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Community paper for Mallaig, Morar, Arisaig, Lochailort, Glenfinnan
Glenuig, Knoydart and the Small Isles
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October 2015 Issue
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All photos are copyright either of the individual photographers or West Word.
OUTSTANDING VOLUNTEER AWARD
Sonia and Steve
Every year she produces the Off the Rails leaflet which promotes all the village's businesses and is distributed to visitors to enhance their Mallaig experience.
She is, of course, our monthly columnist, running competitions and reviewing books and DVDs.
In addition, she is the keyholder/caretaker of the Hi-Trans Regional Office at Arisaig Station where she helps arrange and host many transport rail conferences, events and meetings, ensuring that delegates depart with 'Goody Bags' filled with salmon, mugs, pens and a dvd of the local area, all thanks to the generosity of local businesses.
Her volunteer role has developed in ways she didn't expect. She used regularly to watch The Royal Scotsman come into Mallaig and gradually got to know the crew, especially the chef, and soon she was supplying her home grown vegetables and salad to the Royal Scotsman kitchen. Then it was noticed that she talked a lot and she was asked to act as a hostess so Sonia dons her kilt and stays on the train with any who don't want to or are unable to alight during their time in Mallaig and gives them a geological talk as the train does a mini trip to Glenfinnan and an historical talk on the way back.
She also washes tea towels for The Jacobite steam train crew and helps the regular ScotRail train crew by sending back lost property to passengers-all at her own expense.
Sonia can be seen greeting/hosting TV units and film crews, rail enthusiasts, politicians, rail industry officials, etc. She hosts book launches, local school children on educational visits and arranges a party to greet and say farewell to The Jacobite each season and a piper to greet visiting charter trains.
As the award citation said, she is an unstoppable force with a heart of gold. Sonia, we salute you!
Thanks to Liz Gaffney for our photo of Sonia and Steve. Liz and Graham Whaite came 3rd in the 'Most Enhanced Station Buildings' category with the restoration of Dalmally Railway Station. Another Highland winner was Helmsdale Station in the 'Innovation in Community Rail' category for the restoration of Helmsdale Station.
PROGRESS IN MPA NEGOTIATIONS
Dave Thompson, SNP MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch took part in an oral evidence session with The Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment (RACCE) Committee and stakeholders from the fishing sector last Wednesday 23rd of September, in order to discuss some fishermen's concerns that the proposals for Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) would have a detrimental effect on their livelihoods.
Dave remains cognisant of the environmental need for MPAs, but sought to explore the effect the forthcoming Scottish Statutory Instruments (SSIs) on MPAs would have on all stakeholders. He hoped a win, win solution, between fishermen and environmentalists could be found.
The meeting followed the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Richard Lochhead, agreement to the Committee's request to delay the process of laying various SSIs relevant to the operation of Scotland's network of MPAs, until the Committee had an opportunity to consider various concerns raised in relation to these issues.
Dave would like to see a situation where fishermen work alongside those drawing up the boundaries to come to a better solution. He would like some sort of pragmatic compromise between environmental concerns and fishing requirements to be found, so that potential disruption to fishing livelihoods is kept to the minimum.
Mr Thompson said "It was very useful to hear evidence from fishermen on the impact of the MPAs and I am pleased the Cabinet Secretary has delayed the process of laying the orders until the various concerns have been taken on board. It remains my belief that the excluded areas for prawn trawlers should be shrunk to the absolute minimum required to protect the marine features and therefore limit the negative effects the current proposals will have on fishermen."
Dave went on "I am concerned, in particular, about the small isles, where restrictive MPAs will not only effect fishermen at sea, but, when running a harbour, using Mallaig as an example, there is the provision of ice, boat building and other ancillary roles. If fishing drops below a certain level, the whole thing collapses.
"If that were to happen in Mallaig, we would not be talking about half a dozen jobs, but about 30 or 40 or more, taking into account the fishermen and the knock-on onshore effects, and for a community such as Mallaig and the surrounding area, that would be catastrophic.
"The equivalent job losses for Edinburgh would be around 5,000 and if that were the case, there would likely be an emergency Government response, so all I ask is that proportionality is taken into account when considering all the necessary objectives surrounding the implementation of the MPAs".
NO COMMUNITY COUNCILS FOR MALLAIG AND ARISAIG
Following the recent call for candidates wishing to serve on Highland Community Councils to come forward, Mallaig and Arisaig & District Community Councils failed to attract half the maximum membership so will not be established after 18th November 2015, The Highland Council will instigate nominations for them again in January 2016.
Morar Community Council is contested with more than the maximum nominations and an election will now take place, with ballot papers sent out to the registered electors in the community council area to be returned by 18th November 2015.
In our area, The Small Isles, Glenfinnan and Acharacle are formed uncontested. In the Highland Council area, 20 community councils face elections, 109 are uncontested and 25 will not be established at this time.
What a lovely month it's been. Blue skies, warm temperatures, splashing in the sea…who would have thought we were nearly in October?! Definitely a well-deserved Indian summer!
Near the beginning of September we had a group of Romanians here, friends of Knoydart Forest Trust. In their honour there was a night of Scottish music, food and all round good banter in the village hall, with everyone welcome to bring a dish and The Maritime Folk band providing great, live ceilidh music.
