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

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December 2011 Issue

Contents of the online version:

Top stories
Monthly news from Knoydart, Muck, Canna, Rum, Eigg
Railway and harbour news
Coastal Ranger Report & Birdwatch
Crofting news
Local history

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All photos are copyright either of the individual photographers or West Word.
Not to be reproduced without permission.

After the worst storm in years hit the western Highlands and Islands on Thursday 8th December, a 'Major Incident' was declared and the Emergency Response Units of the Red Cross swung into action to bring aid to the vulnerable in our communities.
Highland Council Social Work, Scottish Hydro and Scottish Water teamed up with the Red Cross and local medical staff to draw up lists of those thought to be most in need, and emergency response volunteers have been busy in the area from Lochaline and Kilchoan to Mallaig delivering water supplies, gas heaters, blankets, hygiene packs and sanitation kits. With the assistance of hundreds of local volunteers they have been working round the clock to make sure as many people as possible who need help have received it, with the list being updated continually from calls received by the power and water companies.
Mallaig Health Centre has been used as headquarters, co-ordinating with Dr Iain Gartshore and the district nurses.
Dr Gartshore is one of two Lochaber doctors who are Medical Major Incident Officers. He has received extensive training on coping with emergency situations and is therefore somewhat disappointed that, when the Major Incident was declared, the first he knew of it was when he saw the Red Cross vehicles at the Centre. He had arranged to be on call overnight on Thursday and had cancelled a trip away to be on hand but feels that communications could have been much better to allow for better forward planning. However, he is full of praise for the work being done and told West Word 'The nurses and staff have been wonderful, with the staff working voluntarily for all hours over the weekend.'
Because of the devastation wreaked by the storm, Scottish Hydro have drawn in teams of manpower from England and Northern Ireland to deal with the number of breaks in the power cables, and tree felling agencies from all over the country have also been called in. Hundreds of trees in the western half of the Highlands and Islands were blown down by the storm, blocking roads and bringing down transformers and cables. Power was restored on Saturday December 10th after being off up to 54 hours, during which time the area also had no radio or mobile phone network access. Water supplies were off in Mallaig from the Friday until Monday 12th and at varying times in other places, and is still not fully restored. Water tankers, or bowsers, have been coming into the area continually, leaving packs of bottled water at various drop off points. Accusations have been levelled that people have been stockpiling these greedily but there is more evidence that those taking multiple supplies did so to give to neighbours and those in need.
Anne Eadie, Service Manager for the Red Cross, who has been based at Mallaig Health Centre since Friday, said 'So many local people have come forward to help in may ways - distributing water and supplies, checking on people they think may be vulnerable and giving reassurance, it has been a real community effort from here to the end of the Ardnamurchan peninsula. There are some very remote and small places and we have been trying to visit them all which has been difficult with trees blocking many of the minor roads. The logistics have been very difficult.'
She added 'We always need volunteers! For incidents like this and also for more fun events, like Rock Ness. There are many ways in which people can get involved, whether it's learning the various grades of First Aid or fund-raising. If you would like more information on volunteering with us, get in touch with me on 01599 530150 or look at the different options on our website - www.redcross.org.uk'

photo photo
photo photo

Photo of the recycling bins at West Bay Car Park - courtesy of Richard Lamont

Damage in the area included a residential caravan near Glen Mamie Viaduct rolling over with the occupant inside it; he was taken to hospital but discharged soon afterwards. Numbered amongst the hundreds of trees which fell were forty trees in Arisaig House gardens alone, including a rare one. Many buildings have had tiles blown off roofs and outbuildings flattened. Mallaig Primary School has suffered such extensive damage to roof and ceilings that, until further notice, the pupils are being re-housed. Primaries 1 - 3 are in the Church Hall and Primaries 4 - 7 are in Mallaig High School. The High School and the Hostel also have damage to their roofs but are open for business. The West Bay Car Park in Mallaig is littered with stones and rocks - and echo of the damage wrought in 2005 - and a caravan blew onto parked cars.

About fifty people attended the public meeting in the Astley Hall on Friday November 18th. Chaired by Dave Thompson MSP, hauliers, bus drivers and the general public gathered to listen to representatives of Scotland Transerv, Transport Scotland and the Northern Constabulary discuss the results of enquiries and tests undertaken after an earlier meeting in Mallaig this year.
The meeting went on for three hours with many questions and answers but a number of people went away dissatisfied with some of the answers given. The blame continues to be placed on excess speed when many of the people who have been involved in a skid will vouch for the fact they were not speeding.
There was a presentation on the method used for the investigations. Consulted were previous works, the 2008 Section study, the SOS Protest Group report, the Deer Report, local reports and evidence, and operating company records. The investigators also spoke to the Police, road authorities, local workers and environmental experts. According to records, injury accidents peaked at 14 in 2009. 450 Category 1 defects were reported and 285 Category 2.
On testing the road surface, data concerning the condition, friction and texture was gathered using visual methods and by machine. Grip testing (a grip is a channel cut through the verge to take off excess water) was carried out and speed surveys on three of the worst bends. Radar equipment was used to capture approach speeds on bends and some 'alarming' speeds were reported.
With regard to the bridge parapet at Craiglea which Mr Bryden deems to be very dangerous, the response was that these parapets were designed in the '60s and '70s and do not comply with modern standards. The recommendation was to monitor it until funding and competing priorities permit an upgrade to current standards. The bridge would have to be strengthened for this and more land might have to be obtained to do so.
The road was described as having 'low traffic flows' and was compared with the M8 which takes thousands of vehicles an hour and has many accidents, but it was suggested from the floor that if the percentage of vehicles/accidents were compared it would show a more serious figure. There is insufficient room for two lorries to pass each other on some stretches, which means at least one will go onto the verge, making a dangerous rut and covering the road with mud and stones.
The information being provided to the authorities on accidents and incidents does not seem to be recorded in many cases and the records held seem to be at variance with the facts. The reply to this was that only injury accidents are recorded. That the facts are at odds with reality was illustrated by the fact that there were only four accidents involving deer on record.
Mr and Mrs Bryden stated that something happens to the road surface between wet and dry, making it glassy - and the condition disappears as soon as it appears. Mrs Bryden said she has on several occasions reported diesel spillages but no action was taken to clean them up. Dave Thompson, MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, who has been fighting for improvements on the route since the fatal accident in September last year, remains optimistic that there has been a breakthrough in the recognition by the authorities that further investigation is needed, and that they will 'be guided by members of the public' in visiting certain accident hotspots. He said 'This meeting was important to improve communication between the local community and the national organisations responsible for the safety and maintenance of this route. There was the concern that some accidents had been caused by spillages on the road so I lobbied Northern Constabulary and the UK Department of Transport on this problem and was glad that this was recognised with a series of 'enforcement days' where the road-worthiness of vehicles on the route were checked.'
However, John Bryden stated 'It was abundantly clear that the authorities and the police were completely out of touch with reality and have failed to take cognisance of anything the public members at the meeting had to say.
'Category 1 defects are supposed to be made safe within 24 hours, and repaired permanently within 28 days - those on the A830 aren't.'
A member of the public whose wife's car had spun round and crashed for no apparent reason told West Word: 'One thing that seemed very clear to me from the meeting was the reporting of accidents was very poor, irrespective of the police and road agency faults. Let us stress to every single local person that every single accident/slip whatsoever should be reported to the police. It's just a phone call after all. As long as we as a community do not make sure a true record of all of the incidents are officially recorded we are going to struggle to make progress.'
All incidents and road defects however small should also be reported to Scotland Transerv, 0800 028 1414 or online at www.scotlandtranserv.co.uk
A follow up meeting has been promised for Spring next year.

