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 2019 Issue

Contents of the online version:

Top stories
Letter from the Editor
Monthly news from Knoydart, Muck, Canna, Rum, Eigg
Lifeboat, harbour and railway news
World Wide West Word

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Transport Scotland have agreed to a speed restriction of 40mph and a controlled pedestrian crossing point on the A830 by the National Trust for Scotland visitor centre in Glenfinnan.
The village is an enduringly popular tourist destination and to reach the monument, visitors must walk along and cross the road which currently has a 60mph limit. Locals have been campaigning for months for the obvious road safety issues to be addressed.
Fiona Gibson, secretary of Glenfinnan Community Council, said: "The village receives ever increasing numbers of visitors from all over the world and their safety as well as local road users has been a long standing item on our agenda."
Transport Scotland plan to advertise the new speed limit in May.

Mallaig to Chengdu!
Four aspiring young traditional musicians from Mallaig High School will fly to Chengdu City to perform in the largest students art event in Southern-West China at the invitation of the Chengdu Government this month.
Hats off to these four emerging musicians who are thrilled to have been invited to attend the 9th China Young Cultural Ambassadors Performing Festival to showcase their traditional Scottish talents. Their journey to Chengdu City will take them over 5000 miles from their home to perform at the China Young Cultural Ambassadors Program. The program is held by The China Society of Education, the largest association under the direct lead of the Chinese Ministry of Education. Since the program was launched in 2010, more than 500 million students from Beijing, Tianjin, Chengdu, and Guangzhou and beyond have participated in this project.
The Festival is an important part of the program under the cooperation between the China Young Cultural Ambassadors Organising Committee and Chengdu City Government (The City Department of Education and Chengdu City Department of Culture, Radio, Television, and Tourism). It is also the largest students' art event in Southern-West China. This year, the program gathers together 50 youth music groups of more than 2000 students, and will be reported by Chinese Centre television (CCTV), Global Times, Tencet, and other media.

Photo: Alan Cargill

The four musicians, Ellie (Scots fiddle), Georgia (guitar), Struan (Highland Bagpipes) and Anna (Scots fiddle) are all pupils at Mallaig High School and under the tutelage and musical direction of Lauren Moir, who is Head of Music at Mallaig High School and musician in her own right with band Riska. Regular performers in the Lochaber area and further afield, together and individually the students have tallied up competitive playing, public performances at the opening night of Celtic Connections, Blas Festival, Feisean and a host of other trad music events.
"Our youngsters are passionate about Scottish traditional music; it's part of their culture and their identity. What an amazing opportunity for them to showcase their talents and represent their heritage on an international platform!" commented Lauren.
The preparations are already underway with rehearsals and sound checks in the diary, visas to collect from the Embassy in Edinburgh, not least the luggage allowances for all the instruments. The band fly out on the 19th April to a packed itinerary and three public performances on their four day event before returning back to Mallaig just in time to take their Higher and Advanced Higher examinations - in music of course!

Happy Easter to all our readers!
Despite the recent hike in postal charges we're going to keep our subscription rates the same as last year - see box opposite for the current rates.
I'm hoping the printing will go a bit more smoothly this month as the machine wasn't playing ball at all last month, and I hand stapled and folded 600 copies to get them in to the shops .. It should be all fixed now, so fingers crossed!
Once again my thanks go to helpers Miya and Jane for sticking address and postage labels on to the subscription envelopes and to Morag and Ewen for assisting with the printing this month.
Kirsty Bloom

West Word AGM: Chair's report
November 2017 - October 2018
It's been a milestone year for West Word, starting with Editor Kirsty collecting the Community Newspaper of the Year Award in February 2018.
Our successful bid to the Co-op Community Fund which netted us a total of £6112 showed us that our original, off the shelf Memo and Arts was not fit for purpose. We bit the bullet and on 24th October 2018 we were awarded charitable status as a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. We are swapping the hoops of Companies House for the convolutions of OSCR and have opened a new bank account. We aren't yet in a position to close the Limited Company, as we have to wait until there have been no payments into the old account for three months, and this isn't proving easy to achieve! Despite bold capital headings on the emails that go out with the invoices we are still getting payments into the wrong account but we're nearly there. Hopefully we can close the Limited Company around August time.
We set in train the procedures required to set up our own website. We engaged the help of the Road to the Isles' old webmaster, Daniel, whom we have worked with for many years, and thankfully he managed to salvage all our lost archive back numbers. The new site went live in November 2018.
The standard of the paper continues to be very high and it is clear Kirsty has a real feel for the community. We struggle against the continued rise of the use of facebook instead of West Word for greetings, adverts and what's ons. Kirsty maintains a good facebook page for West Word with the occasional help from myself. The printer which we bought in November 2017 after a successful fundraising drive has proved to be unreliable - I think the problem with our printers is that we really work them hard - and we are aware that it is frustrating for everyone when it is late out, not least to Kirsty herself and our faithful assistant printers, Ewen and Morag.
The recent rise in stamp prices will affect our subscriptions but we have taken the decision to keep the cost the same for this year.
I feel at last West Word has the right structures in place to give it a firm base. My thanks to my fellow directors for always being at the end of an email; together we have achieved a lot this year. I'm very pleased that Camille Dressler, Jacqueline McDonell and Andrew Fleming are staying on as Directors, and I thank them for electing me as Chair again.
Special thanks to Andrew who has continued to handle the money matters, to Ewen and Morag, Henrik and Nicky for helping with printing, Anne and Miya for dealing with the subscription envelopes, Camille for undertaking the Co-op application, and of course to Kirsty.
Ann Martin

