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September 2020 Issue
Contents of the online version:
All photos are copyright either of the individual photographers or West Word.
NEW HEAD TEACHER APPOINTED AT MALLAIG HIGH SCHOOL
Mr Jeremy Newnham has been appointed as Headteacher for the Mallaig High School and its associated School Cluster - Arisaig Primary, Inverie Primary, Lady Lovat Primary and Mallaig Primary School.
Mr Newnham currently works as a School Improvement Advisor in The East Riding of Yorkshire, working with Primary, Secondary and Special Schools. Previously he was Head of a Secondary Academy in Lincolnshire. He also sat on The Lincolnshire Learning Partnership Board as well as working with schools from countries such as Finland, USA and Oman.
Prior to teaching, Mr Newnham was an Edinburgh zookeeper specialising in Primates and this followed work at the Science Museum in London after a Degree at Leeds University.
Mr Newham, who will take up the post after the October holidays, said: "I am delighted to have been appointed as Headteacher of Mallaig 3-18 Cluster and to return to Scotland. It's a pleasure for my family to be joining the community around Mallaig, and we have already had such a warm welcome. I look forward to the chance to work with the students very soon."
DINOSAUR BONE FOUND ON ISLE OF EIGG
A 166-million-year-old dinosaur bone has been discovered on the Isle of Eigg by Elsa Panciroli, a research affiliate at National Museums Scotland, during fieldwork funded by National Geographic Society and undertaken with permission from the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust.
The bone, which dates to the Middle Jurassic period and is just over half a metre long, was found in a boulder on the foreshore. Though it had been badly damaged by the waves, enough remained for a team of palaeontologists to study.
The bone was extracted and taken to a laboratory to be removed from the rock, where it was found to be part of the hind limb of a stegosaur. It dates to the same period as similar fossils found on Skye.
Elsa said: "This is a hugely significant find. Globally, middle Jurassic fossils are rare and until now the only dinosaur fossils found in Scotland were on the Isle of Skye. This bone is 166 million years old and provides us with evidence that stegosaurs were living in Scotland at this time."
Dr Steve Brusatte, of the University of Edinburgh, co-authored a paper on the find. He said: "Elsa's discovery of this bone is really remarkable. Nobody, not even Hugh Miller himself, had found dinosaur bones on Eigg before. This fossil is additional evidence that plate-backed stegosaurs used to roam Scotland, which corroborates footprints from the Isle of Skye that we identified as being made by a stegosaur."
The bone is now in the collections of National Museums Scotland in Edinburgh.
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
Not only have there been celebrities spotted in Mallaig and a stegosaurus bone found on Eigg - but a Leatherback turtle was sighted off Muck recently! That's a sight I'd love to see! You can read more about it on page 24.
Mallaig Pool and Leisure reopen on Monday! There's information about this on page 23 and the pool timetable can be found on page 34.
I'd just like to say thanks to all the subscribers who have sent messages of support with their renewals throughout this epidemic - I love reading your notes and your kind thoughts are much appreciated. Thank you.
As ever, thanks to Morag and Ewen for helping out with the printing. We've already had the engineer out this week but fingers crossed it will be a smooth print run with no problems that we can't solve between us!
And finally thanks to Anne and Jane for dealing with the envelope labelling again.
It has been a while since I've written the Knoydart column for West Word and hope it finds you well in these strange times we are in. The thing that annoyed me about doing the column back in the day was that you wouldnae be allowed to print the juicy bits! Although I must say either I've no heard any good stuff or we have all been behaving ourselves!
We are excited for a new venture, Woodfired Knoydart Pizza. Kira Holroyd will be making delicious pizzas and baking them in her woodfired oven outside the tearoom on Wednesday nights ready for takeaway. Good luck Kira!
Our School is open again and pupils for the most part seem happy about it! (Not as much as the parents probably!) The Nursery has welcomed a new pupil, Ossian, and early years practitioner Freya. We wish them both the best of luck.
The Foundation has been busy. The display room is looking very fresh ready for the expansion of the shop and the team have finally moved to the new office! Good luck in the new premises folks! Earlier this month the Highland Small Communities Housing Trust came over to participate in a consultation and discussion about Millburn and a community right to buy.
We had our final volunteer day at Knoydart Community Hall. The grass got strimmed, gravel got laid and the dry stane wall is almost complete. We also moved all our furniture back out of storage. Thanks to all the volunteers; but not just from this event, as there have been many over the years to get us to the stage where we are now and we couldn't have done it without everyone's graft and determination!
Congratulations to the Bowyers! Hannah and Tim are grandparents once again with the arrival of baby Orin, son to Asher and Kathleen in New Zealand. The Knoydart Ranger service arranged a socially distanced sand sculpting contest for residents and it was great fun. Just the right breeze to keep midges away and it stayed dry! Johann won the Adults category with his man crawling out the sea and Victor won the Children's with his Hogwarts-inspired castle. Many Thanks to Roli and Bettina at Sandaig for the warm welcome and sponsoring the prizes.
"See when you're talking about that?"… Kenny Morrison hasn't been well lately and we'd like to send him a big Get Well Soon! Another Knoydartian who we hope makes a full and speedy recovery is Robbie Bell formerly from Airor. Lots of love to both.
Moving out of lockdown things are slowly starting to get back to normal or the new normal should we say. Please do your research before you make a trip: sadly we are still meeting people coming for the day who are disappointed that there's nothing to do/nothing open. At the moment, the public toilets on the pier are still closed and the tearoom is closed and will be until next year. The pub is kindly allowing visitors to use their toilets and they are open although they are closed on Wednesdays. So, bear these things in mind if you are planning to come over. Check out www.visitknoydart.co.uk for up to date info.
Cheers for now,
ISLE OF MUCK
Well there goes another month of masked madness . . . but we have had a well behaved and cooperative bunch of visitors, all glad to be able to enjoy an all-too-brief breakaway to do almost normal things whilst looking like highwaymen and met with the constant request of "can you repeat that . . . ?" A sad day was had one bright Sunday with the removing of a long standing icon on Muck (no, not Lawrence): the old School House from circa 1924 and a lot of memories and stories to be told, or not, by a lot of ex pupils.
