Community paper for Mallaig, Morar, Arisaig, Lochailort, Glenfinnan
Glenuig, Knoydart and the Small Isles

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August 2010 Issue

Contents of the online version:

Top stories
Monthly news from Knoydart, Muck, Rum, Eigg
West Word ten years ago
Crofting Roundup & Fishing Focus
Local Genealogy & History

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Contact Details & How to Subscribe to the Paper
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Not to be reproduced without permission.

Saturday 24th July saw the new vessel Emma C enter Mallaig harbour for the first time. The 20m x 10m landing craft is the long awaited vessel which was build by Alexander Noble & Sons of Girvan for Mallaig Marine Ltd. Construction started on the vessel in August 2009 and Mr Donald Ian McDonell has regularly visited to monitor the build to ensure much of the detail in the final product is just as he wants it; after all he will be spending much of his time aboard the boat.

The Emma C has been purpose built for providing marine support services to Marine Harvest Scotland. Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the Royal Bank of Scotland have funded this project along with company director Mr Donald Ian McDonell and support from Marine Harvest Scotland. Mallaig Marine Ltd has secured an eight year contract with Marine Harvest Scotland Ltd for moorings installations, net transportation and pen maintenance. The unique opportunity arose when MHS production team were researching efficient ways in which to have a dedicated workboat to service sea water sites 48 week a year.
It is encouraging that even in the present economic climate, new businesses have the opportunity to start. Vision and patience seem to be the key!
The vessel will on occasion be in Mallaig harbour but the majority of work will be in the western isles and the north west coastal areas.
Catherine McDonell told West Word: 'Donald Ian is looking forward to the exciting prospect of operating his boat to provide a quality service for MHS and is motivated to get cracking with the busy schedule he has ahead.
'So many individuals and organisations have assisted along the way with advice, funding and lots of encouragement. We are very grateful for all the support received.' The Emma C is the 134th new vessel to roll off the slipway at Alexander Noble and Sons' Girvan boatyard and was launched at the end of June by Catherine McDonell, who broke a champagne bottle against her bows.
The Emma C is named after Emma McDonell, Donald Iain and Catherine's two year old daughter. The new fish farming boat has been under construction in the boatyard shed since the end of the summer of 2009.
At 20 metres long by six and a half metres of beam with powerful twin 230hp engines, the Emma C is able to carry 40 tonnes of feed or of harvested fish on her deck. The boat is designed and built as a class 2 type workboat under the workboat code and is primarily constructed in 7mm thick steel plating.
Her deck crane can lift no less than 23 tonnes and she has a very strong hydraulically operated bow landing ramp which enables her to be independent of harbour piers and slipways, and enables vehicles to drive on and off her deck.
The boat is equipped with all the latest modern electronic navigational communication and survey equipment.
The skipper and crew will be living almost full time aboard Emma C so the two luxury centrally heated cabins, wet room and well equipped messroom are important features in making their lives at sea comfortable.
The McDonells have a contract with Marine Harvest, one of the largest fish farm companies in Scotland, to service several fish farm sites over a wide area of the west coast. Boatyard company secretary Alastair Noble said: 'Emma C is a major achievement for all those employed in the workboat building team at Alexander Noble and Sons and a significant contribution to production and prosperity of Scotland's maritime infrastructure. The company wish the owner and the new vessel all the best of good fortune for the years ahead.'
The company build new fishing vessels, steel workboats and all types of steel and aluminium fabrications and also undertake marine repair work on all types of craft and have four slipway berths.
Emma C arrives Mallaig

Photos courtesy of Arthur Campbell

A planning application for three wind turbines at Bunacaimbe in Arisaig has spawned a spate of complaints from locals and visitors and two petitions against the proposal. The wind turbines are proposed to be sited on a hillock beside the B8008. Each would be 15 metres (50 ft) tall with 9 metre (30 ft) blades.
Nearly 60 objections have been received by the Highland Council Planning Department via the online eplanning site, and two petitions have also been lodged. Most of the objectors say they are not averse to wind turbines but that this site is too scenic and they would be too intrusive. There are worries about the noise and the danger to birds and bats.
Most importantly this issue highlights the vagaries of the planning process. The application was lodged on 4th May 2010. It was not required to be advertised as the turbines are on privately owned land. No neighbours were notified because none were within the prescribed distance from the site. The date for objections to be received was 2nd June, but by the time people became aware of the application, that date was long past.
Whether you are in favour or not of such a development in such a site, the situation is that planning applications can often go through without anyone being very aware of them. This application was lodged on the 4th May. Weekly lists of planning applications are sent to newspapers and Community Councils, among other bodies, and this at present is a legal requirement. The list containing this application was sent out week ending 21st May and objections had to be in by 2nd June. It was not required to be advertised because it didn't meet the necessary criteria.
West Word printed the list but did not hit the shelves until around the 10th June so by the time local residents knew about it, it was already too late to comment.
Community Councils are allowed a longer time to submit comments but by the time the Community Council met, on 28th June, the application had been in for eight weeks.
Although nearly 60 objections have been received they were all lodged after the 2nd June so need not be considered. The Planning Officer in this case is entitled to make a decision himself under delegated powers.
You can view an application online, together with all the comments received, but it is hard to find the link. Go to the Highland Council website, www.highland.gov.uk and click on P for Planning or on the eplanning link on the right hand side under 'most popular pages'. When on the eplanning page click on 'Highland eplanning Web Access.' If you want to look at the turbine application, the reference number is 10/02005/FUL.

