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August 2018 Issue
Contents of the online version:
All photos are copyright either of the individual photographers or West Word.
MSP CALLS FOR SPEED LIMIT REDUCTION IN GLENFINNAN
Glenfinnan Community Council are once again calling on Transport Scotland to reduce the 60mph speed limit on the A830 through their village. Currently there is a speed limit of 60mph past the Jacobite monument and Visitor's Centre.
More than 300,000 visitors flock to the area each year to see the monument and the 'Harry Potter' viaduct. Limited parking in the village means visitors have to park on one side of the A830 and cross to the other to visit the monument. With frequent traffic jams around the car parks and pedestrians constantly crossing the road, a 60mph speed limit is clearly inappropriate.
Duncan Gibson, chairman of Glenfinnan Community Council, said 'There is a crossing from the National Trust for Scotland centre to the famous Glenfinnan monument. The road here is still a 60mph road and it is dangerous for visitors to cross. It is also dangerous for local children to cross this 60mph stretch to get to the school bus in the morning. The Glenfinnan Community Council has fought many years to get the speed limit dropped to 30mph but without any success.'
Now MSP Kate Forbes is backing the campaign for a sensible speed limit through the village. She said 'It concerns me that cars can drive round the corner just before Glenfinnan at high speeds, only to slam on the brakes when they see people at the side of the road waiting to cross. The vast majority of drivers and tourists are sensible, but I do welcome Transport Scotland's commitment to review the signage and the speed limit at the spot.'
A Transport Scotland spokesperson said 'we recognise the concerns of the community and we are considering how best to take this forward as part of a range of priorities aimed at supporting our road casualty reduction programme.'
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
Another packed issue with so many things going on in the area! Highland Games, gala days, music festivals … and tourist season is in full swing. It's good to see that some of the much-needed resurfacing work has been done on the A830 but with quite a few sections that still need fixing I wonder if the work will be finished before the winter when the whole cycle begins again!
This month I'd like to say thanks to Donald MacKenzie from Canna for all his contributions to West Word, as he is stepping down this month from his role as Canna correspondent. I've very much enjoyed his columns and photographs since I became editor.
Once again my thanks go to Anne and Jane for helping to stick labels on envelopes and to Morag and Ewen for assisting with the printing this month.
Our Knoydart correspondent, Heather, is away this month - there will be an update on all the news from the peninsula next month when she is back from her summer holiday.
ISLE OF MUCK
On the farm the shearing is over though the last day was delayed to await the arrival of Constance, agricultural student from France, here to improve her experience of livestock - and English! Earliest ever, silage making is totally up to date though the Corncrake fields cannot be harvested until after August. Now it is lamb weaning time and the first lambs should be heading for the Dingwall sale on 3rd August. It appears as if the fine weather is now over and there will be plenty of rain by then.
On the social front we have had the Tree Tribe; natural history in the school wood. Just in case the creepy crawlies were absent, pictures were hidden in the undergrowth for the children to uncover and identify. This month we have welcomed the Ceilidh Trail; young musicians from Lochaber who entertained us in the hall.
Digging away at sites all over the island have been a party of archaeologists from Chester University who have been coming for a number of years. Excitement with finding bronze age pottery and Mesolithic microblades; fragments of flint from Bloodstone on Rum which would be used to make the only sharp cutting instruments available to the islanders at that time.
East of the island at the fish farm six new cages are in place and linked up to the feed barge. Over one million smoults will soon be in these cages. As the fish grow they will need more space and ten or more cages will be needed. In bad weather the fish can be fed remotely from the shore base just as from the barge - remarkable!
On the wider picture last month I mentioned that for those living on the islands the ability to travel to the mainland in the morning and return in the afternoon is the aspiration. For a start I would advocate one day a week for each pair of islands and in summer only and after some years the level of demand could be assessed.
But the numbers would not be large and are unlikely to justify the deployment of Loch Nevis especially as it would disrupt her normal schedule which is aimed at carrying large numbers of visitors (and light cargo) to the islands. Far better to employ private operators. Already catamarans have arrived on the Small Isles with the Orion and the Larven. These are small vessels and though Orion has proved very suitable to act as a sea taxi, with a passenger certificate she could carry around 40 passengers and pre-booked would be suitable for the services outlined above. Larger catamarans suitable for the Clyde and other more sheltered services have been totally rejected by CalMac who seem wedded to ever larger displacement vessels each with a larger carbon footprint. Next month I will discuss the other C - competition.
ISLE OF CANNA
The summer season is well underway with an average of 16 yachts in the harbour every night. Sometimes the slipway feels like a Mallaig car park with yacht tenders piled everywhere preventing RIBs and other boats from accessing the slipway. Please yachties have a thought for other users of the slip and lift your tenders out of the water!!
All 800 sheep have been sheared and well done to everyone who helped Murdo and Gerry with a frantic three days of wool and stampeding white balls of fluff!
Our renewables project is progressing well and we now have solar panels in place and eagerly await the arrival of the wind turbines in mid-August. The construction team have fitted in well with the community, possibly too well on some occasions and a certain portly Aberdonian has certainly contributed to Cafe Canna's profits this year.
We also welcomed three new recruits to the Canna Coastguard Team; Caroline, Anna and Craig. Hopefully you won't be too busy…
We had a great ceilidh with the musicians from the Lady of Avenel this week and they even managed to leave one behind!
I am signing off this month and a new contributor from Canna will take over next month. I've enjoyed sharing my thoughts on life on the island but feel it is time for someone else to put their spin on all things Canna. Thanks to Kirsty for all her hard work and help. Meanwhile I shall continue enjoying my evening harbour patrols…..
Criomagan (Crumbs) from Canna House
June (an t-Òg Mhios, the "Young Month") saw the first phase of a new project based around stories from Canna House. Entitled "Cats Gu Leòr/Cats Galore", this is the first part of a project to develop and construct a "Children's Trail" on Canna, and is based around stories of some of the Campbell's Cats of Canna.