Most of the community turned out to take down the impressively and strong built structure which was not coming down without a fight . . . well done all. The spell of weather we experienced was just fantastic and really showed the Island off at its best with stalking now underway from Gallanach Lodge who I bet just loved climbing in tweeds! Contributors to the last edition Anton and Maria were finally able to get married back in London - congratulations you two. Finally there was a community get together (socially responsible of course) to officially open The Tearoom and a way of Pam and I to thank the residents for welcoming and supporting us.
Adios from Muck,
ISLE OF CANNA
Some semblance of summer during August . . . Yachts in the harbour - Cafe Canna open for business (albeit not every day) - visitors on the island and at the Campsite - Tighard Guest House about to open up. The community shop is open for business (and Wi-Fi . . .), kept scrupulously clean by Fiona and Winnie, and is bringing in some income to the island economy through sales and harbour mooring fees. Slowly, the confidence to welcome visitors to the island is returning, although we continue to respect Covid-19 guidelines.
We continue to try and plan long-term. Andrew Prendergast, our Development Officer, has been able to visit along with Glyn Young, Building Surveyor - and we are hoping to press forward with plans for additional housing and ideas for barn conversion at Coroghon, restoration of the Rhu Church and a possible Community Hub near to the pier. It's very ambitious, and also quite scary - the thought of how much a small island community can actually take on successfully without burning out through fatigue. We do have lives to live . . !
This month we will be saying au revoir to our island Rangers, Mike and Gillian who have been here on Canna since the beginning of 2018, as Mike is soon to take up a new job with the RSPB in the Cairngorms. We all wish them the very best in their new venture. Thankfully, in spite of job losses elsewhere, the National Trust for Scotland have confirmed to us that the island Ranger post is secure, and they will be looking to appoint someone as soon as possible.
Sadly, despite good numbers on nests back in June, it appears that our population of kittiwakes has failed to breed this year. No-one can be sure of the reasons for this, though worryingly it could be connected to long-term climate change trends. It's disappointing too that lockdown restrictions have meant that the Highland Ringing Group, who undertake annual studies of Canna's breeding seabirds, have been unable to visit this year - their first absence in over 50 years.
Resident womble Liz has been busy keeping our shoreline looking beautiful and clear of litter, and has been discovering, amongst the plastic and flotsam, substantial numbers of the interesting and unusual Bouy Barnacle (Dosima fascicularis to taxonomists). These relatives of the more commonly seen Goose Barnacle produce a spongy secretion from modified cement glands (a bit like polystyrene) which floats them near the surface of the water. Normally they are at home in warmer waters, but are sometimes stranded in large numbers along the western coast of Scotland following prolonged south-westerly winds.
Canna House vegetable garden continues to produce fresh produce for our island kitchens, with some left over for visitors to purchase in our shop. And despite poor flowering during a particularly windy Spring, it looks as if the orchard is once again about to produce a reasonable crop of apples.
Criomagan (Crumbs) from Canna House
Lots of visitors are now enjoying Canna House garden again and most visitors are showing respect for the various Covid-19 procedures in place, for which we are very grateful.
August 29th sees the 90th anniversary of the evacuation of St Kilda. Margaret Fay Shaw was one of the last civilians to visit the island before evacuation and she took several images on her trip there.
She later wrote an account of her trip there entitled St Kilda - the Last Summer in which she describes the people she met and their way of life, as well as her rather uncomfortable voyage there on the SS Hebrides.
"In 1930, I was living in the thatched house of Peigi and Mairi Macrae on their croft at Glendale on the south side of Lochbosidale in South Uist. I had lived there for a year learning Gaelic in order to collect traditional Gaelic songs with which South Uist then abounded. One day in May I went to Lochboisdale and there lying at the pier was the McCallum Orme ship Hebrides which then used to take general cargo and a few passengers round the islands in the summer. I was told that she was on her way to make the first spring trip to St Kilda and that I could go if I was at Lochmaddy where she would be in the morning after her calls at Skye. Luckily the MacBrayne mail steamer was calling that same evening at Lochboisdale on her way to Lochmaddy and this gave me time to cross to Glendale in a lobster boat, collect my heavy Graflex camera and clothes then get back to the pier in time. I thought I would bring the news to the Macraes but I was met at the door by Mairi saying that she heard I was off to St Kilda and it would cost me three pounds, ten shillings. Such is the bush telegraph in the islands … Going ashore we met the people who were most courteous and friendly. Some of the women were wearing dresses of dark blue serge with beautifully cut tight fitting bodices and full skirts, most elegant and tartan squares on their heads in place of the heavy shawls worn on the Long Island (Uist). The women were the spinners and the men were weavers. This wool is from the brown or murrit sheep which are on the neighbouring island of Soay, a peculiar breed, and they must have been there when the Norsemen came more than a thousand years ago, for Soay means "Sheep island" in Old Norse. Such a name would not have been bestowed unless there was something unusual about the sheep on that island. They are more like goats than sheep and Peigi Macrae had taught me a Gaelic song beginning:
The foot of the Hirta sheep, that was the nimble foot.
That was the elegant sheep, the colour would grow on her.
She would need neither lichen nor soot, but spinning the wool to make trousers.
Every island in the Hebrides is highly individualistic and St Kilda, being the most remote, had developed her own way of life through the centuries. Descending the great cliffs for birds meant bravery and physical strength; and now there were no longer men able to do it. Only 36 were left and at the meeting, the majority wanted to leave. The great British Empire had never been able to provide a regular postal service and the wireless station had not been replaced. There was no winter communication with the mainland nor the Outer Hebrides. The MacCallum Orme ships Hebrides and Dunara Castle made one call, turn about, during the four summer months, May, June, July, August, bringing mail and supplies with the tourists to see the "primitive life". But the long years of isolation and neglect led to young people leaving, not to return. And now there was no word of help to come… On the 29th of August, the St Kildans left their island. It was said that they were defeated by Nature.
But she was not wholly to blame.'
