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COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER OF THE YEAR 2005 & 2008
Community paper for Mallaig, Morar, Arisaig, Lochailort, Glenfinnan
Glenuig, Knoydart and the Small Isles
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September 2015 Issue
Contents of the online version:
All photos are copyright either of the individual photographers or West Word.
NEW BAKEHOUSE IN MALLAIG
Welcome to Matthew McCarthy, Master Baker, and wife Kate, who have opened their new business in the Waterfront development.
A large crowd of interested locals and visitors flocked to their open afternoon on Friday 4th September to queue in the rare sunshine and to sample the excellent bread, biscuits, cakes, pies and coffee on offer.
The Bakehouse opened on Saturday 5th September and its opening times will be 9am - 6pm Tuesday to Saturday, 12 - 4pm on Sunday.
Kate busy serving the crowd
L to r: Aimee MacDonald, Matthew and Kate McCarthy
Bakehouse photos Moe Mathieson
Matt and Kate, who are from Newcastle, are enthusiastic about the opportunity to go into business for themselves, and moving to the Highlands was an added incentive. Seven year old daughter Evie has already settled into Mallaig Primary School. Matt's excellent credentials will ensure the bread and cakes are top quality, with added value coming from the local produce he will be using in the baking.
His career has included being pastry chef at Claridges, the luxury London hotel, to working in the bakery of the School of Artisan Foods in Jesmond Dene, Nottinghamshire.
The Bakehouse will be producing speciality breads, morning goods, croissants, sausage rolls, sweet pies and tarts, cookies and biscuits, sandwiches, celebration cakes to order, and coffee roasted in the Highlands. Matt uses flour milled in Caithness and local fruit and vegetables from Tarbet, Loch Nevis. Later the produce will be sourced from Knoydart. Matt says any donations of surplus fruit and vegetables will be gratefully accepted! The phone and internet have yet to be installed but when they are orders can be phoned in to be collected later, including that special birthday or anniversary cake
The McCarthys will be opening a Pizzeria in the Crannog at the end of the winter.
Matt will be ably helped by local girl Aimee MacDonald as his Assistant Baker.
BEST SEAFOOD IN SCOTLAND!
Local family business J Lawrie and sons were delighted to be awarded the title of 'Best Scottish Seafood Supplier 2015' at the Food Awards in Glasgow in August. The awards celebrated the very best producers in the Scottish food industry. Nominations came from the public who then voted for the eventual winners.
Jeff Lawrie told West Word 'After 70 years of producing traditionally smoked Scottish seafood it's always lovely to be nominated for an award of this calibre, even more so to win, especially when the nomination comes from the end customer. 'We are very proud to still be producing all of our products in the time honoured way, slowly and carefully with only the finest natural ingredients.'
Jeff Lawrie and Mhairi Blair at the ceremony
IMPLEMENTATION OF MARINE PROTECTED AREAS DELAYED
As reported in West Word in the July and August issues, the Scottish Government proposal to impose restrictions on areas of the sea bed has led to anger and distress in the fishing communities along the west coast and in the Western Isles. The restrictions, it is feared, would mean fishing for many would become unsustainable and would have a devastating effect on local economies.
Following complaints and representations from the fishing industry, the Government's Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee (RACCE) requested the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Richard Lochhead to delay the implementations of the proposed Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) to allow evidence from fishermen to be considered.
Mr Lochhead has now confirmed the legislation will be delayed to hear the result of evidence sessions to be held with fishermen. Dave Thompson, SNP MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, who sits on the Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee has welcomed the announcement and says that the Committee will hear evidence from fishermen on the 23rd September over the impact of the MPAs.
Mr Thompson said 'We are looking to get facts from fishermen on the impact MPAs will have on them, which is why it is crucially important we host this evidence session.
'The Committee wrote to the Government to ask them to delay the orders for the MPAs until this evidence is heard and I welcome confirmation from them the delay has been accepted.'
Dave went on 'I support the principle of MPAs but I want a bit more ground allocated for prawn trawlers. After the hearing of evidence I hope the Cabinet Secretary will balance the requirement for Environmental protection with the needs of fishermen by ameliorating the current proposals.'
"Autumn seemed to arrive suddenly that year. The morning of the first September was crisp and golden as an apple." Yep, well, it's certainly got that chill about it. Won't be long before we're all thoroughly wrapped up again….what a thought. The end of August did bring a wee nice spell, caused of course, by the schools going back. The first week back and the sun shone, the days were warm, it was rather lovely really. Just typical that it came after 6 weeks of holidays!
The midgies have been fierce these past few weeks though. So much so that it's basically a weather question equivalent to "is it raining?" It might no be raining but if the midgies are oot you better be sure you stay inside! (Unless you fancy a run, in which case you might just create enough wind that its not unbearable!)
Augusts volunteer day was at the garden, helping tidy it up and get it ready for the September open day where everyone could get involved, with veggie competitions, baking competitions, art competitions for the kids, burgers, stalls and the general opportunity to see how successful the market garden is. It was a good day, with a great local turnout and the weather held too. It was lovely to see all the wee ones running around having fun. Britta and Cara did a very successful BBQ, and there were plenty of yummy cakes and cookies available too. There were some impressive courgettes on display, as always, and Mel did well in the raffle, scoring the bottle of whiskey with the first ticket drawn!
Paisley was home for a couple of weeks and in that time, showcased her Inside Out project work, by plastering the outside walls of the Tearoom with giant posters of the beautiful black and white pictures she took of the locals. It looked amazing and the weather held up for her too! Check it out on facebook if you get a chance.
Some sad news from the Snack Van, they are now closed down due to it being unviable at the moment but they had a good summer. The pub has also reduced its hours I believe… The Tearoom is still open full time and for evening meals Weds-Fri right through til the end of September though, so don't worry, you won't go hungry!
Works on the dam continue, with completion due mid-September. You might have noticed the helicopters flying around…These were lifting concrete up to the dam from long beach, and incredibly, it only took 5 minutes from them pouring the concrete into the carry container, flying up the hill, pouring it and returning to the beach for the next load! For more info on the works, check out the visit Knoydart website, or the Knoydart renewables facebook page. There are a couple of good timelapse videos. Cheers for now folks.