It's not been a very nice month really with a lot of cold, wet, and windy weather. Hard to take after the brief mild spring-like end we had to February! On a brighter note, there has been some excitement over this side of the loch with the Big Silent Auction going on to raise more funds for the hall renovations. The Silent Auction which ended at the end of March, coupled with the small local auction for the craic, raised a grand total of £12,292 which was quite amazing really. There were some fantastic prizes up for grabs mind you.
March was also the month of the community buyout, 20 years ago! There were a couple of small celebrations by the Forest Trust and the Ranger service to mark the occasion and some excellent old photos/video footage emerging. One of the notable differences from then and now (no, I don't mean the dramatic changes to certain people's hair…) is the number of residents. Now we have a current total of 107 full time residents plus one on the way.
Sadly though we will be saying goodbye soon to one of our young families - Tom, Yasmine, Innes and Ivy and the new - yet to be born - baby as they make the move to Acharacle. They will be sorely missed and the impact will be felt at the school.
The ranger service took part in the Keep Britain Tidy beach clean and there was a good turn-out of 37 folk - that's a third of the community - to help. All in all there were eight Landrover boot fulls of rubbish collected!
The Lookout is now open for lunch and dinners and have a new chef arriving soon which is very exciting. They will also soon be offering a fab vegan menu too which is worth noting if you are of that persuasion! Check it out for a fantastic dining experience.
Well done to Anna R who won the Isabelle MacPhee Quaich at the Advanced Fiddle Class up at Lochaber Music Festival in Fort William. She's a very talented young lady!
Happy Birthday to Ethan, who turned five this month, and Robbie and Archie who also celebrated their birthdays and have now entered the teenage realm…
And on a final note, if you are looking for a well-bred, good working stock collie pup then there is one still for sale from the Inverguserain Farm litter… contact Iain Wilson for more details.
Heather Robb

Well, storm Gareth huffed and puffed but I'm please to say failed to blow the house(s) down. As storms go, we've seen a lot worse though it's the first time I've heard the sea state described as "very high, occasionally phenomenal" for one of the sea areas on the shipping forecast. The sea foam was impressive and great blobs of off white suds rained down on Port Mor and the wee bay known by some as the "Washing Machine" was knee deep in the stuff. But by and large what down south may have caused a little concern only really needed us to don "our big coat"! The biggest casualty was our long suffering supply teacher who was stranded for two extra days. In conversation he told me he'd spent more extra days away from home since January than in the previous 7 years. As he receives nothing by way of compensation for spending his weekends away from home and family, one has to wonder how much longer he will be prepared to provide cover for teaching staff on the islands? More to the point how many teachers will be queuing to take his place!
Spring is a time for new arrivals. Lambing is just around the corner and many of the ewes are starting to look quite "portly". Nothing quite shouts "Spring" like newborn lambs "blethering" for their mums. But there is no more welcomed arrival than that of a new island resident. I know I speak for everyone when I say congratulations to Georgia and Neil Gillies on the birth of baby Ruben on 7th of March. Baby Ruben's arrival takes the resident population of the island to 47 (of which 5 are under 3) - the highest it's been since the clearances.
Right, rant time. It's safe to say that the new system for moving chilled goods to the islands is not going swimmingly yet. The first issue is the carefully sealed boxes, delivered by our wholesalers, being opened to check for chilled goods. I can't be the only person who feels slightly violated by someone rooting through my groceries. And I am aware there is a plan for large chilled boxes that can be put on and off the Loch Nevis by forklift but the current "temporary" chilled boxes "ain't making the grade"! They are far too small for purpose and consequently everyone's shopping ends up together. Trays of yogurt, for example, get put in loose as the trays take up too much room. So there you are, the boat is in, it's raining and a gaggle of islanders bid for items as they emerge from said boxes (provided that is they can remember exactly what they ordered from the Co-op) while struggling to find something to put their retrieved goodies in. The sooner the forklift boxes arrive the better! By the way. Don't suppose anyone out there knows who ordered the Dairylea Dunkers....do they? Or where my double cream went?
David Barnden

The less said about the March weather the better.......
Canna businesses are getting spruced up, revamped and ready for the start of another season. Lots of nice bright paint colours about.
Islanders are also preparing for the official opening of our renewable energy project CREEL on Saturday 6th April. March has certainly provided enough wind for our turbines.
Calving has been slow to get going on the farm but perhaps this has been a good thing as the weather has been wet and cold.
Mowi have organised a visit to the Rum Fish Farm on 2nd April for residents to learn more about the industry.
Geraldine MacKinnon

Criomagan (Crumbs) from Canna House
March has been a busy month for Canna House Archivist Fiona. The month began with her travelling to Edinburgh University to present a paper at the Scottish Association for the Study of America's annual conference. Given the strong connections between Canna and the US (Margaret Fay Shaw was from Pittsburgh and John Lorne Campbell's mother was also American), this was a very appropriate platform for Fiona to deliver her paper entitled From Polochar to Pittsburgh, the focus of which was the story of an American teenager's passion for 'roots', who went on to save a fascinating ethnological profile of a marginalised Scottish Community for the world.
Fiona then delivered an illustrated talk to Laggan Historical Society where she was able to show some of Margaret's images taken during her time holidaying on Speyside, when she was a school pupil in Helensburgh in 1920.


Fiona followed that talk sharply with a talk to Portree Local History Society where she was able to tell the capacity audience at Tigh na Sgire about the significant part which Skye played in the formation of Margaret's career as one of the first female photographers of the 20th century. The audience was fascinated to see Margaret's images of Portree in 1926 when Margaret stayed there for three months learning Gaelic.


