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COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER OF THE YEAR 2005 & 2008
Community paper for Mallaig, Morar, Arisaig, Lochailort, Glenfinnan
Glenuig, Knoydart and the Small Isles
List of Issues online
August 2011 Issue
Contents of the online version:
All photos are copyright either of the individual photographers or West Word.
FIRST MINISTER VISITS ARISAIG GAMES
Alex Salmond with Arisaig's Jessie Dempster (left) and Margaret MacEachen
Last year saw the start of a profitable relationship with new sponsors The Glenlivet, to the tune this year of £1750. This means enhanced prize money which will bring in more entries for the piping contests.
The An Tilleadh cultural event, launched last year with talks and walks in connection with Gaelic poet Alasdair MacMhaighstir Alasdair, continued this year with the launch of Elizabeth MacDonald's book on the history of the Church of Scotland in Arisaig.
This year also sees the inauguration of a new art competition with the Games' partners, the London Boisdale group of restaurants, which are under the aegis of Ranald MacDonald, eldest son of the Chief of Clanranald. The Boisdale Prize for Art is open to young and old with four separate age categories, with a total prize fund of £435. The theme this year for the juvenile categories was 'Lochaber: the past in the present' and for adults, 'Arisaig Highland Games: an impression.'
The day was rounded off with the customary well attended Games Dance in the Astley Hall.
More photos in the Gallery on www.arisaighighlandgames.co.uk
So the summer flies in as usual. Terrible weather has given into a glorious last two weeks of July. Isolated incidents of antipodeans thinking that they are back home have been reported. Like minded souls gather heat from the warm tarmac at the pub or the blinding concrete of the slip where the kids are creating palpitations in mother's breasts by diving in screaming. Lots of stuff is still going on though and since we missed the issue last month there is a fair amount to relate.
Dave Marriot would like to say a huge thanks to all those who helped when he was taken off in the Coastguard helicopter the other week. It is great to see him back here already. The quick response of locals and emergency services almost certainly saved the incident from being worse. Can you imagine how isolated these remote communities would become if these services were cut? However, on another note, we were sad to hear of the passing of the Sonia Woollen, formerly resident at Sandaig, who leaves many stories behind her.
It always seems appropriate to follow a death with a birth and although we can't quite manage that yet the happy news that Joanne and Chic are expecting a bairn has raised more than a few smiles. Not sure if there is many who would go to such lengths to escape the Burns Supper but there you go. Getting closer to the date for Mel and Jim as well now (Mel's acrobatics at the ping-pong the more hair-raising for it) and we wish them all the best.
On the more general children front the main event has been the holidays and the move of Kira, Caitlin, Jasmine and Lachie to Mallaig. They are all looking forward to the new experience of the big school and we know they will settle in and have a great time. Behind them they leave sisters and brothers in a changed primary. The main teacher will now be our own Aaran Watson with Stuart Poole as the cluster head for Knoydart, Rum and a now sadly mothballed Canna. Eilidh Klemm was given a fine send off as head/teacher with pupils, staff and parents (both present and past) wishing her well.
As ever the social whirl that is Knoydart continues to throw up those funny nights. This wee while past we've had film nights, a disco, bingo, trips to Arisaig to take in the sessions on a Friday night, a weekend-long party on a passing yacht, the attempt to instigate a tall ship masquerade, a visit by Café Connect to the Tea Room, a fair bit of random dancing (not at the disco - you know who you are), couch surfing (which is very different than planking which also has its adherents on the peninsula) and of course with the advent of the stalking the first sighting of tweed. It has traditionally been about now that the first stag rut imitations rear their head although I think this year we have had a few reminders of the rut all through the spring. In the coming month we will see talks at the Village hall in aid of its fundraising efforts, the judging of the ongoing woodstacking competition and of course the games and ceilidh.
One thing that will be continuing for the next couple of months will be the weekly trip to the Swimming Pool and Gym on a Thursday night. I cannot stress too much how the people who go over every week value this facility. Long may it last.
Helicopters have been a big thing this last month, with a few random visits and a lot of work done courtesy of some army support guys ferrying stuff around: many thanks to them. A thank you should also go to some at the Energy Savings Trust for their continued (although at present unsuccessful) efforts to make sure remote communities do not miss out on support.
Special mention must go to Mary Mackay, born and bred in Airor, who was here for her eightieth birthday.
And who will ever be able to forget Willie's ability to cycle one footed.
That's enough for now
PS On a personal note I would like to thank all who supported me in the cross-country sponsored walk. I am on the point of winding up the fund which has raised (at present) £7000 for Cancer Research UK.
ISLE OF MUCK
July has now ended and what a fantastic month it has been; weatherwise. With only two seriously wet days (6th and 17th) and day after day of unbroken sunshine I will have to go back many years to find a comparable month. On the farm silage making is right up to date though not all the fields are cut because they have Corncrake restrictions. And the Corncrakes are slowly increasing-we now have six calling males which is very poor compared to Coll which now has over 100. Shearing here was finished in June but on 10th July David, Sandy and Colin went over to Eigg to help the Small Isles youngest farmer with her ewes. Good to be able to help but Sarah and her father Alex have a major challenge ahead, building up stock numbers and tackling the massive bracken problem. On Muck the fine weather has enabled Colin and I to spray more bracken than we have for many years but there is still plenty of ground still to cover.
On the Camas front we have had the Ceilidh Trail which unfortunately I missed. Then we had a talk by myself on 'Crossing the water', nearly 100 years of steamers, puffers and adventures with Wave and her predecessors. Later in the month David Barnden gave us a very interesting evening on the Birds of Muck. He told us that birds are all about habitat and food supply and he provided a list of recorded species. These have soared since he came to the island four years ago.
We have a new family on the island; Gareth and Zoe Moffat and children Dan, Ethan and Willow have come to live in Dun Ban. Gareth is a qualified electrician and Dan and Ethan will swell the school roll. And I must not close without a mention of my birthday, particularly memorable because a party from Muck went to Sanna in Wave and joined the people of Ardnamurchan for 'Songs of Praise' led by Alan Lamb in a very small 'church'.
ISLE OF CANNA
Congratulations to Aart and Amanda who got married on Coroghan Beach on 14 July. It was a fantastic day and it was good to see the whole island getting together to make it all happen. (They only gave us 2 weeks notice)
Our newest residents, Duncan and Alison Spence are settling in well and have exiting plans for next year.
Welcome back to Caroline MacKinnon, its good to have her back home.
Sheep shearing is finished at last, just in time for this hot weather! Canna farm has been managing land for corncrakes and two young birds have been sighted this week.
Lots and lots of visitors. All accommodation is busy and the island has been getting really positive feedback about the island. We must be doing something right.
ISLE OF RUM
We were inundated by boats on the Talisker Whisky Cruise, all hands heading for the cafe the hall for a monumental barbeque organised by Claire. A successful evening by all accounts - Claire's helpers who spent hours grating carrots and chopping vegetables all had sore, orange hands by the end of the day and demand she gets some kind of mechanical help next time! With the mist and rain swiftly descending through the evening, visibility was almost non existent, by the time the yachtees stumbled back down the road to the pier with their empties, thankfully everyone managed. Rum Coastguard was not called out during July.
Having decided to go ahead with the fast broadband trial, work has begun setting up and the trials should be underway soon. The community trust is also in the process of updating the Rum website, whilst it has served its purpose well, it is time for a good deal of modernising, should be ready by the autumn.
There are a few new faces around, Dave Armstrong the new manager at the castle; Katie and Jamie this year's ghillies and Steve, Becca and Shaun, all seasonal castle staff - the last three have been here since the spring but not been mentioned as yet, sorry!
A recent problem with the ramp on the Loch Nevis has led to a suggestion that Rum get a gangway, similar to some of the other islands, for use in emergencies when the ramp is unable to be lowered. Concerns have always been raised about the safety of passengers using the walkway, given that pier staff is required to wear life jackets. We don't expect such a ramp to be used often.