John and Margaret Campbell of Canna House had many cats over the almost 70 years they spent on the island and even bred Siamese Cats. Fiona brought artists Yvonne Lyon and Raine Clarke to Canna for a week to bring 12 lifesize stone Siamese cats to life, by decorating them according to their feline characters, as detailed in John and Margaret's papers and diaries.
Each of the cats now have their own name discs and are in hiding in various points along Canna Bay! Visitors can take a clue sheet and follow the "trail" to find each cat and have a pawsitively miaow-vellous time, hunting down the pusses. They can also take selfies with them to go on the Facebook page, which has more stories about each cat, including Reuben, the Catedonian Macbrayne cat, Pinxtu the Basque puss, the aristocatic Sir Pooji Boyte and Mrs Pink the glamour puss. Clue sheets are available in the Canna waiting room, shop, telephone box and Old Dairy. We can cat-egorically state that everyone will enjoy the hunt and pawrhaps learn some new Canna stories….. www.facebook.com/CannaCatsgalore/
ISLE OF RUM
Firstly a correction from me for last month when I mentioned the new moorings which are actually just temporary moorings. Actual moorings will be in place at some time in the not too distant future ... watch this (or that) space! Marine Harvest are going great guns with progress elsewhere around the coast of Rum though, with the fish farm set up pretty much in place and the fish arriving this coming weekend. Still plenty of marine traffic with lots of visiting yachts in and out of the bay, so high hopes for some community revenue once those moorings are in place.
The sea has otherwise been pretty quiet with very little in the way of cetacean sightings - Ranger Trudi claimed 'there is a porpoise.... somewhere' in what must surely be her finest rangering moment but they have been few and far between (the porpoises, not Trudi's finest moments!). No whales so far this year from the weekly Sheerwater boat trips although we've spotted plenty of large groups of feeding manx shearwaters and the first guillemot chicks of the season. Back on dry land the skies have been full of birds with an almost daily lunchtime fly by on Croft 3 of one bird or another - hen harriers, ravens, sea eagles and buzzards aplenty. Ady watched a group of tourists stand reading the north side nature trail signage urging people to look up and spot birds of prey only to look up and on cue spot a golden eagle fly overhead. Slightly less welcome wildlife for those of us with a cautionary air are the stags in the village who are getting just a little too tame which may be a concern as it draws closer to the rut and their testosterone levels ramp up a gear. Hopefully the start of the stalking season will see them off one way or another (the lure of the hinds or the stalkers' guns transforming them into venison!) Talking of the stalking season, the first guests of the year have been on island with Toby stalking goats, which is now part of the sporting let. The trophy goat's head complete with horns is apparently just as coveted in certain circles as the multi-antlered deer's head!
The annual Manx Shearwater walk up Hallival was cancelled this year due to some really quite out of the blue weather for this summer. A great shame for those looking forward to the experience of sitting on the hill in the dark while Shearwaters come in all around you - seriously if you've not witnessed it for yourself you really should - but a treat for a crowd of us who got to spend an evening in the company of David, the SNH Reserve Manager from the Isle of May as he gave a talk in the village hall instead about the seabirds and seals on the Isle of May. Rum Ranger Trudi also gave her fantastic talk about the creatures of the Star Wars movies. A brilliant evening of the factual and the fabulous!
Elsewhere on the island a very sad red deer story came to light and has made the news widely as Kilmory deer researcher Sean spotted a poor hind in peril in the shallows of the sea caught up in the metal remains of a creel. Despite Sean's best efforts he was unable to revive the poor deer - a very powerful reminder of the devastating effect on wildlife of marine litter.
The 'proper old-fashioned summer like when we were children' we've been experiencing this year has its highs and lows. Highs include the serious lack of midges, sense of nostalgia and opportunities to swim in the sea. The lows are the concerns for the water levels, the increased wildfire risk and the messing up of the seasons. The first ripe bramble of the year has already been spotted - in July!!
SNH staff have been having strimmer training this week - a group of people all in PPE wielding strimmers is a sight to behold - like a tribe of Doctor Who baddies! Gary Burton has been on island working through the list-as-long-as-your-arm of IRCT housing maintenance tasks. SNH have a steady stream of volunteers - some of whom helped install several magposts along the north side nature trail so that visitors can get a closer look at bugs, beasties, plants, flowers and other tiny treasures. Announced this week is an exciting PhD opportunity on the island - more details at https://www.uclan.ac.uk/research/study/studentship-forensic-applied-sciences-1806.php
Kim's Friday night fish and chips continue to be increasingly popular with visitors coming from far and wide. Fliss' gorgeous shepherd's hut is fully installed and ready for bookings and we are all eagerly awaiting the report from SKS about the future of Kinloch Castle which the KC Friends Association have the draft version of already. Exciting times ahead for Rum.
ISLE OF EIGG
As the Hebrides turned into something like the Cyclades weather and colour-wise, almost the entire population of Eigg seemed to have decamped to the beach, following the example of the island cattle. These very sensible creatures have been much photographed with their hooves in the sea and their pictures have appeared in The Herald, The National and probably countless instagram posts. A quick thought here for Herr Maruma, one of our shortest lived landlords, who was so thoroughly shocked at the very idea of sharing the beach with cattle that he ended up selling them - although it was to pay the overdue cattleman wages: thank goodness these days are now in the distant past, although we now have to put up with self serving moronic politicians who can't see further than their Eton frock coat tails.....Sigh....
Anyway, what better way to have a 38th birthday than camping on Castle island, jumping off from the cliffs into the sea to frolic with seals and cormorants? Saira, always on the look-out for a challenge, rose to it beautifully and everyone had a tremendous time! We are now looking forward to the BIG combined 60th, 40th and 30th at the end of September. I will let our faithful readers guess whose birthdays these might be and the first one to come up with the right answer will surely get an invite!
In the meantime, the island was pretty much at a standstill in the evening due to the football World Cup of course. Brian Greene, the host for all the English games, put up magnanimously with all the Belgian and Croatian supporters who were very vocal in their cheering, and celebrated les Bleus in their final win almost as much as I did, although I was sad for the Croatians who did so well for such a small country! Tonino Piccula, the Croatian MEP at the head of the islands SEARICA intergroup and his colleague Darina, the Croatian Island Minister who were at the AGM of the Island Commission which I attended in Bastia, Corsica, on 12 and 13 July were both ecstatic!
