Lochaber Small Business of the Year 2015
Community paper for Mallaig, Morar, Arisaig, Lochailort, Glenfinnan
Glenuig, Knoydart and the Small Isles

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April 2017 Issue

Contents of the online version:

Top stories
Monthly news from Knoydart, Muck, Canna, Rum, Eigg
Lifeboat log and Railway news

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Scottish Natural Heritage have warned that if funding cannot be found to save Kinloch Castle, the magnificent Edwardian shooting lodge built by the Bullough family on the Isle of Rum, it may have to be demolished. SNH have drawn up a business plan to convert the Grade A listed castle to a museum and residential accommodation. The cost of the project is £13 million and SNH estimate a further £5-10 million will be needed to repair the building's deteriorating steel frame. Funding could be sought from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic Environment Scotland but other public sector funding would be required to meet the full costs.
SNH say 'we have been trying to find an acceptable and affordable future for Kinloch Castle for over a decade. In that time, the condition of the building has continued to deteriorate despite considerable sums spent to address the most serious issues. The options are stark: we either find a way to generate significant funds over many years to invest in renovating the building and securing a cost-effective use for the building, or we accept that the castle has no future and should be demolished.'
With little progress being made at present the building continues to decay and SNH's dwindling budget means that even maintaining their current program of repairs to keep the building wind and watertight is under threat.
Frustrated Rum residents are calling on people to write to their MSP in recognition of the castle's socio-economic importance to the island and its wider cultural significance and push for support for the castle's restoration. Kinloch Castle Friends Association are currently looking at ways in which they can form a group in conjunction with other interested parties to make a sustainable future for the castle. To join the Association or offer your support please contact the committee through their website www.kinlochcastlefriends.org

A message from Ann to all her readers on her retirement from West Word
I have been very surprised and humbled by the number of cards, messages, emails and letters I have received on the occasion of my retirement as West Word editor. So many very kind things said and it is heartening to hear how highly West Word is thought of and what a difference it has made to some people. I have thoroughly enjoyed being a part of it for the last 18 years and have got to know so many of you through it - I hope those friendships will continue. I am content to leave West Word in the capable hands of Kirsty, who I know will do a great job.
I am grateful to West Word's Board - Chair Camille Dressler, Richard Lamont and Jacqueline McDonell -for holding a party for me in the Astley Hall on 17th March and thank you to everyone who came and made it a lovely evening. Camille presented me with flowers, chocolates and my requested gift of a year's subscription to Mallaig Pool and the Board had also arranged a collection of donations made by West Word readers - thank you all. I also received some charming and thoughtful gifts. Thanks to Councillor Allan Henderson for coming along and speaking so warmly.


My grateful appreciation to Ross, Eilidh and Gabe for the music; Sarah Winnington-Ingram for supplying the buffet; my husband Richard, not only for his patience and support over the years but also for the bouquet and organising a gorgeous cake from the Bakehouse in Mallaig - strawberries and cream - people were coming back for fourth helpings!; to Peggy Kirk on Eigg, I was honoured that she sent over one of her famous Clootie Dumplings, absolutely delicious!; to Jane and Saskia and others for helping serving and clearing up; and most of all, thanks go to my son Blair and Katy who decorated the hall, set everything up, served the complimentary drinks to everyone and then cleared up everything too, making sure the hall was left in a spotless condition.
My love to you all!
Ann Martin

Well, here it is - my first solo edition of West Word. Of course it hasn't really been a solo effort, as I have been badgering Ann with all sorts of questions about the paper - thank you Ann, for all your help! Hopefully I'll have less questions as time goes on and I'll be able to leave you in peace at some stage to fully enjoy your retirement!
I've also been helped along by Anne and Miya sticking labels on envelopes, and by Morag and Ewen assisting with the printing - thank you all for your continued support.
It was fun to come along to Ann's retirement do and meet some more West Word readers. Ann is going to be a tough act to follow but I am enjoying the challenge - and there's so many interesting people to meet and stories to research. If anyone has any suggestions for things they'd like to see in the paper then please get in touch. What do you like - or what don't you like about it? It really helps me to hear your opinions.
If you'd like to get in touch, the email address is editor@westword.org.uk or stop in at the office. Thank you!
Kirsty Bloom

