Community paper for Mallaig, Morar, Arisaig, Lochailort, Glenfinnan
Glenuig, Knoydart and the Small Isles
List of Issues online
June 2003 Issue
Contents of the online version:
NEW ROAD OPEN - TEMPORARILY
Sunday, 25th May saw the temporary opening of the new stretch of the A830 by-passing Arisaig. The move was necessary so that major work can be done on the junction with Back of Keppoch.
Temporary speed restrictions are in place and the motorist has to be keen eyed as they change from 50 to 30 to 40 at various spots. The Police have been monitoring the road using a speed gun.
The road has opened up some splendid new views of the crofting community at Back of Keppoch and Sgurr an Sasunnaich on Craig Mhor, and a viewpoint looks down over a vista of Cross Farm and Curtaig with the Small Isles on the horizon. It is hoped an official Opening Ceremony will be held in mid July. Pictured is the Mallaig display at the Highland Festival CLAN exhibition.
MALLAIG COMMUNITY LIFE ON SHOW AT HIGHLAND FESTIVAL
The New Clan Photo Collage Exhibition ‘CLAN’ which launched this year’s Highland Festival has collages from both Mallaig and Eigg.
As reported in West Word in March and April, West Word had been contacted to spearhead the effort to put together a 700mm by 800mm collage of Mallaig as a ‘Clan of the 21st Century’. Meanwhile, over in Eigg, Maggie Fyffe was masterminding the completion of a half collage of Eigg photographs, to complement a half done by Wavegen.
|I held a workshop in Mallaig and appealed for help and for photographs. West Word of course has a catalogue of photos on CDs so many of those were utilised. Thanks to the digital camera I took about a hundred more. Perhaps you saw me running around Mallaig at various times like a demented tourist taking photos of fish boxes, lorries, flower tubs and anything I could think of that makes up ‘Mallaig’. I could only go in on a Saturday and had a job getting a forklift truck in action, but that was nothing to the non appearance of—seagulls. Empty skies, empty quays—maybe you caught Jane MacPherson and myself throwing chunks of bread from a loaf of bread I’d bought specially here and there and everywhere—and not a feather.|
However after what felt like several lifetimes later, with some 4 4 am stints to get the collage finished in time, the photos had been scanned, printed, cut round and stuck, and both efforts were taken away to be put into ‘light boxes’. The grand launch was on 9th May in Inverness Museum and Art Gallery where it will be on display until 14th June, and I was able to attend.
Each of the twelve collages - with the themes of Arts, Language, Heritage, Sport, Science and Environment (Mallaig’s category) also have a single large monochrome photograph taken by Finn MacRae.
A large 2004 calendar of the collages—Mallaig is December, Eigg and Wavegen February—and a catalogue go with the exhibition. The calendar gives you the opportunity to have the collage or the monochrome photo on display for each month.
I am trying to get the exhibition to come to the Mallaig Heritage Centre later on the year, and also some calendars to sell. I hope you all get the chance to see the collage and recognize all the faces and events depicted in it. You can have a look at it on www.highlandfestival.co.uk You might see yourself!
Thanks go to Marion Carr, Arthur and Jacqueline Campbell, Niki Robertson, Beverley Trotter, Rebecca Simmonds, Jacqueline McDonell, Catherine McDonell and Robert MacMillan for photographs and support - and Jane for the seagull chasing! Also to Richard Lamont for not only doing lots of cutting out with a scalpel but for being on hand for much needed TLC at times!
Ann Martin, Editor
THIRTY YEARS AT THE MORAR HOTEL
The end of an era - Alistair and Mairi McLeod have left the Morar Hotel after exactly 30 years. They bought the hotel in May 2003, just months after having married. Mairi is originally from South Uist, Alistair came here from up the road at Kinlocheil, but all his family were from this area. Both Alistair and Mairi have travelled widely during their time here and neither has seen any business or any place that they would have liked better than being here in Morar.
When asked about the highlights of their 30 years, both answered by saying the many weddings. Alistair said ’ It is a tribute to the people of the Arisaig, Morar and Mallaig district that we have never had to put a bill out for weddings or funerals. The parties have always paid without being asked.’