However, football mania did not mean that advantage was not taken to advance with other tasks, like sheep shearing, and even hay making in Cleadale - first hay made for years - Alastair now hopes to cut a second crop! As well as building: Stu and Tamsin's house is advancing really fast and now work has started on Sarah's bothy. Visitors are a plenty and we might need to consider a bike lane on our roads so heavy is the traffic at times...
We also had the visit of Kirsty Owen from Historic Environment Scotland, bringing back the bones from the Massacre Cave and giving a lecture with her colleague from Manchester University on the techniques allowing identification of age and gender: some of the bones recovered from the cave were found to belong to an 8 year old child whose sex is still not determined as there were not enough material recovered and the others were those of a male teenager. We are now waiting for the right moment to bury these remains of the Cave massacre victims at their proper resting place with the other bones from the cave in Kildonnan graveyard, hoping that Father Stan can be there to give them a long-awaited blessing.
The Feis of course was the highlight of the month and it went uabhasach math with our fantastic team of tutors and our regular attendees. See you all next year for more music, art and Gaelic fun! Well done the Feis Eige Committee and our new young helpers, Neibhe and Murray!
The spell of light rain we finally had in the middle of the month occurred just at the right time to save the denizens of Cleadale from extreme water shortage. It's hard to believe that this can happen here in our islands, but with temperatures well into the 30s at time, it might well be a good idea to start looking at tapping in the many island wells that fell into disuse when Lochaber Housing installed a water supply fed by a small dam, or else we need to think about larger dams! Altogether a challenge to address if this new trend continues in the years to come!
SMALL ISLES SPORTS DAY 2018: ISLE OF MUCK
Teams of athletes poured in by the Loch Nevis and Sheerwater from Eigg, Rum and Canna to join Muck islanders and friends in an athletic extravaganza which covered all ages and abilities. However, the weather was less than cooperative, with gale warnings discouraging many of the participants from staying for the ceilidh which followed events in the field. Warm rain poured down but did not prevent a hard-fought battle between the islands. Children were to the fore and as we have 14 of them on the island (and a lot of friends) the other islands were always going to be hard pressed to beat them. Emma Walters did a magnificent job of keeping them in order as usual. In the hill race and in the Tug o' War Muck got first places. In the Community Tent was plentiful food and drink and side shows, such as estimating the weight of two large lambs, or face decoration. Later in the hall more food and beverages were followed by a ceilidh which continued well into the night.
Many islanders and friends worked long and hard in organising the day. We hope that all who took part enjoyed it.
Arisaig Games and Clanranald Gathering 2018
We started Games day with our annual parade through the village, led by the Lochaber Schools Pipe Band and Andrew Macdonald of Boisdale, Games Chief for the day. Accompanying them was a good number of marchers carrying heraldic banners of Clan Donald and that of North Carolina. Assembling in the village, the band played a selection of pipe music after which they were thanked by the Games Chief.
On reaching the field, which was decked in full fèis mode by our trusty volunteer staff, the pipe band led the procession round the field. The 82nd Arisaig Games were then opened by Andrew Macdonald who addressed the crowd on the heritage and culture of Highland Games after which he gave a rousing rendition of the Mingulay Boat Song - much appreciated by the growing crowd.
The Arisaig Games flag was then raised by Maisie Cameron with sisters Ailsa and Effie MacDougall; three little girls from Arisaig. Thank you Maisie, Ailsa and Effie!
Hannah MacRae, whose recent ancestry is in Smirisary, Eriskay, Roshven and Arisaig, sang the Gàidhlig song, Moladh Àrasaig - In Praise of Arisaig written by John MacIntyre of Arisaig in 1889. Hannah sang so beautifully that she hushed the crowd of some 2,000 onlookers.
Dance competition winners with Games Chairman Allan MacDonald.
The numerous events on the field flowed smoothly. A highlight of the day was the breaking of the 56lb Weight Over The Bar record at a height of 16 feet, with Lukasz Wenta breaking his brother Sebastian's previous record of 15 feet 9 inches.
Murdo Masterton throwing the hammer.
Whitehead Trophy winner Callum MacDonald with Chairman Allan MacDonald.
Lukasz Wenta putting the weight over the bar.
Our sponsors, Ardnamurchan Distillery, kindly donated a bottle of Miltonduff, a thirty-three year old single malt, for the booklet raffle prize as well as for the barrel race winners.
Barrel rollers Graeme Stewart and Neil Cameron winning their semi-final heat.
Heavies (Open) winner Lukasz Wenta.
The Boisdale Art Competition, sponsored by Ranald MacDonald, Younger of Clanranald, was won (11-13 years) by May Harkins and the 14-17 age group by Rosie Levens, both pupils of Mallaig High School. Thank you to all the entrants and also to Andrew Fairbairn who judged a very tight competition. Armourer Paul MacDonald gave a very entertaining display of swordsmanship. His exhibits included an authentic Pictish iron axe which he excavated from a bog in Aberdeenshire.
Winning piper James MacKenzie being presented with his trophy by Lieutenant Col. Ruaradh Allen, Clanranald's lieutenant.
All Games photos by Arthur Campbell.
The Women's Guild's tea tent with all its delicious home baking was sold out during the day. The Guild donates the proceeds of its efforts to various charities. Once again, thank you Ladies for your caring work.
Thanks go also to our willing band of helpers, without whom Arisaig Games could not take place. These include Drs. Ruraidh and Diane Allen who have travelled all the way from North Carolina for the 15th year.
See you next year, on Wednesday 31st July 2019.
