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COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER OF THE YEAR 2005 & 2008
Community paper for Mallaig, Morar, Arisaig, Lochailort, Glenfinnan
Glenuig, Knoydart and the Small Isles
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September 2014 Issue
Contents of the online version:
All photos are copyright either of the individual photographers or West Word.
GLENFINNAN HIGHLAND GAMES
Photo by Mark Illsley: The adult dancers Colin Marshall, Darra Wood and Laura Urquhart with Dancing Steward Mairi Illsley
MALLAIG & MORAR HIGHLAND GAMES
The rain held off in the main but there were showers, which didn't deter the crowd from enjoying the day which included all the favourite Highland Games events plus a Junior Highland Games.
Photo: Lesley Riddoch, Chieftain of the Mallaig & Morar Games, leading the Lochaber Schools Pipe Band down to the field
THE BIG MAC CUP
Small but mighty - Morar swims Loch Morar!
In atrocious weather, Morag Hughes of Fort William swam the 12 mile length of Loch Morar on Saturday 23rd August and said it was the toughest swim she has ever done - and previous swims include Loch Lomond, Loch Maree Loch Rannoch, from Eigg to Arisaig and the Channel! The 12 miles took her 12.5 hours.
Photo Moe Mathieson
Morag believes she may be the first person to swim the length of the loch, the deepest freshwater body of water in the British Isles and reputed to be the ome of a monster-also called Morag.
Morag undertook the feat to raise money for the restoration fund of Glenfinnan Church. Her next challenge may be 12 mile long Loch Arkaig.
Hello. A busy wee peninsula as always: at one point we had 22 Swiss students wandering about at the same time as a housing body away-day! We also had a group of students discussing our hydro-electric scheme, with the intention of allowing us to look at our amazing facility with new eyes. One idea is to install a bulb which changes colour according to the amount of energy being used - there's talk of asking Bernie if we can put it in the phonebox (there's nothing else in there just now).
We managed to continue July's sociable theme during August, with one of the highlights being Alice's 18th, which had a suitable "Alice in Wonderland" theme. lots of mad hatters, queens of various suits, the actual hole that Alice disappeared down, as well as the girl herself. A great night which produced some stonking hangovers.
The Foundation's birthday celebrations racked up a notch: lots of runners turned up for the 5k, 10k and 23k Trail Run. It was notable that pretty much all the local runners took about 10 minutes longer than they had five years ago, apart from Piers who put in a blistering time to come 2nd in the 10k. I had the usual hare-and-tortoise nonsense with Toby for the entire run; he rightfully beat me in the end. Special note must go to a heroic effort by Cara, who hadn't run for 10 years and trained by necking a bottle of wine the night before. Impressive. The day continued with lots of stalls at the craft fair: who knew we were such a talented peninsula?
The following day saw Knoydart's inaugural street party, which cheered up a few lost visitors who had discovered there was nowhere else open for refreshments! What a sterling effort by Kristy and Isla, with help from tearoom staff and Penny. Miraculously, the sun appeared between 2pm and 5pm, the exact times of the party. Lots of silly games were enforced by an enthusiastic Ann Marriott, who is the only person I have ever seen persuade a pensioner to both twerk and do a handstand in the space of 30 seconds!
Coming up: the Knoydart Community Garden open day, on Saturday 6th September at midday. The usual competitive courgettes will be on display: you might even get to see some funny-shaped vegetables. Lots of boats coming over as usual; see you there.
Finally, some here are watching the PH38 development campaign with interest, and wish the residents of Glenuig and surroundings well with their venture. Community empowerment can be a wonderful thing, especially with some of the alternatives on offer.
ISLE OF CANNA
August has been a busy social month beginning with a first ever visit by a Canna Team to the Small Isles games which were held on Muck this year. Although not the most athletic team! we enjoyed taking part and young Ryan Guthrie was a star for taking part in the hill race. Thank you to Muck for your hospitality and there is a rumour that the games are going to be on Canna next year.
Feis Chanaidh on the 6-10th was another great event as we had the McArthur Family from Newfoundland, Margaret Bennet and Dolina Munro providing music, song and gaelic learning. The McArthurs are decended from a Canna family that were cleared from Canna and settled in Newfoundland.
Canna Primary School opened for the new term on the 19th with a roll of 4 pupils and we welcomed Kirsteen Campbell to Canna as the new teacher. It is so important for the community to have an active school at its centre.
Hannah Tulikki's Away with the Birds event on the 29th and 30th was a huge success and all the visitors and cast really enjoyed the visit to Canna. The weather was kind and as this was an outdoor event it could have easily been so different.
We enjoyed meeting the very hard working Eiggybread girls from Eigg and Lucy Conway who was a brilliant organiser. It was good that folk from all the Small Isles made it over to Canna for the event, all good for inter-island relations!!
