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July 2018 Issue
Contents of the online version:
All photos are copyright either of the individual photographers or West Word.
BLAS Festival programme announced
The programme for this year's Blas Festival was launched on the 4th July and revealed an outstanding line up of musicians from Scotland and further afield as well as some exciting opportunities for budding young musicians and composers.
Although young people have always featured in Blas, in this Year of Young People the festival will do more than ever to showcase the wealth of talent amongst Highland youngsters. Up and coming young musicians will feature in the majority of events and young people will gain invaluable marketing and event management experience through their key roles in the organisation and promotion of this year's festival which will be a major celebration of young people. Following a Ceòl nam Fèis showcase concert at the Spa Pavilion in Strathpeffer on Friday 14 September, Blas will culminate in an enormous concert at the Northern Meeting Park in Inverness on Saturday 15th; Òran Mòr meaning Great (or Big) Song, will feature over 1,000 young musicians from Fèisean across Scotland as well as various youth music groups and initiatives including the Highland Council Youth Music Groups and the National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music. The talented youngsters will take to the stage with the bands they have chosen including traditional music supergroups Skipinnish, Trail West and Breabach along with Brìghde Chaimbeul. A new Gaelic song written by Glasgow-based Gaelic student, Robbie MacLeòid, will be performed by every single musician taking part in the concert, the largest event Fèisean nan Gàidheal will have organised in its 30-year history.
One of the Blas Festival's youth ambassadors, Knoydart's very own Lachie Robinson, said: "It is great to be involved in putting together this year's Blas Festival and to have such an exciting programme to look forward to with some of the acts most admired by young people involved in playing traditional music. Òran Mòr is going to be awesome and myself and my young colleagues are so looking forward to being part of that and other events during the Blas Festival."
Verity Blanchard, EventScotland and Lachie Robinson, BLAS Festival Young Ambassador
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
Well, what a scorching spell of weather we've had! Real summer - hope all our visitors are enjoying it! Once again the Jacobite is chuffing past the office under 'light steam' with a diesel engine at its rear to reduce the risk of line side fires. Everything certainly is tinder-dry just now and wild fires are a real risk.
For the fifth year running, cheques for £500 have been received by many local charities - West Word included - sent by a firm of solicitors on behalf of their client who remains anonymous. She or he takes an interest in the local community and likes to support us in this way. It is very much appreciated, and we hope the donor is reading this public acknowledgement of his or her extreme generosity - our thanks to you!
Once again my thanks go to Anne and Miya for helping to stick labels on envelopes and to Nicky for assisting with the printing this month.
June started with the funeral for Rick Walsh, and what a funeral it was. It was a very sad but beautiful day and a very fitting goodbye. Rick's body came off the Western Isles which was privately hired on Tuesday 5th June, in a stunning wicker coffin which was then loaded on to a gorgeous old-fashioned horse pulled cart. The community and all of Rick's family and friends then followed the horse and cart in a procession through the village and down to the Big House, where the procession went through the gardens and out the other side and onto the grave yard at Kilchoan. Fiona Lennie conducted a heartfelt ceremony, her first funeral, and did a lovely job, and Rick was laid to rest in the grave which was then filled in by family and friends. I've never attended a funeral like that and it was just so perfect for the man that Rick was. Afterwards there was a big celebration of his life back at the Big House and I think he'd have been very pleased with the send-off he got. He'll never be forgotten here.
We had some amazing weather at the beginning of the month, continued from the heatwave at the end of May which resulted in lots of swimming and generally lazy hazy days. The river was unusually warm and very pleasant and the good weather looks set to return - yay!
We said a sad goodbye to Alice and Mike this month, as they set off for Pastures New (Ardverikie Estate) and Fred is also leaving us after nine years (new job as Deer Stalker at Barisdale) so there are several job vacancies coming up…. Knoydart Trading is recruiting for the butcher role (if you are interested in this please contact Knoydart Foundation - it's a part time role equivalent to 1 day a week but is concentrated during the stalking season).
Wood Knoydart have begun running Stool Making Workshops, sharing their skills with locals and visitors alike - the next stool making course will run on Saturday the 7th July (have a look on the KFT website www.knoydartforesttrust.org/our-courses.html for more info).
Guests who were staying at Kilchoan Farmhouse this month collated an extensive list of birds they had seen during their week's stay (a list far too extensive to actually include!) but one of the birds on it was a Ring Ouzel which apparently is not very common. The guest said he hadn't seen one for 15 years so pretty cool that there was one here. It's been a good year for birds I think, with locals here also sighting many different kinds, including an Osprey, a couple of Merlins, Hen Harriers and Black Grouse.
I'm heading off to Colorado in July (Yeeeee Ha!) so it won't be me writing next time but hope everyone has a good summer and I'll see y'all in August.
ISLE OF MUCK
July; what an amazing month has just passed, starting with some of the hottest May weather for decades together with seas so calm that even the most nervous kayaker was not afraid to cross the sea to Muck. And the lack of wind meant that the soil did not dry out and stop the grass growing. I know because I never stopped mowing lawns and a good silage crop is indicated.