In the middle of September a few folk got together and organised a table top sale, in aid of Lochaber - Calais, for the refugees, which raised a total of £309.56. There was also 7 bags filled with items from the Calaid Lochaber shopping list which were delivered to Fort William. Not bad for a wee place like here! Well done to everyone who was involved.
September's volunteer day seen the erection of the two new welcome signs at the pier, that we carved a while back. Have to say, they look pretty awesome. Check out the facebook page for pictures, or better yet, pop on over and have a scone or some soup at the Tearoom and admire them for real.
Finally, after weeks of work, we are now back onto hydro power. The works at the dam were completed mid-September as planned and then all we had to do was wait for the loch to fill back up! (probably the first time we all wanted it to rain….) It did fill up though, if only to a metre above the necessary line to begin with and we are now back to normal on the power front. It was a bit strange and quite exciting at first, having the lights (or rather, internet…) stay on after 11!
The Tearoom hosted a successful Macmillan coffee morning, with lots of cakes and games to play, as well as a great raffle. At night Fay and Isla did a quiz, which saw the tearoom completely packed. It was a great night. Think Fraz got a bit of stick, getting the number of kids in the school wrong, when his wife is the teacher…
Hmm…what else…. Happy Birthday to Rossa and Maja, who share the same birthday but 2 years apart. So that's Rossa now 2 and Maja 4. And Innes also had a September birthday, and turned 3 so they all had a lovely wee joint birthday party in the hall. Seems like yesterday the girls were just tiny babies. Where does the time go?! That's all for now, cheers folks.
ISLE OF MUCK
September was the month of the Small Isles Sports and the outlook seemed favourable when weather wise September proved to be the first month of real summer. But even in a fine month you can still be unlucky and the weekend of September 12th was the only poor weather in the four weeks.
For the first time Canna had agreed to be our hosts and I was really looking forward to being on an island I had not visited for many years. Getting there was problem and the small Muck team had to leave on the Friday morning and travel via Mallaig, intending to camp. However Canna very kindly gave us a house to sleep in and we were able to eat in the excellent café alongside the beautiful community shop. On the sports field Muck did well considering that there were so few of us and we gained 140 points to Canna's 170. We even managed to win the Tug o War though we did have a little help from our friends. In the evening we gathered in the barn for a super ceilidh with lots of singing and great eats and it was great not to have to camp through the stormy night though some did. On Sunday there was time to see a little of the island - St Edward's chapel now converted into an arts centre and Geraldine's super Belted Galloway cattle. Lots of grass everywhere not surprising as Canna's 40000 rabbits seemed to have all gone! Finally we had to leave , we had to charter the Sheerwater and as the wind was dropping had very pleasant journey home.
On the farm the male calves have all gone though the heifers remain to be sold next May. Prices were similar to the last two years and were OK. Once again Sandra Mathers made some super hay and she certainly would not have been able to in June, July or August!
And here at Gallanach seven Beltex tups have arrived. Not the most beautiful sheep but if their lambs are worth more it will be a worthwhile experiment.
And on Ben Aerean two Golden Eagles have nested for the first time. They did not manage to rear their chicks but they were young. There are certainly plenty of pheasants and partridges to provide food.
Next month. Big changes in Cal-Mac services?. What they will be and what they should be? All in November West Word.
From Muck Primary School
MUCK CAME TO EIGG
Muck school came to Eigg Primary on the Shearwater and we got to go to Muck for lessons. We all travelled free and would like to thank the Shearwater owners and crew for letting Eigg primary and Muck primary go on the boat for free. We would like to say thank you for letting us. On the 26th to 28th of August Muck Primary came to the Isle of Eigg to do activities and play golf. The day before, Eigg primary had prepared a feast almost fully from the garden and we had it for tea. After tea we played some games in a circle. I thought the games were fun;' Spider' was quite good. We all went to Forest School and I talked to John Bird about birds and he said I should make a bird boxes for a barn owl. Mrs Boden said I could put it in the barn and I can put one in the forest, perhaps for a hen harrier. The others helped Breagha and Clyde to search for mini- beasts. They found millipedes, centipedes and woodlice.
Later we played golf and improved our putting aim. In the evening we had parachute games in the hall. We were meant to go swimming on Friday but it was too rough and the school boat was cancelled. We played maths games with Muck Primary and the one
I played was a times tables game and Muck went home at lunchtime.
Getting together was good because we made friends and were able to do teamwork games. I think the others enjoyed it a lot, so did I. When we went to Muck first we did some golf skills and it was great fun after that we had some scones that Muck had made for us
ISLE OF CANNA
Highlight of the month here on Canna was hosting the Small Isles Games for the first time and better still Canna won!!
A huge thanks to everyone who made the effort to come over despite the poor weather, we really did appreciate it, especially you Lawrence MacEwen our guest of honour. Look forward to seeing you all in three years time.
Helicopters have been a feature this month with Stornoway Coastguard assisted by Canna Coastguard evacuating two casualties to hospital. It makes you realise how important the Coastguard Service is to rural and remote communities.
PDG Helicopters were also over to lift fencing material to the far west end of the island ready for contractors coming out next month.
