Head­land trust cel­e­brates first an­niver­sary

The Oban Times - - News -

GALLAN Head Com­mu­nity Trust, the Outer He­bridean char­ity that bought the most north­west­erly head­land in the UK last year from the Min­istry of De­fence, is hold­ing a ceilidh and torch­lit pro­ces­sion to cel­e­brate its first year as a com­mu­nity land owner.

On Jan­uary 29, 2016, the trust com­pleted the com­mu­nity right to buy process and be­came the le­gal cus­to­dian of Gallan Head, the for­mer RAF Aird Uig Cold War radar base on Lewis, al­low­ing pub­lic ac­cess for the first time in more than 60 years.

In the 12 months since be­com­ing the com­mu­nity landowner, the trust has suc­cess­fully pur­chased and con­verted a house on the edge of the head­land into a restau­rant, craft shop and com­mu­nity and vis­i­tor hub, as well as rais­ing funds for land­scap­ing.

It now plans to de­velop a ground-break­ing ob­ser­va­tory on Gallan Head for study­ing dark skies, chang­ing weather and whale spot­ting.

The Ce­tus Ob­ser­va­tory will house an in­ter­net- op­er­ated ro­botic tele­scope, ra­dio tele­scope, radar, so­lar tele­scope, plan­e­tar­ium, space ex­hi­bi­tion/ dis­play, gi­ant wide field binoc­u­lars for wildlife watch­ing, na­ture we­b­cams, a cafe, ed­u­ca­tional fa­cil­i­ties and a shop.

John Brown, As­tronomer Royal for Scot­land and pa­tron of the Ce­tus Ob­ser­va­tory, said: ‘I am de­lighted by the progress the trust is mak­ing. We are on track to­wards open­ing the Ce­tus Ob­ser­va­tory to the pub­lic by 2020. I look for­ward to vis­it­ing Gallan Head again in the next few months.’

Chair­woman of Gallan Head Com­mu­nity Trust Jill Smith said: ‘As trustees, are work­ing hard to be sen­si­tive, con­sid­er­ate cus­to­di­ans of this mag­i­cal land­scape.

‘The Ce­tus Ob­ser­va­tory will in­spire vis­i­tors and bring life back to our com­mu­nity, jobs to our area and will at­tract young peo­ple back to our vil­lages. This week­end we are cel­e­brat­ing both what we have achieved so far and the great po­ten­tial we have to make a real dif­fer­ence to our is­land com­mu­nity.’

Pho­to­graph: Richard Davies.

The com­mu­nity- owned head­land, Gallan Head, with Gallan Beag in the fore­ground.

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