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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
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July 2014 Issue
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Local Highland Councillor Allan Henderson presents Mrs Jemima Gillies, Kinloid, Arisaig, with a basket of flowers to mark the occasion of her 100th birthday on Tuesday 1st July 2014. Mima celebrated with a party in St. Mary's Church Hall after a special service in the church.
Pictured right: 100 year old Mima Gillies holds her 3 month old great great grand-daughter Eilidh Maureen MacLeod at her 100th birthday party in St Mary's Church Hall, Arisaig, on Tuesday 1st July.
Hello! Nice to be back in the hot seat again. Wee Heather is having fun being a leader at a summer camp in Pennsylvania (without any internet access); a good enough excuse for not writing the Knoydart column, I reckon.
Plenty been happening here. On the entertainment front, the K15 Anniversary celebrations continued apace, with the Budapest Cafe Orchestra producing a rousing night of foot-stomping in the village hall. The band were suitably impressed with Knoydart. So were two members of the Sawdoctors who were playing in Sleat, and heard about our wee community: sounds like they're up for a session over here! Definite upcoming gigs in July include the Scott Wood Band on Saturday 5th July (part of the book festival), Barluath on Friday 18th July, Sotho Sounds (funky shepherds from the mountains of Lesotho) on Friday 25th July, Luke Daniels and friends on Wednesday 30th July, and the mighty Breabach on Saturday 2nd August (Games Day). Phew!
Lots of first-aiding been going on, with ten employees of the Knoydart Foundation and Forest Trust put through a 1- and 2- day course with Chris DiRollo of BASP. More first aiding coming up, with another course on 9th July: speak to Iain Hunt at the Tearoom if you want to attend. Maybe not quite as many visitors as usual over enjoying the hot weather, but there's still plenty of choice for them accommodation- and food-wise. The tea room have started their excellent evening meals (Wednesdays - Friday nights, and occasional Saturdays), and Bob is serving burgers, chips and rolls from his new burger van! Doune restaurant folks are working hard, and the Old Forge is open from 3pm; best to phone ahead to book a place if planning to eat.
We had a meeting about the Foundation's constitution which was surprisingly well-attended, probably because lots of people thought it was going to be controversial, which it wasn't. It's really helped us move forward on modernising our documents; many thanks to the brave Diane Campbell who enabled and mediated alongside Neil Gerrard.
Lots of sadness at the departure of Angela, Mark, Caitlin, Calum and menagerie to the (real) mainland. They're not going far - Salen - and are retaining links with Knoyart through Ang's often thankless job as Development Manager for the Foundation. Haste all of ye back, and often. You've flitted to a beautiful part of the country: I hope to be over to visit often.
The aforementioned Words from the Wild book festival is about to kick off, with such luminaries as Andy Wightman, Lesley Riddoch, Jim Crumley and Ian McEwan. The marquee from Eigg is up in the Community Garden, and there's enough of a breeze to keep the midges away - can't wait.
Do you remember our 10-year anniversary run? It was a blustery yet exciting day. Well, on Saturday 30th August, we are hosting Run Knoydart: a 5k, 10k and Trail Run event to celebrate the 15th Anniversary of the Foundation. There's also a craft day on at the same time, so why not jump on a ferry and make a day of it? If you want to enter a running event, email firstname.lastname@example.org for an application form and info. There's also information on the Knoydart Foundation website.
Finally, I notice that despite the many pictures taken with this publication in Barcelona, none have yet appeared in these hallowed pages. Come on folks, get them emailed into Ann! I reckon you could put together an entire page of "Knoydart visits Barcelona with the West Word" photos. If you really wanted to.
ISLE OF MUCK
The weather has managed to find a place on the Muck column on quite a number of occasions in recent years and June was no exception.
It was the calmest June for a long time and day after day with hardly a ripple on the water. This has resulted in large numbers of yachts, ribs and kayaks and lots of extra business in the Craft Shop. All is back to normal now but apart from a weeks slating the three Marine Harvest houses have reached the stage where almost all the work is under cover.
On the farm the shearing is finished and silage is well under way and no problems with mud so far. The crops have been fairly light.
In the school in a special ceremony farewell has been said to three of the six pupils; Archie Fichtner Irvine, Ben Mac Fazdean and Ethan Moffat. Teacher Julie Baker presented special presents to each who then recounted the highlights of their school careers so far, sang and played a range of tunes on their ukuleles. And in the Hall Camas mounted two group concerts; Stephen and Pernille Quigg and later North Sea Gas. Both were well attended but I wish that I could hear more of the words. This month stretching into August we have the Ceilidh Trail, the Small Isles Sports with two bands and the launch of 'A Drop in the Ocean'. There will also be a Circus Performance and Workshop and Emma Walters will be organising more sports in the Hall. For details and dates see the Isle of Muck website.
That's all for this month.
ISLE OF RUM
June has been a glorious month, everything is blooming.
Ranger Trudi has been busy with a new programme of events for the summer including an early morning bird song identification walk and a foraging afternoon - cooking the proceeds in the village hall, sounds yummy, pretty sure that will prove to be popular; she has a new Facebook page so check out The Rum Ranger for more info on what's going on.
Swallowcam in the visitors centre has also proved a popular attraction especially now as the chicks have hatched and can be seen in the nest waiting for their next feed, Joss and Eve have been checking it out every day on the way to school.