Allan MacDonald, Chairman
ISLAND POLICY CORNER
CPMR Island Commission in Bastia, Corsica
It was my pleasure to attend the 38th AGM of the Island Commission, one of the most important commissions within the Confederation of the Peripheral and Maritime Regions (CPMR), especially as it allowed me to reconnect with part of my family from Corsica that I don't get to see very often! My last visit to Corsica was 30 years ago and a lot has changed since then: Bastia as the island's main port has undergone a fantastic facelift, and the old town's five or seven storey buildings are resplendent in the colours of the city's Genoese origins: dark red and ocre yellow and pink ... A wonderful exhibition "Identita" took us round the issue of immigration in the past and today which Scotland has in common with Corsica, and a little spin on the Marine Protected Area in the Cap Corse showed us what we have in common regarding the need to protect our fragile marine environment. But it was the issue of Territorial Cohesion post 2020 that exercised us all, and I am impressed by the final declaration steered to its successful conclusion by Gilles Simeoni, the Corsican MP who presides over the Island commission with the help of the Western Isles Council as vice president! Those interested can view it on the CPMR Islands Commission website.
As I have repeated many times in this paper and elsewhere, we MUST all make sure that the UK repatriates this particular policy alongside all other EU legislation and policies as it will be fundamental to the fair distribution of the "Prosperity Fund" that the UK government is now promising to set up. I don't think we can trust them to do so unless the principles at the heart of the Territorial Cohesion Policy are understood and replicated.
Hopefully Mallaig and the whole of West Lochaber will have a chance to emphasise this when they are consulted by the new Brexit officer appointed by Scottish Rural Action, Tom MacManus, whose aim is to visit all of Scotland's airs and pairts in the next few weeks.
In the meantime, article 6.5 in the IC's cohesion policy document "welcomes the proposal to maintain the UK's participation in cross-border, transnational and maritime cooperation programmes, irrespective of the outcome of the Brexit negotiations. This provision will allow Scottish island regions to participate in European territorial cooperation programmes, and facilitate the outermost regions' cooperation with their British OCT neighbours."
This particular clause made me very happy and the Western Isles Council too! Hope it offers some hope at the end of this very dark tunnel that we are currently going through in British politics! Camille Dressler Chair Scottish Islands Federation
European Small Isles Federation
IMPROVEMENTS TO VISITOR FACILITIES LOCALLY
Thanks to all those who completed our survey last month. A total of 354 responses were returned, and this has given us some really useful information to work with. You can access the full survey results online from http://www.mmcca.btck.co.uk/news .
We have now submitted our application to the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund (RTIF). Unfortunately, as the budget was limited, and there are still ongoing issues over access, we had to remove the potential new facilities at Morar, and concentrate on refurbishing Traigh (toilets only), and the new build at Mallaig (toilets, showers, fresh water and campervan waste facilities). We have applied for almost the maximum (£299,460) from RTIF and are in the process of putting together a LEADER funding application for another £120,000, and looking at other funding sources for some smaller amounts to allow us to make the project as effective as possible. We still have a lot of work to do between now and 5th September to get all the permissions and formal quotes etc. in place but we're over the first hurdle! We won't hear whether our bid has been successful until October, and while we would love to be able to complete the works over the winter and have both facilities up and running for next season, we know this is optimistic.
By far the majority of people thought 20-30p reasonable for toilets, and we've used this to inform our business plan. We would have loved to charge 20p, but unfortunately, we don't think that this will cover the costs of operating the toilets (electricity / cleaning / toilet rolls / insurances etc.) and so we think we will have to charge 30p and £2 for showers. If anyone would like to see a copy of the business plan submitted with the funding application, please ask your local community council.
There were some really useful comments submitted with the surveys, not just about toilet facilities, but about facilities in general. Lots of people commented on the lack of parking, and the lack of litter bins. While this is not something we can control, the comments all add weight to our discussions with The Highland Council. There were also lots of suggestions for a French-style aire - a relatively inexpensive space with hard standings, electrical hook-ups and washroom facilities for campervans, and this is something that the community councils or local Community Trusts could consider in the future. It was suggested that we look at the West Harris Trust model (http://www.westharristrust.org/camping/) where five spots have been identified to prevent the roadside from erosion, and again, this is something we might be able to look at in the future. West Harris Trust have the benefit of owning their land, whereas lots of the trouble spots around this area are on private land, and we would have to work with the landowners to develop these.
It was also clear from the survey that, while as locals we have all had frustrations with what we consider inconsiderate behaviour from visitors, the majority of visitors to the area feel just as strongly about protecting the area as we do, and that, as is often the case, the minority are spoiling it for everyone. We do need to welcome visitors to the area, and hopefully providing better facilities will help alleviate some of the existing issues.
Arisaig, Morar and Mallaig Community Councils
Climate Challenge Fund award for Glenuig
Glenuig Community Association has been awarded a grant of £8,311* from the Scottish Government's Climate Challenge Fund for the Glenuig Less Energy, More Recycle project, which will increase recycling in the Glenuig area through provision of a local glass recycling facility and an information campaign. The project will also improve the energy efficiency of Glenuig Hall through installation of LED lighting and upgrades to insulation and draught proofing.
* Includes maximum funding of £3,916 from the European Regional Development Fund.
Arriving in Mallaig on the train?
Mallaig Pool & Leisure is taking a great leap towards promoting Active Travel. Their 'Bike Hire' is inviting visitors, and locals, to explore our stunning scenery.
Cycling has all-round benefits; it helps you to get fit and healthy, benefits the environment by reducing carbon emissions, and allows you to explore less accessible and secluded places.
To encourage Active Travel, in August Mallaig Pool and Leisure is offering a discount to ScotRail users. With a day return train ticket you can hire a bike for £7 per person. You can find plenty of information on the adult and children's bikes available on the website www.mallaigleisure.org.uk. The Pool Team is ready to help with any further questions and guide you through your bike hire journey; just give them a call on 01687 462229.
The Mallaig and Arisaig Medical Practice August 2018 Update
We are delighted to welcome Mrs Anne Titley to our team in her role as our Practice Nurse. We are embarking upon a second attempt to recruit a GP to the Practice, having been unsuccessful with the first advert.
We have decided to make the following changes in order to maintain a sustainable service to the community. These changes will be reviewed if we are successful in recruiting another GP.