The article, accompanied by more of Margaret's images can be seen on the NTS Stories website: www.nts.org.uk/stories/st-kilda-the-last-summer
The DVD of the Solas film produced by Fiona in 2019 is now available for purchase online. The film features the story of Margaret Fay Shaw's life and work told through her own voice, films and images with a new soundtrack from top Scots piper James Duncan Mackenzie.
It is available from www.birnamcdshop.com, www.musicscotland.com and amazon.co.uk
ISLE OF RUM
It seems everyone wants to move to Rum, from everywhere in the world. IRCT have been in.und.ated with queries and applications and our housing team have been very extremely busy sifting through applications to come up with a shorter list, wouldn't call it an actual short list yet though. It's a mammoth task. The houses, these people want to move into, are having the finishing touches added and some landscaping done; who would have thought that not so long ago the whole site was overgrown boggy woodland. It's all very exciting.
Other semi exciting news is that the huge pile of stone outside the castle is finally being moved… the helicopter is buzzing back and forth as I write and depositing the stone along the Dibidil path. This path, notorious for its extreme bogginess, is being renewed, no more will we hear stories of unfortunate walkers being bogged upto their knees in a swamp like path,…we hope. ..water does always find a way and this is Rum after all, but we are crossing our fingers for a dry amble around to Dibidil in future.
Almost forgot Covid for a minute there.
We have had a trickle of visitors, mostly wild campers and yachts; everyone has been polite, kept their distance and followed our guidelines, which is nice. Getting back on our feet will take time, the bunkhouse will operate at a 50% capacity when it opens; we have to rethink a lot of things including how we use the village hall, how the café will operate, how many less visitors will we get? Having absolutely no idea what next year will look like doesn't help.
Weekly meetings with Calmac and the other Small Isles have been helpful to keep on top of visitors and the ferry capacity, though again, if the reduced capacity goes on into next year, then tourism will look different here.
The children went back to school, just two back at Rum primary again and two off to high school. The high school children are getting weekly boats back home at the moment, but this is something that all the parents would like to see continue on a permanent basis to help with the children's' well being as they have no other practical alternative at the moment but to go away to school.
And finally, the community polytunnel is finished and looking spanky, thanks to a group effort. There are further thoughts of converting that part of the former tree nursery into mini allotments and a community orchard. It's a good idea and better use of the land, it used to be used for allotments years back for the houses who had no gardens, so it seems like a great plan to do it again.
Happy birthday to Rum's newest school pupil, Dougal Boyd, who is five on the 4th September.
ISLE OF EIGG
Overall, a better month weather wise than July, which was great as many islanders were able to invite their families to visit. It was lovely to celebrate birthdays for young Fin (four) and Jess (one already) on the beach where Great Granny Peggy was able to join in the fun and the fresh air. Our oldest islander (ninety in October) has been thoroughly enjoying this glorious spell by sitting outside in her garden as much as the midges would let her! As to Libby, she was able to discover the joys of paddle boarding thanks to her daughter, and swears she will take it up. . .
During that exceptionally warm week, swimming was a real pleasure and Laig bay beach felt almost busy which for us means a dozen folks or so! Sad to hear how the lovely beaches across the water have been so badly affected by irresponsible visitors - this is had not been a problem for us, although speedboats have been seen disembarking a few hikers who kept themselves out of the way thankfully, although in total contradiction to what we recommended on our website and on the various signs dotted around the pier area.
To ensure families with children attending high school in particular do not have to constantly isolate, we are now cautiously re-opening as from early September, and another load of signage for social distancing, handwashing and mask wearing has also appeared at the pier and the lovely colourful masks sown by Hilda are now becoming part of our day-wear when out. Our primary school children are really pleased to be back at school after such a long time, although with a few changes, but the nursery class seems to have adapted to its new outside location without any problems at all!
Whilst it was overall a pretty quiet month for birds with many of the summer migrants beginning to move away, John the Bird is reporting a few passing waders, principally Dunlin and Sanderling but with the odd Greenshank and Black Tailed Godwit beginning to appear around the bays, while numbers of Manx Shearwaters and Great Skuas increased offshore, a real sign that the summer is coming to an end.
Other odds and ends included a Little Grebe which appeared at Kildonnan Bay late in the month and a couple of late Cuckoos on the 12th and 18th! Offshore a few Minke Whales and good numbers of Common Dolphins were reported and a Basking Shark put in an appearance on the 10th - 11th. Mackerel shoals also made an appearance and a couple of hours fishing have secured enough for a few barbecues.
Butterfly spotting has become quite the fashion on the island, and Peacock and Red Admiral butterflies appeared in good numbers throughout the month, feasting on buddleia especially. A couple of Painted Ladies were recorded on the 24th! But it is moth trapping that is really the trend, with Becca, Angie and Wee Maggie hard at it! A bumper catch of 289 moths of 38 different species recorded on the 18th! On the same night a beautiful Large White Plume moth was also caught: it turns out to be a new record for the vice-county, John tells us.
Our community orchard is now full of apples and pears and the good weather has been great for silage, cut well in advance this year! Hay was also made the traditional way in Cleadale and Alastair is well chuffed with the hay bales now stacked in his shed. Happy cows!
In the forestry, Tasha has done a total count of the stock: there are 12,000 trees for planting out, with more in outside beds not yet counted: about 17,000 altogether! This record number of indigenous trees will allow us to fulfil the Woodland Creation project volume entirely from home grown stock! Tasha and Becca are now working towards expanding the Tree Nursery to double its capacity and become ultimately self-sustaining!
Change is always part of island life, and now we have to say goodbye to Justine, our talented landscape photographer, who also did a sterling job of coordinating the First Responders and worked as one of our Remote and Rural Health and Social Care Workers. She is moving to Scourie and we hope that the North Coast 500 will bring her lots of appreciative customers for her remarkable photography, which we hope to continue stocking in the Eigg Craftshop when it eventually re-opens. One islander goes, a new one comes in, and we are now welcoming Oli Stewart, who from volunteer at Howlin House is now its proud proprietor! Oli also pays the trombone in a Ska band, so we're looking forward to adding this musical genre to the eclectic selection we already have on Eigg.
