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November 2021 Issue
Contents of the online version:
All photos are copyright either of the individual photographers or West Word.
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
Happy Birthday to West Word - 27 years old this month!
I hope everyone enjoys the Book Festival this weekend. I'm going to print on Thursday afternoon so with any luck the paper will be out beforehand . . . It's lovely to see some of the Art Competition winners - we'll print some of the winning Creative Writing entries next month, which I always enjoy reading!
If you'd like to have a Christmas message put in to December's West Word, then please do send one in - by post, email, facebook, or whatsapp or text to the number below. Thank you!
As always my thanks to Morag and Ewen for their help with the printing and to Jane for labelling all the envelopes this month.
It's been a very dreich October this year, with the last couple of weeks being particularly wet and a bit windy. I really felt for the poor Ultra Marathon runners, who came to Knoydart for the very first Highland Ultra event and were met by some rather extreme conditions. 72 runners and 20 staff members arrived on 20th October and embarked on their race the next morning. The route these hard core enthusiasts took can be seen on their website Beyondtheultimate.co.uk. It took three days and covered a huge amount of terrain. Kira and Freya did a grand job keeping them all fed with pizzas the first night they arrived and the last, and there was a wee celebration at Long Beach with food, drinks and local band Ape House.
In Hydro news, the pipeline passed its pressure test and was due to be connected to the turbine, a week ahead of schedule. Unfortunately though, when it was filled one of the bends on the downstream side of the bridge moved a wee bit when under pressure which caused one of the restraint straps to fail. Luckily there was no damage or leaks though as the pipes are locked together in a robust jointing system but it has shown that additional restraint will be needed. While this is being worked out, we will remain on genny power for an extra week or so. Knoydart Renewables have also been invited to join in with COP26, in an online virtual exhibition zone. The exhibition zone will form a key part in the COP26 programme, allowing people to see innovative Scottish businesses such as Knoydart Renewables and KR's has been identified as a NET Zero trailblazer which is really pretty cool.
Tree Planting season has begun, with some familiar tree planters returning to help out KFT. The first lot of new trees is going in the Wilson's new woodland "Cluainairghe" (No, I've no idea how to say that either!) where there will be about 24,000 being planted. Then, once Plak and Gawain have finished the fence at the Shelterbelt, Kilchoan, planting should commence there in January. Jacqui has been busy creating a tree nursery where she is nurturing native trees from locally sourced seed. Everything which is suitable will then be planted on Knoydart over the next few years. Species include Birch, Oak, Hazel and Rowan.
Coming up soon is the big Shooglenifty and A.M.K gig, which we are all very excited about! It's been a long time coming and should be a truly fantastic evening.
Beannachdan bho Gleann Fhionnain!
Work will begin soon on our lovely war memorial. The community council have enlisted the services of a company who specialise in cleaning the stone and very soon he will be looking wonderfully fresh. Here is a wee fact about the memorial . . .
The statue is a granite column surmounted by the figure of a kilted Cameron Highlander, in a steel helmet with head bowed and his arms resting on a rifle. Note that the soldier now faces the opposite way from the face of the stone where the names appear. This is not as built, as contemporary images show. It happened when the memorial was removed to facilitate road improvements, and "some say" was then incorrectly rebuilt!
There will be no public firework display this year again in the Glen due to covid. We do hope that we will be able to welcome everyone back in 2022.
We have some new and rather fabulous signs in the Glen! If you have not noticed, the Glenfinnan Community Facilities SCIO have provided a large double-sided sign pointing into the new carpark with a beautiful image of the viaduct. This is helping immensely as up until now there has been no signage at all and tourists have really had to rely on google maps, which we all know has its own challenges. The Slatach road end now has a sign stating that the road is not suitable for camper vans (due to not having sufficient room to turn at the pier). We are really hoping that this will help with the camper congestion that we have faced in the summer months.
The National Trust for Scotland held a public meeting regarding future plans for the possible upgrade of a new visitor centre. This is in the very early stages of discussion and they are keen to have input from local residents. If you have any questions or comments then please contact The National Trust, Glenfinnan.
An dèidh cogaidh thig sìth.
After war comes peace.
ISLE OF MUCK
Hello, Muck Calling . . .
