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Community paper for Mallaig, Morar, Arisaig, Lochailort, Glenfinnan
Glenuig, Knoydart and the Small Isles
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August 2017 Issue
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All photos are copyright either of the individual photographers or West Word.
New campsite for Mallaig?!
Parking by campervans has become increasingly creative over recent weeks with vans parked up overnight in every imaginable roadside space available - parking areas, verges, school grounds, even on the road in one case and now on the Mallaig helipad! Is this by choice - are drivers simply looking for a roadside spot with a great view where they can pull up for the night - or is it because all the local caravan sites are full? Either way the situation is far from ideal and appears far worse than in previous years; it seems more temporary sites are needed in the area in the summer months.
Campervans at the helipad numbered nine on one particular night, and the drivers seemed oblivious as to the purpose of the ground they were parked up on. The gate had been padlocked shut until recently when the air ambulance came in to land and the padlock was forcibly removed as no key was available. A new padlock will be in place soon and the area secured once again. In the meantime, the Facebook group page Scottish Motorhome Wild Campers have kindly offered to provide suitable signage for the helipad which should help to avoid any awkward encounters between campervans and helicopters!
Strongest earthquake in 30 years hits the West Highlands
Western Scotland was briefly rocked by an earthquake during the afternoon of 4th August. The British Geological Survey recorded the magnitude 3.8 tremor just after 3.40pm, with the epicentre on Eilean Shona in Moidart at a depth of 11km. The earthquake was followed by a second tremor measured at magnitude 3.4 two minutes later.
The earthquake was felt widely across the west, and is the largest earthquake in the region since a magnitude 4.1 earthquake near Oban in September 1986. More recently, there was a magnitude 3.5 earthquake in Glenuig on 23rd January 2011. Scotland's largest recorded earthquake was a magnitude 5.2 ML event in Argyll in 1880.
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
Another packed edition of the paper with so many local events to report on - Highland Games, Maritime Day, summer holiday activities, graduations …
My thanks to Anne and Miya for patiently sticking labels on envelopes, and to Ewen and Morag for working their magic with the printer once again. With all its colour pages last month's edition took days (and days) to print and apparently the early deliveries to the shops sold out very quickly - we couldn't print fast enough to keep up with demand!! I really appreciate the help I'm given with the printing - especially when it's such a protracted process.
Hope you enjoy this month's edition. If you have any comments or you'd like to get in touch, you can email me on email@example.com or call on 07538 530550.
Good grief, how can it be West Word time again? The summer is certainly flying by! Unfortunately for me, and all the local children (and other teachers!) that means back to normality in two weeks. Nooo! Still, it has been rather a good summer so far, with us actually having a stretch of decent weather in Mid-July. I don't know if it's just me but it's also felt much warmer on average than usual. My bobbly woolly hat is definitely feeling neglected this year which can only be a good thing! Looking back on last year's photos of beach fires etc. we were always bundled up! Here's hoping we get a decent day for the Games this year as there has been quite a lot of effort put in for it! Not that we are put off by a bit of rain mind you, but good weather does tend to encourage more people to come out. The Table is as popular as ever, and is now even sporting a cover for when it's stoatin' down. It's become quite the local hangout, with Fridays in particular becoming increasingly busy, especially when Kira is doing Pizza!
We've also had two music gigs in July, one being Charlie Grey and Joseph Peach and the other a ceilidh by the Lochaber Ceilidh Trail guys. It was a busy ceilidh, though locals were definitely outnumbered by tourists. Nice to see some of youngest community members attending though!
On a more serious note, we had two lifeboat call outs for locals, one of which was a severe allergic reaction (Iain Biggart that's you!) but thankfully he made a full recovery and did not need to be taken away after being attended by the paramedics. The other patient, Dave Smith, had experienced chest pains but luckily these were a false alarm and he was later released from hospital with the all clear. It's moments like those though that bring home quite how remote we actually are despite officially being a part of the mainland. But all's well that ends well.
Hope to see a few faces at the Games, it looks like it's going to be a good one! Also, take note - The September garden day will be held on Saturday the second (of September) this year and there are various competitions to enter including biggest courgette, half a dozen cheese scones, a painting or drawing of your favourite Knoydart tree or plant plus several more. Children are also welcome to enter any of the competitions.
Cheers for now,
ISLE OF MUCK
The July highlight of the Camas Programme was the visit of the Ceilidh Trail always a much awaited event and this year because it was later in the month there was an even bigger audience than we have come to expect. And the four very local musicians were superb though they were slightly older than usual and they were assisted by our new PA system which Dean Marriner has installed in the hall. Gone are the days when ceilidh music came from accordion and fiddle. Nowadays a whole range of instruments brings variety to the dance floor.
