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COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER OF THE YEAR 2005 & 2008
Lochaber Small Business of the Year 2015
Community paper for Mallaig, Morar, Arisaig, Lochailort, Glenfinnan
Glenuig, Knoydart and the Small Isles
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June 2017 Issue
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All photos are copyright either of the individual photographers or West Word.
Camusdarach stars in National Theatre's new photography project
The National Theatre of Scotland has created a new photography project to reaffirm its position as a 'theatre without walls', a decade after its inception. Celebrated Scottish photographer John G Moore was commissioned to capture six different locations across Scotland, and the view from Camusdarach Beach near Mallaig was chosen to represent the islands of the country.
One of the few national theatre companies in the world not to have its own venue, the 'theatre without walls' model has enabled the National Theatre of Scotland to take its work wherever there is an audience to enjoy it. The Box Office Photography Project was conceived to provide artwork which tells this story.
A neon sign saying 'BOX OFFICE' was designed by the Company to travel around the country reflecting the many Scottish tours, by road, the National Theatre of Scotland undertakes every year.
The neon sign was taken to Camusdarach Beach in spring 2017, where it was photographed in the sea with the islands of Eigg, Rum and Skye in the background. The National Theatre of Scotland will visit the Isle of Lewis with its production of Rocket Post later in the year.
Megan McEachern (Communications Officer for the National Theatre) said 'it's impossible to make out due to the long exposure but the sea was actually rather choppy at the time of the shot, and yes, we did actually put the sign in the water. It was utterly freezing, but the resulting shot was well worth the frost bite. This truly is the diamond in the crown of the campaign.'
John G Moore, Photographer on the Box Office Photography Project said 'It was a pleasure working on such an exciting and creative project with the National Theatre of Scotland. The images all contribute to telling a unique visual story about the company, capturing its national reach, its bold productions and the different and sometimes unusual locations that the theatre company plays in.'
John G Moore is a professional photographer, film maker and presenter from Glasgow, Scotland. His work ranges from landscape to portraiture and performing arts and music photography.
For more information on the project and to see the full collection of images visit www.nationaltheatrescotland.com
New shop opening soon in Mallaig!
The former bookshop opposite the Spar in Mallaig will soon be filled with the sweet scents of locally hand-made soaps and bath products. Ami Hall, who runs the Waterside Collection soap company, is in the process of renovating the shop which will be open later in June.
Ami will be selling her soaps, shower gels, bath bombs, lip balms and more alongside other locally produced crafts including hand made candles and hand blown glasswork.
All Ami's soaps are made with 100% natural, organic and cruelty free products. She uses ingredients sourced locally wherever possible, including heather hand-picked in Morar.
Good luck Ami - we wish you every success with your new venture!
MUCK JETTY WORKS COMPLETED
A major £100,000 project has transformed the jetty area at the Isle of Muck.
Marine Harvest have laid 1600 square metres of concrete to tidy up the surface around the jetty and improve the experience for visitors arriving on the island, as well as for the local community.
The existing jetty is fairly restricted in size and surrounded by farmland which gets very boggy underfoot when there are a lot of passengers disembarking, so the improvements will make arriving on the island a lot less hazardous.
But it's not been a straightforward job, as Marine Harvest Scotland's Construction Manager Stephen McCaig explained: "It involved moving 650 tonnes of material and we couldn't rely on bringing concrete from the mainland because of potential weather conditions. We did all the concrete batching on-site with the materials all brought across in 1 tonne bags, so it's been a fairly difficult and lengthy operation.
"We're pleased to have been able to make these improvements which have been welcomed by the local community. It's always good to be able to give something back to the communities who host our operations and it will make it easier for us to transport materials back and forth in the future."
Marine Harvest opened a fish farm off the coast of the Isle of Muck in 2014. As well as installing the fish cages and developing a shore base, the company also built five houses to accommodate staff. Six people are employed at the Small Isles salmon farm.