With the start of the stalking season upon us, local stalker Marcel was able to despatch the two stags who had taken up residence in the village, wreaking havoc on local fruit trees, they were becoming a regular sight every evening taking a stroll across the shore, there were a lot of photo opportunities and visitors to Rum were surprised at how friendly they were, no need to be sad - there's bound to be more...
As mentioned last month, there will be a change in the research staff for the Kilmory deer project and soon the outgoing researcher Martyn Baker will be leaving us; Martyn has been here for 6 years, living and working on his lonesome up at Kilmory. On behalf of us all, we wish you all the best for the future.
Lots of significant birthdays in June, two of our ladies celebrated their fortieth and there was a weekend of parties and music to celebrate, others chose to mark the occasion with a walk up a big hill - time for reflection and a fine view too.
As work is progressing so quickly and with an indication of an early finish, interviews for the bunkhouse manager took place last week in preparation for an autumn opening, we are at a stage where decisions on final finishes and landscaping are being made - many tonnes of topsoil arrived today on the Spanish John.
The community trust are looking to set up a volunteer programme to help with a variety of tasks in the village and also to assist the ranger - hopefully this should prove a successful scheme as Rum is such a delightful place to be. Plans are also afoot to regenerate Harris Lodge; after the successful roof repairs last year, we are looking to prevent further deterioration of the lodge, which we can hopefully be able to use as a holiday let eventually, it's such a great building. We'll be starting with a good old clear out and then identify what work needs doing first and then work out how to pay for it.
School is now out for the summer and the big kids are home for the duration, the little ones had an open afternoon to show off their projects and sports day, which has a separate write up, was a bit of a laugh.
ISLE OF CANNA
There was a great weekend on Canna introducing some local residents to the art of sea kayaking with Willie Fraser... what an amazing island to learn a new skill and the weather was fantastic too. Gerry now officially has earned her water wings. Next stop the Outer Hebrides by Kayak.
Guitar duo Wingin It, Adam Bulley and Chas MacKenzie played an excellent set on the 21st June to a busy house at the Camus Arts Centre. These talented Musicians returned after playing at the Feis last year and everyone had a wonderful time listening to some beautiful music. The event was supported by residents, visitors from the mainland and Eigg residents as well as visiting yachts people. The support for the arts centre has been wonderful over the last year and the next step is to secure some funding to keep it going. Anyone out there who wishes to support the venue and projects please get in touch at email@example.com.
Shearing has started and Gerry and Murdo are very busy working hard in the shearing shed. The sheep will be cooler for this hot weather and Julie will be able to spin and dye more of her fantastic Canna wool for visitors coming to the island.
The Away with the Birds performance team with Hannah Tuulikki were here for another spell on the island working out the logistics and having some rehearsal too. They are a wonderful team to work with and have been brilliant integrating and including the community as part of the project. These performances will take place on the 29th and 30th of August please see www.awaywiththebirds.co.uk for information and tickets.
ISLE OF EIGG
June has been another busy month on Eigg, with visitors' numbers swelling steadily up to reach a sizeable number for our Eigg anniversary which as usual, brought together old friends and fresh faces who were all equally wowed by the stunning scenery of the island, which showed itself at his best that weekend, despite a bit of mist to start with. Every one commented on the record amount of wild orchids everywhere, but particularly in Cleadale, perhaps owing to the fact that Donald and Morag's cows are no longer there to munch on them! Bog cotton also showed up in vast rifts this year, even appearing in unexpected places. Eigg scenery and wild flowers certainly wowed the French TV crew that was filming for a 20 minutes documentary on the island to be shown in the autumn, as part of a feature on Scotland for Thalassa, the French equivalent of the UK programme, Coast. A Gallic influx next summer as well as a German one, in the wake of a radio programme by one of Germany's most popular broadcasters?
Yamatha and Dolphin Boy, still going strong after 17 years of celebrating with us, were brilliant and so were Daimh Mor, and their Sambatastic theme that night, nothing to do with Brazil, but all to do with Eigg's favourite footwear, as a giant Samba trainer dangled over the stage. A great time was had by all, and the event was made especially romantic as Steven chose that day to propose to Frances! Congrats to you both! And Billy Mackail also chose the occasion to celebrate his 60th in style. Many happy returns, Billy!
Those of us that were not completely exhausted by the celebrations made it to the Clipperton Project presentation at the Earth Connections Centre. Celia Bull, Eigg's newest crofter is skippering the Clipperton project team of artists and scientists from Eigg to the Orkney and Shetland islands for three months on her yacht Selkie, to explore what impact mankind has on the sea and the costal environment, looking in particular at how plastic is affecting us. You can follow what's happening by googling the project. Dylan her son will be blogging the Eigg primary school about how adventures as part of his school work!
Marine mammals and the impact of mankind on their habitat was very much to the fore this month as the Eigg Whale and Dolphin watch was treated to a special session on marine mammal biology as part of their training to take tissue samples from washed up dead animals in order to determine the cause of death. Orcas for instance have often been found to have abnormally high pollutant levels in their liver, and a lot of research points at the noxious effect of plastic and especially micro plastic in the sea, as small plastic particles carrying high levels of PCBs and other toxic stuff end in the food chain. Plastic pollution is something that the Green Team on Eigg is keen to work on, so watch this space! It certainly would be good to see plans for a marine mammal MPA proceeding in our area, and the SNH team which visited Eigg at the beginning of the month were confident that they would soon have enough data for a fuller proposal. The community certainly viewed with interest their virtual presentation of the dive sites around the Small Isles, now available on their website, which showed details of the Small Isles MPA in the sound of Canna and followed basking sharks as well as Minke whales in their food foraging.