Sad to say goodbye to Elaine Booth who has been the cheery face of CafeCanna for the summer, she is off to Nepal and beyond but we hope she will come back to visit sometime.
ISLE OF MUCK
Another month over and not one where the weather was worth a mention- it was very mixed Two major events could be said to have grabbed the headlines for August; the Book launch and the arrival of the salmon.
The Book was A Drop in the Ocean and the big day was the 13th and the venue was the Hall. Sheerwater was fully booked (87 passengers) but on the day she was out of action and Arisaig Marine chartered the Orion from Seafari who could only carry 36. To carry the numbers two journeys in each direction had to be made with major rearrangements of departure times from Arisaig. Even then there were too many but Marine Harvest magnificently provided the Lady Jane which could carry 10. In the Hall islanders provided a superb lunch, drinks were on Birlinn and Polly Pullar entertained us with a long and amusing speech; live music followed. Then came the book itself and Polly and myself were soon immersed in personalising numerous copies of what has been around two years of work. Soon it was time for the first boatload to depart, leaving behind what a number have described as a memorable afternoon. But there was a downside to all this celebration. A pallet of picture books intended for the launch were left uncovered overnight on Mallaig Pier and £2000 worth of books were damaged.
On the farm book launch time was also sale time for lambs at Dingwall so Colin and Ruth were absent from the former. Prices similar to last year were followed by a steep fall the following week at a much smaller sale. However numbers of lambs were a record for Muck and far higher than when I was in command vindicating a policy of generous feeding during the winter.
The other big August event was the arrival of the first smoults from Lochailort at the Muck Fish Farm. Watching the young fish pouring down the pipe into the hold of the ship transporting them to Muck was a reminder of the sheer scale of the operation. Hopefully before long we will be able to visit the cages and be filled in with the details. After all this must be among the greatest changes ever to occur in the history of Muck.
A Drop in the Ocean - The Story of the Isle of Muck by Polly Pullar
Polly Pullar tells the fascinating tale of one of the Hebrides, unique thriving small communities through the colourful anecdotes of Lawrence MacEwen, whose family have owned the island since 1896. A wonderfully benevolent, and eccentric character, his passion and love for the island and its continuing success, has always been of the utmost importance. He has kept diaries all his life and delves deep into them, unveiling a uniquely human story, punctuated with liberal amounts of humour, as well as heart-rending tragedy, always dominated by the vagaries of the sea.
Filled with fascinating and extraordinary tales and priceless observations, this is not only a highly entertaining read but is also an important part of Scottish social history. The story begins with the amusing debut of Lawrence as a new baby when his mother returned from the hospital on the mainland, and carries on through his colourful island childhood and up to present day. Here are tales of coal puffers and livestock transportation on steamers and small boats, extraordinary chance meetings and adventures that eventually led him to finding his wife, Jenny, on the island of Soay. It's a book about the small hard-grafting community of 30 souls on this fertile island of just 1500 acres. Residents work closely with the MacEwen family in business interests: the thriving farm, market garden, a modern school, a busy tearoom, craft shop, and a winter shoot. A new village hall was opened in 2012, and a guesthouse in May 2013. Until March 2013, Muck depended on an unreliable generator for electricity that only came on twice daily, but now has finally been electrified with solar panels and wind turbines. It was one of the last places in the UK to receive 24-hour power.
Polly Pullar has worked with animals all her life, as a sheep farmer, wildlife guide, field naturalist, photojournalist and wildlife rehabilitator. She writes and illustrates articles for numerous magazines including the Scots Magazine, Scottish Farmer, Tractor and People's Friend and is currently the wildlife writer for Scottish Field. She has written a number of books including Dancing with Ospreys, Rural Portraits - Scotland's Native Farm Animals and Characters, and is co-author of the acclaimed Fauna Scotica: People and Animals in Scotland. She lives in Perthshire.
Hugh Andrew of Birlinn looks on as Lawrence and Polly sign a book for John Maxwell
The book costs £12.99 and if you're not in the area and want to buy it, it is available at www.birlinn.co.uk. See also the book's Facebook page.
SMALL ISLES GAMES - Isle of Muck, Saturday August 2nd 2014
A large number of islanders from the Small Isles and visitors from the mainland converged on Muck on Saturday 2nd August for the annual Small Isles Games, which is hosted on a different island each year.
The weather was poor although heavy rain held off until after the field events.
In the evening there was a BBQ courtesy of Marine Harvest and a ceilidh in the community hall to the music of the Small Halls Band from the Borders and Gabe McVarish from Eigg.