Well that seemed a real quick month since last we wrote and it's been a return to real Small Isles weather extremes . . . which made the moving of Ed and Sharon's household very unpredictable so it looks to extend their moving window - fingers crossed! We held an afternoon tea to see them off which was a very civilised event (very un-Muck like!) By contrast Ladies Night at the Tearoom was much more on point apparently with cocktails, nibbles and jelly vodka shots delivered by syringe!!! And there was music and games I'm sure.
Other sad news is that Neil Gillies (MOWI farm manager) has been hunted and has accepted an offer to relocate to Tasmania as Farm Manager down under, so Neil, Georgia, Logan, Anita and wee Ruban will be packing and be looking to move end of November and will be greatly missed and we wish them all the very best - what an adventure.
Lots of Pumpkin action has happened over the last week with all the school carving ferociously in readiness for the annual 'Scary Walk' from farm to Port, where under torch light the children meandered along the path all in costume to be met by a variety of ghoulish characters ending at a very spooky outbuilding complete with cobwebs, wailing lost ghost, hanging blood bags and Pennywise the Clown. The after party was hosted by Georgia in her home with music and food . . . roll on Bonfire night.
Well all that's our news for October. See you next issue,
ISLE OF CANNA
Back to winter weather this month but also a lot of unseasonably warm weather too.
Field Mushrooms and all types of fungi have thrived in the warm wet conditions and have been out in abundance. Possibly one of the biggest cargo boats to ever tie up at Canna Pier, Cosmos arrived this month with 900 tonnes of aggregate from Glensanda Quarry for Simpson Builders of Beauly, who are constructing a storage/work camp for contractors who will work on Canna House restoration work early next year.
Canna Farm sold calves at Ben Nevis Auction Mart and although prices were back on previous sales, the average price per head was up on last year by £30 per head.
Six new North Country rams bought at Dingwall will also be heading back to Canna soon ready for Tupping season. The Isle of Canna Community Development Trust has received £89,700 from the Scottish Land Fund which will allow it to buy up two areas of land on which to build three houses as part of the island's first community-led affordable housing project. Getting the funding to acquire these house sites is a great step towards regenerating Canna and rebuilding our population to a sustainable level.
Criomagan (Crumbs) from Canna House
October saw Fiona delivering a paper (online unfortunately!) at the American Folklore Society Conference in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the State of birth of Margaret Fay Shaw of Canna House. As her title, Fiona chose "Other People's Lives: Folklorist Photographer Margaret Fay Shaw's Hebridean Reflections" and as part of this, she described Margaret's Pennsylvania upbringing and its contrast with her life in the Hebrides Although Margaret's work is well known here, her fellow compatriots know little about her history or the contribution her family made to the forming of Pittsburgh as a steel industry centre.
October also saw the return of the 'live in person' Royal National Mod, this year in Inverness. A busy week saw Fiona undertake workshops, performances, broadcasts and lectures. Whilst 'different' in feel to Mods in more 'normal' times, there were still plenty opportunities to hear and participate in Gaelic music, song and literature events.
Fiona was invited to deliver the Gaelic Society of Inverness' Mod lecture this year and chose as her topic "Stories, Songs & Starlings - Peigi and Mairi Macrae, their personal stories & their influence on Margaret fay Shaw". Peigi and Mairi were an incredibly important influence on the lives of both John and Margaret Campbell and their voices are well known today but few know about who they were and their own stories. The lecture is now available for all to view online to view at https://bit.ly/3pygsLi
Peigi and Mairi Macrae, with Finlay Mackenzie, proprietor of the Lochboisdale Hotel
ISLE OF RUM
The bunkhouse volunteers arrived to help with manager Alex's renovation plans. With the help of some VisitScotland funding, the bunkhouse can get a makeover and some reorganisation, and the campsite can get upgraded with a hot water pot wash and hot water to the wash basins in the toilets. Also due to an unprecedented breakdown of the campsite shower boiler, a new shower block is on the cards too. The first job the volunteers have is to take this down and prepare a concrete base for the new one. The showers were only meant to be temporary, but like most temporary things on islands, lasted a lot longer than their anticipated lifespan - 11 years in this case. The camping cabins are getting painted and their steps replaced and reorganised inside to store cooking equipment and some crockery to give it a more glampy feel. Lastly, we're putting a solar panel on the campsite shelter for campers to charge their phones. This both provides a service and helps stop campers charging their phones etc in the village hall, whose electricity bills are so high, that the community association can barely afford to keep the place open.
