Community paper for Mallaig, Morar, Arisaig, Lochailort, Glenfinnan
Glenuig, Knoydart and the Small Isles
List of Issues online
October 2004 Issue
Contents of the online version:
All photos are copyright either of the individual photographers or West Word.
MALLAIG PUPILS GO TO HOGWARTS!
The third Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, will feature 50 pupils form Mallaig High School playing the part of pupils on their way to Hogwarts School for Wizards on the Hogwarts Express. Filming took place at Glenfinnan Station and on the viaduct at the end of September, but the pupils were also transported from Arisaig on the train pulled by the red engine, for shots of Loch Eilt.
The pupils were not allowed to show their faces to the camera, so there'll be some guess work as to who is who when the film is shown! Christopher Dyer of Arisaig (below) had a 'bit part' in the film - it was his job to walk up and down the corridors of the train so the cameras could show it was full of pupils on their way to a new term at Hogwarts.
GOOD DECISION FOR THE BELFORD
NHS Highland have approved the recommendations of the West Highland Health Solutions Group and have agreed to set up both an Implementation sub committee and a Monitoring sub committee. Belford Action Group (TBag) representatives received the news of NHS Highlands support for the Solutions Group report as they left the Scottish Parliament's public petitions meeting on Tuesday morning. The good news was sent by text by the Chairman of NHS Highland Garry Coutts and was immediately conveyed to MSP's in Edinburgh.
TBag representatives had been presenting a petition calling for the retention of 24/7 consultant led acute services in rural Scotland. John Hutchison, Highland Council's Lochaber Area Manager, who was one of those who gave evidence to the petitions committee said 'It is important that the NHS National Advisory Group take account of the Solutions Group report and hear directly from 'hands on' rural consultants and rural community representatives'
The TBag representatives were supported in Parliament by local MSP's Fergus Ewing, Jim Mather and Maureen MacMillan and were introduced to the recently appointed Health Minister, Andy Kerr. Stewart Maclean, TBag coordinator said ' We will now follow up with the Health Committee, the Health Minister and Professor Kerr to request meetings in order that we can again present our evidence in person.'
The Belford Action Group have now set a date for the 'Thank You, Lochaber' celebration party. The party will be held in the Nevis Centre, Fort William on Friday 12 November 2004 one year and one day after the Lochaber Community gathered at the same venue to protest the proposals to downgrade services at the Belford Hospital. More details of arrangements will be available shortly.
174 years of service
A minute's silence was observed at the start of the Coastguard presentation ceremony on the 1st October, in memory of Coastguard members Bryan Walters, lost at sea last year, and Iain Morrison, lost in Loch Morar last month. After this poignant moment, Phil Wren, Sector Manager for Lochaber, made a short speech welcoming team members from Kilchona, Muck and Canna as well as Mallaig, and presented long service medals, clasps and certificates. The awards were:
Ewen MacEwen, Muck team member, 35 year clasp to his long service medal;
Winnie MacKinnon, Canna DSO, 20 years long service medal;
William Simpson, Mallaig team, 35 year clasp to his long service medal;
Arthur MacDonald, Mallaig team, 20 years long service medal;
Jeff Lawrie, Mallaig team, 20 years long service medal;
Avril Rodgers, Mallaig team, valedictory certificate;
Alexander Connell, Kilchoan team, valedictory certificate.
Alexander Connell of the Kilchoan team, now retired, received a valedictory certificate after 42 years service to the Coastguard.
Avril Rodgers, who has stepped down due to family commitments received a certificate for her four years service, which was collected on her behalf by her father, Archie Lawrie.
Jeff Lawrie, 20 years service, has also left the service to be full time looking after the Lifeboat's engines. Arthur MacDonald is now living in Loch Ewe.
Winnie Mackinnon received her medal, flowers and champagne, and paid tribute to her father who had served many years with the Coastguard.
The Mallaig team also presented gifts to William, Jeff and Arthur, and the Muck team to Ewen.
Pictured below: (l to r): Jeff Lawrie, Arthur MacDonald, Alexander Connell, Winnie MacKinnon, Phil Wren, Ewen MacEwen and William Simpson.
The month just past in Knoydart seems to have been one of challenge and drama.
Already there is Rob's Run recorded for posterity; now we should like to add RAB'S Run. Rab hails from Aberdeenshire and comes across to the west to help with tree surgery and other outdoor activities. One morning, after a particularly strenuous previous day of work, he left at 5.30am to run to Mallaig. Heading eastwards before the sun came up, since he said this can be blinding, pacing himself over Mam Meadail, round the head of Loch Nevis, past Sourlies, up the Finiskaig burn, along the ridge to Tarbet, over to Loch Morar and along the road to Mallaig, which he reached in time to catch Western Isles afternoon sailing back to Inverie and a well needed Mallaig fish and chip carry-out. Time: 7hrs. 56mins.
The very same afternoon, about ten minutes after we had collected Rab from the Pier, Iain Robertson, proprietor of "The Old Forge", was putting his boat back on the mooring when he was thrown into the air by the explosion of a fire extinguisher, landing back hard on the deck. This was witnessed by visitors outside the pub, who raised the alarm. 'Poor' Iain already had one leg in plaster from a previous break and now has two legs in plaster plus, I am told, ribs floating where ribs should not. The Lifeboat came to his rescue and he was transferred at speed to the helicopter in Inverie Bay for onward journey to Raigmore Hospital. When I commented that that was an impressive action, I was informed by my husband, who knows about these things, that it is easier to transfer from boat to helicopter at speed, than slowly. I am glad to say that Iain is out of hospital making a good recovery and has in fact made one brief return to Knoydart but is back in Inverness with his wife Jackie and toddler Anna. Jackie is shortly to give birth to their second baby, carefully planned to arrive at a quieter time of year! 'The best laid plans of mice and men gang oft astray.' Who said that?