Perhaps the highlight of the month was the beach clean in Camas Mor shared by many of the island. A trailer load of plastic was collected and as our skip was almost full there was a problem with disposal. However, as so often, Marine Harvest came to our rescue.
On 9th June Ronnie took a large party of visitors and islanders on a circumnavigation of the island, mainly to see the Puffins, which duly obliged both on land and sea. We also saw a Great Skua but I was later told by the bird fraternity that there are two pairs nesting on the island. Birds are doing well this year. Toby tells me that he has seen a young Corncrake on the lawn and up to a dozen baby Peewits which were previously extinct. They must have been helped by the massive inroads which he and Lewis have inflicted on the crow population. Terns are also at record numbers. There are now two sites on the island where previously there was only one.
Now I come to the bigger picture. Last month I mentioned parking for cars, and this month it is parking for humans - accommodation. In Fort William it is impossible and in Mallaig very difficult, unless one books well in advance. In a way the islanders are lucky. They can (unlike the visitors) purchase space on Mallaig pier though on my last visit most of these seemed to be empty. And of course they can take their cars home on the Loch Nevis if they can get a space. So far this has not been impossible but it could be in future. I must remind CalMac that commercial traffic must take precedence over islanders' cars. If the Loch Nevis is full then the answer is more runs. Badly needed are day trips to the mainland leaving early; starting with Canna and Rum one day a week and Muck and Eigg on another; returning at night. This would help with the accommodation nightmare on the mainland. All this would be summer only.
Next month I will cover the bigger picture at sea.
Criomagan (Crumbs) from Canna House
June at Canna House has seen the successful delivery of a one day symposium held on St Columba's day (June 9) focussing on the historical and archaeological links between St Columba and Ireland, John Lorne and Margaret Campbell and Canna.
Almost 60 academics from all across the world, including Harvard University and University College Dublin, gathered in the St Columba's Chapel for a day of papers covering topics such as "The Campbells, Canna, and Columba: Literary and Historical Connections" by Prof Rob Dunbar of Edinburgh University, in which he gave compelling evidence to support John Lorne Campbell's theory that Canna was indeed Columba's "summer home".
"Chapels, crosses and curses: the early Christian archaeology of Canna" was presented by Derek Alexander, archaeologist to the National Trust for Scotland, "O'er the perilous path of the sea - prehistoric island connections between Eire and Alba: A contextual, island-approach to assessing Canna's archaeological research potential" by Dr Rebecca Rennell, Archaeology Institute, University of the Highlands and Islands and "Aon Teanga - Càirdeas Às Ùr Eadar Cànan nan Trì Dùthchannan Gàidhlig: One Tongue - Re-uniting The Language of The Three Gaelic Nations" by Mary Ann Kennedy, Watercolour Music, Ardgour.
The day continued with films and exhibitions, walks to the Celtic cross where the Bishop of Argyll and the Isles, Brian McGee, delivered a blessing, a reception in Canna House Garden and concluded with a ceilidh in the Shearing Shed.
The day was made especially memorable by the arrival of a fishing boat, complete with piper, from Barra and South Uist with 12 islanders, continuing the long tradition of cultural and linguistic exchange between Canna and South Uist in particular.
St Columba's Prayer (from John Lorne's papers) "Iosa, beannaich, stùiir agus glèidh mi agus thoir mi gu beatha, mhaireannaich. A Chaluim Chille! Guidh air son na h-Alba agus air mo shon-sa. Amen"
ISLE OF RUM
Just like everyone else (probably!) I'll mention the weather and get it out of the way! It's been scorchio - and whether you like it or not (I personally am not so keen) it's certainly been the main topic of conversation. It has meant the midges have not been quite so bad as they might usually be during June but the clegs have more than made up for it with epic numbers making life miserable for us all. The huge dry spell has meant the rivers are running very low and the power is switched to diesel back up as there is just not enough water to keep the hydro powered. It's a kind spell of weather for all the baby birds hatching though, and the loch is filled with goslings and ducklings which is always lovely to see.
A very busy month for visitors including a visit from various cruise ships bringing many passengers ashore for castle tours, ranger walks and visits to the craft shops and cafes. Kim's prosecco-battered fish and chips are proving a roaring success and word is definitely getting out there. Meanwhile the Marine Harvest shore base is coming along in leaps and bounds and Rum's shoreline is looking different every week with the skeleton of their shed now up and work starting soon on the jetty. The bay has been filled with yachts most evenings with people making use of the new moorings.
SNH have lots of volunteers bolstering resident numbers temporarily but two students - Charlie and Abigail - join the reserve team on year-long placements so will be around for a longer period. The volunteers have been helping out with various tasks including fencing a field in the village ready for the pregnant Rum pony mares to deliver their foals. The resident stags in the village look most put out at their free range grazing patch being sectioned off!
