Coigach & Assynt Sense of Place Toolkit

Sense of Place is a phrase used to define how a place makes us feel: what it is about a place that makes it special and different to anywhere else.

Welcome to the Coigach & Assynt Sense of Place Toolkit

Sense of Place is a phrase used to define how a place makes us feel: what it is about a place that makes it special and different to anywhere else.

This Toolkit can help you make the most of being a part of Coigach & Assynt. It contains art and stories designed to communicate what Coigach & Assynt are like, from the perspective of the people that live here. This can help anyone who wants to talk about Coigach & Assynt, creating landscape interpretation, writing, or advocating for its communities.  We hope that it will even help anyone who is considering moving to the area find out more about our experience of life here. From the tourism business perspective, it contains ideas for how to improve your marketing; your customer relations and visitor welcome; and your own enjoyment of the landscape.

Coigach & Assynt is a creative, diverse, beautiful place. A place that inspires a sense of space, freedom, and adventure. If visitors appreciate and connect emotionally with Coigach & Assynt they are more likely to visit again, spend money, tell their friends about it and respect the people and landscape. In this way, promoting a strong sense of place can support the local, sustainable economy.

This Toolkit is an aid to your own communications activity and is designed to help you draw upon the special qualities of the area in how you promote your services and engage with stakeholders and customers.

We’ll be updating this page with examples of businesses using a sense of place approach. If you’d like to be featured, get in touch at: info@nwhgeopark.com

All the content is available for you to freely use and adapt. Explore the themes below and download images, videos and other content from our media library.

Written by Lizzie Williams

The Toolkit, at a Glance.

What is ‘sense of place’?

A ‘sense of place’ is the term used to describe the emotions and experiences we associate with places. It’s how places make us feel.

A sense of place is what gives an area its identity and makes it different from elsewhere. It is made up of the different landscapes, wildlife, history, people, sights, sounds, smells, tastes, memories and many other things that contribute to our experience of a place.

It changes when we travel from home to work, or from the city to the countryside, or when visiting familiar or new places. One way of understanding it is to think about how you might describe the area where you live – which words would you use, what would you focus on, how does it make you feel when you picture it in your mind? That’s a sense of place.

How is this relevant to me?

A sense of place can influence the choices we make over where to live, work and spend our holidays. It can influence the value we place on products and services offered by businesses. It contributes to our culture and the identities of local communities. It can even impact on people’s health and quality of life.

Everyone has their own understanding of sense of place, whether they use the term or not. If you are an individual with an interest in the local area, or you belong to a community group, business or organisation, then the more you develop an understanding of your area the more you will appreciate its qualities.

This can benefit you and your community in a number of ways. For example it can:
– Help bring communities together and connect people with the landscape

– Add value to local products and services and help businesses develop new products

– Provide inspiration for education and the creative arts

– Improve the ‘welcome’ and local knowledge offered by tourism staff

– Strengthen the identity or ‘brand’ of an area by encouraging different groups to work together in promoting its special qualities

Examples of Sense of Place

Reiff Steading is a self-catering holiday cottage in Coigach. Owners Ruth and Angus first visited Reiff Steading in 2009 as guests and when the property was put for sale in 2019, they purchased the property.

The Reiff Steading website is evocative and Ruth and Angus use their personalities and story to talk about the property. Beautiful photographs accompany information about local places to visit and activities. Visit: https://www.reiffsteading.co.uk/

We’ll be updating this page with examples of businesses using a sense of place approach. If you’d like to be featured, get in touch at: info@nwhgeopark.com

Themes

Theme Once

Theme one: A place filled with Cultural heritage, Creativity and Community spirit

This is a place where the landscape and the often-challenging weather encourage resourcefulness and creativity; a mentality which fosters innovation and a proud community spirit.

Theme Two

Theme two: Immersive landscapes, ripe for exploration

Our landscapes and seascapes are extraordinary, and diverse. Huge skies and hulking great rocks. Ever-splashing burns and mirror-calm lochs. Wild open heath and mossy intimate woodland. Open sea and a patchwork of islands. Light on the rock and water changes through the day and with the seasons. All these inspire a sense of space and freedom and a desire to explore, fill the lungs with fresh cool air, have wild adventures – or just sit and gaze in awe.

Theme Three

Theme three: Beautiful beaches and wild shores

Coigach and Assynt are fringed with beautiful beaches and wild shores; some huge and conspicuous; some tiny and tucked away in hidden coves, only to be found at low tide. From a gentle sunny day amongst the machair to a wild winter blasting you’ll find peace, invigoration and interest along the shore.

Theme Four

Theme four: Island Mountains

Our iconic mountains stand alone. The ancient rocks have fascinated geologists for centuries, and influence the fauna and flora that is found on their slopes, gullies and peaks. Despite their imposing silhouettes they are relatively accessible and the views out over the coast and islands are staggering. They also form a stunning backdrop to lower-level experiences. Whether you climb them or enjoy them from sea-level, they will be part of your experience.

Theme Five

Theme five: A place to care for


The purity of the air and water; the quietness; the lack of traffic and heavy industry; the dark night skies; the striking land and seascapes; the presence of wildlife such as eagles and cetaceans, and other special habitats hidden beneath the waves. Living so close to the wild land and sea gives many people a strong connection to nature, and a desire to look after our environment. Nature nurtures us, giving us a sense of peace and freedom, as well as providing fresh seafood fished using in non-destructive methods. This area has several designations such as National Scenic Area, Geopark and Marine Protected Area which make caring for it a national priority.

Theme Six

Theme six: A place to live


This place may seem wild and sparsely-populated, but there are signs that it has been inhabited for millennia. Ancient buildings; myths and legends; Norse and Gaelic names for every peak and knoll: these all form a strong cultural heritage and inspire many forms of creativity including music, visual art and poetry.