WEST WORD
Community paper for Mallaig, Morar, Arisaig, Lochailort, Glenfinnan
Glenuig, Knoydart and the Small Isles

List of Issues online

December 2007 Issue

Merry Christmas AND A Happy New Year
Nollaig Chridheil agus Bliadhna mhath ùr!
to all of you
from all of us at West Word

Contents of the online version:

Top stories
Monthly news from Knoydart, Muck, Eigg, Canna, Glenfinnan, Arisaig
West Word ten years ago
Crofting Roundup & Fishing Focus

Letters, e-mails and comments are welcome.
Contact Details & How to Subscribe to the Paper
Sign our Guestbook

All photos are copyright either of the individual photographers or West Word.
Not to be reproduced without permission.

SANTA'S SEVENTH SUCCESSFUL SWITCH-ON!
Santa made his annual visit to Cnoc-na-Faire in Arisaig on Sunday 2nd December and lit up a tree with a difference. Accompanied by his Elves and the White Fairy, he arrived still in his workshop which was towed by the Coastguard.
Seasonal singing from Stella Nova, hot mince pies and mulled wine kept the crowd happy until his arrival, which was watched for anxiously by the children.
After ceremoniously switching on the lights of a 'virtual' Christmas tree - a traditional shape made out of ropes of light - sweeties were distributed to the eager audience.
Many thanks from the community to Jenny and David for once again producing a Christmas extravaganza to delight us all.
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NEW PLANS FOR ARISAIG MARINE
The new year promises to be an exciting and challenging one for Arisaig Marine Ltd, with a major upgrade of their harbour facilities planned to take place in time for the 2008 summer season.
The £140,000 project will see a spacious new boatshed and small slipway built at Arisaig Harbour. A £28,000 building grant towards the cost of the project has been awarded by HIE Lochaber.
HIE Lochaber development manager Helen Cameron said that they had been delighted to support the re-development. She commented: "This project will provide the quality and range of facilities which yacht owners expect nowadays. It will also modernise and improve the efficiency of an established business in a remote area of Lochaber and enable them to take advantage of the growing niche market of marine leisure tourism."
Established over 30 years ago by Murdo Grant, Arisaig Marine has been run for the last four years by his daughter, Susan Grant and fellow director, Graham Maclellan.
'We've made quite a few changes over the years to our equipment including providing a pontoon and causeway, but this will be the first time that any major structural work has been carried out. Our present buildings have been there since the 1970s and are in drastic need of replacing,' Susan said.
'We're really very excited about the project which is the first phase in a series of improvements we are planning. We eventually hope to build a new harbour office with a chandlery, showers and laundry facilities. We feel leisure boating is a growing pastime and want to be ready to meet the demand. Over the last few years our business has steadily increased. We can't compete with bigger marinas but we feel we offer a personal service possibly lacking in larger operation and which our customers enjoy.'
Arisaig Marine specialises in the leisure cruising market, offering 60 summer moorings, private charters, winter boat storage and a boat repair service in addition to running a small chandlery. During the summer the company runs cruises to the Small Isles on their boat, MV Sheerwater, which also doubles as an essential ferry service for island residents.
For more info on Arisaig Marine go to www.arisaig.co.uk