Sheep sales are ongoing and although prices are back on last year they are maybe not as bad as predicted.
We said goodbye to Marta from Poland who has been working at Cafe Canna for the summer, we will miss her cheery face, good luck for the future.
Look out for local singer Fiona J MacKenzie and Colin Irvine who will be performing a duet at next months Mod in Oban, good luck!
ISLE OF EIGG
September has been a kinder month for the people of Eigg. Growing anything at all has been a challenge all summer as the ground failed to warm up in any significant way, and there were a lot of disappointment when Chris's neatly aligned strawberry beds just simply did not produce at all… Same for the beans! However, peas in Cleadale did start to swell up, and lettuces to form a head, so it has been a bit of consolation. Islanders soaked the sun in as many Saturdays on the Galsmisdale Bay café patio as possible and I reckon our vitamin D is now perhaps back to up its normal island ratio. And the brambles have started to swell up and ripen, ready for our annual preserve bounty.
The clement weather made Wee Maggie Carr's Alien themed 6th birthday party an island wide celebration at Laig. There was some pretty funky outfits, displaying a good many imaginative usage of aluminium foil, the cutest being 8 months old Colm's antennae, and the freakiest being Damien's, in his guise as a giant potato being… Saira, a Scifi fan, was her usual classy act with her white wig and matching make up, and George was a pretty scary suited man in black.
Sadly, the weather on the previous weekend, when a massive Eigg exodus was scheduled to attend the first ever Small Isles games on Canna deterred all but the most determined. Their presence (far outweighed by the Muck participants it has to be said) was nevertheless much appreciated by the Canna folks who put on a really good show for the games.
Another event this September was Every Brilliant Thing - the one man show at the hall, which went down very well, with a lot of participants interaction. Following-on was the leaving party on the beach for Paloma, our Spanish volunteer from Madrid, now in her third summer on Eigg. We wish her the best, but hope that we will see her on Eigg again as we will miss her cheerful disposition and love of football! As one leaves, another arrives, and this time it was American Megan's turn to come back for a quick visit, after a few months spent in the rigging of Dutch tall ship Europa. Good luck to her on her further sailing adventures!
Apart from all these jollities, work has progressed at long last on Catherine and Pascal's house at the north end of the island, with the building now wind and watertight, whilst in the south end, the wooden half -moon structure dreamt up by Karl is looking really impressive.
September also saw the official retirement of our SWT warden after 30 years of working on the island to collect data, manage the woodlands and other SSSIs, collaborating closely with farmers and crofters, and taking visitors around in the summer months. John Chester's fabulous wildlife knowledge will be much missed, but he has assured us that he will continue to take people around the island if they ask him to! We still have to hear how the SWT are planning to ensure John's succession, but all we know is that it will be very hard!
Last but not least, we have had our now regular visit from Dundee University, with students from the Macro Micro Studio Masters Unit looking at both the built heritage and renewables, and producing a really neat piece of work. Well done, guys!
Murder in Morar Hotel
Picture the scene; Post-war Britain, beautiful young (independently wealthy) war widow, comforted by dashing, if grumpy, war hero, comrade of the dead husband, only support prior to his arrival was the formidable Nanny. Guests were summoned to celebrate at the sumptuous wedding breakfast. The guests were an odd assortment, hardly knew each other and certainly had no knowledge of the background to this strange affair. There were only five people in the bridal party, the three already mentioned, the beautiful bridesmaid and the minister - even the best man hadn't turned up.
The drama really began while the assembled throng were at the wedding feast. Another guest appeared, causing both the bride and groom major consternation, as well it might. It was no other than the supposedly dead husband1 Poor bride, didn't know what to feel, well, would you?? Happiness because you had just married the grumpiest man imaginable, or thrilled at the arrival of your first true love?? Meanwhile, the bridesmaid and the groom had been having a bit of a ding-dong on the balcony where they thought they were safe from prying eyes - a lover's tiff perhaps - and questions were being asked about the whereabouts of the best man. The minister was very much MC and he made the startling announcement that the groom's work colleague had been found dead at his place of work, the aluminium smelter in Fort William.
The atmosphere was getting very tense, the groom getting grumpier, the bridesmaid getting stroppier, the bride reacquainting herself with her husband, the groom's story of derring-do being unravelled and evidence of the real relationship with the groom and bridesmaid appearing. It really came as no surprise that the groom made a dramatic entrance into the dining room in his death throes. Clubbed on the head!! Who could have done such a dastardly deed? In the absence of the local constabulary, the guests (who were all ready to murder Mr Grumpy) were asked to help solve the crime.
Reverend Brown (Brian Shaw) and Nana Bowles (Jennie Watson) are appalled at the Groom's death.