And as Easter approaches, a proverb collected by Margaret for Easter -
Ugh air an Inid, Ian air a'Chàisg. Mura bi sin aig an fhitheach, bidh am bàs.
Egg at Shrovetide, Chick at Easter. If the raven does not have that, it will die.

Fiona MacKenzie

March started off with the bunkhouse becoming a temporary recording studio for Jed recording songs for an album, bunkhouse manager by day, rock star by night or at least singer songwriter….
Prep for the coming visitor season has been top of the list with the village hall getting its usual revamp. Jed and Kate have been painting, Kim has been on the hunt for the hoover to get rid of the cobwebs and we pressure washed the outside to clean it in advance of a repaint. It will remain standing for yet another year! We used to have the best village hall in the Small Isles but that was some time ago now and both Eigg and Muck have new and rejuvenated ones leaving ours in need of TLC. New hall is dutifully added to the wish list.
A sundial has been commissioned by SNH on behalf of the Wilf Nelson memorial trustees who provided the funds. Mr Nelson was a reserve officer here on Rum, however he unfortunately lost his life while monitoring eagles on Bloodstone, and as a tribute to him with his passion for birds, the sundial is constructed to show the annual cycle of the Manx Shearwaters, with a Shearwater casting the shadow on the sundial to show the time of year. It is sited just below the dam on the Coire Dubh path and SNH also plan to install a bench and a commemorative plaque near to the sundial in the coming weeks. In other NNR news, SNH have been repairing the ditches on the Harris track to improve drainage and installing 'moorland mesh' on the Argo track towards Guirdil to prevent them damaging the habitat further.
The first units for the Mowi houses are arriving this week which is exciting and our familiarization day is due to take place on 3rd April - yummy lunch of venison lasagne in the hall included courtesy of Kim's Kitchen.
The seasonal Ranger Trudi starts back at work in April and has a full summer programme of activities planned along with all the Hebridean Whale & Dolphin Trust events, as we are now part of their Whale Trail. And, there is a Woodpecker somewhere in the village, we can hear it but only Sean as seen it so far. Don't forget our anniversary Ceilidh on Saturday 11th May with Fras! There'll be a BBQ as well.
Fliss Fraser

March's Storm Gareth certainly created havoc at Galmisdale, beheading most daffodils in Christine's lovely spring display but as usual at this time of year, it provided a seaweed bounty for Eigg's gardeners: the yin and yang of island life. Calmer weather allowed the community to get together for the annual pruning in the community orchard: wee Maggie can now lecture on the subject, thanks to Neil's instructions - tree must end up like an umbrella. A potential candidate for future permaculture courses then. The Eigg Environmental Action Group - hopefully the worthy successor to the Green team - has food growing in its sights and is determined to bring those skills to the island this year with funding from the Eigg Residents. Other interests are: working towards zero waste and single use plastic free status, and marine litter. On the latter subject, we are very proud that exposure of the issue of plastic straps used in the fishing industry is on-going through our Katie, our Ocean Champion. She is now talking to the Irish Fishing Board on the issue of the Irish Arctic Fisheries straps that can be found littering our beaches (not just our beaches: found one in Tarskavaig on Skye). Sadly for us, but happily for the Caol beachwatchers, Katie, Craig and Bryn are moving to the Fort William area but we hope to see them regularly and of course keep in close touch on Marine litter action for Lochaber. Good luck to you guys on your new mainland life! But hey, yin and yang again, as one family goes, another arrival is announced: Sarah and Johnny's little baby girl, Ness, who was born on 22 March in Edinburgh! Congratulations to proud parents!
That week of bad weather did not deter Lewis writer Donald S. Murray from coming to Eigg on the first leg of research for a book on Gaelic islands. We had the pleasure of hearing him read from his brand new book As a Woman lay Dreaming about the Iolaire disaster: a thoroughly enjoyable night, and we do hope Donald will be coming to Eigg again, we did enjoy his dry Lewis wit. Sounds like the book could be a good candidate for the next Mallaig book festival!
At the end of the month, Eigg's textile/crafter's group and Eigg ladies@lunch will be saying goodbye to Wies, the lovely Dutch woman who came to stay on Eigg for six months after her retirement, to chill out and embark on her writing ambitions. You can read her piece in this month's issue! At the same time, we welcomed back David Kirk from his year of adventures including the South American continent, where a highlight was swimming with hammerhead sharks in the Galapagos and coming face to face (almost) with a jaguar in Bolivia!
In my column last month you read about our wrestling with EE on the school mast issue. It was finally resolved by agreeing that it will only be used for emergency purposes to minimise exposure, and some of us rejoice that Cleadale will still be free from Mobile phone reception - our much-appreciated Unique Selling Point. However there was a bit of surprise to see the mast towering right over the playground rather than being tucked in behind the trees. Apparently best protection is to be right underneath it: so you win some and you lose some, yin and yang again. There was also much disappointment in the Pier development project being set back as our funding application did not make it in this very competitive environment. We just have to try again next year.
Excellent news that the Forestry felling and replanting will happen this year, thanks to cooperation with our neighbours in Knoydart. Another great piece of news is that Eigg and the rest of the Small Isles, as well as Foula and Fair Isle, the Scottish off grid islands, have been awarded support towards energy transition planning alongside the Orkney islands through the Orkney Renewable Energy Forum by the Clean Energy EU islands secretariat. Having completed their plans, they will then be eligible to have them funded under the Clean Energy Islands Facility which will take over under the Horizon 2020 scheme. They will part of the 26 European islands and Islands groups who have singled out for being "Energy transition lighthouse islands". This news was welcomed by Lucy, director of IEHT and Eigg Electrics, who said: "we're very pleased that Eigg is part of the 26 islands selected and we are looking forward to working with and learning from other islands in Scotland and elsewhere at innovative ways to move to cleaner energy technologies! "
And if you are wondering whether the Brexit debacle will affect this, thankfully no, as hard lobbying by universities and research institutes in 2016 managed to persuade the UK to continue participating in H2020 projects! It's another story for the up and coming Horizon Europe, but if Scotland Europa has its way, we 'll do our best to ensure we don't lose out. Watch out, Westminster, it's #Scotland is now!
In the meantime, Eigg is gearing up for its Women's Running retreat at the end of the month. The Eigg runners have been in training with 7k to 14k off-piste running and they all look fabulously fit. Well done you all!
Camille Dressler