KNOYDART
Well, winter seems to be here already: with quite a few people having left, and others taking the opportunity to escape for weekends or weeks at a time the peninsula is pretty quiet just now. My own travels have included a surprise trip to Northern Ireland, Gigha and Mull, accompanying the good doctor Mark Woombs as he picked up his very fancy RIB, which is equipped with extras such as microwave, stove, sleeping area and even a toilet! What with Kilchoan Estate's posh new boat, the Knoydart fleet is looking decidedly upmarket at the moment.
On the subject of boats, our new pier had its first visit from Calmac, with Loch Nevis bringing over a bottle bank, the first stage of our all-singing, all dancing rubbish disposal and recycling service (will Tim be singing and dancing when he's sorting out all our blue boxes?). Rumours of a regular Calmac service are flying around, although most people seem to be of the opinion that it would only really be acceptable if it was still viable to keep Bruce Watt's excellent service running. I think the Calmac crew would be hard pressed to provide such a personal, cheerful, regular service, as well as a sense of humour to match that of Tommy the Boat's. Hmm. I've a funny feeling I'll be getting a bit of a ribbing for writing that...
Brucie was unexpectedly called into action to bring across Mallaig Fire Brigade - a fire had been spotted at the ghillie's bothy. Knoydart Brigade set up a pump and hoses, and kept the roof doused until the "real" firemen turned up with breathing apparatus, which they proceeded to use whilst putting the fire out. It all brings up the usual questions about what Knoydart crew are allowed to do, and how we are informed about a fire (we're not sure, but it seems that none of us were actually informed about the incident by Highlands and Islands Fire Brigade - we all heard about it through the usual bush telegraph). We're looking forward to a visit from our new brigade boss based in Fort William early this month. Everything seemed to go well at the incident, and it was great to see everyone mucking in and working professionally to get the job done. Special thanks to non-brigade people who helped out, including Alasdair Lanyon, Iain Biggart, and Ian Robertson, as well as Jim Brown who was able to sort out the associated electricity problems. Thanks also to Mallaig brigade for doing all the nasty / dangerous bits in a calm and methodical manner. Stephen is now refusing offers of clothes - he reckons he's better clothed than he was before the fire!
The Old Forge has won another award - this time for "Best Visitor Experience". I wonder if the judges were in when Tam the Banjo was holding forth - sadly not a regular event these days as he's working away in the metropolis of Mallaig (although he has been known to pop over when there's a TV crew in town - did anyone spot him the other week? Mind you, I'm one to talk - after my own appearance on Countryfile, both ITV and Channel 4 seem to be interested in doing a feature on mainland Britain's remotest postie. Don't think they've heard of a wee place called Scoraig. Hmm. Which is remoter - Inverie or Scoraig? There's one for an online debate somewhere).
On the topic of music, it looks like we're going to have an unusually busy December. The Old Forge is hosting some top class musicians on Tuesday 4th : Adam Sutherland, Andy Thorburn and Marc Clement. The following Saturday 8th we have more excellent musicians, including Angus Grant and Jim Hunter, with lots of associated workshops and the ubiquitous ceilidh. And then, of course, the biggie - Knoydart has a Hogmanay ceilidh for the first time in years, with the Squashy Bay Dance Band and DJ Dolphin Boy until the wee small hours. It seems like everyone who's drifted off in the past couple of months (years, perhaps) is returning for the craic that is unique to Knoydart. So should be a good one. Give Jackie Harris or myself a ring if you want to book tickets in advance.
Working groups have been busy for the last couple of weeks: the Buildings Group presented their proposals for a new bunkhouse and accommodation at Home Farm, and the policy group have just released what they've been working on for the last couple of years regarding a policy for sale of land for housing on the peninsula. There's a meeting on Wednesday 5th for any residents who are interested in how the Foundation goes about selling land to people who want to live and work here, whilst avoiding the creation of more holiday homes.
A small business round up: Knoydart Natural Lamb have some posh new leaflets out, so keep a look out for them if you fancy some organic lamb for the holiday season. Isla and Rhona Miller's pottery workshop is doing well with lots of Christmas orders. Bob and Morag are coming along with their B&B which is happy to take dog owners (open Spring 2008). And Bernie is undertaking a full-scale intensive investigation of the sell-by dates of his tubs of Marmite. Season's greetings and all the best for New Year from Knoydart, and remember, if you fancy acting the goat at a right guid hooley this Hogmanay, you know where to come!
Tommy McManmon

ISLE OF MUCK
When I first heard that game birds and shooting might be coming to Muck I was less than enthusiastic. I have always preferred to see birds alive than dead (apart from vermin) and it seemed a retrograde step. But on reflection I realised that this was a fool's attitude. The main difference between rearing game birds to shoot and farm animals for meat is that people pay to kill the former and that makes all the difference to the economics.
Toby and Mary have been highly professional and the first season has been a great success. All the shooting parties have re-booked for next year, Port Mor House Hotel has had an extended season, and many islanders have earned pocket money being beaters.
But it is the conservation benefits that took me by surprise. In the woods one can hear the cock pheasants, and in the ponds the ducks chatting away. Small birds are having a great time in the game crops with free grain in the feeders. Overhead we have seen more Golden Eagles than for years, and Hen Harriers flapping over the bogs.
Few game birds have been lost and there are plenty around even at the end of the season. I would highly recommend shooting as a form of diversification wherever foxes, mink and pine martins are absent.
Before ending I would like to congratulate Charlie and Mhari-anna on the birth of their son Angus Charles and may I wish all West Word readers an enjoyable Christmas and the very best for 2008.
Lawrence MacEwen