Last but not least, June was definitely the romantic month on Eigg, as the 26th saw Libby and Charlie tie the knot, having met each other again 30 years after being teenage sweethearts! They were married by Marie at Kildonnan and the reception took place in Cleadale where Mick and Jacky provided hospitality with their customary flair at the Whales's Head, surely Scotland's smallest pub (or rather pub-like space), but made more spacious for the occasion by adding the Small Isles Marquee. Eigg's felt queen Libby had a beautiful and original bouquet made out of seashells, matching the wedding cake which was superbly decorated by Zoe her friend from Muck. In this year of weddings and engagements, long live Romance on Eigg!
Camille Dressler Road to the Isles Show 2014 The Road to the Isles Agricultural Show took place on Saturday 7th. June, at Camusdarach near Arisaig and the committee are again indebted to the Stuart family for agreeing to host the show, for providing some of the facilities and for helping before, during and after the day. Many thanks to all! The livestock numbers increased a bit this year which is encouraging and we hope that they will improve again next year. The standard of livestock was very high and the judges commended all the entries, some of whom had come from as far away as the Isle of Mull. The Baking and Handicrafts sections were well supported as usual, with the Schools section being especially busy. After all the judging, the afternoon entertainment began with a piping selection by members of the Skye Youth Pipe Band who very kindly travelled over for the day. This was followed by the first display by the Renegade Riders, a stunt riding display team, which proved both educational and entertaining. The trophies were then presented by Mr. Bill Henderson from Traigh, Arisaig, who is retiring as chairman of the show committee. Bill has given many years of service and support to the show and his knowledge and experience will be greatly missed by the committee. Mr. Brian Strachan from Roy Bridge then gave an excellent demonstration of sheep dog handling. The Open Dog Show is always a big hit and the judge this year was Fr. Roddy McAuley from Caol. This is always quite a big task but Fr. McAuley was able to pick two worthy winners from a large number of entries. The afternoon ended with another exciting display by the Renegade Riders. Throughout the afternoon there were demonstrations of woodturning by Paul Biggin from Corpach and chainsaw carving by Iain Chalmers from Culbokie. The barbecues and catering tent were very busy and the response to our request for baking to raise money for the charity 'Friends of the Children of Orissa' was really fantastic. We will announce at a later date the amount we are able to give to the charity. An excellent day's entertainment, both educational and informative, was helped in no small measure by really pleasant weather which saw the sun shine for most of the day, and the rain waited until 5 o'clock before taking over! The committee wishes to thank all those who helped and supported the show in any way and hope that you will all return again next year!
MISSION GALA DAY
On behalf of the Fishermen's Mission Gala committee and myself I would like to thank all those who came along and supported the Mission at the Gala event on the 21st of June.
Firstly, thanks to Mallaig Harbour Authority, who year after year allow us to take over the harbour, again! A special thank you must go to everyone who gave up their time to help and support the committee in the various ways, whether it was assisting on the day, helping with the organisation or taking part. Thanks also to the crew of the FPV Minna, the Jacobites, Mallaig Lifeboat and Coastguard, Lochalsh Junior Pipe Band and the Western Isles, whose trips on the day were raising funds for the gala day. Can we also make mention of Gillie, manager of the Marine Harvest facility at Mallaig, whose sponsored cycle raised a fantastic amount of money for both the Fishermen's Mission and the local shinty club. Finally, to the skippers and owners of the local fishing boats, who were gracious in their donations to the Mission; and to those that took part in the boat race, for putting the icing on the cake of a great day. The boat race was won by the Caralisa, with Ocean Hunter and Rebecca Jeneen picking up the prizes for best dressed and best kept boat.
Ocean Hunter was named the Best Dressed Vessel in the Trawler Race
On a personal note I would like to thank the committee for all their hard work in the lead up to, during and the clear up after. With special thanks going to Pimmy and Kevin; without them the day would not have gone "to plan" as well as it did. The Money raised on the day added to the very generous donations from the boats stands at £6100 and there is still money coming in! This is a tremendous amount, and exceeded all our expectations.
The main aim was to raise awareness about The Fishermen's Mission, and to remind people that we are here to help, whether they be working, retired or widows of fishermen. All issues are dealt with confidentially, and I encourage anyone who is or knows of anyone who would benefit to please get in touch.
Karen Calder, Area Manager
Lochalsh Junior Pipe Band arrive by ferry.
Thanks to Moe Mathieson all for the photos
Two of the Jacobites pull the 'coach' of
Gala Queen Kay Rodgers and Gala Princess Roslyn Wilkinson.
The lorry pull was a popular event!
The Caralisa won the Boat Race - with piper Allan Henderson aboard.
Left: The Coastguard did an exercise involving the Recue Helicopter.
Right: John Angus Gillies, aka Gillie, manager with Marine Harvest in Mallaig, received a bottle of whisky from Mission Manager Karen Calder as thanks for his sponsored cycle in aid of the Mallaig Mission and the Mallaig & District Shinty Club. The total is yet to be finalised. Gillie cycled the 145 miles from Armadale in Skye to Mallaig via Kyle of Lochalsh, visiting all fish farms and units on the way.
FPV Minna (Fishery Patrol Vessel) paid a visit decked in bunting for the day.
Mallaig Harbour News July 2014
Shoreside Promenade/Lovat Slipway
Planning approval for the Mallaig Esplanade Project and the upgrading of the Lovat Slipway was granted on Friday 18th April 2014. Both schemes are due for completion in the present calendar year.