ISLE OF MUCK
Visitor numbers to Muck have increased considerably over the years and not surprisingly an increasing proportion are those who have visited in the past; often decades ago and have come to see how the island has changed since their last visit. Not quite in this category has been Anne Style who first arrived with her family 47 years ago and has been many times since. This year she came to celebrate her 90th birthday and with her came 46 members of her family who just managed to squeeze into the accommodation available. Their week ended with a ceilidh in the hall. Gabe and Murdo played. Superb tunes to dance to without amplification. Later in the month came the drummers from Ghana on their second visit - perhaps the highlight of the 'Camas' year though North Sea Gas which followed would be good runners up.
A celebration of a different kind at the end of the month was Muck's wedding of the year - Sandy and Vicki. Many are the pictures posted on Facebook so that is the place to go to see many of those who were present. Weddings like this one in the barn in Gallanach entail a multitude of helpers and the end result was a dazzling venue beautifully decorated and the flowers were superb as was the wedding breakfast prepared by everyone on the island. Even the weather has improved just in time for Sandy to make his hay on the croft.
On the farm the lambs are gone to the first sale in Dingwall - all 660 of them in two trucks and a trailer. Surprisingly prices were similar to last year and Colin and Ruth were very pleased
Lastly Muck's population has reached 40, due to the arrival of Mathew 7.5 lbs at Raigmore. Parents Hazel and Robert and Mathew were soon home but they just missed the wedding!
From Muck Primary school:
At the end of last term we enjoyed an island adventure to the Castle, to learn about this fortified rock. We had a picnic, and practiced races for our sports day. The highlight was receiving a letter from a dragon, and we visited the dragon's cave where we found a book and some biscuits!
We are now back to school, and we have been reading a book called Flat Stanley, who is going to visit different places in the world to help us investigate different natural disasters.
We have been talking in the playground about the upcoming wedding on the Island of Sandy and Vicky, and Mrs B explained about the Eigg trip where we'll take part in a range of activities with our Eigg friends, and then go swimming to Mallaig. We are all very excited!
We have also had a visit from a French woman, and learnt some French words and played some games in French.
We had great fun when we went to church and sang a song about a man called Zacchaeus and also a couple of other songs.
Written by Katie.
ISLE OF EIGG
August was another busy month on Eigg with a great deal of cultural activity. Foremost was the excellent visual theatre show DRIFT by Vision Mechanics, which was located on Laig Beach for a week in early August . It told the moving story of 19th century Shetland heroine Betty Moat, who survived a violent storm and drifted for 9 days until she finally reached the Norwegian coast. The show included brilliant props in the shape of 9 little installations combined with atmospheric tales and songs to recreate her inner journey during that time. The weather was not always kind to the show which actually had to close for one afternoon due to high winds, but it managed nevertheless to attract a good deal of islanders and visitors. We loved it so much that we' d really like to work with Vision Mechanics to recreate some of the Eigg stories, past and present.
Music wise, Eigg had its first visit by the John Langan Band, with their high energy Gypsy tunes, much loved by those islanders who patronize the Eden festival and other such events. They went down a treat and we'd love to see them again. Another cultural treat was the show by Ghanaian troup Kakatsitsi, who electrified their island audience with their complex rhythms and their energetic dancing. The grand finale was the return of the travelling cinema to the island on Saturday 30th. We love the Screen machine's big folding screen and the plush red seats. Singer Sharon King, whose birthday it was that day provided added refreshments to the more usual offerings of popcorn and ice-cream! Other birthday girls this month were Sue Hollands (her husband Neil actually provided the food for the party: well done Neil!) and Celia Bull, who celebrated her 50th birthday with a party on the croft, having just received confirmation of her assignation. Celia was in a very celebratory mood, having just come back from a trip to St Kilda on her recently renovated sloop Selkie, which she hopes will do many more such trips in the future: a new version of Surf and Turf!
The 23rd saw the leaving party for Eilidh and Jamie Ardagh who are moving down south to Sussex; where Jamie will be starting an eco-building business, using the expertise he has acquired during his years on Eigg. We wish them and little Isla all the best, but we will miss Eilidh's gentle presence in the shop and Freya will also miss her pal Isla, but it won't be that long until the holidays when we will see them again. As to Jamie's cycle and Eigg Adventure business, it is now taken over by Owen and Larraine Wynn Jones, our newest Eigg residents from Wales. Finally, the last Saturday of the month saw a sizeable Eigg contingent going over to Muck to celebrate Vicky and Sandy's wedding. A great time was had by all and we all wish the very best to the happy couple!
Big news for the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust: after so many years at the helm, our current chair, John Hutchison, has decided to move on as he is so busy now with the Rural Parliament whilst still involved with the John Muir Trust. A big thank you is owed to him for his guidance and encouragements throughout the years, and it is with some sadness that we say goodbye to another of the Eigg buy-out actors. However, with Amanda Bryan from Aigas Consulting, we are now gaining a very capable lady who will help us steer the trust through a new phase as the funding landscape has now changed beyond recognition and we will need to revisit our 10 year plan very soon in anticipation of the next decade!
Another news which is not such a happy one is the forthcoming change proposed for Eigg Primary school on the retirement of our head teacher, Mrs Hilda Ibrahim, at the end the winter term. No-one on the island is happy with the Highland Council's proposal to amalgamate the Small Isles schools and Arisaig Primary under the same head despite strongly worded representation from the island and the Small Isles CC. Watch this space….
ISLE OF CANNA
August seems to have flown past but has been a really busy month for visitors, despite the weather. We did enjoy the only two consecutive days we had of sun this year!
Two basking sharks made a brief appearance in Tarbert Bay but sadly that was the only sighting this year.
The mini Feis from 5-7 August was enjoyed by locals and visitors who were entertained by Margaret Bennet and locals Colin Irvine and Fiona MacKenzie, not forgetting the Guthrie children who joined in the fun.
