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

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February 2012 Issue

Contents of the online version:

Top stories
Monthly news from Knoydart, Canna, Muck, Rum, Eigg
Morar & Arisaig
Railway & Crofting News
Birdwatch - Local Genealogy

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One of the main topics of discussion at the February meeting of the Mallaig Community Council was the recently published Scottish Government's Ferries Review.
Obvious disappointment was expressed with regard to the non-commitment or apparent dismissal of a Lochboisdale - Mallaig Ferry Service but real concern was shown regarding the inference contained in the Review that the Mallaig - Armadale ferry service was not absolutely essential to the community it serves and will be offered minimum subsidy only. It was pointed out at the meeting that this may have the knock on effect of a reduction in sailings and an increase in fares.
It was agreed at the meeting that a platform be granted to allow all local residents to air their views on the Ferries Review in general and the Mallaig/Armadale service in particular at an open meeting in the Fishermen's Mission.
Community Council Chairman Mr Martin Sullivan urged the public to attend stating that the Skye Ferry was a massive tourist magnet and vital to the economic wellbeing of the area. The Public Meeting is set for Monday 20th of February at 7.30pm in the Fishermen's Mission, Mallaig.

West Word was one of three shortlisted for this year's Community Newspaper of the Year 2011 in the Highlands and Islands Media Awards, and while this year we did not win, we were presented with a Highly Commended certificate.
For the first time, this year the winners of the various categories were not named in advance, but were announced 'Oscar style' at the Press Ball in Nairn on Friday February 3rd. We are very pleased to be considered one of the top three community newspapers in the Highlands and Islands and our congratulations go to Annie Delin and her team who produce the winning paper, Rudhach, which serves the Point area of the Isle of Lewis.

Mrs Margaret Wallace of Mallaig celebrated her 100th birthday with a party in the Mallaig & Morar Community Centre on Saturday 28th January. Surrounded by family and friends she enjoyed food and music and no less than five birthday cakes!
Margaret, who has four children, nine grandchildren and eleven great grandchildren, was born in Ardesier near Inverness and, after academic success at Inverness Royal Academy, she completed her nursing training at Glasgow Royal Infirmary.
She came to Mallaig in the 1930s as a district nurse and here she met and married local businessman Isaac Wallace. As well as raising their family, son George and daughters Edith, Iris and Ann Margaret, they worked together in The Refreshment Rooms - the family owned business in the Station Square - providing teas and ice-cream for the rail and ferry passengers as well as the locals. The Wallaces made lemonade, Mallaig's famous Wallace MacIntosh lemonade, crisps (son George remembers one of his early tasks was wrapping up the salt in the wee blue paper wrappers) and their Vimto ice lollies were legendary. Fruit and vegetables and milk were also sold from the premises until the building was sold off to the Mallaig Harbour Authority as part of the re-development of the Station Square. Outside of work and family, the Wallaces' main interest has always been The Church of Scotland, indeed Margaret's late husband Isaac was an elder there for many years.
Son George said 'The 100th birthday party was a great success. My mother had a fantastic day and she enjoyed meeting her many friends and acquaintances. She is in good health, extremely alert and still doing her crosswords.'
Margaret is pictured at her party, holding the Queen's message. Photo courtesy of Moe Mathieson.

I'm sure there are still a few people getting over the annual Burns Supper. It is amazing to think that a wee hall that struggles to fit one ping pong table for a game of doubles can squeeze 85 folk for a night filled with good food and good company, not to mention the dancing. At this time of year with the Knoydart Burns supper approaching, most people tend to avoid Iain Wilson - like the plague. Iain of course is the master of ceremonies and toasts the haggis. The miracle of Burns (as Mr Wilson tells us every year) is the fact he can still squeeze into his kilt!!! There were many who had failed to escape Iain's clutches and we were all better off for it as it was a night filled with brilliant speeches. I was fifth in line to say the Selkirk Grace, I'd successfully managed to avoid Iain all month, only to be "volunteered".
Jack, Kilchoan ghille extraordinaire toasted the lasses. I think it would be fair to say Jack was sponsored by the famous grouse, the amount he had to consume before he could publicly speak. As Anna Wilson pointed out in her, and Heathers reply to the lads, (his speech) could have been longer. The girls were brave and not only gave one of the best speeches ever heard, they did it in song.
Martin from Doune did the immortal memory which was a bit unorthodox as he told of a story that would have inspired Robert Burns if he'd been alive today. It featured Mallaig's Billy Macmillan and was called the bricklayers lament. Ask Martin, Billy! Davie brilliantly toasted friendship and reminded us of what friendship is (and isn't).
We had great music with Drew singing and Kirsten on the cello, and Jane gave a song with Andy Tibbets on the accordion. The supper was concluded with Auld lang Syne on the ukuleles. We'd learnt our lesson from Tarbert and sacked half the band…(Not true!, with some folk absent only half the band performed).
The hall was then magically transformed and the dancing got underway with music from the Exploding Accordion band. This was Kitty's first ceilidh and she didn't leave the dance floor. The lovely thing about Burns night is everyone pitches in and gets on with it. With volunteers organising, cleaning, setting tables, peeling, mashing, cooking, stewing, serving, waitressing, washing up, saying speeches and playing in the band and cleaning the hall all over again the next day. Some of them doing all of the above! It really shows the community at its best. (With some fine tartan on display too!)
Still no word on our soon to be new resident, Baby Day. Get well soon Tim who is currently undergoing a knee op in Inverness; and wishing Oliver a speedy recovery (maybe speedy is the wrong choice of word). On behalf of the community I'd like to pass on condolences to Dave Bailey who lost his lovely Jack Russell, Ratsy, thinking about you, Dave. Congratulations to Bob and Morag, the galavanters, on their way to New Zealand and as of now, no major incidents, arrests, natural disasters etc that usually accompany the pair on their travels. Welcome back to their daughter Evelyn who will be working here this season. Also off on her hols this month is Christine who will be taking in the sights of Egypt and Turkey - hope you've got your copy of the West Word with you! And how could we nearly forget a very special birthday this month to Tommy on the Western Isles, were hoping that we'll see more of you now that you'll have your ferry pass and can visit for free on your days off!! Remember there is still time to get your ticket for the Banana sessions this month (the hottest ticket in town...) Playing in the hall on Friday 17th @ 8.30, entry £8 or get a deal with one night's accommodation in the bunkhouse, food in the tearoom and your ticket for £25. You'll remember the bananas from the Sunday afternoon at last year's music festival, a highlight for some. They are on tour from Edinburgh with their latest album. Phone Davie to book on 460113 or check out Knoydart valentine's facebook page.
The other big news this month would be THE DITCHING! Can't say any more than that I'm afraid but I include a great photo of a legend in a ditch. Hamish's red Volvo. Don't know what year this is from but am guessing it would be the early 90's. The photo was taken by Peter Wooland.


