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

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August 2014 Issue

Contents of the online version:

Top stories
Monthly news from Knoydart, Muck, Rum, Eigg, Canna
Railway and harbour news
Local History

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Here are our local heroes who carried the Queen's Baton at various stages on Saturday 12th July 2014.
Below: Sam Harvie, Arisaig, carried the baton into Fort Augustus;
Morar's Catherine McDonell can-canned her way through Fort Augustus with Police officers!;
and handed the baton to Kenny MacKenzie, Mallaig, seen here with wife Pat and grandchildren.






Above: Liam Dyer from Arisaig carried the baton through Spean Bridge;
and passed it to Mallaig's Maxine MacDonald;
retired surgeon David Sedgewick carried the baton on The Jacobite from Glenfinnan to Fort William.

It's been a busy few weeks! I can't think of a time when Knoydart has had so many events squeezed into one month. First off was Words from the Wild, our book festival. Remember I mentioned the marquee, waiting for all the authors to turn up? Well, it had to be taken down in the wee small hours, as the wind picked up quite a bit (poor Morag was busy watching it out of her window at 5am). It didn't really matter, as we managed to squeeze everything into the village hall. Some great discussions had, with Lesley Riddoch, Jim Crumley, Mandie Haggith, Ian McEwan, John and Nicola Fletcher, Fi Martynoga, Sophie Hardach, Knoydart's own Hilary Rhode, and regular visitor Kate Rawles all pitching in with readings, walks and demonstrations. The night was rounded off with some great music the Scott Wood band, although I tell you, some of these famous authors need to sort out their ceilidh-ing skills (unlike the locals who finished off with some athletic dancing: check out the village hall Facebook page!)
More music in the form of Barluath came next: spectacular piping! Then came the first of two Commonwealth Games-funded bands: Sotho Sounds, mountain shepherds from far-off Lesotho, who trained the children in making music from bottles before performing with recycled instruments to a packed hall (they made us all sit on the floor, on our "flat European bottoms"!). After them came the incredibly talented Luke Daniels, Lauren MacColl, Ewan MacPherson and Yaffa Quan Weinreich from the Royal Conservatoire. Again, a very busy night, partly due to passengers from the Lord of the Glens cruise ship wandering in every five minutes!
Our musical treats weren't over: after the Games we had the mighty Breabach, who were as tight, inspiring and exciting as their reputation suggests. Lots of people bounced up and down to a band who are undoubtedly heading towards Shooglenifty levels of stardom.
The Games themselves were a wee bit damp, but that didn't put plenty of folk off enjoying the usual nonsense, some of them taking time off to shelter in Grant's temporary auditorium which had a tombola, teddy stall, and Isla's Yes table. Tug o' war was as keenly contested as ever, I'm told, with Mallaig women and men emerging victorious (not sure where I was when that was going on). The egg and spoon race used some of my rock-hard guinea fowl eggs, and involved backwards running under the instruction of Ian Robertson. Lots of money raised over the day and evening; thank you to all the folk from Mallaig who made the effort to come over on a dreich day. There will be the usual donation to the Lifeboat.
Coming up on Saturday 30th August: K15 runs! Exciting stuff: you can still sign up to one of the runs by emailing runknoydart@gmail.com - or why not just pop over for the craft fair which is happening at the same time? Book your place with the Western Isles or Seabridge to ensure you can get over.
The following day, Sunday 31st, we're having a street party to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the community buy-out - another excuse to come over. Why not make a weekend of it?
Finally, some pub opening times! Please note that the Old Forge is still closed during lunch time for the month of August; it'll be opening at 3pm every day. JP tells me that if people want food at 3pm, he will be happy to serve them then. You need to book for dinner; closing hours remain the same.
Tommy McManmon

July has been a busy month on Muck - it always is. Only this year we have Marine Harvest working at an ever increasing pace to get the houses finished by the end of August and the cages ready for the smoults on the 19th. As the scaffolding comes down and the larch cladding goes up what is revealed are three well designed traditional houses with astragals on the windows and dormers on the upper floors. Well done Marine Harvest! Out at sea next the most sheltered part of the island coast are five cages and moorings for more. To my totally inexperienced eye there is still a lot to do before the fish go in and on the pier there is a hive of activity not seen since it was built. Mark and Gareth from the island now completed their training are in there too!
On the farm silage was up to date by the middle of the month and lambs are now weaned in preparation n for the journey to Dingwall. Prices are not expected to be as good as the last three years but there is the prospect of cheaper winter feed costs as the world is having a bumper harvest.
With Camas events we have had the Ceilidh Trail which was very successful (though unfortunately I missed it) and we had a very pleasant couple who did things that you might see at the circus. In and around the Hall Emma Walters was busy keeping our children occupied and fit!
August 2nd was the day of the Small Isles Sports and as with the wedding in May the weather did not cooperate and rain set in though luckily it was not heavy till the field events were over. It was held in Laga Bholla the field nearest Port Mor and the hall and was massively attended. One estimate put the numbers at 280 and included parties from Canna and Soay. The Craft Shop did a magnificent job of catering for everyone many of whom had to leave on Sheerwater and Loch Nevis. In the evening Marine Harvest brought in a mobile Bar-B-Que which served delicious salmon steaks to assist our own efforts on the fire in the by now heavy rain. In the Hall the Small Halls Band- young musicians from the Scottish Borders took the stage for the early art of the evening followed by Gabe McVarish from Eigg.
The last big event of the year is the book launch in the Hall on the 13th. Sheerwater is almost full with supporters from all over Scotland. There will be music and refreshments for this unique event on the island. That is all this month.
Lawrence MacEwen

