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

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January 2012 Issue

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Monthly news from Knoydart, Muck, Canna, Eigg
Railway and harbour news

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After terrific effort from the small community on the Isle of Muck, it now has a splendid Community Hall for islanders and visitors to enjoy. The facility has a good-sized main hall with sprung sports floor, a meeting room upstairs (which will also have a library and heritage area), a public shower, public toilets and a kitchen.
Ruth MacEwen told West Word 'KDL, the Contractors, have done an excellent job in completing the Building, despite various complications. The weather has been terrible both at the beginning of the project (February/March 2011) and this Autumn/Winter, which has played havoc with getting freight to the island and working on site. But KDL have persisted and are a super team of workmen. They have really become part of the community whilst they've been here. In particular they have put a tremendous amount of time and effort into getting the project finished for Christmas. We are also on budget, which is a massive relief, and pretty unusual for this type of project!
'We have been making good use of the building over the festive period! Firstly, we enjoyed Jasper's 4th birthday on the 18th December, and thanked KDL for all their hard work. Then on Christmas Day Lawrence led a lovely Christmas service in the meeting room upstairs with various islanders doing readings, and we all sang carols. This was followed by mulled wine, sandwiches, cakes and mince pies. Both children and adults have been enjoying playing indoor hockey, badminton, football, table tennis and just having a spacious, dry area to charge about in - what luxury! We're looking forward to our Hogmanay party with dancing, games, drinks and food.
'In the New Year, KDL are returning to the island to finalise the building work, and the Community will complete their painting (part of their community contribution). The new Hall Committee will also be making arrangements for the library and heritage area to be set-up in the meeting room upstairs. We hope you'll be able to visit our smart new hall when you are next on Muck.
'We would like to thank everyone for their support over the last 4.5 years. Your help with fund-raising activities and donations have helped to make this project possible, and we are very grateful to our funders, the BIG Lottery, Scottish Rural Development Plan (SRDP), The Highland Council, The Robertson Trust and The Hugh Fraser Foundation.
'The Community Hall will be of tremendous benefit to the island both now and in the future. We plan to have our formal opening in The spring or summer this year, date to be confirmed. We hope you can make it! '

The draft Ferries Review recently published by the Scottish Government has been lambasted by councillors in Lochaber and Uist for being flawed and misleading - and for not supporting the potential ferry service between Mallaig and Lochboisdale.
The deadline for responses to the consultation is March 30th and the people of north west Lochaber are being urged to make their views known to retain and improve local services. Lochaber Councillor Allan Henderson said 'We were all looking for and expecting some smart new ideas with smaller, faster, greener ferries, transporting people back and fore to work as well as opening up the area to tourists. At the very least we expected a pilot service for the Mallaig to Lochboisdale route but this has been completely ruled out on the grounds of a household survey in South Uist claiming that 52% were satisfied with the present service. I am yet to meet, or speak to, one person from South Uist who is against a Lochboisdale to Mallaig ferry service. The whole review has been a complete waste of time and money with an outcome predicated on retaining the cumbersome status quo.'
The Mallaig - Lochboisdale service has long been campaigned for by Lochaber Councillors, Mallaig Community Council and local businesses. The route would provide a shorter run which would greatly improve commercial, tourist and personal travel and boost the local economy. Huw Francis, Chief Executive of Storas Uibhist Estate, South Uist, has written to David Stewart MSP of the Public Petitions Committee complaining that survey of 'vague questions' sent to Uist households did not ask about an introduction of ferry service to Mallaig but concentrated on the Oban crossing which had 52% satisfied and 42% not satisfied with the route. From this result the Scottish Government have chosen not to support a Mallaig - Uist route, which Mr Francis argues has a great deal of support amongst the South Uist community which has repeatedly expressed its desire for the re-introduction of the Lochboisdale-Mallaig ferry service through a 1500 name petition and numerous public meetings.
To comment on the draft review by March 30th - click here.