There have been a few notable birthdays recently but I won't mention figures. Dave Smith of Airor and Dave Marriott, who has been away for his and Hannah Bowyer, who was enticed to Edinburgh for a surprise party.
The newly built Lochaber housing houses are now occupied, one by Grant, Lorna, Kira and Freya, the other by Ranger Iain and Katrina. Houses are still awaiting names.
An adder was seen in Knoydart for the first time in a long while --Black Adder, no sign of Baldrick. Asher was thinking of saying "I have a cunning plan" as he raised his rifle.
Shag is here at present, proud father of Summer Jean; and we thought he was a lifelong playboy. This is definitely the year of the mushroom.
Word has reached me that Jeff in Arisaig is a soft touch when it comes to waifs and strays. I trust that Wendy won't find the house over-run on her return from the islands.
Next month over to Tommy, just back from organising a stag run (not his) in Magaluff.
ISLE OF MUCK
The wedding in Dingwall attended by almost the whole island appears to have been a success apart from a lack of ventilation in the hall. Charlie and Marianna returned to Muck on the 7th to a welcoming party in the Craft Shop and more speeches, but much shorter this time. Now the island is preparing for another party in the barn at Gallanach but I do hope the weather improves! What a month we have had including a whole week without a call by the Lochnevis!
Broadband is now in operation on the island though the farm is not yet connected. I am certainly looking forward to it . At the moment it takes about 10 minutes to get the inshore waters forecast when I do manage to get on the internet.
On the farm all the sheep are now sold and mostly at very good prices though below the remarkable prices obtained by Geraldine MacKinnon from Canna. Her Texel x lambs made £49.50, Cheviot ewes £40 and Blackface ewes £30. Just as remarkable was Sandra Mathers' haymaking success. I would never recommend anyone to try hay in September but Sandra did it with only hours to spare on the 10th.
ISLE OF RUM
Ian Cumming of Cumming & Co., Perth have been appointed by the Trustees to restore the Bullough Mausoleum at Harris. They have now got clearance from SNH, the Bullough Trustees, Historic Scotland, and the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historic Monuments in Scotland to proceed with their proposed scheme. On the advice of Historic Scotland, they have applied to Highland Council for planning consent to carry out the work. They had arranged to go to Harris with representatives of the Council on 25th September. Work will not now start till next spring.
A development plan of Rum by the Rum Community Association and Scottish Natural Heritage has been presented to a delegation from Highland Council who were taken on a tour of the castle and various sites for housing. The plan was endorsed but Councillor Drew Macfarlane Slack warned that it was easy to endorse but the hard part was to see it through and he called for an action plan to take it forward.
Fliss Hough, the community association chairwoman, said the priority was affordable housing and that the intention was to establish an infrastructure for the way forward. She said 'This is an inclusive plan which included everyone, even the children. We would like to employ a development manager but to do that we need housing because there is none at the moment. It's a Catch-22 situation.'
The island has a population of 31, including 5 children, and all the adults apart from the school teacher are employed by SNH. The community would like to see other choices of sustainable employment.
ISLE OF EIGG
Phew! this has been quite a month for networking and I guess that made up for the dashed hopes of an Indian summer. First of all we had the pleasure of hosting the 4th European Small Islands Network conference on Eigg which gathered 24 delegates from Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Denmark, France, Ireland and Scotland over three conference-packed days at the beginning of the month. The weather was kind enough to allow our visitors to climb the Sgurr, explore the crofting area and do the hydro tour which now includes the Lodge Ecocentre project where Bob and Nora have worked hard all summer to deal with some of the most urgent problems, but when it broke down, preventing a lot of the intended guests from coming to the open day and the planned visit to Muck, that's when we really found what we had in common: "We have to drink the weather dry, that's what we say in our country, let's have a dram" commented Arvi the Estonian. You needed one after all those speeches! JD Hache from the CPRM commission, gave an elegant and astonishingly concise summary of the new minefield of funding politics in the enlarged EU, which leaves us all with no choice but to support the new constitution and lobby our governments to recognise the principle that geographically disadvantaged areas such as small island archipelagos or mountainous regions needed special status funding.
This expose really left no other option to Lewis MacDonald, our ministerial conference attendee (Like busses, ministers came in twos here this summer) other than pledging his interest for the creation of an interministerial island portfolio as well as Scottish Executive's support for islands networks and their activities, and to trans-european cooperation to stimulate enterprise. We will have to take him at his word and go for a bit of that ourselves, and send an Eigg delegation to the next Esin conference in France which will take place in Belle-Ile. This is the Breton island from where Bonnie Prince Charlie started his Jacobite adventure, and a place which Pierre Philippe Jean (imagine having three first names for your patronymic, how confusing) tells me is kept afloat by the romantic attachment French media and art personalities have for it. Tinned sardines and fish soup a speciality.
