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

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February 2013 Issue

Contents of the online version:

Top stories
Monthly news from Knoydart, Muck, Rum, Eigg, Canna, Arisaig
Letters to the editor
Crofting round-up
Railway and harbour news

Letters, e-mails and comments are welcome.
Contact Details & How to Subscribe to the Paper
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All photos are copyright either of the individual photographers or West Word.
Not to be reproduced without permission.

photo photo

Arisaig's resident deer - there are some three stags (photos by Martine Wagenaar)

Otter crossing the road on the way to Glaschoille, Knoydart - photo Amy Connolly

Public disquiet regarding the impending loss of M & S Dental Practice in the village was aired at the February meeting of the Mallaig Community Council.
Members of the public who attended the meeting expressed concerns about patients having to travel to Fort William in order to receive dental care incurring travel costs in the process and possible loss in wages due to having to take a day off work.
It was also stressed that Islanders seeking treatment could face a three day stay away in order to fit in an appointment at the M & S Dental Practice in Fort William.
The minutes of the special meeting held by Arisaig Community Council (see article in the next column) were discussed.
The impression given was there was insufficient funding to upgrade either the health centre in Mallaig or Arisaig to accommodate the changes that the new legislation requires.
The following questions were asked:

The Community Council was asked to write to Fergus Ewing, Charles Kennedy and Dave Thompson highlighting this issue and looking for support for better provision by the NHS.
Neil Trotter, who attended the meeting, told West Word: 'I don't think they've done their sums properly. We have a big catchment here, say 2500 people. Anyone attending the dentist often has to make more than one visit. That's thousands of extra appointments going up to Fort William for treatment - and think what that costs the local economy in lost wages and fuel and travel costs. 'Why can't the instruments be sterilised in Fort William and brought down each day with the dentist?'
If you have concerns, come along to the next meeting of Mallaig Community Council on Monday 4th March at 7.30pm in the Mallaig & Morar Community Centre when Joanna Hynd, NHS, will be present to answer these and other questions you may have.

A Special Meeting was held on Wednesday 19th December 2012 in the Astley Hall, Arisaig, between members of the Community Councils of Mallaig, Morar and Arisaig, and Dr Iain Gartshore, Mrs Mary Gartshore and Joanna Hynd (NHS Scotland). Also present was Cllr Allan Henderson.
Minutes of the meeting: The meeting was held at Dr Gartshore's request in order for him to update the Community Councils about his proposals for provision of GP services in North West Lochaber (including the Small Isles) and the Ardnamurchan Peninsular.
There are currently 14 GP vacancies across the Highlands, and there have been particular difficulties in recruiting and keeping doctors in the most rural practices, particularly those with a single GP. Dr Gartshore's proposal is to set up a West Lochaber medical practice - the NW consisting of the present practice of Mallaig, Morar, Arisaig (together with Lochailort and surrounding area), plus Knoydart and the Small Isles. The SW would cover from Acharacle to the Ardnamurchan Peninsular. The plan would have a pool of up to 7 doctors covering the area, and the practice would work towards becoming a rural training practice, offering GPs in the last stages of their training experience in rural practice. Increased flexibility in working hours would make these positions more desirable than at present so hopefully making it easier to attract and keep doctors.
The Small Isles communities are generally happy with the proposed plan, although Eigg are less convinced because they wouldn't have a resident GP, as was previously the case. The existing cover in Arisaig, Morar and Mallaig should remain unchanged. It was stressed that the Arisaig practice would stay as it is at present.
Dr Gartshore would have responsibility for recruiting the practice's medical staff.

The meeting expressed general support for the proposals, and requested that the CCs should be kept informed of developments. Emails to NHS Highland in support of the plans would be appreciated.

Provision of Dental Services:
Joanna Hynd (NHS Highland) reported on the situation regarding dental provision in the area.
M&S Dental Care has been delivering services in Mallaig, but new legislation requires the dentist to have additional separate instrument sterilization facilities; there is insufficient space to accommodate these facilities in the Mallaig health centre. M&S have been unable to resolve this satisfactorily, and as a result, from the beginning of March, they will no longer be providing dental care in Mallaig. It is hoped that many of their existing patients will continue to get their dental care at the M&S practice in Fort William. For those unable or unwilling to travel, NHS Highland will deliver services two days a week in Mallaig. The problem of the sterilization of instruments still exists, and NHS Highland has until March 2013 to come up with a solution.

New life is being breathed into the former Fishermen's Mission Building in Mallaig, now called the Morrison Building.
Local businesses and new business ventures are all finding a home there, which will offer job opportunities and turn it into a busy hub of community life once more.
Staying is Kenneth MacKenzie, who will be running his second hand book shop from his usual place. Moving in is a retail outlet for Ginger, Anna Cornelius' hand crafted knitwear, in addition to her workshop in Morar.
A new business starting up is MacBeth's Barber, run by Sharon MacBeth; and Lizan's Bay Tree Therapies will have a permanent room in the building.
Another new business: the café is being reinstated, together with a Bunkhouse, under the management of Karen McDiarmid from Edinburgh.
Karen told West Word 'I am delighted to introduce myself as the new proprietor of the Bunk House & Cafe within the old Fisherman's Mission.
'Re-opening the cafe is an exciting opportunity to bring a much loved and essential part of Mallaig's community back to the people of the village, offering hearty & wholesome hot meals, light snacks and filled rolls which are excellent value. You'll be guaranteed a friendly welcome, plenty of good banter and we hope you'll feel right at home again in no time. Opening hours are still to be confirmed, but we envisage service will begin from breakfast and carry on throughout the day. You should be able to join us by March 1st, but feel free to stop by and say hello at any time. 'The Bunkhouse will continue to offer accommodation services to the fishermen, but of course we look forward also to welcoming visitors to the wonderful West Coast from all corners of the globe. Services will resume by Easter.
If you would like to be part of this exciting venture, please contact me on 07423 251002 to arrange to come in for a chat or drop your CV in to me at the Mission.'
Charlie Mills, representative of the Trust which now owns the building, said 'I am delighted that everything is coming together so well. We have put new machines into the launderette and that service will still be available to fishermen. After the renovations to the interior, we intend to paint the outside of the building in line with the new image of the building.'