Vanessa the Bride (Jade Taylor), the First Husband Gary (Richard Pears), the Bridesmaid Alice (Tilly Tillson) and the Groom, Captain Hill (Laurence Owen) take a bow at the end of the performance
'The clues build up'
Photos courtesy of Chris Manumbali
With the help of background information that had been coming to us through the minister, we were left to see if we had any "little grey cells" to help us unravel the mystery, which of course we could! It turned out the gallant groom was a fortune hunter, had not been the buddy to the first husband that he claimed. The daring rescue of his platoon for which the groom had been honoured was revealed as carried out by the first husband, during which he had been injured and captured, unfortunately becoming a prisoner of war with no notification to the authorities. The unfortunate work colleague had discovered discrepancies in the company books that could only have been created by the groom, so the groom "silenced" him. And on his wedding day! The bridesmaid, who had been flitting around in a nervous state all evening had obviously had enough, and while in an unbalanced state of mind ( possibly assisted by the unaccustomed alcohol) "did him in". A very dramatic wedding indeed!
A first rate entertainment, accompanied by a first-rate dinner. When is the next murder to be announced? Make sure you are there to get your "little grey cells" to work.
The Marriage of Vanessa was performed by The Murder Experts. More details of their performances can be found on www.murderexperts.com and facebook.com/TheEventsExperts
Eigg and Rum seen through an empty rum bottle - sent to us by Pol O Conchobhair.
Commercial stag shooting will be available on the Isle of Rum National Nature Reserve (NNR) for the next two seasons
Stag shooting rights have been leased for 2015 and 2016 following a rigorous tendering exercise.
A lease has been concluded with Gallanach Lodge on the Isle of Muck. Representatives will now carry out the stag cull on behalf of SNH during 2015 and 2016 in line with the NNR's objectives.
The lease allows the cull to be carried out on a commercial basis. That permits Gallanach Lodge to bring paying guests to come and experience the unique stalking opportunities Rum has to offer.
The lease will also provide socio-economic benefits to the community of Rum by providing seasonal employment and giving support to local businesses. The Isle of Rum Community Trust was involved in the tender assessment process.
Allan Henderson, the Trust's chairman, said: "It is great to see an opportunity for local residents and businesses to benefit directly from a well-established land management practice. This initiative complements many of the projects the community is already undertaking on Rum, such as the new bunkhouse."
Chris Donald, SNH's South Highland operations manager, said: "This is an exciting opportunity to explore new ways of managing land that we own and manage for conservation benefits while also helping the community and local businesses.
"It is a novel concept for us as it allows paying guests to be responsible for conservation management and helps bring a new sort of visitor to Rum to experience the fantastic wildlife and landscape.
"And red deer welfare as very firmly at the heart of what we are doing. The contract is rigorous in applying the principles of good animal husbandry, ethical shooting practices, firm safety procedures, and observing general safety principles within the reserve."
Toby Fichtner-Irvine of Gallanach Lodge said: "We are delighted to have this opportunity to take on the stag cull on Rum which will complement our existing business interests and provide benefits across the Small Isles' economy. We look forward to working with SNH and the Rum community in this special place."
A very early photo of Mallaig Harbour with the fleet of steam drifters and the smaller drift net herring boats all tied up to the Steamer Pier. Jary's Wharf is in evidence to the left of the photo with the wooden jetty springing out to form what we would now call the Breast Wharf. Steam cranes can be seen on the Steamer Pier along with railway wagons.
If you look closely you can just make out the outline of a house across the Bay.
The actual year the picture was taken is unknown but it's early 1900's I'm sure!
Enhanced timetable for West Coast ferries
An enhanced timetable is being proposed for the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services (CHFS) network from next summer, Minister for Transport and Islands Derek Mackay has announced.
The planned improvements follow engagement with communities across the CHFS network, and will help deliver commitments made in Scottish Ferry Services: Ferries Plan (2013-2022).
CalMac will now undertake a consultation process with communities across the network, with a view to bringing these enhancements in as part of next summer's timetable.
Among the proposed enhancements are a daily direct return service between Lochboisdale-Mallaig (seven days a week) using a dedicated vessel and 10% more sailings on the Mallaig-Armadale route.
However, it is planned to replace Coruisk which takes 40 cars and travels at 14 knots with the Lochinvar which takes 23 cars and travels at 9 knots. Also there is no dedicated full time sailing scheduled from Mallaig to Skye in the winter. Councillor Allan Henderson has written to Derek Mackay, the Minister for Transport and Islands, requesting the route be stepped up to a full time service.
NEWS FROM MALLAIG HARBOUR - October 2015
Like most visitor related businesses in the village the Yachting Marina down at the Harbour got off to a pretty quiet and inauspicious start. The amount of yachts rose steadily as the season progressed however and we ended up on parity with the 2014 season. No of Vessels Moorings Apr - Aug 2014 865 55 Apr - Aug 2015 865 63
With the Mallaig Marina Centre now complete and we have all our facilities in place the Authority expects an increase in Marina usage next year.
It's great to welcome a new vessel to add to the growing fleet of work boats operating from the port.
The Lyrawa Bay built in 1970 as a Faroese Ferry has recently been acquired by Greig Milligan of Milligan Transport to complement their existing vessel Spanish John II.
The vessel, originally named Saam by its Faroese owners, was sold by them in 1976 to the Orkney Islands Shipping Co., renamed Lyrawa Bay, and continued to work as an inter island ferry.
In 1991 it was sold and subsequently extensively rebuilt to fit into its new role as a fish farm work boat.
Good luck to Greig and his workforce with Lyrawa Bay.