'Miracle' baby for Beatrice
Beatrice Way, from Rhubana Lodge, Morar, is celebrating the 1st birthday of her daughter this month, an event once beyond her wildest dreams. Beatrice came close to death six years ago aged 36 after suffering a massive stroke at her home near Stansted in Essex. She subsequently had 40 per cent of her skull removed in a life-saving emergency procedure to relieve the pressure on her brain. The procedure, a hemicraniectomy, involved the section of skull being sewn in to a pocket in her abdomen to keep it alive; it was replaced in a further operation a few weeks later once the swelling had subsided. Beatrice's husband Alexander said their hopes of starting a family had collapsed. "I thought she would probably die anyway, let alone have children," he said. Beatrice spent nine months recovering in hospital and never lost her determination to become a mum despite being told she had more chance of survival if she swam in shark-infested waters than undergoing a pregnancy. But as she says "I'm a bit of a risk-taker - I don't listen to good advice!" and after Beatrice had endured several miscarriages, baby Rosemary was born six weeks early on 1st June last year, much to the family's delight and surprise. Congratulations, Beatrice and Alexander, and Happy Birthday, Rosemary!
Beatrice and Rosemary beside the River Morar
Photo by Alexander Way
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
Whilst I've been finishing off this month's edition, the country has gone to the polls, and Ian Blackford has been re-elected as our MP. I look forward to his column returning to West Word next month.
So much going on just now! Weather permitting, I'll be off to Eigg on Monday to join the celebrations for the 20th anniversary of the community buyout. Congratulations to all on Eigg and enjoy your week of fun! More on that in next month's paper.
With any luck the sun will shine on the many events taking place this month!
Once again I'd like to thank everyone who contributes to the paper, not least Anne and Miya for labelling envelopes, and Ewen and Morag for helping with the printing.
If you'd like to get in touch, you can email me on firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 07538 530550 - please note the change of number!
What a quick month. It's been a fantastically sunny month though for the most part, felt a lot like summer. And the midgies were fairly late in arriving too which was a nice bonus! All the good weather has certainly been encouraging the new regular Friday Nights at The Shop too. Long may it continue!
Wilder Ways Trekking returned for the month, and they were definitely in demand. A good lot of the locals also took advantage and we were really quite getting into riding. It was an amazing way to see our homeland in a different way and definitely worth the pain (horse riding looks easy enough but I think a few of us discovered muscles we didn't even know we had….)
The Wilsons had an exceptionally good year with the lambing, with practically no orphans at all - now that's good going.
The Polytunnels/community garden are looking good, with lots of activity going on as everyone is busy getting their seeds sown and established. There are also plenty of herbs available to pick already.
The Waverley paddle steamer made its annual May appearance on a glorious day, flooding the place briefly with hoardes of tourists. It's almost hard to remember those empty winter days where you don't see a soul for hours on end…
Britta and Iain's Knoydart River Cottage is doing well, now also open for evening meals and they are licensed too!
And lastly, as usual at the end of May, a crowd of us Knoydartians headed off to Knockengorroch, including first timers Ossian, Will and Christine. A grand weekend away, felt like a proper holiday. Just need to get a Knoydart holiday bus now and a chauffeur to drive it!
ISLE OF MUCK
First fortnight May; unbroken sunshine. The most perfect weather possible and a shame that visitors were so thin on the ground. Second fortnight was much more normal and just enough rain to send the grass shooting ahead and giving the farm the possibility of making the earliest silage for years. But the farm has been busy. Perfect weather for stripping the roof off Godag House. Colin and the team have replaced the slates, sarking and insulation and soon windows. Godag should soon be providing accommodation once again when Lewis and Kelly transfer from Carn Dearg.
May was a month for a Christening - a double Christening. Oscar and Alex were welcomed into the Christian Community under the guidance of Rev Alan Lamb who for more than 20 years has played his part in the life of Muck. The ceremony took place at Gallanach Lodge and the water came from the 'Holy Water Stoup' a bowl of rough limestone which for many decades lay in the island graveyard and was used for every christening. Then came dinner provided by parents Mary & Toby and Ruth & Colin and the celebrations continued well into the night.
This month we will be shearing and as Dave Barnden is now in France we will have some new recruits on the shearing floor. More in July's West Word.
ISLE OF CANNA
May has been a hectic month on Canna with the summer season well underway and lots of yachts in the harbour. As I write this on the 31st May there are 17 in the harbour including the Greenpeace sailing vessel Beluga II.