Peter and Colin from Wester Ross fisheries have been over on the island for their annual sea lice on sea trout monitoring and have been leading teams of residents and volunteers in wading around the loch with sweep nets and electro fishing in the river mouths. If nothing else it provides entertainment for the campers on the campsite... Just as the island's dog population was dwindling it has been bolstered back up to large numbers with Kim and Dave getting puppies to add to the gaggle of excited black pups running round the village along with Jinty's wee Jake. Jake is rather more intrepid than his old dad Jock was though, and rather than bark at people coming into the village he makes new friends and managed to head all the way to Dibidil bothy with some visitors for an impromptu weekend adventure. He seems determined to explore Rum fully.
Mid June saw Kim and Sylvia throwing a party to celebrate four decades of friendship with a cool retro dress code. A fine time was had by all. Calving at Kilmory has petered out to a trickle with another successful year of calves caught and tagged and some fantastic pictures captured of the field team for a press article. SKS consultants visited the island to chat to residents about their hopes for the development of Kinloch Castle. The consensus seems to be that a bespoke solution for an unusual building on a unique island needs to be found which compliments rather than competes with the varied endeavours already happening here.
Up on Croft 3 Nic and Ady have been shearing their sheep with Nic learning how to spin the fleece and creating the first Rum produced woolly hat in many years. Along with harvesting wool the start of the jam season has begun with strawberries, blackcurrants and redcurrants all being picked. The first ducklings of the year have hatched and are doing well too. Nic has also branded up the Croft 3 Jeep to advertise the various produce and crafts available on the croft as they drive around the island.
Sylvia, Ali and Neil celebrated birthdays in June, along with honorary Rum 'resident' Pat (Sean's mum). We're all looking forward to the Small Isles games on Muck in the coming month.
ISLE OF EIGG
You know the familiar saying: you spend ages waiting for a bus and two arrive at the same time? Well, it was the same for poetry on Eigg: one week it was Gerda Stevenson, the other it was the Poet Makar of Scotland, Jackie Kay. Possessed with a great sense of humour and fun, her poetry reading in the lovely setting of the Lageorna restaurant with rooms brought a large audience of 55 islanders and holiday-makers, including the Eigg schoolchildren who performed Have you Heard? a poem about gossip they wrote under Jackie's tutelage. I would highly recommend attending Jackie's session at the Mallaig book festival next November, it is bound to be another unforgettable experience! We can also look forward to reading the word tapestry of Scotland's places she is currently weaving out of visits to the country's airts and pairts. Many thanks to Maggie for inviting her as part of celebrating Eigg's 21st birthday and to Johnnie Jobson for providing the connection through the Bishopbriggs diving club!
The next VIP to come to Eigg, as announced in the last issue, was Andy Wightman, MSP from the Scottish Green party as part of our combined 21st birthday for IEHT and 10th birthday for our Green Grid on Friday 8th June. Andy, who had been very helpful in our buy-out campaign in arguing in favour of land reform and was instrumental in getting the legislation off the ground, made an eloquent speech around the theme "Think Global, Act Local" and the "need to confront power," which evoked the milestone that Eigg represents and "the stories that need to be told about what people have done, what they're doing and they are going to do" with specific references to plastics in the marine environment and the Land Reform journey! "When you really believe in something, just do it" was his message!
Our Green Team was able to meet with him afterwards and discuss some of our burning issues in a really constructive way which was inspiring for all. We were not the only ones to be inspired: "That guy Andy, what he said really makes sense" concluded nine year old Maggie Carr! Maggie, Betsy, Taigdhean and Ben, the Primary school kids, had presented their Sustainable Eigg at the event which included the film they made about the Climate Change funded Eigg wood fuel project which perfectly illustrated Becca's IEHT presentation. Their song "All you need is Green" inspired of course by the Beatles, complete with tin whistle accompaniment, was fabulous and got a well deserved applause from the audience.
This was followed by Katie Miller talking about the issue of Marine Plastic and how the Green team has been tackling this massive problem (see in this issue the questions we have for the Scottish parliament), and a short film (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0ycAyFOCeQ) and presentation about the Clean Energy EU programme which hopefully Eigg will be part of if the Horizon 2020 projects we are involved with are successful! Blowing the candles on Marie's wonderful carrot cake and raising a glass of bubbly to the next decade after Hilda -IERA's chair - and Andy's speeches were a successful conclusion to a lovely afternoon in a hall beautifully decorated with Eigg's Plan de la Vida tree, lanterns and flags made by Ailidh and her volunteer team. The only sadness was that John Booth - who played a crucial role in getting the Eigg electrification project off the ground and its technical details known in over 40 countries in the world's four continents - was not there to celebrate with us. We all wish him the best for the treatment he is currently undergoing in Edinburgh and our thoughts are with him, Christine and their family.
The great weather that we have experienced this month held for the 21st anniversary so that islanders and revellers were able to fully enjoy the bonfire craic and the great line up which this year included award winning Elephant Sessions! As to Dolphin Boy, he excelled himself again this year and afficionados will be able to hear the result of his collaboration with Sketch in Arisaig this July!
