Volunteer Helpers' Info Page

 

The following information is for people who want to come to the Rhanich as volunteer helpers.

 

Please note, you should have had written (email or letter) or verbal confirmation from Pam Shaw of the dates of your stay before making final arrangements!

 

Scroll through the page or use the quick links below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting to the Rhanich

Food and accommodation

Working arrangements

What to bring

How to have a great time

 

 

 

 

 

Getting to the Rhanich

Airports:

There are two small commercial airports in the North of Scotland in Inverness and in Aberdeen; larger airports are located in the Central Belt of Scotland and are Glasgow Airport, Glasgow-Prestwick and Edinburgh Airport. Note that Glasgow-Prestwick is located on the outskirts or the town Ayr, another 40 minutes train ride South of Glasgow City. Depending on when you get into Glasgow or Edinburgh, you may need to spend the night there. There are some good independent hostels in both cities. Although I am a big fan of Glasgow, I would recommend travelling via Edinburgh if you want to do a bit of sight-seeing on the way to the Rhanich or on your way back.

Useful links:

Search Engine for cheap flights: Skyscanner

Edinburgh City Tourist Board

Independent Hostels in Scotland

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Travel from the Scottish Central Belt:

Inverness and the river NessIf you land in Glasgow or Edinburgh, you need to get the bus or the train to Inverness. You do not need to book the bus. "City Link" is one of the operators , "Megabus" is another. The train is a lot more expensive except when booked well in advance. Your journey will take between 3 and 4 hours. In Inverness you will need to change train or bus and travel to Tain. There are several bus operators including City Link buses (service to Wick and Thurso (express)) and Stage Coach (local). Inverness has several Youth Hostels and is a good base for daytrips to Loch Ness, Culloden Moor, Cawdor Castle and Fort George.

Once you know when you will arrive in Tain, phone Pam and let her know so she can arrange a lift for you. It is best to give her a few hours warning! If Pam and Donald are very busy, you may need to take a local bus to Edderton and will be picked up from there.

Useful Links:

Scottish City Link

Megabus UK

Stage Coach Inverness

Visit Scotland "City of Inverness" pages

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Travel by Car

If you are travelling by car from either Glasgow or Edinburgh, make your way to Perth and onto the A9 North to Inverness. This will take between 3 and 4 hours depending on traffic. Continue through Inverness on the A9 and follow signs for Wick and Thurso. Pass Tain (40 minutes from Inverness) on the A9. Just past Tain and shortly after Glenmorangie Distillery (on your right) you come to a roundabout where the A9 turns right over the Dornoch Firth - continue straight on through the roundabout (following signs for Bonar Bridge) instead. You know you are in Edderton when you see a yard full of caravans on your right. In the middle of the village a heather roofed bus-stop marks a cross-road at which you turn left steeply up a hill. Take the first left at the top of the hill - sign posted "Rhanich". On a single track road you pass two houses on the left before you come to a farm with a large green shed next to a whitewashed house. You have arrived! Mind the chickens as you drive in beside the house!

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Food and Accommodation

You will most likely be staying in the shared caravan next to the house. Some times when we have a lot of people staying, we also put people up in a small single caravan.

The main caravan (pictured) has Wifi, hot water, a WC and shower, a small kitchen unit, one bedroom and one bedroom/living room. There is a TV, a heater, a video and DVD player available.  Be aware that often we have two helpers and you may be sharing the caravan. You are free to spend your time-off in the caravan or in the farm kitchen with us. There is Wifi in the kitchen. Life (and tea-breaks) revolves around the farm kitchen.

Fresh bread, cheese (sometimes our own), home made jam, vegetables, fruit, biscuits etc are available at all times. Apart from sharing tea breaks, we normally sit down together for a hot meal in the evening. The Rhanich is vegetarian in in summer we eat a lot of produce from our own garden.

We prefer that people don't smoke inside the kitchen or the caravan. You can of course smoke outside although smoking on a farm is obviously risky (straw and hay everywhere).Rhanich eggs

 

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Working Arrangements

Work for helpers starts around 8:00 - 8:30. Helpers are expected to help with morning and evening feeding, gardening, seasonal work (wool rolling at shearing and lamb care during lambing) and some maintenance work if required. We have regular tea breaks in the kitchen. During quiet times in summer and autumn we are looking for 4-5 hours of work per day. When we are not shearing or lambing, voluntary helpers usually get a long break of 3-4 hours in the middle of the day. You will also get a day off per week.

The work load at the farm differs significantly between busy times (lambing in April and May and shearing in July) and more laid-back times. Depending on how involved you want to be and how much you enjoy the work, you may wish to work more (or less). During the busy times, we can offer you some pocket money for extra work.

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What to bring

Helper in the latest fashionWe can give you:

Some people bring old clothes and leave them with us when they go. That is always appreciated. Of course you are free to bring all of the above - just bare in mind that things will get quite dirty on a farm! Of course we have a washing machine and you are welcome to wash your clothes while you are staying with us. We have hairdryers so no need to bring one.

You should bring anything that you need for personal comfort and to spend your free time - there will be plenty of that, so bring your books, kindle, laptop, iPOD or PAD, camera, sketch-pad, sewing, knitting, musical instruments etc. We have a spinning wheel and no shortage of wool. In summer we go swimming in the sea regularly, so you may want to bring your bathing suit / swim trunks.  We also have a number of bikes available which we are happy to lend to volunteers who want to explore the surrounding countryside.

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How to have a great time

We have found over the years that the people who get the most out of their stay at the Rhanich bring with them some of the following attitudes and interests:

The Rhanich is all about animals including not just our sheep, goats, cows and ponies but also our dogs, chickens and cats; our animals are friendly and used to being handled; we think they are great and if you do, you will have a great time with them!

This may seem obvious, but first and foremost the Rhanich is a farm; farming is how we make a living! At the same time we like to think that we do things a little differently here. The more you want to know about what we do, the more rewarding your stay will be.

The Rhanich is quite remote from towns and cities and there may not be many opportunities to visit pubs or clubs or shops while you are with us. There are however a lot of options for exploring the wild country side around us on foot and by bike. See the Rhanich Pages for more information.

Most of our helpers come from abroad or from other parts of the UK. The history of the Highlands is unique in Europe and has been tightly bound up with the land and those who have lived on it and from it. Staying with us gives you an opportunity to find out more about Scotland past and present. Ask us anything !

 

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