Earlier in the month 'The Fisherman and the Seal' brought us an interesting mixture of shadow and real puppets. Though it was not clear whether it was aimed at adults or children most enjoyed the very unusual production.
On the farm silage has restarted in the 'corncrake' fields though it is certainly not silage making weather as I write. Lambs are all weaned and prepared for the sale at Dingwall on the 17th and they are looking well.
Godag House is not ready for our new family but Marine Harvest is providing temporary accommodation. More about this next month.
Muck salmon cages will soon be empty and it is possible that they will not be restocked until next summer. That is all this month.
ISLE OF CANNA
The summer continues to be busy with lots of visitors and an ever-increasing number of cruise ships (13 for the month). We had the annual visit from the sheep shearers who managed to get through around 800 sheep in less than 3 days. Former islander, Indi Carnie, came back especially to help with the shearing.
We had an impromptu ceilidh outside the café one evening when the cruise ship Lord of the Glens came in as some other US visitors suddenly appeared with fiddles and guitars and entertained all of us despite a horrendous invasion of midges.
We also had a visit from well-known Scots singer, Christine Kydd, who also performed for locals and visitors and invited the Guthrie children to sing during the course of the concert.
The better weather has allowed us to start the annual collection of wood in preparation for winter. The supply of felled trees at Coroghon has been depleted rather rapidly over the month but there's still enough for everyone.
A plea from the harbour to visiting yachts. When coming ashore would yacht owners please lift their tenders onto the slipway, preferably at the top in order not to impede access to the slip by visiting RIBs.
Criomagan (Crumbs) from Canna House
July as ever is a busy month for Canna House and Canna in general with many visitors coming to explore the island. Fiona has been delivering a programme of lunchtime sessions for visitors and residents, entitled "Portrait of an Island" in the Shearing Shed. This was a broadcast on Woman's Hour in 1956 by Margaret Fay Shaw, and details life on Canna at that time. Fiona illustrates the broadcast with Margaret's photographs and films and uses sound archive audio and live song to enhance the media. It is interesting to see and hear just how little life on Canna has actually changed over the course of over 60 years!
July also saw Fiona travel to the University of Limerick to deliver a paper entitled "Contrasts" at the International Council for Traditional Music conference there. Canna House has strong historical links with the ICTM as Margaret Fay Shaw was one of the founder members away back in 1947 and Fiona was able to include original conference programmes and correspondence between Margaret and the Committee then, which even today's ICTM organisers knew nothing about! Fiona's paper, based on Margaret's own paper by the same name, was very well received and several collaborations and research enquiries are already under way. Retired Canna archivist Magda Sagarzazu was also able to travel to Ireland with Fiona which was a great bonus for Canna House.
ISLE OF RUM
A real mix of weather this month from blazing sun-burn worthy sunshine to torrential rain and having the fire lit. The clegs were out in force though so if we've been missing seeing folk doing the midgie dance we could at least see them slapping themselves as the clegs bit.
A lot of the month was spent looking with envy at the pictures and accounts of sightings of the orca swimming around the local waters. Despite heading out hopefully on the weekly Sheerwater trip to Soay we didn't spot it as part of the cetacean spotting trip but 15 minutes after Ronnie headed back from Rum to Eigg it was spotted again. Curse you, elusive orca!
SNH have a full quota of volunteers working with the Rum ponies and getting involved with wildlife monitoring. Always good to have some long-term summer visitors to bolster resident numbers. We've also had Geologist Luke here for another summer's field work. The vet visited to check the highland cattle over at Harris and we currently have Miracle the stallion residing in the castle field with three of the Rum mares. Miracle has previously lived up to his name and sired a few foals here so fingers crossed he wins over the currently rather unreceptive ladies.
Josephine Pemberton, the professor leading the Kilmory deer project, celebrated her birthday here on Rum along with various family and friends and invited along Rum folk to join in with fine food, birthday cake and - thanks to her talented chums - Happy Birthday sung in four-part harmony and followed by a ballad about her life and work.
Meanwhile at the Bunkhouse Jed has set up a croquet lawn where the title of island champion is being fiercely contested. It's currently held by Neil but inspired by such upper class fun, Ady on Croft 3 has been cutting and rolling a portion of the croft to set up a second lawn on island. Let battle commence!
We had a visit from minister Humza Yousaf on his tour of the islands. Kim & Debbie laid on a splendid lunch in the village hall and a big group of Rum residents attended to share lunch and talk to Humza about the challenges of island life, ways in which transport affects us and could be improved. Among the Rum residents were our longest residents, our teens and our newest residents so a great cross section of folk able to give their versions of island life.
A large part of July though was definitely taken up with planning for, setting up, hosting and clearing up from the games - full details of that including photos further down this page.