February has not brought better or brighter weather. As I type this I am stranded in Mallaig, unable to make it over to Knoydart, listening to a storm outside. It's blowin' a hoolie oot there!! Hope everyone is keeping safe, warm and dry as much as possible.
Well, Burns Night was a big success on the peninsula. Our usual host for the evening was sadly missed - hope you have a quick recovery Iain Wilson.
Well done to Roger Trussell who took on the role as MC and did a marvellous job at it! Bravo to all those who were asked/persuaded/coerced into giving the speeches: Tommy McMannon did the address to the haggis with great gusto, Heather Gilmore the Selkirk Grace, Jamie Robinson the Immortal Memory, Piers Trussell toasted the lassies, Sarah Powell responded with the toast to the laddies, and Tom McClean toasted to friendship. We had a song from Drew and then after a mighty meal local musicians gave us ceilidh music to hop, skip and dance to. Big thanks to the band: Liz, Gwen, Steve, Galen, Piers.
Our haggis wasn't exactly traditionally piped in… well done Cath Curd who bravely uked and kazooed the haggis in!!
I believe there's an army of folk to thank for the seriously good grub: Kristy, Grant, Gwen, Morag, Angela, Janet and the helpers on the night. We started with a lovely lentil soup, followed by a beautiful venison casserole and of course haggis neeps and tatties, or a veggie nut loaf for the non-meat eaters, and saving room for cheese and biscuits and squeezing in a chocolate or two at the end. Mega!
Folk looked fantastic in their dusted off kilts, tartan trews, American Muskrats, dresses, skirts and wellies. It was a super night with a wonderful atmosphere.
I'm happy to report those who braved Celtic Connections have made it back in one piece (if a few pounds lighter).
Watch out for Bingo returning to the Tearoom!
And I'm afraid not much else to report: as usual it's a quiet time of year.
Amy Connolly

The Small Isles doctor story continues month after month without a conclusion but progress is being made. Meanwhile the vacancy on Eigg is being occupied by a succession of locums. What is becoming clearer is that the Medical Service is going to be run from the mainland which is bad news for Eigg which has always enjoyed a doctor on the island. The disbenefits are less clear cut on the other islands and here there is a lot of enthusiasm for training as 'First Responders' as is already happening at Kilchoan. Also we must have at least a monthly visit by a doctor, telephone consultation and live consultation for those travelling. And of course there is the helicopter as at present.
Great to have two weeks of cold dry weather this month and on Muck frost free. 'Wind and sun' the firm at the heart of our new power scheme were able to install the PV panels in pleasant working conditions. They are also installing the batteries and the wind turbines though the latter will not go in until the whole of the rest of the system is complete and can take the output.
'Wind and Sun' staff were able to take a break and join us for a 'Burns Supper' in the hall on 24th . The butcher failed to dispatch the haggis in time but luckily Sandra Mathers had one in her freezer even if it was not a 'great chieftain o the puddin race' it was big enough to address. Len Whatley and the parents did a great job organising the evening and the scholars entertained us with songs and poetry. Archie Fitchner even sang 'My love is like a red red rose' solo to great applause. It was a super evening and £600 was raised towards school funds.
That is it for this month.
Lawrence MacEwen

The Muck Primary School Parent Council organised a Burns Night Supper which was attended by most of the island community and visitors. Lawrence MacEwen addressed the haggis (a very small one due to an unfortunate mix-up) but we also dined on delicious roast pork and lovely puddings. The children entertained everyone with wonderful singing and reciting, accompanied by Pat Murphy on the piano and there was some very lively dancing, games and a raffle. We were also lucky enough to have one visitor, Iain MacKinnon, play the smallpipes. Thank you so much to all the parents, community and visitors on Muck who made it such a fun evening and raised a lot of money for school library books and trips.