Thanks to the generosity of West Word readers and local funders, our new printing machine is due to be delivered this month! If all goes well, look out for West Word with a colour cover for the next issue!
With the offer of a machine at a lower price - £10,500 as opposed to £14,000 - our dream has come true earlier than expected.
We give a big big thank you to all those who have sent in donations, to the tune of over £2000. Generous grants from the Gower Trust, the Road to the Isles marketing Group, the Arisaig Fund, and Arisaig and Morar Community Councils brings the total to £10,565.00 - almost exactly the price of the new machine (not counting the vat which we get back).
We have been fortunate in that Highland Office Equipment - whose after sales care we can't do without - have recently become agents for Canon as well as Konica and have offered us this top of the range machine at a huge discount.
We still hope to gather in a bit more to go towards updating the computer set up, and then we will have to look for sponsorship to be able to afford to print in colour - probably only the front or middle pages. The cost of colour printing is 6 times more than in black and white and I'm sure you wouldn't pay £6 for your copy! So look out next month for a partial new look.
Thanks as usual this issue got to Ewen and Morag for the printing, ably helped this month by Roger; and to Chrissie and Kirsty and Trevor for the stamping and labelling of envelopes.
Ann Martin

Sorry to point out the obvious but what a wash out July was. Bring on the kids going back to school so we can have some nice weather. I blame Victor for the absence of sunshine ……he's bought himself a big, braw jet ski. All this rain has been good for the Market Garden, which you'll be able to see for yourselves if you attend our Garden and Craft open day on the 4th September. Morag's been seen eyeing up the competition, in particular Dave Baileys Marrows! Look out for the programme of events in this month's West Word - there's loads to keep everyone entertained.
The Knoydart Ladies are in training for the annual Tug o War at the Games. We have been going to the Swimming pool once a week. Well, some have been good and have been doing laps whilst some (mostly me and a couple of anonymous others) have been seen in a few establishments sampling Mallaig's fine dining. If any ladies want to go swimming on a Thursday night, give me a shout to put your name down.
Rhona, Fred, Jim and Kristy attended the Queen's garden party at Holyrood. They had a lovely time and looked great in all their finery. They met Princess Anne, who remembers Knoydart fondly and was asking Jim about stalking - although I don't think she has booked any stags.
Alistair Bruce was also there and was able to tell them about the customs and traditions that surround the day. Congratulations Sir Alistair, for receiving the OBE. From Holyrood to the Foundation Bunkhouse! Izzie is having a tea party on Friday so we can have a chance to see all the progress that's been made at the bunkhouse. A lot of work has been done so it'll be a great chance for anyone to go along and see for themselves and not just hear the praise from visitors.
Donald is home now after his stint in hospital, glad to have you back. Rebel will be pleased!
The pups are in their new homes and Willie looks like the proud dad with pup Ollie.
We were sorry to hear that Ross is no longer working on the Western Isles. Like all the boys (!) on board - his smile and banter make the journey pass quickly. We wish him all the best for the future wherever it lies. Ross, we just hope it's not you at the end of the phone when we are doing our Co-op shop, as half the time we canny understand a word you say. Gwen organised a venison butchery course, which was run on Knoydart by butcher, Barry Dean. It was well attended and I'm sure we'll all be sampling the benefits sometime soon as there are plans to sell venison sausages and burgers at some point in the future. (Although I don't know if Pete and Fred will be allowed to operate the sausage machine.)
Stephanie Harris gets the key to the door this month as it's her 21st. (sorry bingo lingo) Other birthdays include Dorothy, Kira and Jim Brown. Many happy returns. Lang may yer lum reek Karen and Andy who have moved in to the A Frame.
All good things come to an end and our pal Gerry McSherry has decided to return to Ireland. We'll be sorry to see him go. Did you know that Ireland has no moles? Before you go Gerry, could you tell us girls the way to Man Beach!
Davie will be back to writing next months article as he'll be back from his holiday. Will his legs ever see the light of day? Cheers
Isla Miller