That's all the printable stuff anyway, Cheers.
Isla Miller

Here on Canna it's been a quiet month really, with most of the islanders taking some time either on the mainland or further afield... in sunnier climes. Magda and Joaquin have headed off to Lanzarote and we're hoping they come back with lots of inspiration for the long awaited 'Spanish' theme night! We managed a trip to Rum ourselves, super fun - we were given VIP treatment from Vicki, Georgie, Mike and the Rummers in general - thanks guys...we will be back. It was our first visit to any of our island neighbours (yes that is a warning to ye all! haha) .... and reassuring to see that our community, their community and most likely all these wee communities face same issues and challenges with housing, initiative, funding, landlord v no landlord, trust or no trust.. what was also true is some people really want to make a good life for themselves and give back a bit to the special islands they choose. Craft shops in sheds, Jinty's hard work in her shop, Rachel with her care for the catering, Marcel with the deer, Vicki, Georgie and Mike with their genuine passion for island life and all the others that are really giving it a go despite the difficulties - and getting it right!
We were invited to their Burns night celebration and tucked into fabulous Cullen Skink, Marcel and Rachel's amazing STAGGIS and yummy Cranachan. We would say though they need a wee bit o practice on the poetry side - Brothers in arms (Dire Straits) is not really his best known work. And Bacardi & Advocaat doesn't work as a cocktail...at all.
Sheila and John will be taking up residence on Eigg now, and Canna Community wishes them all the very best with their future, they lived on Canna for around 5 years and worked hard in their business, school and within the community. We hope they enjoy many good times ahead. Best of luck to them! Tighard is a beautiful guesthouse and will present an amazing opportunity for new tenants - and lots of new opportunities for the island too - look out for the press release soon, and we'll keep you updated on selection.
We're hearing good things about the HEBNET trials on other islands so looking forward to being part of that - faster, cheaper and more reliable internet is essential for all the islands and rural communities development. The Avanti guys were stuck on the island for a week due to the weather and ferry being cancelled so think even they may be glad to handover the contract!
Julie welcomed her Canna wool back onto the island and here's a extract from her email - "....you could maybe put a bit about the Canna wool being back from the spinning mill and my house looking like it's been hit by a massive spaghetti bomb oh and my hands are turquoise!!! " I had to have a wee nosy and yes true to her word, her house is draped in wool with a riot of colours - some from wonderful traditional dyeing methods, and lots of knitted things. The Canna Wool Creations are on their way...
Finally Aart and I would like to say a huge heartfelt thanks to you all for such kindness and thoughtfulness over the last month or so. The fire was devastating, we did lose everything we owned (cat is fine) that will take some time to accept I think, but we are picking up the pieces again and we are safe and well. The NTS have given us another roof over our heads, a loan of furniture and a lot of moral support. Our families, friends here on Canna and further afield have also been completely amazing - impossible to have got through without them (yes Gerry, the knickers fitted - very funny). And we gained something very special through the fire; strangers, people we have only met a few times, guests who have visited and all of the other islands sending cards, gifts, emails and offers of help. Just simple gestures of kindness - humbling, uplifting and comforting. We are so very grateful for that. It is that goodness of people that keeps us going, I'm sure there's a lesson there. Thank you all.
Take care, be safe and remember spring is not too far away now so hang on in there.....
Amanda & Aart (Gille Brighde)

As I write we have just ended a week of cold dry weather which was great. Plenty of that last winter but notably absent since September and rainfall has been reaching new records. For example we had around 10 inches in December. The rain and gales have been hard on humans but they have also taken their toll on the sheep and cattle. We were struggling to get enough animal feed to the island on Wave so it was great when Spanish John arrived on the 26th with 20 tons aboard. Soon we were feeding all the ewes and hoggs not just those in the fields.
In December West Word Duggie the Dyker was on his way to Pabbay in the sound of Harris. At the very last moment the job was postponed for a year. After New Year Duggie was back in Muck and the gaps in the dykes caused by falling trees were soon made good. Then he joined the painting team on the new hall. This has been a slightly tedious task as apart from the sports hall which is oiled birch plywood everything is white. However all was finished in time for our Burns Supper organised by Len Whatley and the parents. It was a most enjoyable evening. I adressed the Haggis and the scholars sang all the verses of Auld Lang Syne. Newest recruits Dan and Ethan told us about their wanting a dog -in verse. Duggie sang Burns. We are discovering a hall is not just for Christmas. There is a great deal to do before it is fully equipped and perhaps it will never be fully finished.
Lawrence MacEwen