ISLE OF RUM
Mostly dominated by the completion of the bunkhouse, we spent the last week of August helping to finish off and tidy up down at the site in preparation for an end of build ceilidh on the 30th and hand over of keys. So it's done, the first major project by the community trust and the result of a lot of hard work; big thanks to Vikki for getting the funding together and leading the project until the build began and to all of James MacQueen's contractors for such a great job, especially Sandy Macaskill for keeping everything together. The finished building looks fabulous and now begins the job of actually running it, more info on this at www.isleofrum.com or the bunkhouse Facebook page. The ceilidh, incidentally, was fantastic and an abundance of food provided locally fed the invited guests and community alike. Next week we have another lovely food fest in the hall as we host our own Blasda celebration, come along for an all Rum produce meal!! Looking forward to goodies from the school polytunnel which has been overflowing with yummy veg.
More goodbyes, this time to Abby Dudgeon who has left for love and returned to native Lancashire to be with her, soon to be, fiancé. We will all miss Abby and her bubbly personality - see you round and best of luck!! PS: cracking party - not sure many of us can remember much though!
The village hall has been really busy the with the start of Trudi's evening lecture programme, every week a new lecture so far St Kilda and Rum's Geology - all have proven very popular so far, next month Rum rats, elephants of Tanzania and the history of chess... it's surprising what people around here know!
IRCT are updating the existing village plan with a new village land use plan. The old plan is reaching the end of its useful life and with the help of Planning Aid Scotland, we will be putting together a new document to aid planning and development into the future. The PAS team were over this month, the first of several visits to hold workshops and talk to local resident s to get input, they have also spent considerable time tramping around the village looking at potential new house sites and getting an idea of what is where - sometimes it helps to get a fresh set of eyes looking around.
Looking forward to seeing the Kilmory and Harris tracks being upgraded this autumn, having heard that the contract has been awarded, we should see work commencing soon. An improved track to Kilmory will be of huge benefit to access to the north of the island, especially to cyclists who really struggle on the current track, making it more of a possible excursion for day trippers.
A big thanks to Sam Firth for coming over to screen her short film Stay the Same enjoyed by all who watched it.
ISLE OF EIGG
The beginning of August saw the annual Island Games being held on Muck. A boat load of us braved the less than summery weather to go and pit our athletic prowess against the mighty Muck, Rum and Canna. There was the usual welly toss, three legged race and Egg and spoon race along with some hilarious new events including the four man sack race and the obstacle course which involved the four person ski walk and quad bike rolling. Eigg suffered a slightly humiliating tug of war defeat which sealed Mucks' win but headed home in high spirits after a great fun day... we will be back!
The weather carried on in the same vein through much of August with visitors to the Island very happy to have some fantastic indoor entertainment provided in the form of Jen's Samba sessions. These were very well attended with around 50 people joining in the drumming frenzy up at the community hall. Although the samba kit was on loan for the month Jen has plans afoot for other musical classes in the near future!
Other musical happenings for August included two great concerts by Scottish Folksinger Jim Malcolm and Dublin based band The Jeremiahs, whose lively banter and infectious tunes were a big hit, with the ensuing impromptu music session going on well into the night.
Aside from musical occasions, the upcoming referendum has been provoking some lively Island debate this month. Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael was over on the 19th August arguing the case for a no vote and coming up against some passionate opposing views.
The end of the month saw the return of Catriona Helliwell along with her fiancé Russell, who have travelled all the way from New Zealand to celebrate their upcoming wedding in true Eigg style. We are all looking forward to celebrating with them very soon!
On the Eigg wildlife front....
Generally a pretty quiet month for birds more notable for departures than arrivals. By the month's end most of the summer visitors had headed off south with only a few Swallows, Whitethroats & Willow Warblers remaining on the Island.
A few waders, mostly Dunlin, Greenshank plus the odd Sanderling, did trickle through & a distinctly late juvenile Cuckoo was seen on the 9th. One really positive note though was the large number of Arctic Tern young seen in the pre migration gathering of 200+ birds present around the pier in mid month, a long overdue successful season for this species.
Offshore a group of Bottle-nosed dolphins put in regular appearances around the Island whilst a reasonable number of Minke whales were also reported.
The usual late summer butterflies, mostly Peacocks & Red Admirals, were present in decent numbers but two Painted Ladies seen at the caves on the 13th were the summer's only sightings of this species.
It is perhaps a reflection of the month's standards that the two best records relate to moths! A puzzling (& pretty bland) specimen photographed by two SWT voluntaries near Grulin turned out to be a national rarity in the shape of a Bordered Grey. The other 'moth event' was a report of a hummingbird Hawk-moth seen in Cleadale on the 24th - an outstanding sighting for Eigg.
Mallaig Lifeboat Open Day
Mallaig Lifeboat Open Day and barbecue was held on Saturday 23rd August and thankfully the rain held off for most of the day.
