdoor spaces for meetings or educational visits.
A new path extending into the Ardyle wood is in the early stages of planning and if, all goes to plan, Ted expects to be marked out over the autumn/winter period and open to the public next summer.
“We’re also refreshing the signage and way markers on the existing paths,” adds Ted. “The past policy of people funding memorial trees helped Cashel become stocked with native trees. However, it’s proven very difficult to manage and has now been stopped as trees are under threat from deer browsing, storms and other damage. Cashel is a native tree forest where natural regeneration will take over from man’s intervention.”
Instead, those wanting to make a contribution can make donations to the new Ardyle path which will give access to Cashel’s only mature oak and ash woodland as Ted explains: “We intend that those making a donation can be recognised in a forthcoming section of a revamped Cashel website.”
Cashel hydro scheme started generating power in November 2014, 18 months after being granted planning permission, and at maximum power feeds 499 kilowatts – enough to power to boil 250 kettles as maximum output – into the SSE grid.
“We’ve been very mindful that some people hold Cashel very close to their heart, and disruption to the woodland and forest during the construction period was negligible,” says Ted.
“And although the path of the pipeline from the water intakes on the Cashel burn and its main tributary to the hydro station is still visible to those in the know, the scars will have completely healed over in a year or two.”
To find out more about workshop space at Cashel contact Ted Carr on 01738 710654/07821 940252 or email him via firstname.lastname@example.org
Click the thumbnails below for full size versions and to scroll through our gallery…