Work has started on the pier for the new welcome building/waiting room, concrete blocks are down and it is due for completion before April. Along with the swish composting toilet and a bit of landscaping, it will make Rum pier more easy on the eye. Toilets at the pier are long overdue - so no more sitting with your legs crossed waiting for the ferry to come in! The shop improvements are just about complete!! Come and see the ramp and new verandah, it's well fancy... giving Jinty lots of extra space. A job well done by Robbie and Ian (from Lochinver), Sandy and Neil; with Jinty and Ross doing the painting, but that post box still needs sprucing up though!
Burns night was well attended in the village hall this year, a fabulous spread laid on by Lesley and Vikki. We even had a couple of visitors from Canna to join in the festivities.
With the, now official, news that the hostel at the castle is closing at the end of June, we are all in a frantic state trying to sort out some accommodation for tourists for the rest of the season. IRCT are getting a couple of particularly nice camping pods and the B&B at Ivy Cottage will be ready by then, however that's it ??! IRCT have also decided to build a bunkhouse and the visit from Neil Sutherland architects this week will help to speed this along. The architects were over to make an initial assessment of the Byre/farm steadings for the feasibility study into its new development, the first job though will be drawing up plans for the 15 to 20 bed bunkhouse, hopefully ready for the 2013 season. SNH have suggested they will put some temporary accommodation in place, to cover the shortfall in bed spaces but we don't know what or where, as yet. The lack of accommodation will have a knock on effect to local businesses. And as for the long term future of the castle, well your guess is as good as mine. Suggestions on a postcard please.
Please have a look at the new Isle of Rum website, it's sparkly and so much better www.isleofrum.com and Mike (the ranger) has started a wildlife blog to be found at rangeringonrum.blogspot.com He and Georgie are off to New Zealand again for a stretch, hope you have fun!!
Fliss Fraser

Isle of Rum: New-look Website

Check out our new Isle of Rum website.
See up-to-date visitor information about:

  • Places to stay
  • Things to do
  • Facilities and services
  • Wildlife and walks
  • Ranger programme
  • News and events
  • ...and much more!


January certainly started in busy mode this year, everyone seemingly energised by the great New Year spirit generated by our musicians.
The Directors of An Laimhrig are forging ahead with their renovation plans for the Pier building which will include a brand new bar on the pier side and an interpretation cum pedestrian area around the new stand-alone craftshop which will be facing the causeway to the new pier. This will include geological interpretation for the island, courtesy of the Lochaber Geopark.
The Zero Waste Zone is also progressing as we recognise that our green credentials hang on our ability to walk the walk and this includes stepping up our recycling efforts. Islanders being notoriously individualistic in their outlook, it's a bit like herding cats, but we are getting there, and it is all part of the integrated pier planning which is long overdue. The good news for those that have yet to master the art of composting is that as part of the ZWZ, Neil Robertson who won the 2 months' composting contract will be able to help and advise those still lagging behind: we are looking to achieve a zero food waste, which on an island like ours should not be an insurmountable task. Meanwhile in the primary school, the kids in the Eigg Wildlife Watch - or at least those who are not ill with chicken pox - have enthusiastically embraced the challenge of understanding and presenting to the public the ever more alarming issue of plastic in the marine environment. Animations, posters and sculpture, you name it, they want to do it all to explain the North Atlantic Gyre to our visitors and the fact that in some areas of the world there is now 6 times more micro-plastic particles than plankton - scary stuff!
Protection of the sea locally was also on the agenda with the Small Isles putting forward a Marine Protected Area for the Sound of Canna, and also investigating the possibility of a Marine Protected Area around the Small Isles for cetaceans and basking sharks. More information was however requested on the sort of restrictions that might be associated with MPA schemes and we await SNH's precisions on the subject before going any further on the cetacean protection.
As to the woodland environment on Eigg which suffered such a great deal during the December gales, it will provide much needed work opportunities with all the clearing work now scheduled for spring and facilitated by the purchase of a super-duper extra strong winch: we expect some superior planking to come out of all this which could be used for the various community building projects on the island.
Change being part of life, we have now said goodbye to one of the original Eigg Trustees, Liz Lyon, who after a decade or more of island life, has finally moved to the mainland closer to her family. An ever mercurial character, Liz will definitely enter Eigg mythology as an eccentric par excellence (she will be in good company there in our well-endowed gallery!) Certainly no one will ever see a pony again without thinking of her! Big thanks again for her role in setting up the original Eigg Trust with Tom Forsyth, Alastair MacIntosh and Bob Harris, and good luck to her in her further adventures.
The role of poetry in our lives has not been forgotten either with a celebration of the immortal bard's memory with a difference this year, as it was on the model of our pot-luck community dinners. Haggis and other Scottish dishes were brought to the community hall where recitation and singing made for a very pleasant evening, thanks to the contributions of Lizzie Boden, John Booth, Norah, Annabelle and Gavin to name but a few.
But most importantly for John Cormack and Brian Greene at least, the 2012 scrabble championship has begun. Will Brian, the 2011 champion hold on to his title and the trophy, an award winning photograph of the contestants? It's a wonder we can stand the suspense. Meanwhile, Brendan Greene has come back from his Eastern travel full of tales of wonder, and Simon and Karen from visiting the family in Kathmandu, Karen having discovered an unusual antidote to the tedium of long Indian train journeys: knitting for the grandchild!
Last but not least, on the ornithological front Eigg has acquired some nationally rare visitors for the past fortnight: seven Ibises, first spotted by Mairi Mackinnon in Cleadale.
Camille Dressler.