July is a busy month for Rum birthdays: Ross & Lesley, Chainsaw Dave and Sean all celebrating another trip around the sun - a special mention to Sean for his 50th.
ISLE OF EIGG
As the rest of the country basked in sunshine, Eigg was shivering in single figures at the beginning of the month. Braving the cold rain, Clare and Phil headed to the pier to enhance the islanders' cinematic experience by offering their four different flavours of Italian ice-cream as well as popcorn to the crowd that came to the Screen Machine's double bill: a bit of a busman's holiday as we all sat and watched the remake of Whisky Galore, which remained a bit too faithful to Compton Mackenzie's dated text and was strangely filmed very far away from Eriskay. Still, it was the magic of the big screen, and made for an enjoyable afternoon and evening out…
The weather improved a bit for Saira's birthday holiday camping in Grulin - and even more for Feis Eige, which this year again was a resounding success, kids enjoying the high quality small-group tuition on offer and an opportunity this year to step-dance with talented Gaelic tutor Sarah Jane who managed to locate a rousing song about Grulin in the Tobar nan Dualchas archive which had been utterly forgotten. Something for the Eigg singing group to get their teeth into! Linda McCann's signature modelling figures artwork class resulted this year in a lovely animation using the Bata Cuil - the music boat taking musicians over to Eigg amidst schools of dolphins, pods of killer whales, thanks to the combined talents of the Cameron family: check it out on Feis Eige's website! Stu took to shinty teaching like a duck to water and we hope he will continue to coach the young Eiggach over the winter months. The Feis ceilidh was brilliant fun and it was great to see all the young folks we have known as wee kiddies attending the feis now strutting their stuff on the dance floor with bags of style!! The equally brilliant Ceilidh Trail dance that followed up on 15 July show-cased the wealth of musical talent that is being nurtured in our west coast communities and here we need to single out how well Lachie did as a caller! The walking ladies group from Catalonia totally enjoyed the experience, and the Eigg folks even ventured to learn new steps with the Circassian Circle, which had not been tried on the island for yonks! Chrissie, our arbiter of good dancing steps and tunes, totally approved, and that's no mean compliment.
The sunshine returned for the Small Isles Games on Rum, which sadly due to unfortunate travel mismanagement, were poorly attended by the Eigg folks. Following last year's victory, the Eigg team was therefore soundly beaten and came last, despite the efforts of those who made it, and certainly enjoyed the Rum hospitality to the full!
Maybe in retrospect, we should have asked our Island Minister for a CalMac Small Isles Games Day timetable change when he visited the island, however with the return of Finlay MacRae in charge of CalMac's West Lochaber operations, at least we have a willing listener for our transport issues! We are still waiting for our meaningful trip to the mainland, and sorting out the freight storage in Mallaig was once again re-iterated as an urgent task: no businesses on the mainland have to suffer from the frustration of returned goods!
In any case, Humza Yousaf's visit showed an Island Minister who was keen to see and hear what the issues were for the smaller islands and is keen to champion island issues through the Island Bill. Responding to it will be a good exercise for the Eigg folks, as it is important that any national island plan gets it right. What is crucial is that the spirit of Article 174 TFEU is implicit in it, addressing the islands' permanent geographic disadvantages and recognising the potential for islands to become inspirations and locations for smart strategies. In theory the "Our islands our Future vision" adopted by the Scottish Government is informing it, but it is still worth adding the smaller islands' perspective.
Another important visit for the island was that of Sam Foster and his architect team to present two community hub development models for the pier area, one option using the existing building, the other doing away with it. Much discussions and a vote later, the option to redevelop and add to the existing structure was retained. Watch this space!
The unsettled weather did not deter our visitors from attending our Wildlife Warden's wildlife drawing and dragonfly hunting, and despite the return of the rain (oh why oh why did we opt to plant our French beans outside this year?) The Howlin' Fling boutique Indie festival was a total success, bringing a good sized crowd from all over the country to sample an eclectic programme fronted by the Pictish One himself. Francois and the Atlas Mountain were enthusiastically welcomed back with their vast array of lovely percussions, and KT Tunstall - "what a nice wee woman, she is," enthused Maggie - was as brilliant as you would have expected her to be. Greg and George 's favourite DJ brought the roof down if you could say this about a tent - the fireside craic was mighty, to use Ailidh's favourite expression, and even the sky cleared for a Laig beach acoustic session which blew Londoners and other city dwellers over. Well done, Johnny…. You did it again! The Eigg music brand is now solid gold, like your jacket…
Arisaig Highland Games and Clanranald Gathering 2017 - A Brief Review.