The ferries review, which originally promised much, was not only about retaining services but improving them and finding new and innovative ways of transporting vehicles and passengers across the water to satisfy the National Objectives in Providing Support to Ferry Services. In this respect the draft plan completely fails as long sea journeys are still encouraged and shorter direct link crossings are not promoted.
I cannot help feeling that the views of a few influential local leaders have clearly been taken as gospel. Regular users of the current service and their proposals have been ignored. The views of the infrequent user have clearly prevailed at the expense of the more informed regular and business users.
It is exasperating that people are self congratulating the retention of services that were never under threat when they should have been demanding increases in services to give all the island groups 21st century services and options.
In the draft plan the economic benefits to the West Highlands and Islands as well as the quality of travel options have been ignored on spurious financial grounds. There is still a large amount in the CMAL and CalMac budget that could be more equitably distributed especially with local crews living in local ports, as well as smarter, greener fast ferries. The outcome of this review was always predicated on the current costly model that has generically grown up around CalMac.
I do not see anything innovative in retaining the status quo and therefore the whole exercise has been a total was of time and money. I am utterly disappointed and disgusted at the outcome of the draft plan.
This is not consultation but justification!
Councillor Allan Henderson

Mallaig railway station has achieved Gold status in a new Keep Scotland Beautiful awards scheme.
The environmental charity has visited all 346 stations in Scotland since July to assess their performance on issues ranging from clearing litter to recycling, waste management, and community links.
Assessments to Bronze, Silver or Gold status were available in Keep Scotland Beautiful's first-ever Tidy Station Standards programme.
The station environment at Mallaig has benefited from colourful hanging baskets and planters, which are maintained by volunteer Sonia Cameron.
Steve Montgomery, ScotRail's managing director, said: 'We are delighted that Mallaig station has received Gold status.
'Our stations score highly in surveys of customer satisfaction, and we look forward to the future involvement of Keep Scotland Beautiful in helping to raise standards even further.' Derek Robertson, chief executive of Keep Scotland Beautiful, said: "I am delighted to be partnering with ScotRail to recognise the high standards across the country.
'By having these assessments we hope to enhance and recognise all the good work that exists and is being implemented by ScotRail staff at stations.
'Overall, we found the Scottish stations to be clean and welcoming and a credit to the staff who care for them, and we are committed to this campaign on station standards.'
The charity's Tidy Station Standards programme will be revisited on an ongoing basis. A plaque will be displayed at stations which meet Keep Scotland Beautiful standards ongoing basis.
Sonia Cameron(left) and ScotRail's Anne Cameron at Mallaig Station

2012 would you credit it? Don't often put too much store in Mayan prophecies of the end of the world but the weather of the last month or so has brought the odd moment. There is so much to say about the series of one in ten year storms we have had that I don't know where to start. Devastation is the only word to describe the situation with the trees over here. And it is old undisturbed stands that seem to have taken the biggest battering. Along the road, up Millburn, behind the chapel, at the corner of the river, up at the shelter belt and across at An Cnap trees have come down like matchsticks. Big falls in some of the areas that had felling recently and a prompt response to where the deer fence was compromised has saved a lot of work later on - big thanks to all involved there. Luckily, and unlike Mallaig, there was minimal damage to houses and buildings, although this is not to say there was no damage and Paul Thomson will be kept busy for some time yet with quite serious work to do at Kilchoan Barn, up at the Kyles, Stewart and Rhona's and one of the Scottas cottages. Airor was hit as well with one of the shed roofs off and a none to pleasant situation for Dave when trying to save it.
Of course the biggest impact of the storms was on the electric. Three major damage shutdowns in two weeks over here. Each one involving a huge amount of work in simply terrible conditions to get everything back online in a short space of time. The final shutdown on the Thursday before New Year involved three lines broken and damage to an insulator on a major transformer. It is simply incredible that this was fixed by end of play on the Friday and a huge thank you goes to those who were working at the absolute edge of their knowledge and experience to get this done: Jim, Grant, Steve D., Willie, Fred, Angela and Steve B. amongst many. Mallaig too had its power problems and I'm sure you all would like to pass on thanks to Koa Bowyer and his team who helped get the lines cleared down towards Glenfinnan. While we are on the subject of thanks the emergency services deserve heaps of it again for the way they dealt with two incidents involving head injuries in the last month. More could not have been asked from both Lifeboat and Coastguard Helicopter.
There were some surprises through the storms though with Fred's French Flag surviving and the Village Otter taking refuge in, amongst other places, the Marriot's woodshed and the Foundation office.
In and amongst all of the above there was a very hectic social calendar to attend to. The regular weekly features this winter have been the Ping Pong on a Tuesday and the Ukelele practice on a Wednesday and they seemed to carry on through the festive, although to be fair the Ukes seemed to go into a new gear with their own Christmas do going on into the early morning and their attendance at Cameron's New Year bash culminating in proof that you canny CanCan in 6 inches of mud. Of course Christmas was marked by the school's annual play marked as ever by much hilarity and appreciation of well all the kids play their parts. Then there was a well-attended Carol service on Christmas Eve followed by food and drinks at the Marriots. Then there was the Boxing Day party at Jacqui's(the last of hers at that address) and then there was almost a breather before the New Year.
Much talk beforehand of how New Year was to be quiet this year. Didn't turn out that way with a very successful Democracy Disco - fireworks again courtesy of Terry at the church - raising 500 for the hall. This followed by breakfasts at Bob and Morag's, where 103 was raised for the hall, with the last food served at 08.30 and the last visitor falling by the wayside about 05.00. There then followed the usual round of First Footing and New Year's Day visits. The Wilsons had their largest New Year houseful ever with 15-20 folk round at Inverguserein. While visitors and locals alike were entertained by Findlay Napier and Friends at the Old Forge on the night of the 1st.
And as well as all that we had to contend with return visits from Calum, Steph, Evelyn, adopted Amy as well as Steve and Jane, Danny and Angie, Judith and Sweeney, Chubb and many other well kent faces. Very happy to see them all.
And even though we all have to struggle through the Festive there is still everything else: Nat and Megan have left for South America, the Ladies Lunch and the Facebook scandal of Staunergate, the arrival of Maja's first teeth, a new ground source heat pump for the pub, the loss of Corrie's punk hairstyle, the bursting of the Marriots' water tank, the continued building of houses and extensions, hen massacres, woodcarving with the Karen and the Forest Trust, and the daffodils coming out!
Questions for the next month or so: why is there no mention of the Lochboisdale Mallaig ferry in the ferries review? And who has got the good sense to come and see the fantastic Banana Sessions on Friday the 17th Feb in Inverie Village Hall (details on Village Hall or Knoydart Festival Facebook page).
And well done Bob and Morag for the photo of Bob in Knoydart Canada. And a special thanks to Ann Martin for her hard work and forbearance. Cheers for now
Davie Newton.