The Practice remains open from 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday. We are now operating a fortnightly clinic in Arisaig rather than every week. This fortnightly clinic will start on Wednesday 1st August and will be extended to compensate for the reduction in frequency.
All prescriptions require three working days to fulfill, so please ensure this is taken into account when re-ordering medication.
We have switched all incoming calls to an answerphone message at the following times:
1pm to 2pm Monday to Friday
5pm to 6pm Monday to Thursday
2pm to 6pm on Fridays.
A recorded answerphone message will provide a contact number for urgent medical problems during these times.
We are aware that this is a difficult time for the community, with a great deal of uncertainty about the future of local health services. We continue to work hard to maintain this service and to recruit another GP to support the existing team.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank the community, and to the Community Councils for their ongoing support and understanding of the situation.
ARISAIG AMERICANA FINDS ITS ROOTS!
Arisaig proved the place to be on 23rd and 24th June this year with the first Arisaig Americana Music Festival firmly planting its roots and getting off to a memorable start with busy workshops, lively jam sessions and a packed Saturday night show.
Friday night preparations at the hall gave way to an impromptu acoustic session once the scene was set, getting everyone in the mood for the weekend. Saturday afternoon saw locals and visitors milling about Astley Hall and the Land, Sea & Islands Centre with varied instruments as they joined bluegrass workshops for guitar, mandolin, banjo and harmony singing. Each workshop was well-attended with very positive feedback from tutors and students alike.
The main concert on Saturday night kicked off with sensational Edinburgh trio The Jellyman's Daughter, followed by an upbeat 'Arisaig to Asheville' set from (one-quarter local!) Crow County Pickers; a chilled yet spine-tingling performance from Scottish Americana stalwarts The Wyntown Marshals and a rip-roaring end to the night with Glasgow-based The Daddy Naggins, who got everyone dancing like no-one was watching! The show finale saw all the musicians get on stage and jam round the mics in old-fashioned bluegrass style, leaving the crowd stamping and shouting for more... and more...
The raffle handed out American-themed prizes from Nashville Hatch Show goodies to Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson wigs, but the coveted prize was the 100% proof bottle of Moonshine, which was spotted being passed around the hall... maybe the reason everyone was dancing by the end of the night?
The sun was ablaze on Sunday afternoon as musicians gathered at the Crofter's bar for the Big Bluegrass Jam, with sessions happening both inside and outside the bar. The warm and relaxed Sunday afternoon atmosphere was notably inclusive with all ages and abilities joining in... and some folk keeping it going til the wee small hours! Meanwhile, festival campers enjoyed sunset on the beach at the Back of Keppoch with BBQs and banjos!
Arisaig Americana would like to thank EVERYONE who worked, loaned equipment / instruments and those who volunteered - on the door, food, merchandise, bar, sound, workshops, photos - and those who came to set-up the hall and then clean-up after! Special thanks is given to The Arisaig Fund who gave a generous donation which enabled this first festival to get off the ground and to West Word and Nevis Radio for their promotional support. It really couldn't have happened without all these people and organisations. Thanks must also go to the audience and workshops students who made this inaugral year a hugely successful, enjoyable event and set the standard for the coming years! There's exciting plans for the second Arisaig Americana Music Festival - many artists have already been in touch, keen to be part of it - and the festival ethos of being inclusive and educational will be retained with the aim of promoting visible community benefits. Put the date in your diary - the second Arisaig Americana Music Festival will take place on the last bank holiday weekend of 25th/26th May 2019. Follow Arisaig Americana on Twitter and Facebook and check www.arisaigamericana.com for latest news and updates. Mairi Orr
MALLAIG MARITIME DAY
The Mallaig Maritime Day committee would like to thank everyone who made it to the Gala Day and evening dance on Saturday 21st July. We would especially like to thank those who volunteered on the day, donated raffles and gave financial assistance to help make the running of both events a success. As a result of this hard work and the generosity of those who came along, the Fishermen's Mission and Mallaig Lifeboat have received funds in excess of £4000 each which will go towards the respective charities' work. Thank you again.
Karen Calder, Fishermen's Mission
Caralisa, winner of the boat race. Photo Arthur Campbell
Rebecca Jeneen Best Dressed Boat. Photo Moe Mathieson
Isle of Skye Pipe Band disembarking from Armadale ferry, and playing on the pier. Photo Moe Mathieson
Visitors to Mallaig arriving on The Jacobite were greeted by the Isle of Skye Pipe Band, Gala Queen Megan Morrison and Princess Laila Tarn - and mascots Albert (Fishermen's Mission) and Stormy Stan (RNLI). Photo by Steve Roberts
Na Fir Dileas, 'the loyal men' - Bob Beveridge, John Rattigan, David Gallacher and Ronnie Stewart - are Jacobite actors who travelled via the steam train collecting for the RNLI and Fishermen's Mission, posing for photos and explaining to tourists the Jacobite history of the area. Photo by Steve Roberts
Mallaig Lifeboat Log
1st July 2018 Search for Missing Gentleman at Glen Brittle, Isle of Skye
Launched by Stornoway Coastguard to undertake a shore search of Loch Brittle, SW Skye at 13:40. An elderly gentleman had been reported missing from Glen Brittle campsite. Apparently this gentleman was last seen in the early hours of Sunday morning and concern was raised when he had not been seen by early afternoon. Along with Coastguard teams, Rescue 948 from Stornoway and the Lifeboat a thorough search was undertaken of the coastline of Loch Brittle. At 16:10 all assets were stood down as the gentleman had been traced to his home address in Edinburgh. Lifeboat departed scene and berthed and fueled at Mallaig at 17:30.
7th July 2018 Assisting Ambulance Crew
Launched by Stornoway Coastguard to assist Ambulance crew in recovering an elderly man from his yacht at Arisaig Marina at 21:23. As the Lifeboat cleared the harbour Coastguard stood down the call as another vessel had taken the casualty ashore to the Marina pontoon. Lifeboat ready for service at 21:45.
14th July 2018 Medivac from Knoydart
Medivac from cruise ship at Knoydart pier.