ISLE OF EIGG
A quiet month socially, with a lot folk away on holiday and only a few visitors, as befits the season as we gear up for the festivities. The weather didn't agree, with many stormy days and nights, but exceptionally mild. We held our bonfire night celebrations on the 3rd, and were lucky enough for it to be a really cracking night, with some stars even visible! Fairly quiet on the wildlife front too, with the most notable event being a mass invasion of Mauve Stinger jellyfish at Laig Bay culminating on the 7th, with numbers approaching several million.
The highlight of the month was the 90th birthday of Eigg's oldest resident, Katie MacKinnon on the 15th of November. She hosted a grand old style ceilidh at home, with her daughters Catriona and Flora and son Iain travelling over to be with her along with partners Roddy and Ronnie. John Cormack, Duncan Ferguson, Kenneth Kean and Angus Kirk provided some great music, as would be expected, and most of the island was in attendance. Katie thoroughly enjoyed herself, and was apparently still going strong after midnight - what a raver.
We were all delighted to hear of Tamsin Helliwell's engagement to Stu McCarthy, with a wedding planned here on August 16th next year. The proposal was made during a weekend in Paris, - whoever said romance was dead. So exciting, and as these things often seem to happen in threes so those of us suffering from Jane Austen complex will have to start working overtime on the matchmaking!
As many of you may know, Camille Dressler has been very involved in the Scottish Islands Network over recent years, and this month saw her attending their re-launch conference as the Scottish Islands Federation on the 15th and 16th in Mull. The conference theme was "A Voice for the Islands" and was extremely well received, with a lot of national coverage. I'm sure we can expect to hear a lot more about it soon from Camille herself.
Eigg Primary school held an very entertaining Balls in the Bucket (don't ask!) fundraising event at An Laimhrig for "Fit for Scotland" on the 17th , with visitor Arnold Sherriff coming in just ahead of the local talent and scooping the adult prize. Erin Thomson and Logan Wallace came in at first place for the School and Nursery respectively.
After a great effort from the crofters, the cattle handling facilities in Cleadale Common Grazings were completed in time for the roundup before the Christmas sale at Ben Nevis Auction Mart. Despite inclement weather the cattle managed to get off. Prices achieved were moderate, as expected. Oh well, onwards and upwards. Happy birthdays to Lucy, Felicia, Clyde and anyone else I've forgotten!
Sue Kirk

ISLE OF CANNA
Last month wind, and this month…it's persisting down in bucket loads as they say. Just when we think the ground's drying nicely, along comes another bunch of rain. The last of the livestock sales for the year are approaching; let's hope the good results will continue. The forecast is reasonable, and the beasts should be on their way with the minimum of fuss.
Builders are back, keen as ever, to make a final push on the exterior insulation up at Caslum and to get the house "wrapped up" before the winter sets in. All we need is a break in the weather, and fingers crossed…job done. Roughcasting? Now that's a different matter…
Conditions haven't been ideal for boat trips. A couple of missed calls this month, but we're all the more pleased when the Loch Nevis pops her nose round the point…it really was touch and go the other day as one wee lad's birthday treats threatened not to appear and then…Up went the shout…"Hoorah!" they exclaimed, and made their way hurriedly to their stations…Boy, was Dad relieved…even though he managed to drop the eggs the day was saved by a packet of instant cake mix found at the back of the cupboard. Happy Birthday, Johnny Francis!
After attending the HICEC Community Renewables Conference we've been keen to send a delegation off to look at the energy scheme on Eigg. Unfortunately this has proved difficult to coordinate this month…we'll be over soon, though, weather permitting! Ultimately we'll be looking at putting something altogether smaller in place here but it will be interesting to see how all the different technologies come together. Our diesel system works well but jings…it's expensive…whatever the thoughts on global warming and fossil fuels etc., the sooner the better says I, picking myself up off the floor after getting our last fuel bill.
There are quite a few folk off on mainland trips this month, which leaves us somewhat short-handed. Not critically so, but it's just a reminder of how fragile a community like this can be. On the bright side, it appears that there is something of a population explosion on the way, relatively speaking. We're looking forward to welcoming the new family (another four!) on Canna, while over on Sanday tension mounts as numbers threaten to swell to unprecedented levels. With their true identities remaining unconfirmed, there's talk of trouble ahead. Aye…double trouble!
A team from Edinburgh Zoo came over to establish the extent of the mouse population, and gave a wee talk at the school about the project. We can safely say that our very own Canna mice have re-established themselves good and proper and, touch wood, no sign of ol' rattus…
Let's not forget the Halloween party, either…the usual syrupy floury nonsense, chocolate cake and top scones…sadly the world's best egg mayonnaise sarnies couldn't be in attendance and were sorely missed, but the antics of the newcomers kept our spirits up. Do they really know what they've let themselves in for?
The NLV Pharos was an impressive sight parked just outside the bay, while she choppered in some heavy equipment to the light on Sanday. I thought they'd put in a foghorn gotten cheap on Ebay going by the racket the other night but someone's apparently been donated a saxophone…who on earth could that be?
I'm hearing strains of 'Jingle Bells' being played very badly somewhere in the distance , which reminds me…have a good Christmas, everyone!
Geoff Soe-Paing

