Community paper for Mallaig, Morar, Arisaig, Lochailort, Glenfinnan
Glenuig, Knoydart and the Small Isles
List of Issues online
October 2007 Issue
Contents of the online version:
All photos are copyright either of the individual photographers or West Word.
NEW GEAR STORES AND FLOOD PREVENTION SCHEME
The wreckage of the Gear Stores after the Big Storm in January 2005. Work on rebuilding the stores has begun.
BRENNAN'S HUT DESTROYED BY FIRE
Police are trying to establish the cause of a fire which resulted in the total destruction of Brennan's Hut located within Larachmore Gardens, Arisaig. The fire occurred between 17th - 21st September 2007. Anyone with further information including a more exact time is asked to contact Mallaig Police Station on 01687 462177.
Villagers are saddened by the fire, which has destroyed a picturesque little building with a strong link to the past. The hut, which consisted of basic living quarters, must have been at least 80 years old. It was sometimes used by visitors and by the Edinburgh Royal Botanic volunteers who come down to work in the gardens.
Its name comes from John Brennan, an Irishman who lived in it for many years. He came to work for Johnny Holmes, the owner of the Gardens, before the Second World War. He must have been a remarkable character because he is still remembered, and in fact the gardens are still called Brennan's Gardens locally. A happy natured man, he loved plants and his basic lifestyle, but he was not a recluse. He was a member of the then famous Arisaig Amateur Dramatic Society and played parts in many productions. He enjoyed clay pigeon shooting and ferreting. The young E D MacMillan would accompany him on ferreting expeditions to try to keep down the rabbit population in the gardens.
John had had part of a foot blown away in World War One and walked with a decided limp. During world War II, he bought a car and started a taxi service. Apparently it wasn't very successful, because he never got out of second gear. John MacMillan, E D's brother, recalls that he stopped once to offer someone a lift, and the person said 'No thanks, I'm in a hurry'!
He died in 1959. He may have had a heart condition, and it is believed he took ill watching a football match on the old pitch down the Glen, and didn't recover.
Our thanks to E D and John MacMillan for their reminiscences.
MORAR HATCHERY CLOSES DOWN
Friday 28th September saw the closure of the Marine Harvest Hatchery on Loch Morar, with the loss of two full time jobs. Brother and sister Ewen and Mairead MacDonald have worked there together for the last 10 years, while Mairead has totalled 20 years at the facility, dealing with young salmon and sea trout. Sea trout fry have been reared at the freshwater hatchery since 1998, producing millions of fish to be released into the wild to replenish stocks to counter the long term decline in sea trout. Eggs were brought there from a number of sites in the Highlands When the Hatchery was built, it was one of the most modern in Europe, with a capacity to handle 8 million fish a year. Its technology is now obsolete.
Well, we seem to have had more than our fair share of press recently! The Travel Channel recorded a program on Knoydart which will be broadcast in the first week of October - Jim (stalker) and Sandy (barman) winning starring roles in the "How to Holiday Greener - Scotland" episode. BBC Countryfile have been speaking to lots of people on the peninsula in preparation for filming in a couple of weeks. That's before we even get on to the subject of goats...
...which, unfortunately, I'm going to have to do. The Knoydart Foundation held a public meeting, with the main topic on the agenda being the goats. Quite a few turned up for what was a civil yet spirited meeting. Many people felt that they were better informed after the meeting about the reasons for the proposed cull, with some stating that they wouldn't have signed the petition had they known all the facts (some had even been under the impression that all the goats would be culled, which was never a proposal). The result of the meeting is that a consultation will be sent out to all residents (not just members of the Foundation), giving choices as to the best way to deal with the goat problem (a further result was that it was decided to resurrect the Community Association meetings, which dealt with many issues that the community feel strongly about, such as the state of the graveyards). I do feel vaguely responsible for much of the press, in that the goats issue may not have been picked up by the Scotsman, Daily Record, BBC and others if I hadn't mentioned it in this column. But on the other hand, it's obviously a topic people feel strongly about, possibly because there isn't such a strong tradition of goat management compared to deer management. One regret is that as a result of the wider publicity, there is a lot of misinformation out there disseminated by people who have no experience of the situation here on the ground in Knoydart - and that misinformation is unlikely to go away. More information on our website, www.knoydart-foundation.com
There have been other things happening here - the Foundation Summer Prize Draw took place, with friends and visitors from all over the UK winning the following prizes: a week in Rowan Cottage (donated by John Caughie), a luxury hamper (Virginia Hayward Ltd), a trip on a RIB (WA Marine and Environment), a day's photostalking (Knoydart Trading Ltd), a whole organic lamb (Knoydart Natural Lamb), dinner for four (The Old Forge), and a framed panorama of Ladhar Bheinn (Andy Doune Photos). Many, many thanks to the local businesses who all donated prizes, and to the generous people who bought over 3000 tickets. The money raised all goes into the conservation work that the Foundation carries out on a daily basis. We are also extremely grateful for the prizes for the Knoydart games day raffle donated by the following: Travis Perkins and Highland Industrial Supplies Fort William, The Tea Garden, Eclipse, Toy Shop, Coop, Spar, Rixon's book shop, Johnston Brothers. Due to a glitch rather than an oversight we left out our thanks last month. Donations were made to the mission and to the RNLI from the takings on the day. We are all very grateful for your support which helps keep the annual fun games going, as well as helping towards the improvement of our village hall which is a vital asset for the community.