The Mallaig Lifeboat the Severn Class Henry Alston Hewat was open to the public with crew members happy to show visitors around the vessel with some crew members even taking a stint in the "Aunt Sally" getting wet sponges thrown at them.
The barbecue was very successful, selling delicious burgers, salmon, prawns and kippers but was unfortunately cut short by a heavy rain shower just before 2.30pm. Mind you the torrential downpour didn't put off one couple who sat under their umbrellas until they had devoured all their prawns.
The raffle which had been running since May and was drawn at the end of the Open Day raised an incredible £1,902 for the RNLI. The main prizes winners were:
1st - R Sidgewick, Spean Bridge; 2nd - C Mahey, Arisaig and 3rd J Davie, Broadford
In all the Open Day raised £3,181.71 for the RNLI a very successful day.
Mallaig Fundraising Committee would like to thank the businesses who donated the marvellous prizes for the raffle; the local fishing vessels and businesses who donated prawns, salmon & kippers for the barbecue and those who made other donations; all the volunteers who helped out; the local musicians who played throughout and everyone who came along and supported us on the day/bought raffle tickets - it wouldn't have been possible without you all.
Thanks to everyone involved in such a successful day.
Above Left: A splendid action shot of Moe Mathieson throwing a bucket of water at 'Aunt Sally' at the Lifeboat Open Day on 23rd August.
Above Right: Local young musicians entered the crowd
Open day photos Moe Mathieson
There were eight call outs for the Severn Class Lifeboat Henry Alston Hewat in the month of August 2014.
Sunday 3rd August
Launched to assist Police and Coastguards in the search for a missing person in the Arisaig area at 14 20 hrs. Once on scene the Y-Boat was launched with two crewmen onboard and a shoreline search was carried out of the area. The search was extended to the South side of the Rhu Peninsula up to the Borrodale Islands. After a search lasting four hours and with no trace of the missing person found the Lifeboat was stood down at 17:35hrs. Fortunately the person was located some hours later to the North of the initial search area and attended to by Police and Medics. Lifeboat ready for service at 18:30hrs.
Monday 4th August
Launched by Stornoway Coastguard to Medivac a female from Doune on the Knoydart Peninsula at 17:25 hrs. Once on scene the female was transferred from the shore by the Doune boatman and local resident to the Lifeboat. Once back in Mallaig the patient was transferred into the care of the local Ambulance crew. The patient was taken to Fort William's Belford Hospital for treatment. Lifeboat ready for service at 18:30 hrs.
Friday 8th August
Launched by Stornoway Coastguard to the assistance of the yacht Ossian of Lorne at 11:45hrs, becalmed and unable to start its engine off Sabhal Mor Ostaig, North of Armadale. When the Lifeboat came alongside the casualty 15 minutes later one of the mechanical minded crew members went onboard to investigate what could be wrong. Minutes later the engine sprang into life, apparently a sticky starter was diagnosed and a sharp tap with the hammer resolved the problem. After being shown what to do should the starter stick again the crew were quite happy to continue on their passage to Plockton. Lifeboat returning to Mallaig, when the Coastguard called in another shout at 12:10.
Saturday 9th August
A request for assistance from the yacht Prospero via the Coastguard and the Local Operations Manager saw the Lifeboat launched at 16.35hrs to assist the yacht berth in Mallaig. The skipper could not get the engine to start. Able to sail to the harbour entrance, he asked via the Coastguard if the Lifeboat would assist in bringing him into the Pontoons. The Lifeboat met the Prospero off the Green can and took her under tow to the pontoons.
Saturday 9th August
Minutes after mooring the Prospero at the pontoons whilst the crew were squaring the boat away another call came in from the sailboat Ezra who was also experiencing problems with its engine. The Ezra was about 40 minutes from the harbour and under sail. Again a rendezvous was arranged off the harbour entrance with the Ezra. Once at the entrance the Ezra was taken under tow and berthed at the pontoons. Lifeboat ready for service at 18.30hrs. A busy afternoon in the practices of towage.
Tuesday 12th August
Launched by Stornoway Coastguard to the assistance of the Yacht Nunatak in Loch Nevis. The skipper reported to the Coastguard that he was experiencing problems with his cooling system, although at anchor he was concerned that he might lose power whilst retrieving the anchor and ground on the nearby shoreline. Once alongside the casualty in Glaschoile Bay the yacht was moored to the Lifeboat and with the assistance of one of the crew the anchor was retrieved. With the yacht still alongside the engine was restarted and the minor repair carried out by Skipper which was monitored for a short time. With the repair reducing the leak considerably the yacht was cast off and commenced towards Mallaig under her own power with the Lifeboat in close escort. Moored in Mallaig at 16:30hrs. Lifeboat ready for service at 16.40hrs.