It cam wi a concert and it gang wi a ceilidh and in between we welcomed the Ceilidh Trail and the present writer told stories of the last 100 years on Muck. The opening concert was the culmination of two months work (over two years) by music teacher Margaret Greenwood . The adult choir, singing in harmony were awesome and had made great progress since last year. So had the children almost all of whom performed vocal or instrumental solos. It was a very enjoyable evening - well done everyone!
A very different group of children performed at the ceilidh in the barn at the end of the month. They were the Small Hall Band and they came from Kelso in the Borders, There were some adults playing as well, but the massed fiddles with a few wind instruments and a keyboard were great to listen to . And great to dance to as well, it was a night we will remember for a long time. And we raised a considerable sum for the Community Hall which is now going to tender.
Good news on the electricity front, Ian Leaver from Eigg is to be the project officer to help us raise funds and design a new wind scheme-the third in the story of the island! On Eigg he has been highly successful in sourcing money for a large range of projects.
On the farm the constant rain has made silage making a challenge, (what a contrast to the previous six months!) but now there is plenty of grass. But the dry spell seems to have affected the midges. Muck is never bad for midges but this year they are very scarce which is great. That is about all this month.
Lawrence MacEwen

It's been a wet July on Rum and it's a time for hellos and goodbyes to a few residents. We have finally got a new castle manager - hoorah! Linda Hoejlund is from Denmark originally and first came to Rum as administrator in the Reserve Office earlier this year. We sadly say goodbye to Stuart and Julie Poole and their family who have moved not too far away to the mainland but we will still see Stuart over on Rum as Head Teacher. We will also be saying goodbye to stalker and teashop owner Portia Simpson who will be moving to Aberdeen at the end of August to start a falconry business - good luck Portia!
Martyn the red deer researcher over at Kilmory had some VIP guests the other day with the Hebridean Princess anchoring nearby - guess who?!
We had a big birthday party for guest Sua Lee with a big dinner and ceilidh in the village hall which was a great night. The stag season is under way and no doubt we will start to see hunting guests over during the rut. Hopefully we will have some nice weather soon too cos it seems like it's been raining for ages!
Georgie McMillan

July has been so wet, wet; wet that we have been at long last able to put on our toasters in the morning without thinking whether Eigg Electric's batteries were going to suffer or not: now our water turbines are back in operation and John Booth, chair of Eigg Electric, has regained his smile after that very long dry period.
This did not deter Saira from celebrating her 30th at Laig on 3rd July in wild west style: such a gathering of cowboys; cowgirls and injuns is unlikely to be seen again. As to the house, completely renovated and insulated thanks to the Big Green Challenge and tastefully decorated by George and Saira; it was much admired. Well done the two of them.
It was also Duncan Ferguson's birthday, for whom this year will see many changes as he is now retiring from the farm at Sandavore to take up crofting on the isle of Lismore where he and Eileen will be building a house and will be much closer to their numerous grandchildren in Oban. However, the farm will remain in the family, passing to his brother in law Alex Boden who is planning to run it with his daughter Sarah who has been helping Duncan a lot on the farm recently: good luck to all these exciting new ventures! We do hope this leave Duncan more time to help answering the many genealogical enquiries that keep steadily coming our way from across the pond!
July was definitely a month of birthdays with Erin, Megan, Catriona and Mia , and finally George and Amy whose bonfire on the beach at Laig was rated amongst the best of the summer so far; although Megan' s was pretty good too: she is eagerly anticipating her move to High School in Mallaig.
Feis Eige was a great success this year again with 23 children in attendance; although the windy weather prevented one family from Lewis from arriving in time, much to their disappointment. It was the first time that Ross and Eilidh tutored together and the end of Feis ceilidh was very lively indeed, Eilidh Shaw playing with her customary energy and panache: We also enjoyed Robert Nairn' s playing at the tutors night at the tearoom. Maggie was busy with a BBC crew making a new programme about the geology of Scotland which will feature Eigg seen in part from the zooming bike of Ewen Kirk, who is set to best Scruff 's efforts on the small screen...
If anyone noticed pairs of white woolly feet dancing on the grass; not to worry; it was part of the Spey Grian network activities which saw the return of Kenny Taylor and Joyce Gilbert with a new enthusiastic group for a week at the Glebe barn: After a break in Colonsay last year it was like coming home, said they.
July also saw the arrival our this year's SWT volunteers, Mossina from the Midlands, Ruth from Aberdeen and Laura from London. After a few weeks with John Chester, they felt their fitness had improved no end and totally enjoyed their time on the island. Could John be a likely candidate to run an Eigg Boot camp?
Food for thoughts as Jamie and Eilidh are starting on plans to develop sporting activities on the island for next year: watch this space...
Camille Dressler