An enduring feature of their time at the hotel has been the musical entertainment on Thursday nights. This began with John MacKinnon on his electric bagpipes and on his death, other musicians, including George Smith and his accordion, have taken the stage. Presently, our own Robert MacMillan and his group entertain the residents. Alistair is pleased that Robert has given many young musicians the chance to perform in public.
One of the delights of the mid-winter has been the Morar Senior Citizens Christmas party. Alistair and Mairi have been hosting this for the last 25 years and have enjoyed the hard work that this entailed.
Throughout their time here, there have been many staff but there are 3 stalwarts that have been with them for 29 years - Mary, Morag Ann and Morag - and Maggie who has been with 26 years and Dena, who has been with them for only 18 years!
Both Alistair and Mairi are delighted to have sold the hotel to Raymond and Marion Manson who are locals and friends of the MacLeods. Raymond was on the other side of the bar 30 years ago!
During his 30 years at the hotel, Alistair has had the privilege of serving on the steering committee for the first Morar Community Council, 25 years ago and has since been Chairman, vice-chairman and treasurer for the council, of which he is still a member. He has also been on the School council for Morar school when his two sons, Joseph and Iain were at the school, and was treasurer of the Church Centenary Fund.
Now that they have retired, Alistair intends to give more time to his other varied business interests, while Mairi is looking forward to not getting up early in the morning and spending more time in her own kitchen, and maybe even cooking on the barbeque that she bought years ago and has not yet used.
West Word wishes them a long and happy retirement.
Amazing how quickly time passes when you’re having fun….
Well, no doubt you have been unable to get a proper nights’ sleep for wondering how the Stag Night in Knoydart went. To tell the truth, it was a bit of a let-down, with the participants (up from somewhere “dahn sahf”) needing constant encouragement to behave in a stag-like manner. Only when Isla appeared with the First Aid resuscitation dummy dressed in a Margaret Thatcher mask did proceedings pick up. And even then, the wildest thing to happen was a spot of skinny-dipping followed by sheepish requests for hot showers and towels. There was an interesting side-effect to the event – the lads were so impressed with Knoydart that they contacted the News of the World, who immediately wrote the place up as being the ideal place to go for your last night of freedom! Hmm. Not sure how popular that’s going to be. Perhaps the NOW is where certain ladies from Mallaig got the idea to come and visit us this weekend for their Hen Do.
The only people who really know how to have a good time here are the locals, as demonstrated by Tuesday night’s Hollywood Night. Bobby and Louise were Scarface and Whitney Houston, and Sandy the Barman was scarily fitting in his rôle as the Pet Detective. Du Toit the new South African barman was James Dean (I think), and I stubbed my toes dancing around as the Karate Kid. Kristy the Kiwi wore some of the highest heels to grace these parts for a while. Paivi, the new Finnish Old Forge staff member was a Blues Brother, and we thought the papers had come to town when two gents wearing The Sun T-shirts turned up. Just Nick and his mate Andrew, though. Cara, recently returned to Knoydart to build her B&B, was a hillbilly (all she really needed to do was dress like a Knoydartian), and Mrs Rhona Millar glammed it up big style with so many implants she’d be a health hazard in an aeroplane (pity Stuart didnae even notice!). Best of all, however, was Wee Rhona, whose J-Lo impersonation turned heads all night…sorry, Rhona, please don’t kill me.
I’ve noticed that the other contributors to this section (especially island-based) are particularly diligent in reporting wildlife, nature and farming news. So, in an attempt to fit in, I’m going to tell you about Bernie’s ducks. A recent acquisition, they are Campbells, apparently, which caused Bernie a great deal of amusement when he realised that the person he was purchasing them from was a MacDonald. As ducks go, they’re beauties (I’m relying on their owner to be impartial here). With long, graceful necks, they have a sense of poise unmatched in the poultry kingdom (are ducks poultry? No doubt someone will be able to enlighten us). And they’re going to produce some tasty eggs too (not for frying, though. “Never fry a duck egg, Tommy”).
Football frenzy descended on parts of the peninsula last weekend with the Old Firm outmatching the Old Forge for popularity. Controversial flags were erected, and constantly monitored by their owners lest a repeat of the Great Union Jack Robbery of March occurred. Panic ensued in the Morrison household about halfway through the match when Fraz the Painter suddenly noticed, through binoculars, that his flag had disappeared from outside the Post Office – strong wind and rain were eventually found to be the culprits.