Preparations are underway for the Small Isles Games which we are hosting for the first time ever, looking forward to meeting fellow islanders and visitors and having fun.
National Trust Conservation Volunteers have been over have weeded newly planted trees, cleared footpaths and cleaned up the beach around the Harbour.
The farm has been through its TB test and also tests to become members of Premium Cattle Health Scheme, awaiting results. Getting lambs ready for the first sale on the 10 September, let's hope prices stay up.
We said goodbye to Caroline MacKinnon as she is off to Oatridge Agricultural College for a year, good luck and many happy returns for your 18th on the 30th August.
ISLE OF RUM
A busy August here on Rum with lots of day trippers and the bunkhouse and cabins full with a mix of geology students doing field work, walkers and families. The weather continued to be poor and nothing like summer at all meaning the weekly Sheerwater cetacean watching trip remained more of an endurance test than an enjoyable mini cruise with added dolphins! Ranger Trudi did finally have a worthwhile weekly Seawatch session after a whole summer of seeing nothing though spotting a peregrine falcon, otters, parent and baby eider duck and a minke whale from the otter hide all in a 2 hour stretch.
We've enjoyed having Toby from Muck bringing across the first guests for this years stalking, always good to see fellow Small Isles folk and to up Rum's Boyd Brother tally for a while. Talking of Boyds massive congratulations to Neil and Lesley on the birth of their baby boy. Looking forward to welcoming them all home to Rum soon.
Steve has been giving Tai Chi and self defence lessons in the hall on a Monday, not sure what visitors think of the group of bare footed islanders twirling broom handles when they walk past the hall but we're all having fun. We enjoyed the performance of Rhum Plants last week brought home to where the whole story started along with another play about Mallory. Both plays were really captivating, the Rhum plants made all the more engaging due to an island wide power cut about ten minutes before the end. The actors managed beautifully by head torch and even threw in some improvised one liners about darkness, power and electricians!
Jinty's Barbecue Hut has proved an instant hit with plenty of bookings and folks enjoying the cosy space and midge free barbecue area. Rum Bunkhouse is celebrating a year of trading and we have finally had our Community Land Use Plan and Woodland Plans signed off. Lots of exciting progress in the pipeline for the island and community here on Rum.
Nic, Ady, Davies and Scarlett enjoyed a brief brush with fame when the Ben Fogle New Lives in the Wild show aired on Channel five, watched by about 2 million viewers. We insist fame won't change us - we're still as mad as we were before!
Lots of birthdays here on Rum in September - Claire, Trudi, Davies, Sean the Rat and of course now our newest Rum resident too. Bring on the birthday cake!
KNOYDART'S INSDE OUT PROJECT
Photographs of Knoydart residents adorn the Tearoom in Inverie as part of a global art project called 'Inside Out'. This Peoples Art Project is run by JR, an artist who keeps his identity secret and who is famous for his large 'street pastings' and has inspired photographer and filmmaker Paisley Walsh to run it on Knoydart with JR's support.
Paisley says 'Knoydart is a perfect place for the project because its community is so strong and I wanted to explore the importance of that behind Knoydart's natural beauty. I took all the photographs in August of last year and waited for a break in the weather-a year!
'It brought the community together in unexpected ways, from getting so many residents out to get their portrait taken (many of whom were very camera shy) to all that supported the crowd funding to print and ship the portraits from America. So many people showed up on the days of the paste to help me mix the paste, arrange the ladders, as paste the portraits, it was really a huge group effort! '
The rain has now washed some away but not before a drone filmed and photographed the installation. A film will be released on the official Inside Out project website later this month. The portraits are still up, but they will continue to wear away this month.
Glenfinnan Gathering 2015
A mixture of sunshine and showers welcomed in Glenfinnan Gathering 2015. An enthusiastic crowd, great competitors, a unique setting and unrivalled atmosphere made it a very enjoyable day for all involved. BBC Radio 4 Producer Martyn Poyntz-Roberts and presenter Helen Mark recorded the day for the programme Open Country which was broadcast on August 29th.
Although the number of dancers has slightly decreased over the years, the talent has not. Overall winners were Darra Wood in the Adult section, Islay MacKenzie in the 12-16 yrs section and Molly Smith in the 8-11 yrs section. A feature of the Games is always the Highland Schottische, danced by the adults. This is unique to Glenfinnan and was the brainchild of Archie MacKellaig, one of the founders of the Games.
This year, a gift of a beautiful garden bench with an engraved plaque was presented to Ronnie MacKellaig from the Community for all the work he has done over the years. A bouquet was presented to his wife Margaret.
A lovely day overall and I am now counting down till next year!
Ronnie and Margaret MacKellaig enjoy the bench he was gifted by the community.
Photo Mairi Illsley
Tommy MacEachen, who has been competing at the Arisaig Games since 1953, was the Chieftain of the Gathering
Photo Iain Ferguson The Write Image
After 7 years Jamie's yacht restoration project is complete
Jamie and Penny Robinson brought the wreck of sailing boat, Binker, for her scrap value from a boatyard in Poole in October 2008. Despite this, she came with quite a prestigious history, having been built in 1934 in the USA, created by a previous America's Cup designer. West Word records her arrival in Mallaig in their November 2008 issue. As she was unable to float, she stayed on the pier in Mallaig until they could fabricate a trolley for her and then move her on her trolley to Doune, Knoydart, using Spanish John in February 2009.
It was the summer of 2010 before Jamie and Penny started to make plans to begin re-planking. Once again Spanish John was used, this time to bring in three trees of Larch for the hull planking. There were also 2 Oak logs for structural timber and a lot of Iroko for fit out and joinery. The work could then start in earnest. There were a few frames replaced and various other structural work. The first new plank went in at the end of October and it was a busy time with the last shutter plank being put in in January 2011. Nearly 4000 silicon bronze screws ensured the planks were well fastened and the bank balance was also kept to a minimum! At that stage Jamie and Penny were still running the successful charter vessel Eda Frandsen and their time was totally taken up with this during summer months. Thankfully, Jamie's Dad, Alan, volunteered to help out and with another family friend, completed the caulking during Summer 2012.