Lambing has been very successful this year and our fields are full of bouncing lambs, much to the delight of visitors.
Cruise ships and RIBs from Elgol are a daily occurrence and the island is certainly not quiet!!
Water has been our biggest issue this month with supplies running low so we would ask all visiting vessels to be careful about water usage.
Another issue which affected us was the loss of the Co-op's email service which caused quite a bit of upset here as we rely on them for the majority of our supplies. Hopefully Coop HQ will provide slightly better support to the local Mallaig branch in future.
We have a new National Trust for Scotland Property Manager, Iain Turnbull from Balmacara, and he has already visited a couple of times getting to know the island and islanders.
We also had some fire extinguisher training and Murdo Jack excelled at putting out fires before the instructor had finished explaining how it should be done!! Our wind turbine project is back on track and SSE have been across testing the existing cable network and the initial results appear positive. We have had some disruption to power supplies over a couple of days but have coped with this knowing that the end result will be a much more environmentally friendly source of energy. This is good news as we have had a few generator issues this month and I for one will be delighted when they are no longer the only source of power and my servicing duties will be reduced!
Some sad news at the end of the month as Paxtu the dog, Margaret Fay Shaw's last puppy has died at the good old age of 17. Our thoughts are with Magda Sagarzazu who has looked after him for all these years, the King of Canna!
Criomagan (Crumbs) from Canna House
May has seen Canna House garden and woods blooming with the mild spring weather and the wild garlic giving a wonderful display and aroma to the whole island.
We had our first garden Open Day for Scotland's garden scheme and the Garden was filled with visitors from visiting yachts as well as the Loch Nevis day visitors. Local residents enjoyed a game of croquet on the lawn too…
Fiona the Canna House archivist continued work on the Canna House Advocacy programme by presenting a paper at a conference hosted by Glasgow University "Soundthought". Her paper was entitled "Coimheas - Contrasts" and focussed on the contrasting musical lives of Margaret Fay Shaw and how she was equally affected by a traditional Gaelic lament as she was by a classical piano sonata.
The Canna 'Politician' whisky will be hitting the US airwaves later this summer, when featured in an episode of hit US TV series "Mysteries at the Museum". The film crew spent an entire day filming in the House and Garden and were heard to say that they could film an entire series just in Canna House!
And we bade a sad farewell to Canna's own Canine King, Cairn terrier, Paxtu, the last living animal 'link' with Margaret and John Campbell. Paxtu ruled over Canna for more than 17 years living with Magda since Margaret's death in 2004, and we will all miss his own independent little presence on the island. Latterly living with his surrogate family, Pete and Liz Holden whilst Magda was off island, he certainly made his presence felt on the whole Community and he will never be forgotten.
ISLE OF RUM
May on Rum is when EVERYONE arrives!
We've had loads of visitors: bunkhouse, camping pods, campsite and Ivy Cottage & Bayview B&B all with visitors. We had the handover anniversary ceilidh on 13th May which was a cracking night and then a two night extravaganza to see the month out with resident bands and musicians and DJ Internet Ian along with visiting band performing til the early hours. Great to see several previous residents back for visits this month too - Sandy, Mike, Portia all here for visits.
Over at Kilmory a whole host of volunteers and deer research project staff are busy catching calves - the count at the end of May stood at 37 and rising. Last year they topped over 100 - who knows where the count will end this year.
On the Thursday boat trip to Soay minke whales and porpoises were spotted and after several false starts I finally managed to dangle Anne's book and a pen over the edge of the Sheerwater and get my copy signed. I've only been trying since last September! Good to see Ronnie looking as fine and healthy as ever claiming there was nothing wrong with him anyway, he just wanted a six week rest!
Rather less welcome, but marking the turn of the seasons nonetheless was the return of Rum's mightiest wee beastie - the midge.
Kim is rushed off her feet with the teashop, which this year has expanded into evening meals by prior booking too. Lots of hebnet activity with Ian and helpers up and down Hebnet Hill.
Kinloch village is looking very spruced up with Rhys strimming, various scrap vehicles leaving the island on a Spanish John run and SNH volunteers doing lots of tidying up and improving signage around the village. Ranger Trudi's walks and talks are in full swing.