Thursday 14th August
Call to assist a sailing dinghy thought to have been run aground at Earnsaig, Loch Nevis. On reaching the locus of the vessel, it was established it had been grounded on purpose and the two occupants who had gone hill walking. False alarm with good intent. Vessel returned to Mallaig and ready for service at 16:20hrs.
Saturday 24th August
Initially requested to launch by Police to transfer Lochaber Mountain Rescue team to the Isle of Rum to assist in the ongoing search for a missing hillwalker at 11:30hrs. As the crew awaited to transfer to MRT it was decided that the Helicopter Rescue 100 would be better at deploying the MRT on the Island and thus releasing the Lifeboat to carry out a shore search on the South East side of Rum where the missing person was known to have ventured. On scene at 12:10 in Dippadale Bay the Y-Boat was launched to search along the shore line whilst the Lifeboat searched little further off to scan the Cliff tops and upwards to the Scree falls above the shoreline. The search was terminated at Harris Bay with the news that the casualty had been located. The Lifeboat returned to Rum Harbour (Kinloch)to await the MRT to take them back to Mallaig. Again Rescue 100 came into its own with Helicopter picking the MRT from various locations on the Island and transferring the MRT to Mallaig. With transfers in hand Lifeboat released to return to Mallaig, fuelled and ready for service at 15:45hrs.
A new sculpture on Mallaig Pier is causing much comment!
Entitled 'New Weather Coming' by Jacqueline Donachie,
it is one of three works of that name installed at various locations in Scotland
and which are part of Culture 2014.
The title refers to the texture and tone of our landscape and weather (it's green).
NEWS FROM MALLAIG HARBOUR - September 2014
Outer Breakwater Repairs
Work commenced on the repairs to the rock armour at the Outer Breakwater on Monday 11th August.
Contractors on the repair project - which will cost in excess of £300,000 - are Noel Regan & Sons and it is expected that they will complete the work in 8 - 10 weeks.
Damage to the rock armour - the heavy 2 - 3 tonne rocks that protect the Outer Breakwater Sea/Wave Wall - occurred during a storm last December.
The giant crane which has been a feature of the harbour this past few weeks is now being utilised and one of its tasks was to lift this 26 tonne digger over the sea wall to assist in the reclamation and subsequent placement of the rock armour. See below: photo taken by Ed Carrick.
Promenade & Slipway
Site meetings with contractors interested in submitting a price for both the Mallaig Shoreside Promenade and Lovat Slipway projects were held on Thursday 21st August. Tenders are due to be submitted by Monday 8th September and the successful contractor appointed. Work will commence in October and be completed in December.
As stated last month both projects have been successful in attracting European Funding via the Highland EFF Axis 4 Programme courtesy of the Fisheries Liaison Action Group and the Authority is grateful to the Scottish Ministers and the European Fisheries Fund for their key financial input.
The Authority recently sponsored the match ball for Fort William Football Club's Highland League match against Buckie Thistle F.C. at Claggan Park.
In sponsoring the match ball I made it a condition that I would subsequently be able to present the ball to Mallaig Football Club who play in the Lochaber Welfare League.
This photo shows Johnny MacMillan, Robert MacMillan and Charlie King - Board members who all played in the local football league back in the day(!) presenting the ball to Liam McLean, John McLellan, Jamie MacGregor and Andrew Cunningham of Mallaig F.C.
Incidentally the sponsorship didn't bring Fort William F.C. much luck as they lost the match to Buckie Thistle by 2 goals to 1 and it was my cousin's son, Craig MacMillan who scored the winning goal for the "Jags"!
CROFTING ROUNDUP by Joyce Wilkinson, Crofters Commission Area Assessor and Scottish Crofting Federation Area Representative
Referendum and Crofting
If you are looking for answers to the debate on the future of crofting in Scotland under independence then there are many opinions out there to help you decide. Unfortunately the truth and real answers seem blurred. Whatever the result one thing is clear, as crofters producing food and receiving subsidy for doing so we are governed by decisions made in Brussels. Once our allocation is made it is our own Scottish ministers who decide how it is distributed with input from our own stakeholders. This won't change. What really effects Crofters is not the amount of subsidy they receive, as under 2015 CAP to be implemented in 3 years, many will be on a very low payment unless they can make necessary changes now, but it is the cost of outputs that put crofting / farming in the highlands under threat. Fuel, fertilizer, communications, and high vet costs coupled with the burden of unnecessary red tape. Most crofters will have to employ a solicitor at some point to do applications to the Crofting Commission, or a consultant's fee to register the croft. The burden of all these costs already put in place by our own Scottish ministers are not balanced by subsidy payments. Look to the farming press in those last few weeks for opinions from those who are already successful in crofting or farming in the Highlands to help you come to a decision.