Most interesting wildlife news is Sean and Ali's rescued Merganser chick (Merv). Not usually one for rescuing seabird chicks, this one was found way out of its comfort zone, by the tree nursery. With its own wee pond in the garden and a doting family (all human); it stands a good chance of becoming a long term fixture.... will let you know if it's still alive next month!
On the construction front, we have all been very excited by the completion of Rum's latest project. Spearheaded by Mike (the ranger), July finally brought the last lick of paint ( actually creosote) to the miracle that is Mike's secret hideaway. Is it a bird ringing hut or is it a shed? hmm well kinda looks like a shed but we're told uncategorically that it is definitely a hut for ringing birds, not for a swift can and absolutely not for a quiet five minutes peace. But an impressive piece of shedmansship none the less.
Generally speaking the weather has been pretty good (until today, 31st, which is wet and windy), midges, as ever and the campsite is looking really good, keep up the good work Mike.
ISLE OF EIGG
Unusually for the beginning of the school holidays the month began with some surprisingly summery warm and sunny weather. Good news for Feis Eige, our annual festival of music, dance and art. For the first time the feis ran for three days, beginning on Wednesday and running through until Saturday night, when the children put on a showcase of their new skills in everything ranging from fiddle, guitar, tin whistle and drums, along with some impressive art displayed around the hall, a good way of entertaining the kids in between music lessons! The numbers of children attending was up this year with a healthy total of thirty-three taking part throughout the weekend, along with some adults who joined in with the evening classes. The feis will be running again next year, on or around the first weekend in July. If you would like some more information visit the Eigg website.
In the middle of the month, we were visited by The Song of the Whale, a boat which is touring the Scottish Islands throughout the Summer months and aims to produce a 'cultural response to climate change'. On board was a group of artists, writers, scientists and even a celebrity chef, with the idea being that they visit areas of wilderness, producing responses to climate change and the landscape around them. They spent three days on Eigg, with Camille taking them on a guided history walk, John Booth took them around the electric system, John Chester on a wildlife walk and Ian took them out on his boat to catch some mackerel. There was a barbeque on the last night followed by a ceilidh. The following day they headed on their way, with Lucy jumping aboard to their next stop on Skye. It will be interesting to see what they come up with.
There were some hardy visitors at the end of the month with five women from Alnwick in Northumberland here to swim the 4 miles from Eigg to Muck, raising money for brain tumour research. They were swimming in memory of six-year-old Matthew Phillips who lost his four-year battle with brain tumours in February. They were aiming to raise awareness of the fact that more children each year die of brain tumours than leukaemia. However leukaemia research is given £14 million each year with the yearly budget for brain tumour research being only £750,000. The swim was completed in 2 hours 40 minutes and they have managed to raise £1,106.00 so far but would welcome any more donations to www.justgiving.com/swim-for-matthew
The 'Glasgow Fair Fortnight' was busier than usual this year, and with excellent weather for the most part there was a great holiday spirit. A lot of money was raised in the village in eight days - soup & sandwiches events at the Produce Fair, the annual Craft Fair and Waterstones Book Fair brought in a total of £1824 for Stella Nova, the Primary School and the Community Trust (Save our Loos!), and on top of that the Guild ladies raised £1110 in the tea tent at the Games for the East African Famine Appeal. Nearly £3000 in just over a week - wonderful.
The Produce Fairs continue to be well supported and they and Waterstones Book Fair are giving groups a chance every month to raise money for their cause. At the end of the season I'm going to tot it all up to see what income the Hall has helped to bring in. Some of the Produce Fairs dates for next year are being booked up already! So if you're interested better let me know…
If you want to support the Hall and be in with a chance to win money every month, don't forget you can join the 200 Club. Get a form from Tommy at the Post Office - it's only £2 a month and we give away a total of £1630 in prizes during the year! You can either pay Tommy £2 a month or fill in a Banker's Order form to have it deducted from your bank account.
A board has appeared in the village at the Land, Sea & Islands Centre entitled 'Stop, Look and Listen' and depicting whales and dolphins. It's one of the Highland Council's Interpretation Centre's panels for the Wild Coastal Walk and there is another in Mallaig in the community garden in Mallaig where Marine World used to be.
The Community Trust has been running the public toilets for about six weeks as I write this. No sign yet of the work promised by the Highland Council and neither has the paperwork been put in place for the Comfort Scheme grant. No doubt it will all fall into place eventually! The Trust has been waiting on one signature for the lease of the Playing Field for a couple of months now...
Note that at the Ward Forum in the Astley Hall on Tuesday August 30th, TEC Services will be present with an update on Litter and Waste and there will be a Question and Answer session. If you feel strongly about the litter situation in the village, this is your chance to say so.
ARISAIG CLEAN UP
On Wednesday 13th July, motivated by the mounds of rubbish around the village bins, five Arisaig residents donned rubber gloves and tackled the disgusting piles. Helped by Corno of the Café Rhu, we recycled where we could, but balked at going through tied bags of unidentifiable refuse. We also tackled the overflowing bins in the car park, clearing out what bags we could reach, to make room for more. In the end we amassed 21 bags of garbage, which the Council came and picked up later that afternoon. We would like to make it clear that this happened the day before the article which appeared next day in the Oban Times which wrongly laid the blame on 'a local café'.
It became obvious that much of the refuse could have been recycled: tins and cans, bottles, glass and paper. Not everyone in the country is encouraged by their Council to recycle, and recycling happens in different ways, but it is surely very thoughtless for people to dump bags of these items next to recycling bins designed to take them.
One of the reasons for the pile up was the Council bin in amongst the recycling bins, which the Council had omitted to empty the week before. This we moved across into the car park and next day the Council delivered another, giving us the four we have been asking for all year. We put up notices to highlight the problem, asking people to recycle. In the weeks since, we have still lifted a total of five bags of garbage put beside the recycling bins - one full of tins. These were dumped by people too lazy to walk across the road to the rubbish bins which were not full.
Arisaig Community Trust Logo Competition
Calling budding artists and graphic designers, young and not so young! ACT is looking for a logo design which captures the essence of Arisaig - its community, its setting - its unique identity.
The logo will be used by the Arisaig Community Trust on its publicity materials and stationery to help promote its aims, aspirations and achievements.
The competition is open to all; there will be a number of age categories, each with its own prize, and there will be one overall competition winner. There will be an exhibition of all of the entries once the competition has closed - details of this to be announced.
We would love to see entries from primary school children to senior citizens - and lots from those who come in between! Teaching staff in our local schools might like to take this on as a class art project.
The shape, page position - side, top, bottom - and composition are entirely in the hands of the designer - let your imagination flow freely...
More details about the competition and rules of entry can be found on the entry form - one of these forms is included in this month's West Word, and additional forms can be picked up from: The Land, Sea and Islands Centre, Arisaig Spar shop, The Astley Hall, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your contact details and I will be happy to send a form out to you. (Photocopied entry forms are also acceptable).
We look forward to receiving lots of inspirational, imaginative and innovative entries!
Alison Stewart, Local Development Officer, Arisaig Community Trust
NEW MANAGER FOR KINLOCH CASTLE
Kinloch Castle on the Isle of Rum has appointed a new Visitor Services Manager. David Armstrong came to Rum on the 11th of July 2011 and has started in his new role.
His wife Lynda and 22 month old daughter Elena will be joining David on Rum in the next few weeks. They are moving from the Wirral Peninsula which is sandwiched between north Wales and Liverpool - so they are used to wet conditions with biting insects!
David has a broad background including serving 13 years in the army which included being stationed in a variety of countries such as Norway, Denmark, the Falklands, Canada, Germany and Bosnia. He has also studied and attained an MA in History which has led his career to the heritage field. He was once a costume interpreter at the Tower of London and he recently worked for 4 years with the National Trust. This was in the Liverpool area which involved the management of Speke Hall, and Mendips and 20 Forthlin Road - the childhood homes of John Lennon and Paul McCartney!