The Esplanade (or Shoreside Promenade) will "tie-in" with the erection of the new Marina Facility Building and extend round to the Marina Shorebase incorporating improved pedestrian access with seating, interpretive boards, cliff face lighting, road widening and rationalisation of the existing car parking.
There will be improved access to the beach for pedestrians and kayakers but mindful of the increasing requirement for water's edge access and the launching of small craft from trailers and 4 x 4's the Authority intends to extend and widen Lovat Slipway.
The Esplanade and Lovat Slipway schemes have both attracted European Funding from the Highland European Fisheries Fund Axis 4 Programme courtesy of the local Fisheries Liaison Action Group.
Below are some drawings giving an artistic interpretation of what the Esplanade could look like!
Saturday the 12th of July marks the third anniversary of the opening of the Fish Feed Storage Facility at the Harbour.
Prior to the storage facility being built 3,487 tonnes of fish feed was transhipped through the port in 2010 whereas by year ending 31st March 2014 there was a throughput of 54,110 tonnes. Quite an increase!
Not all of the 54,110 tonnes used the storage shed but it illustrates how busy the port has become and is now an important hub in the distribution of farmed fish feed.
As the throughput of salmon feed continues to increase, demand for further storage facilities at the port is evident. Indeed the Authority has been contacted by the Lochaber based haulage and shipping company. Ferguson Transport, eager for the Authority to increase warehouse/storage capacity at the port.
There were four call outs in the month of June 2014 for Mallaig's Lifeboat Henry Alston Hewat
Tuesday 24th June: Launched by Stornoway Coastguard to the assistance of a Microlight Aircraft believed to have ditched in the area of Morar Estuary at 12.35 hrs. On arrival at Morar Estuary the Lifeboat was notified by the Coastguard that the Microlight had in fact ditched in Loch An Nostarie, a couple of miles inland from the Estuary. Thankfully the pilot had not been injured and was able to swim to the lochside where he was assisted by some hillwalkers who saw him ditch with no need of assistance from the Lifeboat. The Lifeboat returned to station at 13.30 hrs and was fuelled and ready for service again.
Thursday 26th June: Launched to the assistance of the fishing vessel Vikingborg by Stornaway Coastguard at 00.30 hrs, whilst carrying out fishing operations at the back of the Isle of Rum. Vikingborg's net had fouled the propeller. After many unsuccessful attempts to clear the obstruction the Skipper contacted the Coastguard for assistance as there was no other vessel in the area to offer assistance. The Lifeboat was on scene at 01.30hrs and a tow was quickly established and via Canna Sound the casualty was towed back to Mallaig Harbour. The Lifeboat was refuelled and back on station at 06.30hrs.
Sunday 29th June: Launched by Stornoway Coastguard to go to the assistance of a grounded yacht at the entrance of Mallaig Harbour. Whilst leaving Mallaig Harbour the yacht Eskimo Friend grounded on the reef north of the Lighthouse. One of the small ferries tried to tow her off but with a falling tide this attempt was abandoned. Once on the scene three members of the Lifeboat crew went to assess the yacht for damage. Luckily very little damage was found and the casualty was settled in a steady position on the rocks to await the rising tide. The casualty's anchor was deployed so as to hold her head to the wind when the tide rose. The Lifeboat returned to station in the Harbour to await the rising tide.
The catamaran Eskimo Friend aground in Mallaig Harbour.
Thank you to Helena Clemitson, a regular visitor to Morar, for the photo.
Sunday 29th June 2014: At 16.00hrs the Lifeboat returned to the scene of the previous call and again a crew member went to assess the condition of the casualty on the rising tide. With a slight sea on the bow the casualty, being a catamaran, began to hit her rudders on the reef. To try and reduce this effect the Lifeboat deployed the large black fenders under the hull just forward of the rudders which worked well. At approximately 17.30hrs the casualty floated free. After a check of equipment and retrieving the fenders the casualty carried out a short trial of the engines and steering before returning to the pontoons in the Harbour. An inspection by a local diver found very little damage to both hull and rudders. Lifeboat back ready for service at 18.00hrs.
After many years of service as reporter for the Mallaig Lifeboat Log, Robert has decided to hand over the reins to another report writer. The crews, past and present, wish to thank Robert for the sterling service he has given over the years. His help and accurate reporting will be sadly missed.
Road to the Isles Show 2014
The Road to the Isles Agricultural Show took place on Saturday 7th. June, at Camusdarach near Arisaig and the committee are again indebted to the Stuart family for agreeing to host the show, for providing some of the facilities and for helping before, during and after the day. Many thanks to all!
The livestock numbers increased a bit this year which is encouraging and we hope that they will improve again next year. The standard of livestock was very high and the judges commended all the entries, some of whom had come from as far away as the Isle of Mull.
Overall Cattle Champion and Reserve Best In Show, the 3 year old heifer belonging to Mr and Mrs O'Hara, Appin,
seen here with their stockman, Ian MacKay.
Photos courtesy of Moe Mathieson.
The Baking and Handicrafts sections were well supported as usual, with the Schools section being especially busy.
After all the judging, the afternoon entertainment began with a piping selection by members of the Skye Youth Pipe Band who very kindly travelled over for the day. This was followed by the first display by the Renegade Riders, a stunt riding display team, which proved both educational and entertaining.
