Community paper for Mallaig, Morar, Arisaig, Lochailort, Glenfinnan
Glenuig, Knoydart and the Small Isles
List of Issues online
August 2007 Issue
Contents of the online version:
All photos are copyright either of the individual photographers or West Word.
RECORD BREAKING GAMES
The 71st Arisaig Highland Games and 3rd Clan Ranald Gathering was held in glorious sunshine on Wednesday 25th July 2007 in front of a large international turnout at the beautiful venue at Traigh.
The Piobaireachd Competition for the Canon Gillies Cup drew the largest number of entries in the history of the Games, and in the Field events two own records were broken.
The day started off a little cloudy and wet, but this did not dampen the enthusiasm of the Clan parade through the village with the Lochaber Schools' Pipe Band in attendance. By the time the Games started at midday the sun had broken through (did we doubt it!) as Clanranald, Captain of Clan Ranald and Chieftain of the Games, led the parade of followers onto the field. Once again there was a high attendance from America, Canada and Australia, with representatives of the clan from North Carolina.
Our own Tommy MacEachen, who started competing at 17, is still in the Heavy Events winners' lists aged 71, gaining places for Throwing the 16lb Hammer and Throwing the 28lb Weight for distance.
In the same two competitions, Larry Brock broke two of his own records for the third year running. Off the competing field, there was live music in the beer tent, and new stalls included Lochaber College and the West Highland Museum.
In the evening a good crowd ensured the Games Dance in the Astley Hall went well, with dancing to local band The Pneumatic Drills.
The day started with a parade through the village
Larry Brock launches the caber as David Horne judges for a perfect twelve.
Young Callum McColl taking part in the Piobaireachd -
All games photos are by Chas MacDonald
MISSION CELEBRATES 30 YEARS
The Mission Gala Weekend was a success despite heavy showers and the crowd enjoyed a range of activities on the pier. Stalls, competitions, parades and displays made for a popular fun day. Mission Superintendents past and present were in attendance, pictured left with Mr James Hepburn (4th from left), who has been on the committee from the beginning.
MALLAIG MARINE WORLD
No one realised on Wednesday 17th May 2006 when the internal ceiling in the Mallaig Marine World suddenly collapsed that it would sound the death knell for Mallaig's popular visitor attraction. Although damage to the Marine World was extensive and most of the fish exhibits had to be returned to the sea, owner Ross Campbell was quoted in the front page of the June 2006 West Word as saying 'I am not sure when the centre will re-open but we have been running for 14 years and I am determined to keep going; I am in the hands of the structural engineers and the insurance company now.'
Sadly, structural engineers deemed the steel-framed structure unsafe and the owners of the building, Mallaig Harbour Authority, had no alternative but to order its demolition. This has now been effected, contractors A J Engineering Ltd, Forres, completing the task on Friday 20th July.
It brings to an end the life of a building that was erected in 19 75 as a 300 ton capacity Cold Store for Associated Cold Stores. The subsequent ban on herring fishing in the Minch led to its demise as a Cold Store but in the early 90's two local businessmen, Ross Campbell, a Marine Biologist, and Fish Merchant Andy Race got together and converted the Cold Store into the Mallaig Marine World. It proved to be an outstanding tourist attraction and also a learning centre for the many school groups who visited over the past 14 or 15 years. But sadly it is no more and there is nothing left for Ross and all the others who worked there creating, maintaining and supplying it over the years but the memories….
Otter at Mallaig harbour, photo by Moe Mathieson
Many thanks to Amanda for stepping into the breach last month; she managed to pull off a great article in very little time at all, whilst celebrating her birthday! As she mentioned, I was off doing a cycle challenge from Fort Augustus to Kincraig - thanks to all the sponsors.
Well, July has proven to be even busier than normal. Music-wise, we've had Nuala Kennedy and her new band (an excellent gig, with some amazing interaction between flute and accordion), and this weekend (27th-29th July) we're looking forward to Johnny Hardie and friends who're turning up on a yacht, followed by the young people's Ceilidh Trailers starring our very own Alex Davies from Doune. Which is all going to be very interesting when you take into account the scheduled electricity down-time we're due to have this weekend. Looks like we're going to have to dust down our torches again.