David and his family are looking forward to exploring Rum and the Highlands - David is keen on wildlife and is a closet twitcher, Lynda is keen to do kayaking and canoeing and their daughter has already shown liking of horses and ponies - so Rum should be able to keep them entertained. They are also looking forward to getting involved with the nursery and school on Rum.
Welcome to Rum David, Lynda and Elena!
New families have recently moved to Rum, Canna and Muck.
On Canna Duncan and Alison Spence have moved from Laggan, near Dalwhinnie, with their two dogs and three children. Alison tells West Word: 'We were looking for a change and the opportunity to spend more time with our children. We've been here for a month now and have been very busy so far with visitors, getting to know our neighbours and starting to work on earning a living. The lovely weather has made the transition easier and we're just starting to realise we're not just here for a summer holiday!'
The population on the Isle of Muck has grown by five with the arrival of Gareth and Zoe Moffatt. Zoe writes: 'We are so delighted to be able to live in such a beautiful area. Everyone has been so supportive and welcoming, we can't believe how lucky we are (especially with the weather) sunshine is a rare occurrence in North Wales; we had forgotten what it was like. We had a bit of a sticky start just getting to Muck, thanks to some lashing points or lack thereof which made us a day late and our pockets considerably lighter. Huge thanks to Morar Motors and Ian Macfee because without them we would have had no chance of getting here at all. We hope to become productive members of this fabulous community and take part in all that island life has to offer.'
Arisaig Games celebrates another very successful event
Well, what can we say?! The sun shone, the pipers piped in very good order, the dancers danced superbly, the heavies threw heavy stuff around and equalled records, the spectators were thrilled, and the Promotions Manager's nose got even more burnt.
Arisaig Games was held at Traigh Farm on Wednesday July 27th under a searing hot sun, in view of the Small Isles. No other games has a setting to match. Chas Mac Donald, Promotions Manager for Arisaig Games declared "Arisaig is now cementing its place as one of the most important Highland games in the west Highlands, with a growing level of quality competition, and a very satisfied crowd, getting very involved in the games on the park.
"We have been delighted to hear from so many people that they enjoyed themselves. Many people have commented on the friendliness of Arisaig Games, which is really heartwarming. One or two did point out a couple of wee issues, but we're on that!"
Arisaig was once again supported by some very generous sponsorship from The Glenlivet, who supported the piping competitions. The entrance was of a very high standard, and the pipers made a real contribution to the quality of the day. Secretary of the Games, Allan Mac Donald, was hugely impressed with the piping, saying that "working with The Glenlivet is beginning to show some real benefits, now. We have some absolutely excellent pipers coming, and the quality is just a treat."
There was another first this year in the new art competition, "The Boisdale Prize", sponsored Ranald Òg Macdonald, through his Boisdale group of restaurants in London. The entries, which were judged by Mrs Eileen Jacobs of Cove Park, were of a very high standard, and there is potential for them to be shown in a London gallery later in the year.
In addition to the other superlatives, Arisaig also had something of a coup with Scotland's First Minister, Alex Salmond, attending for a couple of hours while on his way to a Scottish Cabinet meeting in Fort William. The First Minister had this to say:
"I was very pleased to visit Arisaig Highland Games as it celebrated its 75th year. The commitment of local volunteers to making it a success underlines the strong place that it holds within the local community, while at the same time providing the many visitors with a wonderful showcase of Scotland's rich heritage in a stunning location.
"I was delighted to present the inaugural Boisdale Prize awards. The high quality of the entries was very impressive, and I congratulate all of those who took part, as well as Ranald Òg Macdonald for introducing this new element to the Games.
"It was also very pleasing to hear that, as well as the annual Games, Arisaig intends to make a special contribution to the next Year of Homecoming in 2014."
Mr Salmond also took the opportunity to have a wee round of golf after his visit to Arisaig Games at the spectacular nine hole Traigh Golf Club, right next to the Games field, declaring it "a great round of golf at a fantastic club."
Arisaig Games is now looking forward to their 76th event in 2012, a week or so before the Olympics in London. Chas Mac Donald allayed concerns that there might be an effect on Arisaig, "we know that there will be a desire to see the Olympics and that is easier from home. But in fact, we hope that visitors will be here for the Games and then head off back to their televisions. You never know … we might be able to attract a couple of decathletes with very great strength and skill. Watch this space!"
The website for the games is www.arisaighighlandgames.co.uk
Below right: Andrew Fairbairn, Morar, winner of the adult section of the Boisdale Prize for Art, receives his prize from the First Minister. He is currently completing the image, which he produced in three of the normal twenty hours it takes to produce a finished painting.
Below left: Caitlin Muir, Mallaig, winner of the 11-13 section of the Boisdale Prize fro Art, receives her prize from the First Minister.
Photos by Arthur Campbell
Tommy MacEachen, 76 next month, is still going strong at the Arisaig Games in which he has competed in since 1954!That’s 57 years and counting.
KIRSTY'S KIDS REACH NEW HEIGHTS
John is still tirelessly campaigning for improvements to be made to the A830 near his house, where his daughter's car went into Loch Eilt. In the first week of August, on the same day, another two serious or potentially serious accidents happened when cars skidded for no apparent reason. One was saved by trees from going onto the railway line and the second narrowly missed the barrier outside the Bryden's house.
The Scottish Salmon Company holds public meeting on Eigg
Representatives from The Scottish Salmon Company visited the Isle of Eigg on 2nd August to meet with the island residents to discuss the possible siting of a new fish farm off the east coast of the island.
As a key employer in rural communities across the Highlands and Islands, The Scottish Salmon Company is extremely keen to hear the views of local communities before lodging applications for new salmon farms and the meeting was an opportunity to gather and share information. It also formed an important part of a consultative process that has included Highland Council, Marine Scotland, SEPA, SNH and other environmental experts.
Mark Edmonds for the company said: "The meeting was a chance to share our vision for an environmentally and economically sustainable salmon farming business as well as to understand the local concerns and we are very grateful to everyone who came along. "By sensibly and sustainably building our business we hope to create rewarding jobs for many of the island's young people. By working with local communities we also believe that there are benefits that we can bring to renewables projects and cultural initiatives and we hope that meeting provided some food for thought.
"We will continue to keep the local community informed about developments."
As well as the proposed site off the Eigg coast, The Scottish Salmon Company has proposed a site off the east coast of Rum. It is planned to hold a similar public meeting on Rum in September.
The Scottish Salmon Company recently won 'Best Marine Aquaculture Company 2011' at the Scottish Marine Aquaculture Awards, held by the Crown Estate. In particular, the company's approach to sustainable practices, business performance, investment, staff management practices and local community involvement was recognised.
The Scottish Salmon Company currently supports over 300 jobs in the Highlands and Islands region and last year contributed over £50,000 in sponsorships and donations to local community projects.
ROAD TO THE ISLES MARKETING GROUP
At a recent meeting of the Road to the Isles Marketing Group Management Committee, progress was reported on the preparation for printing of the 'Local Walks Around Mallaig, Morar and Arisaig' publication. This will be printed in waterproof ink so that visitors can use it to guide them on their way in all weathers!
A major decision was also made in awarding the contract of the redesign of the new Road to the Isles web page to Lamont Design based in Fort William. This will involve considerable work and cost as it is intended to add new sections to further inform potential visitors to our area as to what is available. Film location tourism will be addressed giving detailed information regarding the nine - yes there were nine - feature films made in this area. The expanding area of yachting and the facilities that are currently available in the newly revamped Arisaig Marine will also be included. Detailed information regarding the new marina development in Mallaig will also be built in when it becomes available and the project nears completion. The 'Romantic' Road to the Isles is an ideal venue for weddings and this will also get a separate listing. Another new section that will be updated on a regular basis is 'What's Coming Up' giving details of events and activities throughout the year. Hopefully this will encourage those important visitors in our non peak business period to come and join us. The environment and its importance to our area will be given considerable consideration as well as 'regular' features on the current site.