We welcomed 2013 in Rum style with a bring and share Hogmanay supper followed a few days later by Games Night at Paul & Carol's where certain people proved very competitive in the Wii dance-off and bowling! We've had all weathers this month - wind, rain, sun, hail but none of the snow that everyone on the mainland has been enjoying or enduring depending on how much it's disrupted their lives. The irony of living somewhere where the school run, drive to work and panic buying in the supermarket are never going to be affected by snow yet we didn't get any was not lost on us! Talking of the school we now have two pupils on the register for the nursery as Jocelyn joins Eve, not quite enough for a five aside sports team but enough to use the swingboat in the playground again!
We had a cracking Burns Night Supper with fabulous food from Dave and Sylvia, a very English Selkirk Grace from Ady, toasts to the lassies from James and the reply to the laddies from Abby, the haggis addressed by Dave in all his tartan kilted glory, Burns Ode to a Mouse from Rhys and a selection of poems from islanders past and present. Fliss and Sylvia toasted 'Absent Friends' and 'Life' respectively.
Rum bid a farewell to David, Lynda and Elena as they left Kinloch Castleto head back to mainland life and we look set to be saying hello and goodbye to various comers and goers this year with changes afoot at the castle and new crofters due to arrive in the spring. The Isle of Rum website has been enjoying an overhaul thanks to Ali and Nic and has a groaningly full events page so get your diary out and start planning your next visit here, we've loads happening.
We now have planning permission granted for our Community Bunkhouse project and have been getting views and ideas from the community for the visitor centre in our planned Byre project so we're taking our grant funding applications to the next level on both of those and hoping to progress things further.
Jinty has started a Rum Shop Christmas Club so we're handing over weekly payments on veg box collection night ready for a shopping spree come December. No jokes about Arthur Fowler please, with the exception of selling us dodgy advocaat and tamarind paste we are utterly confident in her trustworthyness!
Nic Goddard

January might be considered a quiet month by most. Christmas and Hogmanay have become last year's memories - sealed away with the Christmas tree baubles and final New Year kisses. Following the terrific Hogmanay ceilidh on Eigg, however, our lives have still been keeping steady paces. On the social front, no bright city lights have been needed. Our clubs are booming! Monday evenings feature beautiful melodies from our choral group. The singing resounds in Berni McCoy's inviting living room, where Norah Barnes leads the choir in tunes ranging from Robert Burn's best to folk and world music to anything the ladies find themselves humming. Yoga has also been attracting islanders, inviting them to come stretch those muscles and bend their winter blues into happier, more peaceful states of mind. Katrin Bach, Celia Bull, and Audra Cormack hope to welcome even more yogis of every skill level to share in their Wednesday morning practices in the community hall. Camille Dressler also continues to teach QiGong on a weekly basis, helping to bring balance, connection, and awareness to the body. An additional way of fighting back Old Man Winter on Eigg is to join the knitting club. Every novice knitter can learn from patient teachers at Grace Ferguson's house on Tuesdays. There will be no more cold bodies (or boring cloth accessories!) after the club members finish their hand-crafted garments and projects.
Eigg residents are not simply beginning 2013 with health awareness from an exercise point of view. There has also been a recent call for volunteers interested in receiving training from the West Highland Ambulance Service to become "first responders" for Eigg. There have already been several islanders who have shown interest in being a part of this rescue team. The first responders will play a very important part in emergency action on Eigg, especially since the future residency of a full-time doctor is uncertain.
While the island said farewell to Megan Frey and Cindy Mom, Tasha and Mia Lancaster and Gabe McVarish spent a bit more time with them, joining Megan and Cindy on a trip to Norway this month. Readers can continue to follow Megan and Cindy on their travels on their blog
Eigg can rightly brag on its talented residents, Hannah Morrison and Johnny Lynch. Hannah brought a haul of trophies back with her on the Loch Nevis for her winnings in the Mallaig High School dance competition. Johnny, one-man singer-songwriter of The Pictish Trail and Fence Records founder, is going on a month-long UK tour for the rest of February to promote his new music album Secret Soundz Vol. 2. Well done to both of you!
Ending on a blustery note to give credit to this mid-winter month, we have had quite a wild last week of January. We saw none of the snow that blanketed the mainland, except for a view across the water to white-capped mountains. The wind and rain chose not to ignore us, though. Gail-force winds sent many of us either huddling indoors or struggling to stay upright while braving the storms. The weather may have been fierce, but, aside from a ferry cancellation or two and some missing chimney cowls and roof tiles, we are unscathed and ready for February!
Audra Cormack

This year is going to be a very busy year on Canna with lots of projects and events going on.
We were delighted to receive Leader funding for the renovation of the Binder Shed which will give us a larger community shop and meeting/social area. Looking forward to getting this project started as it will be a huge asset for the community.
Due to the success of a performance in St Edward's Centre last year we are now going to open the centre up as an area for performing arts and exhibitions etc. Colin, one of our newest residents has lots of experience in this area and he and Magda will be spearheading this project.
At Canna House a polytunnel has been erected in a joint NTS/Community venture where residents will have plots to grow fruit and veg. Can't wait for fresh tomatoes and strawberries, so get going all you budding gardeners!


After weeks of looking at various sites a location has been chosen to be our new community campsite. We are hoping to fence off this area and install a toilet block. We are accessing funding at the moment and all going well hope to have this facility up and running for the summer.
Applicants for the running of the cafe/restaurant are now all in and we are looking forward meeting and selecting new folks to come and join us on Canna.
So there's lots going on and there is a very positive outlook on the island for the future.
Geraldine MacKinnon