The trophies were then presented by Mr. Bill Henderson from Traigh, Arisaig, who is retiring as chairman of the show committee. Bill has given many years of service and support to the show and his knowledge and experience will be greatly missed by the committee.
Mr. Brian Strachan from Roy Bridge then gave an excellent demonstration of sheep dog handling.
The Open Dog Show is always a big hit and the judge this year was Fr. Roddy McAuley from Caol. This is always quite a big task but Fr. McAuley was able to pick two worthy winners from a large number of entries.
The afternoon ended with another exciting display by the Renegade Riders.
Throughout the afternoon there were demonstrations of woodturning by Paul Biggin from Corpach and chainsaw carving by Iain Chalmers from Culbokie.
The barbecues and catering tent were very busy and the response to our request for baking to raise money for the charity 'Friends of the Children of Orissa' was really fantastic. We will announce at a later date the amount we are able to give to the charity.
An excellent day's entertainment, both educational and informative, was helped in no small measure by really pleasant weather which saw the sun shine for most of the day, and the rain waited until 5 o'clock before taking over!
The committee wishes to thank all those who helped and supported the show in any way and hope that you will all return again next year!
LAWRIE'S TARGET NEW YORK!
J Lawrie and Sons of Mallaig are hoping to benefit from a trade mission to New York at the beginning of July. Jeff Lawrie, fourth generation of the family-owned firm, went to New York to highlight the firm's seafood range, including its Mallaig kippers and Drambuie-glazed smoked salmon.
Other firms from Scotland are in New York as part of an EU-funded scheme which covers training, mentoring and market visits and the fact finding tour includes a visit to a renowned Food Fair and meetings with contacts in Manhattan.
About 12.20pm on Tuesday 24th June, a microlight pilot sent a distress signal stating he was making an emergency landing.
Just moments later he crashed into Loch An Nostarie after trying to glide to a landing site. Luckily he was not out of his depth and was able to reach the shore. He was uninjured.
The incident was observed by a family out walking who contacted the police. Due to his distress signal several other planes made their way to the area to help search. As it wasn't clear where he would be landing, the Lifeboat was launched and rescue helicopter 177 scrambled. Mallaig Police also attended the scene.
Once it was established he was safe, a local resident assisted on his quad bike as did the local Coastguard team who managed to recover the microlight from the Loch. It had sustained a lot of damage. It would appear that something hit his wing and put a hole in it making control of the microlight very difficult.
SEPA have been informed due to some petrol spilling into the Loch and the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) are looking into the incident.
Mallaig Police thank the members of the public and the Coastguard team who provided invaluable help to the pilot and in retrieving the microlight.
Photos courtesy of Rachel Mclean.
Marion Affleck, Mallaig, sent us this photo and says:
'Readers may like to know - and keep an eye out for - this stunning moth. It is a " Narrow Bordered Bee Hawk Moth" which I spotted feeding on the Nepeta in the garden. The Butterfly and Moth Conservation Society have it classed as a priority species and were thrilled that I reported my sighting to them - it has never before been recorded from Mallaig, so it's good to see that it is a species that is gradually expanding its range as far as here. One was recently seen on the Isle of Wight - it made headline news with the local BBC !'
Birdwatch by Stephen MacDonald
A very settled month weather wise, with the breeding season in full swing, with lots of newly fledged birds appearing in gardens.
Nothing unusual reported, although 2 Sandwich Terns in Loch nan Ceall from the 24th were unexpected. The first Stormy Petrel reported was on the 18th, just off Arisaig, and the first Arctic Skuas were seen from the 12th, mainly around the islands of Arisaig and also Eigg.
The Kumlien's type Gull was present in Mallaig all month.
Great-spotted Woodpeckers were reported from several gardens in the Morar area, with several reports of 2 - 3 birds at a time - adults bringing the distinctive red-capped juveniles to feeders. A juvenile Woodpecker was also seen in a garden between Cnoc-na-Faire and Moss, Back of Keppoch, a fair distance over open ground from any decent stand of trees.
Good numbers of juvenile Redpolls were seen from mid-month in gardens at Fank Brae, Mallaig, along with juvenile Siskins and Goldfinches.
Several broods of Lapwing and Redshanks were seen in the Invercaimbe area during the month and Golden Plover were seen distraction-displaying near the summit of Sidhean Mhor on the 10th.
Both Arctic and Common Terns were seen carrying sand-eels from the Traigh - Camusdarach area put to the islands just offshore, a sure sign that they have young to feed. Several broods of Red-breasted Mergansers were seen at the west end of Loch Morar from mid-month.
It seems to have been a good year for Cuckoos in this area with many folk commenting on how often they heard or saw them. However, they move quickly and the last calling bird was reported on the 17th. Still young birds around, with several reports from the Mallaig area of recently fledged Cuckoos being fed by their foster parents - mostly Meadow Pipits from the descriptions.
Bird song does decrease as Summer progresses, but several species of Warbler could be heard singing in the Morar area during June, including Willow, Grasshopper, Sedge, Chiffchaff, Whitethroat and Blackcap.
This postcard, date stamped 1958, was recently purchased on ebay by Helen Fowler and we thank her for sharing it with readers of West Word. There is however a feeling that the picture was taken sometime before that date. There's no Lovat Slipway shown in the photo so to help date the card more closely Helen wonders if anyone knows when the Slipway first came into being.
Here's another old postcard of Mallaig Harbour (supplied this time by Moe Mathieson) of boxes of fish laid out on Jary's Wharf. Moe thinks that the boxes contain herring as they are piled four high (4 boxes = 1 cran). Postcard age is not known!