Altogether, it was very enjoyable to learn about each other over dinner and lunch at the Glebe barn, courtesy of Marie, Karen and Kay and a splendid buffet provided by Amber at the tea-room. We learnt that for the price of return ticket to Estonia, you can buy a kit house of Baltic fir and put it up, plumbing and all. - orders taken now! We learnt how organised and used to participatory democracy the Scandinavians are, an interesting model for the anarchy-loving (in the non-derogatory sense of the term, of course) Eiggach. We envied the Irish whose "development cooperatives" are core funded not like in Scotland where you are all too often left to scramble for lottery funding, We heard about islands having to use hydrofoil ferry for the winter month when surrounded by ice, about special Gotland sheep, whose grey wool was used to make very warm fisherman knits, which Swedish islanders are now recreating. We also learnt that the famous Celtic player is not so famous nearer his home turf, from the baffled reaction of his namesake the Danish delegate, to the way people responded when they heard his name! The final night saw quite a bit of cultural exchange with Aidan reciting eloquently the poem he composed for the occasion, and lots of dancing, including fancy Irish foot steps and Breton an-dro and hanter-dro: my fellow countryman did me proud! There were lots of singing from all the Scandinavian countries and a very moving Sean Nos performance from Maire, the Connemara project officer, the likes of which we would very much like to hear again.
It was sad to see all these new friends go but the knowledge was there that we all wanted to carry on exchanging ideas, experiences, music and traditions. We trust that Lisa Stephen, the very capable editor of our monthly Scottish Islands newsletter will also tackle the SIN challenge head-on! Surely Scotland really needs to emulate her Esin partners and have more than a virtual network!
More networking followed with the meeting in Skye of "Creative Hebrideans" to examine how to define and market the Hebridean identity: ideas included a Garden Galley visiting all the islands and creating special garden spaces, stretching the wonderful Uist sculpture trail from Islay to St Kilda, creating a "Tigh Togalach" network to promote the fireside ceilidh and craft culture complete with resident poet, harper or songsmith and boats, more boats to link up the islands instead of having to hop to the mainland all the time to visit each other. Something for SIN to get EU money from! (the wages of SIN project?)
Even more networking ensued when Maggie and Ian flew to Lappland not only to cross the artic circle, discover Sámi culture and shop at Santaland, but to take part in another European conference, to examine ways and means of funding economic enterprise in isolated remote areas in the bigger EU (looks like everyone worries about the pot having to be shared out in ever smaller portions…). On their return, they joined forces with the Knoydart folks to have a good look at Macchintleth, which by all account was a very inspirational experience for all when green tourism and more ecologically sound practices stand to play a major part in our economy. Meanwhile, I went to a social enterprise networking event in Forres where the success of the local Lets scheme has led to LETSlink where organisations can now trade skills and services. Stewart Noble, a man inhabited by his passion, asked me to pass on the message that he is happy to come and advise any community wanting to start trading skills and goods in a lets exchange. It is nice to see that folks you've met years ago at the time of the Not for Profit Landowners Group are going from strength to strength: must be all that networking! "No one is an island" said the poet …This why it has been so interesting to have been able to write all this in my monthly column for what - almost 10 years! This has been a nice bit of networking. Thank you, West Word!
The yachts are coming out of the water this week so even if it wasn't for the weather we know the summer is definitely over. It's been a few years since I've seen so many shearwaters floundering about on the roads, and I'm amazed the leaves on the trees are still hanging on with all this wind. The beech mast - which doesn't appear every year - has been so thick on the copper beech at the hall that there are mounds of it on the ground.
We're hoping to have a community compost site in the village and everyone should have received a leaflet explaining the benefits, with a short questionnaire. We (the Lochaber Environmental Group) hope you'll take a minute to read it and let us have your views. The Hall Committee held their AGM and we now have a new Treasurer, Heather Gillies, who represents the playgroups. Tommy is still Chair and no-one seemed to want to be Secretary - I wonder why? - so I still have that job. Donald MacEachen, who has been first Chair and then Treasurer, has left the Committee owing to time commitments. He's notched up many years service to the Hall and was a vital member of the team who pushed forward the renovation project, putting in much hard work - he's very good at persuading people to get involved and help out. We owe him a lot and the Committee will miss him.
We took the decision to finish with the internet connection to the community computer as it is hardly used and there is now ample provision in the village with the one at the Café. Niki of LCNL will still come out to give support and training in the use of the computer and can even still give internet lessons as she has a disk which simulates it.
Does anyone have a hall key with a number 9 on the tag? We'd be pleased to have it back if so.
There is coaching in football and skiing this winter on Tuesdays for the primary school pupils, which will take place on the playing field when weather permits, and in the Hall when it doesn't.
Arisaig Word, the storytelling/book reading circle is starting up again, this time in the Hall instead of Heather's house. The first evening is night of scary tales with Hallowe'en in mind, on Monday 1st November at 7 pm. Do you have any favourite mysterious or frightening stories - either your own or ones you've read? Come along and join the group and enjoy a glass of wine and a shiver or two! Better bring a friend in case you're afraid to go home alone…
The Land, Sea & Islands Centre received a renewal of its 4 Stars Quality Award from Visit Scotland, who scored it highly on all the criteria. It's my hope that by next summer the War Records will be on display there in the magnificent case made for them by Frank Baillie, with a copy to read. Does anyone have any historical artefacts which we could borrow and display there? We've lost a few as the owner is moving away.
Shoreline Clean Up in Mallaig
BEST BEACH ACCOLADE RETAINED
Morar Beach, as it says in the listing, has kept its excellent rating for water quality in SEPA's 2004 Bathing Waters Directive. The beach, which was also awarded the status last year, is one of 56 in Scotland and the only one in Lochaber. The stretch of silver sands which receive the awards are actually in Arisaig - Lon Liath Bay, opposite Traigh Golf Course.