Meanwhile, June was busy with revisiting the plans for our Pier Centre and our Eigg History Society is gearing up to work on including in those a comprehensive introduction to the island's natural and cultural heritage at this point of entry for our visitors. There is a lot to celebrate and share, and it was a pleasure to have met some overseas visitors this month from Vancouver Island especially interested in our green energy, and others who were descendants of the famous Bogainn MacDonalds of Laig!
Last but not least, Katrin's birthday was celebrated at Kildonnan point last Saturday with a lovely bonfire and barbecue by the talented Eiggy Bread duo. Greg, we are expecting no less for your birthday on June 30th!
The glorious weather, the location - looking out over the bay to the sunlit yachts bobbing gently on the Marina - dining a la fresco feasting on prawns or salmon or goodies from the Mallaig Bakery, a glass or two of wine, a bouncy castle for the kids, Rodeo Bull Rides (for all ages), Mission & RNLI gift stalls, Lifeboat and pleasure boat visitations, free boat trips, music and the feel good factor all combined to make Mallaig Harbour's inaugural Marina Day an unqualified success. Aided and abetted by a host of volunteers, Harbour Master Pimmy and Marina Man Dave were always on hand to ensure that the day went well and that any 'major issues' like making sure refreshments were chilled etc. were quickly addressed.
The local Lifeboat was berthed alongside the pontoon and special sea trips round the Green Island were provided free of charge by Western Isles Cruises. The pontoons and promenade were bedecked with flags, some small, some of the feathered variety as the seafood BBQ did a roaring trade and The Bakery and Pizza Hut were also well supported by visitors and locals alike as they absorbed the ambience of the occasion. Matt the Baker baked a celebratory cake which went down a treat.
An afternoon visit to christen Joe Blower's new boat Larven topped off events and as one sunkissed young lady, sucking on a BBQ'd prawn and no doubt fortified by a little wine observed "Mallaig - it's just like the Mediterranean".
Harbour Master James McLean was pleased that the first ever Marina Day proved to be a big success "thanks in no small way to all who contributed to the occasion" he said.
Rodeo Bull Competition winners were:
Junior - Callan Griffin, Tougal, Morar (34 sec) who won a £20.00 voucher donated by Toys and Gifts
Senior - John Cannon, Arisaig (29 secs) who won a bottle of Mallaig Harbour Water
John Cannon receives his prize from the Marina's David Buick
A Write Highland Hoolie!
Mallaig Book Festival, Friday 9th November to Sunday 11th November
Here are the last four authors who will be appearing at the Hoolie this year.
The Queen of Crime, Val McDermid has sold over 15 million books and her work is translated into over 30 languages. She is perhaps best-known for her Wire in the Blood series, featuring clinical psychologist Dr Tony Hill and DCI Carol Jordan, adapted for television starring Robson Green. She has written three other series and has also published a lengthy list of novels, plays and short story collections and a children's picture book; her work has won numerous international awards. This year she is a judge for the Man Booker Prize. She'll also be taking part in the ceilidh evenng! A Write Highland Hoolie is in for a treat!
Angus MacDonald is a well kent entrepreneur who was brought up in Glencoe. Angus's passion is the economy of the West Highlands and endeavouring to find ways to make it thrive. He started the Moidart Trust, a charitable venture to help companies in their early stages, and also founded and ran the Caledonian Challenge raising £13m for charity. He was joint founder of Fort William's The Highland Book Shop and is Chairman of The Highland Soap Company. He was awarded an OBE for his charitable work.
His second novel, We Fought For Ardnish is a sequel to the popular Ardnish Was Home, and is hot off the press - and given Angus' persuasive skills it is likely you will shortly find it the length and breadth of Scotland in every available retail outlet.
Polly Pullar, who is the Hoolie's Chair, is a naturalist who specialises in wildlife and countryside matters. She is also a wildlife rehabilitator who contributes to a wide selection of publications including The Scots Magazine, BBC Wildlife, Scottish Field, and People's Friend. She has written numerous book and her latest, A Richness of Martens, focuses not only on this mercurial mustelid and the extraordinary story of Les and Chris Humphreys who have turned their garden on the shores of Loch Sunart over entirely to martens, but is also a deeply personal celebration of Ardnamurchan's Atlantic oak woods through the author's intimate encounters with its diverse wildlife.
Paul Murton is renowned and celebrated for his fine documentary film making. His work includes the extremely popular television series: Grand Tours of Scotland and Grand Tours of the Scottish Islands. He grew up in rural Argyll and has been an inveterate traveller since his teenage years. Appropriately given his love of the area, he will be joining us in November in Mallaig to tell us more of his fascinating life and travels.
To sum up, here are all eleven authors who will be with us this year are and the days they are appearing.
Friday November 9th:
In the morning, Barry Hutchison and Jackie Kay will each talk to senior High School pupils in the school.
The Hoolie will kick off at 5pm with a dram with Charles MacLean before his talk.
Saturday November 10th:
Talks by John Fletcher, Jackie Kay, Val McDermid, Kate Leiper, Polly Pullar and Sally Magnusson.
Sunday November 11th:
Stuart Kelly, Paul Murton and Angus MacDonald.