A busy month here on Rum with some high visitor numbers finally coming off the Calmac and the Sheerwater along with the annual invasion of Malts Cruise visitors. The various TeaShoppers (Vikki, Debs, Em, Steve, Nicola and Jed) have been doing really well in provider top class nosh to visitors and islanders alike with some great feedback about soups, quiches and cakes. Wednesday Market Day has been doing well too with a fine array of Rum art, craft and produce on the table - we have some very talented folk here on the island and it's lovely to see the fruits of their labours on display in the village hall each week selling well.
July saw us celebrating a few islanders birthdays - Chainsaw Dave, Sean, Debs, Vikki and twins Lesley & Ross - plenty of candle blowing, birthday cake and singing down at Jinty's shop. We waved a farewell to Martyn who leaves Rum after 6 years working on the Kilmory Deer Project to start a new life on Mainland Land with his partner Siobhan. Martyn was not a frequent visitor to the village living on the other side of the island to most of us but will be missed nonetheless. Congratulations to Sean Morris who will be taking his place as full time deer project researcher.
We have had a summer of long term visitors too - we have termed them 'Integrated Randoms' and several of this year's visitors are hoping to make a longer term future for themselves on the island. Hopefully we'll be in a position to offer opportunities for people to do just that in the near future with plenty of exciting possibilities for new houses and employment opportunities being talked about. Our new Bunkhouse is very near to completion with dates for Grand Openings being discussed and hopefully a manager in post very soon.
Our community Ranger Trudi has had a fantastic first season in her new post, creating lots of new exciting Ranger events and having an ever growing list of cetaceans spotted on the weekly Sheerwater boat trips. Last week was a close encounter with a large minke whale and a big pod of dolphins. Everyone is hoping for a spotting of the orca which seems to be hanging around the Small Isles seas. SNH had some really good Shearwater events too with a nighttime walk up to the colony on Hallival and a couple of evening boat trips to see the shearwaters gathering on the sea ready to start coming in to feed their young. Both boat trips were lucky enough to also spot an eagle hanging around a colony of kittiwakes on the cliffs of Rum.
A large group of Rumachs visited Muck for the Small Isles games this weekend just passed and had a great time. Muck showed fantastic hospitality and did a fine job of laying on a selection of games from the truly competitive to the downright ridiculous! Lovely food, two ceilidh bands and sunshine on the following morning as we packed up our tents and sampled the fine fayre on offer at the Muck Tearoom before heading back home to Rum made for an excellent weekend. Thanks for the hospitality and congratulations on your win (again!) Muck. Next year we will regain our tug of war title for sure!
Nic Goddard

Cllr Allan Henderson, chair of isle of Rum community trust opens the new playpark on Rum.
The playpark has been possible thanks to a grant funding application by Ali Morris
and a team of volunteers on island.
The play park has already proved very popular with island children and visitors to Rum.

This year, July saw the return of three important events in the island's musical calendar, Feis Eige on the second week-end of the month and the biannual indie festival, in its new incarnation of Howlin' Fling, on the third weekend and finally on the very last Saturday, Blaze, the Classic rock cover band featuring Eigg's one and only original 60's rocker himself, Mick Brett! The return of Feis Eige with a new committee following the departure of our last Feis worker to the mainland, has seen her come back as button accordion tutor to introduce several youngsters to the intricacies of an instrument which was once played so extensively on the island. Many thanks for this, Grace. Tasha made a brilliant job of organising the event, especially as most of the work was done as she was also organising her wedding back in the spring! Children and adults had a great time, with a fantastic (deemed psychedelic even) collection of masks depicting inhabitants of the faery world at the Friday's participants' showcase, and a brilliant ceilidh ending the event fronted by Gabe with his customary gusto, which featured a host of new and returning tutors, with amongst them Jenny Hill on the double bass, and Angus Binnie on the pipes who also doubled up as DJ in the wee hours. Look out for Blair Douglas's feis song performed by the all the Feis Eige participants on You tube or on the Feis Eige website.
Howlin' Fling which brought about well over 200 visitors from far and wide to the island, showcased many of the names now associated with Johnny Lynch's Eigg-based new label, Lost Map. It was a really eclectic selection which saw the return of many well kent artists to the island, such as Seamus Foggerty, Rozi Plain and Kid Canaveral, and performances by a host of interesting performers, from Golden Teachers, with their mad array of rhythms and fabulous dancing duo to the poetic and quirky Bristol based Japanese Ichin. Massacre Cave did not make it to Eigg this year, but we still had a great metal guitar and hair performance from the Cormack brothers assisted by Brendan Greene on the drums as Johnny's own backing group for Pictish Trail, now joined by Tuff Love's bass player, a very charismatic addition in her own right! As for the Londoners in the crowd, they were truly gobsmacked by Metta's performance, Damian's band's first on Eigg, fresh from Heb Celt (it went down a storm and provided a great crowd warmer for all the dancing that followed on) and truly electrified by Gaelic Soul Brothers, Gabe and Griogair - say no more. Even the persistent rain on Saturday night failed to deter the revellers who all had a great time not only with the music, but with their discovery of the island and its culinary delights, brought to them by Hebridean Larder this year as well as Eiggy Bread.
We are already looking forward to the next fling, hopefully in two years time. Sincere congratulations to Sarah and Johnny to pull it off so well, considering that they are also in the throes of building their house at the moment!
Blaze which have now been on the go for 17 years, and still going strong bringing all the classic rock anthems to an enthusiastic west coast audience, made their debut on Nevis Radio this year. Expect even bigger crowds in Corpach next year! It was also Mick And Jacky's great pride to see their grand-daughter Kathleen perform on stage at the interval as part of a duo called Joy Acoustic, in homage to - you've guessed - Joy Division. The girls' brilliant voices which already earned acclaim Highland-wide were truly a joy to hear and hopefully the rapturous applause from their Eigg audience will encourage them to even greater heights!
What else can be said about July, apart from this blur of musical activity? Sun, sea and swim in an almost Caribbean setting, azure sky and sea and temperatures to match: the Eiggach went on holiday in their own islands and made the most of the wonderful weather, with a new sporting enthusiasm: sunset volleyball on Laig beach... Oh and a surprise visit from Canadian West Word columnist Marlene Cheng, looking for her ancestral roots at Laig on one of these perfect days. Lovely to meet you Marlene!
Camille Dressler