And it rained and rained…
We're glad they told us! The dam at Morar is quite a sight (and sound) just now.
Glenfinnan slowly submerging…
not quite as bad as our front page photo and caption of 'Glenfinnan Lighthouse!' of March 1998 but getting there!
Thanks to Sue Barrett for the photo of the dam and Mo Mathieson for the ones of Glenfinnan.
LONDON FIELDWORKS - LITTLE EARTH PROJECT
On October 2nd 2004, London Fieldworks (artists Bruce Gilchrist & Jo Joelson) are twinning two historic mountain summit observatories - part one of their Little Earth project. The ceremony will be hosted by The West Highland Museum, Fort William.
Little Earth part one:
The twinning of the Ben Nevis Observatory (Scotland) with Haldde Observatory (Northern Norway) aims to celebrate and connect the lives of two Victorian scientists who found inspiration at the respective mountaintop sites in the late 1800's. CTR Wilson, a young Scottish researcher was stationed at Britain's only high altitude weather observatory on the summit of Ben Nevis in 1894 and Kristian Birkeland, a Norwegian physicist was responsible for building the northern lights observatory on Haldde Mountain in Northern Norway in 1899. The Little Earth project - named after Birkeland's Terella machine - explores how their investigations contributed to the advent of 'Big Science' and the contemporary understanding of Space Weather.
Little Earth part two: Working collaboratively with author James Flint, composer Dugal McKinnon and The Radio and Space Plasma Physics Group at the University of Leicester, Gilchrist and Joelson are creating Little Earth - part two, a multi-channel video installation stimulated by the notion of cultural and geographical twinning. By combining video sequences shot at the mountaintop locations with local people, footage of the SPEAR high frequency space plasma sounder on the island of Svalbard, and animations created using data from the off-world mission, Cluster 2, the artists have drawn together the sites, the characters, their inventions and their legacies to create an audio-visual poem reflecting upon how the last of the natural philosophers became the first of the big scientists. The research intrinsic to Little Earth has evolved through fieldwork from two previous projects - Syzygy and Polaria - working in Scotland and North East Greenland in 1999-2001; in both instances collecting body and weather data to make interactive artworks. The new work continues the theme of creating metaphorical linkages between the mental and the meteorological, with extension into the contemporary domain of space weather.
The video installation will be premiered at the Wapping Project, London in January/February 2005. It will then tour to the Nevis Centre in Fort William during the 2005 Mountain Film Festival in February/March, and the Cheltenham Festival of Science in June. In 2000 the artists were awarded Millennium Fellowships by the Royal Society and the British Association for the Advancement of Science. In 2002 they were recipients of an International Fellowship award (ACE) to undertake a residency at the Headlands Centre for the Arts in California where they started to develop the Little Earth project. London Fieldworks have recently been cited in the publication "installation art in the new millennium - the empire of the senses", published by Thames and Hudson, 2003. The Little Earth project is funded by Arts Council England, The Scottish Arts Council, The Arts & Humanities Research Board, Lochaber Enterprise & The Highland Council. Support in kind from Alta Museum, West Highland Museum, Alcan, Ben Nevis Distillery, Crannog and Marine Harvest.
Coastal Ranger Report
Well that's it all over bar the shouting! Don't panic! I'm just talking about my regular walking programme. At some points this year, the walks, when they were poorly attended, seemed to stretch on forever, and suddenly the calendar is empty. What will I do now? Don't you worry, I've got plans!!!!?????
On a serious note, although the overall number for the walks is well down on last year, very nearly halved, it's still been enjoyable for me. For my customers? Well, I think I'm safe to say that I've had a good many smiles, all be it some dripping wet (literally!), and still some hardy annuals returning! Strangely, September has been one of my better months, during which I have actually had to slip in an extra couple of walks to accommodate groups. As I have frequently said, I'm delighted to do this provided I can fit it into my other schedules, so all of you, feel free!
After the bonanza of whales, sharks and all the rest of the past couple of months, I'm afraid that I have little to report on the wildlife sightings, but my punters on the "last of season" walk had a fine time watching a lively otter searching for dinner. Unfortunately he had no success, at least while we watched, but he did have a brief encounter with a large eel which, after much stirring of the sand and some gyroscopic manoeuvres, escaped his clutches! Must be tough when your favourite scoff disappears from the plate! The good thing about this otter is that I have now seen it twice in the same place with the sightings weeks apart, so obviously it must be a happy hunting ground for him and he is likely to stay put. The next move is to spot his holt, and see if he is glamorous enough to entice a mate and produce a few young. If this happens, it is my intention to set up a little "hide" so that more people can enjoy watching what can be sometimes quite hilarious antics as these delightful creatures enjoy themselves. I'll keep you posted!
So, what else has been happening? Hmmm, not a lot! But I have been fighting with my computer on a regular basis this last while as I attempt to master the intricacies of photographical magic! Translated, that means that I have been desperately trying to fit photos of leaves from various trees into what will eventually become interpretive panels - should I perhaps obtain funding! - the begging bowl is out again! As I've said before, I'm no whiz kid on these infernal machines, and I need all the help I can get from my friendly genius in Arisaig when it comes to "layering and feathering"! See I bet you're baffled too! Hopefully, these panels will go on the "All Abilities" path at Kinlochmoidart and will help to satisfy the criteria for the new disabled legislation which requires each and every service provider to have provision for all, where practically possible. As usual, the definition of what is "practical and possible" leads into too many grey areas, and will be open to different interpretation, so we just have to do our best until such time as we are told different.