Accommodation, B & B's, hotels, self catering, bunkhouses, eating out etc. will be revamped around the successful Arisaig, Morar and Mallaig tourist maps with an interactive feature. We have not forgotten the businesses and attractions in Glenfinnan, Lochailort, Roshven and our close neighbours on Muck, Rum, Eigg, Canna and Knoydart as these too will have a separate feature. Colleen MacLean of Arisaig who recently graduated from Stirling University with degree in marketing will be responsible for driving the project forward and the committee is looking forward to her input and expertise in this area.
Congratulations to Ian and Julie Bryce on the opening of their new caravan and camping site at Sunnyside Croft after several years of hard work. The outstanding facilities and fixtures throughout are of an exceptionally high standard and include hard standings, grass pitches for tents, electric hook ups, toilet block with male and female facilities as well as a family friendly bathroom, shower room for disabled visitors and a fully equipped laundry. There is also a shop selling provisions specialising in home/local/highland produce. If the weather suddenly becomes inclement there is a covered seating area adjacent to which is a dishwashing area with a microwave and small freezer for ice packs for the use of campers. The site also provides local information on what to do and see, a recycling point and Wifi for those visitors who have to keep in touch via their computer. The site is also dog friendly and will be open all year. Current listings on Trip Advisor are exceptional and reflect the high standard that Ian and Julie have set.
Ian Buick, Secretary
FIREMAN CALENDAR 2012
Some Fire Fighters from Lochaber District are doing a calendar to raise funds for the "Scottish Burned Children Club". They are hoping to raise £20,000 so they can send the kids on adventure days out. These are kids that have been involved in fires, scalded or traumatised from such events.
For those of you that are on Facebook look up the link for "Fireman Calendar 2012" to find out more and join the huge number of people that have already joined.
For those of you that are not on Facebook here's what's happening!
The Fire fighters involved are doing a photo shoot on the 13th August at Fort William Fire Station, so lets hope the weather is kind to them!
Saturday 1st of October is the launch night at the Ben Nevis Hotel, Fort William. There the "models" will be on show!!! with live entertainment on until approx 01.30am.
Tickets are on sale for £5 a head and, if there is enough interest for transport there will be a bus leaving Mallaig and Kinlochleven at £5 a head return.
The hotel is also doing a special rate of £38pp for those that are wanting to stay the night. Tickets are starting to go so if your interested contact any member of your local Fire Station to reserve some for you.
Where else can you get loads of fun, live entertainment and transport to and fro all for £10 a head??????? and all for a good cause in the process!!
So go on, start getting things organised with your partner or a bunch of friends for a fantastic Saturday night out, now before the tickets are all gone.
If you're not fast, you're last, so don't be disappointed, book now!!
Calendars will be on sale for £10 each as from 1st October 2011.
PROPOSED ROAD CLOSURES
There has been a strong reaction to a proposal to shut the A82 at Onich from October 3rd between the hours of 7pm and 6am, Monday to Friday, over a period of three weeks. Because of the nature of the work and the 'bucolic' nature of the route, Scotland Transerv say full closure is needed - but this would mean that a Ballachulish motorist, for example, wanting to drive to Fort William in the evening would face a detour of 200 miles via Crianlarich, Perth, Laggan and Spean Bridge.
Councillors and MSPs have expressed their opposition to the proposal, especially to the timing which is during the school October break.
Other closures are a five week project to replace water mains in the Belford Road, Fort William, which will commence on October 3rd and will entail traffic lights and single lane closures; and a major resurfacing and drainage maintenance on the A82 between Crianlarich and Tarbet, lasting for three weeks from September 18th and will include overnight closures five nights a week, from 10pm to 6am.
THEFT FROM CHURCH
Overnight 14th and 15th July 2011 some items were stolen from within the Church of Scotland, Mallaig. Some of these items were recovered in the grounds of the nearby primary school but some are still outstanding. This is a particularly insensitive crime against a place of worship and is out of character for this area. Should anyone have any information as to who was responsible please contact Mallaig Police Station on 01687 462177 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111
WIN The Dairy Book of Home Cookery
Culinary trends and celebrity chefs come and go, but 'The Dairy Book of Home Cookery' continues to be the first choice for millions of homes across the UK. Now, the essential cookbook is back, and it's better than ever.
The Dairy Book of Home Cookery, originally published in 1968, takes you through all the essential cooking techniques you need to know and features over 900 recipes, for £10.49 (plus a one-off payment of £2.50 P&P if you order online).
To find out more about The Dairy Book of Home Cookery, and other products available, or to order your own copy, visit www.dairydiary.co.uk or call 0845 0948 128 . All of the Dairy Diary products are also available to buy directly from your milkman, from September, without any postage fees.
We're giving three lucky readers the chance to win a copy. For your chance to win simply tell us: what year was the cookbook originally published?
Send your answer with your name and address by post or email to:
Dairy Book of Home Cookery Competition
Morar Station Building
Morar PH40 4PB
Closing date: Monday September 5th 2011
West Word Editor Ann says: 'I still have my 1968 copy! It was invaluable when I first left home to fend for myself and the updated book is ideal for both learner cooks and experienced ones and all the stages in between. Shame I can't enter...'
A TRIBUTE TO THE LIFE OF JOHN MCLAREN CASSELLS
3rd December 1938 - 29th November 2010
On 8th May 2011, I ran my first 10K with two very dear friends, Lynn Penman and June MacDonald, to raise funds for Mallaig RNLI in memory of my dad, Mr. John McLaren Cassells. We ran as "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" and had great fun, despite running 10K through mud and puddles, whilst torrential rain hit us from above. We achieved our goal of completing in 1hr 30 minutes ... and not a dry piece of clothing left!
Dad (Wee John) has gone but his boat is still anchored in the bay at Tigh na Mara, Back of Keppoch, Arisaig…. A fitting tribute to the life he lived...
Small in stature but a Giant of a character! Well known as quite a character and respected by those whose lives were touched by knowing him.
His untimely and sudden departure from our lives on 29th November 2010 left us all shocked and with a huge void.
The loss of a precious and loving husband, dad and granddad is insurmountable; the loss of a friend to the many others whose lives he touched and shared too.
Family was the most important word in his vocabulary and in the life he lived.
Second only to his family, dad loved the sea and we all grew up with "sea legs "borne from a very early age from our second home at our beloved Arisaig retreat at Tigh na Mara, Back of Keppoch, Arisaig.
Dad's first venture to Arisaig was some 52 years ago, he then took mum to share his "special place" with her.
Thereafter, we were very fortunate as a family, to have spent some 5 fabulous decades sharing dad's passion for the area and the sea, enjoying the calm beauty of the area to the rugged stormy wild nature of the sea.
Mum and Dad were very much "at home" developing long lasting relationships with the communities of Arisaig and Mallaig spanning over 50 years, and were well known amongst the local community.
To the family over the years, we were very fortunate to engage in opportunities to work with the local communities we loved so dearly.
This included my eldest brother working seasonally in Jaffy Lawrie's in Mallaig, and my own enlightening and deeply influential experience of a work placement in the late 1980s (during my district nurse training), with the District Nurse / Midwife in Arisaig.
Despite his passion for adventure on the high seas, in years gone by, dad liked nothing more than to share tales of his high sea escapades, back on shore, amidst us all, his precious family.
Despite severe inclement weather conditions at the time dad passed away, with weather conditions of - 18 degrees, and snow blitzed landscapes, dad was buried on the 8th of December 2010.
Family and friends travelled from far and wide, to pay their respects and honour dad's life. Nature's severe elements prevailed that day, as they so often do, reflective of the waters around Mallaig, and the seas dad ventured and loved so much.
Reflecting on their lives together, (50 years of marriage), and in recognition of dad's passion for the sea, and the love he bestowed on family and friends, mum's wish is to commemorate memory of his life to the work that the RNLI commit to, in their dedication of saving lives at sea.
(I do believe an RNLI rescue on a very minor scale occurred some years ago!)