Project launched to secure a future for Rum's Kinloch Castle
A new initiative has been launched by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) to explore options for the future of Kinloch Castle on the Isle of Rum.
SNH owns the castle and most of the island which is home to the Isle of Rum National Nature Reserve. Although going beyond SNH's remit, the management and upkeep of the castle comes as part of the ownership responsibility, something that the organisation has invested more than £1m in over the past few years.
The castle was built for the Lancastrian industrialist George Bullough in 1897. Luxuriously furnished, its heyday took place before the First World War after which it slowly went into decline. Along with the island, ownership of the castle passed to SNH's predecessor, the Nature Conservancy, in 1957. This included its contents which include a rare 'orchestrion', a machine made for Queen Victoria and designed to emulate an orchestra.
Despite significant investment the local climate has taken its toll on the sandstone building with the result that its condition has deteriorated largely due to water getting in.
In the past few years SNH investment has been to stabilise the castle tower, repair the oriel windows, replace the lead parapet gutters, valleys and roof ridge tiles and to treat extensive dry rot. However, the building requires significant further investment for its conservation.
The organisation has started a fresh initiative to bring together experts and interested organisations to explore options to secure the castle's future. This working group will look at how the castle and its historic contents should be managed and ways of achieving this.
Sarah Bentley, SNH's operations manager for Rum, stressed: 'While the nature reserve on Rum is a big attraction for people wanting to come and enjoy the wildlife, Kinloch Castle is also a big attraction. It is a time capsule of the Edwardian era that never ceases to amaze our visitors. The principal rooms have changed little since the Bullough family left and house an extraordinary collection of artefacts. We have been trying for many years to secure resources to restore the castle to its former glory but the scale of funding required has not been available.
'Recently we have produced a conservation plan detailing the actions required to make the building wind and watertight. We are well underway with the first phases of the plan focusing on the roof and upper walls. But there is much more to do and with reduced budgets we are struggling to find the resources needed.
'We recognise the historic and cultural significance of the castle and its contribution to the development of Rum's community as a visitor attraction for the island. 'Its future should be determined with input from local people and experts in managing historic buildings and artefacts, so we are bringing together a working group to look at the options and help us find the best way to secure a better future for the castle.'
Councillor Allan Henderson, chairman of the Isle of Rum Community Trust, said: 'The Isle of Rum community appreciate the restorative work SNH are doing to secure the future of Kinloch castle in these financially challenged times. The castle is a very important part of the community. With its past history and invaluable collection of artefacts it is a vital tourist attraction to the island and the future growth of Kinloch village.'
And Professor Ewan Macdonald, chairman of the Kinloch Castle Friends Association, added: 'Kinloch Castle Friends Association was formed to promote the preservation of the castle and its contents for the nation and we have been working with SNH towards that objective. We appreciate the substantial work commissioned by SNH in recent years but much more needs to be done and its long term future secured. So we welcome this consultative approach and will take an active part. We are separately creating a public appeal for funds to restore the rare orchestrion.'

Arisaig's village hall was built in 1893 and this year the hall committee are hoping to hold some events to commemorate the occasion of the 120th anniversary and hopefully raise some funds too. An open meeting is being held in the Hall on Wednesday February 27th at 2pm, and anyone who has any ideas or wishes to offer help is invited to come to meet the committee.
Several things are planned already: the car park across the road will be finished; the outside of the hall will be re-painted; and the War Records book, which had lain in the Hall for 80 years and was discovered during the refurbishments, will be copied with reproductions going on display and for sale.
Look out too for some articles on the history of the Hall in West Word during the year. Please come along to the meeting and give your support to anything planned for the year. The Hall is important to us all in the village in one way or another, wahich is clear from how busy it is.

The Produce and Craft Fairs are in their fifth year and have become well known and popular, drawing people from all over Lochaber. This year it looks as if they will be busier than ever with more tables selling food produce.
Community groups who provide soup and sandwich luncheons during the Fairs can raise a lot of money for their group or chosen charity. All the dates are booked for 2013 and also most in 2014, so if you want to have the opportunity next year please get in touch!
Dates for 2013 and group providing the lunches on the following Thursdays:
April 25th: Marie Curie Cancer Care
May 23rd: Arisaig Primary School
June 20th: The Guild
July 25th: Friends of Mallaig Pool
August 22nd: Astley Hall Trust
September 19th: Community Minibus

The annual Craft Fair will be on Tuesday July 30th. Arisaig Community Trust
Tel: 01687 450263
Web site: www.astleyhall.org.uk and Facebook.com/AstleyHallArisaig

St Mary's Church, Arisaig - A Curious Connection
It's a curious connection, but what exactly do St Mary's Church, Arisaig and the Palace of Westminster have in common? The answer is an auspicious architectural heritage, which for St Mary's is currently under threat. Most will not know, but the roundel window at the very top of the triptych window above the altar was designed by Augustus Welby Pugin. Pugin was Britain's foremost architect & designer of the 19th century. A man with extraordinary talent, verve and perspicacity, he harboured a passion for Gothic, and I don't mean in a black eyeliner and doc martins kind of way. He also had a deep passion for the Roman Catholic Church, and his prolific work can be seen in Churches up and down country. His career culminated in the interior design of the new Palace of Westminster, after it was destroyed by fire in 1834, and above whose spires Big Ben soars, making it one of the most famous landmarks in the world. Pugin managed to achieve more in his short life than most of us do in a normal lifespan. He was married three times, had eight children; and after a spell in Bedlam died at the age of forty, in 1852, from exhaustion! How on earth did he come to be working in our small highland village? We have no idea, but if anyone does we'd love to hear.