Speaking of legislation, I told you some time ago that the new "Access" laws should be through around October, but this has now been put back until next February, as there are obviously a few quirks still to sort out. So, I just thought that while the "high heid yins" are trying to get their act together I'll just bail out for a while and grab some leave!
If any of you are missing me so much that you have to speak to a Ranger in the next wee while, skip my electronic pal and get in touch with the Fort William office (they are all nice people, promise!) on 01397 70 5922, or just cross your legs until I get back! See you!
Auntie Mary's Creepy Crawly Corner
This month's question came from Janet:
Are hair, fur and horn made of the same substance ?
The protein keratin is the main constituent of hair, horns, hoofs, nails, claws, feathers, and reptilian scales. It also provides protection in the outer layer of mammalian skin.
One of the characteristic features of mammals is having hairs in most of their skin. There are several types of hair. Furry animals have 'guard' hairs which give the colour and texture of the coat. These hairs are often grouped in twos or threes. Beneath the cover of the guard hairs the shorter, finer and more numerous 'wool' hairs grow. They are usually partly flattened in cross-section and this makes them wavy. The wool or under-fur traps numerous air pockets which supply insulation and may prevent water from reaching the skin in some animals. Most mammals moult once or twice a year. The winter and summer coats may be different in colour, density and quality.
Longer hairs form eyelashes, and manes and tails. Whiskers, also called vibrissae, are coarser hairs which are modified to act as touch-sensors. The heaviest hairs are called quills: these are hollow and can be very stiff; they are used for defence such as on a porcupine.
The horns of cattle have bony cores which have a blood supply and growth is by internal deposit allowing the core to move outward. Growth rings may be seen around the horn base.
The antlers of the deer family are bony outgrowths of the skull which are shed and replaced each year. The bone is covered by skin ( the "velvet") only during growth. When full size is reached the circulation to the velvet is cut off, it dies and is shed. At the end of the breeding season the bone at the base of the antlers becomes weakened and the antlers are cast.
If you find cast antlers out on the hill it is helpful to leave them for deer, cattle and sheep to gnaw at them (like a salt-lick) to absorb some of the calcium and other nutrients.
Ref : M.Hildebrand 1974 "Analysis of Vertebrate Structure".
Dr. Mary Elliott
Birdwatch by Stephen MacDonald
September was dominated by wet and often windy conditions, which curtailed much of the fishing and boating activity, but on two days of reasonable weather, one at the start and the other at the end of the month, two good bird sightings were made. The first was of 2 Sooty Shearwaters, seen feeding near a fishing boat in Rum Sound. The second was on the 29th, when a Grey Phalarope was seen flying over, then swimming on the sea midway between Eigg and Arisaig from the MV Sheerwater. The Grey Phalarope is a small wader-like bird that breeds in the High Arctic, but outside the breeding season it spends most of its time at sea, wintering off the West Coast of Africa. It is seldom seen on land in the British Isles. Another sea bird of interest this month was the Manx Shearwater. Most years some of the youngsters are blown ashore at this time, but the poor weather brought larger numbers this year, with birds reported from Mallaig, Morar, Bracara and Arisaig, with one sighted well inland at Invergarry, by one Mallaig observer.
Small numbers of Waders were still passing through the area with Sanderling, Turnstones, Dunlin, Golden Plover, Redshank and Curlew all seen on various dates through the month, mainly in the Traigh area. Also at Traigh from the 17th to the 21st there was a single Bar-Tailed Godwit feeding among the Oystercatchers and Ringed Plover. The first few Pink-footed geese were noted flying south on the 14th, while much larger flocks were seen on the 28th-29th. There were up to 33 Greylag Geese in the fields at Traigh and Back of Keppoch. Three Arctic Skuas were seen flying south off Mallaig on the 22nd. A great Northern Diver was seen off Rhue on the 23rd along with a late Common Tern. Two red Throated divers were in the sea at Glasnacardoch on the 29th. Flocks of Redpolls were seen at Morar and Kinsadel, with small flocks of twits at Traigh containing 5 Goldfinches on the 15th. A male Merlin was seen at Silver sands on the 4th and a Peregrine at Traigh Golf Course on the 14th. Buzzards were seen regularly at Morar and Arisaig. A single Carrion Crow was seen with 3 Hoodies on the shore at Traigh on the 28th.
Cetacean sightings report, September 2004
by Marion Affleck, Marine Mammal Medic
Local Cetacean strandings: 01687 462664
Very few sightings to report since last month's West Word, mainly due to the strong winds and lashing rain which make sit virtually impossible to see anything at all. However, at the beginning of the month, there were a few good days when mainly Harbour Porpoise were seen, the occasional Minke Whale.
As sightings are now becoming increasingly scarce, for the winter months I will endeavour to provide interesting information of them any species of cetaceans which can be seen in our waters, which I hope will be of interest. An appeal also for any usable hutches that are no longer in use. I also take in and care for storm-driven exhausted birds, which I usually keep for no longer than 24 hours to rest and recuperate and once they are feeding themselves are released. Six Shearwaters, a Guillemot and a Pheasant so far have all been successfully released. One young Black Backed Gull sadly died overnight. My contact number is as above - apologies to the people who may have been disturbed by any calls due to a mis-print in last month's West Word.