The longest tapestry in the world was on display in the Astley Hall at the beginning of August and proved extremely popular. Over the course of the two days it was here, more than 370 people came to see it, and 35 attended the very entertaining talk on the Battle of Prestonpans given by Arran Johnston, where the Drambuie flowed. I don't think I'm alone in seeing the Bonnie Prince in a slightly different light now!
A book about the tapestry will be available soon, a panel to a page with details and a photograph of the stitchers. There has already been the grand opening in Prestonpans to which the embroiderers were invited; the next thing on their social calendar is the a Reception by the Highland Council at the Nevis Centre in the middle of August. Anyone who has missed seeing the tapestry can catch up with it there on 19th and 20th August, or in Glenuig Hall (there being nowhere in Glenfinnan big enough to display it - shame!) on 21st and 22nd August. If you fancy a trip to Prestonpans, when the tapestry reaches its homebase for display on 24th and 25th September, there will be free battle re-enactments all over the weekend!
Double congratulations to Arran Johnston - he has just published his first book which is not surprisingly about Prince Charlie entitled Valour does not Wait, to coincide with his 25th birthday (the Prince was 25 at the time of his sojourn in Scotland), and has also just got engaged to the Trust's Education Officer Fiona Campbell, who is travelling with him and the tapestry.
We had one of the funniest bands I've seen, in the Hall on 6th August - The New Rope String Band. Extremely talented musicians, they had the audience laughing from the off - and they also kept entranced half a dozen children aged between 2 and 5 for the whole concert! It was a great evening, and we all came away feeling the better for the boost of laughter. But where was the audience? Only some 25 made it to the Hall.
We'll never know how many would have come to the Duplets concert on the 23rd July as it had to be cancelled at the last minute, owing to harpist Gillian Fleetwood being taken ill. She's better now, I'm pleased to report. Apologies to anyone who was inconvenienced or disappointed.
My thanks again to Anne Baillie and Joanna MacEachen who managed two concerts for me while I was away - having booked them before I knew I wouldn't be here.
The McCalmans' last visit here went down a storm, and they played to a packed house. Nick and Stephen will still be continuing to perform together however, and are due to appear here in August.
Games Day was rather dreicht this year, with drizzle and low clouds, but it didn't seem to put off the crowds, though I believe at times there more people in the tea and beer tents than on the field! The Games Dance was also a success, as was the Craft Fair the day before. A huge amount of money has been raised in the village through the Produce and Craft Fair refreshments - a total of £1400 in July alone.
The village map looks great, I think, and the artwork can still be seen in the Community Council noticeboard. Work is being done on a suitably robust frame and stand and then we will discover where it will go in the village centre.
The Arisaig Community Trust, like the Community Council, took a wee break over the summer but all will resume soon and regular monthly meetings will start again.
Ann Martin

Well done to the doughty crew who responded to Vicky MacKinnon's plea to join her on a sponsored walk from Beasdale to Mallaig on 31st July 2010.
Vicky undertook the walk to raise money for the charity as, she said, 'A lot of people know, my Gran is undergoing treatment for cancer and I know a lot of people who have been affected by the illness. Every penny helps to save many people's lives.' Vicky asked participants to wear either blue or pink, the colours of the Cancer Research organisation.
Last man in was Vicky's Dad Donnie - who blamed the dog!
Thanks to Moe for the photos.

This intrepid band of cyclists are on the Grand Tour - a 6,600 kilometre challenge which sees them following the coastline of Britain in an anti-clockwise direction, to raise money for 'Caravan', the grocery industry's Benevolent Fund, and The Prostate Cancer Charity. They left Seaton in Devon on 3rd July and are due back there on 4th September.
They were in Mallaig on the 2nd August, where they were met by Lochaber Provost Allan Henderson and were put up in the Church Hall, which they accounted as 'another example of the fantastic Scottish hospitality we've been receiving day in, day out, over the past two weeks'.
Arriving in Mallaig from Skye, the next day they travelled to Tobermory via Kilchoan, during which journey they passed the half way point, and then Lochgilphead. Follow their trip on www.thegreattour.org

