Highland Stravaig: Saturday 26 May 2018, Abriachan


Sat 26th May, 2018, 10am – 10pm

Abriachan Forest Trust, Abriachan, IV3 8LB

£25 (price includes lunch and shared evening meal)
Available here

This year’s Highland Stravaig will take place in Abriachan in collaboration with Moniack Mhor, Scotland’s Creative Writing Centre, and the Abriachan Forest Trust. Abriachan is a rural community set high in the hills above the western shores of Loch Ness, half way between Inverness and Drumnadrochit. We will explore Abriachan both as a rich cultural and literary landscape and as a part of a diverse bio-region, reflecting on different creative, poetic and aesthetic ways of being in this place.

A live theme at last year’s ‘Expressing the Earth’ conference on Seil Island in Argyll was the contribution of geopoetics to modern land consciousness. There is a social and poetic link here: 2018 sees the 20th anniversary of the Abriachan Forest Trust’s community land buy-out in 1998, following the Isle of Eigg in 1997. This year’s Stravaig is, in part, a celebration of this milestone in Abriachan’s history. Local writer Katharine Stewart (1914 – 2013), a former member of the Scottish Centre for Geopoetics, played an important role in this story. Stewart’s writing – including A Croft in the Hills (1979) and Abriachan: The Story of an Upland Community (2000) –  is celebrated this year by Moniack Mhor with a bursary for aspiring nature writers and writers of historical fiction.

Following the inaugural Tony McManus Lecture on ‘Nan Shepherd as an Early Geopoet’ by James McCarthy in Edinburgh in 2017, we will also reflect on the work of local author Jessie Kesson, who, upon a chance meeting with Shepherd, was inspired to pursue her writing.

This will be a day in two parts. To introduce the day, we will discover more about the story of Abriachan from leader of the Forest School, Suzann Barr, and Gaelic expert Roddy MacLean will share his deep knowledge of Gaelic place-names, native flora and fauna and local geodiversity on a forest walk in the shadow of hill Carn na Leitire, inspiring a creative response to the landscape (outdoor wear recommended).In the afternoon, following a lunch of soup and bread, we will hear from ecologist and international river campaigner Lucio Marcello – who is currently investigating archive materials to chart the impact of dams and other land use changes on the biodiversity of the Ness river system – and from writer and cartographer Raghnaid Sandilands who will share her creative approach to landscape and cultural memory.

Following some free creative time in the afternoon, we will traverse 1.4 miles up the road to the Village Hall. Writer and musician Heather Clyne will introduce us to the work of Jessie Kesson with a selection of readings on a short walking tour through the village. This will be followed by a hearty shared meal in the hall and an evening ceilidh, with opportunities for open floor contributions. Music for dancing will be provided by the local community ceilidh band.

P A R T  1:  A B R I A C H A N  F O R E S T  C L A S S R O O M
10am Arrivals, Teas & Coffees
10.30am Welcome: Mairi McFadyen & Heather Clyne
10.45am Suzann Barr: ‘Celebrating 20 years of Abriachan Community’
11.15am Roddy MacLean: ‘Gaelic in the Landscape’ Forest Walk/Talk
12.15pm Lunch (soup & sandwiches)
1pm Dr Lucio Marcello (UHI): ‘Biodiversity and Cultural Memory’
2pm Raghnaid Sandilands: Creative Cartography
3pm Creative time/workshop time/wandering/free time
4pm Travel to Village Hall (5 mins by car)
P A R T  2:  A B R I A C H A N  V I L L A G E  H A L L
4.30pm Dr Heather Clyne: Jessie Kesson Walk/Talk (leaving from hall, 45 mins)
6pm Shared Evening Meal. BYOB
7.30pm Evening Ceilidh – Open Floor & dance (Heather & Mairi host) – Open to All
10pm ~ Finish

Download full schedule, notes on contributors, directions and details of local accommodation here
Download_Geopoetics Highland Stravaig

Please email Mairi McFadyen at
geopoeticshighland@gmail.com for more information.