In terms of events and activities December and January were really quiet for the Trust. Due to the power cut caused by the big storms before Christmas we had to cancel the Slave Auction (which is now postponed until later in the spring). I want to thank all those individuals and businesses who already promised to be 'slaves', your support is really appreciated and encouraging.
Unfortunately our auction was not the only thing hit by the storms as we all may know; all the directors of the Trust want to express their sympathies to everyone affected.
Seeing the spring bulbs finally starting to push through is very inspiring and reminds us of warm and sunny days to come. With this in mind the Trust will promote 'Morar in bloom' this summer. The first step is to plant bulbs and annuals in both planters and hanging baskets at the start of the spring. The aim of this project is not only to brighten up our beautiful wee village, but also to bring people together socially in a relaxing atmosphere. If you are interested in helping to plant and/or to look after the flowers, please get in touch.
Spring in the air and the start of a new year has sparked new enthusiasm to hold events to raise funds for the demolition of the old hall, new proposed projects and for our local primary school 'Lady Lovat'. The first event will be a 'Pancake Fun Day' which will be held on February 21st. During this event we will not only offer pancakes and coffee but also some fun activities and games for the children to participate in. This will be a great family event for everyone. Please keep an eye out for posters for more information.
One big event the Trust would like to resurrect is the 'Morar Gala Day'. This day, according some sources, was last held over 20 years ago. I've heard some great stories of the day and what a great community spirit Morar had at the time. I understand that past may not be recreated but not to try would be a great shame; thus I, with the Trust directors, would love to see this event take place again in the early summer. Great ideas of what to do are already coming in from left and right from members of our community. If anyone, businesses or individuals would like to get involved please let us know.
One of the biggest plans for this year is to find out the overall opinion of all residents in Morar regarding renewable energy schemes, in particular a scheme that would benefit the whole community. To do this, we aim to hold an open meeting and conduct a household survey. We would appreciate the participation from as many locals as possible.
Our 200 Club continues to run successfully. Donnie Maclellan was the winner of our December draw with Eleanor MacVarish scooping up the extra Christmas price; thank you Virginia for helping with this draw. January winner was Fiona Coates. Congratulations to all winners. Please remember it's never too late to join. For more information, please get in touch with the promoter Audrey MacEachen.
Tiina / Morar Community Trust (formerly Morar Futures)

Arisaig Community Trust
Take 6 = ACTion

Well, we're the proud possessors of a ride on mower! This is the first step towards improving the village playing field - and I'm sure it will be a welcome one for Michael and his players, who have struggled to play on a field of unkempt grass and rushes for too long. Now we'd like to put together a team of volunteers who are happy to take a turn with the mower now and again, making sure that the burden doesn't rest one pair of shoulders alone. Maybe there are some parents out there who would be willing to lend a hand - for example, if we had a pool of, say, 10 people, you'd only be called upon to do perhaps one cut per season? Please do get in touch with me if you can help out.
Equipment storage is our next goal: we have permission in our lease to erect a shed on the field, and we're currently looking into the planning requirements for this and what costs would be involved.
Then we come to the ambitious bit: the surface upgrade. This needs careful thought and professional advice, so that the final job will be good for many years to come. It will be a major undertaking, and we'll certainly have to apply for significant funding support - I'll be looking for the advice of our local active school co-ordinators, Emma and Pam, about the best options for this.
I've been thinking about ideas for celebrating the securing of the lease, and wondered about a Grand Midsummer Village Picnic on the field? Of course we'd need a lovely day . . . but if the organisation is kept pretty simple, then it could be a moveable feast, so to speak! I can picture it now, a blue sky, rugs spread out on the grass, picnic baskets laden with good things, and some simple and fun entertainment, in which everyone can join. . .
The artwork in our 'Find a Logo' competition finally went on display in the Astley Hall Clubroom on Saturday 21st January - and a fine exhibition it made, too. Visitors enjoyed delicious coffee and cakes while viewing the display and admiring the art. Prizes were awarded to the winners by competition judge, Helen Race. Helen commented that she was delighted to have been asked to judge the competition, and extremely heartened to see ACT involving the community in the project in a very tangible way. A full list of winners is printed elsewhere in this edition of West Word.
Alison Stewart
Local Development Officer

Arisaig Community Trust Artwork Exhibition
Arisaig Community Trust (ACT) recently staged an exhibition of the designs entered in their competition to find a logo for the Trust. The entries were many and varied, over 70 in all, with some really excellent ideas, and choosing a winner in each of the four age categories proved a difficult task for the judges. They were looking for good designs which conveyed two important aspects: the special place which is Arisaig, together with a sense of Arisaig as a strong community. Helen Race, teacher of Art at Mallaig High School, commented that she was delighted to be asked to judge the competition, and extremely heartened to see ACT involving the community in the project in a very tangible way. The full list of winning and commended entries was as follows:

Age group 1: up to 7

Age group 2: 8 - 11

Age group 3: 12 - 15

Age group 4: over 18


L to r: Su Coyne, winner, adult age group; Helen Race, judge;
Keira Boyce, winner up to 7 age group;
Alison Stewart, Local Development Officer, Arisaig Community Trust


Current members of The Road to the Isles Marketing Group are invited to attend the Annual General Meeting on Thursday 23rd February at 12.00 hours in the West Highland Hotel, Mallaig. A finger buffet lunch will be provided.
This meeting will see the formal launch of the new Road to the Isles website. This major undertaking has taken the committee over 5 months to complete. Lamont Design of Fort William has been responsible for the technical development of the new website and this includes unique and simple editing functions so new material and information for our visitors can be simply added by our webmaster. A new layout with 'simple to navigate' features detailing every possible visitor information requirement should encourage new and repeat business to our beautiful and magnificent area. Our stunning scenery has been given a high priority with new high definition photographs taken throughout the four seasons. Although complete at present, the website is still a work in progress as we will shortly be including separate listings for businesses that have Wifi availability, virtual tours of member facilities etc.
Also attending the meeting will be Robert MacMillan who will make a presentation to members on the new Mallaig Marina detailing how the facility will be marketed, managed, future generic growth etc. and Frazer Coupland of the Outdoor Capital who will detail the new marketing initiative being undertaken on their behalf by View Marketing and how it will affect the Road to the Isles Marketing Group members.
The Arisaig, Morar and Mallaig visitor maps have proved to be a valuable resource in 2011 and these will be reproduced for 2012. The Walks Brochure, that over the years has proved to be popular with our more active visitors, has been updated and printed with waterproof ink and these are available for the forthcoming season. As a means of keeping the Road to the Isles as a tourist destination in visitors minds, the marketing group will be producing window/car stickers with a 'punchy' strap line, and it is hoped that this will also be launched at the AGM.
Ian Buick
Secretary - Road to the Isles Marketing Group