ON AND OFF THE RAILS
The Older You Get The Faster Time Goes
Or is it just that you take on more and more voluntary jobs and end up having to extend your day? In my case I have been alternatively out of the house at 6am and 7am planting and watering at Railway Stations, but with a month of (mostly) sunshine and barely a dark night it has been a pleasure. I have seen rabbits (wild ones) running up and down the road, discovered who dog walks and jogs (not at the same time), reacquainted myself with morning delivery drivers and marvelled at the wee baby birds (even the seagull chicks on the rails at Mallaig Railway Station look appealing at the wee stage) and lost count of the frogs and toads spotted!!
It has seemed harder this year as a lot of the whisky casks needed replacing before planting. As you can imagine, the logistics are hard: obtaining them, then Steve drilling the holes out, tacking on the bands, painting the bands and (where possible) chaining them to walls, fences, etc., then filling them with ballast and finally compost before planting can begin. Thanks must got to Alistair MacKellaig for assisting, with his ballet like forklift truck skills, in the removal and replacement stages.
Now - with a bit of luck - it is just down to dead heading and watering until October!
As the passenger numbers swell, so does the amount of Lost Property!
On The Scotsman and Jacobite, both companies take a pride in reuniting property to owners, it shows that customer care is foremost. I am constantly posting on cameras, phones, newly purchased items, jackets, etc.
ScotRail conductors also do the same by sending lost property to the owner by train if possible.
One Mallaig area entry this month and only two from Scotland! Slightly surprising as the book Edinburgh Waverley - A Novel Railway Station by Ann Glen is steeped in Scottish history.
However, lots of postal entries from over the border and, along with the two correct Scottish entries, the draw was made. The winning card came from Nottingham and the winner is Valerie Hinchcliff. Your copy is in the post Valerie. Thanks to all who entered - a special mention to Kenneth from Monkseaton - I loved the card of Burn's house, and the brown ink used!
At last, we do have a fully trained catering assistant/hospitality host on the Fort William/Mallaig extension - well, on the incoming lunchtime train and the departing afternoon train - seven days a week and his name is Hector. Very pleasant and he hopes to soon have his name badge!
There have been a few glitches this past month, and buses have been very quickly utilised into service. Twice the line has been closed for inspection and repair at Morar due to 'buckled rail' because of the excessive heat (honestly, it has been that hot!) and one day last week problems further out with our area led to the cancellation of two services, and then two units (coaches) failed, so it has not been easy to ensure passengers complete their onward journey.
Thank you to the crews and booking office staff who are polite at all times.
Jacobite Steam Train Update
The 'Jacobite soldiers' travelled on the train to Mallaig on the day of the Mission Gala, Saturday June 21st. They were truly entertaining on board and happily posed for photographs at Glenfinnan. They collected lots of money for the Mission, and at Mallaig hand-pulled the flower decked cart with the Mission Gala Queen in it. The Kyle of Lochalsh Pipe Band led the parade from the Railway Station to the Pier and the boys continued on duty until they departed on ScotRail late afternoon. Thanks to the two Railway Companies for the role they played in allowing them to travel.
Caledonian Sleeper Update
As I predicted in last month's column, the successful bidder for the Caledonian Sleeper Franchise was announced early (just as the June issue went to press).
Serco are to be the 15 year franchise holders from 1st April 2015. Although the news is important nationally, we also have a local interest in the Company in that Rupert Soames, the man in charge of Serco (and former boss of Aggreko Generators now handed on to other members of the family) is Winston Churchill's grandson and dual owner of Camusrory Estate at the head of Loch Nevis.
Serco, along with Abellio (who are the train operating company) are partners in the operation of the Northern Franchise, and it was probably assumed the two companies would be jointly involved in the Caledonian Sleeper Franchise. However in today's press (July 1st) comes the announcement that when the Northern Franchise ends in February 2016, the partnership is ending, following a strategic review by Serco's new CO, Rupert Soames!!
A Churchillian strategy is needed by Rupert Soames to weather the storm that is swirling round Serco at present. Rupert had to face hostile investors when he had only been in the job for eight and a half ours, and finance boss Andrew Jenner quit the same day. He might find pearls of wisdom from his grandfather. 'The price of greatness is responsibility' or, perhaps more importantly, 'If you are going through Hell, keep going.'
Watch this story with interest.
For those of us who want to travel to London and back on the Fort William/Euston overnight Sleeper train, there is a current offer which is worth pursuing.
It is available only online, not at booking offices. So go to www.scotrail.co.uk and click on Tickets and Offers and press Advance. Sign up to become an Advance member online (it costs nothing but you have to fulfil some criteria, i.e. have a season ticket, a Flexipass Ticket, a First Class or Sleeper ticket and be over 18) and you will be emailed Advance messages to act on if you wish.
Having become an Advance member, click on latest offers, which include a £99 return First Class single-occupancy cabin and travel ticket if you travel before or on July 20th.
You will get other tempting offers to respond to, or not, as you desire. Have a go!!
Book Review and Competition
This month's book is a gem. Published by Collins (Harper Collins) and available at £14.99, it is an essential guide to exploring Britain by train, from best selling railway author (and new friend) Julian Holland.
The ISBN is 978-0-00-749715-7. It is an A5 size soft back, perfect to travel with and is entitled Railway Day Trips- 150 classic train journeys around Britain.