At the funeral, and in the months thereafter, donations from family and friends were collected to raise funds for Mallaig RNLI. In total, between the donations received and the funds raised from sponsorship of the Women's 10K race, we are very pleased to have collected over £700 for the RNLI, with the sum of £670, being made directly to Mallaig.
A very fitting tribute to Wee John and Mallaig RNLI indeed!
With sincere thanks from the Family x
Mallaig Lifeboat Log
The Mallaig Lifeboat, Henry Alston Hewat, was called into action on five occasions during the month of July.
Sunday 10th July: Lifeboat launched at 22.50 by Stornoway Coastguard to look for an overdue diver on Loch nan Uamh. Local Coastguard team checked all possible locations from Loch nan Uamh to Glenuig but no trace of the diver's van was found. At 23.40 Coastguards were informed that the 'missing' diver had been located safe and well so Lifeboat returned to base, got refuelled and was ready for service at 00.40hrs on Monday 11th July.
Saturday 16th July: Stornoway Coastguard requested the launch of the Mallaig Lifeboat at 14.59 to go to the assistance of the yacht Aequitas, suffering from engine overheating north of the Isle of Muck. Due to very light winds, the yacht was not making any headway but, arriving on scene at 15.44, the Lifeboat quickly established a towing rope and the casualty was brought into Mallaig Harbour for engine repairs. Lifeboat ready for service about 1800 hrs.
Sunday 17th July: Cloudy with a fresh breeze and a one metre swell were the pertinent weather conditions at 11.38hrs when the Mallaig Lifeboat was tasked to go to the assistance of three kayakers stranded on Linga Mhor at the entrance to Arisaig. Stornoway Coastguard had received a call from the kayakers who, having spent the night on Linga Mhor, were attempting to leave the island in the morning when the female member of the group had capsized. By the time the other two members recovered the young girl, they had been carried some way by the ebbing tide. Fearing a repeat, they called for assistance. Arriving on scene at 12.04 hrs the Lifeboat crew quickly located the kayakers and, via the Y-boat, two of the party were taken on board the Lifeboat. The third member of the party decided to paddle through the more sheltered islands to where they had left their vehicle on the Rhu road. With the canoes in tow and the Y-boat in escort, the Lifeboat made way into Arisaig loch, where the two casualties and their kayaks were safely deposited on the shore. Returning to base, the Lifeboat was refuelled and ready for service at 13.25hrs.
Sunday 24th July: The Henry Alston Hewat was launched at 20.05 hrs to search for an overdue dinghy and its occupant in Glenuig. Two persons had been sailing their racing dinghies in the Samalan area of Glenuig and one had received a blow to the head when the dinghy had capsized. Deciding to head for shore, he became concerned when he could not see his colleague, and informed the Coastguard.
Arriving on scene at 20.50hrs, the Mallaig Lifeboat began to search immediately, downwind towards the north channel of Eilean Shona, and within minutes one of the crew spotted the casualty on his dismasted dinghy. The casualty, none the worse for his ordeal, was quickly picked up and the dinghy made secure as the Lifeboat started to tow towards Glenuig to land the casualty. Suddenly the Lifeboat was tasked for another incident at the mouth of Arisaig Harbour.
Sunday 24th July: Whilst engaged in the recovery of an overdue dinghy sailor from the Eilean Shona area, the Lifeboat was tasked to go to the assistance of the yacht Moorhen at 2100 hrs, in difficulty with engine trouble at the entrance to Arisaig Harbour. Within fifteen minutes, the Lifeboat had reached the casualty, secured a tow line and, with a steady 4 knots due to the northerly breeze, the Lifeboat towed the |Moorhen to a mooring in Arisaig Harbour.
With Moorhen safely on a mooring, the Lifeboat continued to the pontoon at Arisaig Marine and landed the sailor and his dinghy. Lifeboat stood down at 23.30 hrs.
NEWS FROM MALLAIG HARBOUR - AUGUST 2011
The opening of the new Fish Feed Storage Facility took place at noon on Tuesday 12th July and with the sun shining - hopefully a portent of a bright future for the 1,000 tonne capacity storage shed - Provost, Highland Councillor and Board Member Mr Allan Henderson cut the ribbon officially opening the new building.
Fish Feed manufacturer, EWOS Ltd, who are based in West Lothian, will be the main users of the facility which cost £480,000 to construct and they intend to ship 40,000 tonnes of feed through the port over the next two years or so.
The new storage building became operational on Monday 25th July when the first lorry loads of feed arrived. Over the next few days a steady stream of lorries discharged over 500 tonnes of feed into the building and on Thursday 28th the Faroese vessel Fame docked, was loaded and subsequently departed with the first cargo.
The cargo vessel MV Fame which sails under the Norwegian flag is set to become a regular visitor to the Port of Mallaig. The vessel has been hired by West Lothian based fish feed manufacturer and supplier EWOS Ltd to operate from the port, loading 600 tonnes of fish feed on a weekly basis and delivering the feed to Marine Harvest salmon farm sites on the west coast and Shetland.
"The best laid plans of mice and men gang aft a'gley" and never has a truer poetic line been written particularly if referring to the Harbour's £0.9m Yachting Development which is still not operational.
It has been a big disappointment to the Authority that, through one reason or another, time has been lost on several aspects of the foreshore development and this has led to delays in its completion. Thankfully an end is in sight and by the end of the month the yachting facility should be operational.
Varis Engineering Ltd., Forres, arrived on site on Monday 18th July and within three weeks all of the pontoons were anchored to the seabed and the access ramp and bridge were in-situ awaiting the final hook-up of electrical power via Scottish Hydro Electric.
The Harbour has been busy with lots of yachts around this past month - most of them looking for the new pontoons. However one yacht Chloe has the distinction of being the first vessel to moor up to the pontoons. Sailing into the inner harbour the skipper of Chloe obviously observed a couple of "untethered" pontoons and quickly moored alongside. The yachtsmen had time to take his dog for a walk on the part erected structure before being ushered away from the pontoons by the Harbour Master.
Around about the same time I commissioned Jim Porteous Wood to design the logo for the Mallaig & North West Fishermen's Association I got to thinking about some form of logo for the Mallaig Harbour Authority.
This was relatively easy to achieve as, after discussion with Cpt John Murray I decided to use he international flag symbols. Every letter of the alphabet has a flag and the three flags on the flagpole at the top of the page read from the top the letter M (blue background/white cross); H (white & red); A (white & blue). MHA - Mallaig Harbour Authority. Simples!!
It could be argued with some justification, that August is not the ideal time to be tearing up the pier surface, causing travel hold-ups, parking issues and general chaos but then some people might say that's what we do best!
So please bear with us over the next few weeks as badly needed repairs are carried out to the concrete surface of the pier on the approach down towards the CalMac office. Contractor Noel Regan & Sons has promised to keep traffic moving although there could be some slight delay! Your patience is appreciated!
Robert MacMillan, Port Manager
01687 462154 email@example.com
THE 'ARISAIG PAINTING'
Concern was raised last month when it was discovered that the West Highland Museum had plans to sell a painting which is considered to be of great importance to the Arisaig area. The storm has abated for the moment but it has raised the issue that, while a number of local residents know about the painting, there are many more who don't.
The oil painting, Letters and News at the Lochside, was executed in 1868 by Victorian artist Henry Tamworth Wells, and was given as a wedding present to Gertrude Astley by her sister in 1883. A special niche was made for it in Arisaig House; although the house was partially destroyed by fire in 1935, it is felt that where it hangs now, in the entrance porch to the House, is its original place.
The painting depicts two boats which have been out fishing on the loch returned to shore, and F D P Astley, the proprietor of Arisaig Estate receiving mail from a mounted postman; depicted in total are ten people. These include Sir Henry Halford, founder of the Halford group, author Henry Evans and the famous Pre-Raphaelite artist sir Henry Millais - but it is not these eminent men which makes the painting of special importance to Arisaig. The remaining six people are local employees, are all named and have descendants living in the area today.