We are pleased to say that a new teacher has been appointed for Canna Primary and she will be starting for the new school term. We said goodbye to supply teacher Rona Grindley at the end of last month and she and the children put on a lovely open day for the island where we were all very impressed with the schoolwork and the Victorian Themed dress worn by the pupils and teacher. We also had a visit from Rum Primary to visit the school and feed pet lambs and calves.
CafeCanna run by Chris and Anna Deplano has been very busy with local and foreign visitors, boosting the population by employing Elaine from Lincolnshire and giving local girl Caroline a summer job. Everyone is loving the fish and chips!! The number of yachts visiting Canna must be at an all time high. Since May there has been a minimum of ten per night and quite often over 20 which has been great for the community moorings.
On the 26th we gathered together as a community to help Julie Ann Guthrie celebrate her Holy Communion with Fr Joe from Morar. It was a lovely day and it was nice to see our small church filled to celebrate mass.
Finished shearing on the 15th July although there are a few escapees running around the hill!! Visitors have commented on the vast numbers of wild flowers and the lack of rabbits. Craig Martin our resident rabbit trapper has been working very hard to keep numbers down as well as putting in drop boxes and erecting rabbit netting.
Canna Community Trust has been awarded funding to complete a feasibility study for a community hall and we are looking forward to moving forward with this project.
Geraldine MacKinnon

Clan Donald Gathers at Arisaig Highland Games: 30th July 2014

Some three years ago, Arisaig Highland Games began planning to hold a Clan Donald Gathering, hosted by Ranald Macdonald, Captain and 24th Chief of Clanranald, as part of the 2014 Year of Homecoming. 2014 is also the tenth anniversary of the Arisaig Highland Games and Clanranald Gathering.
Such a gathering has not been known in the Highlands for perhaps hundreds of years and certainly not in "na Garbh Criochan" or "the Rough Bounds".
Numerous members of the Clan Donald diaspora of this part of na Garbh Criochan, made the pilgrimage from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, America, Europe, and Samoa to be with us for the occasion. After a week of historical tours and much genealogical discussion, everybody assembled for the Arisaig Highland Games.
The day started with a ceremonial march from the lawn at Traigh House (built ca. 1784 by Simon MacDonald of the Morar MacDonalds) to the Games field. The march was lead by Malcolm MacDonald, Clan Donald Australia, Tòiseach to the Finlaggan Council, and Thomas Miers, pursuivant to Clan Donald, accompanied by Ranald Macdonald of Clanranald and his family.
The weather for the march was not kind to us. The rain came down in torrents but didn't manage to dampen the spirits of the marchers. They confirmed their Highland bloodline by coping cheerfully with the rain and the hellish attentions of "the Great Highland Midge" which preceded it. The kilt was a distinct drawback!
The opening ceremony on the games field was carried out with style and tradition by Thomas Miers and Clanranald, followed by a Gàidhlig song by Margaret Ford née MacLellan. Allan MacKenzie from Canada, husband of Celia Ritchie from Morar, played a major part in the organisation of the pipe music for the march and opening ceremony and indeed, composed a pipe tune for the occasion. Allan is descended from the Morar MacDonalds and his people emigrated from Gaoithe Dail, Arisaig to Cape Breton.
The weather cleared up and the Games proceeded with a large crowd in attendance. Highland dancing, athletics, heavy events and much genealogical socialising between Highland and far-flung cousins were the order of the day. Popular opinion was that, we had a good Games, which were much enhanced by the attendance of our diasporian cousins.
May we extend our thanks to Mr and Mrs David Shaw Stewart for the use of their lawn and their continuing support for the Arisaig Highland Games.
The organisers are indebted to everyone who gave up their own time to set-up and steward the Games.
In next month's West Word, we will write about the many and varied nationalities present at the Games and the significance of this particular gathering.
A&E MacDonald

Photos courtesy of Arthur Campbell.

Decker Forrest is presented with a clean sweep of piping trophies by Keith Falconer of Adelphi (Sponsors of the Games)

The Dancing Trophy winners. (L-R: Kelsey MacBeth, Hannah Bloomfield, Molly Smith, Emma MacKenzie).

Wallace Dempster won the Cameron-Head Cup for Junior Piping, which was presented by Lt. Col. Ruairidh Allen, Clanranald's Lieutenant from North Carolina

David Hart was presented with the overall Heavy Champion Trophy by Andrew Simpson, Road to the Isles Marketing Group, Sponsors of the Open Heavy competition.

Ross Douglas with his Track & Field trophies.

No account of the Arisaig Games would be complete without a photo of Tommy MacEachen!
Tommy will be 79 next month and has been competing in the Heavy events of the Games since 1953!

Charles Kennedy MP with the Lochaber Ceilidh Trail who played at the Games


A seminary for the Catholic Church is a place where men (seminarians) live together with both priests and laypeople in a community of faith. During this period the seminarians try to discern God's will for them, and in a spirit of prayer and contemplation examine whether Jesus is calling them to be priests. The seminarians during these formative years, with the help of God and the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is transformed on his ordination day, by the laying on of hands by his bishop, into an "Other Christ."
Over the ages this formation took different formats but basically, I suppose it was always the same. The celebration of the 300th Anniversary of the first seminary in Britain for us is of the utmost importance. During this celebration in Morar we wanted to commemorate in a joyful atmosphere the Holy Mass and the Priesthood, and the importance to pray for Vocations. Our intention was to celebrate locally a commemoration that is of Diocesan and national importance.

Photos courtesy of Anthony MacMillan

The celebration of this important historical feast was packed with various activities such as:
1. The walk from St. Patrick's Church towards St. Cumin's in Morar -- this reminds us of the times when parishioners had to walk long distances to attend Church.
2. The attending of Mass on Loch Morar from boats is a reminder of times passed when those coming to the church had to come by boats because there were few roads.
3. The Children's Pageant led by a Piper, Allan Henderson, was a remembrance of the young seminarians who lived on the island of Eilean Ban in Loch Morar between 1714 - 1716 and 1732 - 1738. Our altar servers led this Pageant. The boy dressed in red represented Bishop Hugh MacDonald who opened the little seminary on Eilean Ban, Morar. The boys dressed in black represented young seminaries of that time accompanied by their master, George Innes and seminarian Hugh MacDonald, son of Alexander MacDonald, tacksman of Meoble.
4. The opportunity for silent adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in Morar Church & the celebration of the Sacrament of Confession outside the church.
5. The main event was the outdoor Mass, where a stage was set up with seating facilities.
6. The planting of trees on the church grounds to mark the occasion.
7. The reception at Mallaig & Morar Community Centre.