On 16th December, one of the few fine days of the month Mark Woombs arrived at the island with his RIB. Aboard were KDL directors, Daniel the architect and Building Control. They had come to give the Hall its final inspection and by the afternoon it had been handed over to the community. Another milestone in a remarkable journey by our committee of Judy, Mary, Ruth, Eileen Henderson, Gail Muir and Catherine Murray-John who more than three years past had set out to give Muck its first community meeting place. Little did they realise just how much time it would take: all the hundreds of hours ,countless meetings ,endless E-mails it would take to reach the landmark of 16th December. First there was fund raising with the ceilidh in Edinburgh the big one but there were countless small donations and some not so small-20 000 in total. Then there was the application to the Lottery and the SRDP for the bulk of the money needed. After that there was the matching of these funds to the bids by the potential builders. Here a massive gap opened had up and here we were incredibly lucky to have KDL as the lowest bidder. They worked ceaselessly with the Committee to cut costs but never compromise the quality of the building which is superb.
For KDL headed by site manager Lewis MacDonald it all started well with (on the whole) a fine spring and summer, but as summer turned to autumn getting on and off the island became more and more problematic. (37 missed calls by Loch Nevis since 1st August) There were problems too in Mallaig getting materials aboard Loch Nevis. But they managed and now it is virtually over- there are only minor details to finish.
At New Year's eve I was sitting on a comfortable sofa in the upper meeting room carpeted in slate blue, In front of me a glowing wood stove poured heat into the room and below me in the sports hall I could see the children playing badminton. I could not help feeling a twinge of pride at what everyone had achieved.
Other news. The hurricane force winds on 8th December hit Muck hard. Many houses were damaged and slates flew everywhere. Colin had to work in foul conditions to make good the worst of the damage. Many tons of firewood came crashing down and some of the trees went through the walls ensuring that Duggie has plenty to do when next he comes our way. Everyone managed to reach Muck for Christmas mainly by arriving early but for Hogmanay the weather was even worse and there were several cancelations but even so there seemed to be plenty of players at the hockey match on the beach.
Lawrence MacEwen

December has been another horrible month but considering the gales we have gotten off without to much damage.
Our sympathies went to Aart and Amanda who lost everything in their house fire earlier this month. Everyone rallied round to help them out, lending clothes, boots etc. ( hope the knickers fitted Amanda!!) They have moved into a vacant house and are starting to make it into a home. Can't wait for the house warming!
It was good to see family and friends for the Festive period and catch up on all their news especially Sinead, Mairead, Kathryn and Caroline.
Farmwise this month has been a bit of a nightmare, its hard to stay positive with continuous wind and rain, it can only get better. Cattle seem to be handling the weather but the sheep look like wet sponges and so do the shepherds!!
Wishing a good New Year to you all.
Geraldine MacKinnon