St Mary's Church Chancel window under scaffold
Crumbling masonry
A W Pugin

Critically, and the point being, the window is in danger of falling out. After withstanding 164 years of easterly elements, the masonry has crumbled and the roundel and triptych of the chancel window is in peril. It's going to cost £20,000 to fix. That's a huge sum for such a small community, and while the diocese can bridge the gap, we have to raise the total. Whether you're a Roman Catholic or not, this piece of art and history is a jewel to be cherished, restored and preserved - much as London would the Palace of Westminster. There will be a number of fundraising events and nonsense over the coming months, including the fabulous Vattersay Boys at the Agricultural Show Dance on 8th June. It would be wonderful if you can support us to help us reach our goal. If you cannot join us, then you can donate securely online via pay pal, just follow the Facebook link to St Mary's Church Arisaig, or send cash or cheques c/o Father Andrew Barratt, St Mary's, Arisaig. Any little will help the whole.
With such an esteemed designer of St Mary's Church roundel, you'd think that was the whole story. But there's much more to this curious tale. The triptych was designed by H.W Lansdale in 1906 with the Marchioness of Bute as benefactor. More about this in our next fundraising update. In the meantime, if you can help us with any small donation then please be in touch.
Fiona Baker


Dear Editor,
In the early 1950's I lived in the south west of Glasgow and my Father and Mother were keen to find somewhere to take their four young boys, aged from 3 to 12, on holiday.
By chance my father met with a GPO (BT) linesman who told him that the Minister at Arisaig Church of Scotland would, to supplement his income, move out to a small 'hut' in the back garden of the manse and 'let' the manse for the summer.
I believe our first visit took place around 1951 and we stayed for around six weeks.
Our party consisted of my mother and three brothers and my 'Auntie' and her two young girls. My father and uncle would travel up from Glasgow by way of 'motorised' bicycles to join us for the middle two weeks.
Our trunk would be collected by a British Railways truck and taken to, I believe it was Buchanan Street station, but my brothers argue it was Queen Street, and then by train, via Fort William, to Arisaig.
The trunk would be picked up by the Butcher when he collected his daily meat delivery from the railway station and dropped off at the manse on his way down to his shop. His shop used to stand in the area where the new flats are opposite The Land Sea & Island centre. The handcart can still be seen in The Land Sea & Island centre to this day.
I have vague, but fond memories of the old station at Fort William with the noise of the old steam engines and the sea splashing on to the platform. (http://www.disused-stations.org.uk/f/fort_william/index.shtml)
My mother with her four boys and my Auntie and her two girls would arrive at Arisaig a few days after the trunk and take up residence in the manse for our six week summer holiday.
I recently stayed with David and Jenny at Cnoc na Faire and I told David of our holidays at the manse in the early 50's and that I was delighted to hear that a young family had recently completed a major modernisation of the manse.
Unfortunately David also told me of the planned removal of the tall pine trees at the back of the manse.
The reason I have contacted you, it is to let you, and your readers, know the history of these trees. This neat row of trees was planted c1950 by the Rev D W Mackintosh Logan, minister of Arisaig Church of Scotland and he told us that they were planted as his own memorial to his service at Arisaig.
Sadly David told me that the trees will have to come down as they were planted on 'rocky ground' and they had grown to such a height, their roots would not support them.
If they must come down then they must come, down but I thought I would let you know their history before they meet their premature end.
By way of a closing anecdote, during our stay at the manse we would attend church service and, as very young boy, I could never understand why we never stood up when the minister entered the Church, but always stood when two old ladies (Astley Nicolson from Arisaig House) entered and made their way forward to their pew. (Small price to pay as the previous evening I would sit out in the open air with my brothers and watch the latest film on the Magic Lantern Show, projected from the back of a converted van.)
Doug Torrance

Dear Editor,
My family is descended from an Alexander Stronach who was born in Banffshire Scotland in 1873, and came to Canada and married a Mary Anne Meldrum. Our families kept in touch with our Scottish relatives over the years, but when my grandmother passed away, we lost touch with our Scottish cousins. The last contact we had with anyone was in the 1980's, when my father, Gordon Stronach, visited our relatives George and Vi Stronach.
Unfortunately, I know almost nothing about this couple, accept there address was 35 Loch Nevis Crescent, Mallaig.
I have been searching high and low for these people, or any of their relatives. I discovered their niece, Margaret, who told me George had died about 1982 and Vi had moved to Glasgow to be near her family. I think that George's mother was called Grace, and he had a brother, Ian.
One of the only clues I have found about either of them is an article in your journal West Word. In June of 2001, it contains an article titled 'Mallaig Heritage Centre article: Early Coastguards' written by Denis Rixson. In the article there is mention of a coast guard named George Stronach. Anyway, I am well aware that the likelihood of this being the same person is remote, but I thought I would try and contact you just the same. I have been trying for over a year to reconnect with my Stronach cousins, with very little luck.
Alexander Stronach
Vancouver, BC, Canada

Dear Editor,
I was looking something up in the Lochaber Archive at the beginning of the week, in the police record book of accidents and deaths.
I first noticed a report of the 'body of a man, supposed American soldier, badly decomposed, washed ashore 3rd November 1918' on the beach at Cambusmore, Isle of Muck. It says that he had two identification discs with the name 'Tom L DAVIS' and service number 718901.
Then a second entry for the 'body of a man, supposed American soldier, badly decomposed, washed ashore on Castle Island, Eigg found on 11th November 1918'
I made some enquiries online, asked the American Battle Monuments Commission, they have a record of a Pfc Thomas L DAVIS who is recorded as Missing in Action or Buried at Sea 9th October 1918. That is close to the loss of the HMS Otranto off Islay on 6th October 1918 with heavy loss of life in the American soldiers on board.
They did not find anything on the other body but the deaths are recorded in the Parish of the Small Isles by the Registrar on Eigg, Mary Campbell. She names the second casualty as Thomas BATTERSBY 'supposed to be an American soldier'. It does not say how they got the name just 'Registered on the information of Duncan McNiven(?) Procurator Fiscal'.
I have been told online that there is no Thomas BATTERSBY missing from the US Army but there was a Corporal Thomas BATTERSBY of the Royal Marine Light Infantry missing on the HMS Otranto, so it was suggested it could be him.
I have photographed most of the war graves in the North of Scotland and islands for the War Grave Photographic Project, they only unidentified war graves at Kildonan on Eigg and Port Mor on Muck are from WWII.
I am waiting for further information from the ABMC and US Department of Defence but wondering whether anyone on Eigg or Muck (or anywhere!) knows anything about this. Normally the remains of American servicemen were transferred to the American cemetery and then many returned to the USA.
Martin Briscoe
Fort William