The tree planting was helped by local children.

Unfortunately, these activities, due to the rain and the midges had to be tailored down; and as our Diocesan Administrator, Mgr James MacNeil, former parish priest of Morar rightly put it "the important part of this celebration is the Holy Mass." The Mass was celebrated inside the Church.
There were around 300 lay faithful who had come from near and far. The Church was packed. Our former Bishop of the Diocese of Argyll and the Isles, Joseph Toal, who is now Bishop of Motherwell, was the main celebrant. During Mass he used the silver chalice that was used at the seminary. This chalice belonged to Fr. Vincent Morrison who served as priest in the Morar area from 1658.

Fr Joe holds the silver chalice that was used at the seminary.
It belonged to Fr. Vincent Morrison who served as priest in the Morar area from 1658.

The Bishop of Aberdeen, Hugh Gilbert, and 16 priests were present. We were honoured by the presence of Canon Angus John MacQueen, from Northbay, Barra. Canon MacQueen was in Morar Mission from 1954 - 1959, and he announced the Gospel in Gaelic. Mgr MacNeil preached during Mass and the diocesan choir under the direction of Fr. Michael Hutson uplifted our hearts to heavenly prayers. The celebration took about 2 hours. It was such a spiritual experience!
Those who attended the Mass included leaders of the different Christian denominations in the area, and our civic representatives.
After the Communion Prayer, Mgr MacNeil read a message sent By His Holiness Pope Francis through Archbishop Antonio Mennini, Apostolic Nuncio.
After Mass. four trees were planted to mark the occasion. . . the children who helped planting these trees will surely remember with joy this celebration.
A history of the seminary has been written by Father Michael J MacDonald, from Ardkenneth and Bornish, who wrote: "The real significance of the little seminary at Eilean Ban is that it was the first seminary to be established anywhere in Great Britain." Eilean Ban was chosen because it enjoyed the protection of the local chief, MacDonald of Morar.
Our parishioners after mass presented us with a buffet at the Mallaig and Morar Community hall. A distinguished guest wrote to me saying: "The reception at Mallaig was delightful and the food was absolutely delicious. All praise to those who provided such a superb spread."
I would like to thank all those who helped in one way or another to mark this celebration in such a dignified and holy way.
Fr. Joe Calleja
Church House

Mr James (Pimmy) McLean receiving his 10 year service medal in the RNLI
from local RNLI coxswain Michael Ian Currie.
Photo Moe Mathieson


Promenade & Slipway
After advertising in the European Journal and receiving expressions of interest from contractors, the Tender Documents for both the Mallaig Shoreside Promenade and the Lovat Slipway projects were issued on Wednesday 23rd July by Harbour Engineers Wallace Stone.
The successful tenderer is expected to be revealed near the end of September with the works due for completion by December 2014.
Both projects - described in last month's West Word - have attracted European Funding via the Highland EFF Axis 4 Programme courtesy of the Fisheries Liaison Action Group.

Outer Breakwater Repairs
This giant crane currently occupying a (large) spot of ground close by the Ice Factory has been attracting lots of comments since it's rather sudden appearance last month.


Due to the height constraints on the A830 the crane arrived in Mallaig on five separate articulated lorries and was then assembled like a giant meccano set.
The crane will be utilised mid-August when contractors Noel Regan & Sons arrive on site to carry out extensive repairs to the rock armour that is protecting the Outer Breakwater Wall.
Damage to the rock armour occurred on 5th December 2013 when storm force winds battered the Outer Breakwater causing over £300,000 of damage to the rock armour.

You may wonder why a photo of the Gullfoss in Iceland should adorn the Mallaig Harbour page but if you look closely you might just discern the lines of the CalMac ferry Lochmor - a ferry that operated on the Mallaig - Small Isles route from 1979 - 2001.


When retired by Cal-Mac, the Lochmor was sold to a Campbeltown based firm then went onto the Brixham/Torquay area where she was renamed the Torquay Belle. She then went on to sail under the name Jurassic Scene and then the Poole Scene(Blue Funnel).
So she's now based in Akraness, Iceland - arriving there on 3rd June, and named the Gullfoss.
Robert MacMillan
Port Manager/Secretary
01687 462154 info@mallaigharbourauthority.com

The Lifeboat has been rather busy this month with the Henry Alston Hewat being called out on six occasions.

Saturday July 5th 2014
Launched at 21.20hrs to go to the assistance of the broken down RIB Coot four miles west of Idrigill Point, Skye. Stornoway Coastguard received a call from the Coot that they were experiencing gearbox and had to shut their engine. They were on their way from Tobermory, Isle of Mull to Berneray on North Uist. Weather conditions were good and the Coot was in no immediate danger. On scene at 22.50hrs, the Coot was taken under tow to Carbost in Loch Harport, and berthed at 1.30hrs. The local Coastguard took charge and would arrange for a local engineer in the morning to inspect the gearbox. Lifeboat was fuelled and ready for service in Mallaig at 3.20hrs.

Sunday July 13th 2014
Launched by Stornoway Coastguard to evacuate an injured crewman from the cruise vessel Hebridean Princess at 17.23hrs. While descending to the engine room the engineer had slipped and gone over on his ankle, suspecting it was broken. Weather conditions were fine and the Lifeboat arrived at the Hebridean Princess to the north of the Isle of Muck at 18.23hrs. The casualty was boarded through the side door of the cruise vessel on to the Lifeboat with the assistance of both crews. The patient was taken back to Mallaig where he was transferred to the local ambulance and on to Belford Hospital in Ft. William for treatment. The Lifeboat was refuelled and ready for service at 19.15hrs.

Monday July 14th 2014
Lifeboat was called to the assistance of a yacht which has run aground on the north shore of the Isle of Muck. On arrival the vessel was in the process of being tethered to a mooring by the local Coastguard, having been refloated due to a rising tide. Yacht and crew were checked by the Lifeboat crew and found to be safe and well. Lifeboat back on station at 22.40hrs.

