6th
May
2014

Posted in Kafevend Blog

Balnakeil craft village is located in a pretty remote spot of the British isles. It lies nine miles away from Cape Wrath, the most north westerly point on the British mainland, and is itself the most north westerly community. Orignally Balnakeil was a military site created before WW2. A radar forming part of the Chain Home project was built here, and along with many others situated along the coasts of Britain formed an early warning system for detecting incoming planes. Chain Home was part of an integrated air defence system which aided the beleaguered allied pilots fighting during the Battle of Britain. After the war, the site was used again and housed a radar for use in the ROTOR project, another air defence system implemented during the early years of the Cold War.

The military abandoned the site during the 50s, and it soon became run down as people made away with the valuable lead roofs, and fell into disrepair. In 1963, Hugh Powell, the head of industrial design at Leeds College of Art persuaded councillors to convert the site into a craft village. In the last 50 years, many people have lived at the site pursuing their various crafts and it also attracts a number of tourists.

Two such craftsmen are Paul Maden and James Findlay who moved to the village and started Cocoa Mountain in 2006. Now with a few extra hands on board, the small company specialises in making high quality, hand made chocolates. They use top quality ingredients, and strive to keep any unnecessary ones out, such as preservatives. The site even incorporates a small cafe for those visiting during the summer months, which offers various foodstuffs along with a selection of tea, coffee, and perhaps unsurprisingly, hot chocolate.

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