From reading last month's West Word, it looks as if we on Eigg have escaped lightly from the mid December hurricane winds, despite the wreckage wrought to our mature woodlands. The rain sodden ground certainly made it easier for the 150 year old trees of Manse Wood to topple over, exposing huge root plates as in the case of the Grand Fir, one of the woodlands most spectacular specimen. The ancient policies of the Lodge garden were another scene of devastation with many trees down including the Chilean Flame tree, which offered a spectacular burst of colour each summer. Much work to be done to deal with the wreckage in the next months and years Building wise, there was surprisingly little damage, mostly roof slates missing, a few squashed wooden sheds and collapsed polytunnels and only one caravan smashed to smithereensOne irretrievable casualty was the forestry shed built in the 1930's by James Greig, head Forester to the Runcimans, who married into the Bayview Mackinnon family, a shed which at times served as the Eigg man gang hut with many draughts tournaments being played there and maybe a few drams partaken of! The concrete floor still showed James' signature thistle when it was used as lodgings for the SWT warden in the 1990's. The Greig family was keen to see it restored but with a massive tree through it, it's unlikely to happen in a hurry, if at all, unfortunately.
From all accounts, the wind speed this December compared to the 2005 storm and the 1989 hurricane gusts that annihilated John's and Teresa's caravans in Laig Bay and caused much damage in the Manse wood, although nothing in comparison to what happened this year.
"Certainly improves the ventilation" Maryanne MacIntyre commented philosophically in Cleadale about the state of her roof. But in the case of the listed Lochaber bank barn at Kildonnan, it was just a bit too much ventilation: Frances and Steven had just put the finishing touches to their "penthouse" when half the barn roof simply blew away. Thankfully they have now been able to relocate to Sandavore for the time being. Our independent power supply also meant we did not have to endure the hardships that other folks went through without power, so that losing our internet connection for a few days was really a small price to pay.
Thus, despite the constant gale force winds and lashing rains, we have managed to keep our spirits high and entered the festive season full of enthusiasm, starting with the 10th December Christmas Fayre in the Community Hall where an assortment of locally made food and goods was on sale, from Christmas wreaths and puddings, Stollen and chutneys to calendars and herbs sachets showcasing the creative potential in the community. On the next day, Sue Kirk's Afternoon tea at Lageorna raised an amazing 360 for charity which was evenly split between Spirit Aid and Children at Christmas. Next, on the 15th the Zenwig puppet performance telling the story of Father Christmas brought a bit of magic to adults and children alike, reminding us of the mysterious power of theatre in this age of technological wizardry. The Children's party and island Christmas dinner followed on at the weekend, and to crown it all, courtesy of Liz and Sue, the Eigg Primary school team, it was the performance of Aladdin, the school panto on Wednesday 21st . This hugely enjoyable performance, which was deemed to be the best ever, was played with formidable confidence and gusto to a very enthusiastic island audience by the primary school children. Alongside Aladdin, Widow Twanky, the genies and other characters, the appearance of postie and ferrymen raised much merriment (No resemblance to any living characters of course). The new hall lights combined with the brilliant costumes by Hilda and Saira's great scenery design helped to make the show look absolutely professional. In any case, the cast emboldened by the laughter they raised seemed to have as much fun as the audience!
According to Ruaridh and Jasmin, it was (almost) worth coming home for, as they returned in time from their travel in Thailand to witness this magnificent performance which also delighted Chi, Greg Carr's lovely Vietmamese girlfriend. With almost everyone home, (Karen and Simon being off to have the festive season with their new grandson in Nepal where Catriona joined them from New Zealand, Brendan Greene having a South Indian beach Christmas, and Donnie Carr now settling in Dubai), the island was able to batten down the shutters against wind and rain and settled down to enjoy the festive season. One great improvement was the now wind and watertight church of St Donnan which was beautifully warm for the Carol service on 24th December, Quite a novel experience for those of us that have endured Baltic conditions before improvements were carried out!
Despite the bugs and coughs, which unfortunately did make their way to Eigg and kept a few folks in their beds, the Hogmanay Ceilidh was well attended and finished off 2011 in great style and energetic dancing (Chrissie was there!) thanks to the assortment of Daimh and Shoogles musicians gathered together in the now memorable "Six foot Ginger!" line-up. (No prize for guessing who he might be!)! Not satisfied with dancing their socks off till the wee hours, a quatuor of (mad) people brought in the New Year by plunging in the icy and thundering waves of Laig beach, led by Laoibhse Mackenna whose third dip it was! Well done, Dot the volunteer and Jamie and Eilidh of Eiggadventures... Will this new trend continue?
In the meantime, Happy New Year to West Word readers from us on Eigg and the very best to all for 2012!
Camille Dressler

Jamie Ardagh and Eilidh Kirk from 'Eigg Adventures' take a New Year dip off Laig Bay!
Photo courtesy of Lucy Conway
Check out eiggadventures.co.uk for more details of Jamie and Eilidh's new enterprise.