Despite a wet start to the day, the 81st Arisaig Highland Games were a great success. By lunchtime the weather had cleared and we had another large attendance and even managed some sunshine.
The village parade, led by the Lochaber Schools Pipe Band under the leadership of Margaret MacMaster, braved the elements to march through the village. The parade was led by Lieutenant Col. Ruaradh Allen, Clanranald's lieutenant. The youngsters gave a sterling performance, including a set piece outside the village centre, before continuing to the Games field at Traigh.
Due to weather conditions, Andrew MacDonald of Boisdale, younger son of Clanranald, was delayed for two hours in Uist, so in the interim, LT. Col. Allen deputised for him in the field and also for the opening ceremony. Dr. Diane Allen raised the Arisaig Games flag, thus signalling the opening of the Games. At that point in time the rain was relentless. However, by 12.30, the weather was easing, and we had an afternoon of sunshine and lighter showers. The change in weather resulted in the car park soon filling up and by mid-afternoon the arena was ringed with spectators to enjoy the various Piping, Dancing, Athletics & Heavy events.
We had a high-quality field of entrants in the Piping competitions with Sandy Cameron winning the Piobaireachd and Angus D. MacColl winning the Light Music events. The heavy events were dominated by Lorne Colthart from Blair Atholl. Lorne also managed to set a new Arisaig Games record in the 16lb hammer competition with a new mark of 140'6". Despite a delayed start, the dancing competitions were very popular attracting a large crowd with Rebecca Sproat & Sophie Macrae winning the trophies.
Barrel Race Winners Scott Graham John Laird
Piping Winners Sandy Cameron Findlay Cameron
There were also many events going on at the periphery of the field. The Clan Tent had a wonderful display of painting, submitted by local schoolchildren. The theme was the "Coming of the West Highland Line, Mallaig Extension". This competition is sponsored annually by Raghnaill Òg of Clanranald in the form of the Boisdale Prize. A former prize winner of this competition was included in the Prestonpans Tapestry of the Diaspora, which has toured the world since 2014.
Also in the Clan Tent was an exhibition by Elizabeth MacDonald, complementing the art competition and explaining the coming of the railway and its beneficial effects on our local communities. Clan Donald Lands Trust, Armadale, was with us on the day, also Charlie MacDonald who represented the Clan Donald of the Highlands and Islands. Mallaig's own Pat MacKenzie had a good day with her jams and chutneys which proved very popular.
Present too was Armourer Paul MacDonald, who gave a display on the field, demonstrating the art of swordsmanship.
Our sponsors Ardnamurchan Distillery were represented by Keith Falconer, ably supported by his team, Yvonne, Sophie and Val. They had an impressive array of whiskies for tasting, greatly appreciated by whisky connoisseurs and enthusiasts. They also donate the prizes for the programme raffle and the very popular Barrel Race and have provided invaluable support to Arisaig Games.
The Women's Guild of Church of Scotland has for a number of years run a Tea and Cakes tent. This year, they provided their usual delicious fare in their enormously popular tent. Their takings are donated to charity. Thank you, ladies!
The crowd contributed hugely by their happy appreciation of events, despite the inclement weather.
There are too many people who contribute to making the Games a success to mention everyone, but our loyal and experienced team of helpers, who do the hard work of setting up the field and clearing up after the event, is invaluable. You all know who you are!
The 82nd Arisaig Games and 14th Clanranald Gathering will be held on 25th July 2018. Put it on your list!
Allan MacDonald, Chairman, Arisaig Highland Games.
Small Isles Games 2017 - Hosted on the Isle of Rum
A huge thanks to everyone who helped, hosted and attended the Small Isles Games, held this year on Rum on 22nd July. We had a brilliant attendance from Muck, Canna, Eigg and plenty of visitors who picked a team to play for or cheer on.
Huge congratulations to winning team Muck although Rum did manage to win Tug of War. A special mention to team Canna who managed the entire bulk bag relay race with one team to every other islands' two.
The bulk bag relay
Photo by SNH volunteer Beth Eastham: www.photographyjustbe.co.uk
Many thanks to Emma and Pam from Highlife Highland for running the kids games with a special mention to the 'carrying water in a cup over bales of straw assault course' which was a real winner.
We had Rum venison burgers (venison donated by SNH) and Marine Harvest salmon for the lunchtime barbecue and a venison chilli in the evening. Thanks to visiting chefs Gordon & Paddy for the burger making and chilli cooking, Neil and team from MH and Sorcha & Mark for barbecue cooking. We had some very happy raffle winners thanks to generous prizes from Rum Bunkhouse, Rum Shop, Croft 3, Tattie House, Rum Crafts, Steve, Trudi, the Rum Ranger service and the camping cabins.
