Moving Forward with Bendoran

You may have already seen last week’s fantastic news that SWMID has been successful in securing a grant of £450,487 from the Scottish Land Fund! This will enable SWMID to purchase this 2 acre shoreside site at Bendoran, just outside Bunessan, for the long-term benefit of local people. 

Our ambitious plan is to create a multi-use resource on the site, featuring:

  • Processing facilities for a community-owned seaweed farm 
  • A water-sports centre with kayaking, sailing, and paddle-boarding, run separately by a soon-to-be-formed local social enterprise 
  • Moorings for local and visiting boats
  • Boat maintenance area (in the future)

Until the 1980s, Bendoran was a boat yard and was known as one of the most sheltered anchorages on the West Coast. The bay is ideal for mooring boats during the wild winter months, its shallow sandy beach is perfect for teaching kayaking and sailing, and the pier and slipway will enable us to land seaweed harvested from lines in nearby waters. 

We hope the water-sports centre will give local young people the chance to learn new things and get more enjoyment out of the beautiful place in which we live.

Entering the relatively new industry of seaweed farming and processing will generate income to be reinvested locally, while the water-sports centre will support our many local accommodation and food providers by creating reasons for tourists to stay longer on the Ross of Mull. Both enterprises will create several badly needed jobs and training opportunities that will enable working-age people and families to stay in, or move to, the area.

Bendoran is a long term project. Once we have bought the site we can begin detailed plans for development. There is so much to do and we are excited to be getting started!

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Bendoran 5 (002)

Thanks to Scott Mccracken and his drone-piloting skills for the aerial pictures!

If you’d like more information, you can:

  • Attend our AGM on Saturday 23rd November, 11am, at Creich Hall
  • Book to join us for a Bendoran Site Visit on the morning of the AGM
  • Contact the SWMID offices on 01681 700 021 or email


Kids Design New Forest Nature Trail

Class 1 from Bunessan Primary School have chosen Tiroran Community Forest as the setting for their “Making a Nature Trail” topic! The children have been working with Mull and Iona Ranger Emily to look at different habitats and research what species they might find in the forest, while Community Forester Philip has opened up a route along the river for the trail and marked the way with posts.

On Monday the intrepid bunch visited the forest to walk the route and see what wildlife can be found along the way. Their next steps are to number the posts and create a leaflet that shows people what to look out for – we can’t wait to see what they come up with! 

A New Playground

Since the Community Plan was written, one of SWMID’s goals has been to work toward providing more local play areas. This July, thanks to Woodland Tribe and funding from National Lottery Awards for All, we were able to go one step further and enable children to create a unique adventure playground of their own design!

Despite a rainy final day, nearly 40 local and visiting children travelled from all over Mull and Iona to take part during the 3-day building event in Tiroran Community Forest. Philip, our community forester, Emily and Emilie from the Ranger Service, and a few parents were on hand to help, but “not to hover like helicopters” as requested by the Woodland Tribe rules!

Woodland Tribe staff gave kids the tools, guidance, and freedom to create 4 structures themselves, including a tree house and a balance beam. One happy participant told us: “we got to decide what we wanted to build and to decide where to put the pieces of wood. My favourite was the treehouse. I hope the people come back again and we can build some more.”


The playground structures are semi-permanent so, with a little bit of care, they will stay standing in the forest for a few years. Hopefully we can add to them as time goes by.

The forest was buzzing with people again the following month for our Forest Fun Day, a part of the national Community Land Week celebrations; almost 70 people came along to celebrate our community’s ownership of the forest. As well as testing out the new playground, there was the chance to have a go at printing and ceramics with Julie Ward, a walk and talk about Tiroran’s wildlife and nature with John Clare, and some delicious cakes provided by the Bunessan Primary School Parent Council.

The playground is near the entrance to the Community Forest, in a clearing near the shelter – next time you’re passing near Tiroran, head in to explore!

What’s been happening at Tiroran Community Forest?

It’s been a busy and exciting spring! After our new Community Forester, Philip Yielder, spent a few weeks finding his feet in the forest and getting up to speed with the role, he was straight into fence building and tree planting. A perimeter fence has been erected around a large area including along the road on the West side of the forest in preparation for mixed broadleaf and native conifer planting. However, due to some unresolved boundary issues it hasn’t yet been possible to complete the fencing over the river and a small protected area within was needed quickly in order to plant our trial trees. This was completed at the end of April and planting of the control trees was able to begin.

7,000 trees, including birch, oak, holly and willow are being planted, half of which are wax treated as a barrier against pine weevil and half of which are untreated. The saplings will be monitored to see how they do – tests have shown Tiroran Community Forest to have a high pine weevil population. May is not ideal for planting young, bare-root trees but circumstances have made it necessary. We are hoping to get some rain soon to help them settle in!