Congratulations to Arisaig House, which was runner up in the 5th annual Scottish Rural Awards in the Rural Hospitality category.
The awards are the ultimate benchmark of excellence in Scotland's countryside - a celebration of the enterprise, innovation, dedication and community spirit of those who live in rural Scotland. They are partnered by Scottish Field and the Scottish Countryside Alliance, in association with the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS).
Shiel Buses were finalists in the Rural Employer and the Rural Enterprise and Innovation categories.

Pictured above are Dougie Vipond with Arisaig House's Sarah Winnington-Ingram and chef Colin Nicholson at the Awards Ceremony and Gala Dinner, Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh on 21st March 2019.

Saturday 11th May

Raising funds for Mallaig Pool and Leisure
Building on last year's big success, Mallaig Pool and Leisure will this year host their Festival of Running in Arisaig, starting and finishing at the Football Field. All proceeds raised will help to fund the Pool's refurbishment project. The day will comprise:
Full Marathon - 9.30am
Half Marathon - 11am
10km - 12pm
5km - 12.30pm
Walking Half Marathon - 10am

This year we've introduced a full Marathon for the first time ever, we've revised the routes, and we're delighted to announce that Scottish Sea Farms are our official sponsor for both the Festival of Running and our September Traigh Triathlon.
We would love as many of the community to get involved either by participating, volunteering, or marshalling. This event is fast becoming a popular calendar event for runners of all distances and abilities from across the country, as well as being an important source of fund raising for the Pool. We hope it will be a real celebration of running. The Friends of Mallaig Pool will provide tea, coffee and baking, and Sarah Winnington-Ingram from Arisaig House will be cooking up a spectacular seafood paella. Arisaig's lovely restaurants and cafés will be open all day, and the Arisaig Hotel will host rockabilly / blues band Bad Boogaloo from 9pm to end the day with a swing.
We are delighted to have teamed up with Arisaig Community Trust for the use of the football field on the day. We've been working alongside the Trust's Arisaig Eco Project to devise practical solutions to avoid supplying plastic water bottles (for water stations and at the field) and we will also be providing compostable cups for hot and cold drinks at the field. There will be several bins at the field to separate any waste including food waste, mixed recycling and landfill. Please help us by keeping any rubbish to the absolute minimum.
We're also breaking new ground by ridding the race of all single use plastic water bottles and collaborating with multi award winning seaweed-tech startup company Skipping Rocks Lab who have created Ooho!, an edible water sphere made of seaweed, entirely natural and totally biodegradable. The consumption of non-renewable resources for single use bottles and the amount of waste generated is profoundly unsustainable. The aim of Ooho! is to provide the convenience of plastic bottles while limiting environmental impact - and we love this.
Please join us on Saturday 11th May to support the runners and to cheer them home. We look forward to welcoming you and thank you for your support. Mallaig Pool and Leisure is a social enterprise run by a small team and volunteers from the community. Come along, tell your friends, bring your family - it will be a great day out.
To sign up for a race distance, go to this website address, and if you sign up before 12th April you will receive a free event t-shirt: https://www.entrycentral.com/Arisaig-Festival-of-Running

Knoydart Raises its Roof! Literally...
March was a brilliantly busy month for the Knoydart Community Hall team as we launched an online Super Silent Auction to raise funds towards the hall redevelopment. We had 32 amazing lots up for auction which included everything from arts and music to holiday packages, special tours and one-off keepsakes. The auction ran for two weeks closing on Friday 22nd March and at the end we had received 172 bids with the winning amounts totalling an astonishing £11,582!!! We also held a wee local auction night in the hall on Saturday 23rd which raised an additional £710 - taking our total tally to £12,292. A massive thank you must go to everyone who generously donated towards the auction, and everyone who shared our auction information and who participated.
Since beginning our fundraising efforts just over a year ago we have now raised approximately £312,000 of a £412,00 target and works will begin in May which is very exciting. If you'd like to find out more about the refurb or the hall in general please have a look at our website www.knoydarthall.com

A New Play Park for Mallaig
People who regularly use the kids' playpark at Loch Nevis Crescent will certainly agree that the park is in dire need of upgrading and a group of enthusiastic parents have started taking steps to making it happen. Joining up with the Road the Isles Facilities Group, the play park project is hoping to take on an access agreement with the Highland Council to use the existing site for an exciting new park. They have approached several companies to come up with some design options, to include: a junior/toddler multiplay, an older kids' climbing frame, swings - including a parent and child basket swing - roundabouts, slides, seesaws, sensory play and more! It will bring enormous benefits to children in Mallaig and the surrounding area, as well as an attraction for visitors with children.
It's really important that the community gets on board and involved - your views are essential to making the project happen! The group have set up a facebook page (Mallaig Play Park - Out with the old) and would appreciate any likes and shares to get the word out. The next step is to do a survey to build up support, so look out for that soon.
They have also set up a 'go fund me' which can be found on facebook or here: https://www.gofundme.com/mallaig-play-park-project?member=1958952 When the lease agreement is reached with the council we can start the big fundraising for the park; ideas, volunteers and sponsorships will be a huge help! If you'd like to be involved, or to get in touch with the group, contact mallaigplayparkproject@outlook.com