Bookbug will also be making appearances for the younger children. Robert Wight, editor of The Scots Magazine, will be with us all weekend and will again be running a Feature Writing Workshop.
We have run an art competition in the High School and the winning picture will feature on our programme. We are also going to run a creative writing competition in all the schools in this area (eight primaries and the High School); entries will be judged by Robert Wight and he will be presenting the prizes on Sunday afternoon. The Hoolie will close with afternoon tea provided by High school pupils.
More details of each author can be found on our facebook and website, where you sign up for our newsletter. Tickets are on sale through the webpage and Eventbrite or if you can't or are unwilling to use the internet, phone Ann on 01687 450263.
Eigg's Green Team makes representation to Green MSP
On the 8th June the Isle of Eigg's Green Team met with Andy Wightman, MSP from the Green Party, to discuss the issue of marine plastic and the need for a coherent strategy to deal with it.
The following points were made:
- 12.2 million tons of plastic enter the marine environment every year: 80% comes from land-based sources
- Plastic needs to be recognised as a significant and extensive marine pollutant
- Plastics are made from non-renewable resources and much more effort needs to be made to reduce, reuse and recycle all types of plastic.
- Not enough goods are made of recycled plastics and there are not sufficient resources to recycle all types of plastics.
- It's not good enough to send our beach plastic to landfill!
There is a need for a coherent marine litter strategy and action plan for Scotland that would include:
- Insuring that marine litter is given appropriate consideration in the first place
- Adequate support for islands and coastal communities' marine plastic cleaning efforts
- Research on the ability of micro plastics (nurdles and micro-beads) to absorb toxins, be ingested by marine wildlife and become part of the food chain
- Introducing recycling and disposal facilities for fishing nets and lines at ports and harbours like Mallaig
- Ensuring that plastics are only sent to landfill or Energy from Waste plants after all other recycling and reuse possibilities have been undertaken.
The Eigg Green Team have recently constructed wooden bins sited at the two main beaches where visitors and locals can deposit any plastic waste gathered on beach walks.
SNAPSHOTS FROM MORAR GALA DAY
Glorious sunshine, calm conditions and no midgies favoured Morar Gala Day this year. As always, the Lochaber Wind Band created a bright and happy atmosphere and thanks to the staff at the Mackintosh Centre giving up their free time, residents were able to join the party atmosphere and enjoy the band.
Meanwhile, Bright Productions theatrical group, from their tepee base, added drama to the children's day and even the wind band leader just had to join the dressing up!
HERITAGE LOTTERY FUND GRANT SUCCESS FOR ARISAIG WW1 PROJECT
The Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded a grant of £34,600 to Arisaig Community Trust in a joint application with Arisaig and District Community Council to learn more about the impact of WWI in our area.
The project will run from July to November this year and the work will include an exhibition and talks at the Land Sea and Island Centre, sessions at Arisaig Primary School, digitisation of the Arisaig and Morar War Record and repair to the path leading to the monument. While the project cannot formally start until documents are signed, please get in touch if you have an interest in this area.
Contact Susan Carstairs on firstname.lastname@example.org or Alison Stewart on email@example.com.
Farewell to Dr Katrina
A sumptuous tea, music, singing and tears - the local community met to say goodbye and good luck to Dr Katrina Geissel in Arisaig's Astley Hall on Monday 4th June.
There were speeches, presentations to Dr Katrina and her children, flowers and a lovely buffet of home baking, sausage rolls and sandwiches.
Jim Morton as MC guided us through the evening. Local musicians Mairi Orr on guitar and Zoe Killcross on flute played and sang before little Freya and Evie Kenning gave gifts to James and Anna, Dr Katrina's children. Gifts to Dr Katrina followed, and Morag MacDonald presented her with a bouquet of flowers. The entertainment continued with five members of Stella Nova appearing under the name of The Tenna Ladies, treating us to some beautiful songs.
Dr Katrina and partner Greg and their family are moving to Ullapool, where Dr Katrina will be joining the Medical Practice. She will be working with Dr Sabine Schultz, who also worked at the Mallaig & Arisaig Medical Practice a few years ago. The whole community wishes them well and will miss them.
Happy Retirement, Chai!
There was a mixture of emotions when Arisaig Primary School Staff, Parents and Pupils gathered at the end of term assembly to say a fond farewell to their retiring Headteacher, Chai (Martin Jones).
Chai has been involved in Education in this area since 1999 and was appointed Headteacher at Arisaig Primary in 2000. From his early days in post, it was apparent that his style of teaching and innovative ideas were going to be an exciting new beginning for staff and pupils alike. If you go online you can read that "Arisaig Primary School provides its pupils with a stimulating learning environment which is supported by an ethos of encouraging achievement and celebrating success".
This, in other words, means that Learning is Fun at Arisaig School!!
Yes! The School Planning is full of Curriculum for Excellence vocabulary - Experiences and Outcomes, Evaluations and Assessments, but in truth the Experiences of the children in preparing them for the wider world beyond Arisaig has included over the years so many exciting, adventurous, cultural and artistic activities it is difficult to list them all.