Last but not least, a big thank you for the COVID Monday Meal initiative put together with funding sourced by Lucy Conway: the first home deliveries, made with as much locally sourced food as possible have been extremely well received, and many of us are really looking forward to more of such culinary delights!
Arisaig Community Trust News
New Director Recruitment
Our current Board of Directors are: Julie Gordon (Chair), Iain Macniven (Vice-Chair), Rosemary Bridge (Treasurer), Peter Fleming, Steve Westwood and Olivia Bridge. Early on in 2020, we also employed two new employees to help us manage our increased workload and community projects: Pamela King as Housing Officer and Zoe Pritchard as Secretary.
With the emergence of Covid-19 our work and focus for the last six months has been quite different to what we had expected. However, we are still very busy behind the scenes making sure that any projects that were started before Covid remain intact and any funding deadlines achieved. 2020 is still set to be a busy year in Arisaig and we would love you to get in touch if you would like to join our Board of Directors. If you live in the PH39 post code area and you have an interest in community projects and development, this is an opportunity for you to join a team of people who work together to help shape the future of our community and its assets. We are eager to engage the younger generation - those with young families who want to work towards ensuring the best use of community resources and facilities, marking out the future of Arisaig for their children and future generations.
For further information about Directorship please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Community Housing Project
Since selecting our preferred contractor in March, we have been working with them to iron out details of the designs and site plan and will hopefully be in a position to formally award the contract in the next few weeks. Things have obviously been delayed due to Covid and, additionally, we found out that the sewer system needed significant upgrades, adding to the overall project costs. Our contractor has done everything possible to help get final costs on the table so we can move forward with our major funding applications.
Once our funding is in place and contract awarded, we will submit our planning application and will share the designs and site plan on our website for everyone to see. We were hoping that we would hold another consultation day along with the contractor but this is unlikely now.
We're continuing to work with Highland Small Communities Housing Trust (HSCHT) who are helping navigate the project through new challenges and obstacles so many thanks to them for their support!
A huge Thank You to all the Arisaig residents and businesses who took the time and trouble to respond to our survey on the shorefront project. In all we had 34 returns. Of these, 20 were clearly in favour of the project and eight were clearly against it. The others were either mostly somewhere in between and with suggestions for alterations to the proposed designs. We are now working on revisions to the designs and hope to have a "final" design ready for the end of August, at the latest, for further community consultation.
The bulk of the project funding is to come from the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund (RTIF). To date we have submitted an Expression of Interest (last autumn) and now have to submit a draft grant application by 25th September and the final one by 14th October. We also have to have submitted a planning application by then. Given the planning and grant application processes it is unlikely we will be in a position to start work before the Spring of next year. With visitors starting to arrive, Spring is a poor time to start digging up the car park! In addition, the uncertainty resulting from the pandemic makes it unlikely we will be able to start site work until Autumn 2021.
The three initial design proposals can still be viewed in the Projects section of our website www.arisaigcommunitytrust.org.uk and any further updates will also be available there as we progress.
A big thank you to Peter Fleming for his modifications to the toilets, making them as safe and user-friendly as possible to both staff and visitors. We now also have the facility to accept Card (Contactless) donations at the toilets! We have recently received some lovely feedback from people using the toilets along with donations. We are extremely grateful to our cleaning staff who have worked hard to keep them in order during a very busy start to the easing of travel restrictions and the opening up of hospitality businesses. We are delighted to welcome Claire Wortley onto our cleaning team.
Arisaig Station Adoption
We continue to make slow but steady progress in our negotiations with ScotRail for the use of the station buildings. The lease will be for ten years, with a break option in our favour in the fifth year. Final use of the buildings has yet to be decided and they will require refurbishment prior to being put back into such use. With the pandemic likely to last into 2021 and funding of any works uncertain it seems likely the buildings won't see new life before 2022. We'll keep you posted as things progress.
Land, Sea and Islands Centre
The centre remains closed and we will give any further updates on our website, Facebook and through West Word. We would love to see the centre open again and are working hard to achieve this as soon as possible.
THE ARISAIG FUND - to be, or not to be?
For the past 15 years the Arisaig Fund has been a most welcome source of financial assistance for the community of Arisaig. One of the key themes running through the Fund's work has been to support education, and as a result of this, many of Arisaig's young people have been helped along their various educational pathways, receiving contributions towards training courses, undergraduate degrees, and postgraduate diplomas. The Arisaig Fund has been there to support extra-curricular activities for primary school children, and has purchased play equipment for the Nursery. Individuals and community groups have also benefited from Arisaig Fund grants, perhaps with the purchase of a piece of much-needed equipment, or to help with medical needs.
The Arisaig Fund has extended its remit to offer support to the wider local community, too, giving financial help on many occasions to Mallaig High School, the Swimming Pool, Stella Nova choir, and several local festivals - the Write Highland Hoolie Book Festival, Arisaig Americana, Feis na Mara etc. etc. It has been pleased to be able to support the Arisaig Community Trust in its work to develop and maintain various vital local amenities. Having a mix of thriving local groups and organisations helps build good, strong cohesive communities, something of which the Arisaig Fund trustees are very much aware and keen to assist.
So, having blown the trumpet for the Arisaig Fund, we, the Trustees (nine of us, who give our time willingly and freely), are sorry to report that the financial sponsors of the Fund (i.e. the company providing the money) are no longer going to support this type of charitable giving. From the end of this year, The Arisaig Fund will have no funds!
BUT there could just be a glimmer of light at the end of this particular tunnel, if a few generous individuals who perhaps have an Arisaig connection, would like to step in and help. If giving something back to Arisaig, particularly to its young people, seems like a worthwhile idea, we'd love to hear from you. Young people who live in remote and sparsely populated communities do not have access to many of the facilities and advantages available to their town and city counterparts. A helping hand is enormously valuable at all stages of their education.
For more information, please get in touch with Gordon Stewart email@example.com 07799 141191.
Traigh public toilets - project update
After many hours of work, thousands of emails and a few sleepless nights, we have finally achieved something. The derelict toilet block at Traigh is now down and cleared away, and Fion construction have erected the two new toilets. We're waiting on a completion certificate from Building Control, and we have to ensure they are Covid-19 safe including cleaning measures, then they are good to go.