Wednesday July 16th 2014
The Lifeboat was launched to check on the crew of a yacht moored in Canna Harbour. The local Coastguard were concerned as they were unable to contact the yacht. On arrival the occupant was found to be on the yacht but had both his radio and mobile phone switched off to save power. After making sure all was well the Lifeboat was back and refuelled ready for service at 15.00hrs.

Sunday July 20th 2014
Launched by Stornoway Coastguard to Medivac a male with a broken leg from the Isle of Eigg at 07.00hrs. The casualty had been attending a social function, slipped and fallen, breaking his leg. Luckily a locum doctor was also on the island and applied emergency care until the Lifeboat arrived. The Lifeboat crew applied further care and the casualty was transferred by stretcher to the Lifeboat and on to Mallaig Harbour where the ambulance transported the patient to Ft. William's Belford Hospital. The Lifeboat was back on station and refuelled at 09.30hrs.

Thursday July 24th 2014
Launched by Stornoway Coastguard to the Roshven area of Lochailort at 22.30hrs. It had been reported that a couple had gone for a sail in a dinghy in the early evening and were now overdue. The Lifeboat arrived on scene at 23.05hrs when a report was received from the local Coastguard that both had been found on the Ardnish Peninsula opposite Roshven. The Lifeboat was stood down and returned to be refuelled and ready for service at 23.55hrs.

Friday 25th July 2014
A mobile phone call to the Harbour Master alerted the services to the aid of a local man and his three companions. The party had been enjoying a day's fishing at the back of Sleat Point. After deciding to return to port their engine failed to start. After many unsuccessful attempts to restart the outboard the party decide to paddle offshore until a mobile phone signal was attained. A call to Harbour Master then the LOM and Coastguard saw The Lifeboat underway at 16:14 to the casualty at the back of Sleat Point. On scene at 16:30 the casualties were passed a tow rope and then transferred to the Lifeboat for the tow back to Mallaig in pleasant calm conditions. Alongside at 17:30 hrs. at the pontoons. Lifeboat ready for service at 18:00

Lachie Robinson, Mallaig High School, is seen here with a replica of his entry to last year's Boisdale prize, which forms a panel in the Diaspora Tapestry. Lachie's is the first image in the accompanying book and is used in detail on the top left if the front cover.


The Scottish Diaspora Tapestry consists of some 150 beautifully embroidered panels and is featuring in exhibitions in locations including Stirling, Inverness, Edinburgh and East Lothian as part of Homecoming Scotland 2014.
Each of the panels tell the stories of Scots who emigrated to find a new life in 25 other countries including China, India, Canada, USA, Sweden, Italy, Poland, the Netherlands and France.
Volunteers from Prestoungrange Arts Festival worked with hundreds of embroiderers across the world in what organisers have hailed as the biggest community arts project ever undertaken in Prestonpans. Andrew Crummy is the design artist responsible for turning the stories unearthed into 500mm x 500mm panels for stitching back in the countries involved. This is also the designer and group who produced the Battle of Prestonpans Tapestry which was completed in 2010 and was displayed in the Astley Hall for a week on its tour of places visited by Bonnie Prince Charlie.
Local volunteer stitchers contributed panels to the Diaspora Tapestry and have been featured in West Word in July and August 2013.

Kenny Merrilees, Fishery Officer with Marine Scotland in Mallaig, is pictured here with his black Labrador Boris who won a Gundog Scurry Competition at this year's Highland Field Sport Fair at Moy.


The competition was open to dogs of any breed which are being used or trained as gundogs. The competition was to retrieve a dummy from scrubland over a fence and another dummy from water, in both cases a shot was fired prior to the dummy being released. Judging was on the time taken to deliver both dummies to hand.
Boris won the trophy for the fastest Retriever and the trophy for the fastest dog on the day. There were nearly 100 dogs entered on the day so it was quite an achievement!


The Heat is (still?) On
What glorious weather it was in July. Wall to wall sunshine, very little wind, very little rain (meaning loads of watering at Railway Stations) and deep blue skies, with sparkling crests on the waves. The humidity has been in the 70's more times than not and the midges have been about, but with loads of 'Smidge that Midge' applied and antihistamine we have come through unscathed, the train planters and whisky cask planters are bursting with flowers and the thousands of photographs taken of groups around them - and selfies! - must be online internationally now. It is a helpful advert for the area - as are the hanging baskets at Mallaig Railway Station, seventeen of them this year. Travellers crouch under them for a tablet or mobile phone photo. Thank goodness the watering system is set to come on in the evening or they would get a shock! The self-retracting hoses at the Station help as well, although you do have to watch that your ankles are out of the way if you let them retract too quickly - as I discovered! Steve has now installed one for me at Arisaig Railway Station (thanks my duck!) as it is a long platform to pull out and coil up the hose safely out of the way.
Now it is time for a weak potash feed every ten days, and daily dead heading, at all three Stations that I adopt as I try to look after them.
Though I am reminded that the Autumn is approaching on two counts. As I write this column it is July 31st, 'Lammas Day'. The ancient feast of Lammas, originally 'loaf mass' was once a church holiday that celebrated the beginning of the harvest season. It comes about eight weeks before Michaelmas or Harvest Home on September 29th. However I accept that meteorologically August is usually now regarded as part of the British summer, and many coastal districts (hopefully us!) count August as their warmest month of the year.
The second reason is the enjoyment of looking at and ordering from the forthcoming season's bulb catalogues, and on that note thank you to a reader of my column who has sent me details of two bulb orders that he has 'gifted' me to assist my planting at Railway Stations - thank you very much. It is appreciated.

Competition Results
Copies of this very helpful Railway Day Trips book by my new friend Julian Holland (which was the answer to the competition set last month) go to Alice James from Hereford and Fred Foster from Blackpool. Come on local readers, - have a go at my competitions - a local winner would make a change. I know we are busy but ... have a go!

