Archive for the ‘Laird’s Blog’ Category

Autumn Lairds and Ladies

We are always delighted to have visitors, so it’s been a lovely year with lots of Lairds and Ladies coming to Dunans to take our tour around the castle and grounds. Below are some photos of Lairds and Ladies who managed to make it this autumn – we really feel privileged to meet such charming, happy and smiley folk!

If you have recently bought or are thinking of purchasing a title and would like to visit Dunans, we run tours between April and October inclusive on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. And we can recommend some fabulous places to eat and stay, run by folk who will really look after you.

Dunans is situated approximately 60 miles from Glasgow, so although it can feel wonderfully remote, we’re but an hour and a half’s drive from Glasgow. Anyway, we hope you enjoy seeing some of our lovely visitors – we thoroughly enjoyed meeting them and look forward to meeting a great many more in 2013.

A little local difficulty …

Twenty-four days ago a tree fell across our electricity line. 1 day ago we were reconnected. A marathon of epic proportions the like of which only living in the Highlands can produce. Here are a series of pictures of the fallen tree the day after. It fell during a three hour period of easterly wind which, frankly, wasn’t that strong, but it was unusual. Luckily it missed our buildings!

The benefit is that now our electricity supply has finally been upgraded and we’ve now got a supply fit for a castle!

The Tours have Started!

We thought you’d really get a kick out of seeing some of the Lairds and Ladies who have been visiting over the last couple of weeks. These pictures are also available at my Blipfoto account on a regular basis (though you’ll have to dodge my other photos of walls and flora and fauna to get to em).

To book a tour, click here.


The Leaning Larch at Dunans

On his second day onsite Tim Stobart, our local tree surgeon, had the unenviable task of dealing with a windblown larch which still stood, albeit at a precarious angle. Here are some photos of the high point of the operation!

The Big Clear-up

Today we began to clear the most dangerous of the fallen trees with the help of Tree Surgeon Tim Stobart. These photos show Tim working on the big Ash which fell across the ravine path. Tim’s time has been paid for by the Scottish Laird Project.

A Significant Step Forward

Often the biggest steps are the invisible ones, especially with regards to renovation projects like the one we have undertaken at Dunans. Today we took one such step.

For weeks now we have been waiting for our case officer from the Scottish Rural Development Fund to adjudicate on our statement of interest with regard to our plans for Dunans Castle and Grounds. I’ve been getting more and more frustrated with the process, but have held my peace, and today my patience has proved worthwhile. We have been given an ‘Amber’ rating.

Hurrah? I hear you query!

An explanation is needed. The way it works is this: if the project you are suggesting is not worth the candle, your dear old case officer gives it a ‘Red’ rating, ie. go now further guv’nor. You can still progress the project, but you’ll be very unlikely to get the final funding nod. If the project you are suggesting is, on balance, worth pursuing, he’ll give you a coveted ‘Amber’. This means you can proceed, but (and its probably a big ‘but’) you are not guaranteed success. What about ‘Green’? Well, confusingly they don’t do ‘Green’.

So, we have passed stage one of a two stage process. The next stage is the detailed one, where things are examined in great and assiduous detail. This means business plans, feasibility studies, quotes, estimates, project outlines and the full financial analysis malarkey. We think this part of the process will take around three months, all things considered, so we’re looking for some sort of decision by the middle of the year.

And now of course, you’re asking, “Well, what is it that you are asking funding for?” Here’s the ‘Statement of Interest’ as submitted before Christmas (and therefore the dates at the end will change no doubt). In it you will see how the Laird Project and our partnership with Gift Republic are key elements of our justification for funding, as well as part of the overall project.

Who? Dunans Castle Ltd. operates as a social enterprise and at present works to maintain and improve Dunans Castle and its grounds through a gift business Dunans Castle lost its roof to fire in 2001, and was bought in 2003 by the proprietors of Dunans Castle Limited. We wish to apply for funding to consolidate the building and the site such that we can hire it out for events, the profits from which will be reinvested to continue the restoration.
Why? (1) The building is in a ruinous state and has local historical importance, and is therefore in itself worth restoring. (2) The opportunity to restore the building through the elaboration of a proven, sustainable albeit small scale business obviates the risks associated with a significant initial investment (or borrowing) of c. £7 million to restore the building fully within a year (3) The castle already attracts significant visitor numbers, both for walking and for theatrical and foraging events both through, a partnership with Gift Republic Ltd. and Cowalfest Walking and Arts Festival (4) Colintraive and Glendaruel is a community HIE has classified as fragile economically and this project would be a significant boost to a moribund local agricultural and forestry economy.
What? Although applicable to other priorities, this project will mainly deliver priority ARG 15a — the conservation and enhancement of two listed structures: the A-listed Dunans Bridge, and the B-listed Dunans Castle. The project will ensure that the latter creates a sustainable income through its use as an events facility during all its phases of renovation.
The funded part of this project involves readying the present unusable structure for events. By rendering the castle useable and accessible, we protect the structure, we ensure its use, and we give ourselves the opportunity to create a sustainable business without incurring unsustainable levels of debt.
The work for which we are applying for funding would include the clearance of the castle, consolidation of the structure by use of structural interventions and capping of the walls, provision of fit-for-purpose flooring throughout, toilet facilities, access improvements and improvements to the grounds to enable event use. Thereafter, further improvements and facilities will be provided by reinvestment as the building earns income as it is used for events.
Cost, approximately £200,000
When? The work would be scheduled to start March 2012 and be completed July 2012
Where? The site has the Location Code 142/0029, and this concerns Land Parcel Identifiers NS/04108/91093 and NS/04072/91309. The former contains the building, and is connected to the latter by the aforementioned A-listed bridge.
As you can tell from the above,  there was an awful lot of work went into the SOI, but it will be worthwhile when we can create a sustainable business which will rebuild the castle.
I’d love to hear what you think of the plan itself, and also whether you have any other additional suggestions. As ever, if you have a skillset or experience you’d like to offer we’d be delighted.

2012 Tours schedule now ready for bookings!

We’ve been working on this solidly for a week, ensuring we have all the dates available, and that the grounds will be ready in time for the first tours in early April. We’re now set, and you can book tours from this site, here.

Come to Dunans in 2012

Smashing Boardwalk

Oh dear. We thought we’d escaped the worst ravages of the big storm in the first week of January, but no. There was a bit of a windy night last week, and this tree finally keeled over. Such a pity!

A Stormy Beginning to 2012

We have had an extraordinary beginning to 2012 with hurricane force winds piling through cutting electricity, knocking trees over and making life very difficult. We now seem to have calmed down and we are back to what we should have been doing, which is planning for a very big year. In the meantime, here are some photos of the damage and a short movie showing just how swollen the river became during the worst of it!