In response to calls from local residents and businesses, Scotland Transerv will start resurfacing work of a 1.24 km stretch of the A830 at Loch Eilt Monday March 26th and hope to complete the job in two weeks.
The work will be done through the night between 8pm and 6am, Sunday to Friday and, due to the restricted road width over this section, and to comply with health and safety regulations, the road will be closed between these times.
However, because there is no alternative route, queuing traffic will be escorted through the works during a short period every two hours. These windows will be 10 - 10.15pm, 12 - 12.15am, 2 - 2.15am and 4 - 4.15am.
Scotland Transerv, on behalf of Transport Scotland, is carrying out the work and live updates on the progress of the work will be posted on Twitter at www.twitter.com/scot_transerv MSP Dave Thompson has welcomed news that this urgent work is being carried out and he also urged Scotland TranServ to address the concern of Arisaig and District Community Council that this might be carried out over the traditionally busy Easter Holiday period. He further called on Transport Scotland to ensure signage at Fort William did not give the false impression that the road was closed throughout the two week maintenance period.
The need to resurface the road was one of several improvements called for at a meeting arranged in November by Mr Thompson between the local community and roads engineers from Transport Scotland.
The MSP decided to call the meeting to help accelerate progress on a series of improvements promised following the deaths of local teenagers Kirsty Bryden and Roddy MacInnes when their car left the road and landed in Loch Eilt in September 2010.
'I am pleased that we are now seeing definite action to address some of the extremely worrying defects on this important route highlighted at November's meeting,' said Mr Thompson.
'A variety of problems with this road have been raised and I am doing whatever I can to ensure these are recognised and remedied by Transport Scotland and its contractors.
'Firstly a barrier was erected on the corner where Kirsty and Roddy lost their lives and now they are about to improve the surface of the road where this has been found to be less than ideal.
'It is good to see that the contractors plan to work through the night to minimise inconvenience and that traffic can be escorted through the works regularly. This is a new approach to this type of operation and one I hope could become a model for other areas.'

Following an investigation by a Reporter appointed by the Scottish Ministers, the appeal against the decision to refuse planning permission for three turbines at Bunacaimbe has been dismissed and planning permission again refused.
The present application was refused for the reason: 'The proposal is contrary to Policy E2 of the Highland Structure Plan 2001 'Wind Energy Developments' as the three turbines will have an adverse visual impact on the local community and will result in unacceptable noise intrusion to the residents.' The Reporter indicates that, while he was not minded to refuse on landscape grounds, there is a question mark over the proposed development's ability to meet noise criteria.

More than 1,000 launches for Scotland's RNLI lifeboats in 2011
The RNLI launched, on average, 20 lifeboats in Scotland each week in 2011 according to the charity's official statistics released on Tuesday 7th February.
The charity had another busy year - it was the RNLI's 6th busiest year in Scotland - with 1,006 launches in Scotland during which 847 people were rescued.
This compares with 2010 where there were 1011 launches with 916 people being rescued. The busiest lifeboat station in Scotland was Broughty Ferry, where the RNLI's two lifeboats launched a total of 104 times, a record breaking year for the volunteers at the station on the outskirts of Dundee. More than a third of those launches were during the hours of darkness.
The Broughty Ferry crew also spent a total of 1,151 hours at sea in 2011. This includes the time spent exercising to ensure they, like all RNLI crews, are trained to the highest possible standards.
The station spending the most time on services and exercises was Dunbar, where 2,327 hours were spent at sea. Altogether the 45 Scottish lifeboat crews spent 33,888 hours on their lifeboats.
The busiest inshore lifeboat was at the RNLI's Queensferry station, near Edinburgh, with 62 services during which they assisted 117 people including 13 under the age of 18.
The stations at Campbeltown, Stornoway, Kessock, Kippford and Islay recorded more than 50% of their services in darkness, while the stations at Mallaig, Aberdeen, Lerwick, St Abbs and Barra spent half of their services in the dark.
In 2011 several stations were praised for their role in rescuing people at sea with the award of a bronze medal (Darren Crowe, St Abbs), a letter from the RNLI Chairman Admiral the Lord Boyce (Kirkwall) and letters from the RNLI's Operations Director Michael Vlasto (Arbroath, Barra, Broughty Ferry, Eyemouth, Islay, Kessock, Macduff, Mallaig, Peterhead and Troon). Scotland's busiest month was July with 145 incidents.

Personal Angle

Fledgling DJ Jayne Eddie has asked West Word to help track down a fellow DJ from the Glasgow area who was a good friend of her late father Keith Eddie. Via his Neptune Disco Keith kept locals and visitors dancing for many many years and built up lots of friendships with regular visitors to the area. One such friendship was with Mr Iain Frame, a fellow DJ from the Glasgow area who regularly visited Arisaig-Morar-Mallaig, staying at local camp/caravan sites. Jayne, herself embarking on a DJ career, has so far been unable to track down Iain Frame and wonders if any West Word reader can help.

Fiddler Duncan Chisholm, he of Wolfstone fame, was commissioned to write the soundtrack to the BBC TV production Castle Commandos which aired last week. Duncan's grandfather, Staff Sergeant Duncan Chisholm, was an Instructor based at Inverailort Castle for a spell during the war. 'Food was in short supply, but the Commando Instructors put their skills to good use,' said Duncan. 'My grandfather and his fellow Scout instructors were all gamekeepers so they would put their rifles to good use and there was a great river there for catching sea trout. They also had other means too. The West Highland Railway line starts at Mallaig and goes through to Fort William. When the fish wagons came, my grandfather and other instructors would jump onto it and then toss as many boxes of kippers as they could into the heather!'!!

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Ewen and Morag MacDonald from Morar took time off from sticking labels and stamps on envelopes to go on holiday to Bugibba in Malta. A trip down memory lane for Ewen who was stationed there when doing his National Service.


Richard Lamont from Arisaig braved the cold to read his copy outside Elgin Cathedral, known as 'The Lantern of the North'.