Miss Joan Becher inherited the picture along with the House and its contents and when she died in 1995 her will stated that any household items of interest could be donated to any museum which might be interested. So the painting became the property of the West Highland Museum - but because of its size, 9ft by 5.5 ft, and possibly its local significance, it has remained in its niche in the entrance porch of Arisaig House. Owner Emma Weir and her sister Sarah Winnington-Ingram, who runs the House as a luxury Guest House, are happy for it to stay there and welcome people who want to view it. Emma is generously paying to insure it as the Museum has never done so.
The row blew up because a number of Arisaig people felt that Miss Becher had intended the painting to stay in Arisaig, otherwise she would have put it into the public auction of house contents when she sold the House some years prior to her death. The news that the Museum planned to sell it by auction in London came as a shock and the reaction was strong, with letters going to the chairman of the Museum Board of Trustees, Mr Richard Sidgwick. A public meeting hosted by An Comunn Eachdraidh (Arisaig Historical Society) was held in the Astley Hall on Friday 29th July as no reply had been received from him in time and Councillor Allan Henderson, who attended, offered to chair a meeting between the various parties. This meeting went ahead in the West Highland Museum on 4th August, when an amicable agreement was reached and it was agreed that the community will be consulted via the Community Council when any matters arise concerning the painting.
While An Comunn Eachdraidh members acknowledged that the Museum wishes to raise funds for their project to extend the Museum, and that the painting is their property, they were concerned that such a sale would be in breach of the Disposal and Acquisitions Policy of the Museum. A painting with such local importance ought not be sold to be 'wallpaper' in some boardroom where it would lose all significance.
In October 2003, West Word's 'A Little Genealogy' column discussed the painting and its local significance, naming the local men and their descendants. This article will be re-printed in next month's West Word.
On and Off the Rails
The Royal Scotsman returns
Following a five week absence during which time the Royal Scotsman embarked on 'The Grand Tour of Great Britain', we welcomed her back to Mallaig on Saturday July 30th. her next two 'Western' land-cruises journeys arrive into Mallaig on Saturday 13th and Saturday 27th August. The stay in Mallaig will be brief due to the 12.20 incoming Jacobite, still running on a Saturday and Sunday during August, which along with incoming and outgoing ScotRail services makes for a busy signaller's morning for Banavie signalling centre and the West Highland Extension Line. However, with the Royal Scotsman it is not just where you stretch your legs by getting off the train, but the journey itself which continues to sell out this tour. We welcome them back. Incidentally, the Oban Times 2012 West Highland Calendar, now on sale at local outlets, has a very good photo of the Royal Scotsman crossing Loch Eilt for August 2012. it is worth a look.
The Scotsman is called The Western and departs Edinburgh on a Friday, arriving in Mallaig and Arisaig on Saturday. It returns to Edinburgh on Monday via Wemys Bay, visitng Bute by road transport.
The photograph shows the Scotsman team, which includes the Tour Manager, two train drivers, an on-train guard, a tour host, an on-train engineer, a senior chef and kitchen staff. (Spot Sonia the tour guide, dressed as we seldom see her!)
Network Rail continue to invest in Mallaig Extension
Extensive renewal of rails and sleepers have taken place south of Arisaig recently and, thanks to careful planning by them, there was no disruption to ScotRail and West Coast Railway services. Most of the work was undertaken during the night, between 11pm and 6am. We thank them for their commitment to continually upgrade our line. Bearing in mind that the Mallaig Extension is over 100 years old, it takes continuous upkeep and extensive maintenance to keep it in good condition. Over the next few months Network Rail has plans to re-new rails, turn-outs and sleepers between Mallaig station and Morar, and to that effect new sleepers have already been delivered to the siding behind Mallaig Heritage Centre. Last year work was undertaken to replace broken sleepers where possible, but a fuller programme of renewal is now planned to take place.
RETB Signalling upgrade working well
During 2009 - 2010, various RETB (Radio Electronic Token Block) upgrades were undertaken by Network Rail in order to make the signalling more reliable on the West Highland Line and Mallaig Extension. Although now more than 20 years old, the system still works well, with only the occasional hiccup.
The more modern signalling version called ERTMS (European Rail Train Management System - see On & Off the Rails in June 2011 West Word) has now taken over in Wales, but to date no plans are in the pipeline for Scotland to be converted. The RETB system is operated between Helensburgh/Oban and Helensburgh/Fort William/Mallaig. Inverness/Kyle of Lochalsh and Inverness/Wick & Thurso also use the same system.
Network Rail are currently experimenting with upgrading the PSI (Points Set Indicator) system used on all West Highland and far North lines. The final decision as to the aspects are still under review, but trials are expected to take place in the near future. Those of you who travel on the West Highland Line may have noticed on approaching a double platform station that the train passes a yellow colour light signal. This indicates to the driver that the track points which he/she is about to cross are set in the correct position for the direction of travel, and not in mid-position. To date this colour light is a traditional filament type and unreliable in the fact that it has limited life. As a safety precaution a cluster of Light Emitting Diodes are situated below the yellow light as a back-up, but the driver has to stop at this and report to the signaller the position of the points. When the test and trials have been completed at the manufacturers (Dorman) and Network Rail Testing Centre, they will be installed on the West Highland Lines and the Far North lines. The new lights are expected to be white or red LEDs and possibly flashing instead of static state. Watch this space for more information next month.
Where West Word boldly goes!!
Following my article in On and Off the Rails July issue of West Word entitled 'Florence's Flyer', the Press and Journal followed on with a well written column and photograph. Florence was then contacted by mobile phone (whilst carrying out duties at Glenfinnan Station) by the Sunday Post. This led to a double column article and colour photo appearing in the paper on Sunday July 24th. How much better could her 50th birthday celebrations get? We can now break the news (hopefully) that West Coast Railway, her employers for the past 16 years, have arranged for a first class, Mark One coach to be named in her honour. 'Florence' will be added to the stock that currently travels to Mallaig daily on the Jacobite steam train service as a tribute to the professional and dedicated manner that she has always applied to her job. The coach will be added to the stock in early August and Florence will be available for photo opportunities and autograph signings in front of her named carriage at Mallaig Station!! Congratulations Florence, from all of us connected with West Coast Railways. You deserve every compliment you get - well done.
As well as 'Florence' being added to the rolling stock of the Jacobite, a third Black 5 engine is joining the pool of engines in use on the West Highland Extension. Coming into service on Sunday July 31st for a week's turn of duty will be Ian Riley's Black 5, 45407. This will replace John Cameron's K4, The Great Marquess which went away this week from the area.
Diesel on the afternoon Jacobite!
Due to a sudden broken bogie spring on Ian Riley's Black 5 44871, a West Coast Vintage Class 37 37676 Loch Rannoch was used to haul the afternoon Jacobite on Friday 15th July. The Class 37 was used at short notice, in order not to cancel the service.
Luckily the next afternoon service was not until the following Wednesday, July 20th, so Ian and his boys managed to locate a new spring and get it fitted in time that day. This is the first time this year that diesel substitution has been used on the Jacobite. Prior to this only one day has been lost of the service because of the unavailability if suitable locomotives. The afternoon service has proved so popular on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays that an extra coach has been added, making six on these days. This is one of the two original 'Harry Potter' coaches that are now in use as regular stock. The two coaches are Mark One corridor coaches and are much sought after by ticket holders to be sat and photographed in.
If you have any comments or queries relating to this column, please ring me on 01687 462189. Failing that - see you on the train.
News in Brief
- According to the Guardian, more learner drivers fail their tests in Wanstead, North London, than anywhere else in Britain. And where do they say the highest pass rate is? Mallaig! 78% of first time test takers pass. It does go on to say however, that the number who took their first test in Mallaig was 14, whereas the number in Wanstead is 4,826!