Visitors have been arriving en-masse. We had a group of 30 Belgian scouts on Long Beach, who raised a few hackles when the amount of detritus they had strewn around them was spotted the next morning. Coincidentally, I was doing a guided walk for a Duke of Edinburgh's Award Gold group, who were interested in learning more about the ethos behind "leave no trace" wild camping. I think they appreciated the opportunity to see how not to camp...
We are also looking forward to the arrival of a full-size replica Viking Longship, which should be looming on the horizon as I type. This vessel has travelled all the way from Denmark en-route to Ireland, and are choosing to moor up at Inverie for the night.
Apparently there's over 60 people on board - they intend camping on Long Beach, which was actually left in fairly good nick by the scouts. I've just had a phone call suggesting we all go down there wearing the kilt, and fend off the viking advances!
(Update: they arrived at 2.30am, when most of those waiting to greet them could hardly walk - they could still wave axes about though. After staying for a couple of nights, they unfurled their sail and headed off for Loch Sunart, passing by Mallaig during the Gala day.)
The Sea Stallion, a replica Viking Longship visited Mallaig and Knoydart on its way from Denmark to Ireland. She is the largest reconstructed longboat and in the name of marine archaeology is replicating a 1000 year old expedition. Photo Tommy McManmon
14th of July saw Knoydart's newest annual festival swing into action, with fireworks provided by Bernie at the Post Office. The date, of course, is that of Bastille Day, and Mr Evemy (or should it be M. Bonaparte?) conducted celebrations in a proper and just manner.
The hot topic of conversation in Inverie just now is goats. Our goat population has risen dramatically over the past few years. The herds tend to be concentrated on the west coast of the peninsula, and they are doing large amounts of damage to vegetation. The west coast is particularly vulnerable. Following much research, it was decided quite a while back to have a more active management scheme. We're finally getting round to the time when a cull is due to take place, and several people have signed a petition in protest. Knoydart is about as democratic as you get (check out the number of community meetings there are), so I've no doubt the petition signers will put their views across at a meeting in the near future.
Finally, we're all looking forward to welcoming old friends and new to the Games on Saturday 4th August - just don't ask us who's organising them!
By the way, any opinions expressed above are entirely mine, and not necessarily those of the Foundation, Forest Trust, Royal Mail, or the Fire Brigade…
ISLE OF MUCK
It has been a well-kept secret from the media but northwest Scotland has so far enjoyed the best summer for years. Muck has been no exception. No high temperatures in July but very little wind, so out diesel generator has carried most of the electrical load for months.
Calm seas were also needed by Colin on Wave when he went to sea with Dr Peter Allan and party in search of Minke whales in an operation sponsored by the Sea Watch Foundation. They were attempting to attach a transponder to the skin of a Minke whale using a suction pad. Amazingly they found whales in the Sound of Sleat. They achieved 5 days in a row with force 2 or less and they actually attached a transponder using a 25' pole, though it only stayed in place for a few minutes.
Muck had once again a slot in the Ceilidh Trail itinerary and a large crowd repaired to the school for a concert and ceilidh. This year the trail has become a boy free zone with all the talented musicians female. Is this the shape of things to come?
Lastly once again I return to Broadband. Whatever may have been the impression in previous West Words, it doesn't work and we need it! The Scottish Executive has paid Highland & Islands Enterprise large sums to bring Broadband to the periphery and in the case of one remote island at least they have failed. Please Fergus Ewing can you sort it out for us (provided that the system chosen is technically feasible) and we will be very grateful.
ISLE OF CANNA
Because Geoff has been quite busy this month he has passed on the task writing Canna's piece for West Word to me this month. However it is not just Geoff who has been busy; the whole island has been in a bit of rush with holidaymakers and yachties coming to enjoy the beautiful weather. The tearoom has been fully booked most nights with people taking part in the Talisker Fine Malts week so whisky sales have been pretty high!