Date Time Species
31/08/04 11.50 Harbour porpoise x 3 - feeding, W of Mallaig Harbour.
12.00 Harbour Porpoise x 6 - feeding, mid channel Sound of Sleat
12.05 Harbour Porpoise x 2 - milling, S of Mallaig Harbour
12.15 Minke whale x 1 , normal travel speed - dir. E, Point of Sleat
05/08/04 11.55 Minke whale x 1 - Ardnamurchan Point
11.57 Common Dolphin x 9/10 - Ardnamurchan Point
13.55 Minke Whale x 1 - Ardnamurchan Point
08/09/04 11.40 Harbour porpoise x 3, W of Mallaig Harbour, feeding
11.45 Harbour Porpoise x 5 (4 adults, 1 juvenile), mid channel Sound of Sleat, normal travel speed, dir. In
12.28 Harbour Porpoise x 2, S of Mallaig Harbour, milling; feeding
12.35 Harbour Porpoise x 1, mouth of Loch Nevis, normal travel speed, dir. W
This Autumn deciduous trees such as beech are enjoying their most prolific crops since Autumn 2000. There also high yields from conifers, something that occurs on average once in a decade. This season looks to be the best since the exceptional coning years of 1983 and 1995. The result of this may be much fewer visits to the bird table this Winter by such species as Great and Coal Tits and Siskins.
October is a good month to clear out your nestboxes, in case birds such as Tits and Wrens need them for shelter in the winter. It is worth noting that it is permitted to clear out deserted eggs from nestboxes between 1st August and 31st January, following a 1995 amendment to the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981. (Source: BTO)
Farewell to Father MacKinnon
Sunday 26th September saw a large gathering at the Astley Hall in Arisaig, to say goodbye and God Bless to Monsignor Donald MacKinnon who is moving on to a parish in Fort William.
Father Donald came to St Mary's in Arisaig eight years ago from Oban and quickly became involved with the community. He contributed regularly to West Word, sat on the Hall Committee and helped out at the Agricultural Show among many other commitments and enjoyed his computer - the last thing he packed and no doubt the first thing to be unpacked. He was presented with gifts from the parishioners, Rev Alan Lamb, and the Road to the Isles Agricultural Show Committee gave him a framed photograph.
In his move to Fort William, Father Donald is returning to his family roots. Everyone wishes him health and happiness to enjoy his new living. We hope you'll still continue to read West Word from time to time, Father - you can read it in the internet!
Photo courtesy of Arthur Campbell
IN MEMORY OF CHARLES LYONS
Although investigations have failed to come up with the location of Charlie Lyons' grave within Morar Cemetery, Mallaig Community Council have erected a commemorative plaque on a rugged stone base in the cemetery.
Last year West Word serialised an account by Tony Leszczuk of Charlie Lyons' life which included the events which led to the award of the Military Medal and Bar for bravery shown in World War I. (Issues September, October and November 2003).
The plaque reads: 'In Memory of Charles Lyons MM & Bar 1891 - 1941 5th Cameron Highlanders WWI Not Forgotten Mallaig Community Council'.
H.E.L.P. out in the Philippines by Rachel Inglis
As many of you will know, on August 4th, myself plus 6 others from Aberdeen University flew over to the Philippines to work in an Orphanage for Children with Special Needs for a month. The trip was run by an Aberdeen University charity group called H.E.L.P. (Humanitarian, Educational, Long-term Project).
We flew from Aberdeen down to London and from there we had an 18 hour flight over to Manila the capital, with a stop over in Bahrain. I was pretty nervous about what to expect. It all felt so different as well. The Philippines is not a very well off country, and it was quite a culture shock, especially on the outskirts of Manila seeing all the shanty towns and the terrible poverty that many people were living in. On arrival at the orphanage, we were given a quick tour and then the rest of the day we had to relax and get our bearings….and supposedly recover from our jetlag. We were all too excited to sleep though.
The next day we met the Founders - Mr and Mrs Fullerton. He was American and she was Filipino. They drew up schedules for us to follow depending on what we were interested in, and then the work began. We had to help with practically everything. We fed, washed and played with the kids as well as assisting in the School and the Occupational Therapy (O.T.) and Physiotherapy (P.T.) departments. They were so amazing to work with. They ranged from about 10 months right up to 17 years old….and had various mental and physical disabilities. These ranged from Downs Syndrome and autism to cleft palates and Cerebral Palsy.
The children were housed according to their age and ability in 7 cottages. I was surprised at how well equipped the place was with most mod cons making it a very pleasant environment to work in. all the teachers and workers were very nice and we became good friends with a teacher called Sol. He took us to visit his family and see the traditional Filipino way of life. He also took us to The Hundred Islands National Park. Basically over a hundred tiny islands with white sand and turquoise water. It was amazing. Our day began at 5.30 with breakfast at 6.00 and then we were assigned a cottage to help with feeding, cleaning and general care of the kids. Then the older ones went to school while others had O.T. and P.T. sessions, we all found the O.T. sessions very hard and at times it was very disheartening. Some of the children were very hard to communicate with at all, and it was quite upsetting thinking that you were doing no good at all. However when you did get a response it was a very rewarding feeling.