Notable bird sightings this month from Sean are Barnacle Goose, Brambling, Chiffchaffs, Fieldfare, a Great Skua, male Hen Harrier, Snow Bunting, Tufted Duck, the first Redwings, a Whooper Swan and House Sparrows. Sean says the most interesting thing is the Sparrows as they are not resident on Rum.
In domestic animal news, Lesley and Neil's duck population is growing exponentially and this is notable.
The month ended with a Hallowe'en party in the village hall. Notable costumes were Wednesday Adams (Isobel), An alien (Dylan) though his costume also looked very much like a ghostbuster and A Weeping Angel (me). Dressing up is always fun. Cop 26 is on in Glasgow right now and whilst we support all the protests and actions, couldn't get down there to join in, but Rum resident Nell, currently studying in Glasgow, was there, kicking ass.
ISLE OF EIGG
The dark nights are drawing in but life on Eigg shows no signs of slowing down for winter just yet.
Work at our new community hub is firing ahead and it has been very exciting to see the new An Laimhrig development grow and expand. The team aim to have the building wind and waterproof by Christmas. Wish they could do the same for my caravan!! Works to strip out the existing building are all but complete and currently, the roof is going on over the extension. All in all, lots of changes and we are all so impressed with the efforts of everyone involved.
In the meantime, islanders are trying to get to grips with using the Hall as the central social hub. Dougal has got the ball rolling with weekly soup and a bun on Wednesdays and we have lots of ideas for various winter social gatherings to keep us connected and entertained.
Over at the brewery Stu and his team have been working tirelessly to get us closer to our first pint of beer from the new Isle of Eigg Brewery. Shuggie has been busy digging up the groundwork for pipes and the new water system and the brewery is now connected to the Eigg Electric system. The brewery team even painted the floor a blood red just in time for Halloween! Smashing!
Speaking of Eigg Electric, our renewable energy grid was featured in a very interesting and entertaining BBC World Service programme, Crowd Science, which is well worth a listen. Well done to everyone who was featured. You did us proud! Readers can find the programme at the following link: www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04d42rc/episodes/downloads
It's been a great year for all seeds and berries and Wes and Tash have been as busy as bees, collecting them all. Tash made the annual pilgrimage to the mainland and managed to collect nearly 30kg of acorns from Morar. On Eigg there was a small collection from Wes' young Oak trees on the croft, about 16kg of Hazel and loads of Rowan, Birch, Sloes and more. All have been collected and squirrelled away for the winter for growing next spring. This batch of seed is to start restocking the forestry plantation.
Small Isles primary children were involved in a fantastic inter-island arts project for COP26, creating messages for world leaders about their thoughts on climate change. The project, entitled Message in a Bottle, was facilitated by Norah and was made in conjunction with 25 other schools from Scottish and worldwide island schools. Many thanks to Norah for the enthusiasm and passion she always brings to everything she does, and well done kids!
News in Brief
The Old Forge Community Benefit Society Ltd has been awarded £508,000 through the Scottish Land Fund (SLF) to support the purchase and redevelopment of the Knoydart pub. £380,000 is assigned to support acquisition costs of the pub, and the remainder is assigned to land and building tax, legal and conveyancing costs, insurance, IT/office setup, essential repairs, and employment of a project officer.
The Old Forge is on the market for offers over £425,000, but that figure does not include the owner's asking price for goodwill of the business. The CBS are currently working with the owner to undertake an independent valuation of the goodwill, and once this has taken place they will be able to assess and submit an appropriate offer. The CBS's application to the Community Ownership Fund has also been successful.
Isle of Eigg Coastguard Team - Thank You!
The residents of the Isle of Eigg are grateful for the excellent service provided by the Eigg Coastguard team during the pandemic: the team stepped up during the first lockdown last year to provide a 24/7 point of contact via their team phone in the event of an emergency as the First Responders were unable to operate. The system worked well and was invaluable in a number of medical emergencies over the last 18 months. This was done entirely voluntarily with the full support of Area Commander Murdo Macaulay. The unique Eigg system was subsequently adopted by other teams in the Western Isles, Skye and Lochaber area, and has been invaluable in many medical emergencies during the pandemic.