Harbour Building Walkway
Work will commence early October on repairing/resurfacing the concrete walkway round the Harbour Building.
Originally constructed in 1972/73 the walkway is now in poor condition with pitted surface area, erosion and ill-fitting drain covers that have become trip hazards.
The fence that encircles the building is also to be replaced.
ON AND OFF THE RAILS
It is with personal disappointment that I inform you of Sunday timetable changes after Sunday October 25th this year - the day also when the clocks go back at 2 a.m. and British summertime ends.
We have never (yet) had an 06.03 departure from Mallaig on a Sunday, but from Sunday 1st November we lose the 10.10 service to Glasgow and the service into Mallaig arriving 13.34. Yes, we do keep the 16.05 service to Glasgow, but not a 17.43 service into Mallaig or an 18.15 service to Fort William. No connection to the Serco Sleeper from Fort William (which departs on a Sunday at 19.50) BUT - wait for it…we are lucky enough to retain the 23.35 into Mallaig!
When we have a train that comes into Mallaig at 23.35 on a Saturday and then sits on the platform until Sunday at 16.05 (the only departure from Mallaig) I despair, I really do.
Despite my faith that, with the change on April 1st to the new franchise holders, Abellio would see changes evolving to stop Mallaig being penalised, in this day and age, from connectivity with the rest of Britain. A seven day timetable would allow us locals to travel from the Small Isles, Skye and Mallaig and surrounding area to visit friends, shop away, be in Inverness for Monday hospital or dental (or any other) appointments. Even just to go out for a meal in Fort William or even Spean Bridge and return in daylight would be nice! The same goes for visitors wanting to get to the Small Isles, Skye, or stay on a Sunday in Mallaig, by public transport. Anyone wanting to come to Mallaig for lunch, to shop, go for a sail to Inverie…I despair, I really do, and that is not like me at all!
Departure of Jacobite for the Season
How happy have we all been to see West Coast operate The Jacobite Steam Train service this year - even yesterday (Monday October 5th) all seats were sold to Mallaig and return - with a queue of people at Fort William trying to obtain tickets for the next few days. The season ends on Friday October 23rd. On that day we will have the 'party on the platform' to say thank you for the business and pleasure that the Company and Crew bring to Mallaig. We will have balloons and bunting galore and the obligatory cake cutting photos, and food for the crew. If you are free to come to the Station on Friday October 23rd, come along and join in.
The touring train and The Royal Scotsman visited us four times in October. All will return next year for sure. Thanks to them all for coming.
Each day that The Jacobite is in the Station at Mallaig, the Souvenir Shop in Coach D is open for purchases from 1pm until just before the train leaves at 2.10pm. There are some great ideas for forthcoming Christmas presents including Transport DVDs, Harry Potter memorabilia, posters, toys and gifts. Currently on sale is the Friends of the West Highland Line 2016 Calendar. It is full of West Highland Line photographs taken by eminent photographers, featuring spectacular locations across the seasons with diesel and steam traction. The normal price is £6.50 - but if you quote 'JACSTAT' to the sales person you can purchase it for £5 + 10% off any purchase made from the souvenir shop at the same time.
This month I have a copy of a book to review and give away that is very highly rated within the railway industry. Titled The Railways: Nation, Network and People, the author is Simon Bradley, and really the book is divided into two sections.
The first part, 'In the Carriage', is devoted to everything that goes on inside a train, and the second part, 'Down the Line', to everything that goes on outside, including stations, tickets, signals, and all the ironwork that goes with it. It is a fact that you don't have to be a trainspotter to be transported by this glorious history of the railways. Just sit back and enjoy this wonderful book. One person will. For the rest of you the book is available to purchase from www.mailbookshop.co.uk and costs £25, is in hardback, and the ISBN number is ISBN-13978-1846682094 and is published by Profile Books.
To be in with a chance of winning this kaleidoscope of a book, answer the following question: Who is the author and what is the book's title?
Send your answer on a postcard to reach me no later than Friday October 23rd to Sonia Cameron, Fasgadh, Marine Place, Mallaig, Inverness-shire, PH41 4RD. Best of luck.
Return of Locomotives and Stock to work on Autumn/Winter Charters
On Saturday October 24th (early morning) the K1, North Eastern Locomotive Preservation Group owned steam locomotive will depart Fort William goods yard with its support coach, plus Jacobite coaches and Diesel Class 37, heading south for winter Charter duties, which will probably include 'Santa Specials' and 'Christmas Market' charters.
On the same day (approx. 12.35) Ian Riley owned 2 x Black 5 steam locomotives will depart Fort William with their support coach and full crew, hauling coaches owned by the Scottish Railway Preservation Society with passengers which will have come to Fort William from Polmont hauled by West Coast Railways Class 57 diesel locomotive earlier that same day. There are still some seats available for paying guests on this return trip, so if you fancy a 'special' steam hauled rail journey to Polmont (one way), you can book by going to www.srps.org.uk/railtours or by telephoning the booking line for availability and price on 0131 2021033. First Class, dining, adult and children and Second Class, dining, adult and children (with dining as an option) are available. Lunch is £12 and dinner £15. The meals are cooked on the train and are excellent, well worth the asking price!! You can alight from the train at Dumbarton Central at 19.10. or if you want to return to Fort William or Mallaig the same evening by ScotRail service you can alight at Helensburgh Upper at 18.55 and cross the platform to depart at 19.05! Later departure times are Westerton 19.35, Falkirk High 20.30 and Polmont 20.40. The SRPS coaches will then go on to their West Coast Railways Company HQ at Carnforth the next day to immediately resume working duties. Are your eyes glazed over at this point!! If you have read this far, congratulations! That is just two days in the life of locomotive movements - and you thought planning and running a charter railway company was easy! Hats off to all concerned.