By the summer 2014, with Eda Frandsen sold, Jamie and Penny could once again concentrate on Binker. The old deck had had a patch up job done in the past but it was decided that it really was not good enough and would have to be replaced. New deck beams and carlins were fitted throughout and a new deck laid in Afromosia. Bulwarks and capping rails in Iroko soon followed. New fuel and water tanks were made out of stainless steel to replace the old riveted and soldered copper ones. The cockpit was built using the existing combing. The steering was changed from wheel back to her original tiller format. A new 3 cylinder Beta diesel engine and Darglow feathering propeller were fitted. The spars were also fully restored.
Finally in the Spring 2015 a new coach house was made and then thoughts turned to getting her sailing. After a lot of internet searching a previous owner was located in the USA who had her for twenty years in the seventies and eighties. They were able to provide photographs of her sailing which allowed new rigging to be made in Doune and new sails purchased. Binker was relaunched this July after more than 20 years out of the water and is now out sailing faster and more efficiently that all the more modern designs. There is still an internal fit out to complete but at present the joy of having her sailing is winning out.
BIRTHDAY CEILIDH FOR WEST WORD
The date is Friday 23rd October, the venue the West Highland Hotel, the time 7.30pm. We hope to have a bus laid on to bring people from Arisaig and Morar - and to take them home! The ceilidh is free but there will be a minimal charge for the bus.
Details are being finalised so look out for more information in next month's West Word. There will be entertainment from local musicians and nibbles and drink - and a cake!
There will also be an exhibition of the art competition entries and selected front covers from 20 years of West Word, and we also hope to have slide shows of photographs from past issues.
Our car stickers, available at the outlets during the month, have gone well and more will be available on the night if you missed out or want extras.
We do hope you will come along to be part our celebration as we end our 20th anniversary and begin our 21st. Nothing would have been possible without all of you! It should be a great evening.
Remember to look out for more information in October's issue.
WEST WORD ART COMPETITION
As part of our ongoing 20th/21st anniversary celebrations, we are holding an art competition which is open to everyone of school age.
Subject: The West Word area and me
Closing date: Thursday 15th October 2015
There will be 5 age categories:
Nursery P1 - 4 P5 - 7 S1 - 3 S4 +
The competition is open to anybody in these age ranges or equivalent. There will be 5 prizes, one for each category, of a £20 book/gift token. There will be no overall winner. They will be judged by independent judges yet to be announced.
The entry can be in any medium except paper plates, paper rolls or dry food.
It should be a maximum of A4 size.
If possible name, school or home address and age category should be written on the back. If this is not possible, these details should be on a label attached to the entry.
Entries to be sent to West Word at Morar Station Buildings, Morar. PH40 4PB by 6pm on Thursday 15th October 2015.
The five winning entries will be published in West Word in colour. All entries will be part of a display at our anniversary ceilidh in the West Highland Hotel on Friday 23rd October.
Individual entries cannot be returned but local school entries will be returned to the school if requested.
If you have any questions or wish further information contact The Editor: email@example.com
Tel. 01687 450263
All our local schools have been consulted and we hope will help their pupils to take part.
News in Brief
St Mary and St Finnan's Catholic Church in Glenfinnan suffered a break-in which is believed to have occurred between 10.30am and 7pm on Monday 31 August 2015 which resulted in minor damage and sacramental wine was taken from the altar. A Police Scotland spokesman said: "Officers are appealing for information following a report of a break-in in the Glenfinnan area. If anyone has any information about the incident they are encouraged to contact Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at http://www.crimestoppers-uk.org. No personal details are taken information is not traced or recorded.'
? Carol Kirkwood, nee MacKellaig, the BBC TV weather girl from Morar, is in this year's 'Strictly Come Dancing' line up, teamed with professional dancer Pasha Kovalev, who won the competition last year.
When asked if she has a favourite dance, she said: 'I can't dance, I've only done country Scottish dancing so I don't have a favourite dance, but I like the look of ballroom.'
SCOTLAND'S COASTAL WALKERS
Walkers Kenny Sword (62) and Norman Turner (66) set their minds to walk round the coast of Scotland, from Berwick on Tweed to their final destination of Arisaig - and it took them seven years!
Kenny and Norman had already completed a number of long distance walks when the idea came up to tackle the trip which they thought might take them a couple of years. They were relaxed about the walk, completing sections as weather and time permitted and possibly one of the reasons it took so long was their plan to sample the whisky local to the area they were visiting!
They chose Arisaig as the end of the walk because of their love o the area and finished the walk on Wednesday 2nd September 2015 having started on 16th April 2009, completing a total of 2,073 miles - and visiting 160 hostelries.
Kenny and Norman were accompanied often by friends and family who walked part of each section with them, ending up on the final night in the Arisaig Hotel where a waving chequered flag marked the end of their self set challenge and a dinner and party ensued with the thirteen friends who had walked the last stretch from Mallaig to Arisaig.
You can read their blog on the journey on www.scotlandscoastalwalk.blogspot.co.uk where there is a lively account of the whole trip with many photographs.
NEWS FROM MALLAIG HARBOUR - September 2015
Mallaig Marina Centre
Yes, that is the name we have selected for "our" portion of the Marina Facilities Building currently being completed by Toby Robinson and his hard working Knoydart Construction Team.
With the Bakers Shop section of the building now operational the Marina Centre is also heading in that direction as the fitting out of the building continues via Wi-Fi, CCTV Camera's and even BT phoneline and Broadband lines threatening to become operational.
However as the yachting season is now virtually over the Harbour Authority is under no great pressure to open the new facility so the fitting out and testing of showers etc will be done at a more relaxed pace.
The Information Panels on the plinths at The Esplanade, providing an insight into the evolution of Mallaig, have been met with universal acclaim and there have been several requests for the text and photos to be made available in some form of notelet or booklet format. This possibility is currently being examined as is more fencing/seating/planters on the Esplanade.