15th July 2018 Search for Missing Kayaker
Tasked to search for overdue/lost kayaker who had started out from Ardtoe pier.
16th July 2018 Search for Man Missing Overboard
Man overboard from fishing vessel in Loch Hourn.
16th July 2018 Aiding Fort William Police and Armadale Doctor
Tasked to transport Fort William Police and Armadale doctor to Canna to collect a deceased casualty.
19th July 2018 Assist in Rescue of Injured Hillwalker
Launched by Stornoway Coastguard at 17:40 to Loch Scavaig, Isle of Skye to an injured walker on a coastal path. A lone female walker had fallen and injured her ankle and was unable to continue along the path. Fortunately another party of walkers came upon her and raised the alarm. One of the group was an off-duty Coastguard officer from Northern Ireland who managed to contact a local charter boat which was able to give relay of the casualty position and other information required. The Coastguard also dispatched Rescue 948 to the scene as well. As the Lifeboat approached Strathaird Point, Rescue 948 was already on scene and had its winch man on the ground attending to the casualty. As the casualty was in an accessible area the winch man did not need assistance from the Lifeboat crew to deal with her recovery to the Helicopter. Rescue 948 repositioned over the casualty and minutes later the casualty was on her way along with the winch man up into the Helicopter. Rescue 948 headed for Broadford's MacKinnon Hospital with the casualty and Mallaig Lifeboat returned to base berthing at 19:40, ready for service at 19:50.
NEWS FROM MALLAIG HARBOUR AUGUST 2018
The Chairman and Board Members of the Mallaig Harbour Authority cordially invite you to come along to the Mallaig & Morar Community Centre on the afternoon of Friday 14th September to help celebrate the 50th birthday of the Authority.
A buffet and light refreshments will be available from 12.45 with a Photographic Display created by the Mallaig Heritage Centre and The Harbour Authority and other memorabilia on show.
There will also be the chance to mingle and discuss future Harbour Board developments with Board Members - past and present - Harbour Engineers and employees. Local businesses will also attend the occasion which is open to all members of the public.
01687 462154 firstname.lastname@example.org
On and Off the Rails
ScotRail journeys up by 30% since 2008!
The number of people travelling with ScotRail has increased by almost one third over the past decade. Passenger numbers increased from 74.2 million in 2007/8 to 97.8 million in 2017/18 - a rise of 23.5 million.
The ScotRail Alliance said the increase in traffic highlights the scale of the challenge it faces every day to keep people moving. Alex Hynes, ScotRail Alliance Managing Director said, "supporting more than 97 million journeys each year is a complex task, but it is one our people carry out with pride every single day".
Speaking with my feet in my wellies and from the Mallaig/Fort William branch line, plus the main line onto Glasgow, we are constantly full to bursting with passengers during the late morning and afternoon trains.
The 08:21 train from Glasgow to Fort William frequently does not have booked seat reservations for travel onwards to Mallaig due to "technical issues". It means that platform staff at Fort William have to apologise over the Fort William tannoy before the train comes in and advise all passengers to "obtain a seat wherever you can". This means that coach party reservations are split up as well as families. It is embarrassing for the on-board train staff who do their very best to encourage passengers not to use seats for luggage, coats, picnics, dogs etc and placate people who are standing.
There is not currently (nor has there been on a regular basis all year so far) a regular catering service. Indeed it is now deleted from the online or paper timetable - as if there never was one!! Sometimes there will be a 'goodwill' spare mainline trolley service by the overstretched trolley staff - but honestly you could count the times on one hand that this is happened. It is not the catering staff's fault; Abellio/ScotRail Alliance/Transport Scotland are just not recognising how popular the line is. The coach passengers in particular are looking for a snack/drink during the one and a half hour journey having maybe travelled a four hour coach trip to do it. Of course the other side of the story is whether a catering trolley could get through the carriages!! I was on the lunchtime train from Fort William to Mallaig this week and it was so full that paying passengers were sitting and standing on the floors of all four coaches and in the vestibules. The conductor/guard can only make the "middle of the train doors" available for alighting and departing at all stations en route to Mallaig as the train is too long for the platforms, meaning that customers were heaving luggage through the passengers standing/sitting in the aisle, and boarding passengers were dragging luggage on in reverse!
The on-board patience and humour was good, everyone making the best of the situation - but this is happening every day!! One solution would be to bring back loco hauled trains - with a luggage van, trolley service etc. Or is that too simple an answer! Furthermore, twice this week there were more passengers than trains - resulting in Bustitution!!
That same day on my journey from Mallaig at 10.10 one of the toilets was showing engaged when no one was using it - and would not open. The only solution is for the guard to keep resetting it, but it's challenging when they are four carriages away, selling tickets, making announcements at every station about using the middle doors, answering customer queries about onward journeys and returning train times, giving photographic advice as to where the Glenfinnan viaduct is and which side of the train is best for lochs, glens, islands, etc etc. I and all the local staff love our railway, as do the new and returning passengers, but this "full and bursting" situation does lead to some serious head shaking at times!! Nuff said!
QTS move in to Morar and build a temporary contractors compound
QTS Group Ltd - you may have noticed the name on machinery, vans, hi-viz wear, equipment etc - are now firmly installed in 11 two-bedroom sleeping units, two canteen units, with water, waste water and electricity connection on land north of Morar Motors, Columba Road, Morar. The reason for all of this, including removing some trees around Morar Motors and erecting a new fence, is to provide a working base for sleeping, living in, etc whilst working - mostly at night - on making rock faces safe and free of all greenery, then wire meshing and bolting safety fencing to the rockface to hold back any potential rock falls onto the railway line. Currently they are working at nights, when there are no trains on the line, in the Lochailort area. As you pass through that area in the day - by car/train/bike - you will spot lights, generators, machinery, tools, mesh rock facing rolls of wire etc, but few QTS staff. This is because they are sleeping at Morar! But each time you pass the areas being worked on, towards Polnish, you can see the improvements being made, changing day by day to keep trains, staff and passengers safe! Solar powered movement monitors are being installed into the area. The QTS staff have certainly had brilliant dry nights in which to work so far. It is still light at 11pm and light again by 4:30am (ish!)