The guided walks that Jim and I do every Wednesday at 11.30 are still going strong, although we anticipate them tailing off in the near future. We're looking forward to promoting our "Wild Knoydart" program which is just starting to take off. See the Foundation website (www.knoydart-foundation.com) if you want to find out more about the chance to come photostalking, wildlife watching or even team building, or check out the Travel Channel on the 5th October, and Countryfile in the near future.
The pub held a "Vegas" night last weekend which encouraged everyone to dress up in their finery - some quite scary cross-dressing taking place, which you'll be glad to hear I didn't even contemplate taking part in. The few bemused hillwalkers who were around soon joined in with the merriment, as well as attempting to win lots of plastic tokens on the gambling table.
It's starting to feel like winter already, partly because of the dress-up night, but also because people are departing these shores for the wider world - Amanda, Aga, Lisa, Ana, Evelyn and Sarah are all off to various places at various times - which isn't looking encouraging for the male-female balance here in Inverie! Best wishes to them all, and we look forward to hearing what you've all been up to when you come back (everyone does return!).
ISLE OF MUCK
When Allan Henderson brought Stuart Robertson (representing HIE) to the island a few weeks ago no one expected it to solve our broadband problems, but it has helped and Port Mor is now back online. Thank you Allan and Stuart. Gallanach is not online but this is due to our repeater station that beams the signal across the island and is powered by a small wind turbine and a photovoltaic panel. Twice the turbines have been destroyed in gales so there is a real problem here. Could more photovoltaic panels be the answer?
On the 21 September for the first time an outside theatre company has reached the island. Mull Theatre's production of Brightwater was well acted and enjoyable even if the tragic life of Gavin Maxwell was not exactly comedy. About 80% of the adult population attended and the team made a generous donation to our community hall fund which now stands at over £1000.
On the farm even someone totally dedicated to agriculture like myself cannot but feel a little despondent at the present situation. The combined effect of Food and Mouth (no exports), Blue Tongue, high grain prices and the low value for finished lambs last Spring has made store lambs almost worthless.
However on a more positive note sales are back and calves should be worth a little more than lambs. We shall see. The Muck calves are going under the hammer at Fort William on Saturday 6 October.
ISLE OF EIGG
What began as a dismal month has redeemed itself by giving us a glorious Indian summer for the last days of September - highly unusual around the equinox, but most welcome. On Eigg, a late flush of brambles has brought the jam makers out again, (just when they thought it was all over!) and the sun's unexpected reappearance has helped to get the last of the hay and silage in. Field mushrooms have been thin on the ground, but those who know where to look have found plenty of chanterelles and sloes- lots of wonderful wild food around, especially with the fantastic mallard and partridge from Muck. John Chester has been away gallivanting in the Alps and we therefore don't have a wildlife update, but I can report that the Egret was last seen on the 21st so it looks like he too has headed off to more clement climes! (Don't worry, all you Birdie fans - he'll be back next month, no doubt with a huge cheery grin for us all!)
Visitor numbers have now tailed off almost completely and we have said a fond farewell to Ronnie, Gerry and the Sheerwater gang until next year. Such sweet sorrow etc.
Alex and Lizzie Boden hosted a superb end of season meal in the tearoom for everyone - it was just sublime. Many thanks to Alex, Lizzie and their helpers who worked so hard to make the day a great success, which was very much appreciated by all of us lucky enough to be there. After dinner entertainment, including Eighteenth century make-over's, was organised by Ailidh Morrison - how she found the time in between tending to Damien's needs is anyone's guess (the poor lamb has done something very nasty to his ankle.)
We received a visit from Mike Russell MSP and Minister for the Environment on the 25th, and despite it being a very fleeting meeting due to the weather, those who attended came away with a positive response. "It gave everyone an opportunity to discuss everything from Foot and Mouth to Broadband" said local celebrity Maggie Fyffe, 28.
Later in the week we were lucky enough to be scheduled into the Mull Theatre Company's tour of their wonderful production of Brightwater by Jon Pope, which explored the life of Gavin Maxwell. We had a great attendance of 35, which just shows what a cultured lot we are. I also have it on good authority that the Company particularly appreciated the audience participation. Eigg Primary School pupils have again been busy this month, and their latest trip was to Mallaig where they learnt circus skills, acrobatics and cycling as well as improving their swimming skills. The trip was part funded by BBC Children in Need - many thanks to them for helping to give the children the chance to participate in these activities. The pupils and staff also organised a fantastic sale of baking in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support which raised a very impressive £115.00.
John and Christine Booth have just returned from Torèon, Mexico, were they attended the marriage of their son Malcolm and Cristina on the 8th September. Congratulations to the happy couple, who we will hopefully be seeing here before too long. Good luck to Abby Lines who is off to Herriot Watt in Galashiels to undertake an undergraduate a course in Textile Design. Let's not forget birthday wishes for Ewen Kirk, Frances and Colin Carr, Simon Helliwell and Wes Fyffe, who all celebrated their birthdays this month.