The maps and photographs are pleasurable, and Julian's text brings each journey to life. I could quite happily read a journey a night for the next 150 nights and sleep and dream contentedly! In fact I just might!
I have two copies of this lovely book to give away. Simply send a postcard with your name/address and the answer to the following question to me, Sonia Cameron, Fasgadh, Marine Place, Mallaig PH41 4RD, by the closing date of Saturday July 26th.
Question: Who is my new friend?
See you on the train.
CROFTING ROUNDUP by Joyce Wilkinson, Crofters Commission Area Assessor and Scottish Crofting
Crofters to get a raw deal in the new CAP
Details of the implementation of the 2015 common agricultural policy in Scotland were revealed at Holyrood by Richard Lochhead last month. With the rough grazing payment for LFA category A land being set at 10 euros and most common grazings on the north west coast being this type of ground, crofters with small in bye ground and most of their hectares being hill will lose out when SFP becomes area based. The only consolation is that it will be 5 years before this comes in fully but the beef calf money is set to rise from 2015 so for a while things will be healthy. A new CAGS scheme will be part of the 2015 Pillar 2 SRDP but details haven't been revealed yet though even the initial wording is worrying as it indicates that it will only be available to crofts that can prove sustainability. Crofting is not sustainable on its own, it is not farming. Crofting offers public and environmental benefit when done properly and that should be rewarded. Crofting is nearly always part time and goes hand in hand with other occupations, it always has done.
Also in the 2015 pillar 2 CAP there will be new money for paths again. This is good and with that and peatlands money plus mention of payments for grazing committees there are positives for common grazings to have an income stream.
SCF Crofting courses starting September
Please get in touch with me on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07780467175 if you would like to enrol in any of the following practical day courses: Sheep handling/ lambing course; Spraying / Pesticide course [ obligatory if you are using and chemicals on your croft]; Animal transport certificate; Calving / cattle handling course
Crofting Law Sump
The 'sump' of problems and anomalies associated with the Crofting Reform [Scotland] Act 2010 now exists on paper . The final report will be given to the Scottish Government and approved on 31st Oct at the Crofting Conference in North Uist. The commission's own 'sump' has been handed in and all will be reviewed by a team and issued to stakeholders prior to this
Duty to Report
Annual notices will be issued in October to all crofters and grazing committees. Crofters will have to state what activity exists on their crofts. The notices must be returned within 3 months or you will receive a criminal notice. By definition activity is production as defined by LFA requirements , i.e breeding stock. At present breeding stock for cattle have a database that can be checked by department officers , but sheep have none, however this will change soon when coupled support for sheep comes in. However there will also be question boxes that can be answered for those who use crofts for grazing other crofters stock or for using the ground to produce food. There will be question boxes for those who use their crofts in environmental schemes and also if there is no activity . The next stage is then to take action on crofts where there is no activity and there is a demand locally for crofts to be used for production. The SCF keep a list of crofters looking for crofts so it is a good idea to have your name on there incase any tenancies become available locally or the Commission decide to take action on unworked crofts once the Duty to Report notices have been handed in . The above action by the Commission has come about as a result of the Crofting Reform Act 2010 and the Shucksmith Report that contributed to it.
WIDE WORLD WEST WORD
Our Coastal Ranger Angus Macintyre far from his usual haunts - he was on the Pacific Rim at Tofino on the extreme west coast of Vancouver Island, Canada. He didn't get lost in spite of reading his West Word instead of a map!
Grace Macniven from Arisaig took her copy to read in glorious sunshine on the Isle Sainte Marguerite, off the coast of Juan les Pins/Cannes.
Mallaig's Jean Duncan and her sister Moira enjoyed the sunshine and their West Word on the lovely Greek island of Paxos.
Kevin Kane took his copy from Arisaig to Pulpit Rock, Lysefjord, Norway. What a view!
Heather Gilmour, until last month West Word's Knoydart correspondent took her copy away with her to the summer camp in Pennsylvania where she is working.
Kin Connections by Marlene (Màiri Éilidh) MacDonald Cheng (email@example.com)
As follow up to the recent column on Alistair MacLeod, this month we shall have a look at Alistair's genealogy, beginning with his ancestor who emigrated to Nova Scotia in 1891.
Alistair's pioneer ancestor was Donald MacLeod who, it is said, emigrated from the Isle of Canna or possibly from the Isle of Eigg (there are conflicting opinions on this issue) to Cap d'Or, Parrsboro, Nova Scotia in 1791. A number of families came there from the Small Isles of Canna and Eigg, Scotland - Neil MacLeod and his family, Donald MacLeod and his family, John MacKinnon, a family of MacDonalds, three families of MacIsaacs, and others.
