This edition of the Blog features several items highlighting the strength of our local community and the fantastic way people come together to deal with problems and threats. And there’s another fabulous walk to enjoy!
A Hard Day’s Night
In February, you never know quite what the weather is going to throw at a small Highland village like Fearnan. This year, towards the end of that month, several days of heavy rain, combined with snow melt, put a huge strain on the infrastructure of burns, pipes and drains that normally carry surplus water safely away.
Several parts of the village were affected by surplus water on the 19th February. In Dalchairan, the alarm was raised around 7pm because the culvert was starting to overflow and for the next 2 or 3 hours a steadily increasing number of villagers (along with the guys from Gigaloch and from Boreland) worked hard trying to manage the situation but, despite a huge effort, they were fighting a losing battle, with the drains blocking and the water steadily rising.
Around 10 pm the water breached the culvert, which created an immediate need for sandbags – or rather, an immediate need for the community to improvise its own sandbags.
Fortunately, both the Brockies and the Brains have stoves that are fuelled with wood pellets, and even more fortunately, Stuart is a hoarder of the empty bags, ‘just in case they come in useful one day.’ They certainly did come in useful – being the perfect size and shape for sandbags! While one team set about filling the hoppers for the two stoves to release even more bags, another team (some say a small army) was going round looking for sand and material to fill the bags – and all at around midnight.
By midnight, the water was running down the pavement in Dalchiaran and was seriously threatening one of the houses. Using the home-made sandbags and other barriers, it was diverted along the footpath to the rear of the play park.
Finally, the Fire Brigade were able to attend, much to the relief of everyone. They worked to pump water away to the play park and back into the burn. They were also able to authorise the issue of ‘official’ sandbags and some 80-odd arrived ……. at 2.45 am! All the way from Blair Atholl. Fortunately, Stuart, Alastair and Gavin were still about and finally finished placing them at 3.30am.
Stuart takes up the story:
On Saturday, even more people than on the previous night were out lending a hand to move the next batch of 120 sandbags that had arrived. These additional sandbags were used to slow the overflow to allow us to place a herring bone series of bags down the main road to displace the water down the road. The drains on the road were overwhelmed. Reducing the flow allowed the drains to catch up, and subsequently to start to move more water and eventually we were able to divert it back to where it should be, in the burn.
“On Sunday the water had dropped around 50% which allowed for a better inspection of the problems. With Iain and Charlie’s help, we managed to dig a fair bit of silt out of the culvert and eventually got down to a level where I could get into the tunnel, and between us we pulled out a significant blockage (see picture). This released the water and the rest of the blockage.”
“After that, came the big clean up, and once again, everyone just got stuck in with brushes and shovels. So, many thanks to them and a really big thank you to everyone who turned out to help the evening before. It was great to see the community spirit that weekend, just like old times! And let’s not forget the Gigaloch guys who, by the way, were brilliant, bringing wood, sandbags and other materials to barricade Gavin’s house and lending some welcome muscle and light-heartedness. Grateful thanks as well to Gary, Ross and the other firefighters. “
The Flood Team from the Council have been out, and we need to keep on the case to make sure, whatever the weather and whatever gets stuck in the culvert, it can’t happen again.
Friends of Fortingall Hotel
Friends of Fortingall Hotel held a meeting on Friday 26 February and were delighted with the encouraging response from the 60 people who attended and with the level of interest in the Hotel and its future.
At the meeting, it was decided that the Friends of Fortingall Hotel should apply to the Scottish Land Fund for a Technical Assistance Grant to cover the costs of the investigations required, such as a valuation of the building, a feasibility study to assess the viability of a range of possible business models, etc.
Volunteers were recruited to form a Project Steering Group, which met on 9th March to start the process of applying for funding. The Scottish Land Fund will appoint an Adviser to help prepare the application.
A number of people volunteered to become Members of the Breadalbane Development Trust – the body which will apply for the Technical Assistance Grant. They will soon join the Trust and support the Project Steering Group.
The future of the hotel and its place in the community is as relevant to Fearnan and other nearby areas as it is to Fortingall itself, and if you would like to join the mailing list to be kept in touch, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Warm Connections is a new project under the umbrella of Aberfeldy Parish Church.They provide free, impartial advice to support people in the community to live in warm, healthy, affordable-to-run and environmentally sustainable homes. At the same time they want to help people save money and reduce their carbon footprint at home. Their service is available in the Rannoch, Lyon, Upper Tay and Braan areas.
Warm Connections would be delighted if readers of the Blog who live in these areas could complete this short survey https://forms.gle/GMZGGKX9Q1i2AWZK8 so that they can better understand and meet the home energy needs of our communities. (It’s very quick and only takes a few moments.)
Armchair Walking Club
From the comfort of your own home, you can join Stuart way up on Boreland Hill on a fabulous day. See the views, count the hills, watch the deer and crunch across one of the remaining patches of snow.
In the last edition we were trying to reunite two long-lost friends, and I’m glad to say that within a few hours of the blog being published, Maureen and Wendy were back in touch after 40 years! We’re hoping for a photo once they manage to meet in person!
Fran Gillespie sent the following comment: Wow what exciting and dramatic times you have in Fearnan compared with Fortingall! Although we did once some years ago have a huge flood caused by dead trees washed down by heavy rain into the burn being blocked by a new metal footbridge on the estate and creating a dam. The water was two feet deep in the roadway, one family was marooned on the first floor of their cottage and I heard that people were rescuing trout and taking them back to the river!
Many thnaks,Stuart, for the two great action videos.