Formal launch of Canna's Renewables system
On the 6th April the Isle of Canna Community Development Trust (IoCCDT) will officially launch their new environmentally-friendly energy generation system with a special event and a celebratory ceilidh. For almost 20 years, Canna and Sanday's 18 residents have had to rely on three diesel generators for power. As a result of a community venture, Canna Renewable Energy and Electrification Ltd. (CREEL), power is now generated through wind and solar and linked to a battery storage system, which relegates the old generators to occasional back-up use.
CREEL owns and operates the new equipment, construction of which finished in October 2018. Since then, it has produced a reliable, 24-hour, environmentally sustainable power supply. All profits from the sale of electricity used by Canna residents and businesses are ploughed back into running the system.
CREEL director Geraldine MacKinnon said: "A reliable power source will certainly help increase visitor numbers but also has potential to lead to more investment in new facilities, such as a community hub and bunkhouse providing accommodation, electric showers and laundry facilities. The community and the National Trust for Scotland are currently undertaking a feasibility study for these facilities, all of which would depend on the additional electricity capacity the CREEL project has delivered."
The new system is expected to substitute the use of over 36,000 litres of diesel fuel each year, equivalent to 96.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions (in direct emissions only, excluding the embodied energy involved in extracting, refining and transporting the diesel). Over a period of 25 years, the scheme could prevent over 2,400 tonnes of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere.

Arisaig Community Trust
February and March both had a lot going on for Arisaig Community Trust. At our AGM on February 15th, Judy Budge stepped down as Treasurer and was replaced by Rosemary Bridge. Many thanks to Judy for all her hard work. All other Board directors remain unchanged - Julie Gordon (chair), Iain Macniven, Peter Fleming, Pamela King, Jane Foster and Paul Sheard. Tiina Heinonen is our minutes secretary.
Following successful applications to the Scottish Land Fund and Rural Housing Fund back in January, we're very pleased to announce that we've been awarded development funding for a new housing project for Arisaig. We've appointed Sam Foster Architects and the Highland Small Communities Housing Trust to come up with a feasibility study for the project. And that's just the beginning! The land we've been looking at is along at Station Road and has been for sale for a number of years already, with planning in principle for 6 houses on it. Becoming community land owners is a major step for any community group and can open up all kinds of opportunities, however it can be a long process and usually requires a mix of different funding streams to make it happen.
The first community consultation date is Friday 5th April in the Astley Hall, 3-5pm. From 2pm there will also be a talk about Community Shares which anyone is welcome to join as well. We encourage anyone with an interest in sustainable housing or any questions or concerns about the project to come along. Refreshments will be provided. If you can't make it on the day, get in touch by email or with one of our directors if you have comments or queries.
We also have another opportunity to buy land in Arisaig village. It includes the playing field and adjoining area, which we already lease, and the area in front of the shop with the car park. From the housing survey we did last year, a lot of people want the car park improved and the refuse area tidied up so we'll be looking at this first.
We're getting closer to securing the lease on the Station Buildings and hope to turn one room into a co-working space that people can rent out. The building needs quite a bit of work but it would be great to see it used again. Members of the gardening club will be helping with the new planters at the Station soon. The official opening of Bill's Shed was a very successful day with a large turn-out of locals and visitors, despite the gloomy weather! It was nice to see the front of the workshop opened up and people coming and going all afternoon. The mosaic project is looking fantastic and will soon be on display at the centre and we are very grateful to all the volunteers and participants for helping put together such an enjoyable event.
The Land, Sea and Islands Centre is looking for more volunteers to work in the centre and shop. The current volunteer group love working at the centre and if you have a spare few hours a week, come and join the team…it's a great place to hang out and chat to locals and visitors!
As always, get in touch with us at info@arisaigcommunitytrust.org.uk or on facebook!

Arisaig Eco Project
Thanks to all for braving the elements and joining in with our recent seed swap at Bill's Shed. Lots of seeds, ideas and stories shared! We also had a selection of organic seed potatoes available to try including Maris Bard, Charlotte, British Queen, Lady Balfour and Setanta. The seed potatoes are chitting away ready for planting at Arisaig Primary, at the Land, Sea and Islands Centre and elsewhere in the community.
We have been busy preparing the ground for the fruit trees to be planted beside the Arisaig toilets. Particular thanks to Simon Whitton for donating his time and skills to the digger work here, to Alison and Gordon Stewart and to Becky of Shielfoot Organics who helped with the digging and planting of eight new apple trees in the village. Five bare rooted trees were planted beside the Toilets and three in the Playing Field. Varieties include Discovery, Sunset, Ribston Pippin and Bramley Seedling. We used old inner tyre tubes to tie the young trees to hazel branches for support and lots of seaweed to mulch in.