|All the children became so special to me and it was extremely hard to leave them. I had to try so hard to hold the tears back knowing that I wasn't going to be seeing them again for a very long time, though I am going to try so hard to visit again. It definitely made me appreciate what I have here, and that there are so many kids out there who have so little but still remain so positive and happy. I was amazed by the courage of the children despite their disability. They were so happy and giggly, even the ones who were stuck in a wheelchair all day. They just got on with life and appreciated all they had. It was such hard work but at the same time so rewarding knowing I was actually doing something to help. Even getting a single hug from one of the kids made it seem all the hard work was totally worth it.|
After the orphanage, myself plus 3 others flew over to Malaysia and travelled up over the border through Thailand to Bangkok. We spent two weeks travelling and seeing and doing so many amazing things. We managed 2 Elephant Treks plus white water rafting, quad biking and a day's scuba diving off an island group called Ko Phi Phi where the film 'The Beach' was shot. It was my highlight of our travelling. Saw so many bright fish and coral, and I am proud to say that I found Nemo!!! We also took a trip to the famous 'Bridge over the River Kwai', where my Grandpa was a Japanese prisoner of war during the 2nd World War.
All in all, it was just such a brilliant life changing experience, and I would love to go back. I would like to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who sponsored me and gave money when I was busking. I wouldn't have managed to make it there without your generosity so thank you. Also the staff were so grateful for the baby clothes that Janette hall and baby Iona kindly donated. They will be put to good use.
If anyone would like to know more, please don't hesitate to get in touch with me. Thanks again for all your help.
A Little Genealogy by Allan MacDonald (email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Loddies continued. - Arisaig, Moidart, Canada, Australia
In last month's W.W., I gave a brief genealogy of the Grants of Arisaig & Moidart. This was in answer to an enquiry by Cheryl Reed in Australia, who was enquiring about her ancestor, Hugh Grant from Dalnabreac - b. ca.1766 in Arisaig and d. 1866 in Dalnabreac. I mentioned that Hugh Grant was possibly a brother of Donald Grant (m. to Catherine MacDonald) from Kinloid, whose daughter, Mary was married to Loddy MacDonald, from Suin as Leitir. These MacDonalds and Grants emigrated on the "Jane" in 1790.
This article was picked up by Heather Walters in Canada. Heather is also descended from the Loddies and Grants. Donald Grant who left Kinloid in 1790 was her g.g.g.g. grandfather. She also has connections to Canna MacIsaacs. Heather wanted to be put in touch with Cheryl to compare their respective research notes, in order to discover if they are indeed, cousins By coincidence, shortly after Heather's e-mail, we received a message from Grahame MacDonald in Bunderun, Australia. Grahame is also descended from these Grants and Loddie MacDonalds. Amongst his other ancestors are, the Moidart MacPhersons Kinlochmoidart MacDonalds, Captain Allan MacDonald and his wife, Catherine Smith, both of Eilean Shona. Catherine's mother was a MacMaster from Moidart. Grahame's grandfather, Alexander MacDonald, went to Australia from Cape Breton in 1882.By chance Grahame had just decided to resume researching his Loddy genealogy and, although he had suspected that there were cousins in Australia, he had not been able to trace them.
Now Heather, Grahame and Cheryl will be able to contact each other. Unfortunately Cheryl is on holiday at present so, the others will have to wait until she returns.
Then, the other weekend whilst enjoying Angie and Anne's Golden Wedding celebrations, Tearlach MacFarlane presented us with two family trees, one for the Grants and one for the MacNeils, (of Dalilea and Dalnabreac. - also mentioned last week). At first we thought that Tearlach had developed second sight but no, he had read last month's West Word.
So, a pat on the back to West Word for re-uniting these far-flung, potential cousins, even although we had given the wrong e-mail address for Cheryl.
Recently, I had a letter from Gill Smith, in Kent. She was enquiring about a family from Toigal. Andrew MacDonald, (tailor) b. ca. 1845, who m. Sarah Grant, a native of North. Morar, in Bracarina Church on 29th April, 1875. According to St. Mary's Baptismal Reg., they had at least 4 children. Anne, b.1879, River Morar, Peggie, b.1883, Archie, 1884, Daniel, b.1885 - these last three, born in Toigal. I cannot trace Andrew and Sarah in the Census records prior to their marriage, nor can I find the family in the 1881/91 censuses.
Andrew died in Glasgow in 1899. Does anyone know, where was the house classed as River Morar? Has anyone any information which will help Gill in her search?
The Muck Creek Settlers by Marianne Lincoln, Washington, USA
Friday, March 12, 2004, while searching on the prairies of Fort Lewis, I found the well-marked grave site of a local and colorful pioneer, Charles Wren. Wren, a half Metís from Manitoba, was among a group of settlers encouraged to come to Washington by the British in an attempt to claim the territory in the 1840's.