ScotRail Update
The Class 156 Sprinter units are being well used at the moment. It is good to see how much they are used for short journeys. For example, locals coming in from Arisaig and Morar on the late afternoon train and returning half an hour later, and the same on the mid-morning one. There are regular travellers to Arisaig and Fort William to work from Mallaig and back as well. Quite a few sailors use ScotRail to use/join their owned/hired yachts moored up at Arisaig and Mallaig and Skye, and return south afterwards. Coach holiday tourists are often on the journey as well to enrich their holiday. The ScotRail crews from Fort William and Mallaig continue to be helpful even when under pressure at this time of year. The size of wheeled cases used seems to get bigger, as do the rucksacks!
Nationally there are three new leaflets worth a perusal, either online or from your local staffed railway station.
'National Rail Cycling by Train 2014' is very informative and helpful. Booking your cycle on is free but important. The leaflet lists all the details for booking, or go to www.nationalrail.co.uk. There is also a downloadable National Rail Enquiries mobile app for the most up to date and accurate cycle carriage information specific to your journey.
'View from the Train' audio guide is an app and podcast which takes you on a journey around Scotland. There are six routes covered - including Fort William to Mallaig. Go to www.snh.gov.uk/train to find out more, download the app, get the podcast or listen on YouTube. It is free, and, if I knew what I was writing about I'm sure it would be useful!
'Two Together Railcard' I do know about and ScotRail staff tell me it is being well used. It costs £30 a year for two people (that's £15 each) to travel together on the whole rail network in Great Britain any time and you always get a third off your fares. Online application gets you a £3 online discount by using the code LEAFLET3, when applying on twotogether-railcard.co.uk/leaflet. You do need a digital photo of each card holder. The Railcard comes to you by post for free, or visit your local staffed Railway Station Booking Office for a leaflet and full details.
Currently the Railway Stations in our area are getting a new make-over by Bell Group painters from Airdrie. The two painters currently doing up Arisaig Station Buildings are in the area for a month, and are filling, undercoating, exterior coating and glass painting anything and everything that is not moveable!! I am told the final coat colour will be 'Fifty shades of grey without the sex'! I hope it grows on us! Actually the two lads are very polite, working well between the train times, and have assured me that the ScotRail dark blue colour will be used on seats and base boards. I will miss the green and cream though. Morar next!!

Jacobite Steam Train Update
The two trains continue to be fully booked, mostly. However, when either train is in Mallaig there are sometimes empty seats which can be purchased from the two Train Managers, Florence on the first one (see her at her Guards Van from 1.45pm each day) and Lachie (see him at 6pm onwards at his Guards Van Monday to Friday) for one way tickets to Arisaig, Glenfinnan or Fort William. These vacancies occur when visitors/coach party travellers etc have only travelled one way, or are travelling back on another day after staying in Mallaig overnight.
The Saturday July 12th Jacobite return journey was used for that very purpose, when the BBC camera crew, the Commonwealth Games PR and Security Squad, plus the Queen's Baton and proud bearer David Sedgewick all boarded the train at Glenfinnan to take the Baton into Fort William!!! It was crazy fun chaotic and good to see. When David held the Baton aloft out of the open window over Glenfinnan Viaduct it was like a shot from Braveheart if you know what I mean, and the march along the platform at Fort William with 350 people all cheering and flag waving is never to be forgotten, especially as David's mother in her wheelchair held the torch with him (and put him in his place as he attempted to publicly kiss her!). All good fun.

David Sedgewick with Jacobite Guard Florence MacLean hold the Baton in the Guards van as the train crosses Glenfinnan Viaduct. David got more votes to be a Baton bearer than anyone else in Scotland, with an amazing 6000 words written about him by members of the community!
Photo Steve Roberts

Caledonian Sleeper Update
The Serco story continues. There is a lot of 'what might happen' speculation on Serco's website. However, what is fact is that Serco have now lost their bid to continue to run the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) which they have operated for Transport for London since 1997. The new contract to run the service from December 2014 until 2021 has been awarded to a joint bid between French transport group Keolis and support services provider Amey, a subsidiary of Spanish multinational Ferrovial. The DLR contract was worth £90 million in revenues to Serco, who have described the result as 'disappointing'. It is surely another body blow to them. We wish them well with the Caledonian Sleeper franchise. Watch this story with interest.

Book Review and Competition
Another great book to try to win this month. Entitled Blighty's Railways - Britain's Railways in the First World War, the author Alexander J Mullay, who resides in Edinburgh, has written a fascinating insight into railways operating at their peak. For the first time, archival documents from the Railway Executive Committee have been analysed and combined with data from previously untapped resources show the sheer scale of the railways' contributions to the winning of a war unprecedented in its scale and violence.
It is an A5 size softback book priced at £17.99. Published by Amberley Publishing of Stroud, Gloucestershire, its ISBN number is 978 1 4456 3857 7 and is very readable. The photographs are all black and white and are astonishing. There are Red Cross trains, Ambulance trains, the 4th Royal Scots detraining at Edinburgh Waverley Station - it is fascinating.
Malcolm Poole at Mallaig Heritage Centre is one stockist but I'm sure it will be available in many shops as well as online at www.amberleybooks.com.
Competition: Question - How much does the above mentioned book cost?
Answers on a postcard please to Sonia Cameron, Fasgadh, Marine Place, Mallaig, Inverness-shire PH41 4RD by Friday 29th August 2014.
See you on the train.
Sonia Cameron
PS. Watch out for Michael Portillo on BBCTV with a short series of the importance of railways in the First World War - to be followed by a DVD and a BBC book on the subject.

First train through the new level crossing barriers at Morar was The Jacobite on Sunday July 27th 2014.
Thanks to Phil Hunkin for the photo.

The Return of Jack Caldwell's Dirk
As reported in the March issue of West Word, Mallaig Heritage Centre has been marking the centenary of World War 1 by researching the backgrounds of the men and woman named on the local war memorials. While doing this research we have been delighted to have the opportunity to bring back to the district an item which once belonged to one of those soldiers.