News in Brief

The Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust (HWDT), a charity organisation based in Tobermory on the Isle of Mull which has been conducting cetacean research and education in Argyll and the Hebrides since 1994, is planning a new project in Lochaber. HWDT is dedicated to enhancing knowledge and understanding of Scotland's whales, dolphins and porpoises (cetaceans) and the Hebridean marine environment through education, research and working within Hebridean communities as the basis for the lasting conservation of local species and habitats.
Over the years, HWDT has undertaken cetacean surveys in the waters around Lochaber. In 2008, HWDT's research vessel Silurian made school visits on Muck, Eigg, Inverie, Mallaig, Lady Lovat and Arisaig as well as preliminary visits to several other schools in Lochaber. As a floating classroom it gave pupils and teachers alike a hands-on experience in how cetacean research is done and what exactly is living in the waters of their area and why it is important to the ecosystem. Feedback given by the head teachers and pupils has been very encouraging and henceforth HWDT is planning to expand the research area further to Lochaber and the Small Isles. It will extend its public sightings network which is already working in Argyll develop a school sightings programme which will build on work started in 2008. As the majority of our sightings are reported online by the public HWDT wishes to make the network available to communities that live in more remote areas. The project aims to establish a network between schools, communities, visitors and wildlife tour operators with HWDT working as a link between them. The collected data and all relevant information will aid in the creation of an interactive West Coast Sightings Map. This will enhance the promotion of local biodiversity to the tourism industry and help the local economy. There will also be a programme of outreach visits throughout Lochaber with research vessel Silurian to engage the community in this project.
Sandra Koetter HWDT's Sightings Officer said "There are several cetacean species resident in and visiting the waters around Lochaber including harbour porpoises, bottlenose dolphins, minke whales - and occasionally killer whales around particularly the Small Isles. HWDT also collaborates with organisations such as the Sea Watch Foundation and helps promote its photo- a-fin project. HWDT also collects data and photographs of basking sharks which are forwarded to the Shark Trust and works with many organisations locally and nationally to further our understanding of and help protect these wonderful creatures"
HWDT has staff and volunteers based in Lochaber and is keen to work further with local businesses, community groups and individuals. If you would like to know more about the project and perhaps get involved, please contact HWDT's Sightings Officer Sandra Koetter on 01688 302 859. For further information about HWDT, please visit its website www.hwdt.org.

Auntie Mary's Creepy Crawly Corner
Jimmy was asking: Do flies see in the same way as us?

The two red compound eyes on this photo of a fly are quite clear in this photo.
Flies see in a similar way to us but not with similar structures. Adult flies have compound eyes which contain many identical light-detecting cells, each sending its own message to the brain; whereas we have light-sensitive cells, called rods and cones, which differ in structure and function and there is some amalgamation in the messages before reaching the brain.

This answer comes mostly from: M.Chinery 1993 Insects of Britain and Northern Europe Collins Field Guide.
Insects have two kinds of light receptors : the simple ocellus (plural ocelli) and the compound eye. Many insects have both structures while others have one or the other or neither. Larvae do not have compound eyes.
Ocelli are usually present in threes, arranged in a triangle on the top of the head ; and in some larger bees are big enough for us to see. There is no focussing structure in an ocellus. In adult insects they may be stimulated by light and this may increase the sensitivity of the compound eyes. In larvae the ocelli are situated on the sides of the head and probably only give an indication between light or dark conditions.
A compound eye consists of a large number of separate light-detecting units called ommatidia. Each ommatidium is cone-shaped, has a lens at the surface of the eye and makes an image which is sent to the insect's brain. The mosaic image formed is not sharp but compound eyes are quick to detect moving objects as movement stimulates different ommatidia. The more ommatidia an insect has the better it can see as the image formed will be sharper and smaller movements will be detected. For example, dragonflies which catch food during flight can have up to 30,000 ommatidia in each eye. In contrast, workers in some ant species which rely mainly on smelling and touching, have only a few hundred ommatidia but well-developed antennae.
Dr Mary Elliott


Birdwatch by Stephen MacDonald - July Report
A fairly quiet month bird-wise, although a few waders were starting to move through the area. Mixed fortunes for some of our local breeding birds. The Kittiwake colony on Mallaig Breakwater fared well, with at least 31 chicks ringed on the 18th. A poor year for the Terns around Traigh and the islands of Arisaig, although the Terns nesting around Loch Nevis have had more success and were busy feeding chicks during the month. The Mallaig Barn Owls had at least two full grown chicks mid month. The wet and windy weather at the start of the month didn't help many birds who still had chicks in the next, and there were several reports of broods of swallows dying in the nest. Not large numbers of Auks reported this year in the Sound of Sleat, but most of the ones that were seen had chicks with them.
The first returning waders reported were 2 Turnstones, 2 Dunlin and a few Curlews at Traigh in the 4th. On the 18th there were at least 4 Sanderling and 7 Dunlin at Traigh. On the 19th there was a juvenile Redshank and a Greenshank there. Golden Plovers started to appear by the month end, with at least 8 on rocks at Traigh on the 31st. On the 19th 2 Great Northern Divers were seen off West Bay, Mallaig and on the 30th three were seen in Glasnacardoch Bay. Occasional Arctic Skuas were seen in the sound of Sleat throughout the month, while Great Skuas were seen daily, including a group of 7 harassing Manx Shearwaters between Arisaig and Eigg, one day mid month.
A single Common Swift was seen flying over the sea off Mallaig on the 2nd. Peregrine Falcons were seen on several occasions in Morar area, as were Sea Eagles.

