Volunteer at a crofting / educational centre in the Highlands and learn about the ‘shieling’

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Posted Jul 28 2016 by Sam Harrison of the Shieling Project

This is a farm-based education organisation.  Our story is the ‘shieling’ – a tradition where folk went up to the hills with the livestock. The shieling is a traditional practice of moving up to the high ground or moorland with livestock, to live there for the summer. Young people had a fundamental role at the shieling: they took on new responsibilities, learning about themselves and the landscape beyond their homes. It was a time for making butter and cheese, stocking up on materials from the hills: dyes, peat, heather, and for revisiting the stories that defined the weave of people and place. Shieling life was well established for at least two thousand years in parts of Scotland, and is still a fairly recent memory for some in the Western Isles.


Schools, teachers and local community visit our site to learn about the shieling and through it the Highland landscape, heritage and sustainable lifestyles.  We are looking for volunteers to help us run our small farm (croft) and support our educational provision.  You will be able to help restore traditional buildings, build new sustainable educational buildings, work in our micro-dairy, and garden, as well as keeping the educational facilities clean and organised (it doesn’t take long for kids to make a mess!). The kinds of skills you might gain are woven willow panels, turf and dry stone walls, lime mortaring and pointing, as well as looking after animals.


You won’t be expected to deliver education, but will be able to support our staff and take part in learning – from Gaelic songs and stories, to dairying and archaeology. Stay for a week to a month. You will have accommodation in our staff house, with your own room and shared washing and cooking rooms.  We would expect a minimum of 4 hours work a day, which gives you lots of time to explore our beautiful glen. The project is down a 2 mile rough track so a bike is a useful thing! We will provide breakfast and dinner (a lot of it from our garden), you will need to sort snacks and lunch for yourself.