Remember it's never too late to send a holiday snap in, even if it was taken months ago. And we're looking for more subscribers to send us a photo of where they live. We're expecting lots more this year!

Birdwatch by Stephen MacDonald
The stormy conditions that dominated the end of 2011 continued into the first week or so of January and brought with them a large influx of 'white-winged gulls' into Northern and western Britain. Both Iceland and Glaucous Gulls were reported from various locations in the local area, but the main concentration was around Mallaig harbour. Numbers varied from day to day but there were at least 4 Glaucous Gulls present on the 18th along with 15 Iceland Gulls. On the 22nd there were 2 Glaucous, 17 Iceland and 2 Kumlien's Gulls reported in Mallaig, and 3 Iceland Gulls at the head of Loch Ailort.
The Kumlien's Gulls that have also been seen are considered by some not as a separate species but a race of Iceland Gull which breeds in Arctic Canada, Baffin Island, etc., and winters mainly along the Eastern Seaboard of Canada and the North East of the US. It is normally a very scarce visitor to Britain, only 1 or 2 turning up most winters. The almost continual westerly weather systems so far this winter have obviously dragged a fair number across the Atlantic judging by the widespread reports this winter.
One big surprise this month was the discovery of a group of Glossy Ibis on the Isle of Eigg. They are very much a Southern European bird, breeding around the Mediterranean and east to the Black Sea etc. Maybe the recent cold weather in these regions has caused the birds to move to the relatively milder conditions on the west coast of Britain and Ireland as there have been several recent reports of Glossy Ibis from SW Britain and Ireland.
There were still Whooper Swans and Teal present on Loch nan Eala throughout the month and Goosanders and Goldeneye were again present on Loch Morar.
A single Barnacle Goose was seen feeding with Greylags near Loch nan Eala on the 3rd.
A single Greenshank remained on the Morar Estuary at Bourblach during the month.
Hen Harriers were again reported from Back of Keppoch and Loch nan Eala areas throughout the month.
Great Spotted Woodpeckers were reported from Morar and Arisaig coming to garden feeders.
2 Jays were seen at Beoraid, Morar, on the 13th and birds were heard calling in the woods near Arisaig House near the end of the month.

On and Off the Rails

Gold Award for Mallaig Station
I would like to thank all of you who have stopped me in the street, and on the train, and congratulated me on Mallaig Station's Gold Award. It has been lovely to hear your nice comments. Hopefully, I will continue to supply and maintain the hanging baskets and flower tubs in 2012. My thanks go to Anne Cameron for helping me with keeping the Station clean and tidy. At times it was a wet and windy struggle keeping the hanging baskets looking good, and in full bloom, as one day or night of high winds and rain caused salt water damage; but with a bit of TLC I managed to rescue them on more than a few occasions.

Model Rail Scotland Competition
It is that time of year again, when rail modellers and their families, from all over the country, converge on the SECC in Glasgow. This year's exhibition is on Friday 25th, Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th February. Held in two halls for the first time, the opening times are: Friday 11am - 6pm, Saturday 10am - 6pm, and Sunday 10am - 5pm. Entry prices are: adult £10.00, Child £6.00 and Family (2 adults & 2 children x 1 day) £25.00. all available on the door. There are good savings to be made by purchasing advance tickets. These are Adult £9.00, Child £5.00 and Family ticket (2 adults & 2 children on any one day) £24.00. to purchase tickets direct, call the SECC Direct Sales hotline on 0870 040 4000 or by post including a cheque or postal order to: AMRSS, PO Box 19564, Johnstone, PA6 7YP stating the type of ticket(s) required. Make your payment out to AMRSS and include an sae for return of your tickets. Note: advance tickets must be obtained by 10th February or be applied for on or before that date. Advance ticket holders are allowed entry 30 minutes prior to official opening times! Worth thinking about.

About the exhibition. This year's show is 50% larger than before, taking place in two main Halls. There are 55 layouts, 150 Exhibition stands, Gauge Societies, Prototype Societies, working demonstration stands, sales stands, Club and Society stands (Glenfinnan Station Museum and Friends of the West Highland Line are booked to attend). Full catering facilities are available on site at the SECC Glasgow.

As in previous years, I have been fortunate enough to obtain 4 Family Passes (for use on any one day) to give away, generously donated on behalf of AMRSS by Press & Publicity Officer Ross Squire. If you fancy a chance to win a Family Pass for two adults and two children (worth £25), just answer the following question: How many layouts will be on display at this year's Exhibition? Put your answer on a postcard and send it to me, Sonia Cameron, Fasgadh, Marine Place, Mallaig PH41 4PD, to arrive no later than Monday February 20th 2012. Good luck.

Annat Signal Box - the story continues!
I have had a lot of interest shown in my article in West Word regarding Annat Box which closed on Sunday October 23rd 2012. it's funny that as soon as something has gone it seems to stir up great interest! Anyway, the Annat story lives on with an interesting article appearing on the internet by Graham Maxtone and Alan Mackie. Some of you may know Graham from his days as signalman at Crianlarich, progressing to Head of Signalling at Fort William, and is currently one of the team of Signallers at Banavie Signalling Centre. Graham has given me permission to reproduce it in West Word.