Talking of whisky consumption the Highland Ringing Group had their annual visit to Canna in the first week of the month. The boys were here to monitor the various seabird populations on the island which a huge job including some very frightening cliff abseils. One of the most important days in the Ringing Group's week is the day they go to the sea cave on the north side of the island. The cave is home to the majority of Canna's guillemots so it is important that rings are put on the chicks for the purpose of the Group's records. In order to get to the cave the boys have to be taken round in Packy's boat to the mouth of the cave where they then get into rubber dinghies and row to the shore. Once the boys are safely in the cave, Packy then returns to the pier and picks the Group up after a few hours. Unfortunately, this did not quite go to plan this year as on the way back from the cave the Heatherbell began to have problems. After a lot of struggling Packy finally managed to get the boat back to the harbour where he got to work trying to fix it before going back to the cave. Due to failing numbers of guillemots, the boys were finished earlier that usual in the cave so they just sat and waited for Packy's return not knowing that the boat was not working. As time drew on the boys were beginning to worry but before they started climbing out over the cliff, they were fortunate enough to hitch a lift back to the pier with the skipper of the Bella Jane RIB. By the end of the week after a lot of hard work and partying the Ringing Group were happy with their results. It appears that fulmar and herring gull numbers are down whereas puffin numbers are on the increase.
As for other news from the island, the workmen are still working hard at Caslum and Tighard. All Tighard needs now the plumbing and decorating finished and John and Sheila will be ready to move in. They are now getting very excited about moving in and have been busy flitting their furniture from the pier shed to the house.
So I think it is about time that I stopped writing and went back to work! Geoff will be writing again next month so stayed tuned as he might just have an announcement to make…
ISLE OF RUM
Rum is hosting this year's Small Isles Games on Saturday 1st September starting around 2pm. There will be the usual events tug o' war, toss the caber, bulkbag race, bungee run, welly throwing, assault course, children's races, trying to throw something really heavy and the hill race ( an alternative route this time due to there being no bridge over the north side trail - still). Dave will do some chainsaw sculpture and there may be an assortment of unusual events as the rollathon and dizzy challenge and, the very popular last time, 'who can hammer a big nail the furthest into a bit of wood in one go' challenge. This frivolity will be followed by a barbeque ( plenty of venison) and ceilidh, played by the 'Grouse Beaters'. Naturally, we'll be expecting teams from all the Small Isles and Knoydart to show us what they're really made of. Anyone with any energy left on Sunday can take part in an inter island football match. Any queries, please telephone Amanda on 01687 462957
See you there !!!
ISLE OF EIGG
Another dry and reasonably warm month, at least until the end when it has felt more like September. The wildflowers have been really stunning, with fantastic displays of orchids earlier in the month. The rowan berries are turning now, and the first Devils Bit Scabious are appearing, always a sign that summer is nearing its end. The corncrake who has been calling all summer seems to have been rewarded and found a mate, his efforts have paid off along with all of the measures taken to try to ensure the re-introduction of the species. All around the island basking sharks and killer whales have been much in evidence, and a few brave human souls have risked the chilly waters of Laig Bay
We have been lucky with visitor numbers, it seems that we have been busier than normal, and many have enthusiastically attended the ceilidhs and other events we have been holding this month. July started with a some excellent music in The Old Pier Tearoom by Men of Worth, followed the next night by Aaron and Billy Jones with funds being raised for Leukaemia Research. Hot on their heels were a group of young musicians aged 15 to 18 from the Lochaber Ceilidh Trail, who provided a great nights entertainment for an enthusiastic audience. Eigg musicians were all much impressed by the standard attained by the girls, who represent the best artists from the Lochaber Feis movement.
The following weekend saw the Eigg Feisean, a great success and with 34 participants the largest attendance for many years. The age group were mainly under ten, and coming from a wide geographical area which is great as it means that many will be back for years to come, building on the knowledge they have gained and spreading the evolving tradition- hopefully some will become part of the Lochaber Ceilidh Trail in years to come. A great ceilidh followed with music provided by students and tutors. The following week we were lucky enough to be visited by a ceilidh cruise featuring among others Johnny Hardy, Ronan Martin and Gavin Marwick. So, that's us all ceilidhed out.
Meanwhile, the time honoured routines of clipping and marking have been carrying on, with help from the dry weather. Cables are being laid for the renewable energy grid at a great rate. Hopefully by next summer evenings in Cleadale will resonate to the song of the corncrake alone, without the background hum and whirr of generators. Duncan and Eileen Ferguson have taken time out from their busy routine at this time of year to go and welcome their first grandson Cailean, who made his appearance in the early hours of Monday the 30th. We look forward to meeting you soon Cailean. Lots of other birthdays this month, with Erin, Mia and Catriona all partying in style for the younger generation. George Carr pioneered new roads by holding Eigg's first beach rave (sort of) to celebrate his birthday. Good job he managed to get it in before the big one next year, when he might earn the title oldest swinger in town.
