Castle Composter Challenge

DUNNOTTAR Castle staff Emilia Bartecka and Wendy Sylvester are gearing up to host the Composter Challenge on Sunday.
DUNNOTTAR Castle staff Emilia Bartecka and Wendy Sylvester are gearing up to host the Composter Challenge on Sunday.

staff at Dunnottar Castle have come up with a fun and interesting solution to their latest challenge - and they have drafted in volunteers from all corners of the community to help them!

Custodian of the Castle, Wendy Sylvester, has been organising the building and installation of a composter at the Castle as an environmentally friendly way to deal with grass cuttings and bird droppings at the cliff-top site, but was faced with the daunting task of transporting 40 bags of cement, 15 fence posts and five wattle panels down the route to the castle, which includes 272 steps, with just two female members of staff.

Wendy said: “I sent an SOS round three Clubs in Stonehaven asking if anyone would be able to come to our rescue and expected everyone to run a mile and tell me to jog on. I was overwhelmed to receive three messages back the following day from the Stonehaven Running Club, Mackie Academy Former Pupils RFC and the Stonehaven Blackbelt Academy to say they wanted to help, so we decided to involve everyone and set up the Composter Challenge.”

The Composter Challenge, which takes place on Sunday April 10 starting at 9am, will see teams of between six and 12 people from each club, carry loads of cement, fence posts and wattle panels down the steps, up the steps and into the Silver House in the Castle grounds. Each participant is permitted to carry one piece of equipment or materials at a time, and each time will be tasked with transporting 20 loads each. The volunteers will be rewarded with one beer per load that is carried, as well as a small monetary donation to each club.

Wendy said: “Bringing materials into the Castle is no easy task given its clifftop location, and I’m a bit overhwlemed by everyone’s willingness to help out, they don’t need to come out here on a Sunday morning to help us out but I am really glad that they are. The community are really coming to the aid of the Castle wihich is really nice to see.”

The composter will help with the bid to gain the Castle a Silver Green Tourism Award, as it will be built out of recycled, sustainable and natural products.

Wendy said: “At the moment the grass cuttings and droppings are all deposited in the rough grass around the castle, but, even though it is all natural, it never really sat well with me, so our small team designed a composter which willl be built on site to rectify this problem.”

The team received consent from Historic Scotland after submitting a Special Monument Consent (SMC) form, and the initial holes for the posts were dug under the supervision of an archaeologist. Once the equipment has been transported on to the site, a team from Dunecht Estates, who own the Castle, will come and build it on site. The compost will be used in the gardens of the Castle.

Teams will meet at the turning circle leading up to Dunnottar Castle on Sunday morning, and spectators are welcome.