Well it would seem that spring has certainly sprung, with lots of beautiful sunny days, getting increasingly warmer towards the end of the month. Feels like we are finally coming out of hibernation. There's certainly been an increase in the amount of tourists around already and the Hebridean Princess has made its first appearance. The pre-season party with Fras was fantastic (or should I say "Fras-tastic?" - sorry, sorry…couldn't resist) and it seems that Knoydart is the place of Romance at the moment. Not only did Isla recently get engaged, but Lewis proposed to me (of course I said yes) and then at the Fras party, a German couple on holiday also got engaged! As Angus Binnie said "There must be something in the air".
On the 25th there was a table top sale in the hall, a good excuse to have a big spring clean, and the Parent Council provided soup, cakes and tea and coffee, raising £197.63 for School Funds so that was great. The sun was splitting the sky that day and it felt very much like a Games day, with everyone drinking beer in the sun outside the hall, followed by the first beach bonfire of the year. Some spectacular sunsets we have had too. If only it could always be like that!
The tree planting at the white gate is nearly complete now, with only another couple of weeks to go before then it will be onto the re-stocking of Sawmill Wood. Also on the business of trees, Knoydart Forest Trust celebrated its 18th birthday this month.
What else….The pub has re-opened after the winter and the Tearoom will go onto summer hours next week, meaning it will be open from 9am 'til 5pm. The snack van is now also opening again at weekends for April (yay!) and then more regularly after that.
Also, Happy Birthday to Robbie and Archie who turned 11 (gosh, how time flies!). And coming up soon, the Easter Bazaar will be on Saturday 15th April, followed by the Easter Ceilidh at night. Should be good with the Foot Stompin' Ceilidh Band so if you fancy a wee Knoydart sesh, you know how to get here! Think that's about it for now folks.
Heather Gilmour

On the 4th March we had a fund raising evening at Gallanach Lodge with Toby as the auctioneer. It was a 'slave auction' where some of the islanders sold their labour but far, far more; everything from a morning's lobster fishing to lunch in the Craft Shop. It was all in memory of Clare Walters: and because she spent her final weeks in the Highland Hospice the money raised is destined for that august institution. Though a number of bids came in on line the islanders were more than generous and by the end of the evening the considerable sum of £2,370 had been raised.
When Highland Council built our new slipway in 2004 at a cost of £9.6million (including Rum) they forgot to tar the 300 metres of road between it and the old road. This omission caused particular difficulty at the head of the slipway where many potholes soon formed, though the road section was no better. So when Marine Harvest (with a contribution from Highland Council) agreed to concrete the whole area we were delighted. Marine Harvest have been good news for Muck and when the entire island (almost) voted for their coming more than 5 years past it has proved a wise decision. So now we have a huge area of wonderful concrete and no more mud everywhere. One small hitch. No one seemed to realise that concrete needs large quantities of water and accessible fresh water is in short supply on Muck. Soon Spanish John was making many runs from Mallaig; loaded with water! But it was great that Marine Harvest are also able to support Milligan's Transport on such a scale. They provide a valuable service to the islands and are unsubsidised.
That is all this month. Spring could be early this year and the grass is growing. Lambs are arriving on Croissan Croft!
Lawrence MacEwen

The population of the island is increasing on an almost daily basis at the moment with lots of new calves arriving. The farm's new bull, Wicked Willie, has certainly done his job!
The spell of sunny and dry weather was certainly appreciated as we all get ready for the new tourist season. Lots of painting has being going on including the shop, old dairy and the pier waiting room has undergone a complete transformation and is probably now the most interesting waiting room on the west coast. Come and visit!!
We had a visit from the Hebridean Princess during the month, the first cruise ship of the year, which was a gentle reminder of how busy the island can get during the summer.
Café Canna opens again on the 7th April which is good news for us all. We are looking forward to being able to "eat out" again and, of course, enjoy the odd beer or glass of wine.
Kayaks and boats are back in the water and at least one lobster has already been cooked!
Now that the summer timetable is in operation we look forward to seeing you all on Canna this year.
Donald MacKenzie