Pupils at Arisaig under the leadership of Chai have been encouraged to join in residential outings to Badaguish Outdoor Centre, Rum, Outward Bound and Skiing. They have planned, organised and arranged these trips themselves and in the process honed their organisational life skills! They have sailed, canoed and boarded the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust vessel anchored in Arisaig Bay.
Music, Drama, Art and Science have been encouraged through workshops and many children have benefitted from learning musical instruments. Eco Woodland School has promoted outdoor education from the Nursery Class to P7 as has the Beach and other local environs.
A Swiss Teacher exchange visit annually which was set up by Chai has allowed the children of Arisaig to share in the customs of another country and friendships have been formed.
Our headteacher has steered the staff through the many changes in Education occurring in the past twenty years. Through it all he has been at the forefront of computer education setting up links with other schools and broadening the pupils' experience and expertise.
His qualities of leadership and management have not stalled over the years. Throughout his time as Headlearner (as he likes to be called) the pupils in his charge have had a wonderful primary experience full of learning and progress but also, most importantly, full of fun.
Who can forget the School Sports Day at Gep's field in the rain? Swimming the Bay and jumping off the pier at the end of the evening? The Royal Wedding Barbeque? The School plays and assemblies? Driving round the playground in the electric car? The igloo? Cooking curry in the cloakroom? BBQ's at Druimindarrach?
These are the memories that children carry with them and help them to remember their Primary School days with a sense of success and positive attitudes towards themselves and others.
The Staff, Parents and especially the Pupils of Arisaig Primary School wish to thank Mr Jones for all his work, effort and understanding and wish him a long and happy retirement full of happy memories for a job well done!!
Mallaig Lifeboat's day out to Elgol
Members of the Mallaig Lifeboat crew took a trip to Elgol on the Isle of Skye in June to join in the fun at Gala day. Many thanks to the Elgol community for their generous donation to the Mallaig Lifeboat station. Relief coxswain Richard Johnson and the crew are pictured here receiving their cheque.
During the day the crew gave a demonstration on the use of the lifeboat's emergency pump - and some of the children at the Gala had a try. The Gala celebrations also included bouncy castles, barbecue, Crofters Olympics, boat race and wine tasting.
Mallaig Lifeboat crew & cheque photo credit: Moe Mathieson
Arisaig Eco Project
We've teamed up with Lochaber Environmental Group to get more people enthused about composting in Arisaig. There's been a great response to the free Home Composting Starter Kits (for those new to composting with a PH39 postcode) including a 330 litre EcoMax Compost Bin and Food Waste Caddy. Get in touch soon as there are only a few left and find out why worms are one of the stars of the composting show, how recycling your food and waste can benefit your garden and how you will reduce waste going to landfill. Thanks to those who already have signed up and are beginning to weigh their food waste for a two week period as part of the project.
We have also been working with our local Highland Council Waste Development Officer to help with additional advice and information for households with blue recycling bins. Please see the separate advert by Highland Council as a reminder of what should and should not go in the recycling bin. If you are visiting, it also serves as a reminder of what you can put in the Community blue recycling bin when you are 'on-the-go'.
This amazing spell of sunshine has been such a welcome boost for all our growing and planting. Like everyone else we have been very busy watering and making sure our little seedlings and established plants continue to thrive. We held a very well supported Seed and Plant Swap with the Arisaig Gardening Club at our Village BBQ and Picnic recently. Thanks to everyone who swapped, donated and gave advice on the plants that thrive in their own west coast garden. As part of the project we would welcome any surplus fruit and vegetables that you might have grown in your garden - either as a donation or for sale at the Land, Sea and Island Centre. Thanks to the friendly folks who brought in lettuce and rhubarb recently. It really is most welcome - please bring in more if you can! We've got some fantastic events to be involved in during July. There was the family friendly Midsummer Wild Forage on Monday 2nd July with Wildwood Bushcraft. In this workshop we found out about our local wild resources, useful plants, seaweeds and shellfish - what's safe, what's dangerous and how to forage responsibly.
On Wednesday 11th July at 11 am we will be visiting Shielfoot Organics at Acharacle for a Plant Cuttings Workshop where we will learn how to grow new plants from established ones including red currants, herbs and perennial kale, to name but a few. We will finish with an informal lunch and cooking session with Becky's home-grown fruit and vegetables and discuss what is involved with low carbon cooking. Booking is essential as places are limited. Please find out more about the Arisaig Eco Project and sample a selection of local fruit and vegetables grown in the area at the Arisaig Produce and Craft Fair at the Astley Hall on Thursday 12th July 11 - 3 pm
To get in touch please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
07753 409948 www.facebook.com/arisaigecoproject
News in Brief
- The Isle of Muck school is on the hunt for a new principal teacher - the existing principal is leaving after two years in the post. Mary Fichtner-Irvine, chairwoman of the parent council, said: "We are looking for an experienced teacher who can teach across the primary school age groups.
"It is very important they - and also their partner - are fully committed to island life and the community. That they don't feel frustrated or wound up with the weather or when the ferry doesn't run.