GLENFINNAN
The long, dark winter months are here and a calendar of events to brighten the spirits. The Halloween parties were good fun. The children were dressed to scare and enjoyed traditional Halloween games like dooking for apples. Joan was unrecogniseable as the Spirit of the Glen and, as ever, kept the children well entertained. The adults party followed which I sadly missed but I hear it was great craic. Despite the wild, wet weather on Halloween itself a few children went guising. Aine quickly cottoned on to the whole thing and started singing two songs in the hope of even more treats!
Then on Guy Fawkes night we had a bonfire, hot sausages, mulled wine and toasted mallows and a fantastic firework display from Iain Banks and Les MacFarlane. As usual there was a big turn-out and it was nice to just gather round the fire for a while.
The Glenfinnan 07 programme has been busy of late. We had a very enjoyable evening with Charlie MacFarlane hosted by Allan Henderson with Iain MacFarlane and Ingrid Henderson. As Allan Henderson said in his introduction there is so much you can say about Charlie - musician, storyteller, historian but two words spring to mind "Highland gentleman". Time just flew as he regaled us with tales of his youth, recitals of 'The Politician', a Gaelic song, tunes on the fiddle and the hilarious 'Hen's march to the midden'. The dining room of Glenfinnan House Hotel served to create an intimate atmosphere so you felt as if he had taken you into his front room. The place filled with laughter and all too soon it was over. Following the concert we had a session in the bar and the place filled to hear good tunes and enjoy good craic. This was a great opportunity to celebrate Charlie MacFarlane who is a gem in our midst and a visitor attraction. This event could have sold out three times such was demand so I am sorry if you were disappointed.
We also had a GF07 Scottish quiz night hosted by Anne Martin from Skye and the following afternoon a Cooking with Gaelic (not garlic!). We all learned some Gaelic and some new recipes. Brot duilleasg (Dulse soup) being the most adventurous. The dulse seaweed was picked on the shores of Skye by Anne's family and sent on the bus to Fort William. It truly made a delicious soup that did not taste salty as you might imagine but tasted wholesome and healthy. It went very well with the brown soda bread. We also enjoyed the very traditional dish of smoked fish lasagne! To round it off we had dumpling and coffee.
I took up the offer of membership at the Ben Nevis Hotel (Milton) Leisure club until the end of the year. It is bliss to be in the warm spa looking out to the bad weather. Anyway, it seems we are a health-conscious bunch in Glenfinnan as on my first visit there were 8 villagers there and no-one else!
We finally have a new bridge over the river Callop and it is beautiful. It puts me in mind of long gone childhood days fishing with hooks tied on to bits of string like Huckleberry Finn. Our oldest resident Kitty MacDonald officially opened the bridge. It is great to have a different route to walk as an alternative to the viaduct. And it is great to be able to enjoy the Callop walk without having to take the car. It was a long-time in the planning but it seems the wait was worth it. We also had the War Memorial cleaned and this was most noticed and appreciated at the annual Remembrance Day service.

Other events:
The Church Restoration Fund held a St. Andrew's night quiz.
Community Council AGM on Sunday 2nd December.
On the 8th December we have the Glenfinnan 07 Grand Finale Ceilidh with the Glenfinnan Ceilidh Band, Rachel Walker and the children and adult learners in the village. There will be a raffle with all proceeds going to the Church Restoration Fund.
We are also having a children's Christmas party and a senior citizen's Christmas party. We are a small village with a lot of over 60's and a lot of under 12's so both parties should be lively.
And of course, we all have our own festivities to look forward to. I wish you all a very merry Christmas and a raucous …eh, I mean peaceful, New Year.
Eileen O'Rua

ARISAIG
The episode of the 'History Detectives' about Prince Charlie's gold was finally shown on BBC during the month and revealed several local worthies scrambling about down Rhu looking for treasure. You may recall that earlier this year programme makers came down to Camus an t'Salainn to look for gold meant to have been stolen from Bonnie Prince Charlie's funds from France. A letter which is in the West Highland Museum was supposedly written on his deathbed by the man who had taken and hidden it. The programme, amongst other things, showed us how to date ink and paper and the experts concluded that the letter was a hoax, probably perpetrated by Robert E Groves who had written an article about the letter in 1934.
Interesting stuff none the less-and there is still treasure supposedly out there in them thar hills!
Now, who would come into the village and dump a fridge and a boiler in the car park? It is so easy to arrange a special uplift, it's a free service. just call 01687 460027 or 01397 709007. The numbers are carried in West Word every month on page 2 with the dates of the mobile skip. The skip can't take things like a fridge so a quick phone call is the simplest way to get rid of bulky and white goods.
The saga of the Hall lights continues….
Ann Martin

Last month we carried an article on the new bridge over the Borrodale Burn. This photo shows the steel trusses being covered by timbers to create a mould which will then be covered in concrete. photo