The Pesticide and Spraying course advertised for September will now take place during October, posters advertising the date and venue will go up locally and in Harbro soon It is important to note that after November 'Grandfather' rights for application of pesticides will no longer exist and Harbro will not be able to sell you them without a certificate
NEW PRINTER FOR WEST WORD
Just before we went to print last month we received delivery of a new printer, the most recent version of the one we had been using - a Konica bizhub C552.
What's that you cry? Without fundraising or requests for money of any sort? It took us by surprise too but how welcome it is.
Our friends at Highland Office Equipment, tired out no doubt by the monthly trips down to service the old printer, gave us an offer we couldn't refuse. The 'new' printer is not brand new but has processed less pages than we do in a month!! (The old printer had printed over 2.5 million sheets of paper when they took it away!)
HOE say they value us as good customers and offered it at a great price with part exchange, so the machine was a very good deal indeed. In addition, it will cost less to run, which means we don't have to think of putting up prices in the near future. Our contract with HOE is that we pay so much per sheet printed and get free toner and, thankfully, callouts - we'd have been bankrupt years ago if we had to pay for them!
Also coming soon hopefully is a contract with Royal Mail for our subscriptions which will save a large sum over the year, meaning we don't have to put up subscriptions for a good while, which had been on the cards.
West Word was later than usual last month, especially for our poor subscribers, as we took delivery of the machine after we were about to go to print and then had to wait for additional toner to be sent down as they hadn't provided enough!
News in Brief
- Another award for J Lawrie and Sons: Jaffy's Traditionally Smoked Mallaig Kippers have been given 3 Gold Stars from the Guild of Fine Foods.
- The scaffolding is at last off Mallaig High School! The £4 million hostel, opened four years ago, needed repairs costing £350,000 and has been swathed in scaffolding since June this year. The original cause of concern was dampness penetrating the social areas of the 21-bed hostel, but investigation uncovered problems with materials and workmanship used in the controversial building.
- It is hoped the Mackintosh Centre will reopen its residential wing at the beginning of September, providing an interim manager is in place. Residents have been accommodated at the Invernevis House in Fort William since the residential wing closed in June. Staff have been travelling up to Fort William and have taken the opportunity to receive further training. Three members of staff continue to be suspended.
- Eigg Primary School has received an award for £6784 from Awards for All to help the school update their outdoor playground area.
- The major roadworks at the Allt Dearg watercourse just west of Glenfinnan are set to be finished before Christmas.
ON AND OFF THE RAILS
Time passes so quickly
Or so it seems! I know we managed to squeeze four weekends into August but, my goodness, the time to put pen to paper for my column just flies by. Gardening-wise the tubs, beds, baskets and barrel trains at the Railway Stations are still flowering well. The hanging baskets at Mallaig (16 inches across) are very heavy with blooms. They have been flowering since May 10th this year and are still performing very well. I have had to replace a few shrubs where rucksacks, feet, bottoms and children have been deposited on them!! and there was a wee bit of salt-laden wind damage last weekend, but overall it is mostly still feeding and dead heading as the order of the day. The Bay Leaf trees at Mallaig have produced some babies which I am attempting to pot up and grow on; and delivered by train all the way from Barrhill (wrapped up in the parcel rack!) I received three Eucalyptus standard trees!! Louis Wall, a Station Adopter for ScotRail of award winning status, has had great success with them as a method of combating the midges! If I can keep them alive, until next year I will trial them and see. Thanks Louis.
Lots of entries this past month for Blighty's Railways. This book (see review in last month's column), written by Alexander J Mullay from Edinburgh and published by Amberley Press, should in my opinion be in every school curriculum, it is so good. I was lucky enough to be given two copies to award as prizes - and the lucky winners are Stefan Buchan of Mallaig and Alexander MacKenzie from Ayr. Well done to both if you - it truly was the luck of the draw. Thanks for entering.
Friends of Glenfinnan Station Newsletter
The latest edition (No 38, August 2014) is full of interesting news and well worth searching out. For further details on how to become a 'friend', contact the Editor, Hege Hernaes on 01397 722295, fax 01397 722334 or email her at glenfinnanstationmuseum.co.uk - or better still, take a trip to the Station Museum and take afternoon tea at the Dining Car. It is a treat!!
The exterior painting is still progressing at Morar and Arisaig, carpenters and Station maintenance team persons have also been in attendance. New sleepers are being delivered in their hundreds from Doncaster (by road, unfortunately, not rail) to Arisaig. The staff bothy at Mallaig is having a transformation, and spray painted yellow circles have appeared at Mallaig, Morar and Arisaig with an X in the middle of them. I am assured it is nothing to do with the forthcoming referendum! but has a lot to do with 'Smart' ticketing machines being installed!! It will be interesting to see how the technology stands up to the salt laden winter gales!!