We've had meetings with the Arisaig and District Gardening Club and have set a date for the Arisaig Garden Trail which is going to be held on Saturday 22nd June from 12 noon to 5 pm. More information to follow next month. Lots of discussion recently about single use plastic and a very interesting talk held at Mallaig High School from staff at Edinburgh Napier University and their research into Ocean Plastic as a material resource in design, manufacturing and education. We really appreciate the donations of gardening and D.I.Y. tools we have had so far for the forthcoming Community Tool Library. Thank you and please keep them coming!
To get in touch please contact
Email: eco@arisaigcommunitytrust.org.uk
Tel: 01687 450771
or call in to the Land, Sea and Islands Centre
The Arisaig Eco Project (part of Arisaig Community Trust) is supporting the community move towards a more sustainable and low carbon lifestyle. The main themes of the project include encouraging local food production and consumption, reducing waste and promoting greener transport.

The Isle of Rum Community Trust: Ten years of Community land ownership and development
This year, 2019, is the tenth anniversary of the first land transfer which gave the Isle of Rum Community Trust ownership of land in Kinloch Village. It had taken near on 12 years previously just to get that far…!
Since 2009, IRCT has achieved a monumental amount from humble beginnings. With no nest egg or financial backing whatsoever and a very small community we have owned and managed 11 houses to rent, a water supply, a couple of miles of roads, a village hall and a campsite. We have created employment and most importantly we have been able to give security of tenure to the people who lived here then, and now; and we have enabled a number of small businesses to begin from nothing and flourish over time.
Projects we have completed include the campsite showers and cooking shelter, the village hall kitchen extension and decking, the waiting room and toilet at the pier, the letting of three crofts, double glazing for the village hall, a whole raft of house maintenance including the upgrade of Kinloch cottages no 1 and 2 with new kitchens, double glazed windows and doors and efficient heating systems, and also the Community Ranger programme.
Clearly our biggest achievement so far has been the creation of a trading company and the construction of Rum bunkhouse. The bunkhouse has created two extra permanent jobs on Rum, and a seasonal post too, and replaced the Kinloch Castle hostel as the main accommodation provider. As an income generator it provides IRCT with valuable funds to put towards new projects and ongoing ever-increasing costs.
In the last two years, we have brokered a deal with Marine Harvest Scotland, which, along with their fish farm and shore base, will mean new houses, moorings and jobs for the community. Rental income for our agreement also helps to bolster funds.
IRCT are also building houses which will mean the first new homes on Rum in a long time; this will give us the opportunity to increase the population and further strengthen our island economy.
In the near future we will face new challenges, such as the capacity of the power supply and providing new facilities for our ever growing number of visitors; we hope to build a café building and provide adequate toilets and showers for the campsite and yachts, and we also need a fit-for-purpose office space and a visitors' centre. All of these projects will take time but together we can do all these things and more.
Fliss Fraser

Lifeboat Log
25th February 2019 Assisting fishing vessel which had lost its steering
Launched by Stornoway Coastguard to the assistance of a local creel boat in Loch nan Uamh at 14:40. Whilst engaged in fishing operations the vessel lost the ability to steer. On further inspection by the skipper he discovered that the rudder was missing. After contacting the Coastguard and alerting them to his predicament, the Lifeboat was launched at 14:40. Meanwhile a nearby creel boat was able to attach a tow rope and pull the casualty out to open water and back towards Glenuig. Owing to a fresh breeze and the fact that both vessels were being operated single handed, the Lifeboat took the casualty alongside and put the casualty on her mooring in Glenuig Bay at 15:20. With casualty now moored the Lifeboat was released at 15:20 and returned to station, berthing at 16:15 ready for service.


Passenger Walkway
As can be seen from the photo the new Passenger Access Walkway is now operational. It began it's working life on Friday 22nd March - several weeks behind schedule.


Contractors Gael Force Ltd have now completed 99% of the work with the only outstanding item being the replacement of ill-fitting mesh panelling with ones manufactured/cut to the proper size.
As an add on to the contract mesh infill panels will be fitted between the walkway ramp and the pier surface.

Mallaig Harbour Ice
The plant is now powered up and the electrical meters were fitted on Thursday 28th March after what seemed an interminable delay.
Officials from TRS Ltd will be on site week commencing 8th April so hopes are high that the new Plant will become operational later this month.
Robert MacMillan

On and Off the Rails

Rail Magazine article
The current issue of Rail Magazine includes an eight-page spread on the West Highland Line extension - and although not named, some of the content was contributed by yours truly! This excellent article, which is part of the magazine's 'Seven Wonders of the Railway 2018' feature, is accompanied by some beautiful colour photographs.


Dates for your Diary Sunday April 7th
All too brief a visit to Mallaig, between ScotRail service train in the morning, by a West Highland Statesman railtour as part of a three day weekend break from Peterborough. Top and tail hauled by Locomotive Services Ltd (two Diesel Class 47's) throughout the three days, the guests have accommodation for two nights in three hotels in the Fort William area. The celebrated Statesman train is constantly being refurbished and overhauled to ensure it is amongst the finest available with all carriages now painted in the famous umber and cream livery of the former 'Pullman Car Company' and carrying the names of famous mountains in keeping with their 'proud to be British' theme. They replicate the golden days of rail travel with armchair comfort, fine dining on board in Premier and Pullman dining cars, with a five course 'Taste of Scotland' luncheon on offer as they return to Peterborough on Monday morning. What's not to like about that? And - with a short taste of the area - many guests return for longer stays on ScotRail services.

Friday April 19th
The welcome return to Mallaig on Good Friday by West Coast Railway Company's Jacobite summer season service. Into Mallaig at 12.25 and departing at 14.10; steam locomotive hauled.
Mallaig will welcome the familiar sight of The Jacobite stock, and happy passengers spilling around the shops, hotels, restaurants and various activities that have increased in the area. From one-hour boat trips, electric bike hire - with helmets and child seat if required - it means that Morar beach is now available in the lunch break! Pony trekking, carriage riding, wonderful choice of lunchtime meals and the return of the familiar to us Jacobite staff - it certainly keeps even the seagulls happy!! (Although I do not recommend feeding them!)
The Jacobite will run throughout the Easter weekend and then every day, Monday to Friday, until the afternoon and weekend services start.