"It is an amazing community and a fantastic island. We are hopeful the right person is out there and that we might find them before next term."
Highland Council has issued a guide to the job and island life, saying it is ideal for nature lovers with many species of birds, such as corncrakes and puffins, and animals like otters and seals.
- Police Scotland are investigating the theft of a claymore sword from Canna House. The 7' long claymore was stolen from the Canna House collection around the 6-9th June.
- Skipper Jim Michie has retired from Loch Shiel Cruises after more than 20 years of running trips on MV Sileas. New owner Aly Monsef and new crew member Ben MacDonald are now running cruises on the loch.
- Congratulations to Mallaig's shinty coach John Angus Gillies for winning the 'Volunteer of the Year' award at High Life Highland's volunteers and staff awards ceremony. John set up the Mallaig and District Camanachd five years ago when there was no shinty in the area, and now shinty skills are being developed and taught to over 30 primary and secondary age children.
Mallaig Lifeboat Log
12th June 2018 Assist Motor Boat Having Difficulties with Fuel System
Launched by Stornoway Coastguard to the assistance of a motor boat NW of the Isle of Eigg at 16:55. Whilst on passage to Arisaig, the motor boat encountered problems with the fuel system. The crew of the casualty tried three or four times to rectify the problem to no avail. Notified the Coastguard of their predicament the Lifeboat was launched to bring the vessel into Mallaig. On scene at 17:15 the tow was quickly established for Mallaig. Once off the harbour the casualty was brought alongside the Lifeboat and put on a mooring in the harbour. Lifeboat berthed and ready for service at 19:00.
17th June 2018 Assist Yacht with Mechanical Problems
Mallaig Lifeboat was tasked by Stornoway Coastguard to assist an 11m yacht, with a loss of mechanical propulsion within the Sound of Sleat. The yacht, with 5 POB, was located, taken in tow and brought into Mallaig.
Mallaig Harbour News
Here are some excerpts from my Annual Report, compiled to accompany the Authority's end of year (31st March 2018) accounts:
There is little doubt that the introduction of RET (Road Equivalent Tariff) on the west coast ferry routes continues to have a positive impact with more and more passengers and vehicles making use of the services. This is certainly the case as far as the Port of Mallaig is concerned as can be seen via the statistical tables below:
1st April 2016 - 31st March 2017 1st April 2017 - 31st March 2018 Passengers: 301,237
The above figures equate to a 14% increase in passengers and a 15% increase in vehicles making use of the Mallaig Linkspan. However the 2017 summer season was, once again, blighted by poor vessel deployment and tidal issues leading to a myriad of cancellations on the Mallaig Armadale and Mallaig Lochboisdale routes.
With 285,483 passengers conveyed over the sea to/from the Isle of Skye, the Mallaig Armadale service is CalMac's 5th most popular summer route and it's also interesting to note that it comes out top of any other route when it comes to the carrying of coaches. In 2017 coaches numbered 2337 - a 20% increase on 2016 - used the Skye Ferry Service.
Steamer Pier Surfacing Repairs
Surface defects on the Steamer Pier including ponding, drainage channel issues, and concrete erosion were all addressed via a £60,000 contract carried out by Gareloch Support Services. Work was completed prior to the commencement of the 2018 summer season.
The laundry, shower and toilet facility now available at the Mallaig Marina Centre, along with disabled access and baby changing amenity, continues to be appreciated by pontoon/yachting patrons who are generous in their praise of the state of the art facilities. Usage of the Marina showed an increase on the previous year as the following table illustrates:
Short Stay Locals 2017
It should be remembered that the actual size/capacity of the Marina coupled with the seasonality of the yachting calendar really prevents any major increase in berthing uptake.
In addition to the above a further 58 vessels made use of the moorings at the Marina.
Waste oil collection figures for the year to 31st March 2018 were as follows:
Waste Oil: 11,640 litres
Oily Water/Sludge: 49,924 litres
The full report will shortly be available on the web-site www.mallaig-harbour.com
As at May 2018 the composition of the Harbour Board is as follows:
Charles King (Chairman)
Anthony Kenning (Vice Chairman)
On and Off the Rails
ScotRail Alliance and MND Scotland
I wrote last month of the connection linking the above and offering cornflower seeds to be planted to encourage awareness of Motor Neurone Disease and help to fund the only Scottish charity providing care and support to people affected by MND as well as funding research into finding a cure.
June 18th to 24th was global awareness week of MND, and since ScotRail Alliance were named as the official charity partner, staff and customers have raised more than £104,000 towards helping to fund research into a cure. All travelling customers were invited to donate £5 by texting 'Journey 70660', and on Friday June 22nd ScotRail Alliance MD Alex Hynes announced that a train, to be unveiled later this year, will carry the name of the late MND campaigner Gordon Aikman. Mr Aikman died last year aged 31 after being diagnosed with the condition in 2014. He launched the campaign 'Gordon's Fightback' as he battled the condition, helping raise more than £600,000. 'In his memory by naming one of our trains after Gordon Aikman, we hope to honour his memory, create a legacy and continue to raise awareness far beyond the length of our partnership with MND Scotland', Alex Hynes said.