Thanks to those who have helped, especially Stephen McCaig for the demolition (although I think he quite enjoyed driving the digger - I certainly enjoyed the dumper!) and to Ross Carr for putting up all the hand rails etc. Also thanks to Bowmans for giving us the skips free of charge.
We have erected an honesty box and there is a Go Fund Me page if you wish to donate (just type "go fund me" in your web browser, and then "Road to the Isles Facilities Group").
Chair of Trustees.
Road to the Isles Facilities Group (SCIO SC048758)
Mallaig and Morar Community Centre, West Bay, Mallaig, Inverness-shire, PH41 4PX
Mallaig Lifeboat Log
27th August 2020
Mallaig and Kyle lifeboats requested to launch at 18:45 by Stornoway Coastguard to search for missing Kayaker in the Loch Hourn/Sound of Sleat area. A female paddler was overdue after leaving her partner to climb a mountain while she carried on paddling alone for the rest of the day in the area of Loch Hourn and the top end of the Sound of Sleat. After she became overdue by three hours at Barrisdale, where they were camped, her partner raised the alarm via satellite phone from the estate manager's home. As both lifeboats launched, the paddler finally made it back to Barrisdale safe and well, and so both lifeboats were stood down to return to station.
Michael Ian Currie
Mallaig Harbour News
August has seemed a much busier month now that lockdown has eased a bit, with more activity around the Harbour, and the Marina welcoming a number of visiting yachts throughout the month. We're still not able to welcome as many yachts as we would in a normal year, but it's been nice to see the masts bobbing about in the Harbour again. All our staff are now back at work, and we were able to help Simon celebrate his big birthday on 14th August, by having a 'socially distanced' slice of cake with him!
We've also been busy with celebrities passing through - Romesh Ranganathan took the ferry from Mallaig to Armadale, during filming for 'The Misadventures of Romesh Ranganathan', to be broadcast around Christmas. It then felt like the whole village came to a standstill on Wednesday 26th August, as we welcomed two teams of celebrities who were rowing the length of Britain for a new ITV series 'Don't Rock the Boat'. The two rowing boats arrived on the pontoons late on Tuesday evening, after a few changes to the schedule because of the weather. The picnic area at the top of Cameron Avenue was taken over by the film crew, and those celebrities who weren't rowing, while another crew filmed those celebrities who were in the boats from the pontoon. Audrey and I presented those on the pontoons with a miniature each of 'Mallaig Harbour Water' as a souvenir, and although the production crew weren't very sure about the rowers setting off with whisky in their dry bags - the rowers themselves were determined it was coming with them on the boats! I'm sure that there will be other photographs elsewhere this month, but I have included one of Moe's. We were asked not to give away who was on which team, but, in no particular order, those who left rowing from Mallaig were, James Cracknell, Denise Lewis, Victoria Pendleton, Kimberly Wyatt, Fleur East, Jodie Kidd, Adam Thomas and Jack Fincham. For both days of filming, the weather was beautiful, so hopefully it will showcase the area at its best!
Photo Moe Mathieson
As well as celebrities, there has been a lot of wildlife around this month, so much so that I could watch the dolphins playing in the Harbour from the office window at lunchtime on 25th August!
One of the advantages of lockdown has been that many meetings and training events, which would normally be too far to travel to, have been held online. I was therefore able to attend the British Ports Association (BPA) AGM 'virtually' this month, and undertake some Health and Safety training organised by the BPA as well. Throughout lockdown the BPA have provided support and guidance, and have lobbied the Government on behalf of Ports, so it was great to have the opportunity to attend the AGM.
We were also finally able to hold interviews and appoint new Board Members. We're very grateful to Allan Henderson and Johnny MacMillan, who should have finished their term in March, but agreed to stay on until we were able to recruit new Board Members. Both Allan and Johnny have served three terms on the Board since it was reconstituted in 2012, although both have longer associations than that with the Harbour. During their time as Board Members they have made significant contributions to the operations and the development plans for the Harbour, and both will be missed. We're delighted to have appointed two ladies to replace them, Niki Robertson, who is based in Mallaig, and Shona MacLeay, who is based in Fort William but has worked on a range of Harbour Projects throughout the Highlands and Islands. This means that we now have a perfectly gender balanced Board, with four males and four females (excluding me!).
Our next Board meeting is Friday 11th September, and we had hoped that we would be able to have an open AGM and invite members of the public to learn more about our development plans. However, restrictions still in force mean that this will not be possible - we'll try again in mid -November. In the meantime, some of you may have seen an advert in the Oban Times on Thursday 27th August for a public meeting to be held via 'Zoom' on Thursday 5th November 2020, starting at 7pm. Mallaig Harbour Authority intends to apply to Scottish Ministers for consent to construct extensions to the Ice Quay and Outer Breakwater Quay. This is effectively to provide more quay space in the area of the Outer Breakwater which is rock armour at the moment. This development was included in the Masterplan, but as a later phase. We are awaiting detailed drawings from our Engineer, and as soon as we have these, we will share them on the website and on Facebook.
The public meeting will provide an opportunity for stakeholders to consider and comment upon the prospective application. Full details on how to join the event will be displayed at www.mallaig-harbour.com/news/ 10 days prior to the event. If you wish to be emailed event details, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org. If, having seen the proposals, you wish to make representations on the proposed development, please contact: Fiona Henderson, Affric Limited, Lochview Office, Loch Duntelchaig, Farr, IV2 6AW, email@example.com by the 12th of November 2020.
On and Off the Rails
Here's the 'up to date' news on the Jacobite
As I indicated in my August West Word column - and before that edition was out, extra dates were announced by West Coast Railways.
The morning service Jacobite will finish the Monday to Friday season on Friday 23rd October, just in time for the crews to be home for British summertime's end (when the clocks go back) on Sunday 25th October, closely followed by Halloween; and then eight weeks on from that it is Christmas. Jingle those bells! The afternoon service Jacobite Monday to Friday, plus Saturday and Sunday will finish the season on Sunday 27th September.