The Royal Scotsman
The last Royal Scotsman to visit our area for 2015 will arrive in Mallaig at 11.00 on Saturday October 10th. It will also be the final journey for West Coast Railway Company Driver Brian Reid. After several years in this position he is heading for pastures new and has secured a position as Driver for Colas Rail. Before working for WCR he was a Driver for Virgin train. We all wish Brian the very best in his new job. We will miss him. He has been a well liked and respected member of WCR staff, always very smartly turned out in uniform and diligent in keeping a clean engine as well as being an excellent Driver.
See you on the train.
Two local authors have recently had books published, both receiving excellent reviews. Treat yourself - and both would make ideal Christmas presents!
Our own PC Andrew Shepherd grew up in Dingwall in the Scottish Highlands. Before becoming a police officer he served in Britain's elite Royal Marines Commandos, which gave him a lot of inspiration for the adventures of the protagonist of his book Yahwe.
The plot concerns the experiences of main character Conon Bridge who had been discarded by the Ministry of Defence after saving the lives of an elite US Navy Seals team who were hunting for Osama bin Laden. He returned to his beloved Highlands to hide and lick his wounds, but when the Russian Navy came snooping around in the waters off the Isle of Skye during a Nato exercise, a series of events lead to some of the world's greatest secrets being uncovered by the Royal Marines Commandos elite Special Boat Squadron, who would go anywhere to unearth the truth.
'Amazing book that takes you to the depth of the story well written and deeply moving'
'This book was intriguing and after a fairly tragic start, it soon got going and was devoured in a couple of days. Some really good link ups to the goings on off the shores of North West Scotland which actually happened.'
'Thoroughly engaging read and I would highly recommend to anybody who enjoys a little subterfuge, action and humour.'
David Cargill's third book in the series about Giles, Professor of Magic and Illusion, is The Cinderella Murders.
Giles is invited to join the cast during their rehearsals at the oldest working theatre in Scotland. Their production, 'The Cinderella Murders', destined to become a West End hit needs a 'wow factor' and Giles is the man to create illusions which will mesmerize and delight audiences. But the rehearsals themselves are dogged by Illusions, mis-directions, tricks and random inexplicable happenings. When a member of the group dies suddenly there appears to be no reasons for anyone to suspect foul play. Anyone, other than Giles. But the unsuspected killer has made one fatal mistake: failure to factor in the presence of Giles with his astute understanding of the human mind and his uncanny powers of deduction which have been used to such effect in solving crimes previously thought to be insoluble. Tragically, there is a heavy price to pay.
David, who is the father of Mallaig High School teacher Alan Cargill, has previously written The Statue of Three Lies and Gauntlet of Fear, both reviewed in West Word. Profits from the sales of the books has been donated to Moss Park Care Home in Fort William where his late wife had been a resident.
'The novel is full of twists and turns, riddles, illusion and magic.' Herald and News
John W. Apperson President, Society of American Magicians (2004-2005), a post held by Houdini, said of The Statue of Three
Lies: 'Excellent...different from most mysteries...it will be treasured along with my other magic books.'
Both books are available for Kindle and from Amazon; Yahweh is also available from AuthorHouse and Waterstones and other outlets and The Cinderella Murders from Matador
TURUS MARA OF CAIMBE'S STORY
I bred a lovely Highland filly foal five years ago and she was sold at weaning to a very good home in Fife, where she grew into a fine mare and was placed first at Fife and Reserve Champion at Perth Show for her owner . Her good looks were spotted on the internet and her owner was persuaded last summer to sell her to a lady from Denmark who was starting up a Highland pony stud. I was a little disappointed at the time but it seemed a good home, and she was no longer my pony anyway.
Turus Mara at a day old was just a waif
Turus Mara Three weeks later
I kept an eye on Coral via facebook and in June I saw she was advertised for sale, as she had no interest in the stallion and couldn't get in foal, so the Danish lady was looking for another mare to replace her. Worrying that she might end up in a salami if I lost track of her over there I arranged to buy her back, the cost of transport was astronomical, but she was a very good mare so would be easy to resell as a ridden pony
At last I had a nice pony to go riding on in the Indian summer. Three weeks ago I drove up to collect her from Newtonmore off Eric Gillies lorry after her five day journey and was pleased to see she had shoes on ready for work and was looking fit, though I mentioned to the driver it was strange she seemed to have a very small udder.
Driving home with her she neighed to me a couple of times as if to say 'hurry up'. I decided as it wasn't raining for a change I would put her out with the other fillies and bring her in later on that evening. So out she went to her old home next to the Caimbe where she had played as a foal.