Caledonian sleeper bus link to and from Oban
Following a successful trial last year a direct bus connection from Oban to Crianlarich, and return is being reinstated. Operated by West Coast Motors and funded by Transport Scotland, Caledonian Sleeper services will also be working with CalMac to highlight the islands that can be reached from Oban. The bus link will be complementary, and non-stop between the destinations. Guests on the Serco Caledonian Sleeper looking to use the bus service should confirm so when booking their travel, with more information on www.sleeper.scot
Connectivity in action, but for the moment it is being hailed as a 'new summertime connection' by Serco's MD at Caledonian Sleeper. How long will summer last I ask? ,p>FOTWHL Summer 2018 Magazine
It may be that the answer to the above question is October, as that is when the autumn/winter edition of the now issued summer magazine is going to be available!! We shall see!
In the meantime the 48 page, full-colour, crammed with wonderful photos and news, summer issue of the West Highland News - Plus is now out and available if you are not a member at a cost of £3.50 plus postage from me: Sonia Cameron, Fasgadh, No. 5, Marine Place, Mallaig, PH41 4RD. Tel/fax 01687 462189. Friends of the West Highland Lines was formed 35 years ago and its existence is well covered in this issue. Plus, a report of the AGM held in May where the 'returning to live at Glenfinnan station' Paul Barnes, son of John and Hege Barnes was elected onto the committee; and in the 'News Briefing' section a suggestion from John Yellowlees that following on from UNESCO inscribing the Forth Bridge as a World Heritage Site, how about the Fort William - Mallaig railway as a Heritage Site? Food for thought!
The magazine is the only magazine spotlighting the West Highland lines and ScotRail network, Jacobite news, Caledonian Sleeper news plus On The Waterfront.
Follow them at www.westhighlandline.org.uk or Facebook/Twitter.
Cycle fund launched
Earlier this year the ScotRail Alliance launched a £400,000 Cycle Fund as part of its commitment to improve access and facilities for cyclists at Scotland's railway stations.
Over the next four years £100,000 a year will be made available to local councils and community organisations. This funding will be used to deliver projects which contribute to the Alliance's vision of providing a 'doorstep to destination' journey for customers, whilst introducing directions and signs for cyclists to and from stations, and/or introducing new facilities for customers accessing stations by bike. I am hoping to learn more about this fund for next month's West Word.
In the meantime,
See you on the train,
BIRDWATCH - May 2018 by Stephen MacDonald
Generally settled weather, with high pressure dominating, giving mostly fine dry conditions with some very warm days.
The fine weather meant that wader passage was fairly rapid, with birds moving through quickly to their Arctic breeding grounds and only small numbers stopping briefly to feed or rest.
Small flocks of Whimbrel were seen in fields at Traigh and Back of Keppoch during the first half of the month, with 14 at Traigh Farm on the 8th the highest count.
Five Black-tailed Godwit were seen at Invercaimbe on the evening of the 9th and a single bird accompanied the Whimbrel at Traigh Farm for a few days. Small numbers of Dunlin, Turnstone and Ringed Plover were seen at Traigh, Camusdarroch and the Morar Estuary. Local waders such as Lapwing, Redshank and Snipe however were already on eggs at the beginning of the month and the first broods of chicks were seen around Invercaimbe from mid-month.
Four Whooper Swans flew north over Mallaig on the 6th and the lone adult was still on Loch Eilt on the 8th. A single bird was on Loch nan Ceall, Arisaig for a few hours on the 29th. Groups of Great Northern Divers were seen at the mouth of Loch nan Ceall and around the Traigh Islands, but by the end of the month only a handful of immature birds remained.
A single Immature Iceland Gull was on Loch Ailort for the day on the 8th.
Common Terns were back around their nest island on Loch Ailort from the second week. Arctic Terns were seen off Mallaig and Traigh from the 7th. Summer migrants continued to arrive during the month with many more Swallows appearing and the first House Martins seen over Traigh Farm on the 2nd. The first House Martins back at Loch Ailort did not arrive until the 8th; last year they were back on the 22nd April.
The first Whitethroat was heard at Camusdarroch on the 4th and Sedge Warblers were seen and heard at 'The Lily Pond' between Morar and Mallaig, and also at Rhubana View, on the 12th. Singing Blackcaps were widespread and Wood Warblers were heard in Arisaig during the last week.
A Corncrake was heard near Traigh Farm on the 16th. Several Swifts were seen feeding with Swallows over Arisaig on the evening of the 26th.
Long Eared Owls with newly fledged chicks were seen and heard in an Arisaig garden from the 17th.
A Cormorant ringed as a chick on the Traigh Islands on the 9th July 2017 was unfortunately found dead on the river Spey by Rothiemurchus on the 1st May.
World Wide West Word
Here's Jim Morton on holiday in Dubrovnik, Croatia, stopping to read West Word in front of one of the main gates into the Old City.
Watch this space for extracts from next month's issue!
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