West Word - ten years ago

Arisaig Highland Games
The Parade through Arisaig village led by the Lochaber Schools Pipe Band
The Clan gathers in the village after the parade
Photos by Arthur Campbell

On and Off the Rails

K4 The Great Marquess 61994 returns to the Mallaig line
After a very long absent time away from Mallaig, the K4 locomotive made its way from Thornton to Mallaig in order to share Jacobite steam duties with 'Black 5 45231 - The Sherwood Forester. She was pressed into service after the K1 62005 failed due to faulty tubes. There is also an ongoing problem with one of her cylinders which will be dealt with when the tubes are replaced.
The K1 returned to Carnforth with a 'spare' set of coaches, behind a Class 37 Diesel. Some of the coaches were hired in from SRPS on Boness, while the WCRC coaches were having wheelsets turned. These repaired coaches returned to Fort William on Saturday 31st July, and the wheelsets ultra sonically tested in Fort William yard on Sunday 1st August. They will be put into traffic on the Jacobite on Monday 2nd August.

Royal Scotsman dates
The Orient Express Royal Scotsman visited Mallaig on Saturday 24th July. The visit of 31st July had to be cancelled due to operating difficulties. However, their visit on August 7th is to go ahead as planned.

ScotRail Glasgow to Queen Street
The summer service on this route continues to be very busy, with many visitors coming to the area for the first time. It is popular with coach parties using the train one way between Fort William and Mallaig. Also the ScotRail Club 55 is proving to be a great success, bringing people to our area who would not normally travel here by train. Thank you ScotRail!

West Word Railway Book Competition
Last month's Book Competition proved to be very popular. Although I received a surprisingly large number of entries, unfortunately there were not many who came up with the correct answers. I didn't think that I had made the competition too difficult, but some of the answers I received were a little strange to say the least! Once again, there can only be one lucky winner, who lives in Dalmuir. Well done to Graham Scott, your book is on its way to you.

West Word Railway Book Competition August
This month, I have a 'colour' copy of a book called Harry Potter on Location, written by J P Sperati.
The book comes in two versions, a black and white copy and one in colour. It is an unofficial review and guide to the locations used for the entire film series, fully illustrated, indexed and with location maps.
For any Harry Potter enthusiasts the book is a 'must' and describes in full all the locations used by Warner Bros in the making of the complete Harry Potter series of films. At the rear of the book is a page of acknowledgements from the author, and this includes Gerald F Rivett from Spean Bridge, John Arnold (Loch Morar Crafts) and Captain Jim Michie (Loch Shiel Cruises).
Packed full of colour and black and white photographs of our area, and excellent descriptions of locations etc, the book is very good value for money. The colour version is priced at £8.99, and the black and white at £7.50.
It is published by Baker Street Studios Limited and can be obtained by post from: Irregular Special Press, Endeavour House, 170 woodland Road, Sawston, Cambridge, CB22 3DX.
For those of you who would like to try to win a colour copy of the book, just answer the following question: 'What is the name of the author of the Harry Potter books?'
Send your answer to me, Sonia Cameron, 'Fasgadh', Marine Place, Mallaig PH41 4RD to arriveno later than Tuesday 31st August. Good luck!

Michael Portillo in Mallaig
On Wednesday 28th July, broadcaster and TV personality (and ex-politician) Michael Portillo arrived in Mallaig at 14.09, having caught the 12.48 Fort William train. Did any of you spot him? He was visiting Mallaig prior to the filming of his 'Great Railway Journeys' programme which will be shot during August. The programme will feature various local 'celebrities' including our very own Elliot Ironside! When I know the transmission date I will include it in West Word in 'On & Off the Rails'.

