Asking the community

Residents of South West Mull and Iona have two exciting opportunities to express their views and needs in our upcoming consultations!

Housing Feasibility Study

A lack of secure and affordable accommodation has been frequently raised as an issue that affects the ability of working age individuals and families to stay living in this area. Addressing this issue is one of SWMID’s key priorities.

With the support of Our Island Home – Rural Housing Scotland we are currently investigating the feasibility of a small number of affordable homes in Bunessan. Whatever your housing situation – whether it is adequate or you, or a member of your household, is in need of alternative housing at the moment, or in the future, please fill in this survey to help us build a true picture of the current housing situation in this area.

Community Consultations 2020

We would like to invite everyone resident in the South West Mull and Iona area to come to our community consultations: 

Affordable Housing Special Consultation
Wednesday 5th February, 7pm

What do you feel are the priorities for your community?

How do you see the role of South West Mull and Iona Development?


We are looking forward to hearing your views and hope that you can make it!

If you need help with transport please get in touch. 01681 700021,


Changing Chairs

We are sad to announce that, after six years as Chair of South West Mull and Iona Development,  Colin MacDonald has retired from the Board. Ambitious and committed, Colin led the Board through incorporation, the purchase of Tiroran Community Forest and Bendoran, and has seen the organisation grow in size and strength.  We wish Colin all the best and will miss his unique humour!

Colin speaking at the opening of Tiroran Community Forest



Colin visiting Sleat Community Forest prior to the purchase of Tiroran Community Forest.

Planting trees with Brik Halcrow, Company Secretary.

Stepping into the breach is Cameron Anson who has been a member of the Board for the last four years. Cameron brings to the role a wide experience of local groups, including Mull Community Council and Creich Hall committee, and an extensive knowledge of rural housing issues through his work.


The future looks bright! 


2019 AGM

Last Saturday was SWMID’s 6th annual general meeting. The day kicked off with a visit to Bendoran, with 20 people heading down to explore the bay and learn more about how the new facilities will fit on the site. For most people it was the first time they had been to Bendoran and the beauty of the setting was much admired, sparking ideas for art-related workshops!

We then moved down to Creich Hall for the meeting itself. Chaired by Vice Chairperson Stewart, we had presentations about what SWMID has been up to during 2018-19. The main focus was the future developments at Bendorannow that the site is in community ownership. General Manager Morven spoke about how exciting it is to be moving forward with the seaweed farm after researching it for years, and to be supporting the development of an independent water-sports social enterprise.

Cameron, one of our directors, presented SWMID’s new strategy, which outlines how we plan to move towards our aim of “building thriving and resilient communities throughout South West Mull and Iona”. You’ll be able to see the strategy and let us know what you think about it during our community engagement events after New Year in late January/early February.

It was great to hear everyone’s thoughts and ideas, and to see such a lot of enthusiasm for our projects. With 57 people there, the meeting had a great atmosphere and included our youngest ever attendee!

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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Ben drone 2
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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.