If any of the QTS staff read this, thank you for leaving your families, week after week, for approximately the next six months, and working to keep our railway line safe from potential landslips.
Mallaig second-hand railway books offer
Situated in the Morrison building, opposite the railway station, Kenneth has a wealth of railway related books filling a section of the shop at the moment. He is currently offering railway books on a "buy two get the third one free" basis (the cheapest one is free). Ideal for birthday or Christmas presents - the word is already spreading around the railway enthusiasts. I have seen visitors studying the shelves with their own bookshelf photos on their camera in order to search out books that they do not already have at home!!
Kenneth also has railway journey DVDs, technical specifications DVDs and rail related postcards, photos and fridge magnets! Of course there are Harry Potter book sets and individual books as well. Hurry along and get a bargain and donate to his chosen charities same time. Kenneth needs the space!!
Harry Potter drive-in movies - at Glencoe
No it is not a late April Fool's joke - over the first weekend in August a company called 'Itison' put on all of the Harry Potter films (three films shown per day) for you to watch from your car/campervan at Glencoe Mountain Resort!
West Coast Railway Jacobite steam train update
Full trains, twice a day, seven days a week continue to arrive and depart from Fort William to Mallaig during August. In Mallaig each train offloads its passengers who happily purchase gifts, postcards, stamps, ice creams, drinks, batteries for their cameras, eye wash for the smuts-in-their-eyes, anything Harry Potter-related, etc. etc. they eat in, eat out, take away food, go on boat trips, talk very enthusiastically about returning to the area, visit the local churches and try to attempt the circular walk! You can currently hire bikes from Mallaig Pool and Leisure, by the hour, and hire includes bike, helmet, small saddlebag with puncture repair kit, bike lock and a map of the area - what's not to like about that!!
To encourage Active Travel in August, Mallaig Pool & Leisure are offering a discount to ScotRail users. With a day return train ticket you can hire a bike for £7 per person. You can find plenty of information on the adult and children's bikes on the website www.mallaigleisure.org.uk. The Pool Team is ready to help with any further questions and guide you through your bike hire journey; just give them a call on 01687 462229.
Or visit the brilliant Mallaig Heritage Centre, take a horse and cart ride, sit on the rocks and watch the wildlife - who says there is nothing to do Mallaig!!! Or eat Mallaig kippers or send some by post. Haste ye back visitors or locals - try some of these options yourself!!
See you on the train,
Installation of the original Arisaig and South Morar War Record at the Arisaig Land, Sea & Islands Centre
This unique and beautiful illuminated scrapbook, compiled towards the end of the first World War, came to light some years ago during the refurbishment of the Astley Hall. The book is a moving record of the wartime experiences of local people who served during WW1, and contains original photographs, letters, postcards, and handwritten accounts. The book was compiled by Helen Nicolson, sister of Sir Arthur Nicolson, owner of the Arisaig Estate at the time of the First World War.
As part of a new Heritage Lottery-funded project run jointly by Arisaig Community Trust and Arisaig & District Community Council, the War Record will be installed at the Arisaig Land, Sea & Islands Centre, to be put on public display in a newly adapted, atmospherically-controlled cabinet. Custom built some years ago by Frank Baillie, the wood from which the cabinet was made was salvaged from a sycamore tree on Station Road. Most of those men and women from Arisaig who joined the Armed Forces in the 1914-18 war would have walked passed the sycamore tree as they made their way up to the railway station to begin their journey to an unknown future. The cabinet is a fitting memorial in its own right, and will become an appropriate home for the War Record. To ensure the safety of the document, the cabinet has been modified by Peter Fleming, under the guidance of the Highland Heritage Centre.
Anne Cameron, Tommy MacEachen and Ann Martin, members of the Astley Hall Trust committee, will be present at the installation of the War Record which will take place at 11:00 on Monday 27th August. All are welcome to attend.
World War One in Arisaig
Work is starting on the history of WWI in the Arisaig area. In order to get a sense of life in the village 100 years ago the 1911 census has been examined as this is the nearest one to the period of the war. The total population then came to 785, nearly double the figure of 419 in the 2011 census. The Arisaig ward in those days was much larger extending to Lochailort and Ranachan, towards Glenfinnan, but even accounting for this, the figure was clearly much higher than today. This is reflected in the wide number of occupations listed, for example, many people were working on the new North British Railway, mainly as surfacemen, continually checking the line, with two signalmen and one platelayer also listed. There was a stationmaster at Lochailort, a station mistress at Beasdale and a Railway agent at Arisaig, Alexander Clyne from Wick.
Agriculture was much more significant than now. In addition to the Estate Manager, James Keir, there are 12 people listed as farmer or farmer and grazier, 11 gamekeepers, three ghillies, nine ploughmen, seven cattlemen, three shepherds, four carters, three fencers, six joiners, five stone masons, 17 gardeners, two wood sawyers. There were 29 crofters with 15 people also registered as assisting on the croft and 22 fishermen.
The lack of shops meant goods were produced at home so there were weavers, dressmakers and shoemakers. Very large numbers were in service, a total of 77 as servants and maids including ten laundry maids and six dairymaids. There was a family of pedlars living in tents at Lochailort and another listed as tinsmiths camped at Larach Mor, with one man registered at a cave at Kinlochnanuamh.
The census gives a great picture of life in the area and we hope it will help us to identify those who served in the war. If you can give us some time to help look through it please contact Susan Carstairs (450327) or Alison Stewart at the Land Sea and Islands Centre (450771 or 450321).
ARISAIG COMMUNITY TRUST NEWS
Like everyone, we have been thoroughly enjoying the fabulous summer here in Arisaig and it's great to see so many visitors and locals out enjoying the sunshine. In June, we held a Summer BBQ and Picnic at the playing fields which turned out to be a great day. Thanks to the Coastguards for lending us their BBQ, Alan from the Old Library for cooking on it and Fort William Bouncy Castle Hire for coming down and setting up a big bouncy castle for the kids (and some adults) to enjoy! The adults v kids football was a lot of fun, with the kids being narrowly beaten by the unforgiving bunch of grown-ups! The Arisaig Eco Project had a successful seed and plant swap and donations on the day helped cover the cost of the event. Many thanks to all the helping hands serving drinks, donating food and more!