'Arisaig Week' has come and gone with some successes and some things not so well supported. The Games had a great turn out and the biggest competition for years in the piobaireach. The afternoon was sunny but the parade through the village a bit damp. The Craft Fair had more tables this year and the day was sunny enough to have some tables and chairs outside for the refreshments. Many thanks to John Arnold for all his hard work in organising the Fair.
The Banner Workshop on the Thursday attracted three local children who along with the children of the Active Schools' Co-ordinators Pam and Emma created a couple of banners, now gone off elsewhere for display. We will be getting them back. We had a couple of wonderful concerts for the week. Nuala Kennedy and band were excellent, varied and unusual, and the Ceilidh Trail youngsters are the cream of Lochaber's young talent - but where were the audiences? The Ceilidh Trail is usually a near sell out. Was it because there were no locally known youngsters this year, or because they were playing next day at the Mission Gala Day? Let's hope that the amazing Tiller's Folly, who are playing in the 8th, Fiona Knowles in her latest one woman play on the 24th and our own Dàimh on the 25th on their new CD launch tour, bring in decent audiences to encourage us to keep putting things on!! And that the Blas Festival concert on the 1st, featuring the excellent Flook and the Ceilidh Trailers, attracts the usual crowd.
You will see on page 32 that the Highland Council are holding a public consultation on the proposed Core Paths Plan for Lochaber, with the copy of the Draft on public display and a 'drop in' events for the public and land managers to speak and ask questions in person.
In Arisaig, the Draft Plan - a large bound book of maps - will be on display in the Hall from 8th August to 7th September, with the drop-in event planned from 11am - 2pm on Monday 27th August. Because the Hall isn't open all the time, please note that if you are interested in seeing the Plan and you can't manage along when the hall is open for an activity, please ring me on 450263 to arrange a time when you can come to see it. It shows a number of paths for walks and/or cycling around the area and includes Candidate Core Paths and Community Aspirational Routes, with Wider Access Network paths. There are Comment Forms you can fill in if you can't come to the drop in event.
Locally Mallaig & Morar, Knoydart, Rum and Glenuig are also included on the plan which is also on display in Mallaig Service Point and Library, on Knoydart, and in Eigg, Canna, Rum and Glenuig Post Offices. and there is a drop-in event in Mallaig & Morar Community Centre between 4 - 7pm on the 27th.
The Astley Hall is being used in another unusual way in August when English lessons are on offer to foreigners in the area. Tuesdays 3 - 4 pm!
The former Arisaig Regatta committee has handed over some reflective jackets and a quantity of bunting for use by anyone in the community. They will be stored in the Hall so please ask if you want to borrow any of them.
The Land Sea & Islands Centre now has stocks of the exclusive 'Arisaig' T-shirt so apologies to those who have been looking for it!
The road is coming on well, and it looks as if there are some stupendous views from the route cut through so far. As this involves some very steep up and downs though I think there will be cuttings and some of the views lost. I find it hard at present to watch the big old trees coming down though and the latest was a lovely huge oak near the viaduct that we had been hoping was just off the route and would be spared.
Hatches, matches and dispatches in the Glen of Fun this month - in more ways than one!
We have two bouncing new additions to the village since the last issue of West Word. Shane O'Rua eventually made an appearance at the beginning of July weighing in at 8lb12 and he was soon followed by Angus Iain Hunter two weeks later. All new babies and respective parents are back home now and enjoying the milk ceilidhs throughout the night! That's three news boys in the last few months so apologies in advance for any rampaging in future years!
Euan Stoddart has also had a new addition to his family with the lovely Beatrice arriving in the glen under cover of darkness. Complete with tow bar and spotlights she's a bouncing ginger Landover that you're sure not to miss! She even made an appearance at one of the many weddings we've had in the village this month - wrapped in a cream bow of course!