ISLE OF CANNA
Despite it getting slightly less frantic this month, September has flown by. In fact, as I write there's plenty of it flying past the window…there goes my rubbish bin. We're beginning to get a taste of some pretty wild weather; luckily there haven't been any disruptions to the timetable so far. Just as well, with quite a few folk still coming and going…
Day-trippers still aplenty… visitors to Canna House, Council reps and sightseers; one particularly windy Wednesday brought a few hardy worshippers for the service at St. Columba's. And who might appear one day for a surprise visit? The Wildlife Management International crew AKA the Ratters flew in to say a brief hello, before they were whisked off to their next secret mission…destination unknown…
This week a team of foresters is here to try to tidy up woodland around Kate's Cottage and Canna House. They'll certainly have their work cut out for them…if these winds keep up. The Dry-stane Dyker is with us for a couple more weeks and has been kept busy all over the island…the Vet came round and got involved in a fracas at the fank with a bull…the Rat boy has almost caught up with the monitoring checks, but was last seen still chasing his tail. No change there, then.
Sheep are still waiting to go off to the sales. The state of play appears to be changing all the time, but hopefully by next week most movement restrictions should be relaxed and we'll be able to make some progress. Not a good time right now for farmers, what with recent appearance of Bluetongue to add to the worries (or Blue Cow disease as my five year-old calls it…he's still watching too much Cbeebies I think…). On a more positive note, at least it looks like last months bracken spraying has been quite successful.
Caslum is well underway and should be finished before winter sets in…now we have official confirmation that one new family will be arriving in January. And that will see the school roll double by the end of the year, once again!
Talking of which…School was once again mainland bound for part of the month, and just after us getting over the Island Odyssey! As part of the Highland Year of Culture celebrations, the children enjoyed another multi-activity week based in Mallaig. There was a chance to swim, go mountain-biking (and 'scooting' for the wee ones!) and learn a few new circus skills…that's in addition to the usual juggling timetables, walking the tightrope, tantrum throwing and general clowning around that usually goes on…Boom Boom! A good time had by all, I think, and hugely beneficial in many ways though I'm sure our teachers feel that they spend enough time on the mainland attending courses and the like. Of course, technology to the rescue, and the wonders of video conferencing and data streaming will make everyone's life easier. I'm heartened by the news that we're to have superfast wireless broadband by the end of next year…until I read the small print; something along the lines of 'The management reserve the right to refuse…etc., etc.'…Tomorrow's World? Let's not hold our breath. Rant over. Now where'd I put my robotic housekeeper..?
ISLE OF RUM
This month Ali Donald and Sean Morris got married. The first marriage of local residents on the island since goodness knows when, it took place in the grand hall in Kinloch Castle on 8th September. After more champagne than sense, guests tucked into a remarkable array of fine food and were entertained by the best man's stories of Sean's antics as a young man. The new Mr and Mrs Morris would like to thank everyone who made their day so memorable.
Rum pony numbers were boosted by another colt foal, born to Fionchra this month. Representatives from the Highland Pony Society came over to see the whole herd and take DNA samples for their records. They remarked on how well they looked and behaved - a credit mostly to Lesley Watt who has been managing the herd for some time.
The BBC are back… in smaller numbers to film an Autumnwatch update on some of the well known stags seen last year on television- Caesar, Maximus, Flash, Percy, Ivan and Brutus are still going strong; Coming to a TV near you soon. The minister for the environment, Mike Russell, visited Rum on the 24th. Primarily to have a look at Kinloch Castle in light of the plans by the Prince's Regeneration Trust, he also came to a meeting at the village hall to canvass local opinion on these plans and discuss the future management of Rum in terms of conservation, community development and asked our views on how it could be improved. What an opportunity!! Well, those at attended articulated opinions on lack of housing, land tenure, SNH's remit on Rum and presented suggestions on a more holistic way of managing the island with more than just SNH holding a management capacity - something, I'm sure SNH would welcome for the future. Mike Russell has taken our views back to Holyrood and we shall wait and see what comes of this. He plans to visit again in the spring.
Other news: Seals have started to pup, Rhys is off to Kenya and is brushing up on his Swahilli and we have a new forestry student here for a year - Neil Taylor.
Rum cat stories…Rum's one feral cat - this cat (it was neutered) has been prowling around for well over a dozen years living rough and then out of the blue it wandered into Derek's house and took up residence for a while and recently it died. Amazing that it lasted so long, we all thought it had died years ago as sightings had stopped. Another one: Ali's incredible commuting cats- after recently adopting Sandy's cat Taz and rehoming her at Kilmory with her other two, Ali was astounded to find her back in the village a few days later, that's a five mile trek. Now the other two cats seem to think this is a good idea and have started doing it too, on a regular basis, back and forth 5 miles each way.
Iain and Ingrid's recording studio and new business venture 'Old Laundry Productions' was officially opened by musical legends Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham. Among those who turned out was a big squad of villagers ensuring the celebrations carried on and on. Ingrid, her mother and mother-in-law, Isobel, laid on a huge spread and we all enjoyed the chocolate fountain. We witnessed a recording session and a few of us joined in to record 'Come by the hills'. More on this story elsewhere in West Word.