The Village Plan/Information Board to be located on the plinth at the Yachting Shorebase has been delayed due to some technical issues. These issues have been overcome however and the Plan is now with the sign makers and due for delivery later this month.
The Authority has held initial discussions with The Highland Council Roads Department regarding the provision of double yellow lines on both sides of the road around by the Marina Centre and in the approach to the Marina Shorebase.
The disabled parking bay at the head of Lovat Pier require to be marked out with the provision of a dropped kerb from the pavement close to the Fish Market Restaurant.
Extra signage to encourage/direct visiting vehicles to use the East Bay Parking facility will also be erected.
MALLAIG LIFEBOAT LOG
There were five callouts of the Mallaig Severn Class Lifeboat Henry Alston Hewat during September.
Wednesday 12th August 2015 Yacht Edelweise.
The lifeboat was tasked to yacht Edelweise with three persons on board. The vessel had stopped making way under engine power with the crew suspecting a problem with their propeller. Given the proximity to Mallaig the lifeboat took the vessel in tow and berthed the vessel safely alongside Mallaig Marina at 1200hrs.
13th August 2015 Yacht Liara.
Launched at 05:40 to the assistance of the 30m yacht LIARA by Stornoway Coastguard. Whilst leaving Loch Nevis to depart passengers of Mallaig to catch the early morning train, LIARA began to experience technical problems with her gearbox electronic management system. As the morning was still and no wind available to sail herself out of trouble LIARA notified the Coastguard of her predicament. As a precaution the LIARA launched her tender to tow and hold the yacht from the shore. As the Lifeboat was on her way an air of wind strong enough to fill a very large foresail developed and LIARA was able to make way. In the meantime the crew had managed to reinstall the management system and had full control of the mechanics onboard was recovered. With all under control, passengers in the tender heading for the train and a nice morning breaking the Lifeboat was stood down and returned to port berthing at 06:00hrs.
16th August 2015 Yacht Sandpiper.
Launched by Stornoway Coastguard to the assistance of the yacht SANDPIPER at 20:25hrs. Becalmed and with a fouled propeller SANDPIPER was located two miles North of Mallaig harbour. Once on scene SANDIPER was taken alongside the Lifeboat and towed into the Marina. Local Coastguards assisted in berthing SANDPIPER and arranged contact with a diver to inspect the fouled propeller. Lifeboat ready for service at 21:30hrs.
17th August Yacht Gingerbre.
A request by Stornoway Coastguard to search for a vessel who was transmitting on CH16 at 13:10hrs.This vessel was preventing others using the distress frequency. The Coastguard had an idea that this vessel was down about the Ardnamurchan area. As the Lifeboat steamed south the DF (Direction Finder) picked up a faint signal which became stronger as the further south the Lifeboat proceeded. NE of Fascadale Buoy a yacht was spotted under sail and corresponding with the direction that the DF was giving. Once alongside the Swedish yacht GINGERBRE it was established that the VHF was, unbeknown to the crew, transmitting on CH16.GINGERBRE fortunately had a handheld set also and would be able to communicate with others if need be until the main set was sorted. Lifeboat back in harbour at 15:10hrs and ready for service.
17th August 2015 Independence.
Launched by Stornoway Coastguard to the assistance of the local fishing vessel INDEPENDENCE at 23:20hrs.Whilst steaming towards Rum harbour after a day's fishing on the grounds INDEPENDENCE began to lose power and then stall her engine. Twice restarted and gearbox engaged was only resulting in stalling the engine again. It was apparent that the prop was severely fouled with debris of some sort. Once on scene the tow rope was passed over and the tow for Mallaig commenced at 00:00hrs.An uneventful tow back to port due to a beautiful clear starlit calm night. Once outside the harbour INDEPENDENCE was strapped alongside the lifeboat and brought into the fish pier berthing at 03:00hrs. Lifeboat ready for service at 03:15hrs.A large amount of discarded netting was removed from the INDEPENDENCE's propeller the following morning by divers.
MALLAIG AND DISTRICT CANOE CLUB
Members of the Mallaig and District Canoe Club carrying out a beach clean up at Camasunary near Elgol during a club weekend at the Torrin Outdoor Centre. Paddling on the west coast club members see many of our beautiful white sandy beaches polluted with plastic in many forms as well as green and blue polypropylene rope.
Juniors from Mallaig and District Canoe Club enjoying kayaking sessions on Loch Morar and an overnight camping trip on Loch nan Uamh.
ON AND OFF THE RAILS
I'm totally flummoxed!
For the best part of an hour I've been sat, pen in hand, trying to get my head around the fact that this is August Bank Holiday, that I am writing the September column, and that I have to include October's news items as well to ensure facts are known!! Twice I have nodded off and the pen has scrawled over the page, waking me up. I am now significantly 'niggled' enough to proceed, so here goes:
Occasional 'Bustitution' on Abellio continues
On our branch line we continue to have some buses replacing trains due to ongoing staff shortages. Glenfinnan Games day produced four coaches of varying sizes in each direction of travel, to cope with the influx of passengers. Even so one coach had to be chased back to Glenfinnan roadside by our astute station manager, who was on hand to ensure the smooth transition of onward travel and, thanks to him, passengers were not left behind. Following that, last Wednesday (August 26th), one two-car Sprinter set was held at Mallaig sidings for 16 hours, and buses and taxis were used to transfer passengers for their onward journey. On another occasion a taxi came over on the ferry from Skye to transport a driver from Mallaig to Crianlarich, as no conductor was available to allow the train to depart from Mallaig. The passengers were transported to Fort William by bus, where a waiting train carried them on their way. The driver then picked up a returning train (with a conductor) as far as Fort William. The journey to Mallaig was continued by road. At least passengers have not been left totally stranded, but on a day-to-day basis it has not been easy for anyone. The buses have no catering facilities (due to Health and Safety), no driver or guard travel with the passengers, there are no toilet facilities, frequently bikes cannot be carried and no ticket checks can take place. However, West Coast Railways and even the Royal Scotsman touring train have carried distressed passengers when they can. Full marks to them, and Abellio must be paying out a small fortune to try and keep the service running on time!!