Well done to Lorna who raised nearly £100 with a second-hand book sale. Money went towards the library, which will hopefully be that wee bit cosier in the future, with a brand-new heater. Interesting selection of books available – I wonder who donated “Home Shopping for Gardeners”?
Lastly, but certainly not least, the people of Knoydart would like to use this medium to thank all the businesses in Mallaig for taking the time to package up goods and send them across to us on the Western Isles ferry. We know it can get busy, and we really appreciate the effort involved in getting everything ready for the 10.15 or 14.15 sailing.
Well, that’s it from this neck of the woods. Of course, plenty more actually happened, but if I told you about it, I’d have to kill you. Apologies if it all seems a bit pub-centric – this is mainly because I do work there – other things happen in Knoydart, I realise. Hopefully, my new job helping in the Post Office will mean that I’ll be able to bring you more varied and interesting information. Such as what Bernie’s hens have been up to…
ISLE OF MUCK
This month’s exciting news has been the formation of CAMAS by a group of younger islanders. CAMAS stands for Community Action for Muck in All Seasons and its aim is to encourage every aspect of the arts on the island. Muck’s population is too small to support visiting artists and instructors alone. CAMAS is hoping to obtain the funds necessary to bridge the gap. I look forward in anticipation!
No sign yet of Briggs Marine, the new pier builders. They are reputed to be working on Rum and it seems sensible to complete one island at a time.
Other news this month is the start (for the first time since before the 1914 war) of a regular boat service to Tobermory. This will at first only cover the peak season and run on Tuesdays. It will allow visitors from Ardnamurchan or Tobermory four hours on Muck and from Muck four hours in Tobermory. The vessel is the launch Laurencia and the operator Andrew Jackson.
On the farm, April’s high temperatures and low rainfall were followed, as so often happens, by a May of complete contrast with cold SW winds, and heavy showers. This put an end to any hope of an record early silage crop. We will not need as much silage this year anyway as when feeding finished 140 bales remained!
May has been a time to reduce pony numbers on the island and during the month ‘Charlie’, ‘Tara’ and ‘Jessie’ made their way to Arisaig on Wave, the latter two finally destined for export to Germany. To replace them ‘Blondie’ has given birth to a filly foal and they will be on view at the Open Day next Sunday.
ISLE OF RUM
Did you know that the midges were a fortnight late this year? Not that we get overly obsessed with the ferocious flying fiends out here, but the reprieve has been very enjoyable. It’s not often that by early June there are still people brave enough to wear shorts on Rum. We are just about to put an order in for our first Midgeater machine; watch this space to find out whether this is the greatest invention ever, or a complete waste of cash.
Apart from the usual welcome deluge of walkers, students, climbers, campers, naturalists and occasional oddballs, May has been notable for a series of excellent ceilidhs, organised as ever by resident music promoter Sandy Fraser. We have also witnessed the astonishing sight of work getting underway again on our new slipway. Briggs Marine seem to powering ahead, and we are keeping our fingers crossed that everything will be completed and up and running by the end of the summer.
Muck Primary School paid us a visit for a couple of days, which was a great opportunity for both sets of island children to make new friends. Thanks to Liz, our teacher, for a heroic catering effort, and for organising an excellent school sports day.
The Rum marina continues to expand. Rhodri’s little yacht is finally afloat in Loch Scresort, after many hours of varnishing, tinkering, and generally doing nautical type things over the winter, and Stuart’s land-yacht has also been hoisted into the sea, in a manoeuvre with a large crane that sent his adrenaline levels soaring. Sandy, meanwhile, is spending most evenings whizzing around in his speedy little cabin cruiser, despite it being thirstier than a herd of bull elephants at a water hole. New transport opens up new opportunities - the Rum community is considering taking out a business mortgage to pay Sandy’s petrol costs for a fish supper run to Mallaig.
A few hardy souls managed to stagger up the Rum Cuillins in the early hours of May 31st to view the solar eclipse, and were rewarded with the unforgettable sight of a blood red crescent sun rising over Skye.