The afternoon service has seen a big up take on guests ordering flowers, hampers and champagne to be on their tables for the return journey to Fort William. It is a nice treat for couples to end the day, with many a photo being taken as they leave Mallaig. Let's hope they continue to get good sunsets! Face coverings on board are still mandatory after the champagne is drunk, which is probably just before Morar! There are also logoed boxes of chocolates too - in the hot evenings it is a challenge for the Train Manager to keep everything cool whilst the train is in Mallaig!
Of course, due to social distancing numbers of guests travelling per train are less than in previous seasons - but it all seems to work well.
Social distancing on the Royal Scotsman train
I was able to observe for myself the normal routine for guests on board the Belmond Royal Scotsman luxury touring train when it made its only visit to Mallaig this year on Saturday 29th August.
Only 18 guests were allowed on board plus the attentive staff, travelling fitter, and on-board Train Manager - with the Guard and Driver supplied by Direct Rail Services (DRS). DRS crew leave the train at night, wherever the train stables, and stay in a local hotel. Gone (for now) are the superb banqueting tables, replaced by tables for two (or in the case of six guests from one family who were travelling, eating in another room). No evening entertainment on board each night e.g. storytellers, musicians, historians, singers, poets etc, with guests not able to avail themselves of the on-board beauty treatments usually offered either. The adaptations made it seem so different, but everyone was coping well. The pandemic reaches far and wide if you let it - so for now this is the 'new normal'. The Royal Scotsman touring train will return again next year - but as yet no one can predict how it will be, and when.
Seagull News - Month Five
A scourge that can be predicted to return next year unless a masterplan is introduced next early spring - Network Rail please note! And Health and Safety! - will be the return of the nesting seagulls. At one time this year (and not just on one day!) I counted 142 parents and hatched chicks. This is a ridiculous number on and around the island platforms, on the rooftops, in the flowerbeds, in the barrel train, spilling over onto the Police Station, net sheds and Heritage Centre. Unfledged chicks were consuming so much food from the returning parents that fighting parent birds were snatching the food from the beaks of others and up to seven or eight would have terrible fights. This led to wings being torn, noise like no other, and in some cases death from birds in pain. The easiest solution would be to cover the whole island platform (as it was originally) in a Victorian style metal and glass cover. Not only would it deter the birds but would look wonderful. I have many times put in a plea for this to be considered. If for example along the route being progressed for HS2 one such canopy was being taken out we could surely make use of it. Meanwhile the ScotRail staff and me as a Station Adopter have been offered 'Bump Caps' - bright orange hard hats to protect our heads. The seagulls love trying to bump them off your head!
As it is now, the babies are flying and the noise and pooing is decreasing. But beware ScotRail, Network Rail and Health and Safety: wishing for the problem to go away is not going to work. We are still a 'Niche Fishing Port' and with the salmon landings, prawns and smokehouses we are a target for seagulls!!
ScotRail - under licence from Abellio - update
I have not yet heard of any changes or a decrease in timetable when the winter timetable comes in, other than losing the 06:03 service on a Sunday.
By the spring of 2021 however I predict more staff changes will be in place at the Mallaig depot. A new staff member for the booking office was advertised on the ScotRail website recently. The closing date has now passed and I believe the quantity of applications was quite high. Expect to see by next summer three female conductors and two female drivers in the Mallaig depot. Equality matters in Mallaig! It is so encouraging and I wish them all success.
There have of course, as happens at this time of year, been sheep on the line, and trespassers around and on Glenfinnan viaduct. Very occasionally crofters' crossing gates can be left open by visitors. Also, when the weather turns for the worse a mini speed reduction seems (quite rightly) to come into place around the Lochailort area, after the huge washaway and rebuilding of the track and area. Then you have the opposite effect of that which can mean that in the scorching heat wave (yes, we do get them!) the metal of the historic, beautiful Banavie Bridge expands causing it to stick open or closed! The joys of running a railway, with no two days the same, is always on Control Centre staff's minds. Soon the deer's rutting season will be upon us and the animals will move down near to the line and that is another handicap.
Compared to four other areas where ScotRail currently provide train services on Network Rail lines our local area problems are wee blips. As I write this column, buses run instead of trains between Aberdeen and Arbroath due to the sad derailment at Stonehaven; buses run instead of trains between Edinburgh Park and Falkirk Grahamston, due to a 90m bank-bursting flood of fish and water (Grand Union Canal) which in turn damaged Polmont railway station and line; and there are two other hopefully short-term cancellations elsewhere due to a 'track fault' and a defective track.
Film Crews visit Mallaig - and elsewhere!
The slight relaxation of travel restrictions in the UK has seen film crews 'out and about' acquiring footage for future TV productions. Crews have been filming from helicopters, and massive amounts of film equipment has been lugged about in hire cars or on trains. Sometimes it has literally been abandoned on railway platforms as they dash for a shot, or a tripod set up and the camera left running as tourists walk past. The crew themselves abandon eating or keeping hydrated as they seek to get the perfect shot. Patient train crews have been asked to step on (or off) their train again because the first shot was not 'quite right'. Reading West Word and emailing the Editor for help. Having me in full Covid protection gear at Mallaig Station (which hopefully will end up on the cutting room floor!) was the norm last week. A gaggle of crew were up from London filming for next year's Great Railway Journeys. Never having been here before, they were overwhelmed with help freely given, and convinced that we needed to be exposed more, wanted photos taken of themselves, (and got them!) saying 'Why did we not know about you?' etc. etc. It becomes funny in the end. ScotRail's 'Ambassador' John Yellowlees was spied briefly trying to assist and control them!
Then, as we drew breath, Freddie Flintoff and others were in the area filming for a TV programme to air later in the year. They thought they were here in 'secret' (sort of!) but someone (definitely not me) provided pictures to the Scottish Sun newspaper!! Enough!
In the meantime, for us locals, life goes on - and we wonder what 'they' are on!! Hyper or what!!
And to finish: Jobseekers can get 50% off train fares with a free railcard. The Jobcentre Plus travel discount card halves the cost of selected tickets. Find out more at gov.uk.
See you around the train - still not quite yet.