Criomagan (Crumbs) from Canna House
March has been a busy month, with preparations for the new season's visitors. Canna House is officially closed to visitors currently, with repair work to the roof and windows ongoing but we hope to be able to open later in the season. In the meantime, there is lots of new interpretation work going on, on the island itself! The Old Dairy has been given a revamp and the children of Canna Primary School have been working with Fiona, the Archivist, on an 'accessioning' project, learning how to tag and inventory artefacts from the original dairy and around the island. There is a new display of photos from the Canna collection and the children are working on a piece of Artwork, looking at how Canna might have been in Viking times! A sneak preview next month…. This month also saw the launch of the 'Fuaim na Mara' Project in the Canna Pier waiting room. Fiona achieved funding from the National Library of Scotland's "Connecting Scotland's Sounds" project, to stage a creative residency in the waiting room, using the Canna Sound Archive as inspiration to create new artistic work. Greenock musician and artist Yvonne Lyon, was invited to come and undertake workshops with Canna residents, to produce both new artwork and to write new songs, all using the Archive as inspiration. Working in collaboration with fellow Greenock artist Anne McKay, Yvonne also created a large canvas, based on the stories of the Campbells and of Canna, and this forms the centrepiece of the new 'creative space' on Canna. Artists Anne McKay and Yvonne Lyon work on the new installation in the waiting room
The new exhibition of all the work created by the Community is displayed throughout the waiting room - and toilet (!) - and will hopefully provide a focal point of interest for visitors and locals alike. The exhibition is complemented by a series of 8 new films created from the Canna film and photographic archives, which are available to view all summer long on the new waiting room monitor. The new songs created during the residency from the original sound archive are used as a soundscape. Please feel free to come and see our new creative space when visiting the island! The project was launched to a capacity audience in the waiting room, with live performances of the new songs to accompany.
Fiona MacKenzie

A busy start to the coming season here on Rum in March. A real mix of great weather enticing us all out into gardens, polytunnels and crofts, and dreadful weather chasing us back in again!
Internet Ian and his band of helpers have been up and down to Hebnet Hill taking kit up ready for the introduction of faster speed broadband from Hebnet.
Kinloch Castle Friends Association were over for their first work party visit of the year, getting busy in the castle and grounds and working on their plans to save the castle from its current uncertain fate. They were over at just the right time to join in with the monthly community bring & share meal. This month it had a tenuous theme of 'Dine like an Aristocrat' which some took more seriously than others! We had one of our randomly regular whisky club events at the same time...
The bunkhouse is revving up for the season with almost full bookings right through until June. The campsite is looking amazing thanks to lots of strimming and extending the area - well worth a weekend with your tent for a visit...
The red deer are castling antlers hither and thither, curlews are calling and we're all waiting to hear the first cuckoo of the season - I think last year was 20th April, so it could be any time now. Sean spotted the rare belted beauty moths again which is great news that they are still here doing OK on Rum. It appeared to be even greater news for the equally rare Lapland Buntings which he spotted feasting on them! Circle of life?!
The SNH hostel was finally removed, the ground re-landscaped and if you didn't know then you could easily forget it was ever there at all. It came, it hosted, it left! We had the deer count helicopter buzzing around the island for a day. The castle has opened for the season with tours six days a week.
Ranger Trudi has her last few volunteers still working on various conservation projects including clearing the nature trail to allow for an easier, drier walk around and the carnivorous plants to flourish. The ranger events have begun for the year with a regular programme of walks and talks from now right through until the Rut walks in the autumn.
Regular weekly boat trip attendees to Soay from Rum are very sad to not be doing that trip this year as the Sheerwater timetable has changed and a different vessel will be delivering the post to Soay so no waving across at Ann as she rows out for us.
Rum Primary played host to Arisaig and Canna primary pupils and teachers for a few nights and packed in a very full taste of Rum life including a walk to Kilmory to see the deer project, a trip to Croft 3 where much chicken and duck cuddling was done, and a castle tour. Great to see so many children on island.
A Rum contingent headed to Mull for the Inner Isles meet up and had a great time. The Small Isles Games committee got together to start planning for our hosting of the games here on Rum this year - 22nd July - mark it in your diary now folks. The teashop is now open for the season - 6 days a week with evening meals on offer if booked in advance.
Nic & Ady have announced they will be heading off for the winter this year so the Croft 3 creatures will be heading off to new homes over the coming months. If anyone is interested in pigs or poultry do get in touch.
And finally, a heads up for the handover anniversary ceilidh on May 13th. More details to be announced soon on the www.isleofrum.com website.
Nic Goddard