Finally, one more addition to the bulging file marked “Weird Happenings on Rum”. A TV company (how they love this place) is coming over in the next couple of weeks, bringing with them Griff Rhys Jones and a live alligator. It’s all rather complicated…….you’ll get further details, and full casualty lists, next month.
Royal Mail has recently installed an official post-box, for the first time on the Isle of Rum. The original posting facility was the Island shop and Post Office®, which was built into the wall. When the shop moved to another building, the Village Hall in Kinloch there was not a posting facility. Post-women Ragnhild Rostrup, who has been providing a vital service to the community since December 2000, delivers the mail on the Isle of Rum on her bike and trailer.
ISLE OF EIGG
"De ne cast a cloot 'till May is oot": the traditional saying has proved true this year, the unseasonal April warmth giving way to the kind of weather you would normally associate with March.
Mercifully lambing was over, but for wildlife it was back to square one, with breeding birds wondering what had hit them and several regularly occurring migrants such as Woodwarblers and Redstarts failing to appear at all. Overall, things have been desperately quiet for this time of year, says John Chester our SWT warden: migration was almost non existent with only 9 late Pink footed Geese on the 8th and a few passing Great Skuas being of any interest. The odd Minke Whale was reported, an otter with 3 cubs was sighted at the Singing Sands and the occasional bright spell produced records of the locally scarce Peacock Butterfly. And on the botanical side, if there was an exceptional display of Wild Garlic with Early Purple Orchids continuing to flower well while a few Small White Orchids appeared later in the month, there is no sign yet of the usual carpet of Heath Spotted and Fragrant Orchids. Let's hope things will perk up in June, Certainly , Eigg's little fragrant white roses are flowering already.
But the weather has not deterred visitors who, braving the pier building site mud, ventured to Eigg's beauty spots in good numbers for this time of year. Maybe this is due to the international context which has discouraged Britons from taking their May break abroad. The tea-room, shop and craftshop are therefore very busy, fencing is under way again, the refurbishing of Kildonnan farmhouse is now almost completed (lovely period bathware and great new sash windows) and the pier construction is advancing steadily, with the old pier being tackled presently and the causeway taking shape very rapidly : there is some worry that the stone barrier is causing the present silting of the bay, but optimists prefer to believe that the few millimeters of fine mud now deposited results from the works. Well, if it is not, I guess we can always console ourselves with the thought that a muddy bay would encourage waders by providing richer feed. It also looks as if we will have a fine sandy beach overlooking the Pier centre: purveyors of ice cream and cold drinks, get ready, but what a pity that plans have failed to include a flat area for parasols and recliners. Never mind, it will make a good runway for our teenagers to practice their jackass antics. We've also got an array of new sheds being built in various styles, the bike shed for instance may come in handy as a nuclear fall-out shelter. It was also goodbye to the last symbol of landownership as the crumbling old tea-room, once the crenulated gateway for Eigg estate, was taken down. Once the pier works are finished, we hope to landscape the area so that the Iron age dun in the midst of which it stood gets the attention it deserves.
The island now is preparing for its annual takeover celebration which will be held on Saturday 14th June this year, combined with the Small Island Games. Islanders, friends and wellwishers will compete good humouredly for the Small Isles Shield, deservedly held at present by the Muchanach. They will then have to pit their skills on the dance floor for a night which promises to be one of the highlights of "the West Highland dancing scene 2003," as it will feature the Yah Matha ceilidh band, the great Fergie himself, the electrifying Eilidh Shaw band and DJ dolphin boy's cool grooves! Yeeeh ha! The atmosphere is guaranteed to be as hot as Seville with the green and white brigade! Don't miss it.
In the meantime, our primary school youngsters are looking forward to a trip to Rum after working so hard to raise money for the British Heart Foundation by undertaking sponsored skipping with their new teacher. The islanders are giving a hearty welcome to Sarah Watson who took up her post after the Easter break, and her partner Frank Gregory, both from Derbyshire.
May also saw the AGM of Comunn Eachdraidh Eige, the isle of Eigg history society, which is pleased to report a total of 3000 photographs now collected. For those who missed the society's small exhibition in Mallaig and Arisaig, there will be another chance to see it in Inverness this Autumn. Copies of the photo archive are also held in Inverness Museum for anyone who wish to see the full collection. The Society is now embarking on a new and ambitious project: the refurbishment of Cleadale Croft number 6 into a "museum" of crofting life. More about this later!