Small Isles Games planning is underway, hoping to see plenty of folk over for that in July.
ISLE OF EIGG
May has been an incredibly busy month on Eigg with much happening on the island as the summer season is kicking in in earnest now.
On the wildlife front, if our black swan has departed, we now have Ronnie who brings us a daily chronicle of whale, dolphin and seabird watching: he reported the extraordinary sight of thousands of Shearwaters in huge rafts feeding in the middle of the Arisaig sound for three days in the middle of the month. Like the Shearwaters and the Swallows, Paloma and Marina, our Spanish lassies have come back, and it's lovely to have them around again, a sure sign of summer!
A team of palaeontologists from Edinburgh University also made their appearance, intent on checking the Hugh Miller reptile beds and the Valtos sedimentary beds between Laig and the Singing Sands, in an attempt to compare these with reptile rich Staffin sites on Skye: their talk in the community hall was absolutely riveting and the islanders have now acquired a new enthusiasm for this very early period of the island's history.
But there is no doubt that THE event of the month was the love party at Laig, celebrating Saira and George's 10 years anniversary. Their very special non-wedding anniversary on the Saturday 19 saw a great gathering of family and friends coming together for a fun night at Laig Farm, where the byre was magically transformed into a glittering backdrop for the disco themed party, and the marquee hosted a magnificent bar and Mexican feast. Never has there been so many sequins seen on the island, nor so many moustaches, afro and mullet wigs for that matter. Much of the fun on the night itself was to try and work out who was who! The Poozies were fabulous, all sequined and wigged up for the occasion and we had a special performance by Irish Nan: look out for Ross's new Kate Bush tribute band - now available for non-wedding celebrations… The Carr brothers and sisters with Donnie, who had come especially from Dubai, were in top form, although Greg's gold suit did not appear until after the party, and Donnie's Super Mario outfit was perhaps slightly out of period? And how did Colin and Ruairidh managed to have the same colourful shirt and flares? A lovely bonfire on Laig beach followed later in the week to consume all the wood that was not burnt that night. As to George, Saira and Maggie, they all had a great time and really loved the fact that everyone went to so much effort to dress up for the occasion! We wish them all many more years of happiness!
We also had a short visit from a trio of Clare islanders: Olof Gill, our contact at DG Regio having decided to take his mum - Clare Island's development officer - and her sister in law for a wee tour of Scotland's radical spots! They loved their trip to Eigg and have invited the Eigg folk for a visit back anytime: a good time might be in early autumn when the yearly island football tournament, which is hosted by each island in turn is on. Sounds like a recipe for a giant party…Can we get a 5 aside team on Eigg ready to take other islanders on?
In the meantime, the islanders are getting ready to prepare for the 20th anniversary celebrations: the last weekend of the month was taken up with Newspaper articles collages, mosaic making and flag making and flag printing of our Phoenix stained glass window, all this to make the hall and its surrounding extra-special for the big day which will see the return to Eigg of many of the original buy-out actors. Sadly, due to the election, our secret Very VIP guest will not be able to attend, but it will be good to have a gathering of all the old comrades! With our anniversary approaching, it was all the more appropriate for Eigg to host a visit of the Community Land Trust annual AGM participants led by old Eigg friend Vanessa Hallhead. They had the best of weather for their day on Eigg and it was great to see folks from Harris to Galloway enjoying their time on our island. They were entertained by Maggie whose stories about the Eigg buy-out we are all looking forward to hearing, along with those of Alastair MacIntosh and Lesley Riddoch on our anniversary week, when quite a few ceilidhs are planned alongside the programme of events which you can read about elsewhere in the paper! We are looking forward to welcoming our mainland friends and of course readers of West Word for that very special anniversary…
On and off the Rails
Highland Council over 60s rail concession cuts
Following a decision made by Highland Council in February this year whilst identifying budget gaps, on May 21st the half-fare rail travel concession given to Highland residents over sixty years of age who possess a bus pass card was axed and is now no longer available except for blind or visually impaired persons, and disabled persons who need a travel companion. Free bus travel for the over 60s will continue to Highland Council cardholders across Scotland. However there is a crumb of comfort. ScotRail have available a Highland Railcard entitlement. It costs £9.00 annually and is available online, or at any staffed railway station booking office on production of a passport photograph and a utility bill with your name and address on it including your postcode as entitlement. e.g. phone bill, council tax, electricity or similar. It is available to ScotRail customers of any age living within specific postcode areas. On certain ScotRail routes it entitles the holder to discounts of up to 50% as well as allowing up to 2 children to travel for a flat fare of only £2 return each. Below I enclose a chart of entitled postcode areas and discounted rates for your information.