Finally though, we do have breakthrough in the situation. From Monday, September 7th, we welcome two Abellio/Scotrail members of staff - one driver and one conductor - to alleviate the staff shortage / work to rule shifts that we find ourselves caught up in. They are husband and wife team Gary (driver) and Winnie (conductor) Lennon who are moving up initially (hopefully) for 6 months from Edinburgh. Winnie is the daughter of Cathy MacDonald from Morar. We welcome them as they complete their initial route-learning etc and hope they enjoy being part of Mallaig's railway fraternity. There is currently another driver job to be filled out of Mallaig. The sooner we get a full complement of staff working 5 days in 7 the better.
On the catering facilities front, one of the staff who has worked on the Jacobite catering all summer has now accepted a job offer to move over to Abellio/ScotRail. She has now left the Jacobite and will work 'in-house' on the refreshment trolley of the Mallaig line, four trains a day from September. Her name is Laura Hunter, from Caol. She will carry out her job well. This is part of an Abellio/ScotRail plan to stop using agency staff to provide continued service on the line. With the Club 50 online offer now up and running, free tea and coffee is offered on your '£10 anywhere in Scotland' trip, so she'll be busy!
Club 50 Offer
I have had a lot of verbal feedback with regard to this offer. Yes, the free online registration with a photo does seem to have been reasonably straight forward, if you have a computer and an email address, if you can download, scan and add a photo to it, if you have applied as a couple you need two separate email addresses. No longer does the scheme allow you to travel as far as Carlisle or Berwick on Tweed! The previous First ScotRail Club 55 did, and from Glasgow Central Station there is still an Abellio/ScotRail train routed to Carlisle and Berwick!
As the scheme is only for persons over 50 for travel in Scotland, I can see where Abellio/ScotRail are coming from, but the over 50 market are the ones that maybe have a computer, but just to look things up and then act in person, or on the 'phone. Previously you went to the nearest booking office and were sorted. Now you are on your own and are not going to bother. Bad form Abellio/ScotRail. Change your mind on this one for the coming winter period when you need local to go away by train. Think about it! Please, a deal is not a deal if no-one uses it.
Trains on the Line
The Jacobite steam train continues into Mallaig 7 days a week until September 20th, after which it will run Monday to Friday until October 23rd, arriving into Mallaig daily at 12:25 and departing at 14:10. It is a pleasure to see the visitors go away with gifts and purchases, having had lunch, and settled on the train to write postcards. Afternoon tea is served at your table if requested, there is an onboard raffle daily, and the gift shop is open, or you can just take in the view - sometimes having a nap! Speaking of the onboard gift shop, from 13:30 onwards until just before departure, it is accessed from the platform. There are many books, posters, DVDs and postcards that can be purchased to be 'put by' for a birthday or Christmas gift. Currently they have an excellent 2016 Friends of the West Highland Line calendar for sale. The photographs used in it have been selected to really show the area at its best. Speaking of transport / rail related books etc we do have different ones available at Mallaig - at outlets such as the Heritage Centre (when were you last in?), the Visitor Centre, the Bookshop and Kenneth's Emporium in the Morrison Building!
The evening Jacobite departed into the sunset on August 28th. Sadly missed already but actually, at the moment the coaches from it (with the addition of an extra First Class coach 'Patricia' are forming the morning train. The stock from the usual morning train has gone by Diesel to Craigentinny for wheel turning, along with the brake van, guards van, shop and catering area. They will return within the week. The catering crew on the last evening Jacobite were splendidly attired in Harry Potter cloaks, wands etc. They even had a stuffed owl which was kidnapped by the engine crew temporarily for the last journey on the footplate, having been treated to a 'last meal' at the Tea Garden where the 'Riley Boys' have eaten and been well looked after all season.
Statesman Rail (www.statesmanrail.com) are visiting us in October with two three-day touring trains. In each case they are staying for two nights in hotels in Fort William with a visit to Mallaig using the 'Jacobite' on two Saturdays. They will be with us on Saturday 3rd and Saturday 10th October, running to the morning 'Jacobite' times. In the brochure they are encouraging the guests to eat in Mallaig - so no meals on board that day. The first tour departs Kings Cross, the second from Bristol.
Pathfinder Tours (www.pathfindertours.co.uk) 'Special Train Programme' is now out and bookings are being taken for two visits to us next year (2016). The 'Spring West Highlander' visits us on April 23rd and the 'Autumn West Highlander' on Saturday October 1st. Both will be Diesel hauled. Lunch will not be provided on the trains on these days. The first four-day trip departs from Eastleigh, the second from Exeter. We look forward to welcoming them.
Results of August On and Off the Rails competition
The correct answer to the question posed by me in last month's West Word was David Taylor. A huge amount of entries to try and win the bottle of Corrour Estate Blended Whisky - no surprise there! - including our first ever entry from Kirkwall, Orkney. But, the lucky winner, drawn at random is Daniel Holmes from Cork. Congratulations Daniel, look out for the post person! No competition this month - back next month.
Station Adoption clippings
A reasonably quiet period at the moment before autumn bulb planting starts. We had one very bad Saturday, with strong gales which tore through us. Consequently the bottom five inches of the hanging baskets (nepeta and Indian mint) had to be cut away - but the new growth looks promising. The Rowan Berries are just turning red and many shrubs are now producing lovely autumn colour. I suffered major damage to my pots containing the four standard bay leaf trees when a visitor decided they were in the way of shelter in the platform waiting room and decided to try and move them outside and split the pots! It was a very, very wet day granted - but it almost beggars belief what this person tried to attempt!! The first I knew of it was a phone call from Abellio / ScotRail management in Glasgow after it had been attempted and abandoned! I then went in a raging storm and moved them outside after taping the pots together. I am awaiting a decision on new pots as I write! Will it be plastic, pottery or wood? I will let you know dear reader. Sometimes you could not make these things up, but now I can see the funny side to it - and it could have been worse.