ISLE OF CANNA
Well, I’ve managed to find time to put pen to paper to let everyone know how things are on Canna.
The Tearoom is now open and so far has been very busy, people booking for Dinner and also calling in for tea and homebakes, also a drink before turning in for the night.
I would like to thank everyone who has helped make the Tearoom possible; Caberfeidh Electrics, Isle of Skye; OFSEC Plumbing and Heating, Fort William; Jacky and Geordie, Brickies from Fort William, Alan MacKenzie and Son, painters from Dingwall. Most thanks of all go to Murdo for all his time and hard work, and to Packy and Gerry for all their help and patience over the last couple of months while getting everything finished.
The Tearoom is open Mon to Fri 12 - 2.30pm, 6 - 11pm, Sat 11-2.30pm, 6-11pm, Sun 12.30pm - 2.30pm, 6pm - 1 am for the months of May and June. I will open earlier when the schools are on holiday.
Other news - on the farm things are progressing well. Plenty of twin lambs this year, much more than usual, also a few sets of triplets.
The new Bull arrived on Sunday 25th May along with the Crofters’ Bull. They arrived via the Raasay.
Gerry and Murdo have been busy marking the lambs. With a little help from Caroline.
There have been three calling Corncrakes ringed on Canna and another calling bird has been heard on Sanday.
The children returned from their trip to Disneyland Paris. Although very tired they had a tremendous time, they can’t wait to get back again sometime. I think Sinead and Mairead preferred this one to Florida.
Works are hoping to start on St Edwards Chapel soon, hopefully within the next couple of weeks.
Fendering work on the pier has now been completed, it looks much better but the ladders are a bit further away, the new fenders stick out about a metre from the ladders.
Work is hoped to begin on the new slip for Canna next year all being well. Will keep you up to date on this. Anyway, must go, opening time beckons.
We had a successful Table ‘Car Boot’ Sale on Saturday 17th May, combining the sales tables with soup and sandwiches refreshments by the Church of Scotland for Christian Aid. The sales tables, bar one run by the Church, weren’t for Christian Aid though, and one successfully netted its young owner a goodly sum towards a drama course.
The Hall has recently bought new china and cutlery and the old bits and pieces were on sale, raising nearly £50. The rest was taken off to Refurnshings in Fort William where it was received with open arms - Refurnishings often have the task of kitting out houses for people who have nothing, and the thing they find in very short supply is sets of china. So if you’re tired of your old dinner service you know what to do with it! The day I took the Hall collection in I was told ‘there’s an old man moved into a house yesterday and he hasn’t a cup.’ Well, he has now, with plates of various sizes and saucers to match!
We splashed out what seems the huge sum of £2715 for the china and cutlery, and that was with a good discount, but we hope to have more functions like recent ones. Liz Arnold and Graeme Auty held their wedding reception here at the beginning of May—is this the first wedding party in the Hall, does anyone know? - and we’ve also had Nellie’s 90th party recently, with more private birthday parties being booked.
Our grateful thanks to the ‘Good Things from Arisaig’ Cook Book, under editorship of Angela and Derek Hardman, for contributing £1000 towards the china and cutlery.
Well, the By-Pass opened on the Sunday 25th May - and Arisaig was a very busy place on both the Sunday and Monday. Granted it was the Spring Holiday but it was a good omen. For the Land, Sea & Islands Centre the Monday was actually about its third most successful day since it opened in 1999. It’s doing very well and we have more volunteers this year - a few more and we could be open for longer... We now have a ‘Gallery’ of prints and photographs of local scenes by local painters and photographers - Moe Mathieson, Arthur Campbell, John Arnold, Felicity Blackburn and Maria Cameron - with hopefully more to come.
Reading the articles in this issue about the wildlife and birds to be found in the area reminds me to tell you we have a Book at the Centre where folk can enter what they’ve seen. A number of otters in different places feature so far this year.