The successful bidder for the ScotRail franchise for the next ten years due to commence on April 1st 2015 is due to be announced in October (if not leaked earlier!). Just to remind you, the five rail companies who were invited to bid are: Arriva, Abellio, First, MTR and National Express.
The successful bidder for the Caledonian Sleeper franchise for the next 15 years (already announced) is Serco. Their website is now making interesting reading, but no specific details relating to our area yet. The Franchise starts on April 1st 2015. I understand however that talks are now ongoing with HiTrans, who have an office within Arisaig Railway Station buildings, and a meeting is scheduled for this coming week in Inverness.
Jacobite Steam Train Update
The last afternoon Jacobite was on Friday 29th August. A photo shoot was held at Mallaig Railway Station (it was going to be at Arisaig but a necessary appointment with an ambulance got in the way of it!! Thanks Neil and David for reacting so speedily) followed by a hearty steak meal at The Tea Garden, who have looked after the 'Riley Boys' so well this season. Well done to all concerned.
The Jacobite team pose for a photograph on the last afternoon train of 2014, Friday 29th August
The morning Jacobite continues to run seven days a week for the whole of September - well, the Saturday and Sunday ones ends on the 20th and 21st BUT there are some Saturday ones booked for October AND the Monday to Friday service runs through to Friday October 24th. Plenty of steam yet to come.
West Coast Railway Company have announced a two day photo charter - steam weekend photographers' special - to run on the West Highland Line and Mallaig Extension on Saturday/Sunday October 11th & 12th. For more details go online or telephone 01524 732100.
Touring Trains Update
The Royal Scotsman continues to visit us, with dates booked to be in Mallaig on Saturday September 6th, Saturday September 27th and Saturday October 4th.
The Railway Touring Company are due to visit Mallaig, in steam, on the afternoon of Saturday September 20th. They are booked to be in Mallaig from 3pm to 5pm. This is part of a three day tour from Crewe.
Statesman Rail are due to steam to Mallaig from Fort William on Saturday October 4th (running to Jacobite timings). This is part of a two night stay in Fort William from Leicester but is still to be confirmed.
Friends of the Kyle Line
I recently had the pleasure of meeting again Peter Beck, Membership Secretary and Director of Friends of the Kyle Line, at a HiTrans/Rail User Group meeting at the HiTrans Office at Arisaig Railway Station. He had travelled by car via CalMac from Armadale, had lunch in Mallaig and on to Arisaig on a beautiful day when the area looked its best. He produced the latest newsletter of the Group, which is free to members, and is well worthy of reporting. The Friends have as their President the Rt. Hon. Charles Kennedy MP and are a proactive and forward thinking group. It operates out of the Station Buildings at the Railway Station at Kyle of Lochalsh, and the station now sports a museum, gift shop and restaurant as well as the ticket office and access to the pier. Like us, they have four trains a day generally running back and forth - in their case to and from Inverness - plus visiting touring trains. They have now restored the Signal Box exterior to its original condition and inside have a self-catering unit downstairs, and a model railway exhibition upstairs. We have booked to go for a week next year and look forward to daily train trips on the Kyle and Far North Line! Lettings in the summer are by the week, but long weekends are offered in winter.
Members of FOKL are entitled to a 20% discount off a winter let and 10% off summer lets. Membership is £10 a year.
The Friends have re-purchased the original Kyle Station (long) clock which dates back to 1897 when the Station was built. Its whereabouts were unknown until it was put up for auction last January. The Friends secured it via a telephone bid, with assistance from the Highland Railway Society, The Heritage Lottery Fund and Marine Harvest. It was secured against other bidders for £5,100 and is now on display in the Museum.
Contact them 10am - 5pm Monday to Saturday on 01599 534824, email email@example.com or got to the website - where you can view further information, shop online for Kyle Line and related items, or view the accommodation and book, on www.kylerailway.co.uk
All in all, a very worthy voluntary group, and in the magazine they quote Kenneth Mackenzie, the Brahan Seer circa 1675: 'The day will come when long strings of carriages without horses shall run between Dingwall and Inverness, and more wonderful still, between Dingwall and the Isle of Skye.'
Never a truer word spoken!!
Competition and Book Review
Christopher Vine, renowned author of books for children who love trains and engineering, has donated two copies of his latest 5x4 inch softback 'Little' Peter's Railway book. The series are all gentle stories for younger children with wonderful watercolour illustrations by John Wardle. Entitled Peter's Railway Holiday at Lunan Bay and retailing at £4.99, the ISBN No. is 978-I-9088970-46. Christopher hails from the Bridge of Weir where he lives with his long suffering (ha!ha!) wife and charming children.