- The Highland Council will complete a phased introduction of new opening hours at its network of 35 Service Points this month. From Wednesday 17 August, new opening hours will be introduced at Mallaig: Thursday and Friday 9am to 12.30pm and 1.30pm to 5pm. Up until the 16th August the hours are Monday, Thursday and Friday 10am - 1pm. The changes mean that the Service Point will be open for five hours longer than previously but only on two days in the week.
- Anna Skea, who runs Ginger, the knitwear workshop in Morar, is helping to battle against skin conditions by making clothing out of seaweed. She mixes the stringy green weed with wood pulp to make fabric. Seaweed has natural anti-inflammatory qualities that help to battle skin conditions including psoriasis and eczema. Anna says 'I used to suffer from psoriasis myself, so I know what it's like. It's great to think the clothes I'm making could alleviate people's suffering.'
- Support for the reintroduction of the Mallaig - Lochboisdale ferry has come from various sources recently. After the Scottish Government's meeting in Fort William on July 28th, Provost Allan Henderson was given personal assurances from Alasdair Allan, MSP for the Western Isles, and Alex Neil, cabinet minister for infrastructure and capital investments, that the Mallaig - South Uist link was 'high up on the agenda' of the Scottish Government. He has now had a positive response from Judith Ainsley, head of ferries policy and procurement, who is conducting the Scottish Ferries Review. In a letter she confirms that the Mallaig to Lochboisdale route is being actively considered as part of the review. Meanwhile Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil has weighed in with a letter to Scottish Transport Minister Keith Brown MSP, asking that he look seriously at setting up a pilot crossing on the route, to examine its viability. Click here to sign a petition online.
- Stornoway and Shetland Coastguard stations have been reprieved from closure and will remain manned for 24 hours a day, but the news has been met with mixed feelings by campaigners. They welcomed the retention and the fact that areas of concern such as local knowledge, language, incident handover from a day station to a 24 hour station and communications infrastructure problems were all taken into account in this new proposal. However the areas of the proposals that were less well received included all staff having to apply for their own jobs at some point in the future and a lack of detail over the responsibility and tasks that will be undertaken by the single Maritime Operations Centre and the eight Sub-Centres. A 12-week consultation period began on 14th July 2011 for the amended plans for the future of the Coastguard Service. Go to the Stornoway Coastguard webpage for more details: www.stornowaycg.co.uk The Forth and Clyde stations will be closed down between 2012 and 2015.
- The Highland Council is working with the Office of Fair Trading to warn the public of doorstep visits from rogue traders offering to carry out home repairs and gardening work. The Council is urging householders to be extra careful when accepting building and maintenance repair offers from cold callers.
Birdwatch by Stephen MacDonald
July was fairly typical bird wise, with many juvenile birds on the scene. Also the first returning waders appeared during the month.
One interesting report this month was of a Jay or Jays heard in the vicinity of Morar Lodge early in the month. There was a brief sighting on the 13th further to the East, then a good positive view of one in flight and then landing in a tree, on the 23rd. The only previous reports have come from Knoydart and Arisaig in the recent past, so it seems as a species Jays are expanding their range North and West into suitable areas of the Highlands.
Seabirds seem to have had mixed fortunes this breeding season.
The Arctic Terns at Traigh and the Kittiwakes in Mallaig raised no offspring. However Arctic and Common Terns in Loch Nevis had a few chicks flying by the month end. There were also Terns feeding fledged chicks on Loch nan Ceall, Arisaig. Kittiwakes nesting on the cliffs on the East side of Rum appeared to have a lot of well grown chicks by the last week. Common Guillemots with chicks were seen scattered throughout the Sound of Sleat also.
Only three reports of Sooty Shearwaters, all concerning single birds, the last off Muck on the 27th.
Returning waders started with small flocks of Curlew seen at Traigh and Back of Keppoch early in the month. On the 18th, there were 6 Sanderlings, 2 Redshank and numerous Ringed Plover on rocks at Traigh. The next day 3 Golden Plover were at Traigh, followed by several small groups over the next few days, including 14 seen on the 30th. from mid-month small numbers of Dunlin were present at Traigh.
Juvenile Great Spotted Woodpeckers were seen in gardens at Morar, Cross Farm and Arisaig, throughout the month. Young Tawny Owls were seen and heard calling on several occasions near Cross farm.
Several large flocks of Long-tailed Tits were seen around Morar from mid-month and many juvenile Greenfinches and Siskins were reported from gardens across the area. Along the roadside by Traigh golf course there were some large mixed finch flocks containing many juvenile birds, including Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Linnets and Twites, feeding on roadside grass seeds and thistles.
TRIPPING THE NIGHT FANTASTIC
Normally when I write this, there is either a lot to see in the sky, or a lot going on up there that we don't see, and I tend to write about one or the other. This month, there's loads of both, so I'm somewhat spoilt for choice. As space is limited (as in word count), I hope I choose wisely.
July 12th marked an historic event. Back in 1846, when the Victorians were pointing their basic telescopes skyward, Neptune was discovered. 165 years later (12th July '11), Neptune completed its first orbit since that day. Considering everything we've got up to since then, it's a good measure of how long the planet takes to sail around the sun.
One week after this happened, Atlantis detached from the ISS for the last time, marking the very last trip home for the Shuttle. Before it left, a departing astronaut caught the first and last ever picture of the Shuttle docked with the ISS - incredible pictures 30 years in the making, and worth looking up. Meanwhile, private companies are gearing up to launch freighters to the ISS with test flights in December and February.
As for the things we can see, Jupiter returns with a vengeance rising in the east a couple of hours after sunset and outshining every star in the sky by midnight. With a telescope, it's even possible to see the Great Red Spot on certain days - August 4/5, 6/7, 11/12, 13/14, 18/19, 23/24 and 30/31 around midnight.
Saturn slinks below the horizon around 11pm at the start of the month, and is away by 9pm at the end of the month, so its low placement on the horizon makes it ill-positioned for viewing, while Mercury sits behind the sun and Venus sits in front of it and can't be seen this month.
Algol is easy to spot this month, and it can easily be seen alternating between magnitude 2.1 to 3.4 on certain days, midnight on 27th being the best time. This effect can be seen as Algol is an eclipsing binary system, and when it dims it is because one component moves in front of the brighter one. It takes a few hours for the star to dim and a few hours to return to normal. Algol is just above Jupiter and the Pleiades around 11pm in mid-month.
And don't forget the Perseid meteor shower, which can be seen any night throughout August but peaks around the 13th.
Some other things worth Googling this month are: Earth has a Trojan, Water possibly discovered on Mars, Juno to unlock Jupiter's secrets, and Hubble spots a new moon for Pluto. I could go on, but fear I am running out of page so I will just sign off with Happy Viewing!
Auntie Mary's Creepy Crawly Corner
Ranger Angus kindly relayed this month's question, which is: Where do Ticks come in the food chain?
Ticks are 8 legged parasites belonging to the Arachnids, the same class of the Arthropods as spiders. You can see all the legs on the smaller tick in the photo of a tick feeding on a tick, taken by Pit Klemm, on Knoydart, in June 2004; and subsequently sent to West Word (see West Word August 2008).
In terms of the food chain, ticks are one of the middle links. Ticks feed on the blood of another animal to extract the protein, either for growth or for reproduction. Ticks are not fussy whose blood they drink ! We have found ticks on reptiles, such as lizards, as well as mammals and birds; and the photo shows one parasite feeding on another. Ticks can kill the host if there are too many of them in relation to the size of the animal; or kill it by passing on diseases, weakening its resistance to diseases, or impairing ithe host's ability to survive the rigours of winter.
The larger tick looks like the Castor Bean or Sheep tick (Ixodes ricinus). This species has a life cycle which takes three years to complete; and during this time it only feeds three times - and there is only one item on the menu : blood ! It can pass on the virus which causes 'louping' sickness in sheep and the protozoan parasite Babesia which is responsible for causing redwater fever in cattle. Ticks can also transmit Lyme disease to humans and if you find you are being used as a host make sure you know how to extract it whole (by twisting), and if in doubt seek medical help.