The system is now reverting to calling 999 and calling the Stornoway Coastguard operation centre. The community's heartfelt thanks goes to every member of the team that willingly provided this unbroken 24/7 emergency point of contact over the last 18 months: Colin Carr, Dean Wiggin, Neil Robertson, Bob Wallace and Owain Wyn-Jones.
Mallaig Lifeboat Log
8th October 2021
Fishing vessel Happy Returns broke down in Sound of Arisaig. Prior to Lifeboat arrival the boat had succeeded in restarting engine and was escorted to mooring in Glenuig.
14th October 2021
Lifeboat launched to 10 metre fishing vessel aground on rocks and making water. The two crew members on board had abandoned to life raft. On arrival the fishing vessel was found hard fast on rocks. Life raft located and crew transferred to Lifeboat. Casualties transferred to Paramedics on arrival in Mallaig for health assessment. Both casualties fully recovered.
Michael Ian Currie
NEWS FROM MALLAIG HARBOUR NOVEMBER 2021
The year has flown in and it's already the end of October. The ferries are back on their Winter timetable, and although it's welcome news that we should have the Coruisk back in Mallaig next year, there is still some uncertainty about when the Utne will enter service on the Oban-Craignure run, enabling this to happen. As a result, it is unlikely that the Summer timetables for services from Mallaig will be published at the same time as other routes. This is frustrating for our tourism businesses, as it has knock-on effects for tour companies etc. At the moment, the intention is that the Lord of the Isles will provide a dedicated service between Mallaig and Lochboisdale, sailing twice a day on some days, and that the Mallaig-Armadale route will be served by the Coruisk, supported by the Loch Fyne. I don't envy whoever has the task of making up the timetables - our wee linkspan in Mallaig will be in constant use with sailings to the Small Isles, Armadale and Lochboisdale all having to be timetabled in!
It's the end of the season at the Marina as well, and our seasonal staff have stopped for the winter. We're grateful to have had Gena looking after the shore facilities again, and Ruairidh stepping in to cover days off through the height of the summer. Although we still had social distancing restrictions in force for the start of the season this year, it has been a busy season, almost on a par with 2019. Overall, there were 1,405 nights occupied at the marina and 987 vessels used the facility in total this year, compared to 1,429 nights occupied and 1,125 vessels in 2019. We've seen a change in the usage this year, with very few foreign boats (understandably!) and more visiting yachts from the South of England who might not normally venture this far!
The Sprat pump arrived on Thursday 28th, and was set up on Friday 29th, which is a sure sign Winter is on its way. The weather still feels quite mild for sprats, but there has been lots of birds visibly feeding in the waters round about so hopefully this is a good sign, and there will be a good fishing of Sprats! It's almost a year since our public meeting about the development proposals for the Outer Breakwater, and by the time you read this, our Marine Licence for the works will have been submitted. The next stage is to agree a final design and get the project out to tender. Although we had an idea of costs in January, construction prices have gone up so much since then that it's difficult to know what the total cost might be. Putting the project out to tender will give us an accurate cost to seek funding early next year.
I had a week off in October to correspond with school holidays, and wasn't in work when the Dunan Star foundered on rocks in Loch Nevis. Thankfully the crew were all safe, but unfortunately, when the vessel was being recovered, it sank. We have liaised with the UK Hydrographic Office to mark the position of the wreck. We're also pleased to report that our Lighthouse is back up and running - the replacement bulb was fitted on 15th October. In more positive news, we are delighted that the works to convert the old Denholms office in the Harbour Buildings has started. Some of you will have seen the skip at the rear of the building, and lots of the initial work has been to strip out existing windows, walls and other fittings - including three safes - two of which were concreted in! Our plan is to make three smaller offices and a communal kitchen, with the intention that two of the offices will be leased long term, and the third will be used as a 'co-working' space where people can come and work for an hour, a day or however long they want, and there will also be scope for hosting small meetings.
We weren't organised enough this year to make our own Scarecrow for the Scarecrow trail, but we did host two jellyfish on the dinghy at the roundabout - so hopefully you spotted these. Thanks to Anna Fothergill for making them and sharing them with us.
