Doors Open - Welcome One and All!
Once again, the North West Highlands is full of curious visitors, keen to find out about life up here. By using our trail map of the by-roads of Assynt and Coigach, exploring the arts and craft studios and shops dotted here and there, and by meeting the makers themselves, these visitors can discover the essence of the place, as seen through the eyes of our resident creatives.
The 2021 brochure is now out, with the list of participating venues slightly altered from the last brochure (printed 2019). The newest version of this guide to the trail is available from many tourist outlets in the broader Highlands, as well as from local shops and from each of the artists and venues taking part. You can also view the leaflet by using the PDF link at the top of this page.
We warmly welcome back all visitors and wish all the Assynt and Coigach creatives a busy and successful season.
Back on the Trail
Now that the Covid 19 restrictions are easing, some of the trail members feel ready to welcome the many visitors who are likely to flock to this part of the Highlands looking for fresh air, wide open spaces and places to visit. The leaflets we produced in 2019 are still available throughout the area but, not surprisingly, the details they give about opening arrangements belong to the pre-Covid world. So, for what is left of "the season" in 2020, to find out who is open and when, and also who is remaining shut for this year, please keep an eye on this page of our website, which will be kept up to date. Needless to say, given the remoteness of may of the venues, if you are travelling far to visit a specific venue, it would be a good idea to check before travelling that they are indeed open on that day.
We look forward to your visit and you can be sure of a smile welcoming you back!
August 28th 2019
We are On the Telly!
News of the Creative Trail continues to spread, and already quite a few of the members have noted a significant upturn in the number of visitors to their studios and premises. This trend can only continue as BBC Alba lend their strength to the publicity by featuring us on their news programme ‘An La’. On the 10th of September, the first day of our special Open Studios event, they will visit and film Fergus Stewart (Assynt Ceramics) at his studio at Glencanisp Lodge, Lochinver; Helen Lockhart at Ripples Crafts Yarns in Clachtoll and then go to Achiltibuie where they will visit Achiltibuie Artists Gallery and Fisk Gallery. Perhaps, between them, as Andy Warhol predicted, they will get their 15 minutes of fame!
July 26th 2019
First Open Studio Event 10th - 13th September 2019
The highlight of this first year of the Assynt and Coigach Creative Trail is the Open Studio event, which runs from the 10th to the 13th of September inclusive. Many of the trail participants are going to fling open their studio doors and invite the public in either to see work in progress or to learn the skills themselves. The makers are open longer hours during this period, but to make sure you know who is open and when, do have a look at the Open Studios leaflet, by using this link: Download Open Studio Leaflet Here (pdf 893kb) And, just like the Trail leaflet, this Open Studios leaflet is available from any of the makers and from most tourist outlets and businesses in the North Highlands and beyond.
Press Release July 2019
Assynt Artists and Coigach Creatives Join Forces
This summer sees the launch of a new artists and makers trail in the North West Highlands. This area has long been home to a great number of creatives, but the remoteness of the location has meant that, to the wider world, their existence has been relatively unknown. Now that is about to change with the birth of the Assynt and Coigach Creative Trail.
Stac Pollaidh, Suilven, Quinag – just a few of the magnificent mountains that dominate this land - form an impenetrable barrier to anyone trying to travel in a straight line. The hardy communities that live here are strung like pearls around the edges of that mountain mass, with some people living on the edge of the sea and some hidden in the slopes and valleys inland. This means that, as the road wends its way around Achiltibuie, Lochinver, Stoer, Kylesku and Elphin, among others, it forms a natural circle, and it is almost impossible not to pass the homes and workplaces of the painters, ceramicists, textile artists, photographers, writers, musicians and more who form this group.
The Trail features artists’ studios, craft shops and galleries, as well as the thriving local craft and produce markets, all marked clearly in a handy folding leaflet, with all the information a visitor might need, by way of directions, opening times and contact details. And these leaflets are widely available from tourist information offices, galleries, shops and many other local outlets, so that it only takes a visit to one place of interest for the visitor to pick one up and to find themselves started on this voyage of discovery. For those more familiar with new technology, the brochure is available on-line to download.
There is no doubt that the unique character of this dramatic landscape is a profound inspiration to these folk, with the rare flora and fauna, the wide, unspoilt seascapes and the wild and impressive mountains all featuring in, or heavily influencing, their work. Recent times have seen a huge rise in the number of visitors to the area, as a result of the promotion of the North Coast 500 touring route. But those visitors are gone in a flash, and have no idea what treats they have missed. The Assynt and Coigach Creative Trail is a slow wander of 80 miles, in and out of the landscape, with the opportunity to talk to artists and makers, to see the work being made and to appreciate the quality of life and work in these parts.
The group are celebrating this first year of the trail by holding an Open Studios event from the 10th to the 13th of September, when there will be a special focus on visitors witnessing the work in action, with some opportunities to get their hands dirty and to try the skills for themselves. To find out more about this, watch out for the flyers, check www.assyntandcoigachcreatives.co.uk or have a look at our Facebook Page.
The creation of the Trail has been a huge achievement for those involved, managing to build an artists and makers community across such a wild landscape with such a widely-dispersed population. And thanks must go to Coigach & Assynt Living Landscape Partnership Community Grants Scheme (funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Scottish Natural Heritage), who are the main funders of this project. It was also supported by generous grants from Coigach Community Development Company and NW Highlands Geopark. All that remains now is for the artists and makers to open their doors and welcome in the visitors!