The End of Annat
As recorded in Signalling Digest, Annat Gate Box recently closed, on Sunday 23rd October 2011. Located at 2m 1c, just out of Fort William on the NBR Mallaig Extension, this abolition was perhaps more poignant than most as the box unusually controlled semaphores in an RETB area - overseen by nearby Banavie SC, which has now taken over control of the two LCs at Annat. They were also some of the last mechanical signals on this historic route which defied the RETB modernisation of 1987.
Annat opened as recently as 21st June 1964 under a local resignalling scheme in connection with the provision of the new Corpach Pulp Mill sidings and which also dispensed with the WW" box at Camus na Ha a little further down the line, closed the same day; previously there was no box at Annat. Of prefabricated timber design typical of the period - since classified as BR(ScR) N/S (non-standard) as it does not accord with any of the standardised types - the box is rumoured to have come second-hand from Fife. If so, it could be ex-Kingussie Colliery where a similar box was erected as a follow-on to the Thomas New Yard scheme, complete with signals etc, to create two block sections on the 'Westfield opencast line in 1957. in the event, it never opened and was removed in the 1960s. however, firm evidence is still awaited that Kingussie Colliery was indeed re-used at Annat.
Under the West Highland RETB scheme, Annat was reduced to Gate Box status on 6th December 1987 when control of the line passed to Banavie SC - although the original intention was to control this area and Fort William from a single NX Panel at the SC. Pulp Mill GP was brought into use to work the siding connection formerly controlled from Annat. However, Annat retained its original 16-lever Stevens/Cal Tappet frame, with Up and Down semaphores to protect the LC; the distants have been replaced by reflectorised boards along with all others on the line a couple of years earlier in advance of RETB.
Around 1987, the original flat roof was replaced with a new gabled roof. More substantial refurbishment followed in 2006/6 when the box was completely re-clad and double glazing installed, together with a new staircase, completely changing its appearance. Annat has now been demolished, but lives on in a small way as cladding from the box has been used to smarten up the relay room at the West LC. The 'lean to' relay room at the end of Annat box has also been retained similarly tidied up and re-clad like the West LC building. Happily, a full set of semaphore remain in use at nearby Fort William (formerly Mallaig) junction box.
(Article reproduced courtesy of The Signalling Record Society.)

Annat Signal Box is seen here
in original condition as opened in 1964.
Annat gate box in 2009 post refurbishment.
Photos Graham Maxtone

Network Rail Engineering Work at Mallaig
As stated in a previous article in my column in West Word, I mentioned that 'major' engineering works would be taking place early in 2012. This work has now begun, with a team of Network Rail Engineers working on Sundays and some weekdays.
To date the work is progressing well, with two sets of points already in place. These will replace two existing sets that connect the 'run round' loop from the Down platform to the Up main. They are a vital part of Mallaig's Rail Layout, as they allow locomotives to 'run round' the carriages. This facility is mainly used by the Jacobite steam train every summer. But it also enables a single diesel locomotive to 'run round', although since the introduction of Class 156 Super Sprinters this need is no longer required.
All 'special' excursions Diesel hauled into Mallaig now have to be top-n-tailed (locomotive at each end). It's nice to know that Network Rail are fully committed to maintaining the existing track layout and not contemplating a simpler version, which would be cheaper and easier to maintain! The decision to renew the existing trackwork and maintaining its present diagram is no doubt due to the use of 'special' trains and Network Rail's commitment to ScotRail. This new work will no doubt ensure that trains will visit Mallaig for some time to come. In my column next month, I will hope to give a full account of the work carried out.

Special trains
The New Year has started well with an increased amount of bookings on the West Highland Line and the Mallaig Extension.
As I write my column, the first of this year's Touring Trains is pulling away from No. 1 Platform in Fort William. The honour of the first touring train of 2012 goes to Spitfire Tours. Departing from Birmingham, they arrived in Fort William for overnight Hotel accommodation, and are now on their way back, getting into Birmingham just before Midnight (hopefully!). They were preceded on the line yesterday by a West Coast class 37 No. 37516 on snow clearance duties. Spitfire themselves used DRS 2 x class 37s to haul their train. So, at around 9pm last night there would have been 3 x Class 37s and the Sleeper Class 67 diesels in Fort William, a photographer's dream (well, one of them anyway). The next planned tour to visit Fort William will be Statesman Rail's Winter West Highland Statesman coming to Fort William on Saturday 3rd March for overnight hotel accommodation, before departing at 9.15 the next morning. This tour will originate from Hereford, with a repeat performance on Saturday 10th March, this time departing from Nottingham. Both Touring trains will be using West Coast Railway's haulage.
In my next month's column I will give more details of forthcoming visiting tours. It is good to see the year starting so positively. Lochs and Glens coach touring company often have up to four coaches waiting to pick up passengers who have travelled the West Highland Extension by ScotRail.

Club 55 reminder
If you are 55 years of age or over, ScotRail's offer of £19 return on the rail network anywhere in Scotland is still in operation until 31st March 2012. Full details are available in a leaflet at all staffed stations, or refer to my January column in West Word.

Advance Loyalty Club (First ScotRail)
ScotRail have just announced their latest offers available to Advance Loyalty Club Members (for information on Advance Loyalty Club (free) membership go to scotrail.co.uk/advance or visit any staffed booking office and enquire. There is also a dedicated Hotline number for Advance offers: 0845 078 0077. I won't go into too much detail, but two of the recently announced offers are:
Half price on Off Peak, Super Off Peak, plus Off Peak day returns, anywhere in Scotland; Two persons for £99 total return on Caledonian Sleeper Services valid to start in either direction.
Note, these offers are available until 31st March 2012. As is Club 55.
See you on the train.
Sonia Cameron

CROFTING ROUNDUP by Joyce Wilkinson, Area Assessor and Scottish Crofting Federation rep for Lochaber

Crofters could get paid for doing nothing if measures planned for the new CAP [ common agricultural policy] reform go through without intervention. Part of the new measures to be put in place by 2014/15 include a 'Small farmer scheme' available to land users of a minimum hectarage who can voluntarily opt out of the red tape and department checks that impose extra burdens and paperwork. At the moment the scheme is proposing to give between 500 and 1000 euros annually to opt out, or 10% of the money small farmers already would receive through direct payments [single farm payment and beef calf subsidy]. For most active farmers it would not pay them to opt out at the rates proposed at present .However there is no 'activity' clause for this payment and this is what is causing concern to the Scottish Crofting federation and the NFU. Crofting representatives of both groups will be lobbying hard to include a link to activity with this payment , and for an increase in the payment to as much as 3000 euros, but anyone receiving it would have to keep livestock or grow produce of some kind, in other words be an active crofter. If this could be secured it would be a very beneficial payment to small crofters and would boost active crofting in the highlands, and do away with the red tape and most department checks. Other information of interest to crofters is that the new Less favoured area payments scheme after 2014 [ to be renamed Areas of Natural Constraints] will pay a minimum of 25 euros a hectare but could be as much as 300 eu /ha in mountainous areas. Areas are to be decided at a parish level and the rate applied when 66% of the land in that parish or ward meets the criteria.
It is generally expected that the new scheme wont come into effect now until early 2015. The old scheme of LFASS finishes in 2013 as do all the rural payment schemes and there is likely to be a gap of 2 years. The EU members are looking at ways to bridge this somehow.