West Word is brought to you this month partly courtesy of candle and gas light and an editor with a squint and a headache! I'm not going to apologise for the lateness of publication, it was touch and go whether there would be a joint December/January issue! I just hope the printer works without mishap after being switched on and off by the quick random power cuts last night.
I'm sure we all give grateful thanks to Scottish Hydro (aka Scottish and Southern Energy, now SSE), Scottish Water, the Red Cross, our doctors, nurses and all the volunteers who have helped us over what has been a crisis. Thanks goodness we haven't also had the snow suffered in other parts of the Highlands. Sympathies to all those who have suffered damage to their properties and/or hardship.
The team at West Word wish you all a safe and happy festive period, may you all be warm, comfortable and healthy. Until next year...
Ann Martin

What a month of weather extremes: Folk were still collecting tomatoes from the poly tunnel in the market garden at the beginning of the month only to find the poly tunnel blown away at the end of the month in the high winds.
Rhona is collecting money for a bench in memory of Donald Macluglash. It will be situated at "Donald's corner" looking out to sea. If you would like to donate to this, get in touch with wee Rhona at the tearoom 01687 460191.
Liz Logan came back for a visit and to launch her new book If Horses were Wishes. She had been writing it while living at Sandaig and saw her dream fulfilled in getting it to print and returning to Knoydart for the book launch. Knowing it was written on Knoydart we wondered who the horse was named after, Tommy on the boat or Tommy the post? I guess we'll have to read it to find out…..If you're looking for it in the shops it is published in her maiden name which is Elizabeth Sellars.
Bob and Morag have headed off to visit Alisdair Lanyon and his wife Anita in Canada. We look forward to hearing about their adventures and wish them a normal trip. Bob and Morag's holidays usually involve some sort of minor catastrophe that makes for a good story on their return. Alisdair and Anita have joined in with the current Knoydart trend and are expecting their second child in January, a wee brother or sister to Sammy. Congratulations to them both. See when you're talking about that, Wee Oren will be celebrating his first birthday this month and is keeping Clare and Jim busy with his new found skill, crawling. Happy birthday Oren. (by the way, I'm no gonny list individual birthdays as it usually gets me into bother as I normally forget one, but happy birthday if you are getting older this month).
The Old Forge was the place to be this weekend past with music from Jim Hunter and the disclaimers. I just hope none of the guys were wearing their mankinis under their clothes from an earlier hot tub session! Who says rock n roll is hard work? While we're on about the pub I better mention the big pool competition. Mel did it for the girls, being the only female in the contest, while Willie and Fraz made it to the final. And the well done, you goes to... Fraz.
There was a lot going on in the village hall this month too. There was the usual excellent films being shown in the hall (look out for Decembers listing of Christmassy ones and Bugsy Malone, I canny wait) And the Tuesday night table tennis. There was also the curry night, which just about everyone in the community attended, so I don't need to go on about it. It raised £120 for the hall refurbishment fund and was a great night. And the ladies enjoyed an evening of swishing. If you've never heard of this before don't worry, it doesn't involve car keys. It's just a fancy word for a clothes swap. The women of Knoydart donated up to 10 items of good quality clothing (Yes, we do own some!) Then we turned up at a new transformed hall for the night. It looked like a department store thanks to the keen eyes of Gwen, Rhona, Elaine and myself. I liked to think of it as the village "mall" but then again I don't get out much. We all had a great evening and everyone managed to leave with a new outfit. November also saw the return of the hall's Christmas Bazaar. This year was really busy and had a record number of stalls. The school children managed to raise over £30 for children in need with their Pudsey game, and the mums and children raised funds for the school with their delicious homemade soups and bread. If you'd like to win a nights accommodation at the gathering and a meal up to £25 in the pub while helping raise funds for Inverie Primary you can take part in the word search at £1. The kids are currently very busy keeping tight lipped about their school play, not even bribery will get them to reveal what this year's performance is about, although we can rule out Jesus, as Jesus isn't Christmas, one of the kids told us. Good luck Mrs Watson and the rest of the school.
I wouldn't be surprised if Kevin Macloud from tv's Grand designs made a trip to Inverie with all the busy building going on with David Haynes and Jacqui's houses finally making headway, and Grant still soldiering on even in the miserable weather. Hopefully this flurry of activity will be contagious and Victor can get a move on!
Some of the Knoydart pensioners held their Christmas party at the tearoom this weekend and had a blast, as I work in the tearoom I'm not at liberty to say what went on as I had to sign a confidentiality clause. It looked like they'll be having a "merry" Christmas anyway, which brings me to wishing all our friends near and far a very merry Christmas and a happy new year on behalf of everyone on Knoydart.
All the best for 2012
Isla Miller

After nearly three weeks of nearly dry weather it is back to normal with rain, gales and missed boats. Nothing that we islanders are not accustomed to but for KDL struggling to complete the hall before Christmas it has become a nightmare. A number of sub contractors involved at this stage and for Lewis MacDonald who has to book them on and off the island it has become a real test of his ability.
Good news for the island this month has been the fish farm - it has been approved by the planning committee. Great for the island but one cannot help but wonder whether the project will be proof against the forces of nature!
Good news too has been the arrival on the island of Simon Helliwell's Broadband. Having been offline with Avanti for six weeks it was great when Simon arrived and with the aid of Gareth Moffat soon had us all connected to BT via Eigg and Arisaig. Thank you Simon!
And now I must report another arrival on the island. En route from Canada to Brazil and blown off course by adverse winds came a Veery, an American Thrush. Only recorded four times in Scotland it was spotted by David Barnden which was good going seeing that it is only the size of a robin. Soon it was on a bird website and then pandemonium broke out. Men with long lenses from all over Britain were walking up the road and surrounding the farm midden! For five days Mark Woombs and Orion were out every day. The famous bird seemed completely unphased by all the attention and only disappeared when the gales arrived.
Also arrived recently but not causing quite such a stir has been Duggie the Dyker who has left many monuments to excellence on the island over the last few years. Duggie is facing his greatest challenge yet. He is en route to the uninhabited island of Pabbay in the Sound of Harris. There he has to repair 250 metres of dyke so it will take him several months. Good luck Duggie - we will be thinking of you!
Lastly it is the time when I would like to wish all West Word readers the very best for Christmas and 2012.
Lawrence MacEwen