Entitled postcode areas Discounted routes
All IV except IV12, IV30, IV31, IV32, IV36.
All KW and all HS.
PA20 to PA38, PA41 to PA49, PA60 to PA78.
PH16, PH17, PH 30 to PH44, PH50.
FK20, FK21, G83.
Mallaig/Fort William/Oban to/from Glasgow.
Wick/Thurso to/from Inverness.
Kyle of Lochalsh to/from Inverness.
This card will allow travel on all of the discounted routes even when resident in one area. To apply online go to www.ScotRail.co.uk then drop down to Highland Railcard.
Train times produced by ScotRail/Abellio/Network Rail
Available, in our area, at Mallaig and Fort William staffed booking offices are the new pocket-sized timetables dated from 21st May 2017 - 9th December 2017. Free of charge and in our area with connecting ferry times, and including Jacobite dates, they are useful for visitors and locals alike. Pick some up today for your relatives and guests.
An individual timetable is produced by Serco the operators of the overnight sleeper train service to and from Fort William and London Euston. Please ask at the counter if one is not available in the rack.
Another leaflet very useful to have is the 'Travel by Train' 2 for 1 offers leaflet which allows discount at venues on production of your rail travel ticket. It includes Glenfinnan Monument, Bo'ness and Kinneil railway, Clyde Cruises (FW Caledonian Canal), Banavie, etc. Over 40 x 2 for 1 experiences available. Again - available at Mallaig and Fort William booking offices.
Plan for new £10 banknotes to steam ahead
Bank of Scotland has unveiled the new polymer note design - due to come into circulation later this year. An image of the Glenfinnan viaduct will remain on the reverse of the design, but now with the addition of a steam locomotive hauling a heritage tourist train! I'm sure some collectors will be looking to get Ian Riley, Alex Iain Macdonald, Bobby Duncan or John Hunt to endorse them! But will it make the notes more valuable?
Weekend Jacobites on track
The morning Jacobite will add Saturdays and Sundays to its roster commencing Saturday 17th June until Sunday 1st October. The afternoon Jacobite will add Saturdays and Sundays to its roster commencing Saturday 1st July until Sunday 3rd September.
'We love Manchester'
Following their terror attack at the Manchester Arena on Monday 22nd May, and the strength of pride and outpouring of solidarity and love - mixed with respect and sadness for the bereaved and their families - Manchester wants the world to follow by spreading the word. The railway network all over the UK has the same solidarity and joins together as a family. It was with quiet pride that Ian Riley - owner/driver of three of the Stanier Black 5 locomotives, two of which were on roster duties on the Jacobites last week - placed memorial tribute wreaths on the smoke box doors. All week they were a quiet tribute to those who did not survive that incident.
At his locomotive engineering works in Bury, Greater Manchester, Ian employs college apprentices and teenagers from school alongside experienced staff and turns them into honest, helpful, respectful adults who are proud of their heritage. Later on they work their socks off in the yard at Fort William and on the Jacobite, eating their meals in Mallaig all season, and being polite to the tourists they bring to Mallaig. They are safe; some Scottish young adults at the concert that night will not get that chance in life. It is only right that we take time to remember them.
Manchester's Victoria railway station has just reopened (Monday 29 May) after acting as an Emergency Triage Unit all through that terrible night. Yet another railway connection. - United we stand.
Wreath on the smokebox of Ian Riley's Black Five The Lancashire Fusilier 45407 at Fort William.
Photo: Steve Roberts
Other news in brief
We have had many visits by rail in the area this past month. Here are just a few of them.
