August 24, 2013
HOLY ISLE GATEWAY PROJECT - IMPROVING ACCESS AND INTERPRETATION
OUR NEW JETTY IS INSTALLED!
While the Holy Isle Project continues to blossom as an interfaith centre, there has always been difficulty accessing the isle in rough seas and high winds. In the past access to the island has been a sensitive issue and, when the island was up for sale in 1992, the possibility of private ownership of the island again raised concerns that access to this historical and spiritual site would be restricted.
However, Lama Yeshe Rinpoche has always strived to ensure a warm welcome for visitors to the island since Rokpa took over stewardship and for many years he has wanted to upgrade our landing facilities. So, we were all delighted when Lama Yeshe was able to open our new pontoon jetty in June this year and to be the first passenger to step off the jetty onto the Holy Isle Ferry.
The jetty works have been part of a 3-year access and interpretation joint project between North Ayrshire Council (NAC) and the Holy Isle Project. As well as finishing the pontoon, we now have new signage and have completed some of the path works. We are already seeing the benefit of the new jetty and expect to welcome up to 6000 guests and day visitors to the island this year.
A dedicated team worked on this project: Yeshe Palmo for Rokpa Trust (the charity who owns Holy Isle) and Katheleen Don for NAC created the project together, worked on the funding and generally made the whole thing happen! Our colleagues at NAC were consistently supportive and offered advice thoughout the project and we thank them for that. We also give a big thank you to Ed Carrick of Wallace Stone - the project's marine engineer - who gave a considerable amount of his time and skill.Funders for this £250,000 project were LEADER, NAC and private funding given to Rokpa Trust - thank you to all who contributed - the project could not have gone ahead otherwise. PATH WORK
Holy Isle's environment team has been been working on improving the coastal path in line with the Gateway Project for over a year now. We are still waiting for possible funding to complete the pathworks and to bring a mechanical digger onto the island but for the past year or so it's been a case of "never surrender!" as a team of willing helpers armed with shovels, pinch bars and wheelbarrows has worked under the guidance and expertise of long-term Holy Isle resident Rinchen Tsering, levering rocks of over a ton out of the ground.
Their skill is evident to visitors to the island. They have put in culverts with beautiful, skilled, stonework and now the path from St Molaise's cave to Pillar Rock lighthouse now no longer requires wellies to navigate!
Part of the Access project is to develop new signs for the isle to better inform visitors. This year sees new maps and signs explaining the life of St Molaise, introducing the organic vegetable, herb and flower gardens and new signs explaining Holy Isle's rare wildlife and the island's flora and fauna. We are very grateful to Mark Bradley who has taken great care to set the signs discretely into the rock so as not to be too intrusive against the natural environment.
Gerrad Tattersfield created the beautiful dream flag designs that border most of the signage. We would like to thank him, along with Christine Jess who worked on the design, Simon from Holy Isle who worked on the information boards and Arran Graphics who did all the printing work.We are also grateful to Fergus Hall at Samye Ling who worked for months on a painting of St. Molaise.