A LITTLE GENEALOGY by Allan MacDonald
MCGILLIVRAYS OF GLENMAMIE, ARNIPOL AND ARIENSKILL FARMS
Who were they, where did they go?
Hugh Bàn MacGillivray was born circa 1684 and had two sons: Donald, born circa 1714 and Duncan, born circa 1720. Donald's family was (1) Capt Alexander, (2) Angus, (3) Andra Bàn, (4) Hugh and (5) William. There were daughters, one of whom was Catherine and one Margaret.
One contingent emigrated in 1790 (others in 1802) on the Lucy and the Jane from Drumindarroch, Arisaig, bound for Nova Scotia and Cape Breton. The three farms were adjacent to each other and were let by Clan Ranald in portions, ie, Arienskill in 1761 was let for 10 years to John MacEachan and Angus MacGillivray, ½ penny lands and to John Adamson, the other ½, with building conditions attached. A penny land was considered able to carry 60 cows. John MacEachan was married to a daughter of Donald (1714) and when the families emigrated in 1790 changes in the tenancies had occurred.
We find Angus in Arnipol, two adults and three children. John MacGillivray Sr, six adults and his son John Jr, two adults and two children in Glenmamie along with William, three adults and five children. Hugh MacGillivray had a share of Arieniskill (Airigh an Iasg Geal) and the household consisted of two adults and two children under four years old. They are all listed on board the Jane. Also listed was descendants of Duncan MacGillivray. John MacGillivray, tenant of Allisarry, Lochailort, another adjacent farm with six adults and Hugh MacGillivray, one adult from Kylesmorar (Caolis Mhorair). Also aboard the Lucy was Donald MacGillivray, two adults also from Kylesmorar.
There is also another undated part of a tack in favour of Ewen and John MacGillivray, brothers, for Glenmamie lands, and other (lands, perhaps Arnipol) for 21 years lease. In 1782 in Scottish Records there is a precept of removing John MacGillivray, "pretended" tenant of Earnapal. In his Antiquarian Notes, Charles Fraser-MacIntosh remarks that he has not come across any instances of tenants being evicted from Clan Ranald estates except in 1790 when 110 were evicted from Ardnafuaran, old name for Arisaig. Note 1 sourced from Passenger Lists and research done by John Louchry, descendant of Andrew Ban, posted 12-3-2013.
John MacGillivray, s/o Andra Bàn and Janet was a remarkable man. Born in Arnipol, he didn't travel to Nova Scotia with the rest of the family in 1791. He was employed in Glenaladale as personal piper to the Laird, "Alistair an Oir". John was married to Catherine Smith of Moidart and beside his piping was a composer of pipe music and Gaelic songs. He wrote the lament 'Oran nan Granchach' to the memory of two brothers of Rev Fr Grant, a MacDonald married to Grant's sister, a Cameron, and a boy named MacLeod. There were all drowned when their boat was run down by a fishing shallop as they were returning from Quebec in their own boat.
John MacGillivray had two sons, James and Alexander, who both stood at 6 feet 5 inches tall. Alex came to London and joined the Queens' Guards, died in 1850 and was buried in Brompton, London.
John MacGillivray got a set of pipes from Alastair an Oir which cost 13 guineas which went with him to Nova Scotia when he emigrated in 1818. He had been tutored by the renowned MacKay of Skye, and John and Catherine were the parents of Rev Ronald MacGillivray, best known as "Sagairt Arasaig" (SA) who wrote down 316 pages of the History of Antigonish which was later published in the "Casket", an early newspaper in Nova Scotia. It is not, in itself, a history, rather a record of people and places of the original settlers who arrived 1790 - 1820, mostly from the West Highlands of Scotland. Sagairt Arasaig lost his life by drowning.
Donald MacGillivray, s/o Andra Bàn, brother of John, above, was married to Catherine MacDonald and had four sons and three daughters who, mostly, went to Boston for work, got married and settled there. Their names were Charles, Janet, Mary, Kate, Donald and John. Kate (Catherine) and her family remained in Antigonish and in 1838 walked to midnight mass with the understanding she would stay with her sister in law until the morning. When she got to the house it was in darkness, so she decided to walk back home. The night turned nasty, she got caught in a snowstorm and was found dying by the roadside. By the time help arrived she had succumbed to the cold and died before she could be brought to shelter.
Donald was born in Arisaig, Scotland, 27 December 1786 and emigrated with his parents Andra Bàn and Janet and in June 1801 accompanied Bishop MacEachen, on foot, all through Cape Breton. Talking later of his travels, Donald said "I well remember the dreary roads we had to travel. A chip cut out of an occasional tree served the only landmark to guide our weary steps through the dense forests of that rugged country". He then took up teaching in Antigonish and taught school for 16 years. He married Catherine (Kate) MacDonald in 1833, who perished in the snow, 1849, and he himself died 1872 aged 86 years. Margaret, d/o Andra Bàn married James Kell and had three children. After the death of James, she married Ronald MacDonald and had two more children. Capt Alexander, brother of Andra Bàn was married twice. First to Mary, sister of Capt John Glenaladale who took the first load of emigrants to PEI in 1772. Alexander and Mary had four sons and three daughters. He was married a second time by whom he had, by a MacIsaac woman, a son named Hugh. Capt Alexander lost his life when the ship he was on, which he was sailing to Ireland, went down with all hands.
Duncan McGillivray's (1720) son John, and his brother Andrew, came to Nova Scotia as well. John was married to Margaret MacDonald, d/o MacIain of Glencoe from whom descended Fr Ronald MacGillivray (Raghnall Dubh) (see below). Duncan MacGillivray was the progenitor of 22 Priests, three High Court Judges and several lawyers and doctors.
Andra Bàn was married to Janet MacDonald of the Kinloch-Moidart family. He was a cattle drover in Scotland and they had seven children, Donald, John, Alexander, Ronald, Mary, Anne and Marcella.
Alexander married Catherine MacDonald of Brown's Mountain and moved to PEI in 1843 and they had 12 children. Jessie, their oldest child, died in 1933 aged 106. Her mother, Catherine, also died at age 106 and her grandmother died aged 115 years.
