Whales and Tea at Gallan Head

by gallanheadcommunity in Lewis

We did it
On 10th March 2016 we successfully raised £2,000 with 44 supporters in 42 days

We've reclaimed a former MOD military site. Help us transform it into a visitor centre and whale-listening facility... then come and visit.

by gallanheadcommunity in Lewis

Gallan Head Community Trust has finally taken ownership of a piece of land on the isle of Lewis called Gallan Head. The land has been owned by the Ministry of Defence since the 1950s, and was used as a cold war listening post. It's been abandoned for many years now, but still retains some fascinating buildings including the old radar tower. After a long period of negotiating and fund-raising we have managed to buy the land! We're so delighted to be able to reclaim the land for the use of the community and for visitors to the island. We have a vision that we want people to be able to have a cup of tea and listen to whales there... and we're determined to make that happen!

So Who Are We?

Gallan Head Community Trust is a group of committed locals. We all live in the immediate area around Gallan Head - and we all believe passionately in our project. Come and visit us - we'd be happy to chew your ear off about our project.

The Story So Far

We've been working on this for some time and have come a long way already. We made use of the 'right to buy' legislation, and have already raised over £250,000 from Scottish Land Fund, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Big Lottery, and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, which has allowed us to buy the land. The feeling of pride and satisfaction when we took ownership of the land was incredible!  

There has been a lot of interest in our project and we've already been featured on BBC World news and in the papers. Visit our website to find out more.

Our Plans for Gallan Head

1: Make it accessible

First off, we want to let folk in! The site is currently locked up and fenced off with a rather prohibitive looking sign! We want to open it up and make it a lot more accessible to folk.

2: Create a Vistor Centre

Gallan Head is full of history and beauty. We want to create a space where you can sit and have a cup of tea and find out all about the history of the place. 


3: Install a Hydrophone

A what? A hydrophone! It's a piece of technology that will allow us to listen to the whales and other marine life off the coast of Gallan Head. The UK's only known pod of killer whales is up here in the Outer Hebrides. Check out the amazing photos of killer whales taken just off Lewis this year by Shetland fisherman Martin Ramsay. 


The hydrophone is going to be set up by our partners at SA Instrumentation who are pioneers in real-time autonomous acoustic detection.

4. Have a Cup of Tea and Listen to Whales

Wouldn't it be great to come to this amazing location and sit down with a nice cup of tea and listen to the whales in the water outside? 

5. Set up an Observatory

We're also working with Stornoway Astronomical Society, and are delighted to have Astronomer Royal for Scotland Professor John Brown as our patron. He will be visiting soon to speak to locals and students here. Our plans are to build an observatory, and we urge you to get involved so that you can come and visit us and witness the spectacular view of the stars from Gallan Head. They really are out of this world.


What we Need

We need £12500 to make all this happen. We have already raised the funds we need to buy the land - it's now ours - so this money is to do all the fun stuff. The money will allow us to:

- Renovate the house

- Install the hydrophone

- Landscape the gardens

- Buy furniture and equipment (we did promise tea)

- Provide car parking and access



We know that it's a big ask to expect you to help us with this, and we have lots of ways to thank you for your support. We've put together a package of perks to suit different interests. Artists and photographers can buy prints and find out the best spots for painting and photography, star-gazers can come and see the amazing skies and access the talk by John Brown, and marine fans can hear the first ever recording of the whales through the hydrophone.

Support Gallan Head

We're a small community and we're working hard to preserve our land and create something amazing. Please give us the support we need to make this magical spot accessible to all. Anything that you can contribute will be hugely appreciated. If you really can't conribute money then there are lots of ways to help. Please share this campaign on your social media networks and tell your friends and colleagues. 

Many thanks from the Gallan Head community.



This project offers rewards in return for your donation

£10 or more

£10 Reward

A thank you for believing in my project! Sent from the heart on a digital postcard

£20 or more

£20 Reward

Hear the first of the whales! Do you want to hear the first whale sounds that we ever record from our new hyraphone? We'll send you a digital download of the first ever sounds recorded.

£30 or more

£30 Reward

Artist pack: visit us at Gallan Head and we'll show you the best spots for painting and photography, and add your artwork to our website and cafe wall. Includes free tea, biscuits and (highly subjective) art critique from teashop staff

£30 or more

6 of 20 claimed

£30 Reward

Trend-setter pack: join us on our very first whales and tea experience. Includes free tea and whales

£30 or more

0 of 30 claimed

£30 Reward

History tour: Join an expert-led tour of the land and find out how it was used as a cold war listening post. Includes travel instructions in code.

£40 or more

3 of 30 claimed

£40 Reward

Family tour: Join an expert led tour including the military sites, norse settlements, and the radar building. Includes views of St Kilda and lots of stories. Admits one family.

£50 or more

£50 Reward

The doubler! Any two £30 perks... for £50

£50 or more

9 of 50 claimed

£50 Reward

Limited edition signed art print by local artist Jill Smith, commissioned especially for this campaign. You can't buy this in the shops - not even in Stornoway!

£500 or more

1 of 10 claimed

£500 Reward

Educational trip for up to 10 people. Includes archaeology talk, tour, and presentation about the history of the land. Bringing a school class? Contact us to check numbers.

£800 or more

0 of 10 claimed

£800 Reward

Friend of the whales! Your name on a plaque in the visitors centre, news updates, free access to the facility for life . As a close friend of the whales, you'll be invited to see the hydraphone being installed and will hear the first recording live!

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