Very quiet month on Canna as lots of folk are away from the island at the moment. A lovely evening was spent helping Duncan and Alison celebrate their housewarming/birthday party for daughter Savourna. Hope she has many more birthdays to celebrate on Canna. Great to see an old house being brought back to life again.
On the farm, lots of new tups have been bought and are out with the ewes. All the sheep have been gathered in from the hill as we are getting a SEERAD sheep inspection on the 28th. Busy making sure all tagging and paperwork are correct!!
A special thanks must go to all Cal-Mac staff for giving the best service they could under difficult circumstances when the Loch Nevis was away and later whilst broken down. Also to Pete fowler on Orion and Greig Milligan on Spanish John. Much appreciated and well done girls in the office for keeping your sense of humour!!!
Geraldine MacKinnon

Improvements at Rum shop - thanks to a grant from the Post Office diversifiction fund, the first wave of improvements have been done at the shop, including a 50% increase in floorspace, new tiling, a replacement boiler and hot water for the hall toilets and a separate post office counter. Further improvements are on the way with an outside covered patio area and website. Jinty has turned the old shop into something special with so much more stock it's a real asset to the island.
Comings and goings... welcome to Sylvia and Dave's baby, the beautiful little Andrew - we all wish them the best. Adios to Sareth and Hywell who have moved away eastwards to Marr lodge estate, will miss you both lots.
Two yurts add one storm equals one yurt. Never mind Sarge, you can put it up again when the weather's better. We all survived 'the storm' relatively well with most damage to Sean's shed and green house. Lots of trees littered the roads but thanks to the Scottish School of Forestry and Neil Stuart, the roads are clear and the trees all chopped up - that has to be the most perfectly timed forestry school visit ever. Also thanks to Billy Cowan for the use of his telehandler, as the trees blocking the road would still be there! Harris Lodge also took a battering with an awful lot of slates off the roof and now in need of urgent repair before it all blows away.
Contractors, Ian and Robbie from Lochinver have been working on the old pier, installing new ladders and handrails for the pier steps - making all of them safe to use, will prove very useful for next years yachtees. they also helped Jinty fix the shed roof at the shop which had blown away. Thanks lads
More work is being carried out on the castle over the winter, predominantly on the roof, which is proving tricky with this weather we're having but should be complete for the spring. Rum Community Trust is carrying out a feasibility study on the future of the Byre buildings and due to the news of the potentially soon hostel closure, are planning on building a bunkhouse - a fairly urgent mission otherwise there will be nowhere to stay!!
By the way anyone wishing to join 'The Friends of Rum' please contact info@isleofrum.com for more information, will put it on facebook soon too.
Fliss Fraser

New Web Sites
Rum Craftshop has its own website, have a look at some of the things we make. Visit Isle of Rum Crafts online at isleofrumcrafts.co.uk
The new website for Eigg Box is now live at eiggbox.com
Eigg Box will be a workspace on Eigg for island-based artists and creative businesses to share with visiting artists from Scotland and beyond. As well as different sized work spaces, Eigg Box might also have a small exhibition area.

The November full moon probably offered one of the most beautiful and peaceful moonscenes I have seen for a long time at this time of year, and how good it was to have a brief respite from the endless autumn rain… As if the elements would amuse themselves in lulling us into a false sense of security before unleashing the power of wind and hail just to show what they are capable of. On such dark nights, there is something absolutely magical about the feeling of being able to courrying in by the fireside with a good book and something nice on the radio whilst outside, wind and rain go demented. But sometimes, the power of the elements can truly be frightening as it was at the end of the month when gale force winds turned Amanda's fireplace into a raging inferno on Canna. Our hearts are with Amanda and Aart who have now lost everything that made their home, but we know that in such communities as ours, people rally round and appease grief through the balm of friendship. May this help them come through that traumatic experience.
November being a month of numerous birthdays on Eigg. sharing in celebration was high on the agenda, especially in the case of Jamie's whose birthday was a good opportunity for him and Eilidh to have their housewarming at Cùl Chreag. These two have worked really hard to make Angus Mac's 1970's bungalow into a wonderfully light, functional and comfortable home as well as a base for their "Eigg Adventures." Archery courses and all sorts of sporting activities will be on offer on the croft, so check their website for news of what will be going on. Another big date was Lucy's 50th. She is not one for massive parties, so she was not invaded in the usual island manner, but nevertheless we all wish the best to our "Queen of Projects"! May she carry on for a long time yet to inspire and incite us to do more and more! As to our Eigg doyenne, Katie Mackinnon, who was 94 on November 15, we also wish her all the best!
The Eigg singing group has reconvened and warbled its way through from African to Gaelic via Tom Paxton, eclectic or what? Not quite ready to take on the Mod or X factor, but who cares if it's fun? Less cultural, but no less important, the Big pier Tidy Up has started: One of Achilles' tasks springs to mind, but we are getting there, ready for the Zero Waste Zone to start in earnest. Plastic will be the theme we will be working on this time round, so expect your awareness to be raised very shortly: as to myself, I am already dreaming of the Calder like mobiles and other sculptures we will be producing with Glasgow-based Impact Art, a cultural social enterprise with a great track record in reclaiming and upcycling. In the wake of last month's rant about fish-farming - more lethal damage to the Hebridean marine environment through toxic salmon lice treatments has been revealed in the Sunday Herald a couple of weeks ago - I shall now turn to the effect of plastic in the foodchain: enough of phthalates everywhere to start affecting hormone level in fish, so what about our own health? Expect to find out by coming to Eigg this summer and see the results of our research. Talking about plastic, it was good to hear that Jo Royle, the diminutive skipper with nerves of steel that built Plastiki - a catamaran made out of plastic bottle - and sailed it through the Pacific Ocean was honoured by the Royal Geographic Society this month! She sure impressed us when she made her presentation on Eigg during the Cape Farewell expedition last July. Last but not least, I am pleased to report that following the submission made to the Scottish Affairs Committee regarding the future of the Crown Estate by the Scottish Islands Federation of which both IEHT and SICC are members, S.I.F. Chairman Sandy Brunton was invited to give further evidence at Westminster on 23 November. He eloquently made the point that far from revenues being lumped into a lottery-style fund, they ought to be administered by an independent body in which coastal and island communities would have a strong input, so that not only these communities would benefit directly, but they would also have more of a say in marine developments than at present. Andy Wightman and Lorne MacLeod next, Guess if David Cameron says no, there could be trouble ahead! Watch Andy's blog!
Camille Dressler.