The first American settlers to come overland to Washington took the Naches Trail in 1853. In fact, the trail wasn't even quite finished although they were told in Yakima that it was. They had to blaze their own trail part of the way on the west side of the Cascades and lower their wagons over cliffs by rope. The end of the Naches Trail has a stone marker - near Clover Creek Elementary on Old Military road. This area became Camp Montgomery a small military post (blockhouse) run by the Washington Territory. American military forces resided at Ft. Steilacoom, on the grounds where Western State Hospital now sits. Ft. Nisqually, founded in 1832 near Dupont, was not actually a fort, but a trading post for the British Hudson Bay Company (HBC). HBC had an agricultural affiliate which raised horses, cows, sheep and pigs for market called the Puget Sound Agricultural Company (PSAC). The great prairies between the Nisqually River and the Puyallup River were their pasture lands. They had "stations" where their employees lived and worked to tend these herds - Muck was one of those sites. A PSAC map from 1852, shows Elk Plain and a lake called Spanuch. A journal from their station-master in 1958 calls the lake, Spanaway. For perspective, you must understand that America & Britain competed for this area. Britain recruited settlers from the populated Red River area in Manitoba to come to Washington to settle. They hoped to keep it British. But in 1846, the 49th parallel became the border with Canada. The Hudson's Bay Company remained, but it had to quantify its land holdings in case the USA wanted to purchase them. Eventually the difficulty of ousting pioneers who kept trying to settle on PSAC's lands, forced our government to buy out the company and holdings. The argument over money, which took until 1867 to settle through the courts, gave HBC a fraction of the value of their holdings finally in 1869, $750,000. Charles Wren, and several other area settlers who worked for PSAC set up Donation Land Claims in the Muck Creek area. These claims were not officially surveyed and registered until 1871 due to the court case over PSAC lands. John McPhail and John McLeod were Scottish. Although there is a local Chinook jargon word "muck-a-muck" which means food, these settlers actually named the creek for an island they knew in the Scottish Hebrides called Muck. Prior to 1850, references to the creek call it Douglas Burn or Douglas River. James Douglas was a factor at one of the other Hudson Bay outposts in the Pacific Northwest. The other Muck Creek settlers included Henry Smith (a Prussian), George Murray, Peter Wilson, and Lyon "Sandy" Smith. To local natives, these Hudson Bay employees were known as "King George's Men." The American settlers were called "Bostons." For many years the HBC people and the Indians lived in reasonable harmony, but the influx of American settlers staking property claims brought a new threat. Today, this Muck Creek area lies between the new Cougar Mountain Junior High along 260th Street and Rice-Kandle Road to the west along the creek about 7 miles. The town of Muck was eliminated when land was bought up for the present day Ft. Lewis. The town was near the Wren property. An old plat map on a historic marker at Bethany Lutheran Church (263rd St. & Mountain Highway) shows these Donation Land Claims. They can also be found on the Washington Secretary of State's historic maps archive on the Internet, www.secstate.wa.gov. In order to lessen conflicts between the settler's land claims and the Indians who roamed the entire area hunting and gathering, Gov. Stevens sought to make a treaty with the Indians and assign them to reservations. The Medicine Creek Treaty was signed at Christmas in 1854. The Native Americans, particularly the Nisqually Tribal designee to the treaty, Leschi, were not satisfied with the land the government assigned as their reservation. It is said Leschi refused to sign the treaty, although his mark appears on the document. After the treaty, the Indians became more unsettled about the changes. The subsequent period, 1855-56 is known as the Indian War. In Pierce County, settlers were being killed in Steilacoom, Tacoma, and through the Puyallup Valley to Orting. The Muck Creek settlers on the other hand, seemed to be getting along with the local natives. Over time, this aroused suspicion that these settlers were working with the Indians against the new fledgling government. The territorial governor, Issac Stevens had these settlers arrested and detained by Col. Casey at Ft. Steilacoom. Steilacoom, being the county seat, had no shortage of lawyers. One was immediately dispatched to obtain a writ of habeas corpus for these settlers from Judge Chenowith who lived on Whidby Is. Hearing that Col. Casey would not continue to hold the settlers if the writ was signed, Gov. Stevens declared martial law and had the settlers moved to Camp Montgomery where the volunteers were directly responsible to the governor. They were Charles Wren, John McPhail, Sandy Smith, Henry Smith, Peter Wilson, two Murrays and John McCloud. The legal and political wrangling that took place between the judge and the governor is a fascinating and lengthy story. (Each tried to have the other arrested and charged.) In the end, the jury determined the military court formed under Steven's martial law had no jurisdiction over a civil offense. The issue of conspiring against the government of the United States, treason, was a charge for Federal Courts. The federal government's local representatives refused to bring up any charges against the settlers and they were allowed to return to their homes. The Governor was soon sent a letter from the Secretary of State on behalf of President Franklin Piece. It called the martial law unexcusable since his objective was to "superceed the functionaries in the proper discharge of their duties" and his conduct, "does not therefore meet with favorable regard of the President." At the next meeting of the Territorial Legislature the Governor was censured. Chief Leschi did not fair as well. When tricked and captured in 1856, he was imprisoned and put to trial. The jury did not convict him. A second trial convicted him, but subsequent events prevented the execution. After a third trial, Leschi was convicted and hanged on February 19, 1858. Leschi was the first accused murderer to receive the death penalty in Washington. He was also considered innocent by many people. Others recognized he was acting as a leader of his people during a time of war. Presently around Pierce County, there are schools, parks and other facilities named in his honor and a interest group has been pressing for years to clear his name. In 2004, the Washington State Legislature passed a bill sponsored by Senator Marilyn Rasmussen, to put the case of Chief Leschi back before the Washington State Supreme Court for an exoneration. She refused to simply ask the governor for a pardon because, "Pardons are for those who are guilty."
December 25th 2004 is the sesquicentennial of the Medicine Creek treaty. In my searching I have found the home and lands of the Henry Smith Donation Land Claim remain completely intact. I have found descendants of several Muck Creek settlers - John McLeod, William Benston, George Murray and Henry Smith and am still seeking out other local people that I think may be related. The remains of Ft. Nisqually were moved years ago to a site in Tacoma's Point Defiance Park and preserved for the local historical value.
Watch this space for extracts from next month's issue!
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