Ticks are eaten by many predators which live in ground vegetation, such as beetles and spiders, and also by hedgehogs and birds. If a host can reach them they could be consumed during grooming. Apparently drying out is more likely to kill a tick than frosty weather - so let's hope this present lovely, dry, sunny weather persists for a while !
Dr Mary Elliott
Reference: D Nichols & J A L Cooke 1971 The Oxford Book of Invertebrates.
Wide World West Word
Kate Foster tells us: 'I have been a regular subscriber to West Word for several years and could not miss the opportunity to take my June 2011 copy to Bangalore, India with me last month to take a pic for your World Wide West World page. Here I am with my daughter Victoria and my nieces Imogen & Amy at the Nandi Hill Station North of Bangalore.
Four members of the 'Arisaig Ladies Walkers Club' were also spotted by Ian, fighting over who would be the first to read West Word, the day after it hit the shops, in Inverie's tropical weather.
L to r, Brigid Moynihan, Anne Cameron, Felicity Blackburn and Vera MacDonald.
Mallaig's very own Sergeant Nick MacRae was snapped by Ian Buick,
while taking a break from test driving Knoydart's new quad bike, outside The Old Forge in Inverie.
Please send in your photos - we want to keep this feature going!
A Little Genealogy by Allan (email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
More from the Annals of Skye - Soay
Last month I wrote about the marriage of wedding of John MacAskill and Mima Campbell on Soay in 1943. My thanks to Fiona Stewart for her information and wedding photo and in answer to her request, I have included below, two extracts from the "Annals of Skye" by Donald Gillies. To appreciate Mr Gillies' beautiful handwriting, I have scanned them rather than copy in print. They document Gavin Maxwell's purchase of Soay and the setting up of his shark fishing venture
A Lost Family
In February 2010 I introduced myself to Alan MacDonald in Arisaig to discuss my family tree. I was received most hospitably, but I became aware that he was unsure of my ancestors, despite producing my genealogy chart. Alan found links between two brothers, Allan MacLellan, who emigrated to Canada, and died there in 1845, and his brother Alexander MacLellan who came to the Morar area. Alexander is my ancestor and and is entered in the 1841 Census living in Brinicory. He was the father of Angus MacLellan, Tacksman, of Brinacory, who married Catherine McCormick of Beoraid, in Bracara in 1839. I am their great grand-daughter.
Since then I have done much research of the 'unknown' MacLellan family from Kinlochmorar. Angus and Catherine had six children:-
John (1840) = grandfather of Teresa McKenzie of Achnaluin, and others.
Malcolm (1843) = grandfather of Calum McKellaig of Morar Hotel, and others.
Alexander(1845) = my grandfather (known as Alastair)
Anna (1849) = grandmother of the late Catherine Purves (Brinicory)
grandmother of Jackie McKellaig Parkmore and others
Alan (1842) and Janet (1847) - we have no further information about them.
My father was one of 12 children born to Alexander MacLellan who married Annabella MacDougall, a sister of Canon MacDougall and Grand-aunt of Canon Ian Gillies and of Francis White of Glenfinnan.
My father, Patrick, known as Peter, Maclellan told me little detail of his family history, and I only knew two of his brothers who were still alive while I was a child. But he told me that the family were buried in Tarbert, Loch Morar, and that some had died of TB. When I started searching the Scottish Archives, the tragic circumstances of family deaths in 1906/07 became apparent..
My Grandfather married in 1884 and lived first in a croft at Kinlochmorar before moving to Tarbert Loch Morar. The two eldest sons were working away from home. The eldest daughter who was working near Invergarry, was sent home 'ill' in 1906. The illness proved to be 'a virulent form of ' Phthisis ' or Tuberculosis and in the crowded housing situation spread rapidly through the family. By June 1907, seven of the family had died, including the father and mother, who died a widow in the Western Infirmary Glasgow in April 1907; all died of TB. Such was my realisation of the tragic early life of my father, Peter. I knew that the surviving boys had lived with relatives around the Morar area.
Searching the archive in the Fort-William College I found in the Minutes of the Glenelg District Council, held in Mallaig on 13th March 1907, that a discussion had taken place about "The family of the late Alex Maclellan. The Council were concerned about whether the responsibility for the maintenance of the children would be allocated to the District or County Council, and the Secretary was directed to write to the County authority to clarify the matter. A letter dated 22nd February 1907 was also read, but not appended to the record. The College Archivist next suggested that I search the Police Record. There I found that on the 23rd February 1907, P.C. Campbell from Mallaig "attended the disinfection of the family of the late Alex MacLellan,. The family being removed, the house was set on fire by the Sanitary Inspector. I returned via Loch Morar to Mallaig."
It is clear now, that the children were all taken into the care of their relatives, and probably the Council relieved of their financial support. The question which arises is, what happened next?
Research led to "A History of Scottish People, Health in Scotland 1840 -1940" by W.W. Knox. Here I found a quotation from Hansard for 31st July 1907, Lords sitting, discussing amendments to the Public Health Scotland Act of 1897. Lord Hamilton was concerned that the extension of the restrictions of travel in any public conveyance, or train, or ship, of persons suffering from an infectious disease, to those infected with consumption, "would be absolutely intolerable". He also observed that "last March the Scottish Local Government Board called the attention of local authorities to the duties of those authorities to take steps to prevent the spread of consumption ….and also as to the curative value of such simple things as fresh air and open windows."
Next research then took me to the Medical Officer of Health Report of 1906-1907, held in the Highland Health Science Library at Raigmore. This report added more information to that which I had already obtained. The MOH drew attention to a virulent outbreak of TB in a family. While the report is anonymous, it is quite clear, from the dates of death of the members of the family in the report, that the family being described is that of my Father, aged 12 at the time.
The MOH reported that the family had enjoyed good health during the 21 years in which they lived in the cottage. It was an ordinary two room crofters cottage, with stone walls, thatched roof and clay floor, and very damp. The people were clean and tidy and kept their house in excellent condition. The eldest daughter returned home with a suppurating finger, and began to show signs of Phthisis, dying on 26th May 1906 of tubercular meningitis. In November, a 14 year old daughter developed the disease in both lungs and died on 8th January 1907. At this time the father showed signs of the disease and the mother complained of pain in her ankle and abdomen. Daughters aged 20 and 10, and the baby aged 2, also showed signs of the disease. The baby died on 3rd January and the 10 year old daughter on 10th January. Her illness lasted only three weeks from the time of the doctor's first examination. The mother was removed to the Western Infirmary. The father died at the end of February. In March the 15 year old boy displayed signs of the disease.
According to the Report three of the children were isolated in the Old Schoolhouse at Brinicory, and in an Addendum to the Report, the death of the mother in Glasgow from Tubercular Peritonitis and the development of Phthisis in another member of the family is confirmed.
From our own research I know that the girl died in Brinicory in 1907, and one son died in Beoraid in 1909. The other son, my father, joined his youngest brother and went to live with Malcolm MacLellan in Glasnacardoch: another to John McLellan in Achnaluin and another to Alexander MacDougall (mother's brother) in Bracara. Dad always considered Glasnacardoch as his home. I wonder how it was that the boys survived this particularly virulent outbreak of the disease. Could it be that they were working outside the house and the girls indoors?
Four of the boys served in the First World War, Sandy was killed in1918. Hugh died in Drumsallie in 1926, Angus in Great Yarmouth in 1936, Allan in Duror in 1957. The youngest boy, Neil, emigrated in 1924 to Calgary Alberta where he married. He died about 1934 and had one son, Hugh, with whom I have lost contact. My father married in 1927 and had the hotel in Kilchoan until 1946, when we moved to the Station Hotel, Fort William. My Father died in 1971, and he and my mother are buried in Morar Cemetery.
Morar and Glasnacardoch mean a lot to me, and although I do not visit often, I always get a special thrill when I pass Camusdarach. I hope to return soon to find the family graves in Tarbert.
Mrs Pat Murray (MacLellan)
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