Morar Community Trust News
What a great night the Morar bonfire night was. I truly enjoyed the delicious nibbles and refreshments, our spectacular fire and fireworks, and most of all - the great company. It was good to see so many, from the very youngest to (almost) the very oldest, out and about. I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did. I'm already hoping that that the weather will be as favourable for us next year (and all the years to come).
A special 'thank you' goes to Richard who organised the first and bulkiest bits for the fire, to Pam for her cupboards, to John for lighting it all, to all the men who seemed to enjoy blasting the rockets and to Iain for the photos. Oh.. and a thank you to Eigg; the skies were so clear we even got a glimpse of your fireworks (or we hope that's what we saw).
In addition to our website www.morar.org.uk we now have a facebook page also - Morar Community Trust (MCT). As the facebook page is only recently been set up, it doesn't look too exciting at the moment. To spice it up a bit it would be great to see some of your contributions there too. However, there are some photos of the bonfire night on the page already, please have a look and add a comment or two if you like.
I want to emphasise, when publicising photos the Trust will not mention any names without getting permission first. However, if you do not want any photos of yourself on the website, facebook page or West Word, could you please let one of the committee members know. Thank you.
Congratulations to Deirdre Roberts; the November winner of 'Morar Community 200 Club'. This draw was due to take place on bonfire night. My apologies, but I got so excited about the night that I forgot all about the lottery numbers; the draw was done at the director's meeting on the 10th of November instead under the 'glaring' eyes of rest of the directors.... The next draw will take place at the beginning of our 'Auction- night' on the 9th December. This time I will make sure I take the numbers with me so we can have our regular draw as well as our special '£50 Christmas draw'. Good luck to everyone.
We will be auctioning 'slaves' with special talents (gardening, babysitting, fishing etc) and some other smaller items on 9th of December, 7:30pm at Morar Primary School (in the demountable). This is a fun family event, open to all residents in the Arisaig, Mallaig and Morar area where you can buy a different kind of Christmas present whilst enjoying mince pies and mulled wine (juice for kids). Hopefully see you there.
On behalf of the Morar Community Trust, I want to wish all our supporters (and everyone else) a very relaxing and peaceful Christmas and all the best for 2012.
Tiina / Morar Community Trust (formerly Morar Futures)

The Astley Hall has this year helped local voluntary groups raise funds amounting to nearly £6000! The soup & sandwiches lunches at the Produce and Craft Fairs and the Waterstones Book Fairs have given volunteers the chance to raise funds for their own group or for a favourite charity.
Added to this, local producers and crafts people have had the opportunity to increase their income by hiring tables at the Fairs to sell their goods. And fuel miles are saved too! The kitchen has been booked out for all the Craft and Produce Fairs next year, but Waterstone dates will be available once they are known. Get in touch with Ann for more details - 450263.

Arisaig Community Trust
Take 4 = ACTion

Christmas cheer came early in Arisaig this year - in two respects. First of all, on 24 November the annual Christmas Fair was held in the Astley Hall. No crisp, bright winter's day for us - It was wild, wet and windy, and we feared that customers for the laden stalls would be scarce. No need to worry though, people thronged the hall, enjoying browsing (and buying) the lovely variety of goods for sale. Most of them rounded off their shopping with a visit to the Club room for a warming glass of mulled wine and some seasonal refreshments provided by the Arisaig Community Trust. ACT raised over £500 to support local projects. Many thanks to everyone who helped - especially the bakers and starmakers!
The second early arrival of Christmas came in the shape of free broadband! I recently applied for, and have been successful in securing, free BT broadband for a year, to be installed in one community venue in Arisaig. Having talked to local people, it's been agreed that the broadband connection should go into the Land, Sea and Islands Centre, opening up some exciting new opportunities there. An internet connection would, for example, provide the volunteer staff with a great resource to help with visitors' information enquiries, and may also allow small 'taster' sessions for local people for whom computers are unfamiliar territory. If you have ideas about re-developing the LSIC do get in touch with me to discuss them.
A reminder that the entries in our ACT logo competition will be on display at the Waterstone's Book Fair in the Astley Hall on Saturday 10 December, where the prize winners will be announced. Judging has now been completed, and the prize-giving will take place at 2.30p.m - local art teacher, Helen Race, has kindly agreed to present the prizes.
The results of the HIE Community Survey have now been posted on ACT's website; visit www.arisaigcommunitytrust.org.uk to see them. I'll be talking more about the survey results in the New Year. Don't forget that ACT is a community organisation, with all of its members drawn from the local area. Meetings are open to all, and I do encourage you to come along to hear what is happening, and if there's something of particular interest to you, to get involved.
And lastly, to the toilets (well, not quite literally . . .) my plea in November's West Word brought several very welcome offers of help with the painting and general refurbishment of Arisaig public toilets. Following his pre-clean inspection, John Bryden of Carpet Fresh made several recommendations, the most major of which was that the floor 'grout' used by Highland Council was not tile grout at all, but ordinary cement which is, of course, porous. John recommends that it should be removed and replaced with a waterproof grout - a pretty big task. So, at the moment our painting plans are on hold until we decide what we can afford to do about the tile problem. I'll be in touch with the willing DIY volunteers once we know what's happening. John also pointed out that our toilets are graffiti-free - an unusual state, apparently, for public toilets. He fears that freshly painted walls might offer too tempting an invitation to resist, and has suggested murals by local children to decorate the walls, rather than paint. Maybe we can do both?
Have a happy and peaceful Christmas, and here's to a positive start to the New Year.
Alison Stewart
Local Development Officer

The church on the island of Sanday, Canna, has been in the national press again, and has been the subject of some criticism in the last couple of years.
The building underwent an £800.000 renovation project in 2001 to turn it into a Gaelic Study Centre. Opened by Princess Anne, the building was intended to house students wishing to study the archives of the late John Lorne Campbell, who owned Canna before handing it to the National Trust in 1981. A leak occurred soon after the opening and it was never used. It has fallen into severe disrepair in the ensuing eleven years and now has holes in the walls, allowing wind and rain to wreak havoc.
A spokesperson for the National Trust told West Word: 'The current situation is that the Trust is currently developing plans for the building's future. This is a significant project requiring substantial funding and is one of a number of projects for Canna that must be taken forward in a prioritised way. Careful planning must be carried out to ensure that the required building works and business plan will meet the charity's aims to have St Edward's contribute to Canna's community and economy.'

The Trustees of the West Highland Museum in Fort William have informed the people of Arisaig via the Community Council that they have reversed their decision to sell the painting Letters and News at the Lochside.
They have apologised for not realising the strength of local feeling and the perception of its importance as part of the Museum's collection and because of this they plan to exhibit the painting either in the Museum's existing building or in an extension when built. They have no immediate plans to remove it from Arisaig House where it has hung since 1883.