Christopher has always wanted to share his love and knowledge of railways and engineering, and his Peter's Railway hardback books, followed by softback in smaller format, and now 'Little' Peter stories, are the result. He bubbles over with enthusiasm and gently mixes this with factual knowledge and fun.
Do look him up on petersrailway.com - you will be hooked!!
Competition: Where does Christopher live? Answers on a postcard please to Sonia Cameron, Fasgadh, Marine Place, Mallaig, Inverness-shire PH41 4RD. closing date Friday September 26th 2014. Good luck.
See you on the train
STOP PRESS: ScotRail Club 55 returns
No leaflets out yet, but ScotRail have just announced that Club 55 - travel anywhere in Scotland for £19 return if you are 55 years of age or over, or £17 if you hold a Disabled Persons or Senior Citizens Rail Pass, will run from October 1st until November 30th 2014. Ask at your nearest staffed railway station, get your case packed!!
WORLD WIDE WEST WORD
Lillian and Chris Doherty took their copy on board Celebrity Eclipse and browsed through it as they arrived in Akureyri, Iceland. Lillian is the daughter of James Donald Maclellan of Morar, who was also known as Jimmy Traigh.
Jim Morton took his copy to the Menin Gate in Ypres on the 4th August 2014, the centenary of the start of the First World War. The two men with him are military veterans who are members of a veterans biker club who had travelled from England for the centenary.
West Word went with a Knoydart contingent to Barcelona, Spain to see the sites - er, inside of a bar! with Catherine Curd, Lorna Schofield, Tommy McManmon, Paisley Valentine Walsh, Rhona Miller and Isla Miller - and you can just see the top of Davie Newton's head!
Hamlet contemplating West Word instead of the skull! Robert MacMillan, Arisaig, visited Stratford-upon-Avon with wife Ann, who took the photo.
Ina Aitchison, formerly from Mallaig but now living in Perth, recently delivered a copy of the West Word to daughter Kathleen Walters in her new home in Jersey.
FROM 'PERSONAL ANGLE'
The Fishing News of 40 years ago (August 1974) reported:
Another big expansion for Mallaig Harbour, Britain's major herring port, is planned. It was only in 1972 that the last substantial improvement was completed but now Mallaig Harbour Authority is to promote a Parliamentary Provisional Order seeking to extend borrowing powers for the proposed new project.
The project includes the extension of the steamer pier to provide shelter and accommodation for the increasing number of deep-draught fishing vessels using the port and reclamation of one and a half acres, mainly to provide a marshalling area for lorries.
A couple of editions ago I queried when the Lovat Slipway may have been built. Well, retired fisherman Petie McLean reckons it was sometime during the Second World War. He told me that some Mallaig and Clyde based ring net boats had been commandeered by the Navy and were based at Lochailort during the war, and his thinking is that the Lovat Slip was built about then to help service the navy's requirement/needs!
One of the local boats commandeered was the Valhalla - a local ringer crewed pre-war by Charlie Duncan, Jock Duncan, Andy Henderson, Jimmy Jack and Davie Duncan (cook).
Petie tells the story that Johnny MacLellan (nicknamed Pussy) who stayed with 'Phamie the Croft' had joined the Navy prior to the outbreak of Second World War. Sometime during the war, Johnny was on a Navy ship in the Kenyan port of Mombasa, when he said to his shipmate 'I think that tender boat there is a fishing boat from Mallaig on the west coast of Scotland.' 'I doubt that,' said his friend, 'we're in the Indian Ocean' - but Johnny was right, it was the Valhalla - just like Johnny, many many miles from home!
Here's a photo taken from the Marine Hotel looking down on the Station Square. The Ice Factory can be seen top right, which indicated that the photo was taken in the early/mid 70's.
Duthie's Chemist Shop is in the middle of the picture with the Railway Booking Office/Ticket Office on the left. The Railway Building bottom right, once the domain of Bob Twigley, Station Porter, is now Jaffy's Fish & Chip shop.
To the right of the Chemist Shop is a wee wooden shop that belonged to Mary Ann Fordyce, but at the time of the photo was taken it was Jean McLean's (Ritchie) Tea Shop. Opposite the Chemist was the Refreshment Rooms originally owned by Mr & Mrs Isaac Wallace. The building was purchased by Mallaig Harbour Authority (formed in 1968) and housed not only the Harbour Authority Offices but also Mallaig & North West Fishermen's Association, The Fishery Office, HM Customs & Excise and David MacBrayne Ltd.
That building was my workplace for quite a few years. I remember it well.
Watch this space for extracts from next month's issue!
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Page last updated: September 2014
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