Some of you will also have seen SSE working around the pier over the last few weeks. Those of you in Mallaig will know that the power was out on 8th October, due to a number of faults, and as a result of this, the sub-station opposite the CalMac office is having to be completely replaced. We're hopeful that the upgrade to our power supply to enable all the shore power points to be operational will happen on the back of this by mid-November.
Finally, just after I started at the Harbour, my news for September 2019 included a welcome to the soon to be renamed Lucifer which was bought by Damian MacDonald. Damian renamed the boat the Boy Harris, and this week we watched her leave the harbour with her new owners, bound for a new home in Girvan, having been sold.
On & Off the Rails
Sometimes we have to look back to see how far we have come. Pre covid pandemic seems like a distant past that we may never return to again, and we are still cautious about making medium to long term travel decisions, not just abroad but from one end of the UK to another by rail.
Railway touring companies have to plan months in advance to "bag" a slot space on the rails from departure to destination, commit to hiring motive power, and on board or off train accommodation. They know that they can only fit in between National Rail timetables that cannot yet be predicted for 2022. The logistics side of it all is really tricky and that's without the on-board catering, off train excursions, etc, so it is very pleasing to me to see the initiative that is being shown by railway touring companies in their brochures which are now out for 2022. It bodes well that companies are focusing on guests using rail travel again - not just for essential purposes, but encouraging us to appreciate the joy of a journey by train as an integral part of a holiday. I've recently "spotted" TV adverts from Britain's Railway (complete with the double arrow logo by the 'Rail Delivery Group'), LNER, Scotland's Railways, Avanti West Coast, Northern Rail, and LUMO. The latter is a new budget train operating company, initially running twice daily seven days a week (except on a Saturday when it is once) in both directions from Edinburgh Waverley station to King's Cross at a very competitive price: £14.90 for a single ticket - see lumo.co.uk .
We can all help, if we want to keep our railway, by trusting the journey as a good experience. For example why not catch the 6:15pm train from Mallaig to Fort William with a group of friends/relatives to go to the cinema in Fort William? Or book ahead for a restaurant meal in Fort William. With the promised festive fund lighting up the High Street this year - which I have high hopes for - it could be perfect for a pre-Christmas treat/party!
As I write, COP26 is taking place in Glasgow (was I the last to know that COP stands for Conference of Parties?) With the ScotRail train services now available seven days a week again it has been heartwarming to see how many delegates, TV, radio and film crews are shown arriving by rail into Glasgow's railway stations (not train stations please!), then using the Glasgow subway ('Clockwork Orange') to access the Scottish Exhibition Centre.
Jacobite season 2021
On Monday 26th April (27 weeks ago by my reckoning) the day that the Scottish government decreed that non-essential and retail shops could reopen with restrictions, driver John Hunt had the task of bringing 20 passengers into Mallaig on the year's first "KI 2-6-0 62005" steam hauled Jacobite on time, with the whistle blasting away to declare the season (very cautiously) open for business.
At 6am that morning I was down at the station with my trolley, very new "bump cap" to ward off the seagulls, hi viz vest and a shed load of plants reared at home, to plant up in the whisky barrels and train, as it was the first day that ScotRail allowed me to start too!
In the afternoon Ian Riley left Fort William to arrive into Mallaig, driving his own steam locomotive Black Five 5007, with again 20 persons on board, hauling The Jacobite pm service. It was a wee start - but welcome.
Fast forward to Friday 29th October and the last Jacobite of 2021 became a Harry Potter Halloween special! We had a very tired but pleased crew and very happy guests on board. I was so pleased for the crew to have completed the day happily after a difficult week of working. There were so many wet days in the past two weeks. Pelting rain, cold winds, a broken rail in front of them on one return journey that resulted in a three-hour delay: the steam pressure was not able to cope and they had to send for their class 37 diesel locomotive to haul them back! It was good to hear all the cheers on-board on that last day. I was the last person standing that they saw as they left Mallaig. My wellies held me up and I whooped and waved like a howling witch!! - and then thought, thanks for that!!
Frank Roach of HiTrans was quoted in Modern Railways October issue as saying, "The Jacobite has had a very successful season . . . One of the sets [of coaches] on the service has recently been fitted with controlled emission toilets [into a tank under the train] with the other due to follow soon." That is really good news and makes work cleaner for the Network Rail team who work the line.