DJ and Co enjoyed a day out delivering kegs of ale by boat. He sent me the following report. For the first time in more than half a century, beer has been delivered to Acharacle Pier. MV Sileas carried two kegs from Glenfinnan Brewery to Loch Shiel House Hotel, on Wednesday, 5th September 2007. Skipper and owner, Jim Michie and D J Robertson delivered two kegs of ale "Glenfinnan Gold" and "The Standard" to Nigel Griggs. Local opinion is, that this is the first cargo of this type to have been transported by boat since the vessel Clanranald II, run by 'David MacBrayne' stopped delivering in 1953. Glenfinnan Ale is well accustomed to sea voyages, as it can be found in The Old Forge in Inverie on Knoydart and will soon be available on D J's native Isle of Skye.
TV cameras were filming in Glenfinnan House Hotel for UKTV Food Local Heroes competition. Glenfinnan House Hotel made it through to the finals and Duncan Gibson flew to Plymouth to cook for the judges. Results pending! Good luck! Earlier in the month we had a Blas concert in the church. Ceilear filled the church and had everybody singing.
And at last the sun has come out…
GLENFINNAN RECORDING STUDIO OPENS
Musical duo Phil Cunningham and Aly Bain made recent a detour into Glenfinnan to open a newly built, state of the art recording facility. Situated on the site of the former laundry to Glenfinnan House Hotel, the 'Old Laundry' studio is a new venture for renowned local musicians Iain MacFarlane (Blazin' Fiddles) and Ingrid Henderson (Cliar). An impromptu concert by all the musicians marked the opening in true style and the first official track, a jig written for Iain and Ingrid's baby son, was recorded down. In true community fashion the music and song continued to flow and toes were tapping well into the wee small hours.
Supported by HIE Lochaber, this facility is an exciting new addition to the already blossoming traditional music scene. Helen Cameron of HIE said "The emergence of new digital technology in the music sector means musicians no longer need to be based in the central belt to record their work. A studio in Glenfinnan close to the musicians means the studio can carve out a "niche" in the growing traditional music market." In an opening speech Phil Cunningham commended Ingrid and Iain on their new project. "It's a great testament to the growth of music in the highlands that another recording facility has become available." He went on to say, "Iain and Ingrid's studio experiences as writers, performers and producers will serve them well in this new venture. When you combine new music technology with experience, a sympathetic, informed approach and "good lugs" it's a recipe for success."
LOCAL FOOD HEROES
The UKTV Food Local Hero Awards are a tribute to Britain's independent shops, farm stalls, artisan producers, cafes, pubs, and small businesses. Voting for the awards is now over and the finalists will battle it out in a new TV series to be shown in November over 11 episodes. The programmes start on Monday 5th November at 9pm and continue every weeknight to the Grand Final on Sunday 18th November.
Leading the hunt for this year's winner is Gary Rhodes who will be assessing the strongest contenders from each region. Each episode concentrates on a specific region with a regional advocate celebrating those six finalists that best demonstrate a remarkable commitment to producing, selling or serving great food. At the end of each episode a regional winner will be chosen to go through to the grand final.
There are only six finalists in each region, and one of the six in Scotland is Glenfinnan House Hotel! Duncan Gibson, chef and manager, has been down to Plymouth to cook for judges and filming has been going on at the Hotel. Every good wish to Duncan for November and we'll be watching! First prize, apart form the title Local Hero 2007, is £40,000 to invest in the business. The UKTV Food website has a Food Directory listing all those Good Foodies who were nominated and who have had at least one review left online for them. Our own Local Heroes in the Directory are:
Andy Race Fishsellers, John MacMillan, Mobile Butcher, Port Mor House Hotel on the Isle of Muck and MacDonald's Smoked Produce in Glenuig.
You can go online at www.uktv.co.uk and click on UKTV Food, and then the directory, to leave a review for one - or all - of them.
COASTAL RANGER REPORT
Well, this month began with me watching open mouthed as hundreds of runners careered past me on the way up the Ben! Half way point in 30 minutes! It's unbelievable! As I trudged down from my vantage point a few hundred yards from the start I was thinking of my own guided walks - half an hour! Wow, let's just not dwell on it and get on with handing out the plaudits to every one of these remarkable runners. Well done!
Having had the weekend to get over the watching of the Ben Race, I then turned my thoughts to the week ahead and, having fortunately glanced at my "bible" (diary to those of you who haven't been keeping up with me!) the old grey matter, now guilty of the odd lapse! reminded me that I had a group booked for a walk on the Monday. I enjoy these extra walks as the groups all know one another and are always good fun - that is I can be as cheeky as I want and most of them will laugh! Anyway I duly led the group, mostly in the later stages of the flush of youth?? on a gentle stroll over the old road to Kinlochmoidart. The weather was most suitable, and I soon had them grovelling around like snuffling badgers looking for the blackened remains of trees in the charcoal burning platform. Mind you I did have the decency to let them enjoy their picnic lunch first before their nails filled up with peat and grime from the mossy floor!