The Heritage Centre's latest acquisition is a Cameron Highlanders officer's dirk in a case which bears the initials "J H C". Lieutenant John Hay Caldwell, known to his family as Jack, was born in 1894, the only son of William Caldwell of Morar Lodge. He served in the Cameron Highlanders from 1914 to 1917, when he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps and trained as a pilot. On 12 January 1918 he was serving in Mesopotamia, in modern-day Iraq, carrying out a reconnaissance mission against the Turks, when his plane was shot down. Lt. Caldwell managed to escape but died of exposure almost two weeks later while trying to make his way back to the British lines. He was originally buried in the cemetery at Samara, but after the war ended his remains were moved to the North Gate Cemetery in Baghdad.
After the war a memorial was built by local stonemason Archibald MacLellan, to commemorate the men of North Morar who had died. The memorial, a handsome archway over the entrance to Morar Cemetery, was designed by Kenneth Bird, a veteran of Gallipoli, who had married Jack Caldwell's older sister Mary in 1914. Mary Bird and Jack's younger sister Vera Shaw-Stewart also donated the funds to provide a clinic in Mallaig, which bore a plaque on the door reminding users that it had been donated in memory of their brother. The clinic was used for over 70 years until Mallaig Health Centre opened nearby in 2000 and was finally knocked down in 2010.
While his personal effects were returned to Jack Caldwell's parents, the dirk seems to have remained among his kit which was auctioned and the proceeds sent to the Caldwells' solicitor as part of his estate. In 1987 it was sold by an antiques dealer in Aberdeen to an American collector, who advertised it for sale on the internet last year, where we discovered it. A museum in Massachusetts agreed to inspect it for us and National Museums of Scotland promised a grant of 50% of the purchase price so the Heritage Centre Trustees decided that it should be bought and displayed at the Heritage Centre to help to remind visitors not only about Jack Caldwell but also about all the others from this area who went to war and did not return.
Since writing the article in the March West Word we have been given a marvellous Powerpoint presentation put together by the children of Eigg Primary School, containing all the information that they have discovered about the servicemen from Eigg, but very little more. If anyone has any letters, postcards, medals or photographs belonging to the men on the memorials, please consider lending them to us so that they can be displayed as part of the World War 1 exhibition. We would especially like to be able to show an example of the Memorial Plaque or "Dead Man's Penny", which was sent to the family of servicemen who died.
Malcolm Poole

A copy of 'Arisaig and South Morar Record of Service 1914 - 1918' is available to view at the Heritage Centre and the virtual book is available on CD at £10.


Irene Smith of Loanhead, Midlothian, proved you can have a great time without going far when she took her copy on a sail on the Firth of Forth, visiting Inchkeith, Inchmickery and Inchcolm island where she and her husband Cameron were married in the abbey. Irene says 'Sailing is great but still doesn't beat our regular caravan holidays with Joyce at Invercaimbe.'

Pam MacDonald, Morar, took her West Word with her to the Commonwealth Games athletes village where she was sports massaging the athletes for eight days. Pam told us 'I was working as a volunteer at the Polyclinic (mini hospital) which is the white building behind me. It was a tough job but someone has to look after all those amazing bodies!'
Pam was there for eleven days altogether and managed to see some events with her family too. It was courtesy of Pam that West Word went to the Olympics two years ago!

These are the latest photos from Thomas MacKinnon (Arisaig) on his trip round the world. The first was from Thailand in November 2013 where he had been shark diving; in December he was on a farm in Australia.
This month he tells us he spent 96 days at sea in MV Bounty Hunter fishing for banana prawns in the Torres Straits, Northern Australia, and round into the Gulf of Carpentaria.

Next he took us sailing around the Fiji islands on Seaspray, a ship built in Glasgow in 1920 which made it all the way across to Fiji. With Tom (left in both photos) in Fiji are Richard (England) and Anna (Denmark). His copy of West Word is surviving remarkably well! We look forward to the next stopover...


Geoff Adams has sent us this photo of two goldfinch on the feeder in his garden at Camusdarach at the end of July.

Birdwatch by Stephen MacDonald - July 2014
Another mostly warm month, only a handful of days with windy unsettled weather.
Although mid-summer, autumn migration was already underway for some waders that breed in the Arctic.A group of 28 Redshank feeding by Silversands, Traigh, on the 4th, were the first returning waders reported. With the mostly settled weather, many of the returning birds passed through quickly, flocks of Dunlin were seen on several occasions mid-month flying low over the sea in the Sound of Sleat and between Arisaig and Eigg.
During the last week of the month Sanderling were seen at Traigh and a group of 12 were seen just off Arisaig from the MV Sheerwater. Also, in the last week, up to 30 Golden Plover were seen around Traigh farm and the offshore islands there. Ten Redshank and 2 Greenshank were seen near Gorten, Back of Keppoch.
By mid-month, the first Guillemot and Razorbill chicks appeared in the Sound of Sleat and around the Small Isles. By the end of the month, it was evident by the number of chicks that it had been the best breeding season for several years for some sea birds.
Kittiwakes on Canna, although late, have also had a good breeding season. The small colony of Kittiwakes on the breakwater at Mallaig harbour, also very late in starting, seems to have been a success, with most of the nests full of large chicks almost ready to fledge by the month end. On the 13th it was noted that there were at least 2 almost fully fledged Barn Owl chicks in the roost nest hole at the usual cliff site in Mallaig. Up to 4 Owls have been seen at a time and birds were still present at the month end.
Still several reports of Great-spotted Woodpeckers coming to feeders in several gardens in Morar and Arisaig.
A male Yellowhammer was seen feeding in a Morar garden on several occasions during the month and several reports of Yellowhammers with young from Gorten and Rhue, Arisaig.
A family group of Redstarts was seen on several occasions from the 'Glen' road, Arisaig.
Goldcrests were reported from Woodside, Morar, and Mains Farm, Arisaig, during the second half of the month.
A juvenile Cuckoo was seen on the 22nd. in the Mallaigvaig/Circular Walk area.