Members of the parish of North west Lochaber were delighted that an overwhelming vote was taken to accept the nominating committee's candidate, Rev. Edgar Ogston, as their new minister.
Rev. Ogston has had experience in this Presbytery before. In the seventies he married Dr. Shina and James Young. Since then he has been a missionary in Africa and had charge of a rural, scattered parish in Shetland among others. His wife, Jean, is a lay reader and will be of great help to him in working with this widespread parish. Members are greatly looking forward to having a long term, full time minister.
Rev. Ogston will be inducted to this parish in a service in St. Columba's church, Mallaig at 6.30pm. on Friday 8th March. This will be followed by a welcoming social in MALLAIG & Morar Community Centre at 8.00pm.
On Sunday 10th March, he will be preached in by his son.
Rev. Pamela Gordon will preach her last sermon in this parish on Sunday 17th February. Although glad to have a full time minister, we are sad to see her go. Pamela has become a friend, an inspiration and a challenger to us in her short time here and has done much more than just fill the gap. We wish her all the very best in her new job as locum in Tomintoul, and in whatever life holds for her beyond that. JEC

Ranger News from the Isle of Rum
Yes, yet another year is upon us (a very happy new year by the way), and there is much to do before the season starts again in earnest. So what's new for the 2013 Rum Ranger season? I'll still be here delivering a slightly modified programme of events, but will be continuing with the usual evening talks and walks. In fact, I really like the way the programme has evolved over the past four years, as we now know what works and what doesn't. However, as its Year of Natural Scotland this year, we've added a few more events to the already bulging monthly programme. In fact, it's looking like it's going to be very busy indeed! So what's the Year of Natural Scotland all about I hear you ask? Well, it's a Scottish Government Initiative that's being led by Events Scotland, Visit Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage and is aimed at celebrating Scotland's natural environment, its conservation and responsible use. Undoubtedly it will help the tourism industry, but will also play a key role in encouraging our youngsters to enjoy Scotland's outdoors, so I'm all for it. Heaps of events up and down the country all summer. For further information please visit the SNH web site.
So with that in mind, we've a few YoNS extras this year, which include two night time colony expeditions up to our nearest sub-colony of Manx shearwaters on Hallival. This will be a privileged opportunity to observe these fascinating birds close at hand as they try to find their burrows amongst the grassy boulders. It really is an awesome experience due partly to the fact that many adult birds wheel overhead in the darkness calling like asthmatic wheezy chickens, or even Trolls, if you know what one of these sounds like! I'm selling this eh! Anyway, there's one trip running in April and one again in September. Come along, it's a truly awesome wild experience not to be missed, and in my humble opinion, one of the craziest things you'll ever see in the Scottish birding world. Also to come, George Logan from Scottish Photography, and myself believe it or not (who does he fink he is, David Bailey?), will be here delivering a wildlife photography workshop in June, and this will involve indoor and outdoor sessions aimed at the beginner. As you know (and even if you didn't), I'm always harping on about quality outdoor learning experiences that really cut through the general humdrum. It really is the only way we're going to connect people to the environment on a lasting level, so on that very note, I'm very pleased to announce that we're organising a midsummer camping trip to Kilmory which will not only take into account the next generation of red deer, but hopefully an opportunity to observe and all things further down the food chain generally. However it will focus on the work of the Kilmory Deer Project, which has monitored the red deer here for just over forty years. Basically there will be some choice in what you choose to look at as will all be pretty flexible and plenty of staff on hand to answer questions. The sunsets are great from there at that time of the year due to the long (hopefully) sunny days, and as we're out in the wilds for quite a prolonged period, we will most definitely see many seabirds, hopefully a sea or a golden eagles, plus the usual common seals otters and arctic terns. Who knows we may even spot a basking shark. For more details on this and all the other IRCT Ranger Service events please check out our website www.isleofrum.com
Mike Werndly
IRCT Ranger Service
Tel: 01687 462404

Birdwatch by Stephen MacDonald
Another fairly quiet month bird wise, with little out of the ordinary to report. Shelduck appeared back on Loch nan Ceall during the month, with a pair at Camus an't Allen on the 29th.
8 - 10 Whooper Swans were on Loch nan Eala throughout, along with the usual Wigeon, Teal, Mallards and the occasional Goldeneye. During very blustery weather on the 30th there were at least 50 Herons roosting together on the south side of the loch.
Several Goosanders were seen on the Morar Estuary and Loch Morar itself during the month.
Few reports of waders, except for small groups of Curlew seen around Back of Keppoch and Traigh, although Lapwings were back on the fields around Invercaimbe, and a small group of Golden Plover were seen on several occasions around the golf course area. Snipe were seen regularly at Loch nan Eala and Rhue. Woodcock were reported from Morar and Arisaig on several occasions. A single Greenshank was reported from the Morar Estuary several times during the month.
Sea Eagles were reported from the Mallaig and Arisaig area. A Barn Owl was seen at the usual roost site in Mallaig, and there were sightings at night in the Fank Brae - Glasnacardoch area.
The only report of Jays came from Arisaig, where on the 29th, at least 4 were seen near Glen House. Siskins were reported from garden feeders in the Mallaig area through the month, but only appeared back at feeders in Morar on the 30th. Goldfinches were reported from garden feeders throughout the area.