We’ve commented on the signs on the new road before but I’m particularly annoyed about the placing of the ’Alternative Coastal Route’ sign which is meant to encourage travellers to turn left into the village. It’s hidden away on the far right at the turning, at the bottom of all the bigger signs instead of being on the right with the big brown signs. And after the meetings held a while ago where spelling was discussed, what a shame they’ve spelt Camusdarach, which is a business too, with an ‘och’, especially as the Gaelic has an ‘a’. I won't mention the three spellings of Mallaig or An Gearsdan …
The police have been out on the new road with their speed gun, but perhaps they should be monitoring the ‘old’ road through the village too, as traffic is definitely going through at a faster speed. By-passed on Sunday, and on Friday my little grey cat was killed outside the house on the ’old’ road, after 8 years of surviving a main trunk road full of lorries. The children seem to think they’re safer now so let’s hope traffic settles down before a major accident happens.
The Prawn Scene - by Robert Stevenson, WsFPO
Just as the glut of prawns got a lot of (bad?) publicity, we thought the current dearth should be highlighted.
As we feared the seasonal downturn in catch rates - the "May Slack" - now appears to be upon us and a high proportion of the prawns that are being caught are of poor quality being soft due to moulting or full of green sack. (Last year catches - unusually - didn't dip until much later). Even before Easter, big tides and generally fresher winds had taken the edge off the fishing, so we could have a period of up to six weeks or more of slack fishing. Many larger vessels are turning their attention back to whitefish and this will inevitably lead to problems due to the quota cuts imposed by the Commission for our main whitefish stocks this year.
Whilst this will help processors clear stocks and help stabilize the market, the low catch rates are of course coupled with depressed prices and therefore vessel grossings are badly affected. Some processors are now beginning to eat into their cold store stocks; we hope to see prices improve as the holiday season picks up and global uncertainty recedes.
With most of the east coast prawn fleet basing itself on the west coast and the slack fishing here, prawn landings for Scotland as a whole must be down considerably. This is borne out by Fisheries Dept reports that show that prawns landings into Scotland may have fallen by up to 40% over recent weeks.
The Scottish Executive maintained back in March that they had more important things to do than look at the question of protection for the prawn fleet - now Scotland's main demersal fleet - but what could be more important? They appear to have put their feet up till after the election! With the whole fleet now relying on prawns, we now have a very vulnerable industry, having been forced by Europe to put all our eggs in one basket. It is imperative that the SE wakes up soon to this fact and take action to support what remains of the Scottish demersal fleet. Given that the SE's stated target vessels for the decommissioning scheme are those that have been concentrating on whitefish in recent years, it is unlikely that the decommissioning scheme will take out a significant number of prawn vessels and it will clearly will not reduce the prawn fleet to a level more akin to the available stocks.
Mallaig and District Canoe Club
Having completed the winter pool sessions the junior club members took part in a sponsored roll and rescue in order to help raise funds for their weekends way. The club was very grateful to receive generous grants from both the Mackintosh Foundation and Lochaber Sports Council but wanted junior members to play their part in the fund raising efforts! Over £100 was raised by the group and a staggering number of rolls and rescues undertaken. A special mention must go to Naomi McMinn who did 301 rolls in 30 minutes or one roll every six seconds for half an hour!! Another mention must go Ian Lawrie and Stuart Munroe for the huge improvement shown in rescue techniques over the last few pool sessions. Indeed they managed 228 rescues between them in half an hour. The other results which are all worthy of note are as follows: Christopher Dyer 60 rolls, Geoff Lawrie 110 rolls and float rolls, Thomas MacKinnon 125 rolls, Shireen Eddie 74 rescues, Tom Auty 64 rolls, Ronan Maclntyre 95 rolls and Joe de Fresnes 95 rescues. Well done to everyone.
On Friday 3rd May five junior improvers accompanied by Joan and Willie travelled to Glenmore Lodge near Aviemore for a weekend of expert tuition in the art of white water paddling. After a night of hustling on the pool table and cokes all around, the next morning brought with it a large cooked breakfast and an even bigger packed lunch. Having collected their gear including brand new state of the art white water boats the group met their instructor Giles Trussell and planned their weekend of paddling.