How strange: the mare disappeared off on her own, she seemed to know exactly where she was heading. A few hours later I decided to nip up and check them. I couldn't see Coral anywhere and it was starting to get dark. Feeling a bit worried I headed down to the Caimbe and there she was lying down, but it looked like there was a black crow pecking her back end. As I got closer I realised it was the black head of a foal and as I helped it into the world all I could think was ,the mare has no milk to feed her foal and it was far too small to be full term. The travelling had brought on foaling early and the foal was premature.
I managed to get some colostrum in the foal after a few hours but couldn't leave them next to the water so with help from Calum (number 1 son) the foal was carried to shelter and left with its mother but I didn't hold out much hope as it was a bad night, and the mare had no teats dropped for the foal to suck. However, she made it, and early next morning she was carried to the stable and after a week the mare could feed her. She was at least three weeks early and just a scrap but made amazing progress
Needless to say when I told Heidi from Denmark that she had sold me a heavily in foal mare who should never have been transported, she was devastated and planned to sue her vet, but Coral of Caimbe had kept it a secret so she could come back to Arisaig and have her foal here. I think she will be staying for a long time to come.
BIRDWATCH by Stephen MacDonald
A fairly quiet month with nothing extraordinary to report. The weather over the past month was probably the best spell we've had in this area all summer.
The fine weather and mostly offshore winds reduced the amount of Manx Shearwaters that grounded in the area compared to previous years. One hundred and thirty birds were ringed and released by the month end.
Wader passage continued throughout September but with the fine weather most birds travelled through quickly, with just small numbers stopping briefly to feed and rest.
There were 7 juvenile Sanderling on the shore by Traigh golf course on the 2nd, twos and threes were seen at Camusdarach beach on several occasions and 4 were seen on the Morar estuary on the 16th. Single Whimbrels were seen on the shore at Traigh on several occasions and a flock of 11 were at the mouth of the Morar estuary, west of Bourblach on the 21st. 14 Turnstone were seen on the rocks at West Bay, Mallaig, on the 27th. Woodcock were reported from Traigh and Arisaig from mid month.
The colour ringed Curlew that was at Silver Sands on the 28th August was seen there on two occasions during September, but still not close enough to read the code. A colour marked Ringed Plover was discovered near Traigh bot shed on the 13th and was seen again on the 15th. From the colour combination it was discovered that the bird was ringed in the Badenoch area between Drumotcher and Laggan.
Ringer plover - photo Stephen MacDonald
A Peregrine Falcon was seen at Traigh on the 6th, several reports of Sea Eagles in the Mallaig area again and numerous reports of Sparrowhawks hunting in gardens, including one at Fank Brae, Mallaig, that appears to be blind in one eye.
Barn Owls were seen at the usual Mallaig cliff site and one was seen flying low over the CalMac officeon the ferry pier before heading over the harbour and fish pier towards the marina then East Bay.
Buzzard over Lochailort being mobbed by a Hooded Crow
Photo Colin Mackenzie
Photo Colin Mackenzie
Photo Colin Mackenzie
Photo Colin Mackenzie
Photo Colin Mackenzie
Auntie Mary's Creepy Crawly Corner
George was surprised to see several of these dragonflies still active in late September.
Probably the higher temperatures we've had in Lochaber in the last few weeks have enabled insects which are dependent on the ambient temperatures to be active for longer this year.
This photo shows a male Black Darter dragonfly (Sympetrum danae) which was perched on a boulder beside a loch in late September.
It is a member of the Libellulidae family and they are noted for spending long periods on a perch and then darting up to investigate passing flying insects; hence the name 'darter'.
They tend to make short flights. The black 'spot', there is one on each of the 4 wings, can be seen on this individual. Black Darters live in marshy areas and peat bogs, especially where there are heathers.
Dr Mary Elliott
M. Chinery 1993 Collins Field Guide to Insects of Britain and Northern Europe.
C. O. Hammond & R Merritt 1985 The Dragonflies of Great Britain and Ireland.
TWENTY YEARS OF WEST WORD
Twenty years ago - October 1995
50p was the cost of the 32 page West Word of October 1995 and the main cover story was headlined 'Lochailort Hotel To Rise From the Ashes'. The text below the headline told of owner Stuart Carmichael's plans to rebuild the Hotel after the disastrous fire that had destroyed it 18 months earlier.
Mr Raymond Robertson, Scottish Office Minister for Fishing/Housing/Education was featured on pages 3 & 4. On page 3, aided and abetted by Mgr T. Wynne, Chairman of Lochaber Hosuing Association, he cut the first sod for Arisaig's new houses. Mr Robertson didn't use a spade however but a treisgein - a peat cutting tool!
Page 4 was given over to an in-depth interview with the Minister on the current state of the Scottish Fishing Industry.
Local Fish Merchant Andy Race was off to Olympia to star at the International Festival of Fine Wine and Food, while Councillor Dr. Michael Foxley had placed a Wanted Ad for an 'Old Grey Fergie' for working his croft (I wonder if a certain box player from Acharacle applied?)