Arisaig's Steve Brown and his band Wonderland have won a top accolade - Wedding Dance Band of the Year in the VOWS Awards.
The award was announced Oscar style at a glittering ceremony held in the Glasgow Hilton in November, which was attended by more than 600 Scottish wedding industry peers. Wonderland was named top of the music and entertainment category.
VOWS stands for Voted Outstanding Wedding Supplier of the year and is a celebration of businesses in the Scottish wedding industry which have been nominated for the awards by happy newlyweds for exceptional levels of service. Now in its seventh year, the VOWS Awards 2011 attracted more than 12,000 nominations and 100 Scottish wedding companies made the shortlist in twenty categories.
A delighted Steve said 'This is the first time Wonderland has won a VOWS award. We almost can't take in the fact that we've won after receiving our first nomination this year - we've been in the business for 20 years but we've only been doing weddings for three of them and it is wonderful to win - thank you so much to all who voted for us.'

In the Highland Council's annual Quality Awards, Flo Cargill, Mallaig, was named a Joint Trainee of the Year in her role as Administrative Assistant, TEC Services.
The trainees sharing the award were Theresa Batchelor, trainee solicitor, Inverness; Erica Cormack, trainee social worker, Inverness; and Hayley Outram, assistant technician, TEC Services, Golspie;
The Council's Employee of the Year was Margaret Ann Beaton, who is responsible for the operation of The Highland Council's five school residences. Margaret Ann is based in Portree but also looks after hostels at Mallaig, Plockton, Strontian and a soon-to-open new establishment at Ullapool. The residences provide accommodation for pupils who live too far from school to travel on a daily basis. This year there are 108 boarders.
The prizes were awarded at the Council's annual Quality Awards, held at the Town House, Inverness.

Trainee of the Year Flo Cargill (right)

The family fundraising Disco in the Mallaig & Morar Community Centre
was not only great fun but also raised £1400 for Children in Need.

The Emergency Services doing what they do! Photo Rachel Crawley.

Pamela Burns led everyone in Zumba moves. Photo Moe Mathieson.

News from Mallaig Harbour - December 2011

EFF Grant
The Authority is grateful to the Scottish Government for their offer of financial assistance towards the cost of establishing the Fish Feed Storage Building at Mallaig Harbour.
The grant, totalling £380,564.00, has been made available through the European Fisheries Fund and is set to provide not only logistical support to the growing aquaculture sector but also provide a new income stream for the harbour and the creation of employment opportunities.
'It's great that our plans and aims are being encouraged by the Scottish Executive via the European Fisheries Fund', says Harbour Chairman Michael Currie. 'It's a validation that the Authority's diversification plans are being looked on favourably.'
The level of funding comes as a welcome boost to the Authority. Port Manager Robert MacMillan said 'We have been financially stretched by the fact that two major projects - the Yachting Facility and the Fish Feed Storage Building - have had to be managed and financed concurrently so the offer of EFF Grant for the Building in very timeous'.

Cathodic Protection
A North West Marine dive team under the watchful eye of Stork Technical Services (formerly iicorr) installed a further eight anodes at various locations on the Steamer Pier to bring the Cathodic Protection up to the specification as originally designed by Harbour Engineers Wallace Stone. Work was carried out on 15th - 17th November 2011.
Stork Technical Services will return to the port in March/April 2012 to ensure system is operating to its full potential.

Quite a few people have been asking about the proposed site for the Fishermen's Memorial Statue and the drawing below shows what we at the Authority considers to be the best location. The new bollards are already in-situ and the Authority will be purchasing two or three large flower planters next Spring to augment the Memorial and bring a little colour to that area of the pier.


Phil Preston
The Authority was disappointed to hear of the unfortunate departure of Mr Phil Preston from his post as Managing Director of Caledonian MacBrayne. Phil has had a long association with Mallaig Harbour and was involved as engineer on several projects back when he was employed by Consulting Engineers Crough & Hogg. He later became a Member of the Harbour Board when with Caledonian MacBrayne and served the Authority for a ten year spell - 1998 to 2008.

The 2011 winter sprat season got underway on Monday 21st November when two local trawlers Caralisa OB956 and Rebecca Jeneen OB38 landed a combined total of 600 units (60 tonnes). The two boats were soon joined by another pair of local trawlers Margaret Ann OB 198 and Ocean Hunter SY 503 and to date the combined landings from all four vessels is 504 tonnes. The sprats are being purchased on behalf of Fresh Catch, Fraserburgh by local buyer Jeff Lawrie with the quayside price being around the £200.00 per tonne mark.
Robert MacMillan
Port Manager/Secretary
01687 462154

Mallaig Lifeboat Log
The Mallaig Lifeboat, the Severn Class Henry Alston Hewat, was called into action on two occasions during the month of November.
Tuesday 15th November: Mallaig Lifeboat launched at 11.02hrs when tasked by Stornoway Coastguard to go to the assistance of a female resident on the Island of Muck who was unwell. In near perfect weather conditions the lifeboat made good time to Port Mor and the casualty was quickly transferred on board by the local coastguard team and crew at the ferry slipway. Arriving back at Mallaig at 13.03hrs the lady was handed over to the Ambulance Crew for onward conveyance to the Belford Hospital in Fort William.
Lifeboat refuelled and ready for service at 13.25hrs.
Thursday 24th November: At the request of the Stornoway Coastguard the Mallaig Lifeboat was launched at 15.01hrs to go to the assistance of a whelk picker who had become stranded on an island in Loch Eishort, Skye. Earlier in the day the whelk picker had kayaked out to a small group of islands off Ord on the East side of the Sleat Peninsula but with a rising tide and deteriorating weather conditions she was unable to make her way back to the mainland. A concerned friend ashore informed the coastguard of the woman's plight and as well as the launching of the Mallaig Lifeboat the Stornoway based Rescue Helicopter (Rescue 100) was soon airborne and on its way to the casualty.
With a strong SW wind blowing the Lifeboat made reasonable time to Loch Eishort arriving on scene at 15.50hrs. The casualty was quickly spotted being lashed with waves, spray and driving rain in the ever increasing wind.
Just as the lifeboat was preparing to launch the Y-boat, Rescue 100 arrived on scene and with the distinct advantage of being able to get overhead to rescue the casualty the lifeboat stood off so allowing the helicopter to effect the rescue. Within minutes the casualty was winched aboard the helicopter then subsequently transferred onto the shore to the awaiting coastguard from Kyle.
Released from the incident at 16.50hrs the lifeboat, with everything stowed and secured, proceeded back to Mallaig at a mere 6-8 knots into a now severe gale from the West and arrived back at base at 18.00hrs

On and Off the Rails
How can it possibly be that this is the last column of 2011. Where did the year go? And yet the brochures are arriving thick and fast for diesel hauled land cruise train holidays and steam and diesel hauled train trips which include pathing on out 'Iron Road to the Isles' West Highland Line extension between Fort William and Mallaig in 2012. we welcome them one and all.