The first morning’s paddling included some technique and skills instruction on the flat water of Loch Morlich, followed in the afternoon, by a river session which included breaking in and out of eddies and ferry gliding. This was a good opportunity to learn new skills that cannot be developed in the swimming pool. The group also showed off their rolling abilities (including hand rolls} to a suitably impressed instructor. On return to Glenmore Lodge and before tea, cake and hot showers, wet gear and equipment had to be sorted and placed in the drying room in preparation for the following day with everyone taking responsibility for their own gear. Sadly and somewhat reluctantly Naomi then had to go as she was dancing in Oban the next day. The day’s work had however earned her the Scottish Canoe Association Thee Star Award.
The evening brought more cokes in the bar, a taster session on the climbing wall and an earlier night than the previous one! Sunday morning arrived and following another big cooked breakfast the group set off to tackle a section the River Spey putting in at Ballindalloch and taking out at Tamdhu Distillery. After waiting for the instructor to do the shuttle run everyone needed to think of a warm up and demonstrate it to the rest of the group . In addition to this Thomas gave a fine rendition of ‘The Penguin Song’ with actions never seen or heard before. Having successfully negotiated Grade 2 rapids without a single swimmer, the group (bar Willlie who felt safer on flat water) enjoyed playing on a wave. Joan provided much entertainment through the whooping noises she made as she showed off her fearless kayaking skills. Damian and Christopher also appeared fearless on the wave and Geoff was unstoppable in his rolling! Having checked in all the gear (including Thomas’s muddy boat, which he had to wash), the group were told that they had all met the standard required in order to obtain the three star award. Pizza in Aviemore completed a successful and fun packed weekend with five great junior paddlers desperate for bigger waves, faster rivers and more white water ! Christopher was especially proud to have been able to take his own boat on its maiden voyage on white water under his command.
Needless to say a fantastic time was had by all and thanks to an offer from instructor Giles, the group will hopefully benefit from his instruction on more outings on white water over the summer. In addition the junior beginners are now looking forward to their weekend away at Outward Bound Locheil at the beginning of June. So please, watch this space...
A Little Genealogy by Allan MacDonald (email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Eigg Connection
Hector MacKinnon of Eigg (1805-1892) was married to Christian MacQuarrie and they had 10 children, of whom Mary, b. 1841, was my great-grandmother out of Tigh-na-Mara.
The last child, Jane, was born in 1851, the year that Christian dies. Hector remarried in 1856 to Mary MacDonald, aged 36, and a native of Moidart , although resident on Eigg at the time.
They had two children at least, George, b.1857, who is listed as a seaman in 1881, and Mary Anne aged 19 in the 1881 Census. Mary died 1st June 1892 aged 71 years and Hector died three weeks later.
Fiona Glover (remember her from previous correspondence) is beavering away researching her MacKinnon ancestors and it was she who firs told me of Hector’s second marriage.
The Arisaig Connection
Hector’s oldest son, Allan, ‘an Tailer’, married Mary Silver in Acharacle in 1860 and settled in Arisaig. In 1868 Katherine was born to them; she married James MacDonald, son of Ronald and Joan Corbett from Ardnish.
James and Katherine settled in Arisaig and had their family, known as the ‘Hamishes’ - Johnnie Hamish, Joanne Hamish, etc. Johnnie and Joanne never married and William and Christina died aged 19 and 13. Allan married Jane Morrison from South Uist and moved to London. Ronald married Flora MacDonald and they had three sons, Angus, James and Billy.
In the days of the ‘Milanda Bread Van’ the driver was Vincent MacLaren who did the run for years and was well acquaint in the district, and who still lives happily in Claggan enjoying retirement. His son Ian contacted me from Australia (West Word gets everywhere) and is coming to visit his parents in early June and is keen to establish the Lottie connection to his family. I haven’t yet looked at it, but Elizabeth is certain he is related to ‘Post Ardnish’, John MacEachen of Mullochbuie who lived for many years in Cuildarroch on the shore of Loch nan Uamh.
Last issue I mentioned Helen’s Reef, from memory of a story heard many years ago, which I suggested was about 4 miles SE of St Kilda. Ranald Coyne put the matter right by pointing out the reef is 2 miles East of Rockall and shows only 1 metre above the water at the Low Water Spring Tides.
A Stone Age Arrowhead was found alongside the Canal in Arisaig, near the iron footbridge, by Hughie, partner of Margaret MacQueen, which will go into the Land, Sea & Islands Centre for people to view. I wonder which ancestor lost this one!
Watch this space for extracts from next month's issue!
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