Iain Riley led the two Black Five locomotives (tender to tender) away from Fort William, one hauling, the other in light steam (I presume), with two support crew sleeping quarters and kitchen, seven morning Jacobite coaches and one enclosed GUV container with all the cables etc used in the yard this year AND a Class 37 diesel at the rear to give support, at midday on Sunday 31st October, leaving behind an empty goods yard. He thanked Banavie signalling centre for their help this year saying, "See you next year!"
As Easter weekend is not until Friday 15th April 2022 could it be that the morning Jacobite starts on Monday 4th April? BST begins and Mothers Day is Sunday 27th March, which could mean that the season to start any time around then. The 4th April is my guesstimation and it's only 22 weekends away! That's all! Will I be right? On the West Coast Railway's website it says that "dates will be announced soon" so watch this space. Enjoy the time off. Mind you I'll miss the occasional takeaway Haddock and Chips of an evening in Mallaig!!
History in the making
On Sunday 24th October 2021 history was made as an ex-High Speed Train (HST) touring train - the West Highland Pullman - eased her way in to Mallaig. The first time ever that such a train has travelled on the West Highland extension!
Midland Pullman - photo Ian Henshaw
For the preceding seven days, and for seven days afterwards, the horrible weather conditions affected many trains but on this day the sun shone, it was warm, the sky was blue, the clouds were white and fluffy, and 280 guests disembarked in Mallaig for 50 minutes. The promoters, Midland Pullman Company, whose offices are at Hale in Cornwall, were delighted that Mallaig "opened up" ahead of time on the day - ahead of The Jacobite coming in. Credit for the motive power and the presentation of the Pullman coaches goes to LSL (Locomotive Services Ltd) and as you will see from the photos it was "poetry in motion". The whole train consisted of the two ex-HST top and tailed locomotives, a power car, nine carriages, and a full catering kitchen, all fully liveried in powder blue with tinted windows.
The tour had started from Reading at 4am on Saturday 23rd October, picking up guests at Swindon, Stroud and Stonehouse (all places I know well and still have friends in) arriving into Fort William at 7:30pm to spend two nights in accommodation there. Attentive staff, tour guides and fine wining and dining all of a very high standard were on offer the whole three days of the tour. All masked and in cluster groups or socially distancing. I welcomed the guests onto the platform at Mallaig and then shot out to Arisaig to witness their return journey to Fort William as they crossed with the incoming Jacobite there. The sight as they slowly passed each other at Arisaig signal box was wonderful.
ESR (Emergency Speed Restrictions) were in place that day due to ingress of water in the four foot of the track, greasy rails and the previous weather conditions: 20 mph in some sections of the line and 40mph in others. A diesel locomotive travelled ahead of the train that day to ensure that the line was "clear and safe for traffic" by sanding the rails between Glenfinnan and Lochailort and then "standing by", should assistance be required, in Glenfinnan sidings. The trip to Mallaig was made by the weather. The speed restrictions made photography easy for photographers! Midland Pullman Company have five more luxury tours of Scotland on their books already planned for 2022 using the ex HST Pullman.
Finally I hope that Paul Murton and all the guest contributors and authors consider arriving by train to take part in A Write Highland Hoolie, the Mallaig Book Festival which takes place between Friday 12th and Sunday 14th November. It is greener to take the train, and our timetabled services are operating seven days a week. The West Highland Hotel will be the place to be.
The weekend will be the culmination of a year's work by the committee who work so hard to produce this wonderful event. Thanks to all of them for promoting not just the pleasure of reading and writing but the musical events alongside it, involvement with the local schools with art events etc.
Anything that promotes Mallaig itself is so inspiring. We should celebrate what we have and encourage others to.
Watching for the trains to count the visitors.
There are many calls just now to plant trees - The National Trust, The Woodland Trust, the Queen, amongst others - in an attempt to tackle climate change.
Deforestation isn't just a problem in South America and distant countries; our own native trees are under threat from disease. There is acute oak tree disease, the fungus like Phytophthora Ramorum is affecting our larches, and Ash Dieback is laying waste to the ash tree, amongst many others.
Larch trees are being felled all over the country as a preventative measure to try to stop the spread of Phytophthora, as exampled by the big clearance locally between Arisaig House and Quality Cottages. The larches weren't diseased yet but it was probably only a matter of time.