See you on the train,
STOP PRESS: on the Abellio / ScotRail club 50 website the date for free membership is extended to September 30th.
There is an excellent interview with Sonia detailing all her voluntary work with the railway in the August electronic newsletter from The Association of Community Rail Partnerships - ACoRP. If you are interested in the British rail network the newsletter makes excellent reading and you can subscribe for it for free on www.acorp.uk.com
Lest we forget
This 25th of September sees the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Loos, in which many Lochaber soldiers were killed or wounded.
On 4th August 1914 Britain declared war on Germany and set about the task of recruiting volunteers to swell the numbers of its army which was, at the time one of the smallest in Europe. In Lochaber large numbers of young men answered an appeal by Cameron of Locheil to join the new 5th Battalion of the Cameron Highlanders, which he personally would command.
Charlie Lyons, Donald Campbell, Archibald Grant and Donald MacLellan from Mallaig, John MacLellan from Morar and Ronald Rose from Arisaig were among those that we know to have answered Locheil's call and enlisted at the start of the war. Donald Archibald MacLeod and Donald MacLellan from Eigg enlisted together on 9th September 1914. One had been working as a carpenter at John Brown Shipyards while the other had been a railway porter at Mallaig. John Clyne had been a clerk in the Bank of Scotland in Mallaig.
The Battalion was sent from Inverness to Aldershot for training and landed in France on 10th May 1915. The following four months were largely uneventful, with periods of time in the trenches and in reserve, with small numbers of casualties, mainly from shellfire.
In all five Battalions of the Cameron Highlanders took part in the battle of Loos as well as battalions of the Gordon Highlanders and other Highland regiments. At 6.40am on the first day of the battle, 25th September, the 5th Battalion left their trenches to attack a massive German earthwork known as the Hohenzollern Redoubt. They succeeded in capturing the German positions but at a terrible cost. At one point the whole line of advance was exposed to heavy machine gun and rifle fire and large numbers of men were killed and wounded, with the first two lines of men being almost completely wiped out.
Archibald Grant and Donald Campbell from Mallaig were among those killed, as was Angus MacLellan from Cleadale on Eigg. Angus's parents were already mourning one son, Archibald, whose ship had been torpedoed in the North Sea two months before; another son, Donald, would die on the Somme the following year. Private Norman Nicolson, originally from Glasgow, was also killed and is commemorated on the Arisaig War Memorial.
Donald Archibald MacLeod, John Clyne, Ronald Rose and John MacLellan were among those wounded. Charlie Lyons was wounded two days later during a German counter-attack and was later awarded the Military Medal for his bravery at this time. The battalion was relieved and taken out of the line early on the 28th September, at which time 237 of its number were killed or missing and 425 were wounded. Among the nine officers killed was Lt Charles Brereton, a cousin of Mrs Cameron-Head, who had spent much of his childhood at Inverailort House.
The pages of the Oban Times during October 1915 give an idea of how severely the battle of Loos had affected families from Oban, Lochaber, Skye and the Uists, but also convey the pride of the surviving soldiers in their achievements. The October 23 edition included accounts of the fighting by a number of ordinary soldiers as well as by Cameron of Locheil and by Father John McNeill of Eriskay, who was chaplain to the Cameron Highlanders. After the war Father McNeil became the Morar Parish Priest and was responsible for building St Patrick's Church in Mallaig.
Private Ronald Rose, 5th Battalion Cameron Highlanders from the Arisaig & South Morar Record of Service 1914-1918. Invalided home after Loos, he rejoined his regiment and took part in the Battle of the Somme, was wounded again but after a stay in the Base Hospital was with his regiment in numerous battles until being gassed in 1918. He then enlisted in the Army of Occupation for a year.
WIDE WORLD WEST WORD
Mary Purdon took her copy of West Word along to the Falkirk Wheel.
Edgar and Jean Ogston are getting their grandson in Edinburgh introduced to West Word early in life!
WEST PETS AND WILD THINGS
No West Pets this month but some 'wild things' snapped at Arisaig House by Richard Lamont.
The photos are a Dormouse and swallow chicks in their nest atop a drainpipe get ready to fly.
BIRDWATCH August 2015 by Stephen MacDonald
A fairly typical August, with increased wader passage and many of our finches etc. flocking together and feeding on all the seeds that are available. Good numbers of Linnets, Goldfinches and Twites seen feeding along the roadsides. also Siskins and Redpolls seen feeding on natural foods away from garden feeders.
An interesting sighting early in the month was an Osprey seen circling over Loch nan Eala, Arisaig, on the 5th, before heading south over the Rhue peninsula. Two Golden Eagles, one of which was a juvenile, were seen soaring over Creag Mhor, Arisaig, on the 19th. Later in the month several reports of Sea Eagles in Loch Nevis and over Mallaig, sometimes seen 'harrying' the Gannets that have been feeding close inshore.
Wader passage was notable, with most birds passing through fairly quickly, only stopping to feed and rest if the weather was against them. On the 4th there were 26 Golden Plover and 2 Black-tailed Godwits by Traigh golf course and 11 Knot in breeding plumage on the shore in front of Traigh House.
On the 9th a flock of 52 Black-tailed Godwits landed to feed and rest in the field by Traigh golf course. The flock consisted of both adults and juveniles, on closer inspection it was noted that 3 of the birds had colour rings or flags on their legs. It transpired that 2 of the birds, an adult female and a chick, were both ringed this summer on their breeding grounds in Kaldadarnes, South West Iceland. The third bird was ringed on the 30th January 2013 on the wintering grounds near Don Benito, Extremadura, Spain.
Three other colour ringed waders were reported during August. On the 4th - 5th a colour ringed Oystercatcher was seen on the golf course at Traigh, no word back yet on the colour marks, but it is most likely from an Irish ringing scheme. On the 28th by the Traigh boat shed a colour ringed Sanderling was seen feeding with other Sanderling and Dunlin. This bird had been ringed at Vlieland, Holland on the 26th July 2009, so was presumably returning from its breeding grounds in North West Greenland when it was spotted at Traigh.