The other regular programmed walks, the Tuesdays and Thursdays, for the month produced another 34 persons, not a lot, but I suppose once we hit September people are tending to drift back home, especially the English visitors with children at school. Overall, despite my repeated bleatings that the numbers were well down, the season has in fact worked out very similar to last year with an average of 7.348 (that's just over seven and three eights people or seven and a couple of legs!!). Surprisingly, the most popular walk was "Brinacory and Lochan Stole" which I have graded as C/D (fairly hard) and the second most popular was "Local Heroes" graded B (easy), so it just goes to show that my walks, far from being too difficult for all you couch potatoes, are suitable for most people, so you have no excuse next year! In fact, come to think of it, I'm sure I could throw in a few strolls over the coming months, so get my phone ringing!!?
Despite the weather in the past month (no I'm not going to elaborate) I have been pretty busy with odd trips to Fort William for minor repairs to the van, some meetings and one "overnighter" near Muir of Ord when I met up with the other Highland Council Rangers for our "sharing good practise", team building and such like. This year's meeting was one of the better ones with the higher echelons not filling us with doom and gloom as to whether the funding for the Rangers was likely to collapse. Seemingly it looks like you may have to put up with me, and all the others, for another year, with the possible exception of one or two "seasonals" who may not be replaced. By the way, my input to the "sharing good practise" was a new game that I have rigged up for bird and butterfly recognition. It seemed to go down quite well, so I hope that all the local schools will have a go at it over the winter. It is fairly simple and can be adapted for severity, so I think the children will like it. Once more, you know how to get in touch!
One other bit of "news???" I think, I'm sure, I'm kind of certain, I believe, welllll……….. Oh Dash! Here goes! I know that the contract for the "All Abilities" path to Loch an Nostarie has been out to tender and has been awarded, (two years fully to get to this stage!). The work was due to start about a fortnight ago, but apparently there has been some last ditch hold up from the estate end, and I await further news. I do know that Sir Cameron is in favour, so things should iron out soon - hopefully! Believe it or not, this was the very first path to attract "Access" funding, and is now the only one not to have started! Honestly it's not my fault, believe it or not, I have been quietly lobbying away in the background for the past 24 months, so I'm now at the fingers crossed stage!
Well, that seems to be the lot for this month, such as it is! I don't know why I bother really, I'm sure you could all do better! Anyway you know how to contact me Phone: 01687 462 983 and just let me know what standard of walk your group wants etc! 'Till next time, stay healthy and send me your comments, abuse, wild life encounters etc.
West Word - ten years ago
The West Word of 10 years ago (October 1997) carried three stories on the front page, one of which was illustrated by a photograph of Roads & Transport Minister Malcolm Chisholm climbing on board Jackie Milligan's articulated lorry to endure '17 miles of hell by Lorry from Mallaig to Lochailort' on the A830. This main story centred on the Mallaig Road Action Group campaigning for improvements to the single track road, with the then MP Mr David Stewart instrumental in getting the Roads Minister to the area to discuss the A830 with representatives from the Mallaig, Morar and Arisaig Community Councils and, of course, obtain a white knuckle ride on Milligan Transport's lorry!
Mallaig's Music Festival set to be a great success, foretold Editor Jill de Fresnes in another front page story, and this was backed up inside the 32 page edition on page 9, where the programme of events for the very first Feis na Mara was extensively detailed. The third positive story on the front page was the information that work on the Mallaig Village centre Redevelopment had just started. This redevelopment, incorporating shop units, flats and a restaurant, was to be built for Mr & Mrs A Fleming, Arisaig, by I F Construction.
Charlie King's Council Corner also touched on David Stewart and Malcolm Chisholm's visit to the area, by revealing that once the road business had been concluded, the chance was taken to air the issues relating to the Small Isles Ferries and Jetties. The Councillor also wished West Word Editor Jill de Fresnes well on her forthcoming trip to New Zealand, a trip explained in the Editorial, which revealed that Jacqueline McDonell was set to become Editor of West Word for the next six months during Jill's sabbatical.
Weather synopsis, Lifeboat Log, Coastguard Report and Tidetables adorned page 4 (surprise, surprise), while Hugh Allen's fishing piece bemoaned the lack of prawns and fish being caught and landed. Mallaig Harbour Master Capt. John Murray stated his intentions to rid the piers of old unclaimed and abandoned fishing gear.
The On the Rails column was sad to see the Steam Train service end but delighted at the special offers, like cheap fares, that ScotRail would be implementing on the West Highland Line over the winter months. Development plans by The Hebridean Trust in conjunction with The national Trust for Scotland to set up a study centre in St Edward's Chapel on Sanday were highlighted on page 7.
Episode Three of Mary Johnston's Mallaig Childhood made for interesting reading, as did the two Sense of Adventure items from Giles Trussell - sailing to Barbados and Grenada - and Barry Austin travelling through Africa.
Regular features like Heaven's Above (Ross Campbell), Down to Earth (Neil Robertson), Auntie Mary's Creepy Crawlie Corner and The Encounter Group page, were dotted throughout the paper, and there was a quiz and a Crossword (compiled by Andrew Simpson).
The Rev Alan Lamb and the Fishermen's Mission Superintendent Murray Campbell provided the Religious Messages, whilst the School News featured items from Mallaig High and Lady Lovat Primary School Medium Unit.