This will be a very brief report from me, as I was away half the month in my island travels! March has been a good month for our farmers who finished calving by 21st March uneventfully and are now getting ready for the lambing season. Otherwise, lots of activity on the building front, with Sam Foster coming back with a really enticing first impression of what the new housing group at Sandavore would look like. Community engagement was good as usual and I think he was pleased with the feedback. We are pleased in any case that Sam and his team have come out top of the competition for the upgrade of our pier area and all the businesses concerned are looking forward to work with the design team. It will be particularly exciting for the craft shop as it will be re-housed in a bespoke building which will also offer the much needed point of entry interpretation for the island. Our community hall has had not so much a face lift as a "footlift" with the old floor boards lifted up and refitted properly. The floor looks fit for ballroom dancing now, but will not like any moisture on it, so ceilidh dancers of Eigg and beyond, please try not to spill your drinks as you birl around! The Amazing Shed - as featured in Grand Design - will soon be the latest bothy on offer to our visitors. New windows are being installed in Eigg's Lochaber housing houses and Libby's craft shed is up and running in Cleadale.
But to be truthful, March was fairly dominated by the issues Eigg Electric has had with a fault on one of the underground cables which occasioned the system to trip and shut down for a day or two at a time despite our local engineers working round the clock to fix the issue. This was the second time only in over 10 years our system has come down for a short period, and we are now awaiting experts with special gizmos to locate the fault and repair it once and for all. Well done Eigg Electric for working so hard! Energy was a topic again as "How to elaborate a community tool kit for Renewables" was the focus of the visit by our Scottish/Brazilian team from Strathclyde University. The initial meeting at Galmisdale cafe culminated in an evening of Brazilian bossa nova and brought a nice closure to Greg's winter tenancy. Stuart and James are now back in the kitchen and behind the bar for a new season of wholesome food and Friday sessions: the summer season is on its way! To usher it in the best possible way, the whole community gathered together for the annual Pier spring clean up. That included baby Oran and his proud parents, who have only just realised along with the rest of us that Oran is Eigg's 100th resident!
On a sadder note, our resident rock star has had to go back to Raigmore for further treatment, and the whole community joins me in wishing the best to Mick and Jacky during this difficult time for them. Get well soon Mick, we're missing our regular Pink Floyd viewings at Taigh an Sitheanan!
Camille Dressler

Brightening weather brought a great turnout to this family-friendly celebration at Glenuig. Folk of all ages had the chance to get involved in art activities, see displays about the village's history and connections, and "mail-art" sent from near and far. There was also live music, delicious food, and plenty of relaxing and socialising!

A few highlights:
"Wave" a ceramic stoneware mosaic piece by Helen Michie featuring work by members of the community who had attended a clay workshop in February.
Willow and paper lanterns made at workshops the previous week with Alison Durbin and loads more made on the day itself, with the help of Helen, Alison and Brian Dickie. (N.B. rest assured no sky lanterns were released!). Hope your lanterns are still glowing!
The environmental art trail included pieces made with willow, wood, seaweed, stones and light. "Messages for Glenuig" light installation featured messages from friends of the village near and far in glowing messages-in-bottles along the strand line.
As darkness fell, an amazing light and dance show from Connxion Dance School was received with cheers and applause, and the crowd watched as a willow model of the old ferryboat (Ronald the Whaler's boat to those in the know) was launched and set aflame.

With thanks to: Scotrail's Cultural and Arts Fund and the GCA for supporting this project. Many thanks for help and involvement to Jean Bowker (Moidart History House); Morag Martin and Connxions Dancers; Helen Race and her S1 artists; Karin Schuler and Mairi Duncan (fabulous fiddlers); Chris, Zoe, Pauline (Glenfinnan Dining Car) for superb tea-room food and evening buffet; Brian Dickie, Arlette George, Claudia Macfarlane, Leon Durbin, Roma Scott and Eoghan Carmichael for creative and practical assistance, Sue, Carol and team for the Hub Bar! Most of all thanks to everyone who came along to the workshops and festival, from organisers Alison D and Helen M.



8th January 2017 Medivac from Inverie.
Requested by Stornoway Coastguard to launch 04:05hrs and convey Paramedics to Inverie (Knoydart). Once on scene the Paramedics were taken to the casualty's home and the patient was assessed. It was deemed that the casualty should be transferred to the mainland for further treatment. Patient boarded and lifeboat returned to Mallaig. Lifeboat ready for service at 05:15hrs.