With our housing and community survey completed back in April, we've begun to receive some feedback from the Highland Small Communities Housing Trust on the results. In general, there is a clear need for housing of a mix of tenures and a lot of community support for more affordable housing. We are now setting up a steering group to work with the HSCHT and develop a housing plan, using a mix of public and private funding. If you would like to get involved with this, please get in touch.
Other comments in the survey also pointed to the issues with parking in the village and we are pleased that by enlarging the Land, Sea and Islands Centre car park this summer, we can help alleviate this somewhat. Work on the car park will be completed in July and it is hoped that additional parking away from the village centre will reduce the congestion in front of the shop, as well as attracting more visitors to the centre. The new workshop will be built in August with funding for the project coming from HIE, LEADER, Arisaig Fund and local donations.
Another project we've been working on is how to use the building at Arisaig Station. One of the rooms is currently leased by the West Highland Community Rail Partnership and we have the opportunity to take on this lease and use the room for community purposes. We've put forward the idea of renovating the room and using it as a meeting and work space. The housing survey highlighted the need for more work and business spaces so people can work from home, supporting a diverse rural economy. If this is of interest to you and your business, send us a message and get involved in making it happen! Some great events have taken place so far for the Eco Project and more are planned for the Autumn. We're also pleased to be working with the Arisaig and District Community Council on a project remembering World War 1. More details on this in Susan Carstairs's article in this issue.
As always there's a range of projects underway and in the pipeline. Email or contact us any time through facebook if you'd like to get involved.
Wildlife Delights and Highlights: Rum NNR, Summer 2018
Well, the rain hit with a vengeance after a five-week absence! Burns and rivers are thundering, and several trees have come down in the strong winds accompanying the rain.
It's not all doom and gloom though, because we have some encouraging nuggets of information about the wildlife to share:
The Manx Shearwaters seem to be doing well this year. 200 (out of over 150,000!) burrows have been studied as a sample, and 75% had birds sitting on eggs. There is also very little evidence of rats in the hills this year, probably due to the long and very cold winter.
The annual seabird count was conducted by SNH with voluntary help from myself (the Community Ranger), and Nic, a resident of Rum. Boat transport was kindly provided by Marine Harvest in their small motorboat Rhouma. We boated round to Papadil and then slowly puttered back up to Loch Scresort, counting seabird nests on the way.
Lesley, the SNH reserve manager, collated all the data and pronounced the count to be 10% up on last year! This is exceptionally good news, because seabirds are generally in decline all over Britain.
The Red throated divers have produced 17 chicks so far, on the inland lochs and lochans, and a second pair of Greenshank joined them. A Lapwing pair nested close to Loch Scresort - a first for many, many years, and a pair of Dunlin have nested on Rum for the first time ever!
Our three pairs of Golden Eagles all have healthy, big chicks, as do one pair of our White-tailed Sea Eagles. The other pair appears to have decided not to nest this year.
Blackcaps and whitethroats both arrived late, and there seem to be more redpolls about this year. Anomalous weather generally causes anomalous wildlife too.
Saving possibly the best till last, we are expecting two Rum pony foals this year! They should be born some time in August, and will be in the front castle field with their mothers.
Isle of Rum
BIRDWATCH June 2018 by Stephen MacDonald
A fairly typical June birdwise with most of our summer visitors having arrived and settled into breed, while our winter visitors had cleared out. Little in the way of passage waders, only local breeding birds around.
Interesting news from Arisaig at the beginning of the month, when young successfully fledged from the first confirmed breeding of Nuthatches in the Highland recording area. A bird was first seen in the area on the 25th March. Over the next couple of weeks there were several more sightings and it became apparent that there were two birds. On the 8th April they were seen investigating a hole in a tree. During the ensuing weeks they battled with great tits to keep possession of the hole and modified the entrance by blocking some of it up with mud. During May the adults were seen delivering food to the nest and carrying away faecal sacs, confirming that eggs had hatched and chicks were being fed. Chicks were seen at the entrance to the nest in late May and on 2nd June at least two juveniles were seen outside the nest hole. By 5th June the nest was empty although birds were heard calling in the surrounding woodland.
After the report of Long Eared Owls breeding in Arisaig last month, newly fledged chicks were heard calling around through Rhubana, Morar during the first half of the month.
Mixed success for some of our breeding seabirds. Ringers visiting 'Green Island' and the Airor Islands, Knoydart found plenty of healthy gull chicks and also good numbers of Common Terns. There were only two or three Shag nests at the colony on 'Green Island' this year. On the islands of Traigh however there was complete failure at both the Cormorant colony and the gull nests. The islands at Traigh much more exposed and lower lying than 'Green Island' and Airor. The weather was generally excellent throughout June although there were very strong winds and rain combined with high tides on the 13th and 14th of the month which would have led to the demise of chicks.
Land birds seem to have fared better with plenty of juvenile birds seen. Juvenile Great Spotted Woodpeckers were reported from several gardens in Morar and Arisaig. Juvenile Wheatears were seen on the golf course at Traigh.
The drake Mandarin Duck was seen on Loch Morar with Mallard drakes on the 4th.
Whitethroats were seen and heard at Camasdarroch and Lochailort. Whinchats were seen at Camasdarroch during the last week of the month.
WORLD WIDE WEST WORD
John and Dawn MacPhie went on a cruise in Alaska recently, to celebrate John's 40th birthday. This photo was taken in front of a Humpback Whale statue in Juneau, Alaska.
Dawn says 'there were so many views to choose from for a photo but this was our favourite!'
West Word's Knoydart correspondent Heather Robb and her husband Lewis took a copy of West Word with them on their summer holiday - here they are at Colorado National Monument.
Here's Chris Gray reading the West Word and supporting Mallaig FC while in Ku?adas? (Turkey).
Watch this space for extracts from next month's issue!
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