We are always so delighted when Bunessan Primary School has learning days in the forest. Every age group visited in May, led by Emily the Ranger, who always makes their outdoor learning fun and interesting. This time they planted trees, visited the willow Giant Heads and had a great time spotting the fabulous plants and animals in the Woollen Woods. Held on Sunday 19th May, this was the second Woollen Woods event at Tiroran Community Forest, organised by local weaver and creator, Monica Haddock. It was a great day, with over 60 people attending to try out spoon carving, felting and willow weaving. There was storytelling under the magic mushrooms and a chance to plant a tree with the community forester.

Now we are looking forward to our event with Woodland Tribe in July, where everyone will have a chance to help design and build a unique adventure playground structure in the forest! Check out our Events page for more information.


New Community Forester!

Thanks to funding from the Leader programme we have been delighted to be able to appoint a full-time Community Forester, Philip Yielder, for Tiroran Forest. The role of Community Forester is a varied one, from working with our commercial timber operators, to replanting trees, to overseeing the development of recreational facilities such as footpaths and heritage interpretation, to ensuring the forest school is safe and that there is sufficient toilet roll in the compost toilet!


Contact Philip on









An invite to Woollen Woods at Tiroran Forest

After a year and a half of focusing on roads and plant health notices – the nitty-gritty of forest management – we are looking forward to 2019. Thanks to receiving Leader funding we will be advertising for a forester in the new year and are already planning some activities.
Following on from the success of the woollen flower meadow event in March, thanks to Monica Haddock, a bigger woollen woods event is being planned for May. Emily Wilkins, the ranger, and Monica have already started to invite people to start making their woollen creations. Click on the link below for helpful suggestions about what you could make!

Woollen Woods Invite

Here are some creations people have already been busy making.

If you have any great ideas about an activity you would like to organise in the forest, please get in touch.

Bendoran Buyout?

Bendoran Boatyard

SWMID are looking into a proposal for us to buy the land and houses for sale at Bendoran for the benefit of the community. One of the properties has already sold but we are exploring the possibility of buying the remaining sites. Ideas for the sites include an outdoor activity centre run as a social enterprise, shoreside facilities to support a potential community-owned seaweed farm and affordable housing. A public meeting is due to be held on Thursday 22nd November at 7pm in Bunessan Hall. Please come along as we are keen to hear your views.

Also if you are interested in what other things SWMID has been up to over the last year come along to our Annual General Meeting which is being held on Saturday 24th November at 11am in Creich Hall. 

We are seeking new directors with energy and commitment to help drive forward SWMID’s many and varied projects. If you are interested in joining the SWMID Board, please get in touch.

If you need more information on Bendoran or you are keen to become a Director please contact Morven on;

01681 700021 or

If you need more information regarding the AGM please contact Saskia; 

01681 700021 or

Welcome to Saskia and Helen!

At South West Mull and Iona Development we seem to be busier than ever! We have welcomed two new members of staff over the past couple of months, bringing our team up to four.

Saskia Davidson (on the left), our new administrator, started at the beginning of September and has been quickly getting to grips with our finance package, organising and minuting meetings, taking charge of our social media and whatever else we throw at her. 

Helen Petrie, our ScotGrad, started on 1st October and is supporting Morven with project development. The ScotGrad programme is 70% funded and is for someone who has acquired a relevant qualification within the past three years and has appropriate skills to fit with the role.

Both women have brought a new energy to the SWMID team and we are delighted to have them on board.

Community Land Week Event: Thursday 16th August

Community Land Scotland represents community landowners all over Scotland, including South West Mull and Iona Development, supporting and driving forward community land ownership. 

Scotland’s first ever Community Land Week runs from Saturday 11th to Sunday 19th August and celebrates community ownership, as well as encouraging people to find out what is happening on community owned land in their local area, or further afield. 

As part of this week, on Thursday 16th August, South West Mull and Iona Development are holding an event entitled: “Tiroran Community Forest – Then and Now”. The event takes place in the forest and explores three aspects that have been affected by changes in land ownership and use over time; People, Forestry, Biodiversity & Nature. We are very lucky to have three distinguished experts to guide us through these topics! Christine Leach will be talking about the people that used to occupy the forest and there will be an opportunity to find out from us about possible future repopulation through the introduction of woodland crofts. Chris Marsh of the Community Woodlands Association will be exploring the forestry plantation of the 1970s in comparison with future plans and aspirations. John Clare will be looking at the species in the forest and the impact of previous and future forest management.

It promises to be a fascinating afternoon. Please join us from 1pm to 4pm at the main forest entrance by the bridge.

Booking is not required but contact Morven on or 01681 700021 if you would like more information.

Click here for more information on Community Land Week.