Crofting Elections
Elections to the new Crofting commission will be on March 16th 2012 by postal ballot and 5 nominations have been received for our area of South West Highlands. In our area we have the following candidates:

Full statements from the 5 candidates can be found on the Crofters commission website.

A Little Genealogy by Allan (email: ealasaid6@btopenworld.com)
The MacEachrans of Kinsadle, Morar

The first record of this family who lived in Kinsadle, (Ceann Sadeal) besides the Morar River until c1970, can be be found in Clanranald's Kelp Records of 1820.
Ewen MacEachran and two sons, John and Alexander, were living at that time in Kinloid. In that year they earned between them the sum of nine pounds six shillings and ten pence, for working on the shore of Keppoch farm. This cash was used in the payment of rent.
Because of the dearth of church records until c1837, when St. Mary's Births Deaths and Marriage registers were set up, there is little written evidence until the 1841 Census. In 1841, the family was in Kinloid and were recorded as; Hugh MacEachen, b. c1762, Anne MacEachen, b. c1782, Donald MacEachen, b. c1797, Archie MacEachen, b. c1802, Anne MacEachen, b. c1807, Allan MacEachen, b. c1812 and Janet MacEachen, b. c1812. John and Alexander are not recorded here, probably because they are working away from home.
Here we see the anomalies and eccentricities of the census/taker who seems unwilling or unable to differentiate between the surnames MacEachen and MacEachran/ MacEachern, a situation we regularly find in emigrant families also. In addition, the 1841 census often rounds ages up or down by five years, thus the stated ages in this census must always be taken with "a pinch of salt".
I have great difficulty tracing John and Alexander MacEachran until 1861 when John turns up in Glenuig with his brother Archie and is recorded as unmarried and aged sixty years of age. In the Napier Commission Report of 1886, a John and Alexander MacEachran both spoke of being evicted from Kinloid.
By the time of the 1886 Report, if still alive, John would be eighty six years old. Neither he nor Archie is mentioned in the 1881 census. I have been unable to trace Alexander at all after the 1820 Kelp Records.
Other known facts of the family are as follows: Anne (b. 1807) and Janet (b.1814) did not marry. In 1871 Hugh MacEachran's wife, Anne is recorded as living in Kinsadle with Allan. Her stated age is 70 when in fact, by my reckoning, she should have been recorded as aged 90. Of Donald b. 1797, I can find no trace after the 1841 census. This only leaves Archie and Allan.
Archie, who was living in Traigh after the 1843 clearance from Kinloid, married Margaret (Peggy) MacDonald of Bun a Caimbe in November 1844. Their children were; Ronald, b. September 1845, Ewen, b, April 1847 and Donald, b. March 29th 18? Peggy died on 1st April 1849. Two years later, Archie, a shoemaker, is listed as living at No. 25 Boundaries of Traigh along with the three children and his sister, Anne.
In 1861, the family was resident in No 10, Glenuig and Archie's brother John, was living with them.
In 1871, Archie, his son Donald and sister, Anne, are still in Glenuig. The two older boys are not at home and John, Archie's brother is not listed. Presumably, he has died.
In 1901, at No 34 Glenuig, son Donald is married to Mary, (b. 1860) and they have four children; Maggie, aged thirteen, Allan, aged eleven, Archie, aged six and Kate, aged two. Allan MacEachran is also very elusive in the records until 1871 until he appears in the census living at 3, Glac Mhór, the place now known as Kinsadle. He was unmarried and living with him were his mother, Anne and his sister, Janet. About 1872, Allan married Anne MacLellan, daughter of 'Illeasbuig (MacLellan) Bruinacory. At that time, Gilleasbuig MacLellan lived on the shore front of Mallaig where the railway and harbour are now situated. Allan and Anne had four children; Ewen, John, Archie and Donald.
Ewen was known by his patronymic, Ẹghann Ailean Ewen. He was married to a Buchanan from Barra and had four children; John, Archie, Mary and Allan.
John married Margaret ? who came from from Foyers and they had one son whose name I don't know. John, sadly died in an accident after which Margaret, along with her son and father-in-law, Ẹghann, moved into Morar village where she nursed Ẹghann for many years until his death. She also made a home for and cared for Catherine and Allan junior, the two children of Allan and his wife who had died. Catherine, a nurse, now lives in Glasgow and Allan died some years ago in Inverness.
Archie, son of Ẹghann, lived for many years in Inverness. NFI.
Mary Anne, sister of Archie, John and Allan, married Bill Anderson and moved to Inverness. Their son, Willie Anderson lives in Caol, another son lives in Perth and a sister lives in Inverness.
There are now no MacEachrans in Glenuig and haven't been for more than eighty years at least. Ẹghann's brother, Iain Ailean Ewen, lived and worked as a railway porter in Lochailort for many years and was married to Śne MacEachen (see A Little Genealogy, April 2008)

Stray Notes
Sir Berkeley Sheffield, 6th Baronet and English industrialist was the owner of Meoble estate on the south side of Loch Morar during the 1930s and 40s. Besides having a railway steam locomotive named after him, he was also great grandfather to Samantha Sheffield, daughter of the 8th Baronet and wife of today's U.K. Prime Minister, David Cameron.

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