On and Off the Rails
So, dear readers, having lurched ourselves through January (am I the only person to have walked in the teeth of a windy, rainy day more than once to an aquaerobics class at the Mallaig Swimming Pool this past month?), I have a fantastic competition to get you out of the house (and maybe even on the train!) during February - read on!

Model Rail Scotland 2013, SECC Glasgow
The above named event is the biggest model railway show held in Scotland. This year it is being held at the SECC Glasgow on Friday, February 22nd, from 11am - 6pm, and on Saturday, February 23rd, from 10am - 6pm and Sunday, February 24th, from 10am - 5pm. Thanks to the generosity of the show organisers, sponsors and ScotRail, I can offer the following prizes - but entries will have to come in quickly in order for me to distribute them in time.
Prize 1 - A pair of return ScotRail tickets to attend the show on any day. Plus a pair of tickets to attend the show on any day. Plus a DVD entitled Volume 1 Scotland - Train Spotters Notebook.
Prize 2 - A pair of tickets to attend the show on any day. Plus a DVD entitled Traction Memories. Model Rail Scotland is not just a show for model rail enthusiasts, it is a great day out for grown ups and children alike who enjoy seeing 50 model rail working layouts from all over Britain. Every year more than 15,000 visitors are spellbound by the detail of the miniature masterpieces, plus the chance to chat to the clubs, individuals, societies running them - and of course, watching heavy loads of freight wagons occasionally overturning on a bend!! There are book stalls, DVD and video stands, computer games for sale - even club clothing, badges, whistles, mugs, etc. etc., plus extensive trade support.
On the door prices this year are: Adult £10.00, Child £6.00; Family of 2 adults & 2 children £23.00. advance tickets are a wee bit cheaper but it may be too late by the time West Word comes out. Full information can be obtained from www.modelrail-scotland.co.uk

To be in with a chance of winning one of the two prizes, answer the following question: Where is Model Rail Scotland being held?
It is as easy as that. Closing date will have to be Monday February 18th 2013. answers on a postcard please with your name, address and telephone number to:
Sonia Cameron, Fasgadh, Marine Place, Mallaig, Inverness-shire PH41 4RD. GOOD LUCK.
Incidentally, Model Rail Clubs use Railway Station buildings in Scotland, plus of course privately run model rail examples, i.e. Kyle of Lochalsh, Glenfinnan, etc, where model engines can be seen.

Shut That Door!
Having used the Mallaig to Fort William train service there and back several times in January for gardening at Stations, or shopping, or attending meetings, I have paid particular attention to how many passengers press the entry button to get on or off the train BUT do not turn around to press the close button (after making sure no-one is following on behind them!!). ScotRail really do try to keep the carriages at a reasonable temperature, but if the train is in Mallaig or Fort William for example for up to 25 minutes with the door open, this won't be the case. It really does help to just close the doors after entering or exiting. The interior doors work well, but are not at both ends of the two car set. Even in Mallaig, when our local shops' staff take off the newspaper, if they could just shut the door after they do this, it would really help. Thank you.

Winter West Highland Statesman Rail - Mini Break
On four Fridays in March, commencing March 1st, Statesman Rail - in conjunction with Northern Rail and West Coast Railways - are overnighting around 300 passengers at the Alexandra and Ben Nevis Hotels in Fort William, as part of a two day sightseeing luxury dining experience.
Diesel hauled, each Friday's departure is from a different part of England, and hopefully will encourage passengers to come to Scotland for a longer stay. The March 1st tour departs from Worcester, March 8th Cleethorpes, March 15th Milton Keynes, and March 22nd Nottingham. Each one picks up passengers at pre-destined railway stations en route - and pre-sold well, I am hearing. What can I say but 'Haste ye back'. In fact, the same company are currently booking for three day tours in the autumn to include a rail trip to Mallaig.
Call 0845 310 2458 or go to www.statesmanrail.com for details.

Corpach Station gets barrier crossing gates
Following on from an accident involving a van and a Glasgow bound train, Network Rail have installed automatic barriers at Corpach Station. As I write this column, they are still tobe commissioned and tested before being used in conjunction with the passing of trains through Corpach and the Basin. They will then be automatically activated by trains approaching Corpach, either from Mallaig or Fort William, and monitored by CCTV at Banavie Signalling Centre.
It is an ongoing investment by Network Rail to ensure safe passage to vehicles across their busy rail tracks. Unfortunately, over the past three years there have been several fatalities when vehicles have crossed railway lines in front of moving trains. Mostly these incidents have occurred on the far north line, north of Inverness. Hopefully all crossings will be fitted with protection barriers in the not too distant future, resulting in no vehicle/train collisions.
See you on the train.
Sonia Cameron

Last month we ran a competition to win copies of David Cargill's latest novel, Gauntlet if Fear.
The lucky winners are:
Mrs Betty Wands, Greenock and Mrs W Payne, Stroud
Thank you to all who entered! The prizes are on their way.