New ScotRail Timetables
Now available at all staffed stations, and in Mallaig also at the Tourist Office, are copies of the West Highlands Train Times timetable operating between December 11th 2011 and December 8th 2012. This excellent wee pocket booklet also includes Caledonian MacBrayne ferry services until late October 2012, both from Mallaig to Armadale and the Small Isle and Oban sailings. With it now covering a 12 month period, you do have to read the column headings and notes carefully to distinguish between Summer times and Winter time columns, but it is certainly handy to have if sending one to relatives/friends who are planning to travel later in the year.
It also includes the full Jacobite steam train service dates for 2012. This year coming the service will commence its Monday to Friday morning train on Monday May 14th until Friday October 26th 2012. Saturday and Sunday morning services will run from Saturday June 24th until Sunday August 26th 2012. The afternoon Jacobite will operate a Monday to Friday service from Monday June 4th until Friday August 31st 2012. All Jacobite services will operate between Fort William and Mallaig and return.
Also available now are the Christmas and New year ScotRail train times from December 24th 2011 to January 2nd 2012. This wee booklet covers alterations during these times for the whole of Scotland.
Furthermore, also available now is the timetable and ticket information booklet for the Caledonian Sleeper (ScotRail) train covering the whole of Scotland, valid from December 11th 2011 through to December 8th 2012. fares are valid form January 2nd 2012 until further notice. Phew - information overload, but it is all welcome news, and available now. Insight, ScotRail's train magazine November/December 2011 is well worth reading for up to date travelling by rail information for Winter. If travelling, pick one up from the on-board rack, or ask for one at your nearest staffed railway station.

Competition answers and winners
Last month I set two competitions to win a copy of the DVD Steam to the Hills and a copy of the book Highland Steam. Entries trickled in this time, but by the closing date the draws were made and the winner of the DVD is Jane Tomlinson from Perth. Congratulations Jane, the DVD is in the post. The winner of the book is Mairi Illesley from Crieff. Mairi entered both competitions correctly so it is fitting that she won one of them. Congratulations Mairi. The book is in the post. It is nice to see two female winners. The correct answers to the two competitions are:
'Harry Potter' is the name of the principle character in the series of Warner Brothers films that featured Glenfinnan Viaduct.
The Jacobite uses approximately 4 tons of coal (answer a) on a journey from Fort William to Mallaig and return.
Thank you for entering, more competitions next month.

Rail 2014 Public Consultation Transport Document
You may have read by now headline grabbing articles: Sleeper Train Services being axed, more standing up times on trains being introduced etc etc. Well, the devil is in the detail, so if you care about travelling by rail in the future it is well worth obtaining a free copy of this consultation document - either by email, by viewing it on your computer or by getting a copy posted to you - and responding to at least some of the questions posed in it. The truth is that the Franchise for the next Operator of 'ScotRail' (currently First Group) will be awarded in 2014. This document (after the closing date for responses and alterations) will form the basis of service required by the Operator but, with the possibility of a referendum as to Scotland's constitutional future being around that time (maybe?), who knows how long the franchise will be for, what will be required, or even will the franchise which First Group already operate ScotRail with be extended for one or two years? It really is a case of 'all irons in the fire'. However, it truly is worth caring about, even if you only respond to one or two of the responses asked for. The closing date for responses to the consultation document is February 20th 2012. to obtain a copy by post, telephone 0800 092 7500 and ask for a copy of the 2014 Rail Public Consultation Document, or go online to www.transportscotland.gov.uk
As I am writing this page, details are just emerging of the annual Autumn Statement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the Rail Network (nationwide) will be allocated £1 billion of funding, with an additional £50 million offer to improve Caledonian Sleepers if the Scottish Government will match fund the £50 million. Watch this space!!

The Great Scottish Steam Bash by Frank Price
The last weekend of October saw the annual pilgrimage of railway photographers to Fort William for their 'fix' of photographing steam trains on the line. This is now an established fixture in the railway calendar and enthusiasts travel the length and breadth of the UK (and indeed from further afield, the prize being won this year by a participant from Australia) to be in the West Highlands for a two day session of photography on Rannoch Moor and on the Fort William to Mallaig line. Although numbers were slightly down on last year due to an enforced change of date from earlier in October, there were still close to 100 hardy souls who had made the journey and dug deeply into their pockets to cover the costs of organising and arranging the event. The organisers, John Hunt of the North Eastern Locomotive Preservation Group and James Shuttleworth of West Coast Railways, charter the train and arrange suitable photographic locations along the line.

The Great Marquess crossing Rannoch Moor - photo courtesy of Frank Price

The charter uses the carriages from The Jacobite steam train and one of the engines from this regular service. In addition a guest engine is often brought in especially for the weekend to recreate the days when steam operated regularly on the West Highland. This year it was an LNER K4 61944, The Great Marquess, which worked on the line until the advent of diesels in the early 1960s. designed by Sir Nigel Gresley specifically for the line, this engine is the only survivor of a class which for many years graced the metals of the West Highland Line. So the organisers provided the right engine on the right line. Sadly what they cannot guarantee is the weather and it would be fair to say that this year the sun did not shine on the participants, heavy rain being the order of the day for most of the Saturday and Sunday. Conditions on Rannoch Moor were particularly challenging, with driving rain and strong winds at Corrour. But railway photographers are nothing if not persistent and it is a fair bet that they will be back for more of the same again next year. Thanks are due to Messrs Hunt and Shuttleworth and all those who helped make the event possible and sign off the 2011 Jacobite steam season in style.
Finally, may I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year -Nollaig Chridheil agus Bliadhna Mhath Ur.
See you on the train. Thank you all for your kind comments, phone calls, competition entries and corrections! in 2011.
Sonia Cameron

The West Highland Lines lost a much-loved character on 15th October with the passing of Colin Evison, who with his son Geoffrey tended planters at Corpach, Banavie, Upper Tyndrum, Dalmally, Ardlui and Garelochhead under ScotRail's adopt a station policy.
Originally an agricultural worker and lorry driver from Lincolnshire, Colin was a true gentleman and was known for his dapper appearance and friendly smile. He restored the windows in the former signalbox at Upper Tyndrum as part of the ongoing restoration of the building.

