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help exchange   Host 30925
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All Year: Yes Mar to Oct recomended
Area (ha): 11.5 acres
Persons: 3 in caravan or tent
Category: Non Organic Farmstay
Host ID: 30925
Country: Scotland

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Last Updated: May 14, 2018

We live on an 11.5-acre croft (smallholding/farm) in the very north of Scotland just 26 miles short of John 'O Groats (the most northerly village on mainland Scotland).
We have Icelandic sheep, Pygmy goats and hens and try to live/run the croft as green and environmentally friendly as possible, everything is done by hand and we don’t allow tractors or heavy machinery on the land.
We have hosted 19 volunteers over the 3 years so far, from England, Canada, Spain, France, New Zeeland.

2017……… This year we need volunteers during May, June and July to help with sheep shearing and preparing fleeces for spinning (clean fleeces, card in to rolags and spinning – if you want to have a go). Hay making (cutting hay with a scythe, raking and turning then hand baling). There will be more raised beds to build, a bit of gardening and putting in the foundations for another room. If you have an interest in cow’s you could spend a day (time allowing) with our friend who has cows and sheep.

In 2014 volunteers helped build our first roundhouse for our goats with logs, dry stone walls and a reciprocal framed roof covered with turf and a bridge across our burn (small river), lots of fence replacement and new gates, planted 1,600 trees.
In 2015 volunteers helped build a much larger 2nd roundhouse (for sheep/lambing shed and hay store) and a 3rd quite small roundhouse for the male pygmy goats, more new fences and 3000 trees planted. Volunteers also helped at the local community forest, chipping brash, painting a log cabin and tree planting.
In 2016 volunteers helped build our 4th roundhouse (again for sheep/lambing shed and hay store), put up deer fencing to protect the 5200 trees we’ve planted in total and fenced a new field on unused ground, to include putting a foot bridge over a road soakaway ditch. They also helped cut and bale by hand 140 bales of hay and build a small porch on the house. Volunteers also helped at the local community forest, clearing a pond, repairing paths and selling wood at the monthly log sale.

There is a world of wildlife here especially birds such as rock pipit, swallow, wheatear and raptors. The area adjoining our land to the cliff edge (60 meters high) is a wildlife-protected seabird nesting area so we get 180-degree view of the Moray Firth/North Sea.
The weather can be very windy, a little chilly even in the summer but we get 20+ hours of daylight during mid-summer (long slow days)
We do not “make you work”, and there are no rules to say you must work 9am to 5pm etc.! The weather often dictates what we can do and for how long so we have “projects/jobs” to do within a week which we expect you to help with and if you feel like having a day off today because yesterday was a long day, why not! We provide food and drink and expect you to eat with us but also expect you to muck in with some cooking/washing up etc.
Will be in an old caravan with 3 bunks, it's very basic and had to be repaired last winter so has a house front door! but we've got electricity wired in to it for heating (when required) lights and sockets. It would help if you had a sleeping bag but if not we can provide bedding. Facilities are in the old croft house just 3 meters away i.e. Kitchen, Toilet, Shower, TV, DVD, Stereo, House phone, (mobiles don't get a signal here often and even the TV signal dies for days on end).
We have a guitar, violin, bagpipes and bodhran available for use; I play guitar and pipes but not very well or often.
We recommend you have Wellington boots, old clothes, waterproofs and gloves but can provide bits to help if you don’t have them.
Please let us know it you have specific dietary requirements
Places to see
Whaligo steps, Campster cairns, Hill of Many Stanes, Dunbeath and its broch, Lybster village and harbour (3 miles away), Wick the county town (10 miles away), Inverness is the nearest city (95 miles away) no local pub or shop without a bus/cycle/drive or long walk but it's a good way to leave the world behind and enjoy life slowly.... Day trips are available to Orkney from John O’Groats by ferry and coach to see some of the most spectacular Neolithic buildings, villages and henges in Europe.
Local sea trips from Wick harbour along our coastline with history/geology and wildlife commentary.
Castletown, the centre of the Caithness flagstone industry in the 17 and 1800’s is just 15 miles away and has wonderful heritage walks.
Dunnet head, a land spit jutting out North has views of Orkney and wonderful beaches (waters a bit cold up here for swimming though).
We try to ensure every volunteer enjoys their stay here, tries out new things and sees as much of Scottish/Caithness life as they can.

To Get Here
Be warned, we are a long way up north in Scotland….We are just 26 miles from the furthest North of the Scottish mainland.
Inverness to here is 95 miles - 4 hours by train or 3 hours by bus, 2 hours by car! Edinburgh to here is 300 miles – 8 hours by train, 7 hours by bus, 6 hours by car! The nearest duel carriageway is 70 miles away, the nearest motorway is 200 miles away and most of our roads are single track with passing places.
You can fly here but you must go via Edinburgh airport then get another plane to Wick (Caithness) airport which is just 10 miles from us and we can collect you.
Stays March through to October are recommended and during the summer solstice months (June/July) it doesn’t even get dark at night! We try not to turn volunteers away over the winter months but because we get just 3 to 4 hours’ daylight and can be snowed in very little work can be done and getting here or leaving can be difficult.
Stays from 24 hours to a week are fine, longer by agreement. We are of retiring age, I am meat eater and my wife is veggie, and we have 2 cats living in the croft house with us. We don’t smoke but we do drink to be social, we do not allow volunteers to smoke in any buildings or near the animals.

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