CROFTING ROUNDUP by Joyce Wilkinson, Crofters Commission Area Assessor and Scottish Crofting Federation Area Representative

SCF Meetings January
The Scottish Crofting Federation held a series of meetings during January in Lochaber, at Kilochoen, Fort William and Glenuig. The meetings were to inform crofters of the new Crofting register a well as giving an indication on the progress of the Common Agricultural Policy and the effect it could have on crofting. At the Glenuig meeting on 16th Jan Colin Kennedy from the island of Coll spoke on behalf of the Crofting Commission. He stated the importance of registering your croft , once it is on the register there can be no more boundary disputes. Even crofts that have already been bought and are owner occupied still have to go on the register. Once on the register making an application to de croft, sub divide or assign would be a relatively straightforward process. Crofts that are not on the register would find making these applications more difficult, this is the view of the Crofting Commission. Mr Kennedy went on to state that the creation of a new status of crofter in the new act 'owner occupier' could cause problems when a part of the croft is sold without doing a sub division. The croft is still a whole croft but then has two or more owner occupier crofters.
The Scottish Crofting Federation also reiterated the importance of registering your croft and told crofters that crofting communities should get together and put in whole township registrations, there is a £20 discount per croft for this. Should you choose not to register your croft nothing will happen. It is not compulsory. It is only compulsory if you activate a trigger point such as decrofting, assignation or sub division. However if you have £90 spare it would be worth doing it.

CAP reform and crofting
After the latest round of voting in Europe it is looking like so far so good for crofters.There is a chance of a higher beef calve scheme for the west coast, a possible increase in LFA and a chance for some young farmers /crofters to get entitlements through a young farmer scheme. Only land where there is active farming will receive single farm payment, each member state to set their own level of activity. A small farmers scheme that will help crofters is to be introduced, doing away with much of the red tape for those in receipt of less than 1500 eu. Indirect payments may also help crofters as there looks like there could be more choices in the SRDP although no mention of a 'step up' onto rural payments that would have really helped.

Bull Scheme The bull scheme will continue but the cost of the bull is now very high (£1326). A meeting to decide if we can continue to afford a bull from the Commission after this year will be announced in the spring.


Largest Vessel
Is this the biggest fishing related vessel to berth at Mallaig Harbour?

The 70 metre Lunar Bow PD265 docked late on Saturday evening 19th January and was in port for some R n' R. (Photo Eileen Ferguson)

Back in the 70's & 80's in the days when the Eastern Bloc Klondykers visited the west coast of Scotland to purchase and take on board the herring and/or mackerel caught by the Scottish fleet, the klondykers using Mallaig anchored up Loch Nevis. From time to time the occasional 'dyker came into port and the then Harbour Master, John B Murray, piloted this Bulgarian vessel Sivash into the fish quay. Up until the visit of the Lunar Bow, the Sivash was undoubtedly the largest vessel to berth in Mallaig but is it still the largest? Now I'm not so sure!!!


However I do remember that when this 'dyker was leaving port, the vessel was that close to the roundhead that you could quite literally, have stepped off the pier onto the boat!!!

West Bay Clean-up
The Authority will, at the end of this month, effect a tidy-up of the West Bay area. This area, round by the Fishermen's Gear Stores and the Highland Council's industrial units is fast becoming a dumping ground so be warned - if items aren't removed or identified with labels they will be dumped with no recourse to the Authority.
The clean-up will commence on Monday 25th February 2013.

The possibility of extending the pontoon structure by 12 to 14 metres is currently being examined by the Harbour Engineers. The extra section(s) will extend the small boat area and allow the Authority to contain all the small boats in the one specific area - the south west corner of the pontoon. The purpose of this is to free up other areas of the pontoon for use by visiting yachts.

Pier Re-surfacing
Tender documents have been issued to three contractors for pier re-surfacing work, re-alignment of parking bays, repairs to the service trench and road and pier markings in and around the harbour. The areas for re-surfacing include re-tarring the road and ground alongside the CalMac containers/Loch Nevis berth/car park and concrete works on the road alongside the CalMac office and down onto the fish pier (outside Johnston's Shop).
All works will affect access/egress from both the Steamer Pier and the Fish Pier and will probably result in the re-opening of the Lovat Pier access road (outside the Fishmarket Restaurant) for a 2 - 3 week period. This will mean, of course, that there will be no parking facility available at this junction nor will there be parking alongside the quayside from the junction down towards the Ticket Office of Bruce Watt Sea Cruises.
It is hoped that the work will be completed by the end of March - in time for the influx of Easter Holiday tourists and of course, the arrival of the Coruisk.

Robert MacMillan
Port Manager/Secretary 01687 462154

Not many trips again this month and we're still in the cold!
However places we have been include a stag party and a trip to Buck House! And we like our readers to start young -

Finn Clarke visited his Granny, Grandpa and Aunt on the Isle of Iona for his Christmas holidays.
He is reading his copy of the West Word outside Iona Abbey. He seems to be enjoying it!

David and Jenny Sharpe took their copy on a well deserved break from running the Cnoc-na-Faire Hotel, to Reykjavik in Iceland.
photo photo

David (left) and Steve Williams (right), Morar, are shown on their arrival at Berlin's Schönefeld Airport for Chris Lemon's Stag Weekend. Chris, from Morar, is getting married next month to Morag, head teacher at Mallaig primary school.

Jessie Corson and husband Bobby took their copy from Mallaig to Buckingham Palace, where Jessie received her MBE from Prince Charles!

Watch this space for extracts from next month's issue!
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