Good News, or not such Good News?
My outlook on life is always to see the glass half-full, not half-empty. Similarly I always try to look on the positive side of life, not the negative.
So, good news first. Congratulations to ScotRail - staff and management - for being named 'UK Rail Operator of the Year' for the second year in a row. This is a rail transport industry award to recognise excellence among train operating companies of the United Kingdom. The award has been presented as part of the HSBC Rail Business Awards since 1997. well done. Now, the not such good news (you see, I can't even say 'bad news'!). squire, who monitor the annual assessment for the Scottish Government of 344 stations and all trains run by ScotRail, have recently imposed a fine on ScotRail of more than £750,000.
According to Transport Scotland, improvements are needed in respect of litter, station and train toilets, destination boards and passenger information, and announcements. Areas of 'consistent high performance' include cleaning station graffiti, staff, train cleanliness, ticket collection at key stations, customer care and ticket inspections on trains. Despite the worst winter for decades, in the Highlands 95.2% of trains arrived within 10 minutes of the schedule time, compared with a target of 92%. Of Caledonian Sleepers, which must arrive within 30 minutes of the schedule time, 94.3% were on time against a 99% target.
Transport Scotland's rail delivery director Bill Reeve said 'The penalty and reward system requires that ScotRail focuses on issues regarded important by the public. ScotRail has improved its performance in a number of areas and Transport Scotland will continue to highlight below benchmark results to ensure this system continues to confront issues.' I think it is a fair comment in a highly competitive market with ever more rigorous standards set by one of the UK's toughest regimes - as it should be.
Phew - I'm glad that's over! Always look on the bright side!!
See you on the train.
Sonia Cameron

Three men without a boat - Griff Rhys Jones, Dara O'Briain and Rory McGrath on their way to Knoydart

From the Letters page:

Dear West Word,
Question about Arisaig MacPherson lines
I am writing to find out if anyone is familiar with the following line of MacPhersons. My grandfather Donald MacPherson told A.D. MacDonald, author of Mabou Pioneers (vol. 1, p. 783; Formac Publishing, Halifax, NS, reprinted 1998) that "the MacPhersons of Black River [Inverness County, Cape Breton] are descended from Donald MacPherson, son of Roderick MacPherson. He married a Miss MacVarish, a near cousin of the late Reverend Father Allan MacLean, parish priest of Judique [Cape Breton]. Mrs. MacPherson had been left a widow when her family was small. They were seven in number: John, Angus, Donald, Margaret, and three others. Donald MacPherson had two nephews, Rory and John MacPherson, who went to Newfoundland. John MacPherson [my great-great grandfather], son of Donald, son of Rory, was born at Loch Enort, Scotland [about 1802]. He married Margaret Rankin, daughter of John 'the Immigrant' [after he came to Cape Breton]."
I spent quite a bit of time looking for "Loch Enort" and finally decided it must be a misspelling of Loch Eynort on South Uist, even though my mother used to say that the MacPhersons were from Arisaig. Four years ago, I had my brother's DNA tested. Only a handful of MacPhersons had been tested at the time, and nobody was a close match to my brother. Now we have 90 people In the project, but my brother is still very distant from everyone else there. Instead, he has close matches with four McInnis men and a Calvert, who was adopted but had a McInnis biological father. These McInnis men aren't closely related to the men in their own project. Furthermore, several of my brother's DNA markers are very rare, and these men share them. The connection is somewhere back in Scotland, I believe, and I may never solve this mystery, but I would like to at least try to find out where they really came from. Recently, two lines of MacPhersons were tested on Benbecula. Both have been there for a very long time, and their DNA test results show they are related, but both are very distant from my brother.
I am beginning to think that my mother got it right when she said our MacPhersons were from Arisaig. I know MacVarish is a Moidart surname. Either "Loch Enort" is an error, or it is possible that this woman, whose first name is unknown, was related to the MacVarish man who went over to Benbecula to oversee the building of Lionacleit/Liniclate. I suppose he could have taken some of the MacPherson men with him to work on that large project, and some of them could have been born there before leaving for Canada. I am not sure when my MacPhersons left Scotland, but my great-great grandfather obtained a Crown Land Grant in Cape Breton in 1835, so he was probably there by the 1820s. Thank you for any help you can give me.
Allene MacPherson Goforth, Viola, Idaho, USA (formerly of Cape Breton Island).


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Above left: Flo Cargill of Mallaig was snapped by husband Alan on a trip home to France where she caught up with her reading beside the Seine in Paris.
Above right: Subscribers Betty and Victor Wands from Greenock took their copy to Portofino which they visited while on holiday in Rapallo, Italy. Oh, and they say the yacht behind them is not theirs - shame!