In the book, History of Antigonish, edited by Dr. Raymond MacLean, it says, "In the year 1791 Colonel Fraser brought out a colony from the Isle of Eigg …" and he lists "Donald MacLeod from Canna" as one of the emigrants, along with Neil MacLeod's family from Eigg. In the census of 1764/65 is found a "papist", Donald McLeod (#1), age 22, son of Alexander McLeod and his wife Mary McDonald, living on Canna. Their other children were Anna (19), Murdo (17), John (13), Angus (10) and Cathrina (7). At the same time, there is another family of MacLeods living on Canna - Murdow McLeod (34), Margrat McLeod (his wife, 30), Donald (#2, age 7, the son), Effie (age 6, a daughter), and Caristina (age 3, a daughter). Donald (#1) would have been about 48 years old in 1791; Donald (#2) would have been about 33 in 1791. However, in all the MacLeod families who came to Nova Scotia from the Small Isles, the name 'Murdo' (or 'Murdow') is not found. This makes it unlikely that the Donald MacLeod who emigrated in 1791 and went to Cape Breton in 1808 came from those families. However, there are two Donald McLeods on Eigg at the time of the 1764/65 census: in house #58 there is Donald McLeod, age 60, living with Neill McLeod, age 30, and in house #63 there is Donald McLeod, age 36, with his wife Margrat McDonald, age 24; and two widows Margrat McSwine, age 60, and Florie McLeod, age 45 (possibly Donald's sister). Donald McLeod, age 60, would be about 86 in 1791, so it is unlikely that he is the Donald we are seeking. This leaves Donald McLeod, age 36,who would be about age 62 in 1791. Given that this Donald would be about age 62 in coming to Nova Scotia, and that the Donald we are searching for still had children after he arrived in Nova Scotia, it seems to me that our Donald McLeod was born after the 1764/65 census of the Small Isles, possibly on Canna, but more likely on Eigg, because one of the main property owners on Canna put all the people off his land. Later other landlord owners put all the Catholics off the land and most went to Eigg which had a much larger number of Catholics.
In the census of the Isle of Eigg in 1764/65 we find Neil MacLeod (age 26) and his wife Mary Campbell (age 30), along with their daughter Ann (age 3) and their son Ewen (Hugh, age 8). This family of MacLeods definitely emigrated to Cap d'Or, Parrsboro, Nova Scotia in 1791. Neil and Mary (a Campbell of Skye) had the following children: John, Donald, Neil, Hugh (Ewen), Una (Eunice), and Ann.
It is clear that at least one Donald MacLeod did emigrate to Cap d'Or, Parrsboro. In the book, "History of Inverness County, Nova Scotia" by J.L. MacDougall, speaking of a Donald MacLeod who settled about 1808 in Broad Cove Marsh (now Dunvegan), Cape Breton, it says, "One of the notable pioneers in this district was Donald McLeod, the progenitor of all the McLeods in this place. In the year 1791 he came from the Isle of Eigg, Scotland, to Parrsboro, Nova Scotia, where he prepared a home for himself and family. After staying and working there for seventeen years, he could not see any near prospect of getting a priest stationed there, and fearing his children would lose their religion, he decided to move, and did move from that place, leaving all the improvements of seventeen years behind him. In 1808 he came with his family to Broad Cove and took up a large tract of land at Broad Cove Marsh." (page 352-353) The sons of this Donald MacLeod were John and Duncan. At the time of their move to Cape Breton, the eldest son, John, was a "full grown man", and the younger son, Duncan, was sixteen years old (born therefore about 1792 in Parrsboro). In the 1811 census of the Broad Cove area, Donald MacLeod is listed as the head of the family and he is under age 60. In the 1818 census of the same area, Duncan MacLeod (spelled Dunken McLoud) is listed as the head of the family and he is 25 years old, having spent 9 years at Broad Cove. Both his parents were born in Scotland but he was born in Nova Scotia. He was not yet married. This means that his father was then older than age 60 - so he must have been no more than 7 years shy of 60 in 1811, making his date of birth between 1750 and 1760. That's a rough guess, but people didn't keep track of their birthdays in those days, so he well could have been younger or older than those dates.
John married Ann MacKinnon and they had a family of seven. Their sons were Neil, John Bàn, and Alexander, and their daughters were Maria Christina, Mary Ann, Margaret Alice, and Teresa Isabel. Duncan, son of Donald MacLeod (pioneer), married Christina MacLennan (of Kintail, Scotland) in 1822 and they had fourteen children. Two died in infancy (a boy and a girl) but twelve survived.
One of the surviving sons of Duncan, son of Donald (pioneer), was Alexander "Sandy" MacLeod, the ancestor of Alistair MacLeod who was featured in the last Kin Connections of West Word News. Sandy married Catherine Ann "Katie" Campbell, daughter of Samuel (Somhairle) Campbell and his wife Anne MacDonald. Their children were Roderick, John, Joseph, Annie, Christina, Mary Belle, Louisa Jane, Mary Anne, and Catherine Agnes. John MacLeod (called John 'Sandy'), son of Sandy and his wife Katie, was the ancestor of Alistair MacLeod. John married Mary Ann Rankin, daughter of Finlay Rankin of Mabou Harbour, in Inverness, Cape Breton. Their children were Alexander, Angus Archibald, Finlay, Donald Cornelius, Alexander John, and Clement. Their first son, Alexander 'John Sandy', was married to Christena MacLellan, daughter of Donald 'Donald' MacLellan of Glenville, Cape Breton. Alexander 'John Sandy' and Christena were the parents of Alistair MacLeod. They had one other child - a daughter, Mary Christina who was called Marylin. She predeceased her brother, Alistair, dying a few years ago in Surrey, British Columbia.
Donald MacLeod, emigrant to Cap d'Or, Parrsboro, Nova Scotia, was thought to be a near relation of Neil MacLeod who also emigrated from the Isle of Eigg in 1791, but there doesn't appear to be sufficient genealogical information to positively say what their connection was. Some say they might have been brothers; others say they were cousins. I am hoping to find a link between them when I visit the Isle of Eigg this summer.
I have found new MacLellan material which I am busily adding to my MacLellan chart. I will complete the chart when I return from my trip to Scotland and Ireland. Thank you for your patience.
Watch this space for extracts from next month's issue!
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