As promised a couple of editions ago, here are my Mallaig Village Hall Memories.
I was born in 1948 so I guess the School Prizegivings in the late 50's make up my first memories, and I even remember taking part in a School play in the Hall about 1960. The casting director never asked me back despite my sterling performance. I've often wondered why, especially as I was so good!!!
I became a member of the Cubs, then the Scouts, and our training/games sessions were always in the Hall dressed up in the green cap, folded neckerchief - kept in place by my wee leather woggle - lanyard and, of course, short trousers. Scout Leader Jack MacNeil and his assistant George Downie tried, as best they could, to pass on Lord Baden-Powell's Scouting Rules, eths and ideals.
Christmas time was Children's Party time and lots were held in the Hall. There's no doubt though that my favourite was the 'Masons' Party'. I always looked forward to it and its colourful finale - the release of balloons from the ceiling. When the restraining netting was cut away the large multi-coloured balloons floated slowly down into the outstretched arms of the children, including me!
For many years, Wednesdays and Saturdays were 'going to the pictures' days. Bert MacGillivray was the film operator and we would look forward to seeing the large film poster announcing the next movie blockbuster on show in the Mallaig Hall. The posters would be displayed on a wooden fence located outside the Marine Hotel. Whatever film was shown, on the way home from the pictures we would re-enact scenes from it like sword fencing (with tree branches) or Cowboys and Indians with our toy guns loaded with caps!
Courtesy of Bert MacGillivray, I was introduced to Walt Disney and Tom and Jerry cartoons; Larry, Moe and Curly Joe, the Three Stooges; Flash Gordon and the Lone Ranger, as well as the movie stars of the day - John Wayne, Jack Hawkins, Burt Lancaster, Kenneth More, Richard Widmark, Dirk Bogarde, Robert Mitchum, etc, etc. A crime series fronted by the lugubrious Edgar Lustgarten also springs to mind. Much to my disappointment, Bert refused me entry one night - I was too young to gain admission to see Alec Guinness star in 'The Bridge on the River Kwai'!
Entry to the Hall then was at the Khyber end of the building. You walked through the Hall door, turned left along a corridor with the gents and ladies waiting room and toilets on your right (the sea side) and you opened the Hall door by turning left, lifting the latch and climbing up a couple (?) of steps into the Main Hall.
In my teens, I learned to play badminton in the Hall and marvelled at the racquet skills of the grown-ups like Hamish Smith and Elliot Ironside. Red shuttlecocks were used back then and we treated them with care, smoothing the ruffled feathers even during a match. The narrowness of the Hall was compounded by a fireplace sticking out but although the odd racquet came to grief we adapted and I became quite a proficient player!
The reconstruction of the Hall in the 70's made it wider, longer and higher - much more conducive to good back-hand shots and smashes.
A local Youth Club started up in the Hall with Manson Sutherland kicking off his DJ career. There were concerts and dances of course and then James Manson (bass), George Young (drums), Graham Leck (guitar) and I (vocals) formed The Tiggers (later to become The Revolution)! When we weren't playing Shea Stadium (our nickname for Morar Hall) we were playing in the Mallaig Hall. George's brother Hendry joined us on lead guitar for a while and Ann Kennedy (Blair House) almost joined up with us as back up vocalist. Alistair Henderson flirted unsuccessfully with a saxophone purchased at The Barras while Moe Mathieson was our roadie type figure, keeping us supplied with what the pop group 'Scaffold' termed 'medicinal compound', the boot of Moe's car being a well-stocked cocktail bar. Incidentally, we converted 'Lily the Pink' into a Boston Two Step - it was always well received.
I have fond memories of the Irish Showbands who played in the Mallaig Hall, particularly The Playboys who, over the years, and courtesy of Keith Eddie, were to re-visit us often.
I was blown away by the sound of The Playboys Showband when they visited Mallaig for the first time. With a saxophone and trumpet in their eight strong line-up. I was so inspired by their sound and couldn't believe that such a band could be playing in Mallaig Hall.
The Revolution would have a spell on stage while The Playboys took an interval break and I remember one hot sticky night in particular we were well chuffed with the reception we got from what was probably the biggest crowd ever to attend a dance in the Mallaig Hall.
With the break-up of The Revolution, drummer Keith Eddie joined up with Graham and me and box maestro Fergie MacDonald for some cracking mid-week dances in the Hall. I recall Harry 'Snap' Garvin was always first in the door. He was never charged an entry fee. 'I came in backwards so no-one knew if I was coming in or going out' was one of his favourite sayings.
Neptune Disco reigned supreme in Mallaig Hall for many years, indeed I think it's fair to say that Keith kept the Hall going via his Discos and fund-raising efforts. What about the Mallaig Community Council inspired Hallowe'en Parades when Charlie King, Jock Summers and 'Sparky' Longmuir always came up with some eye catching, sometimes mind boggling, (dis)guises. Indeed the whole village seemed to revel in the Hallowe'en atmosphere, everyone entering into the spirit of the occasion. Classic nights.
Indoor Football on Saturday afternoon in the winter caught on for a while in the 80's. We had special goals made up and we stored them beneath the stage. Hendry Addison donated 'The Harvester Trophy', named after his (and Roddy MacKenzie's) creel boat, and this was keenly contested for several years.
It was Indoor Football that brought about my 'new look' - a broken nose - which necessitated a trip to Inverness, a few days stay in the Northern Infirmary and a plastered hooter. Most mornings when shaving I contemplate that the surgeon who carried out my nose repair job couldn't count it as one of his most successful!!!
Throughout my life then I have learned, played, danced, sung, acted and even suffered in the Mallaig Village Hall. Looking back I can conclude that it has played an important role in my childhood, adolescence and adult life.
We will all have our own individual memories. Some will recall the Bridge and Whist Clubs, the Drama Club, WRI, The Rifle Club, Development Council Meetings, Brains Trust, Masonic Lodge Meetings, The Eastern Star, Ceilidhs and Concerts of the Scottish Dance Band era when the likes of Will Starr, Bobby MacLeod and Alastair Downie were among the stars of the stage. One mustn't forget the Local Scottish Dance Band and of course the singing of Jessie Hepburn. Memories galore!


Here's another memory. This photo was taken outside the Hall after a gig by the Cockney Pop Duo 'Chas n' Dave' - Dave Peacock, Robert Macmillan, Keith Eddie, Neil MacKenzie (Royal Bank), Mick Burt, Alan Eddie, Chas Hodges and Alistair MacKinnon. I think the photo was taken by Franco Cousins!
According to the website, Drummer Mick Burt has now retired and his place has been taken by Chas' son Nick. Chas' proudest moment is playing Glastonbury Festival in 2005 - rather surprisingly, there's no mention of their Mallaig Village Hall gig!!!

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