A Tiny Miracle - The Story of Chloe
Chloe is a black cocker spaniel. She belongs to Ruth Harland and arrived on Muck in June as a young puppy. On the morning of Sunday 18th November Chloe slipped out of the house and made for the beach. Not content with sand she made her way along the rocky reef that skirts the east side of Gallanach Bay. It is hard to be sure what happened next, but she probably went after one of the seals that haul out on the rocks in better weather. Taking to the water in pursuit she ended up on the furthest rock; the next land being Rum.
Soon her absence was noticed and through binoculars Chloe was finally spotted. We were amazed that she had got so far (the wind was north-east, force 4, and there were white caps to the waves).
Colin MacEwen quickly launched a dingy and rowed to the rescue, and so this story might have ended, but as Colin landed on the sheltered side Chloe jumped in on the windward. By the time Colin reached that point Chloe had disappeared. It seemed impossible that she would get far in such a heavy sea but we searched by land and sea, all in vain. Ruth was distraught.
Three days later on the Wednesday it was calm and sunny. Libby Barnden, and her daughter Rachael, were on the road to Gallanach when faintly they heard the sound of a dog but they couldn't see one. Dave Barnden was soon on the scene, and again with the aid of binoculars he perceived Chloe on a rock nearly half a mile from where it had all started. Sandy Mathers, Head of Muck Coastguards, was quickly called and was soon on his way in his rubber dingy. As he approached, Chloe again jumped into the sea and swam to another rock, but this time there was no escape and she was hauled aboard the dingy. Back home she seemed little affected by her remarkable swim and three days on a rock.
Lawrence MacEwen


Crofting roundup

SCF LOCAL AGM
The Mallaig and Morar Branch of The Crofting Foundation held a well attended meeting in the Cnoc on Thurs 22nd Nov. Audrey MacDonald was appointed secretary/treasurer and Hughie Donaldson, board member of the SCF gave local members a forecast of worrying times ahead, with predictions for the new SRDP and the possibility of the inevitable fate of the Bull scheme. He urged all who support the Bull Scheme to write letters to ministers detailing just why we want the scheme to survive. It really is urgent to do this now because by the time the Shucksmith inquiry into the future of crofting reports in May [or later] it will be too late to set up a new scheme for September next year. There really has to be political will behind this and by writing to MSP's such as Mike Russell [Environment and Crofting] the Bull Scheme can still be saved. By emphasizing the environmental benefits of cattle keeping in the Crofting counties politicians can help us make our case.
Three important reasons why the Bull Scheme must stay.
While there are health checked, quality Bulls sent to Crofting townships regularly every spring the tradition of cattle keeping will always be maintained. While AI and hiring a bull can both be effective replacements, there are problems associated with both and once the township Bull is gone there will most defiantly be a decrease in cattle produced from the Highlands and Islands There are environmental benefits to cattle keeping in the Hills, Cattle improve hill ground and a wider variety of flora and fauna will be present when there is life in the hills and moorland from grazing livestock
There are social benefits to keeping livestock and traditional crofting practices.
By emphasizing the social and environmental aspects to the politicians, even although they may not be the main reasons for wanting to keep the Bull Scheme, ministers can sway the Government into keeping the scheme.
A Valentines dance was also discussed, a Crofters dance to be held at a venue where all members from Fort William to Acharacle could attend, maybe Glenfinnan. Hope to have an update on the venue next month.

CROFTING INQUIRY DISCUSION FORUM
There is an open Forum on the Crofting Inquiry website, it has been live for a few weeks now but news of it going live has not been readily available. The call to evidence from meetings throughout the summer has already been closed, however evidence taken from the discussion forum will still be used so it could be worth using the forum as a way to deliver your views on various topics. These include 'The economic importance of Crofting Agriculture', 'Croft Sales' and 'Features of Crofting that matter most'. All interesting topics but so far only one or two people seem to have found the forum. This is no wonder as of course it has not been advertised. The address is www.croftinginquiry.org/Forum

SCOTLAND RURAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME 2007 - 2013: PUBLIC MEETING FOR POTENTIAL APPLICANTS
Public meetings on the new Scotland Rural Development Programme (SRDP) will be held in Inverness and Oban to give possible applicants an overview of SRDP, with more detail on the new Rural Development Contracts - Rural Priorities scheme, how to seek funding from the scheme and what makes a proposal worthy of support.
Those attending the meeting will get a chance to ask questions about the new SRDP and, in particular, Rural Development Contracts - Rural Priorities.
All meetings will run from 7.30 pm to 9.30 pm with an opportunity to chat over a cup of tea or coffee afterwards.
Inverness Thistle Hotel, Inverness - 22 January 2008
Regent Hotel, Oban 29 January 2008

XMAS GIFTS WITH A CROFTING THEME
The Lewis Peat Calendar. Not for the faint hearted, naked Lewismen gathering peat, available from John Murray, 21 Gress, Isle of Lewis, HS2 ONB £5.50, cheque or postal order to be made payable to Gress Leukemia Research.
Beautiful Sepia images of Crofting scenes taken from Francis Grey Smart's tour of the Highlands in 1889 can be viewed and purchased on line at www.sunnyfield.co.uk/scotch_tour89.htm

Shoot a Goose for Xmas dinner. Help the Crofters save their grass and enjoy a free range Goose at Xmas.