May 1st saw North East Rail Tours, using SRPS coaches and hauled by a Colas rail class XLVII diesel, visiting Fort William very early in the morning. That week the Great Britain touring train was in Scotland using various mixes of steam and diesel locomotives. It visited Fort William, Kyle of Lochalsh and Inverness.
May 13th SRPS were booked to come to Mallaig from Glenrothes. Two days' notice saw them only able to come as far as Arisaig using steam hauled Jacobite stock before having to return. Network Rail could not give them track timings past there in order to cross with freight stock, ScotRail service trains and Network Rail workings on the line. We will not see them again this year now. Shame.
The Royal Scotsman touring train continues to visit. Just this week it was privately chartered to pick up international guests from London Victoria station. At Fort William station the guests were driven to Inverlochy Castle by a fleet of vintage cars waiting for them (the cars were chauffeur driven from Glasgow).
They leave with the Scotsman today (30th May) to return to London Victoria tomorrow after a sumptuous night on the train!
Back down to Earth with a bump: a weedkiller train - Windhoff MPV, a purpose-built dedicated unit - came into Mallaig on the evening of May 25th!!
See you on the train,
MALLAIG HARBOUR NEWS
Cruise Ship Visitations
Two visits by Le Boreal - Thursday 18th May and Saturday 3rd June - and one from the Hebridean Princess (18th May) kicked off the cruise ship visitation for the summer season.
There are two more to follow. On Saturday 24th June Le Soleal - sister ship of Le Boreal - will pay a visit and in the afternoon of Tuesday 11th July the UK based MV Balmoral (63 metres in length) will tie up alongside the pier for a short period of time.
One of the issues raised via the recently published Mallaig Harbour Masterplan is the provision of improved access at the passenger steps. The Authority is now actively reviewing access from the pier onto the small passenger ferry boats that use the steps, and an initial meeting with some of the local businesses that could be affected - directly or indirectly - by any improvement there, such as provision of a walkway/pontoon access replacing the steps, has been held.
Local and Inverie passenger ferry vessels, The Mallaig Boatyard, The Lifeboat and the local Fishing fleet will all be affected - to a greater or lesser degree - by anything that is eventually implemented in that area hence the need for early and continued consultation and consideration.
The harbour played host to Beluga II, a two masted schooner owned and operated by Greenpeace over the weekend of 26th - 29th May, and on the 29th the vessel sailed for Canna. The Beluga II is in the area doing research and collecting data on waste plastic/debris in the Minch.
This photograph crossed over my desk just the other day. Taken in the early to mid 60s when the pier was still owned and operated by British Railways, the photo shows the local Ring Net Vessel Mary Manson getting "painted up" on Lovat Beach. It looks as if Old Jim Manson is about to "walk the plank" to get to the Margaret Ann OB79.
The three buildings on the left are The Lifeboat Shed, Bruce Watt Cruises and Sandy Reid's Fish Shop.
Incidentally I remember there being holes in the concrete floor in Reid's Fish Shop - sea water would gurgle up the holes at high tide flooding the shop floor!
01687 462154 email@example.com
An unusual catch ..
In the late 1960's the Fraserburgh boat The Conquest FR1 came in to Mallaig with a boat full of herring plus a turtle which had been tangled in its propeller. I drove the turtle to Aberdeen strapped on top of a lorry load of boxed fish and took it to Torry Research Station [who researched issues affecting the preservation of fish for food]. They took samples from the turtle to determine its age etc. Afterwards it was taken to the fish meal factory and ground up for fish feed. A sad end for a beautiful creature.
Mallaig Lifeboat Log
April 27th 2017 Medivac from Isle of Eigg
Launched by Stornoway Coastguard to convey medics to the Isle of Eigg at 17:55hrs on behalf of Scottish Ambulance Service. Once on scene at 18:32hrs the Lifeboat was met by local Coastguards who had conveyed the casualty to the pier. Once an assessment was carried out by the Medics, the patient was boarded and the Lifeboat returned to Mallaig berthing at the pontoon at 19:45hrs. The patient was transported by Ambulance to Fort William for further assessment and treatment at Belford Hospital. Lifeboat ready for service at 19:50hrs.