14th January 2017 Harvest Caroline Grounded.
Launched by Stornoway Coastguard to the assistance of the cargo vessel Harvest Caroline at 01:25hrs. Whilst on passage from Kyle of Lochalsh to Mallaig the Harvest Caroline grounded in the Kyle Rhea narrows. Lifeboat arrived on scene at 02:05 to find the cargo vessel aground on a shingly strip of beach between two reefs. The vessel had not been breached and no visible sign of damage could be seen. As the tide was now on the turn the tow rope was attached to the casualty and the strain taken, with the casualty slow astern she slipped off the beach without much difficulty. Once the casualty was clear the tow was released and the casualty set off for Mallaig under her own power with the lifeboat in escort at 02:31hrs. Harvest Caroline docked at Mallaig at 04:10hrs to await inspection by divers later in the morning. Lifeboat ready for service at 04:20hrs.

15th January 2017 Mareather Lost Power.
Launched by Stornoway Coastguard to the assistance of the trawler Mareather at 13:10hrs. Whilst engaged in fishing operation to the NW of the Isle of Canna Mareather lost engine power. After several attempts to try and restart the engine to no avail the crew notified the Coastguard at Stornoway of their predicament. As there were no other vessels in area to assist the Mareather the Coastguard requested the Lifeboat to launch. Arriving on scene at 14:40hrs, in misty overcast but calm conditions, a tow was quickly established with the casualty for Mallaig at a steady 6 knots. As both vessels approached Sleat Point the skipper of the Mareather radioed that he had managed to regain engine power and was prepared to drop the tow and continue for Mallaig under his own power. The tow was dropped and the Lifeboat escorted the Mareather to Mallaig docking at 20:30hrs. Lifeboat fueled and ready for service at 21:00hrs.

10th March 2017 Reliance Engine Failure.
Launched to the assistance of the trawler Reliance BF 80 by Stornoway Coastguard at 11:05 hrs. The Reliance had suffered engine failure off the Brittle area of Skye. Unable to restart their engine due to a burst pipe which sprayed onto vital sensors that rendered the engine inoperable. Arriving on scene at 12:05hrs a tow was quickly established and a course set for Mallaig at a steady 6 knots. Once off the harbour the Reliance was brought alongside the lifeboat and taken in and berthed at the fish pier at 16:20hrs. Lifeboat ready for service at 16:30hrs.


Times they are a-changing
Welcome Kirsty to your first solo editorship of West Word. If you steer a steady course as you appear to be doing in the photo on the front page of March 2017 West Word, with a smile, you will succeed. My Granny used to say (as I recall) 'love many, trust few, always paddle your own canoe'. The first and last parts have done me no harm at all. Sometimes I can be too trusting but come good in the end! Good luck anyway!

ScotRail customers benefit from new taxi service
Honestly, this isn't an April Fools' joke, but I have my doubts about this latest ScotRail/Abellio announcement. Firstly I will prefix it by saying that you are required to book online and you need to be able to receive text messages.
A new taxi service, "Cab & Go", that allows ScotRail customers to order a taxi for their journey to and from the station was launched on March 12th and will enable customers to pre-book a taxi to or from forty stations in Scotland that do not have a taxi rank. In our area only Mallaig is offered! Booking must be made through http://cabandgo.scotrail.co.uk When you log on an upfront quote is provided; if you accept the quote and book you must be able to receive up-to-date text messages which alert you via their helpline in case of any issues. You must book at least two hours before your required pick up time. The service has been trialled in Holland and on Abellio Greater Anglia services and proved to be successful.
I'm not too sure where your taxi will come from but the good news is that the clock on the taxi does not start until you get into the taxi to travel to your destination. If anyone does use this service do please give me some feedback on (01687) 462189. Thanks. In the meantime in Mallaig there are two licenced taxi firms that will deliver you to or from your train or destination. There is no taxi rank as such but both are just a phone call away. mallaigtaxis@gmail.com or ring 07577 699196 or 07712 342634 or go to www.mallaigtaxis.com or Mary Morrison, Mallaig-based on (01687) 462885.