A sunny, dry and mostly midge-free day of fun and games was followed by a foot stomping evening ceilidh in the village hall with more folk arriving to join in the fun from Eigg.
Looking forward to next year on Muck!
EiggWatch - A Ranger's Summer on Eigg
July has been a busy month here on Eigg with our Summer events programme starting and two new volunteers. The start of the month saw us joining up with the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust volunteers to carry out some path clearance and invasive plant removal. Wildlife surveying continued and the cracking sunshine we had resulted in more butterfly species being recorded on the butterfly transect, including the lovely Painted Lady. We have had some fantastic results from the moth trapping too - our last session caught 122 moths! The four of us eventually got through them to find approximately 40 species in total with some lovely moths such as Pebble Prominent, Sallow Kitten, Garden Tiger and Burnished Brass.
Garden Tiger Moth
Our events programme has had some fun over the last four weeks. Our Bug Hunting event down at Galmisdale found a variety of spiders, beetles, worms and woodlouse. We had fun at our Nature in Art session down at Laig Bay getting our hands covered in paint making butterflies, doing a colour hunt and collecting materials from the beach to make fairy gardens. Another Dragonfly Hunt at the Giant's Footstep found the dragonflies and damselflies are still emerging in their numbers with lots of Blue-tailed Damselfly and female Black Darter's flying about on the day. SWT Volunteers Holly and Sally planned lots of fun activities for our Seashore exploration at Shell Beach, looking at the various shells that can be found, seeing what lives in the rock pools, creating shell pendants and painting collected shells. Fun was had by everyone, even when it started raining! We have more events throughout August including:
- 18th August River Kicksampling 1-3pm at Galmisdale Bay Stepping Stones
- 27th August Bat walk 8-9:30pm at Cleadale
- Guided Walks continue every Wednesday meeting at the Old Shop Museum 11am.
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Newly set up Jasper King Trust brings two families on holiday to Eigg
The last two weeks of July saw the newly created Jasper King Trust funds benefit two young families affected by cancer, explains Jasper King's widow, talented songwriter and performer Sharon King, who has regularly performed on the Isle of Eigg.
'Respite, Adventure and Empowerment - this is the JKT's mission statement,' says Sharon, who found the community and landscape of Eigg a great help as the couple struggled through Jasper's courageous battle against terminal lung cancer. 44-year-old Jasper was a talented, funny, kind and loving family man who spent his working life touring the world with popular street theatre company The Chipolatas, bringing clowning and music all over the world for over 25 years. 'The JKT is a way of creating a lasting legacy in Jasper's name,' Sharon explains, 'to create positive memories and experiences for families affected by cancer and help to build self-confidence and self-esteem in places that held special significance for Jasper, his family and friends, such as Eigg and Lochhouses in East Lothian.'
Set up with the help of a group of friends, the JKT aims to make a real difference to families in crisis, and has raised enough money this year to fund two family breaks on the isle of Eigg as a way of supporting families at a point when they feel the world is closing around them.
The JKT funds have paid for a week's accommodation and bike hire, a meal at Galmisdale café, archery and kayaking sessions with Eigg Adventures and a day's sailing on Selkie for each of these two families. 'This has made a tremendous difference to their morale and well-being', tells Sharon. 'I am so happy that we were able to do this through the Jasper King Trust and we are very grateful for the donations that made this possible. I hope that with everyone's help, we can continue supporting more families to come to Eigg next summer.'
Ailsa Sheldon, from Glenfinnan and latterly Edinburgh, who lost her husband this winter, was very moved by the JKT generous offer she and her two boys benefited from: 'from the time of booking, this holiday was a wonderful thing to look forward to, a beacon in times of uncertainty. It gave me time for deep conversations, time to breathe, time to be in a very natural environment. It was amazing for all of us.'
Please support the JKT if you can with donations or fund-raising events. Any amount is generous and gratefully received. To find out more, please contact email@example.com
Mallaig Maritime Day - 22nd July 2017
Mallaig Maritime Day 2017 was a great success: the weather held up and the event was very well attended. The Lord of The Isles ferry opened proceedings with a blast on its horn and this was followed by the resplendent Isle of Skye Pipe Band marching off the MV Loch Fyne onto the pier to the skirl of the pipes and the beat of the drum.
The Jacobites, in their varied highland attire, arrived rather fittingly on the Jacobite Steam Train and were soon in action conveying the Gala Queen, Iona Stewart, and Gala Princess Iona MacKenzie, down onto the pier in a decorated dinghy piped along the way by the pipe band and followed by the steam train passengers.