Staying in the entertainment game, there was an advance advert for the Edinburgh Playhouse April 1996 performances of Cameron Mackintosh's 'Phantom of the Opera'. Meanwhile local film stars like Lucia MacKinnon, Susan Carstairs, Ewen Nicholson, Margaret Mary Coull and Keith Eddie (who even sacrificed his moustache) were all lined up by Director Lars von Trier for the film 'Breaking the Waves'. An episode of the more strait-laced TV series Hamish Macbeth was also being filmed locally at Camusdarach Beach.
The ongoing feature of the names of the Rough Bounds, explained by Paul Galbraith, occupied 1½ pages, while a page was devoted to Reserve Manager Martin Curry's 'A Month on Rum'.
A two-page spread on the restoration of the Church at Tarbet was illustrated by photos of the church and one of Donald MacDonald, Fr Michael Hutson and Cameron Mackintosh together inside the 'Church of Our Lady, Star of the Sea'.
Via Personal Angle we find out that yon musical chiel Robbie Shepherd was up visiting ol freens Alan Johnston and James & Jessie Hepburn while the snippets ask the question '...did Morabel in the Mission find her knickers?...'
The School page featured drawings and a biscuit recipe from the pupils at Canna Primary while 'hidden away' on page 28 was the competition to design a logo for West Word. The prize? A £10 Book Token.
Athletics was the main sport featured with Morar's Douglas Runcieman's 8th place in the Grampian TV-covered Coast to Coast Triathlon certainly worthy of note.
The Small Isles Development Plan was revealed; and one of the Planning Applications listed was from Morrison Construction Ltd for the extraction of 100,000 cu. metres of rock, followed by site refurbishment at Glasnacardoch Point. This was the precursor to Mallaig Harbour's Outer Breakwater Development.
Robert MacMillan (written in October 2005)
Ten years ago - October 2005
The headline declared dramatically 'Boundary Changes Will Split Communities' and detailed the changes the Local Government Boundary Commission was about to make to our electoral Ward system. This was when multimember Wards were introduced and we were teamed up with Corpach, Caol, Invergarry and Spean and Roy Bridge and separated from our historical connection with Ardnamurchan and Morvern. We were also linked with Skye and Lochalsh. The front page of the 40 page, 75p issue also carried a photo of the Traigh golfers who, along with golfers from all over the world, travelled to County Down for a series of tournaments. Against a field of 320 competitors, Johnny MacMillan, Fraser Weirman, Ian Smith and Robert Summers brought home seven trophies! We had two full pages of letters, much space being devoted to complaints about the state of Kildonan Cemetery on Eigg and Mallaig Pier. A subscriber in British Columbia, Canada, told us her copy was late in arriving because it had inexplicably gone to the British Virgin Islands and had to be sent on!
The memorial bench in honour of Hugh Allen from the MNWFA was erected outside the Fishermen's Mission. Ann Martin
MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM
This year, Mallaig High School in association with Shakespeare Schools Festival will be performing the well-known, laugh-out-loud comedy, 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'. Shakespeare Schools Festival allows students the opportunity to perform Shakespeare's plays professionally to an audience in the local area. Mark your calendar for 19th November at 7pm for an evening of magic and mayhem in Eden Court, Inverness. Tickets can be bought online or from the box office: 01463 234 234. With original traditional Scottish music written by students and teachers and a hard-working, talented cast, the performance is not to be missed!
WIDE WORLD WEST WORD
We are delighted that subscriber Betty Morrison, London, saw our request last month for a photo of herself. Thanks to family friend Bella Heseltine (née Byrne), whose mother Bella MacDonald was a friend of Betty's when they both lived in Morar, for taking this photo when visiting Betty recently. Betty will be 97 just before Christmas and loves her monthly read of West Word - which she passes on to Bella!
A very moody selfie from David Sharpe, photobombed by wife Jenny, when on holiday from Arisaig to Tenerife.
Our own super group Dàimh toured across the US for six weeks, launching their new album, Hebridean Sessions, on the way. Of course they took a West Word and aired it at Uptop, Colorado, a living ghost town which is on a mountain site higher than Ben Nevis!
L to r: Ross Martin, Angus MacKenzie, Ellen MacDonald, Gabe McVarish and Murdo Cameron.
Iain and Maureen MacNeill made sure they packed a copy of West Word in Morar when they set off on holiday and are seen here with it at Peterhof Palace, St Petersburg, Russia.
John Batts I.Eng., MIET, MIRSE, sent us this photo of himself reading West Word - wait, no it isn't! Yes it is! It's that other West Word, the one based in Denver, Colorado. John is reading it on the train (he's a great fan of Sonia's On & Off the Rails) in Georgetown, Colorado. He says 'Sorry it's the wrong West Word but it's all they have!'
A big Thank You to Jane Gardner (née MacEachen) whose mother Margaret in Arisaig sends her West Word down in the Borders every month. Jane read my comment in August's issue when we printed a photo of readers John ad Barbara Price with their copy of West Word at Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, the Welsh village with the longest name in Europe. We said we needed someone to take us to Ae, in Dumfries and Galloway, the shortest name in the UK. And that is just what Jane has done!
She says 'I had to fight the foliage to get to the sign which is why I don't have a smiley face.' But we do Jane - you're a star!
Watch this space for extracts from next month's issue!
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