A very successful 'Day of Song and Dance' was hosted by the 'Glenfinnan 07' project hosted on July 22nd with Gaelic song and dance sessions led by singer, Anne Martin and step dancer Frank McConnell. A brilliant family dance rounded off the day with dances old and new being resurrected for the occasion. Thanks to all who supported the event. August activities for the project include a tent at the Games (Sat 18th) with art, games, drop in Gaelic sessions for all ages and a photo display of village life. And finally…….the dispatches. All sorts of things are leaving the village this month. Kegs of beer from the GF brewery are reaching the parts that other beers don't reach……. i.e. Inverie and Taransay! The wanderlust Highland cows are also off on their travels. After countless break-outs from the field and a recent 2 days escape to the top of Glen Finnan (thanks to Alan Currie, Fassifern for his 3 hours rescue mission!) they have been packed off with suitcases full of hay to holiday in Strathglass. Bon Voyage and happy munching!
TOM'S 20 YEAR RECORD
It is 20 years this month since Tom McClean of Morar completed the ultimate challenge, at the age of 44 years old, of rowing the treacherous North Atlantic from Canada to Bishop's Rock.
He landed in the Isles of Scilly in a world record breaking 55 days. The amazing thing is that Tom's 20 year old world record still stands. It has nearly been broken on a few occasions but to date Tom is the record holder.
It isn't the only record Tom has taken in his lifetime, nor the only challenge he has taken up. In 1969, when he was only 26 years old, he was the first person to dare to row single-handed across the North Atlantic in a record-breaking 70 days. He recaptured the record from France on 10th August 1987 by doing it in 57 days, and this record still stands.
In 1982 he sailed the Atlantic in the smallest yacht, 9ft 9ins long, but this record was lost just three weeks later by an American in a 9ft 1nch boat. Undeterred, Tom took a chain saw to his own boat and cut 2 ft off it, and retook the record in the resulting 7ft 9 inch boat.
In 1985, Tom lived on isolated Rockall for 40 days to reaffirm Britain's mineral and oil rights, living on a ledge in a unit measuring 5ft x 4ft x 3ft.
In 1990, Tom designed the bottle-shaped Typhoo Atlantic Challlenger (which has been on display behind Lochaber College in Fort William for some years). At 37ft long, it was big enough for Tom to fit it out with a 4-poster bed!
And in 1996, Moby (Prince of Whales) was launched, a 65ft long, 25ft high whale shaped boat, in which Tom sailed round the coast of Britain, raising awareness of the plight of whales.
Eigg Nature Notes
Summer rushes on & already many of the summer migrants are moving out with Cuckoos long gone and Common Sandpipers and several of the smaller species now scarce or absent. Waders are returning with 4 Greenshanks & a build up of Curlew numbers at Kildonan since mid month.
Overall it's been a pretty good breeding season (seabirds apart) and young Hen Harriers seem to be everywhere at present. Peregrines also fledged a chick and it's been an excellent season for Buzzards, Kestrels & Owls. Many small birds too have had a very successful breeding season with young Finches and Warblers all over the island. Our Corncrake was last heard on 11th and, on balance, probably bred.
Offshore a few Skuas, Terns & Storm Petrels have been knocking around with the best sighting being a Long Tailed Skua on the 20th.
A few Minkes & Basking Sharks have been seen and 40 Common Dolphins were reported on 22nd. Best record though was of 2 Killer Whales behind Castle Island on 20th.
Cetacean Sightings Report June 2007
Local Strandings Contact Marion Affleck
01687 462664 Marine Mammal Medic
Yet again the month of July started with the Bottlenose Dolphins visiting the harbour where they once again gave an excellent show to all who saw them. Their sheer exuberance and obvious joy of living makes them a delight to watch. Lets hope that they continue to find the harbour a good, safe place to visit more frequently. There was also in last month's West Word a mention about the Dolphin researcher needing our help. They particularly need people to report any sightings of Bottlenose Dolphins seen anywhere on the West coast. It is a Freephone number - 0800 0858110, which will put your call through to the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust on the Isle of Mull, who will relay the information received to the team of scientists who will, if at all possible, high-tail it to the area in a small RIB to survey the area. The sooner they receive information about sightings, the better. They were actually in Mallaig on Thursday 19th July after receiving such information, but unfortunately couldn't find the Dolphins. It must be a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack! The small family group that has been visiting of late, appears to consist of 1 male, 4 females and 1 juvenile. The male can easily be recognised by his larger size and larger Dorsal fin and the juvenile merely by the fact that it is smaller and seems to stick by Mum most of the time.