Joyce Ormiston, SCF Council Member

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West Word - ten years ago
Grant Holroyd's photograph entitled 'A Winter Scene from Knoydart' by Acting Editor Jacqueline McDonell, adorned the front cover of the December 1997 edition of West Word. The main story on the front page was headed Knoydart Appeal Launched and it told of the aims (and plans) of the Knoydart Foundation to raise enough money to purchase the Knoydart Estate. The Foundation hoped to raise £1million and seek a further £1m from the Public Sector to purchase and start development and regeneration.
The other cover story told of some disquiet from the villagers of Arisaig as two burst pipes equated to two days without water for residents there.
Local MP Mr David Stewart's 'Westminster Diary' told of his steep political learning curve since his election seven months previously, the sacks and sacks of mail he receives weekly and the miles upon miles of commuting to London - but that he wouldn't have it any other way!
The sinking of the OB registered fishing boat Kelly Marena and the safe rescue of its three man crew was noted in the Lifeboat Log, while one of the lighter moments contained in the Coastguard update was the rescue of an expectant cow from boggy land near Rhubana!
The axing of the Coastguard Stations at Oban and Orkney brought condemnation in Hugh Allen's Fishing Scene column, which also condemned the proposed quota cuts in saithe and whiting for 1998.
Charlie King's Highland Council Corner was replaced this month by the draft plan and details of something he had been heavily involved in - the proposed Mallaig Resource Centre - with the added information that construction work was due to commence in April 1998.
Sonia Cameron's On the Rails column congratulated the West Highland Hotel for securing a contract with Chiltern Trains to accommodate travellers on the Small Isles Circular (London to Mallaig, thence Small Isles and Inverie). She also hoped that the Mallaig Station would be staffed on a regular basis next year!
Features in the 32 page publication included a) SOE Training in World War II; b) Blowing Hot or Cold (Ross Campbell's Environmental page; c) Down to Earth by Eigg's Neil Robertson; and d) The Final Episode of Mary Johnston's Mallaig Childhood. Old faithfuls like Personal Angle, Recipes from the Old Library, Creepy Crawly Corner, Encounter group, Astrological Advice Lines and the Christian Messages were all spread through the paper and there was a small report of a visit to the Holy Land by Richard Stead, Acharacle, plus a review of the Loch Morar's Angling Club's season alongside a photograph of the trophy winners. The School News contained the information that the Mallaig High School's Annual September Gala Day had raised a sum in excess of £3250 and there was a picture of Beverley Trotter, her mum Avril and the new computer with video conferencing which Beverly had won for Mallaig Primary School via a joint STV show 'Skoosh' and BT competition.
As had been the norm over the past few editions, A Sense of Adventure was spread over two pages, courtesy of items from Giles Trussell on his yachting adventure in South America, and Barry Austin cycling in South Africa. Barry had arrived back at his sister's door in Sussex exactly one year, 10628 miles and 39 punctures since his departure date.
A photograph of Alasdair MacDonald (83) and some of the nursing staff at Glencoe Hospital adorned page 13 and illustrated an article I had written about Alasdair, who had lived in Lovat Terrace, Mallaig, and worked for British Railways for 48 years. He served his country in Burma during the Second World War. Alasdair had contacted me with information I was seeking on the Mallaig Lighthouse.
The acknowledgments included one from Jim Eastham, skipper of the Kelly Marena, thanking everyone involved in the rescue of the boat's crew; while on the letters page the MacKellaig family were proud to welcome piper Karl MacKellaig (New Zealand) who had performed at the inaugural Feis na Mara in October.
A Mallaig school group photograph (dating back to the 50s) found in the Fort William Cinema Car Park by Janette Sutherland was printed but no-one ever came forward to explain the mystery find and 10 years on it remains a mystery!
Some of the topics that caught my eye in the Round and About section were: a new PA system had been received in time for the Eigg Feis but concern was being expressed about the lack of confirmation regarding Objective One funding for the proposed new Eigg Jetty; Mallaig Hall Committee set to contact Mallaig Harbour Authority requesting a long term lease for a site on West Bay for the new Mallaig & Morar Community Centre; the extension to Jenny MacEwen's Craft Shop and Tea Room was underway on Muck; Knoydart Hall had been painted by volunteers and decked out in splendour by the school pupils of Inverie; while in Arisaig there was a mix of whist drives, pub quiz nights and a successful application to 21st Century Halls for funding towards the upgrading of the Astley Hall.
The snippets contained lots of congratulatory messages to Mallaig couple Ann and Archie Dempster, who would celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary on 26th December 1997 - well, I'll close down the column for this year by congratulating Ann and Archie on their Golden Wedding Anniversary!
RMM