Photographs of two young girls who had gone on to attain their 50th birthdays adorned the middle pages and I'm happy to report that both Morag Ann and Ann Martin are touching their big 6-0! The wedding day photo of Rosemary Simpson and Craig Davie in St Columba's Parish Church was featured and there was a 4 page pull out of the new Astley Hall plans - 10 years on we've also got a pull out section (on the A830)!
Arisaig Community Council minutes told of the formation of a Steering Group for the Old Smiddy Project and the forming of the Lochaber Credit Union.
I'll close with an item from a feature entitled 'Thoughts on School' by pupils from Primary One. Here then is Kimberley Jackson's thoughts: 'Claire and Beverley are my best friends and we just eat things at playtime. I love gym but we're not allowed to shout because Mr Cargill gets a headache! Today he has got one!'
On and Off The Rails
West Highland Photo Charters
In order to preserve the continuity of running an end-of-Jacobite-season steam event on the West Highland Line, Highland Railway Heritage and Glenfinnan Station Museum combined with J2C and JNC to run a successful two day photo-charter between Rannoch And Mallaig.
On Saturday 29th September, 62005 with a six-coach train ran from Spean Bridge and Tulloch to Rannoch, and then from Rannoch (excellent tea room at the station by the way, with lots of locally produced food, honey, crafts etc) to Banavie and Arisaig (where the engine took on water) before returning to Banavie. All day there were lots of starting/stopping/noise and exhaust effects as 'run pasts' with alternating white steam and smoke and black smoke were produced to the photographers' delight. On Rannoch Moor over 100 photographers (and a few dogs) were assembled, and at the moment of the run-past, complete silence was observed for the video cameras to record the moment. The craic was superb and the food and beverages excellent.
On Sunday 30th September, 62005 with six coaches ran from Banavie to Glenfinnan to Mallaig and back, being on the line a total of ten hours. At Mallaig a huge party atmosphere prevailed on the platform and, thanks to the Tea Garden, hot bacon rolls were consumed. A presentation of a Railway Totem by Dr Ann Glen and Paul Barnes, on behalf of H.R.H. (Highland Railway Heritage that is, not the Queen), to James Shuttleworth, Commercial Manager of West Coast Railway Company, added to the occasion. (see picture below.)
Paul Barnes and Dr Ann Glen present James Shuttleworth with a 'totem'.
West Highland Extension Line Closure
Due to engineering work, a replacement bus service between Fort William and Mallaig will operate from, and including, the 22.10 departure from Fort William to Mallaig on Friday October 19th, until and including the 06.05 departure from Mallaig to Fort William on Monday 5th November . Please allow extra time ahead of booked departure time to be at the stations to catch the buses provided. At Arisaig, I understand the pick up point will be at the main road junction with Station Road. Please call in at Mallaig Booking Office to see Suzie for more information. The Booking Office is now on Winter Time, so is open between the hours of 10.10 to 18.10, or you can telephone 01687 462227.
End of Jacobite Season
The last Jacobite Steam Train for 2007 will be on Friday October 12th. The annual mayhem cake presentation and photo call will take place on the platform at Mallaig when the train comes in at 12.10. thanks to all the restaurants who contribute to the cost of the cake. Please come along and meet the crew who bring so many happy visitors to Mallaig.
Last Royal Scotsman for 2007
We have enjoyed many visits by the Scotsman this year. The last one will be on Saturday October 5th. Locals and visitors alike often wonder why there is nobody on it when it comes into Mallaig. Truth is, it is always full, but the visitors are taken off at Arisaig and taken on a coastal road trip before rejoining the train at Mallaig. This year they are going away with locally produced Christmas Cakes and Puddings if they get made!!
Filming will be taking place this coming weekend between Fort William and Rannoch for the next Harry Potter film. The engine and coaches are already at Fort William Goods Yard.
First ScotRail Winter Service
Since September 22nd all services in and out of Mallaig are reduced to two carriages. Considering the number of coach party bookings an half-term travellers, families and students using the line, it is surely time that First ScotRail extended the four carriage season. Also on a Sunday (yet again) there is no service in or out of Mallaig, except for a 16.10 out and a 23.30 in. I witnessed 10 people turn up for a 10.35 service on Sunday morning (29th September). As Mallaig depends more and more for its economy from tourism it seems crazy to me that First ScotRail do not address this situation. Visitors will not come up on a Saturday by train to stay in a B & B, and eat a meal out, if they can only get home in the dark on a Sunday! Likewise for tourists not to be able to visit by bus or train on a Sunday means that the restaurants will not open, which then denies locals the chance to eat out also. Furthermore, students who have come home on the late train Friday night cannot return to Glasgow, Inverness, Perth or Edinburgh until after dark. Maybe one day, First ScotRail will be a truly Public Service.
Crofting roundup by Joyce Ormiston, SCF Council Member
Welfare of Livestock in the Highlands and Islands at risk due to FMD
Crofters and Hill farmers are pleading to the government to avert a disastrous situation brought about by the FMD outbreaks in Surrey. With grass running out on the hills and the colder winter weather coming in, lambs that would have normally be sold on through the marts are still trying to forage on the hillsides, placing a huge burden on Hill farmers and Crofters.
A welfare programme must be put in place to help ease the financial and physical burden. Feed costs are 40% to 50% higher than usual due to drought conditions in parts of Europe and the wet English summer and lambs cannot be moved on through the markets due to the FMD restrictions.