Other sightings this month [and we are only 1/2 way through ] have been Minke Whales on the 3rd, 13th, [a good day with 4 separate sightings] 15th [ another 4 separate sightings ] and the ever present delightful Harbour Porpoise on many, many days. The Shearwaters in the Sound of Sleat are still finding good feeding places every day - surely an excellent sign for our seas. The mouth of Loch Nevis appears to be a well favoured "hot-spot" at the beginning of the month.
Birdwatch by Stephen MacDonald
July was a fairly slack month on the bird scene, although a Long-Tailed Skua seen from the MV Sheerwater on the 21st just North of Eigg and a Sooty Shearwater seen off Sleat Point from the whale survey boat during the 3rd week were good sightings.
A few waders were on the move during the month, with a flock of 9 Redshank at West Bay, Mallaig, on the 9th and a single Greenshank at Bourblach, Morar, the same day, the first reported. Small numbers of Redshank were seen at Traigh for the rest of the month, with 11 on the 14th the highest count. The first Turnstone was at Traigh on the 22nd, along with 14 Golden Plover, 4 Dunlin and at least 20 Ringed Plover. Two Greenshank were seen near Millburn, Rhue, the same day. A flock of 7 Turnstone were on the rocks at West Bay, Mallaig, on the 30th. The first Sanderling was a single at Traigh amongst Dunlin on the 26th, with 3 there the following day, along with 11 Dunlin, 4 Turnstone and 2 Redhank.
Both Great and Arctic Skuas were seen throughout the month in the Sound of Sleat, with Arctic Skuas again seen very close inshore from Camusdarach to Rhue, harassing the Terns. From the shore, Manx Shearwaters could be seen feeding in large numbers between Mallaig and Skye all month, large numbers were reported from boats elsewhere in the Sound of Sleat. Storm Petrels were also seen regularly from boats in the Sound of Sleat, but at least 10 were seen from West Bay, Mallaig, on the 17th, and a single flew close inshore on the 31st during poor weather.
A Red-Breasted Merganser with 5 half-grown chicks was seen at the West end of Loch Morar on the 7th, and a Goosander with 8 small chicks was seen near the islands on Loch Morar on the 15th.
A Shelduck with 6 well grown young were seen at Silver Sands on the 12th, while another with just one chick was at Traigh on the same day. An Immature plumaged Great Northern Diver was seen on the sea between Eigg and Arisaig on the 23rd.
Small flocks of Twite and Linnet were seen at Back of Keppoch and Traigh by the end of the month - and a flock of at least 20 Twite were seen at Mallaig Vaig mid-month. Adult and juvenile Redpolls were seen at Camusdarach on the 7th and a male Bullfinch was seen at Morar Railway Station on the 25th.
West Word - ten years ago
Two stories graced the front cover of the 32 page West Word of ten years ago (August 1997). The headline 'Sun Shines For The Arisaig Games' above the picture of a piper at Traigh really told its own story while 'A Gaelic Study Centre For Canna' told of The Hebridean Trust and The National Trust for Scotland £700,000 project to convert the island's deconsecrated St Edward's Chapel into a residential study centre.
Mallaig Harbour's multi-million pound Outer Breakwater Development was highlighted on page 3 along with a photograph of Councillor Charlie King, also Vice-Chairman of the Harbour Authority, presenting Cal-Mac Managing Director, Colin Paterson, with a bottle of 'Mallaig Harbour Water' on his retrial from the ferry company.
There was no Council Corner this month (summer recess??) but the other regulars like Down to Earth (Neil Robertson, Eigg), Recipes from the Old Library (Alan Broadhurst), Local Fishing News (Robert Stevenson) and Mallaig Lifeboat Log, which detailed four emergency callouts during July, were all there in the 32 page issue.
Morar's proposed new Playing Field moved a step closer as Planning Permission had been obtained and the new Land Lease was in the process of being drawn up by McPhee and Partners, Fort William.
Cathie Stewart's name appeared in the Letters page as she recalled a 1976 Christmas Concert organised by Jessie Hepburn and which was so successful that Jessie was asked to take the show down to the Railway Club in Inverlochy. In a PS Cathie said 'My Old Fruit' was also there with his box and John Cameron (the Fort William Postie) was the pianist.
Recent fundraising events were reported on with the River Fund raising £530 via donation, raffle and baking stall (bringing the grand total raised to over £3000 since Christmas), Christian Aid benefiting by the splendid sum of £1800 raised by Jessie Corson and Ann MacGillivray via coffee morning, plant sales, sponsored knit etc, and Arisaig Primary School amassing over £400 via home-baking stall and barbecues at the Agricultural Show and School Sports Day.