The Ronja Pioneer, the Amelia and the Mallaig Lifeboat Henry Alston Hewat all welcomed visitors and sightseers on board throughout the day to have a look around and with events like tombola, sales stalls, bouncy castle, face painting, hook-a-duck and Aunt Sally, plus the local Fire Engine and Police Squad Car on display, there was plenty to see and do for locals and visitors alike. The seafood platter stall, cullen skink stall and barbecue were extremely busy with large queues forming with everyone eager to sample the local fare.
Mascots Albert and Stormy escorted by the Isle of Skye Pipe Band
Best Dressed Vessel: Ocean Trust
The day's events were rounded off with the Boat Race won this year by Rebecca Jeneen with the Ocean Trust picking up the award for best dressed vessel.
An evening ceilidh/dance in the Mallaig & Morar Community Centre with lively music provided by "Hò-rò" concluded the Maritime Day celebrations.
A fantastic amount of money was raised for both charities with each banking over £5,000. We could not have achieved this without the help of the many businesses and locals who made donations and we are very grateful to all who contributed and to all who supported on the day.
The RNLI depends solely on voluntary donations and legacies and receives no government funding. It is donations that help our volunteer lifeboat crews to continue their mission in saving lives at sea.
The Fishermen's Mission is a national Charity providing emergency care when needed and a lifeline of welfare support to fishermen and their families, whether they are still working or retired.
Lifeboat Log by Jim Morton
3rd July 2017 Medivac from Isle of Eigg
Launched at 15:47hrs to convey Paramedics to the Isle of Eigg, to attend to a fallen cyclist, by Stornoway Coastguard. A visitor to the island had sustained a head injury and multiple abrasions to his left side after falling from his pedal cycle. After being assessed by the medics, the casualty was able to walk to the slipway and board the Lifeboat aided by his companion. Once back at Mallaig the casualty was taken to Belford Hospital for further assessment and treatment by Ambulance. Lifeboat fuelled and ready for service at 17:30hrs.
12th July 2017 Medivac from Inverie, Knoydart
Launched to convey Paramedic to Inverie, Knoydart to attend to a male suffering from chest pains, by Stornoway Coastguard at 09:25hrs. Once on scene at Inverie at 09:44hrs the Lifeboat awaited the arrival of the patient as instructed by Ambulance control. After some time waiting a local contacted the patient's neighbour and was informed that it was actually Airor pier on the other side of the Peninsula that the patient was waiting. The Lifeboat relocated to Airor pier and picked up the patient fifteen minutes later. After assessment by the Medics it was decided to transfer the patient to Mallaig and then onward to Fort William's Belford Hospital for further treatment.
19th July 2017 Emergency Call to Inverie, Knoydart
Launched at 04:30hrs. to convey Paramedics to Inverie, Knoydart, by Stornoway Coastguard. A resident had taken unwell after suffering an allergic reaction. The Lifeboat arrived at Inverie pier at 04:45hrs to be met by the patient and his partner. The patient informed the Paramedics that he taken antihistamine whilst waiting for the Lifeboat to arrive and he was gradually recovering and beginning to feel better. The Paramedics carried out their assessment and concluded that the patient indeed was responding to the antihistamine. After discussing with the patient the Paramedics decided that he could remain in Inverie as his condition was improving by the minute. With the Medics back onboard the Lifeboat returned to Mallaig and fuelled and berthed at 05:45hrs.
28th July 2017 Called to Assist Fishing Vessel Margarita
Launched to assist the fishing vessel Margarita which had suffered engine failure of Isle Ornsay at 19:30hrs, by Stornoway Coastguard. The workboat Voe Jarl which was on passage from Loch Hourn to Mallaig took the Margarita under tow with the Lifeboat in attendance. Once off the harbour the Voe Jarl transferred the tow over to the Lifeboat who brought the Margarita into the outer harbour. Lifeboat ready for service at 21:10hrs.
Mallaig Harbour News
Transport Minister Visitation
Mr Humza Yousaf MSP, Minister of Transport and the Islands was presented with a copy of the Mallaig Harbour Authority Masterplan when he visited with the Authority on Wednesday 19th July. He was given a comprehensive briefing on the aims and aspirations of the Authority for the upcoming 10 - 15 years which includes a Breakwater out to the Lighthouse with new deeper water berthing capability; new ferry berth with associated Linkspan, a concrete ramp and parking for up to 200 vehicles; relocation of the Mallaig Boatyard; new fish/prawn market; new passenger walkway access to the smaller ferry boats; etc; etc.
Other items discussed with the Minister included the ongoing problem on the Mallaig - Armadale ferry service where disruptions due to tidal constraints was still impacting on the service; our full support for an all year round ferry service between Lochboisdale and Mallaig; and the widening and subsequent construction of the A82 Trunk Road as it winds its way around Loch Lomond.