Resumed 'Summer Sunday' ScotRail service from March 26th, 2017
From the above date on Sundays we will have departing Mallaig a 10:10, 16:05 and 18:15 class 156 Super Sprinter service, and from Fort William a departing service at 12:12 arriving Mallaig at 13:34. From Glasgow Queen Street a 12:20 train arrives in Mallaig at 17:43 and a 18:20 train arriving Mallaig 22:35. Welcome news. The regular four arrival and departure weekday ScotRail trains after March 26th will comprise of four car sets with two toilets as passenger numbers dictate. Catering services should be available on the majority of services excluding the 06:03 service ex Mallaig and the 23:35 service into Mallaig. For details on all of the above pick up a timetable from your nearest railway station booking office or look at www.scotrail.co.uk

One man and his dog back together after gorge ordeal
How many West Word readers saw the above headline in national newspapers on March 25th? It was a wonderful true tale of a twelve-year-old sheep dog called Nell who was trapped deep in Monessie Gorge near Roy Bridge after falling in unnoticed from croft land above it and was trapped for twelve days! Finally a very alert train passenger on the Fort William train spotted her in the gorge. On arrival at the station the passenger informed the train driver. The driver knew the crofter of the land, knocked his door, and together they went to the head of the gorge. The crofter shouted 'Nell' and she stuck her wee head out down at the bottom. Next, volunteers from the mountain rescue team stepped in and abseiled down the gorge to reach the stricken dog. "She was a bit timid but after a wee bit of smooth talking and a dog biscuit she was coaxed out of her lair, put in a harness and brought up the crag" said a spokesperson. The train definitely saved her that day!

Fancy a day trip out of Mallaig for lunch or/and evening meal by train? It is possible.
These delights are now available to you at the following railway station platforms. Bill and Jenny Anderson have reopened Rannoch Station Tearoom. Open Monday to Saturday (except Friday) from 8:30am to 4:30pm and Sunday 10am until 4:30pm. You can ring to book a table for lunch to fit in with the train timetable, or if travelling onwards book ahead to have a bacon roll and hot drink (or cake!) delivered to the door of the train. Telephone Jenny on 01882 633247 for prices etc.
Corrour Station House offer hot drinks, breakfasts, lunches and evening meals seven days a week from 8:30am to 9pm. Contact them for further details on 01397 732236.
Travelling further on the line? Crianlarich tearoom has reopened for the season. Open Mondays to Saturdays. You can eat in or if you pre-order nip in whilst the train changes crew and joins up trains from Oban (sometimes) and pay for and pick up your order. The manager is Nadia Dolan and her telephone number is 01838 300204.
With all of the above mention West Word and this column. It is good fun to take off and do it! What's not to like!

Jacobite eight month steam train season commences
"Bring it on Sonia" is the comment I have heard for the last month. Extra staff are in place, plants and hanging baskets pre-ordered (too early yet!), and the new "Off the rails - a visit to Mallaig 2017" are in production - with more photos this year!
The season commences on Good Friday April 14th running through the Easter weekend until April 21st. On April 24th the Monday to Friday morning service (lunchtime into Mallaig) settles in, followed by the Monday to Friday afternoon service commencing on May 15th. Weekend services of both trains follow on. I will update you.
For more information or to book online or purchase vouchers go to www.jacobitetrain.com or telephone West Coast Railways on 0844 850 4680 or 0844 850 4681. Or you can call me Sonia Cameron on 01687 462189 for advice or to receive a brochure for 2017.

The retiral of the Great Yellowlees
I did promise you a report on the retiral party arranged by ScotRail at All Bar One in Glasgow on February 3rd of John Yellowlees. John announced previously his intention to 'step down' from his irreplaceable position of External Relations Manager (my "go to" boss) as his last position. However it was not to be as he is now ScotRail's first "Honorary Rail Ambassador" and declares himself to be busier than ever - minus the spreadsheets eh John. And a great time was had by all who attended.

John Yellowlees receiving his 'Outstanding Achievement' certificate from David Lister, Scotrail/Abellio Executive Sustainability and Safety Director.
Photo Steve Roberts.

The spirit of the evening is best explained by the photographs and the following lines penned on a train (where else - it's where I wrote my speech too) by Frank Roach Esq resident at Rogart railway station and it follows thus:

Rail lines on the Retiral of the great Yellowlees

Twas in the year two thousand and seventeen
A great throng was assembled; it had to be seen
The railway family the chance did seize
To mark the retiral of the great Yellow Lees.

Led by Margaret the doughty, the pair strode the land
What a task she took on to keep him in hand!
Generations of ScotRail M.D.s had John at their side
To advise, correct historical data to provide.