May 11th 2017 Walkers Stranded on Isle Oronsay
Launched at 19:00hrs by Stornoway Coastguard to the assistance of two stranded persons on the island of Oronsay in Loch Bracadale, Isle of Skye. The couple had crossed over to the island at low water to do some exploring. On their return to the crossing they found themselves cut off by the tide. The Coastguard was made aware by staff where the couple were lodging in the area. Whilst the Lifeboat was underway to the location Coastguards, assisted by a party of kayakers, managed to ferry the couple back to the mainland. With the Lifeboat not required any further, Coastguard requested that the Lifeboat stand down and return to base. Lifeboat fuelled and ready for service at 20:45hrs.
May 15th 2017 Unoccupied Dinghy Retrieved Off Arisaig
Launched at 21:10hrs by Stornoway Coastguard in response to a treble nine call from the Arisaig area. Onlookers from the shore noticed a small dinghy being blown off shore by the wind. Unsure if it was occupied or not the Coastguard requested that the Lifeboat launch and investigate. With good coordinates given by the first informer the 10 foot dinghy was quickly located approximately a mile off Portnadoran campsite. The dinghy was unoccupied but in poor condition. The crew took the craft back to Mallaig onboard the Lifeboat and deposited it on the pier to await collection if an owner was found by local Police. Lifeboat ready for service at 21:50hrs.
World Wide West Word
Tom MacKinnon has returned from his travels with his copy of West Word still intact. Welcome home, Tom!
Yes, he's back! Following his recent 'Round Britain' trip, ex Mallaig and now Eriskay resident Michael Ian Cross takes time out to enjoy his West Word whilst admiring the new wooden planters at Arisaig Station. Later that day he departed on the Lochboisdale ferry. He said it was nice to meet up with old friends again, and a ride on the Jacobite was 'icing on the cake'!
Photo Steve Roberts
Gerry MacDonald (from Morar) outside the Berlin Houses of Parliament before discussing Brexit with Angela Merkel!
Blair Martin took a copy of West Word to South Uist recently. He stayed in the house which once belonged to Mairi and Peigi MacRae, with whom Margaret Fay Shaw lodged between 1929-1935. The house, derelict for years, has now been renovated as a holiday cottage.
BIRDWATCH - May 2017 by Stephen MacDonald
Generally settled weather conditions which were agreeable to many of our breeding birds, but which also encouraged many birds still on passage to move through quickly. Seventeen Whimbrel at Traigh on the 2nd was the highest count. Five seen there on the 20th were the last reported. Apart from small groups of Ringed Plover and Dunlin around Back of Keppoch and Traigh, four Sanderling at Camusdarroch on the 30th were the only other passage waders reported.
A Corncrake was first heard in the Portnadoran - Sunnyside Croft area on the 10th. The bird could still be heard calling at the month end. A bit outside the usual range for this species; it may struggle to attract a mate.
A few more warblers arrived this month, with the first Grasshopper Warblers heard 'reeling' at Woodside and Rhubana View on the 3rd and the first Whitethroat heard at Camusdarroch on the 4th. Sedge Warblers were seen and heard at Rhubana View on the 9th.
Three Common Terns in Loch Ailort on the 3rd were the first reports of the year. By mid-month numbers had built up, with much activity around the traditional nest island on Loch Ailort. Other terns reported offshore from Camusdarroch during the month may have been Arctic.
The breeding season was in full swing for many of our birds, with broods of Mallards, Eiders and Greylag Geese all reported during the first half of the month.
Lapwing and Redshank chicks were seen by the Caimbs, Back of Keppoch from mid-month.
Fledged Stonechats were noted in Glen Beasdale on the 6th. Juvenile Siskins, Chaffinches, Goldfinches and House Sparrows were reported from gardens in the Morar area during the first and second weeks.
A Barn Owl was seen near Cross Farm on the 2nd. Young Long-eared Owls were heard calling near Traigh on the 15th. On the 28th an adult bird and at least three newly fledged Long-eared Owls were seen at the same site.
Twenty-six Great Northern Divers seen at the mouth of Loch nan Ceall on the 11th were probably birds gathering before moving north.
Watch this space for extracts from next month's issue!
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