Saturday April 20th
The first booked visit of approximately 14 Saturday visits into Mallaig by the exclusive touring train experience, The Belmond Royal Scotsman. The train always draws attention from locals and holiday guests who love to see it come into Mallaig. It too has to fit in on the lines with The Jacobite and ScotRail services - so is usually in from approximately 10.50 to 11.30 am only. The on-board guests usually take the offered option of a Shiel Buses coastal road trip - and a quick 'toe dip' into the sea at Morar beach - having departed the train at Arisaig. This leads locals to exclaim that 'no-one is on the train!' The on-board train staff can then do their hoovering, laying up of tables for lunch, bed-making - and - grab a late breakfast for themselves on board!
The Scotsman runs to near full capacity every trip - and with a fully stocked lounge, observation car, two serene spa treatment rooms, fresh flowers, food to drool over, attentive service, trips to 'off train' activities and wonderful dinners that go on all evening with entertainment between courses, you can understand why the guests (who come from all over the world for the five day return journey from Edinburgh) like to stretch their legs! The on board crew chase around Mallaig buying gifts (usually including the Lifeboat Shop), lottery tickets and perhaps have a walk on the pier. They even buy West Word to have on board. Again the guests always wish they could stay longer in the area, but do return to explore the islands by sailing in or come back by the ever-reliable ScotRail on our extension line - which opened for passenger travel on April 1st 1901. Thank goodness!!
See you on the train,
Sonia Cameron

Travelling the Distance
Maggie Fyffe and her guest Natalie Vardey took their copy of West Word to Holyrood on International Women's Day, March 8th. As part of a series of events to mark the 20th anniversary of the Scottish Parliament, they were there for the launch of a digital exhibition, augmenting the Travelling the Distance installation (2006) by Shauna McMullan.
It started with one woman writing something about another who had made a significant contribution to life, culture or democracy in Scotland. Shauna then asked them to refer her to another woman and subsequently she met women in many areas of life in Scotland.
Eigg residents Maggie and Camille Dressler were both participants, and the resulting three big panels of 100 handwritten sentences in porcelain are one of the favourite works on display in the public circulation area in Holyrood.
The new interactive digital panel shows the connections between all the women, what was written about them, their portraits, and has short clips of each participant talking about their chosen woman. A list of all the women and their sentences can be seen at https://www.parliament.scot/visitandlearn/24518.aspx.

Camille's quote on the interactive panel

It was a really interesting and moving time, hosted by Presiding Officer Ken Mackintosh, with speeches and connections, followed by a tour of the exhibition. Maggie's is one of ten photographic portraits to hang in the area and to top it all she was presented with her own copy to take back to Eigg!

Maggie standing beside Panel Two (Lesley Riddoch's quote is on the 10th line up)

Maggie said "When I first received the invite, I thought four days away for a two hour event was a bit excessive but I'm very glad I decided to attend. I can't think of a better way of marking International Women's Day than by being in the company of so many amazing women from such a broad spectrum of ages and backgrounds."

Camille and Maggie's quotes, at the top of Panel Two

The Listening Walk
Knoydart man's 6000 mile journey visiting all 201 branches of the Samaritans
On April 14th 2019 Knoydart resident David Matthews will set off from the centre of Doncaster to start a mammoth walk of 6,000 miles to walk to every Samaritans Branch in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. It won't just be a flying visit either as he intends to do a shift at each branch taking calls and answering texts from those in need of emotional support and emails in exactly the same way as he would at his home Samaritans branch. He also hopes to link up with the Samaritans Festival Branch at one of the music festivals they will be attending in 2020.
David is undertaking this trek - the Listening Walk - to raise awareness of the work of the Samaritans who provide a 24/7 listening service by phone, text and email, by letter and by attending major festivals. He is also aiming to raise £100,000 to support the work of the Samaritans by sponsorship and to recruit 1,000 new Samaritans Volunteers.
When asked why he is undertaking this challenge David said "I've been inspired to undertake the walk about five or six years ago by a Samaritan who travelled around on his motorbike with huge panniers and high-vis clothing. He was going around to the different branches and all he was doing was raising awareness. I thought that was a really good thing and so it got me thinking that I could do something like that. I then thought that I might do similar on a bike but not being a huge cyclist I then pondered how I might do it and which branches I might visit. So I began to look on Google Maps at the branches and realised that there was almost a natural route between the branches that would lead neatly onto the next one with no need to double back for instance. A route which I could walk.
I then thought that I could start and finish in Doncaster and reckoned it would take about two years to go to every branch. For a few years I have thought maybe this year, maybe this year. Then this last year I thought, if I am ever going to do it, I need to do it soon as I'm not getting any younger and I have a bit more time now. There is also the issue of mental health problems and increasing suicides. I felt compelled to do it sooner rather than later."
Despite the fact that he actually suffers from seasickness the journey, which is anticipated to take about two years, includes 17 ferry crossings. Three of these to and from Lewis, Harris and Skye have been provided as a donation by Caledonian MacBrayne ferries.
The full schedule for the walk can be found at the walk website www.thelisteningwalk.co.uk where details of how to donate either to the Samaritans or to the estimated £35,000 that the walk will cost can also be found.
This walk is being supported by a team of volunteers "The Friends of the Listening Walk" and a number of businesses and individuals and especially by the community on Knoydart who as well as providing moral support and sponsorship towards his fundraising target have run a number of fundraising events to provide funds towards the costs of the venture.
Samaritans can be contacted 24 hours a day, every day of the year by phone on 116123 (calls are free) and by email to jo@samaritans.org.