Bottom left: 'Look what I do these days' - the Ed just had to take a copy to her school reunion in Crediton, Devon to show it to her schoolgirl friends! L to r: Beverley, Sally, Judith, Lesley, Ann the Ed, Lynne, Mary and Jo - it was just great to see you again!
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We have been so busy over the last few months that it is hard to find the time to get the fingers to the keys of the computer - that doesn't sound nearly as good as putting pen to paper! Back in May 30th islanders, visitors and children met on lovely Sunday afternoon for a discovery into the food and medicines growing around us on Eigg, led by Ian Boyd. Ian is a herbalist and countryside ranger from Glasgow and took us for a gentle stroll, on this short walk most of us were overwhelmed at the massive amount of uses for the most common of plants, flowers and trees that can be used medicinally or just as a refreshing drink. The only thing I struggled with was the immense amount of information to take in over a two hour period!! I think it helps if you already know the plant then adding the beneficial properties or ingredients for a specific problem relevant to you, this way the information sticks better. To further and continue our new knowledge on plants and their medicinal uses a new herbal garden has been created situated in the Lodge gardens by a volunteer Jamie McDonald. Once the plants are established the garden is available for anyone to use for their own medicinal or other purposes, as well as being particularly attractive to wildlife including bees, butterflies, and other insects. This useful and attractive addition to the gardens includes Lemon balms, Lavenders, Chamomiles, Rosemary and many more. Financial assistance was awarded from CSV Action Earth towards the purchase of the plants. A huge thank you goes to Jamie for taking the time to create this beautiful herb garden for us which we will treasure and enjoy for many years to come.
On the 8th of June the Isle of Eigg took part in the Scottish Renewables Festival celebrating green energy. Other communities took part across the whole of Scotland between the 5th-13th June 2010. It was a chance to see behind some doors that are not usually open to the public as well as a way to visit some familiar sights such as wind farms and hydro power schemes right up close. It was a successful afternoon and leading guided tours around the system on a regular basis is something we may consider doing in the future.
Obvious reliance towards Eigg Electric was shown as we saw most of the privately owned generators being transported off the island. A couple of guys from Yorkshire approached all households to enquire if they would part with their generators. As households now have full reliance and dependency on Eigg Electric as it works so efficiently and effectively, no longer requiring private back up systems to each household.
On Monday the 14th of June saw the first load of generators leave Eigg, quite a momentous day really, marking the 13th buyout anniversary weekend with a further indication of how Eigg has moved on so successfully. It has to be mentioned - the misinterpretation in the press last week and knocking renewables as unreliable. Eigg Electric is far from that and the private generators being sold is a major indicator on how reliable the system is. In the extreme case of there being no wind, water or sun the main generator comes on to top up the battery bank and at this point households are asked to reduce their consumption but we never go without and one generator burning diesel is still far more efficient than 40 individual ones! The bad press was only brief as the wrongful articles backtracked as it was announced that Eigg won the UK Gold Ashden Award based on our electric scheme so at least despite bad press Eigg is recognised for its hard work, determination and innovation.
Another project completed this month was the installation of the final solar water heating panel. We have been running a pilot scheme for solar water panels and chose three households using different fuels to heat their water using kerosene, coal and wood. These households each had to monitor their fuel usage prior to panel installation and then again after to be able to compare the data. They are all now fully operational and working away brilliantly as they should reducing fuel consumption considerably. More data will be available at a later date to determine the exact savings.
Anymore news than that and we would fill the entire West Word pages so I will leave it at that for now!!
Tasha Lancaster

Knoydart Powerdown Project has been working on a wide variety of carbon reduction initiatives and we were successful in securing Climate Challenge Fund grant to help us turn the former market garden into a community garden. Working along side members of the community we have been able to employ a part-time Community Gardener, Sam, who has been helping us get it all up and running and productive.
Since Easter there has been a flurry of activity at the garden with much of it turned over to "allotment" style plots, polytunnels up and running again packed with produce; and a combination of extremely competitive gardening mixed with a great spirit of sharing plants, seedlings, and top tips! We are busy setting up a composting and wormery demonstration zone, coping with huge gluts of produce and soft fruits... There are over 20 people regularly gardening there with many other members of the community popping in to lend a hand or pick produce for meals. And that's in addition to the huge amount of gardening many members of the community get on with in their own back gardens...
Our Craft fayres over the past couple of years have been successful and a fun family afternoon out. Last year the "centrepiece" of the craft day was work on the totem pole which you can seen in place at the head of the pier. This year, we are combining the craft day with a garden open day.
Next month will see the delivery of our (much awaited) electric quad bike for us to trial in the area, cutting emissions further - powered by renewable energy from the hydro. On this, and other "green" projects we will report on more in later issues of West Word....

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