Tony Kenning (Vice Chairman); Humza Yousaf (Transport Minister); Charlie King (Chairman); and Robert MacMillan (CEO).
Fish Feed Storage
The 12th of July marked the sixth anniversary of the opening of the 1,000 tonne capacity fish feed store on Mallaig Pier. To date 223,600 tonnes of fish feed has been loaded/transhipped through the port.
The 63 metre cruise ship MV Balmoral, built in 1949 as a sister ship to the Waverley (but with conventional propulsion) made its inaugural visit to Mallaig on Tuesday 11th July. The owners of the Balmoral, White Funnel Ltd, Bristol, are considering the implementation of day long excursions on the west coast of Scotland with Mallaig being one of the pickup/drop off points in their itinerary.
The photo shows MV Balmoral, under the command of Cpt David Howie, about to dock at Mallaig.
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On and Off the Rails
Fuel oil trains back on the West Highland Line
Following on from the decision by Certas Energy to transport fuel oil by road, rather than by rail, a new contract has been signed between Certas and Colas Rail to use rail again. Certas announced in April 2017 that, in order to reduce travel costs and improve stockholding efficiency, it would be terminating its contract with GBRF (GB Rail Freight). This decision meant that around 400 lorry movements would be required to serve Fort William and Lairg from Certas in Grangemouth.
However, after discussion with Colas Rail a more suitable solution/arrangement has been found and a trial contract, for three months initially, began on Sunday, July 2nd. To date no fixed contract has been signed and will depend on whether it has been cost-effective.
For those of you who are interested in vintage diesels, Colas are at present using Class 56 locomotives on these journeys. The first run was made by 56302 Peco - the Railway Modeller. This is the first time that a class 56 locomotive has been to Fort William in over 40 years of their operation! The train consisted of TTA two-axle wagons and was 800 tonnes in trailing weight (fuel wagons). At present the train will run as required for its initial term of three months, and will use drivers on hire from WCR (West Coast Railways).
Competition results - July issue
A great postcard response to the 'Black Five on the Jacobite' DVD competition. All entries were correct in answering b) over 50 locations - to the question asked. Every entry went into the draw and the two winners (who by now will have received their DVDs by post) are Roger Slingerland - a regular correspondent - from the Isle of Wight and Brian Bannister (ex-Arisaig) from Lockerbie. Congratulations.
Another competition! For two double disc DVDs
Dragon-in-the-Firebox Productions have provided me with two copies of a double disc DVD to use for a competition this month. Entitled Steam in The Smoke Box, Mainline Steam 2016, disc one contains a strong selection of mainline steam tours taking place in the UK, with locomotive audio and captions, including Tornado and Flying Scotsman. One hour two minutes, with approximately five minutes of classical steam - set to the serenity of Claude Debussy's 'Clair de Lune' tucked on at the end.
Disc two contains 'The Great Britain IX: 2016 The Five Scottish Days of the Tour' approximately 38 minutes - followed by 'Mosaic: The Changing Face of the Jacobite', three locomotives, one route, and unpredictable Scottish weather, jigsawed together to create around 29 minutes of moving pictures and genuine steam sounds.
The total runtime is about two hours 20 minutes - what more could you desire with a pint, or a mug of hot chocolate!
To enter the draw to win one of the two double DVDs, answer the following question: How many minutes approx is the 'Clair De Lune' musical classical steam section? Answers please on a postcard by Tuesday August 29th to Sonia Cameron, Fasgadh, 5 Marine Place, Mallaig, Inverness-shire PH41 4RD. Good luck. Or if you want to know how to purchase the double DVD call me on (01687) 462189.
ScotRail digital news update
No news update on the arrival and departure real-time digital board, or the Wi-Fi connection, but both are in progress!
The Biggest Little Railway in the World - update
I wrote last month of the overland model railway journey being attempted along the Great Glen to Inverness. Well, it was accomplished - and on time! The 72 mile journey started on Tuesday, June 20th - and arrived at its destination, Inverness Castle, just before 1pm on Saturday, July 1st. The whole journey was filmed for C4 TV and is scheduled to be shown in October.
Approximately 100 volunteers - from engineers to rail enthusiasts - worked in four groups to help lay the track along which the gas-powered model locomotive, Roundhouse Silver Lady, travelled at 3 mph in different stages. Hoists were used to elevate parts of the track at the steepest sections.
Starting at 7am (each day) the teams of volunteers were working through till midnight and, as the navvies did, slept each night alongside the route. As the train moved on from a section, the track was lifted and handed on for the next team to lay. I believe a few problems were encountered e.g. the locomotive coming off the track! - but the whole extraordinary journey, presented by Dick Strawbridge, who travelled between sections, enthusing, problem solving and encouraging, will make for fascinating TV I am sure.