A Dutch Dream
For many years I've had a dream: staying for a longer time in Scotland, on the West Coast in a white cottage and a view of the sea. I've found 'my' cottage and I've come. To Eigg.
When I told my family and friends in Holland that I would leaving them for more than six months for living on a small Scottish island they asked me if I was getting crazy. Scotland, terrible weather, always cold and lots of rain, living on 31 km2 without your car and public transport, one shop, no signal for a mobile phone in the cottage. And the most asked questions: is there internet? How will you survive?
I did. I've 'survived' a lot:

But everything comes to an end. So my stay on Eigg as well and I have to go back. Back to the town where I live, 120 x bigger than Eigg. Back to my house, always locked and secured by an alarm. Back to a world of 'hurry and worry' where everything is arranged and has to be done yesterday. Back to my family and friends with their silly prejudices about Scotland, specially about Eigg.
I'll go and I'll dream. Dreaming about . . . ?
Wies Verheijen

Auntie Mary's Creepy Crawly Corner
Recently the Lochaber Biodiversity Group were discussing when the appropriate times for cutting roadside verges in Lochaber would be to maximize wildflowers having the chances to flower and set seed. This month the question is to you: can you identify local sections of verges where there are many wildflowers that would benefit from the middle summer cut being delayed from July to late August / September? If so, please e-mail the editor with the locations, preferably with the grid references for both ends of the roadside section, and she will forward them to me; and thank you.
Promoting the maintenance of native plants in road verges is one of the aims listed in the Lochaber Biodiversity Action Plan (in section 6.3) because with reductions in Lochaber grasslands in the last 25 years, like hay meadows, verges are becoming more important as refuges for wild plants and animals. For example, each year a letter, with a detailed map of the exact sections of roadside verges along the A830 near the Banavie canal crossing, is sent to Transport Scotland requesting that these verges are not cut between early May and late August. Not cutting sections of roadside verges during the summer allows the Northern Marsh and Butterfly Orchids and other native wild flowers to grow, flower and set seed; thus sustaining these unusual wildflower communities and promoting the diversity of plants, invertebrates, and birds; as well as providing an attractive flower display which locals and tourists enjoy. In Lochaber native plants are able to seed in verges naturally providing local character; elsewhere some councils pay to plant nursery-grown native species mixes in verges.
Why this question now? Each year countrywide the area of wildflower grassland in fields, open ground and verges is decreasing and this is one way to reduce loss of biodiversity. Requests to reduce the numbers of cuts, or the timing of verge cuts along particular sections, can be made to Transport Scotland (for trunk roads) or The Highland Council (other roads). They will consider if these applications can be accommodated in their annual cutting regimes. It helps them if requests are grouped, hence asking for your suggestions. The frequency of verge-cutting depends on various factors: at some places, such as junctions, verge cutting has to be carried out during the summer for road safety and lines of sight. There seems no harm in asking; fewer cuts or reduced lengths to be cut would help biodiversity in Lochaber and save public money.
Dr Mary Elliott
Letters & communications to The Highland Council, Transport Scotland and its contractors, from me 1996 - 2019. Information extracted from various surveys.

BIRDWATCH February 2019 by Stephen MacDonald
After a cold start, much of the rest of the month was mild.
Again little change bird wise. The wintering Little Egret still in the Arisaig area with sightings from Rhuemach, Morroch and Invercaimbe. The Mandarin Duck was on the Morar Estuary and the Kingfisher still on the Morar River upstream of the hydro dam, although it had been seen flying over the dam but could not be relocated downstream.
The Iceland Gull was present at Loch Ailort until the 11th.
The first Skylarks and Meadow Pipits started to appear back in fields at Back of Keppoch and Traigh from mid-month. Small numbers of Pied Wagtails also appeared from mid-month.
A single Barnacle Goose was feeding alongside the local Greylags in a field by Traigh golf course on the 17th. A pair of Canada Geese took up residence at the head of Loch Ailort during the last week of the month. Three Whooper Swans were seen on a small lochan near Polnish on the 19th.
At the mouth of Loch nan Ceall on the 10th, there was a sighting of a white diver, which could have been the same leucistic Great Northern Diver which spent much of the winter 2015-2016 in the same area.
Numbers of Siskins and Goldfinches using garden feeders continued to increase as the month progressed. Still only small numbers of Redpolls reported. Bullfinches were seen feeding on early budding trees in Morar and Arisaig. Long-tailed Tits feeding on fat balls continued to be reported from Woodside, Morar.
A male Hen Harrier was at Rhuemach on the 3rd. Sea Eagles were reported from Morar, Arisaig and Loch Ailort. Several reports of Golden Eagles from the Loch Ailort area. Widespread sightings of Barn Owls from Arisaig, Morar and also Mallaig.


Maggie Fyffe and Natalie Vardey took a copy of West Word to Holyrood in March.

Kenneth (Wullie, as they call him doon under) Dyer had a big surprise on his 60th birthday. Family from Arisaig flew for 24 hours to help him celebrate this big birthday.
Ronnie's brother and his 'Aussie' wife Danielle live near Brisbane, in what used to be a village but now is part of the big city: Burpengary.
Ronnie, happy to be home now, says: 'It was great, but never again'. That's mainly the flight's fault I think. 2 X 24 hours!!
(L - R Ronnie, Kenneth, Jennifer and Arthur)

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