As well as documenting the steam locos to look out for on the West Highland Line during the summer, the On The Rails column told of the model exhibition taking place in Mallaig Heritage Centre. Our Editor-in-waiting Ann Martin provided a piece entitled Man Hurt by Rock Blasting at Polnish - a look back at an incident which occurred in the building of the West Highland Line 100 years previously.
The three winners in the Mallaig Marine World sponsored World Ocean Day Photographic Competition were Charles MacDonald, Arisaig (Most Topical); Gemma Van Der Zanden, Morar (Scenic) and Peggy Ralph, Arisaig (Humorous). Some of Charlie MacDonald's photos, under the heading 'We do like to live beside the sea', adorned page 21 whilst the adjacent page was devoted to Mary Johnson recalling her Mallaig Childhood living 'on the point'.
The 'A Sense of Adventure' page had attracted two entries with Tamsin Helliwell from Eigg talking about her 5 month voluntary placement in Africa and Arisaig's Barry Austin's report from Nyanga National Park, Zimbabwe. Yes, the two of them did meet up many, many miles from home!!!
The Encounter Group, Golf Club and Angling Club all contributed as per usual as did the Eigg, Glenuig and Muck items via Camille Dressler, Eoghan Carmichael and Lawrence MacEwen respectively.
Arisaig Primary School's page contained items by pupils Alexander MacMillan, Gemma Stevenson, Billy Dyer, Duncan Currie, Calum Gillies, Claire MacEachin and Matthew Wilkinson, and a full listing of the Arisaig Games Results occupied the Sports pages of 30 & 31.
Retired Reuters Journalist Ronnie Farquhar provided an interesting account of his annual pilgrimage to Scotland (the West Coast obviously) and in the Fishermen's Mission News, Superintendent Murray Campbell welcomed his new assistant and wife, Geoff and Wendy Thomas, to the area.
I'll end as usual with a snippet and I'll make no comment whatsoever…it seems that Tommy MacEachen is still training for the Wild West circuit. Not content with rodeo - he shot himself in the thumb with the starter gun at Arisaig Games.
Crofting roundup by Joyce Ormiston, SCF Council Member
Following a survey of Scottish Crofting Foundation (SCF) members a brand for crofting produce is on track to be launched in the autumn in time for the main sales season for croft-produced lamb, beef and potatoes. The Crofting Brand Working Group met last week in Inverness to review the results of the survey and agreed that, given such an encouraging response, the brand should be launched without delay. The crofting brand will be available only for produce from registered crofts and to SCF producer group members. To promote the crofting brand, crofters' produce was on sale at the SCF stand at the Black Isle Show this week [1st and 2nd August]
LANTRA and Crofting
The Land based skills initiative represented by Liz Paul for the Highlands and Islands have various well attended courses run in conjunction with local secondary schools to promote the land based industries including Crofting, Forestry and Aquaculture. If you would like our secondary school to become more involved in promoting these courses please encourage them to contact Liz via www.lantra.co.uk.
Liz, together with Calina MacDonald of the SCF is also promoting an actual skills qualification for crofters, encompassing the many and varied skills required to run a croft, from book keeping and understanding the complexities of Seerads red tape to horticulture for small units and marketing produce. At the moment this is still at the stage of gathering information to assess crofter competencies. This qualification would benefit employers and crofters as a range of skills gained from years of experience could be given definition and status, and passed on to the younger generation through the schools/land based skills initiative
Crofting Committee of Inquiry
The Committee of Inquiry into the Future of Crofting has held various very well attended and hopefully fruitful meetings throughout the Crofting counties. The official deadline for receipt of evidence closed on 31st July but an additional public meeting has been arranged for Grantown on Spey as follows:
Thursday 16 August - GRANTOWN ON SPEY - 7.15pm, Grantown Grammar School
If you wish to communicate your views on issues surrounding crofting then as well as this last opportunity in Grantown there will also be an online forum opening on the inquiry website at http://croftinginquiry.org/Home after the last meeting. This forum will also be used to gather information so looking forward to some heated debates from crofters who like to keep hidden but can type and use a mouse.
Watch this space for extracts from next month's issue!
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