Hello there valiant readers! Here I am in position two, sitting, (the other ones are, one "supine" and three "erect"!) there did used to be a fourth, "on the blocks", but that has now been deemed to be redundant due to lack of use! Anyway, to return to what I was saying, I am sitting here looking at the blue backed screen with the white panel, my arthritic fingers poised over the "qwerty" keyboard awaiting the adrenalin fuelled rush of interesting details of the last month to flow to the flashing finger tips! Well, there is no harm in dreaming! I steal a rapid glance to my right in time to see another pattern of raindrops splatter across my window, further proof that even trying to produce a column in "West Word" is preferential to venturing out into that foreboding landscape! Yes, the weather recently, although undoubtedly mild has been pretty rubbish! Of course, what makes it worse is the number of times that these spiteful weather folk on the BBC keep telling us about various possible water shortages and record temperatures! I think maybe it is about time that the old country just tipped a little more, or at least hurried its present progress in that direction and gave all these southerners a bit of a bath! Nah, just kidding, I don't mind if it just continues at the present speed!
So, what have I been doing for the last four weeks? For a change this month I can't say "not a lot" because I have in fact actually been quite busy. Some of you may have seen me around with a clipboard in my hands with pencil poised? No? Well that is basically what I have been doing! The pencil has been working assiduously noting down facts and figures pertaining to the "Core Paths". If you read my column last month, you may remember me mention these paths as being close to centres of local population. I suppose the simplest thing for me to do is to actually let you in on the secret and name these wonderful appendages! I am sure that, just like me, you will scoff somewhat at some of these "paths", but here they are: Beginning in Mallaig area we have the "Circular Walk", "Glasnacardoch to Loch an Nostarie" and "Mallaig to Morar Cycle Track/Walkway". Moving to Morar there are: "Through Morar Village" (Minor Road), "Village Centre to Beach", "Bourblaich Beach" (not my spelling!), "Morar to St. Cummins to Rhubana View to B8008", "Bracorina to Tarbet" and "St. Cummins to Allt an Loin". In Arisaig we have "Hotel - Cemetery - St Muelrubha's Circuit", "Glen Circuit from Visitor Centre", "Station to Pier" and "Gortenachullish to Arisaig on minor road". Oops, I forgot "Camusdarrach Beach"! So there you are folks, now you know what your "Core Paths" are, and I hasten to add that some of these had absolutely nothing to do with my input!! Anyway, it is now my job to get down, in great detail, everything connected to these "paths". There is a need apparently for me to walk each one whilst encumbered with clipboard, camera, pencil, GPS, compass and a gradient measuring device - a simple five handed job! Each change of surface, gradient, culvert, cross drain, sign, seat or any other encumbrance has to be noted, photographed and given a five figure grid reference and then needs to be downloaded on to a specific template on the computer. In a way, all an easy simple job, but I can tell you that it takes time!! As far as I can make out, the reason for all this is to ensure that should any funding ever become available then these "paths" will be first to benefit for maintenance - I would assume that those on "minor roads" wouldn't qualify the same as they will benefit from existing highway maintenance? The other factor is the fact that should there be any queries in the future about where a path went or how it was recognised and interpreted then these facts will be readily available (and signed by me Hee Hee!)
But enough of these, I'm sure to you, useless details! Have I done anything else of note since my last verbiage? Well "Yes", I have had a couple of fine walks with some of my "reliable regulars". The first was on the Druim Fiaclach ridge at Beasdale on a day with little wind and a cloudless blue sky during which we were able to watch a couple of Golden Eagles soaring above us for quite some time. Regardless how often one sees these birds their majestic, effortless flight, always captures the imagination, and it certainly made what was a lovely walk even better. The second outing (the following day) and still in nice weather although colder in the wind, was the "Arisaig Triangle". This, one of my regular walks, climbs to the three "Craigmor" peaks over Arisaig, but on this occasion, due to the fact of the climb on the previous day! the third leg of the triangle (Albanaich) was missed out! Perhaps there is a wee lesson there pointing to the fact that possibly allowing the fitness levels to drop at this time of year is maybe not such a good idea if one is to take advantage of walking on any good day that happens along! Cue fitness suit and pool??
Well readers, apart from the usual Fort William visits for meetings and van maintenance I have little else to offer, so I will stop now. I have no doubt that Christmas and all that that entails will now be close to your thoughts (or your breaking point!) so it only remains for me to say, have a lovely time over the festive period with presents, pies and puddings! My very best wishes for Christmas and the coming year when I hope to see some new faces joining me on my walks. Remember that I am still easy to contact on the same old number: 01687 462 983 or you can just stop me in the street!
Angus Macintyre

Birdwatch November by Stephen MacDonald
The highlight of the month, probably this year bird-wise, was the discovery on the 16th of a Veery on the Isle of Muck.
This small North American thrush has been recorded less than ten times in Britain, so when news got out it created a lot of interest and many keen birders from around the UK and near continent travelled to see it. The finder, Dave Barnden, discovered the bird by chance outside the farm buildings at Gallanach and it remained in that vicinity until last seen on the 24th.

The Veery - photo by Stephen MacDonald

The Veery is an migrant thrush that breeds in Southern Canada and the adjacent states of the USA. It winters in South America, mostly in Brazil. The fact that the prevailing winds when the bird was discovered were southerly rather than westerly raises the possibility that the bird may have crossed the Atlantic a while before it was discovered.
Most of the other bird reports were fairly typical for November, although some birds were still passing through the area later than usual.
A single Brent Goose was seen feeding along with Greylags at Traigh on the 12th and another flock of five Brent Geese were seen flying over Loch nan Ceall at the end of the month. On the 20th, a Greenland White-fronted Goose was with Greylags at Traigh, and presumably the same bird was seen by the Caimbe, Back of Keppoch, on the 25th.
Whooper Swans were present at Loch nan Eala throughout the month and numbers rose to at least nine, all adults, by the month end. A flock of fifteen were seen flying south over Morar late in the afternoon of the 5th. Loch nan Eala also held at least twenty-five Teal and fifteen Wigeon.
Wader reports included two Greenshank present on the Morar Estuary throughout the month. A small group of Lapwings and Curlews were reported on several occasions from the fields around Back of Keppoch. Purple Sandpipers and Turnstones were reported from West bay and the rocks by the harbour breakwater, Mallaig, throughout the month.
A Moorhen was seen crossing the road and entering an overgrown ditch by the Caimbe Bridge on the 11th. A late Arctic Tern was seen off Soay on the 4th and several juvenile Pomarine and Arctic Skuas were reported during the month.
In Loch nan Ceall numbers of Great Northern and Red-throated Divers built up as the month progressed.
The only report of Blackcaps was a male in a garden at Fank Brae, Mallaig, on the 21st.
Two Jays were seen and heard on several occasions near Druimindarroch during the month. A female Hen Harrier was seen regularly at Back of Keppoch. Kestrels were also sent there and at Traigh, where a Peregrine Falcon was seen on several occasions. A Long Eared Owl was seen at Silver Sands on the 12th.