The Queen's Green Canopy is an initiative to plant trees to celebrate her Platinum Jubilee (70 years on the throne) next year. Planting trees to commemorate something isn't new of course, and there are two trees in Arisaig House gardens planted many years ago by Arisaig WRI.
The oldest and biggest is in the woods, down towards the sea gate, the other near the entrance. The first one is a beech, and has a plaque at its base which reads:
FROM ARISAIG W.R.I.
ITS 40TH ANNIVERSARY
The second one used to have a tag which has now disappeared, and no-one can remember when it was planted or what the occasion was. Around 12 years ago (or more) the present WRI were invited to tea by John and Ruth Smither and they visited the trees. Is there anyone who might remember the details of the newer tree? It's not even mentioned in the WRI scrapbooks in the Land, Sea & Islands Centre.
The warning notice at the road to Arisaig House; you can see the clearfell beyond.
If you decide to answer the calls and plant a tree somewhere, let West Word know and send us a photo.
Scarecrow Trail 2021
This year's Scarecrow Trail raised £215 for Mallaig Primary School Parent Council.
The winners were as follows:
Scarecrow sheet winner - Harrison Douglas
Public vote winner - Pinocchio
Judges winner - Rapunzel/Tangled
Each winner will receive a £10 voucher which has been donated by Mallaig Community Council.
Grateful thanks to everyone who took part!
BIRDWATCH October 2021 by Stephen MacDonald
Fairly typical Wader and Wildfowl passage for October. The first reports of Whooper Swans came on the 11th, with eight flying south over Loch Ailort at first light, then another eight south over Arisaig later in the morning. There were several other reports of flocks flying over till the month end, mostly from Arisaig, although several reports from Camusdarroch, with 16 south past there on the 16th. A few reports from Loch nan Eala, Arisaig, but apart from a lone adult which was still present at the month-end most groups did not linger for long. Still a few skeins of Pink-footed Geese reported, with 115 in one group over Loch Ailort on the 5th. A single Pink-foot was with the local Greylags at Back of Keppoch and Traigh from the 7th. Brent Geese were seen on a couple of occasions early in the month from the MV Sheerwater.
Wintering Slavonian Grebes were back on Loch nan Ceall from mid-month with at least four birds present. Wigeon and Teal were on Loch nan Eala and Goosanders were on the Morar river during the last week. Two Common Scoter were seen flying south past West Bay, Mallaig on the 30th. Wintering Great Northern and Red-throated Divers were seen from mid-month on Loch nan Ceall. A single Black-throated Diver was also there on the 17th.
Still a few Arctic and Great Skuas reported during the month and several sightings of Stormy Petrels in the Sound of Sleat. On the 31st two Stormy Petrels that had been found about a boat in Mallaig were successfully released at sea. The last grounded Manx Shearwater was found in Mallaig on the 19th.
Twelve Golden Plover were at Traigh golf course on the 2nd. Small numbers of Dunlin and the odd Sanderling were seen during the first two weeks. Ringed Plover, Redshank, Curlew and Turnstone were seen throughout. Ringed Plover and a handful of Dunlin were regularly on the Morar Estuary, where up to three Greenshank and five Redshank were seen on several occasions. There were regular sightings of both Purple Sandpipers and Turnstones from West Bay, Mallaig. Some late summer visitors were still around early in the month. 15 Swallows were by Traigh Farm on the 4th and a Wheatear was near Millburn, Rhue on the 9th.
The first Redwings of the autumn appeared on the 14th, with small flocks reported from Morar and Loch Ailort. A small group of Fieldfares was seen in Arisaig around the same time, but numbers of either species had not increased significantly by the month end and there are still loads of Rowan and Hawthorn berries yet.
Jays and Rooks have been taking advantage of the good acorn crop this year, with feeding birds reported from Morar and Arisaig.
A Merlin was seen between Tougal and Cross Farm on the 7th. A Barn Owl was at Woodside, Morar on the 4th and a Short-eared Owl was seen on the Rhue peninsula on the 17th.
WORLD WIDE WEST WORD
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Here's Richard Lamont reading his copy a couple of years ago (October 2019) outside The Reel in Kirkwall.
A famous ceilidh pub which is now unfortunately closed - it didn't survive the lockdown.
Watch this space for extracts from next month's issue!
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