Auntie Mary's Creepy Crawly Corner
Tree transplanting by the A830 - Rescuing some oak saplings
For the road scheme between Arisaig and Loch nan Uamh as part of the mitigation, that is reducing impacts, of going through part of the Glen Beasdale Special Area of Conservation oak woodland and following good ecological practice, a set number of oak saplings are to be transplanted. Suitable saplings were identified beside the current A830 where they are in ground which is going to be excavated for the new alignment and therefore the trees would be lost.
In mid-November Bobby and Dylan (for MCL) carefully dug out the oak saplings from beside the A830 near the Beasdale Halt. Phil DiDuca and his team (for Tilhill) also dug out; and then carried, and transplanted the saplings in an appropriate location near Borrodale. I took photos, carried and planted the 3 smaller saplings.

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The chosen oak saplings were dug out using spades, with care being taken to preserve as much of the root systems as possible. They were growing in very little soil. Those growing on shattered rock came out the easiest. As it was a damp day there was no problem keeping the roots moist. The saplings, which vary from about 1 metre to around 2.5 metres tall, were transported in the back of a truck to the sawmill.
We carried them to their new situations on a south-west facing slope in good soil amongst low bracken. As a contrast several of the smaller ones were planted along the hillside in a wetter area on ground formerly covered in dense Rhododendron ponticum. Generous holes were dug by Phil and his team of three, the roots laid out and then the top soil replaced and firmed in around each tree. We spaced them well apart to allow room for individual growth.
These trees will be monitored for survival and growth. They will complement natural tree regeneration which is already apparent in the area of Borrodale cleared of rhododendron and where there is on-going control of the rhododendron re-growth and seedlings to allow the native woodland to recover and recolonise the area.
Thanks go to all concerned in the co-operation between contractors and with The Highland Council, for this work in enhancing the environment.
Dr Mary Elliott


FISHING FOCUS
by John Hermse, Secretary of the M&NWFA
December Council: Scottish industry received first set of proposals from Brussels in the last few days. Some prawn vessels in the West of Scotland fishery were asked by the Commission to accept cuts of some 25% in effort for 2008. This was because some very spurious data presented by the Commission showed that discards of haddock and whiting in the 70mm to 90mm sectors were inexplicably high. This was acceptable until you further analyse the figures and see that for 2006 discards have reduced, but showed that assumptions were made on landings of only three boxes! As usual CION (the new posh name for the Commission) presented such findings at the eleventh hour with little of no time for industry to respond. Such tactics, so often used by the EC, denigrates the work done on front loading over the last year and shows industry that the EU has little interest in promoting stability.
Seafish: Dear old Seafish, the body which ostensibly promotes fishing has done it again, in scoring an own goal by creating an even greater rift between itself and industry. The part of Seafish that works really well- training, carried out through the GTA network - has been highly successful, mainly through the expertise and efforts of GTA personnel. Seafish though, has decided to break down a successful system, using dubious legal arguments to prove its case and replace it with a highly questionable voucher and call centre operation. Worse still, little or no consultation was carried out on the necessity of changing the system, with only a small steering group allegedly sworn to secrecy! So much for transparency.
Visit to Brussels: The Chairman of MNWFA and I visited Brussels in mid-November to meet with members of the EU Parliament and appraise them of issues affecting West Coast fishermen. We met with MEPs Elspeth Attwooll, Ian Hudghton and Alyn Smith. We also met with Craig Egner, the Scottish Government officer who liaises with the EU on behalf of Fisheries and Agriculture. The visit was of great benefit for all concerned and hopefully left the politicians with a greater understanding of the problems encountered by our fishermen. Alyn Smith the SNP MEP, went to sea on a fishing trip with Ocean Hunter about two years ago. A big thank you to all concerned for their time and hospitality.
MNWFA Net Stores: The net stores are well underway and should be completed in Spring 2008. It has been decided to build 23 stores and as they are going fast, anyone wishing to hire a store should contact the MNWFA office as soon as possible. The stores are being built to a very high standard of strength and quality by RJ McLeod Ltd. We continue to be impressed by the commitment shown by the contractors and their workmen.
Fish for Kids: MNWFA , along with FITA, held a "Fish for the Kids" event at Inverness Royal Academy at the end of October. 30-40 pupils and several teachers had to suffer presentations from Lachie, Sally from (FITA) and myself, followed by a cookery demonstration by local celebrity chef Norman MacDonald, owner of Café 1 in Inverness. The pupils, some of whom had never tasted fish before, were treated to a cookery and tasting session featuring several different types of fish and shellfish. The event was highly successful and we hope to repeat in on an annual basis. We would hope to visit several schools in the Highlands & Islands to put on a similar events in the coming year.