In the top right hand corner of old Morar Cemetery is a headstone to mark the grave of Rev Fr Ranald MacDonnell P.P. 1782-1832. He conducted the marriage of Margaret Gillies, d/o Donald Gillies and Catherine MacGillivray, sister of Andra Bàn. Whether they were married in the old church of Inbhir Bheag, beyond Bracarina, or in the bride's home, which was commonplace, Fr Ranald (Reginald) decreed all marriages had to take place in the new church he built at Bracarina, 1832.
SMITH, MACLEAN AND MACARTHUR
In an article in November 2010, (ALG), I speculated that Margaret Smith, b. 1833, daughter of Donald Smith and Ann MacLean was a sister or half-sister of Rev. Allan MacLean. Having no supporting Birth or Baptism certificate and due to a typing error, it was stated that Ann was born in 1786 rather that her actual birthdate of 1810.
Afterwards, I lost track of Donald Smith and his family until recently when reading Fair is the Place, page 477. A Catherine Ann MacMillan married Dan MacMillan, son of Angus MacMillan and Margaret Smith, b. 1833.
Quote: The mother of Dan MacMillan was born in Scotland and came to Canada to keep house for her uncle, Rev. Allan MacLean who was the parish priest of St. Andrew's Parish, Judique.
In The History of Inverness County page 194, is Angus MacMillan, son of Donald MacMillan and Mary MacEachen. Angus was married twice. First to Margaret Smith who came from Arisaig, Scotland, in 1855 with her uncle, Fr. Allan MacLean. The article does not tell me if Ann's parents and siblings came with her.
On page 238, Hugh MacEachen, Arisaig, Scotland, his wife, Mary MacLean and three of their sons, Alexander, Allan and Ronald, came to Riverbank Inhabitants. Another son, Rev. Donald MacEachen, remained in Glasgow and never emigrated. The maternal uncle of these four brothers was, Rev. Allan MacLean, P.P. of Judique.
On pages 266 and 267, Angus MacDonell, a weaver, and his wife Ann MacArthur, emigrated from "Ruaidh" (in English, Roy/Bridge) Lochaber. With Angus and his family came his sister-in-law, Kate MacArthur, who was blind for all of her life. She could not tell one member of the family from the other except by their voices but could tell the colour of a skein of yarn by touch.
N.B. Historically, Clan MacArthur was the premier clan of Clan Campbell. During the reign of the Lords of the Isles, Clan MacArthur lost that position to the Dukes of Argyll. King James IV was pretty good at setting one clan agin the other and rewarding the victor.
MacDonald, John Colin, Catherine MacDonald, and Mildred MacDonald, Fair is the place: an account of two Clanranald families at Judique, Cape Breton: the "Bogainn" MacDonalds of Little Judique and the "Clan Sheumais" MacDonalds of Judique and Long Point (1784-1984) (J.C. MacDonald, 1985)
MacDougall, John L, History of Inverness County, Nova Scotia (Truro, N.S., 1922)
BIRDWATCH July 2020 by Stephen MacDonald
Another quiet month bird wise, with most species coming to the end of their breeding season. Lots of juvenile birds around, many visiting garden feeders and some sizeable flocks of Goldfinches, Twites, Linnets and Redpolls taking advantage of the abundance of wild seeds, especially around Traigh and Back of Keppoch.
Red-breasted Mergansers were seen on Loch Morar during the last week of the month.
Local Sea Eagles had mixed fortunes. One pair fledged a single chick by the month end, whilst unfortunately a second pair failed around hatching time. A total failure for the Common Terns at Loch Ailort due to Mink predation. Around 12-15 pairs had nested on a small island near the head of the loch and most had hatched chicks by the end of June/beginning of July. Everything seemed to be going well until the 7th, when activity around the island went very quiet. On the 8th a quick check revealed that all the chicks had been killed and 'cached' in holes or under stones: classic Mink behaviour. Several Mink spraints were also found on the island. The Common Gulls nesting there fared better as their chicks were almost fully fledged at the time and most had made it off the island, with only one chick found dead.
By mid-month there were the first signs of return wader passage, with several Dunlin and a single Sanderling on the shore at Traigh on the 14th. There was also a steady trickle of Curlew and Redshank. On the 23rd a flock of at least seven Turnstones were seen on Eilean an t-Sidhe, Loch nan Uamh from the MV Sheerwater. Good numbers of Arctic Terns with chicks were also seen there. On the 16th the first Storm Petrel of the season was seen between Arisaig and Eigg from the Sheerwater. Good numbers of Common Guillemots and Razorbills with chicks were seen along with large rafts of Manx Shearwaters. Small numbers of both Arctic and Great Skua were also seen.
BIRDWATCH August2020 by Stephen MacDonald
A bit more bird movement this month as young birds dispersed and migrants returned South. On the 1st an adult Little Egret was seen and photographed on the foreshore in Arisaig. Unfortunately it did not linger and was not seen again.
On the 4th a Kingfisher was seen in the burn at Camusdarroch Beach car park and on the 7th an Osprey was seen fishing in Loch nan Ceall, Arisaig. Wader passage increased during August, although with mostly good weather, birds seemed to move through quickly, only stopping briefly to feed or rest. Waders seen during the month included Curlew, Whimbrel, Snipe, Redshank, Greenshank, Oystercatcher, Dunlin and Sanderling.
Offshore still good numbers of seabirds, with huge rafts of Manx Shearwaters and still lots of Common Guillemots, Kittiwakes and Gannets. Storm Petrels were seen regularly and small numbers of both Arctic and Great Skua.
A mixed flock of at least 200 Swallows, House and Sand Martins was seen on overhead wires by Loch nan Eala on the evening of the 9th. A post breeding flock, they were probably gathering before roosting in the reed beds. A single Swift over Rhue on the 25th was the only report.
Jays were seen at Larachmhor gardens, and Camus an 't Allen on several occasions.
WORLD WIDE WEST WORD
Isla was on her way to a birthday party in Biggar to celebrate her first birthday and that of her six brothers and sisters.
She was travelling with her minders, Audrey and Chris Bradford from Arisaig.
As you can see she didn't forget her copy of West Word!
Watch this space for extracts from next month's issue!
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