The Shieling Project

Crerar Hotels Trust has donated £5,000 to The Shieling Project Community Trust, a social enterprise working with teachers and young people to explore their heritage.

The Shieling Project works with young people and teachers, focusing on students who do not engage well with school-based learning, to learn through the great outdoors. Each summer, for a long stretch of our past, young people all over Scotland would play an integral role in taking the livestock up to hill or moorland pastures, camping there in small bothies learning about the world beyond the village. This is 'the shieling' and the Shieling Project uses this tradition to engage young people and teachers with the outdoors, teaching about the rich cultural heritage of story, song, poem and place-name around the shieling, understanding the changing ecology of the upland landscape and the resonance of the shieling for our times: food, sustainability, health and well-being.

Working with young people, many of whom come from deprived areas, in a setting which is not a typical school – outdoors, exciting and physical – helps improve their confidence, well-being and shows them a variety of pathways for employment, giving them skills and experience in farming/crofting, forestry, conservation and land management, heritage, nature, tourism, archaeology and heritage arts. On a larger scale the project hopes to show through a focus on work skills, that young people can stay and have meaningful work in rural areas and contribute to the resilient communities there.

Close to the project is a historic shieling site that will be the focus of a programme of learning and community engagement over the coming months. Crerar Hotels Trust’s donation will help fund part of this project, providing funding for 10 specially commissioned tarasgeir (peat spades), willow for peat creels and a willow expert for four days to create creels and an education specialist delivering 10 learning days. Young people will look at the history of peat cutting and carrying, what peat is made from, the environmental factors in peat production and protection. All this through getting stuck in and doing it!