There was no scheme, no plan he did not touch
and when history is written no one will remember so much
The burgesses and the Borders have JY to thank
for Edinburgh Crossrail, gateway to Tweed bank.

And now he continues as first H.R.A.
Patrolling the track down Roseburn way.
The guy who was in at the birth of Railtrack
is now designated a rail artefact.

What a splendid fellow you are John.

See you on the train,
Sonia Cameron

In the 18 years since May 1999 when I took over as Editor, there have been many changes in technology. The printer then was a Riso, a Roneo type machine and our volunteer printers had to print 1000 of each double page and let them dry before they could print the other side! In a 32 page issue, this meant that pairs of pages - 1 and 32, 2 and 31, 3 and 30 etc - had to be ready to be printed - quite a difficult task for the editor and very rigid, allowing no amendments or addition of pages. Remember those issues, with indecipherable photos and faint print? But the printer didn't go wrong! It was a more social time, with printers and editor working on the issue at the same time, with the printers (Ewen MacDonald, of course!, Roger Lanyon and Mick Rogers) exhorting the perspiring editor to hurry up and get the next pair of pages ready.
The finished issue of a run of 1000 copies thus consisted of 8000 double sided sheets of A3, which were divided into 100 sets and then taken to the homes of our army of 10 volunteer folders who collated and folded each copy, usually by putting the piles on the kitchen table and dancing round to music, plucking a sheet from each pile until the copy was complete, when it was folded and something firm such a cassette box was run along the spine - get the picture? And on to the next…
We got our first digital printer which folded and stapled, though only printed in black and white, in February 2004 with some grants and in 2010 with help from donations from readers we got our first colour printer. We are now on our third digital machine - though we still get offers from people to fold it for us!!
Not many contributions came in by email and most submissions had to be re-typed. In May 2000 we bought a digital camera, one of the few in the area and we had to raise money to buy it - quite a bulky thing. Before we got it we had to wait for folk to finish a film spool and get it processed before we could have photos.
Since June 2000 our features and some photos have been available online. Times change!
Ann Martin


Here's the Crofter's Rest Session on tour .. in the Corpach Hotel!

Jim says: Pour le club Francais, "Sur le pont a d'Avignon, On y danse, on y danse."

Dreams of another victory, GGTTH! Anne Ramsay, Torbhan, Kinlocheil

This month's pic from Tom MacKinnon was taken in the Himalayas - he says
'This is me and the "Wolfskins" - our group conquered Poon hill in Nepal 3280m (almost 3x the height of Ben Nevis I believe!)'

Richard Lamont didn't forget to pack his copy of West Word on his recent holiday to Northumberland

Camille Dressler reading West Word in Marsalforn, Gozo, where she travelled to attend the AGM of the Confederation of Peripheral and Maritime Regions Island Commission.

MARCH 2017 BIRDWATCH by Stephen MacDonald
Birds on the move this month, as some of our winter visitors started to move north and the first of our summer visitors arrived.
An early Chiffchaff was heard singing in Arisaig on the 28th. Sand Martins appeared back on the colony at Rhubana, Loch Morar on the 31st. Meadow Pipits and Skylarks appeared from mid-month, with 7 skylarks seen feeding at Camusdarrach on the 21st. Many birds were back on their breeding grounds, or at least singing and displaying.
Shelduck were reported from the Morar Estuary, Loch nan Ceall and Lochailort. Little Grebes and Teal were on Loch nan Eala and displaying Goldeneye and Red Breasted Mergansers were on Loch Morar.
Varying numbers of Whooper Swans were reported from Loch nan Eala as birds stopped off on the way north to Iceland.
The Mandarin Duck remained on the Morar river throughout and the Kingfisher was reported upstream of the hydro dam several times early in the month, the last sighting on the 17th. Dippers and Grey Wagtails were also seen on the Morar River.
The Nuthatch continued to visit feeders in an Arisaig garden and was accepted onto the Highland List from the photos and description submitted.
The Viking Gull remained at Mallaig throughout the month. Immature Sea Eagles were reported from Arisaig area and Loch Ailort. A Barn Owl was seen at Portnadoran on several occasions.
By the month end there was a substantial increase in the numbers of Siskins and Redpolls visiting feeders and a pair of Twite were also seen on feeders in a Morar garden on the 31st. Bullfinches were reported from Woodside area and Rhubana eating the buds on the fruit trees.

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