Ten years ago a community group was established in the township of Camuscross to develop projects to benefit the local community, to sustain it and make it thrive.
Very soon afterwards the neighbouring township of Duisdale was included, and the group became the Camuscross & Duisdale Initiative.
Although the wider community of Sleat has become a lively, growing part of Skye, with the amazing growth of the nearby Gaelic college Sabhal Mòr Ostaig being a major factor in that change, still the success was vulnerable, and everyday facilities were limited.
When the small shop in Isle Ornsay closed, it meant that buying a pint of milk took two litres of diesel to get to a shop and back.
The idea of finding a site to replace it as a community-run asset was developed.
Three things emerged at the top of the community’s wish list – a shop, a proper hall for activities, and a place to meet and socialise.
This part of the journey began in 2012. With support from Highland Council, Camuscross & Duisdale Fundraising Group, The Robertson Trust and architects WT Architecture, Camuscross & Duisdale Initiative became one of the first community projects in Scotland to be promised over £1,000,000 by the Big Lottery Fund. That was in March 2014.
HIE pledged £100,000, which enabled the application to Coastal Communities Fund who then agreed to pledge over £800,000. The estate, Fearann Eilean Iarmain was ready to gift us the land – but it had to be taken out of crofting tenure. Would the crofters with rights over the land agree?
In the end, 100% of them did. And at the beginning of 2016 the children of Camuscross and Duisdale cut the first sod.
The building that came out of that journey is a model for how small communities can develop and bring vibrancy to an area.
Now the community and its visitors have a well-stocked general store, selling local produce and supporting suppliers in the area.
The café has a cosy inglenook where small groups can gather for activities. And the heart of the building, the hall, runs all sorts of events.
Susan Walker, one of the Camuscross & Duisdale Initiative board members, sums up the journey that the Community has been on.
“I don’t think anyone understood the enormous task it would be when we started the whole thing 5 years ago. We’ve all learned many new skills and gained a lot of knowledge during the course of the project, but most important are the links we have forged as a team. There have been some very stressful moments, but mostly there has been lots of hard work, good sense, creativity, team working, and a surprising amount of laughter. It’s a huge sense of achievement to see what we, as a group, supported by our community, have achieved.”
Information on the charity behind An Crùbh : www.camuscross.org