At the journey's end - Inverness Castle - a model railway layout had been installed depicting 1950's era Inverness railway station and Inverness Castle by Inverness and District Model Railway Club. Crowds of enthusiasts and volunteers gathered for the rousing finale as the train came in.
The programme - from its conception at Model Rail Scotland, Glasgow earlier this year - will also celebrate to the Victorian era dream of building a full-scale railway line through the Great Glen to Inverness. Oh that it could happen now!
Jacobite news update
On Friday July 21st a replacement mixed rake of coaches arrived via Bo'ness to exchange with morning Jacobite coaches, which went away on Saturday July 22nd for a week to the Freightliner heavy haul depot at Balm Road Locomotive Workshops, Leeds, for wheel turning and re-profiling.
Imagine the scene at the terminal yard at FW/WCRC depot, as all the shop stock/catering stock/train managers office stock all had to be moved over after a full days' work to allow this to happen. Then a week later it all happened again in reverse as the original carriages came back! Harmony is now restored.
On Sunday August 6th Ian Riley's Stanier Black Five - Lancashire Fusilier will be away to steam haul over the Forth Bridge, round the Fife Circle, through Edinburgh to Tweedbank for a railway excursion one day trip for SRPS (Scottish Rail Preservation Society). Needless to say it is completely sold out. There are three others to follow on Sundays in August. Expect plenty of press coverage on the first one. Luckily we still have two locomotives (steam) to cover our line. Good luck to all the 'Riley's Boys' who crew it.
See you on the train,
Scottish Women's Institutes are celebrating their 100th anniversary this year and two of the institutes in Lochaber, Arisaig and Fort William, are celebrating theirs, having both formed in 1917. Lochaber Federation held a tea party on 1st July 2017 for members and past members which about sixty ladies attended. The invitations invited ladies to wear hats and many did - from large hats to little fascinators.
Luckily the party was held in the Duncansburgh Church Hall as it was a very wet day.
Christine Haynes, Federation Chairperson, welcomed the ladies and told how the role of women has changed in those 100 years. In 1917 women were marching to gain the right to vote and in 2017 we have a woman First Minister and a woman Prime Minister. In this time the length of our skirts has gone from ankle length to "barely there" and every length in between! The role of SWI has not changed much but lives up to the motto "if you know something good - pass it on". The one thing that is still passed on today as it was in 1917 is friendship.
The centenary cake was cut by Mrs Sheila Sutton of Fort William. Sheila has been a rural member for over 66 years and is still very active for 97.
Christine thanked all the ladies who helped make the day such a success. Whilst enjoying a beautiful tea the ladies caught up with news from friends past and present.
BIRDWATCH July 2017 by Stephen MacDonald
Bird sightings were pretty much as expected for July, with lots of reports of newly fledged birds and by the end of the month, the first returning waders started to appear.
On the 3rd a brood of seven newly hatched Merganser chicks were on Loch Morar, by Rhubana. During the month several other broods were seen around the west end of the loch.
The first juvenile Red-throated Divers were seen on the sea at Camusdarroch on the 13th and others were reported off Rhue, Arisaig from the 26th. Several fledged Common Terns were around the fish farm at Loch Ailort from the 18th, proving some at least had avoided predation by Mink, although they were being harried by a Peregrine Falcon for a while, before it was driven off by the adult Terns and assorted gulls.
Razorbill and Guillemot chicks appeared out of the sea during the 1st and 2nd weeks of the month. Cormorants on an island off Traigh also had a successful breading season; over 50 large chicks were ringed there on the 10th July along with a good number of almost fully-fledged Herring Gull chicks.
During the last week of the month, waders started to appear on their return south. Small numbers of Dunlin and Redshank were the first to be seen around Traigh and Back of Keppoch. On the 29th, two Turnstones, a Knot, several Dunlin, Redshanks and Ringed Plover were by the boatshed at Traigh. The following day there were joined by six Sanderling. Two Black-tailed Godwits spent the day feeding on the golf course and adjacent fields.
World Wide West Word
Malcolm and Shelley Ross took time out on their wedding day to catch up on news from the West! Malcolm owned the Arisaig Hotel from 1994 to 2005 and is now living in Huddersfield. Malcolm and Shelley were married in Cyprus on 26th July 2017.
Michael and Ann Currie visited the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, Russia
and Tyne Cot cemetery, Ypres, Belgium whilst on a Baltic Cruise in mid-July.
CEO of HiTrans, Frank Roach, takes time out to read his West Word after completing a 'Bikes on Trains' survey, where he posed as a mystery passenger at Mallaig Railway Station - with bike - on July 7th 2017.
Photo: Steve Roberts
Watch this space for extracts from next month's issue!
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