On the same day a Curlew with colour rings was seen at Silver Sands, unfortunately it was too distant to read the code on the rings but was possibly a Finnish ringed bird.
On the 10th at least 42 Sanderling were on the shoreline at Traigh and later in the afternoon during very heavy rain there were 40+ Golden Plover on the golf course.
On the 12th an impressive flock of Whimbrel, in excess of 110 birds, was seen flying south west over the sea just off Gorten, Back of Keppoch.
Most of the waders were seen around Traigh or offshore, but Morar Estuary had a Dunlin and a Bar-tailed Godwit, and Sanderling and Knot were reported from Camusdarach beach.
Fourteen Canada Geese were at Traigh on the 8th and numbers had increased to 18 by the 13th. Greylag Geese numbers building up as the month progressed, with a flock of over 90 birds seen regularly at Traigh.
Two Shelduck with 3 juveniles were seen around Traigh boatshed from the 8th.
On Loch nan Eala, Wigeon were back from mid-month. Also present were Teal and Mallard.
Barn Owls were present in the usual Mallaig site early in the month and one was seen hunting at dusk over the field at Beoraid, Morar, on several occasions.
Sparrowhawks were widely reported, several sightings involving juvenile birds at garden feeding stations. A Common Redstart was seen in a Woodside, Morar garden early in the month and a Spotted Woodpecker was seen at Porter's Lodge, Rhue, on the 5th.
Sparrowhawk by Stephen Macdonald
TWENTY YEARS OF WEST WORD
Looking back… Twenty years ago - September 1995
Two photographs adorned the front cover of the September 1995 West Word. Mission Superintendent Murray Campbell is seen presenting the Captain of the Kaugari - a Latvian Klondyker - with a bible, while Billy Connolly and Jackie MacKellaig are pictured enjoying the sun at the Mallaig & Morar Games.
The Klondyking theme was continued inside via a two page spread of text and photographs provided by Editor Jill de Fresnes, entitled 'East meets West Word.'
Jill's editorial comment was tainted with a slight touch of sarcasm as she described how the mock advert in the previous month's West Word, 'Fisherman Wants A Wife', had attracted a media frenzy with Radio Scotland, Radio Highland, Radio Clyde, The Big Breakfast TV Show, The Scotsman and The Sun all contacting her for the background to the advert which was placed by Scruff (Stuart Millar) from Eigg.
A report was carried on the meeting that decided to formulate The Knoydart Foundation, while Charlie King's Council Corner informed readers that the Lochaber District Council would provide a £1500 grant to the Foundation re a feasibility study on the future of the Estate
Councillor King (and others) revealed that the Hi-Point Unit was now operational and, located in the Fishermen's Mission, would allow greater access to council Departments and officials via the video phone link.
Two wedding photos displayed in the middle pages means it must be happy 10th wedding anniversary to John (Kojak) MacDonald and Anne Thursby, who were married at Gretna Green, and Sine Mackellaig and Gavin Davies, married at St. Cumin's Church, Morar.
There was news of a Brownie Pack starting up in Arisaig and sporting items on Traigh Golf Club, Mallaig Swimming Pool, Glenuig Yoga and a Road Race at Lochgilphead.
Ross Campbell whalewatched from the Shearwater and his article was illustrated by Archie Lawrie's photo of a whale off the island of Eigg, and Eigg resident Neil Robertson continued his 'Down to Earth' column, this month dessert apples being the main topic. Rum Primary School provided West Word readers with an exclusive preview of the new 'newsletter for Rum', while Jimmy McLerie, a Scots exile in Australia provided a pen picture of his arrival in Mallaig in 1929.
Wonderful, splendid, great - just some of the adjectives used to describe the VJ Day Anniversary Party held on Mallaig Pier to celebrate the 50th anniversary of that great day, and also on that page of Issue 11, Vol 1 of West Word, Gunner Robert Leckie talked of his time in Burma.
A couple of snippets caught my eye…Tony Blair (Labour) seen trying to read someone else's copy of West Word while travelling on a train from Cambridge...is Bob Burt going batty?...
Well, anyone with the answer to that final question or if anyone has found the Super 8 movie of The Stars v Glenlochy FC at Mains Park, Arisaig, please get in touch with me c/o West Word's office.
Robert MacMillan (written in September 2005)
Ten years ago - September 2005
On our front page we wished a happy 10th birthday to the Mallaig & District Canoe Club who were celebrating with a weekend of activities. So - a very happy 20th anniversary to the club in 2015!
Our main front page article was reporting on a First Responder Scheme for Mallaig, as our GPs were opting out of providing out of hours care. The Scottish Ambulance Service hoped to complement existing resources by setting up the scheme which would have created a team of local volunteers who would be given extensive training to enable them to provide an early response to patients while waiting for paramedics to arrive. The scheme did not take off in Mallaig or the surrounding areas but has recently been started on Eigg.
In my editorial I commented on the contradictory expectations of the powers that be. The First Responder Scheme was being promoted where individual would be trained in certain techniques and then entrusted to save lives and on the other hand the remote units of the rural Fire Service were no longer to be allowed to attend road accidents or enter burning buildings due to lack of appropriate training and equipment. Knoydart residents were particularly cross about that.
On the Letters page we learned that West Word had been sent from someone in Inverie to Australia, where it was passed on to another region of Australia, and thence to Stornoway!
We mentioned Donnie-by Gosh's surprise party to mark his retiral from mobile fishmongery - or, as West Word put it, his retrial!
June Cairns contributed an article on Dyking and International Skills - the annual summer school run by the SWRI. We also had an article on Gaelic Easter traditions from Allan J Gillis in Ottawa - a frequent contributor to West Word over the years, mainly on genealogy issues.
Regular features in the 36 page issue which we no longer have were the Coastal Rangers Report, the Cetacean Sightings Report and Fishing News.
Watch this space for extracts from next month's issue!
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