It is hoped that a lack of new FMD cases in the last few days will start an easing of restrictions, farm to farm movements are now permitted in Scotland with a license or from the farm directly to slaughter [with a 20 day lie in period if cattle have been recently moved onto the farm] .
As of Monday 1st Oct some forms of market are to be allowed, 'slaughter markets' where animals being sold are going direct to slaughter, and any beasts unsold can be returned to the owners own premises. The trouble with this new FMD outbreak is that it is suspected as being vaccine originated and signs are harder to detect than the last outbreak in 2001. The disease will have been around for at least a month before it was detected and animal movements carrying on as normal.
A fourth Cow in a Rare Breeds Park in Ipswich has been destroyed due to Blue Tongue disease; this one is spread by a midge. It is thought that the midge responsible came via traffic from Felixstowe dock, 16 miles from the outbreak. DEFRA officials have been trapping midges and testing them but have not released any more information yet.
Liver Fluke warning
Liver fluke disease in Scotland has increased dramatically in recent years causing general unthriftiness, deaths, poor production and liver condemnations in both Sheep and Cattle. The increase in outbreaks have been associated with warmer, wetter weather.
An SAC map indicating the geographical spread of outbreaks shows Lochaber to be one of the recent hot spots for outbreaks. Outwintered cattle are particularly at risk from liver fluke disease. The SAC advises Farmers and Crofters to treat all cattle and sheep at risk of fluke disease in October and January to remove flukes and to break the life cycle of the parasite by preventing infection of the intermediate host.
Treat cattle and sheep from fluke areas with a product effective against immature flukes. Then ideally hold them off snail contaminated pastures for 4 weeks. Follow-up treatment may be required 6-8 weeks after the initial treatment. If in doubt, seek veterinary advice. Fasinex, Combinex and Trodex are considered to be the most effective as they treat immature flukes as well as adults and other gutworms.
Cash Boost for Crofters?
An extra £100,000 a year is to be invested in crofting communities. This was announced at The SCF conference by Michael Russell our Minister for the Environment.
The money will be given to the Crofters Commission to help crofting communities put in applications for rural development contracts, under an aid scheme which comes into effect later this year. This is to effectively replace the Crofting Communities Development Plan. However under the new Scottish Rural Development Plan applications will be treated competitively, so in reality this money is going to help communities bid for aid under the new SRDP . The percentage awarded by the CC, although going a long way to help crofting communities prepare business plans and advise, will only be part of the sum required. Should your community project be unsuccessful due to a large amount of applicants or insufficient cash in the SRDP purse, your own percentage is not guaranteed and will not be reimbursed. While not detracting from any financial assistance directed at crofting, it will be interesting to see who actually benefits from the money, the advisers or the crofters.
After announcing the 'cash boost' Mr Russell then indicated that the Bull scheme will continue into 2008 ,with the CC to look into the cost of investment needed in the three Bull Scheme stud farms and then the Crofting committee of Inquiry is to look into the Bull Scheme [ Crofters Cattle Quality Improvement scheme] to see if it fits in with The Government's vision for the future of crofting……
A meeting to discuss the new SRDP is to be held in Oban on 11th Oct at 9 am until lunchtime in the Corran Halls. Please attend if you can.
No Gatherings allowed
Under the Foot and Mouth Disease (Scotland) Order 2006 (as amended), Sch 6 s6(c), "no person shall hold any gathering of people on premises in a restricted zone in connection with the sale of any susceptible animal kept there at which more than two people (other than the owner/keeper/representative) are present."
Farmers [Crofters] are respectfully reminded above [Thurs 27th Sept] by DEFRA that under FMD restrictions no more than two farmers or crofters are allowed at any one time on a farm or croft premises where there could be a chance of the sale of a beast being discussed. So no chance of any 'neighbouring' activities in the crofting communities over the next few weeks anyway. Now who had the bright idea of inviting some dealers and a few neighbours round for breakfast after a healthy walk round the fields to see the calves ….
Anyway no matter how innocent it might look anything that constitutes a threesome on a working croft is illegal if spotted by a Seerad official …..That's about as absurd as being told by Seerad that you cant move your cows along the road unless you used disinfection mats but you can take them home by the river [a watercourse can hold FMD for up to 50 days..]
A Little Genealogy by Allan and Elizabeth MacDonald (email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Màiri NicLeòid as a Heàrrlois an t-Eilean Sgiathanach.
Mary MacLeod from Harlosh, Skye.
In previous articles I traced the ancestry of my father, John MacDonald, to the MacDonalds of Tigh na Mara, Arisaig and thence to relatives in Australia and New Zealand also, to the 'illeasbuig Brinacory MacLellans. I hadn't, then, gone into my mother's MacLeod family. However, after a wee bit of research amongst the extended family, I have now gathered more information on the family of my mother, Mary MacLeod from Harlosh in Skye. This is only a soupcon of her genealogy and there is much more work to be done. What is intriguing in all these genealogies, is the scattering of family across the world. In this case, from Duirinish and Harlosh in Skye, we follow the descendants of John and Marion MacLeod who married in 1861, through Scotland, to England, Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania and who knows where else?