EMERGENCY BEACONS

What is an Emergency Beacon and how could it be of interest to fisherman, pleasure craft owners and sailors?
An Emergency Beacon is designed to active in an emergency to get people rescued as soon as possible after the activation of a beacon. At present they work on three frequencies 121.5 MHz, 243 MHz and 406 MHz.
Safety Note: As of the 1 Feb 2009 the 121.5 MHz and 243 MHz beacons will no longer be detected or reported on by Cospas-Sarsat Satellite constellations.
In the case of a 406 MHz beacon which transmits a digital signal, the beacons can be uniquely identified almost instantly, and furthermore, a GPS position can be encoded into the signal (thus providing both instantaneous identification & position.) The distress signals from the beacons can then be homed in by a Search and Rescue helicopter/aircraft and/or ground search parties who can in turn come to the aid of the concerned boat/aircraft, and/or persons.
There are three types of Emergency Beacons

Where is this information collected in the UK?

United Kingdom Mission Control Centre (UKMCC)
The United Kingdom Mission Control Centre (UKMCC) is part of the Aeronautical Rescue Co-ordination Centre (ARCC) at RAF Kinloss, Moray, Scotland. As an integral part of worldwide search and rescue, the UKMCC operates as part of the COSPAS-SARSAT satellite aided tracking system to detect and locate mariners, aviators, and recreational enthusiasts in distress almost anywhere in the world at anytime and in most conditions.
The system uses American and Russian satellites in low-earth and geostationary orbits to detect and locate aviators, mariners, and land-based users in distress. The satellites relay distress signals from emergency beacons to a network of ground stations and ultimately to the UK Mission Control Centre (UKMCC). The UKMCC processes the distress signal and alerts the appropriate search and rescue authorities to who is in distress and, more importantly, where they are located. The UKMCC is a part of the international Cospas-Sarsat Program to which 36 nations and two independent SAR organizations belong.

Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre (ARCC)
The Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre, based at RAF Kinloss in Scotland, exists to assist in the saving of life through the efficient co-ordination of information and assets. With RAF Search and Rescue Sea King helicopters, Nimrod patrol aircraft and RAF Mountain Rescue Teams to call upon, the ARCC is a vital hub for UK rescues.
Working closely with the Police, HM Coastguard and Ambulance Authorities, the ARCC provides SAR helicopter, long range fixed wing aircraft and mountain rescue team assistance for a range of incidents UK wide.
Day and night, 365 days a year, the ARCC is standing by to task Search and Rescue assets in the saving of life within the UK's Search & Rescue region, spanning approximately a million square miles. The ARCC is the central coordination unit for all Search and Rescue helicopters throughout the UK.
From a fallen climber in the Cairngorm Mountains of the Scottish Highlands, to a sinking fishing vessel 230 miles west of Ireland, the ARCC is always ready to assist.
Every year the ARCC is involved in over 2500 incidents, calling on the RAF Sea King helicopters, RAF Nimrod patrol aircraft, and RAF Mountain Rescue teams to help people in distress.

Recent Incidents
25 Jun 07 - Two Royal Air Force (RAF) Sea Kings from Leconfield, a RAF Sea King from Boulmer and a RAF Sea King from Wattisham were tasked to rescue people trapped in buildings following substantial flooding in Sheffield. In total, 98 people were rescued from buildings, cars and rivers within the city.
12 Apr 07 - A RAF Sea King from Lossiemouth, a Royal Navy (RN) Sea King from Prestwick, a RAF Nimrod from Kinloss, A Maritime Costal Agency (MCA) S61N helicopter from Sumburgh and a British Petroleum Superpuma from Sumburgh were tasked following the capsize of a rig support vessel west of Shetland. The aircraft rescued survivors and conducted a search for the missing crew.
23 Feb 07 - Two RAF Sea Kings from Valley, and RAF Sea Kings from Boulmer and Leconfield, together with the RAF Mountain Rescue team from Leeming, were tasked to assist passengers involved in the derailment of a Virgin train near Kendal. Twenty-four passengers were airlifted to hospitals in Lancaster, Preston and Carlisle.
29 Jan 07 - Two RN Sea Kings from Culdrose were scrambled to an emergency beacon detected by UKMCC, 150 miles west of Isles of Scilly. The helicopters found the crew, who had taken to liferafts, and rescued all seven.

Emergency Beacons
Safety Note: As of the 1 Feb 2009 the 121.5 MHz and 243 MHz beacons will no longer be detected or reported on by Cospas-Sarsat Satellite constellations.

Flight Lieutenant Nicholas Page, Royal Air Force
Aeronautical Rescue Co-ordination Centre, Royal Air Force Kinloss
www.kinlossrescue.com

Flight Lieutenant Page read about a recent incident in West Word's Lifeboat Log and we thank him for clarifying how information is received.


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