CROFTING ROUNDUP by Joyce Wilkinson, SCFA Representative/Area Assessor

New Commissionaires to be Elected in March
The Crofting Commission is to re-establish in April 2012 , and will have the regulation of crofting as its main function. The main regulatory casework that the Commission will deal with will be assignation [the transfer of croft tenancies], bequests, decrofting, apportionments, subletting and division of crofts. The new Commission will also be proactive in dealing with breaches of duties by crofters , i.e the duties of owner occupier crofters or croft tenants to live on or near their croft and to work the land. The Commission will appoint no fewer than two persons, the interviews for these positions have already taken place, and the remaining six will be elected in March 2012. Every crofting household will have one vote and it is important to use this vote as it would send a very dissatisfactory message to the Scottish Government if there was a poor response from crofters. This is a long wished for opportunity to elect our own board at the Crofters Commission. Candidates must have a good understanding of the complexities of crofting but also have the ability to problem solve in a sensitive manner within the framework and policies set out by the Scottish Government . Candidates will start to emerge during January and as Lochaber is now in Area 6, South West Highlands which also includes Argyll and Bute, Arran and Cumbrae and the Small Isles, it is likely that they will appear first through the Oban times.

Breaches of Duties by Crofters
At the recent Assessors conference I was able to find the answer to my question as to how the new Commission would be acting on these 'breaches of duty' with reference to Owner Occupiers. An example would be if a member of the crofting community would give notice to the Commission of a suspected breach. The Commission would then investigate and give notice to the crofter to comply.
If the crofter ignores the notice or fails to comply the Commission could terminate the tenancy or force an owner occupier to rent the croft by directing the crofter to submit a proposal for letting the croft within 28 days, unless there is good reason not to. When the owner occupier crofter fails to submit proposals or submits proposals that are rejected by the Commission then the Commission must invite applications for letting the owner occupiers croft by public notification . The Commission may decide if it would be fair to divide the croft, for instance if there was a croft house on non decrofted ground, that the tenant was living in. All decisions by the Commission can be appealed to the Land Court.
This all sounds very draconian in this day and age and it remains to be seen how it will pan out in reality. For instance if the new CAP reform to be implemented in a few years, leaves some new entrants without access to any Single farm payment [those over the age of 40 who will be unable to claim SFP if they made no IACs claim in 2011], it would be difficult to penalise them for not working their crofts when their neighbours may be in receipt of SFP, as they would be at a financial disadvantage .
It is important to note that when making decisions the board always refer to whether there is any demand locally for croft tenancies. As they no longer hold a list of people looking for tenancies and the Crofting federation now hold that list, anyone looking for a tenancy in the future would be advised to contact the SCF and register their interest. as the board don't consider interest unless it has already been lodged in writing.

Mull Slaughterhouse
Mull has a new butcher and he has been working at House of Bruar for the last few years so has experience of presenting and cutting meat to a high quality standard. Director Mark Cherry [from Eigg] has told me that Mull is looking for anyone wishing to send pigs, deer to be dressed, cattle, sheep etc between January and March, to get in contact with them as they normally close at this time but if there is enough demand they will be able to stay open.
They provide an excellent service and it is important to support local communities like our own.

Wide World West Word

Chrissie MacDougall of Mallaig took time off from sticking stamps and labels on West Word envelopes
to take her copy to the Isle of Arran, where she read it Brodick Castle.

Neil MacKellaig, aka El-Sunburno in Cancun, Mexico.

Peter Bridge and wife Rosemary from Arisaig toured the Mediterranean and sent us a photo from every port of call! We thought of doing a competition entitled 'Where's Peter'. We saw him at the Acropolis in Athens, Dubrovnik, Santorini, Istanbul and here in Venice. We hope you saw some of the views Peter!

Ellie Johnston went from Mallaig to Turkey to read hers! Mum Karen was there too.

Some people go to great heights to read the West Word! It helped to calm her nerves before Bernadette MacKellaig did a 10,000 foot tandem skydive on the 5th November. She raised the impressive amount of £2,020 for her chosen charity - Teenage Cancer Trust. She would like to give special thanks to everyone who helped her to achieve this amount.

A truly bumper crop this month - we actually had more but you will have to wait until next month to see them. Thank you to everyone for sending in a photo. We know that a lot of West Words are taken on holiday and then either the photo is never taken or, quite often, it's never sent in.
It's never too late to send one to us, however long ago it was taken. Don't think it has to be exotic or different (though they are fun!), all are welcome!

A Little Genealogy by Allan MacDonald (email: ealasaid6@btopenworld.com)

In last month's issue of West Word, Allan MacDonald wrote of the Morar/Laig MacDonalds, which has prompted this response:
'Forgive me for pointing it out as I enjoyed the read but there is an error that may confuse the unwary in the genealogy piece on the Morar and Balivanich MacDonalds. There is a reference to Allan IX of Clanranald as the clan Captain killed at Sheriffmuir in 1715. Allan IX flourished in the 1500s and was father of the outrageous Ranald MacDonald I of Benbecula 'the man who experimented largely in wives.' It was Ailein Dearg XIV who had built Ormacleit Castle and who left for the battle having left instructions for that and Castle Tioram to be burned, who died at Sheriffmuir.
All power to the magazine.
Angus MacMillan
Oxford & Benbecula

Allan replies:
Thank you Angus, for that correction. You are quite correct and it was Allan XIV rather than Allan lX. Flitting between the Roman numerals can be somewhat of a pitfall! It was of Allan XIV that the people of Clan Ranald cried;
"Có ris a théid mi g' am ghearan 's gun Mac Mhic Ailein 'am Mùideart?"
(To whom can I make my complaint and no Clanranald in Moidart?)

On the question of the burning of Ormicleit, although there are differing versions of this, my understanding was, that it was accidentally burned down on 13th November 1715, the day of the Battle of Sheriffmuir. However, the present-day Clanranald historian, Norman H. MacDonald writes in his book "The Clanranald of Garmoran" page 299.
"the present writer considers that there are grounds for suggesting that Ormiclate Castle may not have been burnt until 1716, during the prolonged absence in that year of Lady Clanranald from Uist"
and on page 317
".....and in another letter to [the Earl of] Mar, dated 11th September, also dated Bordeaux, Captain [David] George added to his former account of the ship sent to Scotland; that they got there in fourteen days and had very bad weather at sea to the northward; that Mr Gordon told him that Clanranald's relict was going to Edinburgh in a day or two after they parted; that all the arms that were in the islands had been seized and that not so much as a knife had been left in their pockets, yet the people wished no more than to have another day for it. i.e. another Rising. It would appear to the present writer, worthy of consideration that there is no mention in any of the correspondence at this time of the burning of Ormiclete Castle and the fact that so many Jacobite officers were accommodated at Ormiclate, would suggest that there must have been ample room for this purpose. It therefore seems possible that the castle was in fact, still intact at that time and the accidental burning took place during Lady Clanranald's absence in Edinburgh, rather than on the day of the Battle of Sheriffmuir as local tradition asserts."
Le Dùrachdan,

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