My earliest information is of the family of John MacLeod, my g. grandfather who married Marion, née MacLeod, in Duirinish in 1861 and went to live in Harlosh, near Dunvegan. They had 5 children. A. John, (I'n Bàn) B. Kate, C. Kirsty. D. John Beag and E. Donald.
A. I'n Bàn married Ann MacDonald of Vatten, near Harlosh. Ann MacDonald was a member of a family of building contractors in Skye, still operating today as A.& D. MacDonald, builders in Portree. I'n Bàn and Ann lived on the Harlosh shore in a black house called Seacrest. ( The name later given to my own birthplace in Morar). Their children were, A1. Catriona, A2. Neil. A3. Mary, (my mother). A4. John and, A5. Morag. After some years, Ann's brothers built a slated building as her family home.
A1. Catriona married John MacLeod from Lewis and had 8 children. Three of the children were born in Harlosh before the family moved across the loch to 26, Portnalong and then after some years they moved to Scalpaidh na Hearaich (Scalpay, Harris) where they settled. Their 8 children, not necessarily in order, were, 1. John Norman d. aged 28 years.2. Annie, dec. who m. Alisdair MacLeod of Staffin and they had 3 daughters - Norma, Catriona and Sandra. 3. Roddy was m. in Islay and had 3 children. Of his children, Donnie emigrated to new Zealand. Christine lives in Oban and Margaret lives in Islay. 4. Neil, dec. married in Scalpay to Sarah ? NFI. . 5. Kenny m. Ann ? in East Kilbride and had 3 children. 6. Katie Mary m. James Moffat. They live in Ardgay and have 2 children, John and Robert. 7. Effie m. Calum Campbell in Scalpay and they have 4 children. 8. Annie number 2, dec. lived in Mildenhall, Cambridge, m. David Cooper and had 2 children.
A2. Neil was a merchant seaman and died of pneumonia aboard ship, aged about 20 years. Family folklore has it that, Ann MacDonald, his mother, died afterwards, of a broken heart.
A3. Mary who was born in 1903, m. John MacDonald (Johnny Sandy) of Morar and they also built a slated house and named it Seacrest. The crofting designation of the holding is, "Clach Odhar" (poss. translation "The Dappled Rock"). They had 5 children. 3.1. Neil. 3.2. Alexander (Alex.) 3.3. Donnie. 3.4. Allan (twin brothers) and 3.5. Marjorie Ann.
3.1. Neil m. Margaret MacDonald dau. of Alexander and Margaret, née MacKillop, South Uist and they have 2 children. Margaret, m. Angus MacKinnon, South Uist and they have three children Nicola, Sean and Kieran. Donnie m. Anna Scott from Yorkshire.
3.2. Alexander m. 1. Christina MacPherson dau. of Lachlan MacPherson, Polnish, Lochailort and Margaret, née Baxter from Beccles, in Suffolk. They had 5 children. Iain m. Margaret Anne MacLean and they have 3 children, Iain, Neil and Kirsty. Fiona m. Peter MacPherson and they have 2 children, Peter and Christina. Sandra m. Thomas MacLean and they have 1 daughter, Rebecca. Simon m. Jacqueline Addison and they have two children, Rachael and Aimée. Andrew and partner, Lorraine Reid, have two daughters, Stephanie and Shannon.
Alex. was widowed and later m. Mary O'Donell, née MacDonald from South Uist.
3.3. Donnie m. Moira Campbell, Rhuachmhor, ( Rhu achadh Mhór) Morar, daughter of John Campbell, Barra and Angusina, née MacDonald, Morar. They have 3 children, Heather m. Grahame Baylis. Sandy m. Louise McGunnigle and they have 3 children, Christopher, Sandy and Kara. Bobby m. Wendy Theaker.
3.4. Allan m. Elizabeth Macnaughton, dau. of Charlie and Laura, née MacGregor, Glenmamie, Lochailort. They have 2 children. Charles whose partner is Gregor White from Glasgow and Wendy who m. Iain MacDougall, Mallaig, son of Alistair MacDougall and Bunty (Helen) Muir. Iain and Wendy have 2 children, Katie and Angus.
3.5. Marjorie m. Hugh Harkins from Bracara and their two children are Norman and Hazel. Norman m. Catriona Murray and they have 3 children, Donna, Alison and Michael. Hazel m. Paul Kearney and they have a son, Ross.
A.4. John was unmarried and was a merchant seaman. In 1962, he was lost overboard on passage from Australia to Britain.
A.5. Morag, also unmarried.
That is the genealogy of I'n Bàn and Ann MacDonald. What of I'n Bàn's brothers and sisters? Kate and Kirsty never married. His brother, John Beag, m. Grace Ferguson, with no issue. Lastly, there was Donald who m. Jean Tait, from Aberdeen-shire and they emigrated to Melbourne, Australia in the 1890s and had 6 children. Norman who m. Rita Hickling, Jean, who m. Keith Fuller and lived in Penguin, Tasmania, Jessie who m. Frank Hickling, Donald who m. Bonnie Anderson, Kenneth, twin of Donald, was killed by a train as a young boy and Angus who m. Eleanor Catlow. All of these siblings, with the exception of Jean, lived in the Melbourne area of Australia.
Watch this space for extracts from next month's issue!
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