Rum may get temporary visitor accommodation
Temporary visitor accommodation may be installed on the Isle of Rum following concerns about the hostel in the island's Kinloch Castle.
Most of Rum is owned by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and managed as a national nature reserve.
Kinloch Castle, also owned by SNH, is a major visitor attraction and the main provider of visitor accommodation. However the building requires major investment, well beyond the reaches of SNH's budget. SNH has spent more than 1 million on the castle in the past few years. But despite this and major efforts by staff the hostel is unable to offer accommodation to the standard visitors expect of a modern hostel.
Last year SNH announced it may have to close the hostel part of the castle within two or three years due to increasing repair and maintenance costs, and began talks with the local community about business opportunities in visitor facilities.
SNH is now looking into the possibility of installing high quality temporary visitor accommodation in case the hostel has to close before the community is ready to take advantage of the business opportunity.
Sarah Bentley, SNH operations manager, explained: 'We have had numerous problems with the hostel, including the discovery of dry rot in part of the building, falls and weakness in some of the plaster ceilings and difficulties with the boiler. The facilities require significant investment to bring them up to a reasonable standard. We are therefore exploring the best option to ensure we can continue to provide facilities for people to visit the island and enjoy the spectacular beauty of the national nature reserve and the principal wings of the castle.
'We have been working closely with the Isle of Rum Community Trust to develop plans for longer term accommodation and facilities on the island. This is progressing well, with a feasibility study due to start in January. However, given time scales for funding, planning, construction etc, it is unlikely that any new facility would be ready for two or three years. 'Accommodation for visitors next season will either be in the castle hostel as normal or in temporary visitor accommodation of an even higher standard. The temporary accommodation will reduce the risk of an emergency closure leaving Rum with no visitor accommodation. As new accommodation develops it will allow us to focus our resources on conserving the castle itself.'
Vikki Trelfer, the Isle of Rum Community Trust's development officer, said: 'Kinloch Castle and its hostel is a real draw for visitors to the island, but the community has been aware for some time that there is uncertainty over its future. Closure of the hostel will create space for much-needed business opportunities both for private individuals and for the Community Trust to generate an income by providing accommodation and services for visitors.'
Ewan Macdonald, Chair of KCFA said: 'It is important that visitor access to the Castle and reserve is maintained and we welcome the plan to provide alternative temporary accommodation. We are committed to to the conservation of the Castle and its contents and would prefer that its state was such that visitors could continue to use the hostel. We appreciate that SNH has allocated considerable funds to essential maintenance in the past few years, but that has not been enough to prevent deterioration. It is therefore important that this new unplanned expenditure will not divert funds from the necessary work in the Castle.'
Even if the hostel closes, SNH will continue to run tours of the main wings of Kinloch Castle, showcasing the Edwardian interior. The organisation is also developing a conservation plan for the castle to conserve the fabric of the building. Works are currently being carried out on the castle roof as part of this plan.

With the total withdrawal of Highland Council funding from senior citizens' lunch clubs in a month or two, there have been fears that the Arisaig club would be forced to close.
However, after several meetings and discussions between Mervyn James, Highland Council Social Work Services, Anne Cameron, who runs the club, and Tommy MacEachen and Ann Martin of the Astley Hall committee, a package has been put in place to keep it going.
Mr James provided a break down of costs and these can be covered with the help of some fundraising. The Hall committee has agreed to lower the hire charge to match that of other hirers and to assist Mrs Cameron by applying for available grants and providing the mechanisms to manage the income; the lunch club members have agreed to a rise in the weekly price of their meals; and generous assistance has been received initially from the Arisaig Fund and the Gower Trust.
The shortfall each year is estimated to be around 400 so some fundraising will be necessary to keep this essential service going.
Anne says 'We're delighted that the Club can go on meeting - after nearly 30 years it would be sad to see it end. We're grateful to the Arisaig Fund and the Gower Trust for donations which will help the budget. Anyone willing to help by organising a soup & sandwiches lunch, or with any other fundraising ideas, please get in touch with me.'

Thanks to the kind permission of the new owners, the Road to the Isles Agricultural Show will be going ahead at Camusdarach this year, on Saturday 9th June. Schedules for the handicrafts etc. will be found in the usual outlets by the end of the month.
As it is the Queen's Jubilee this year, the tea tent will have a Jubilee theme. If anyone has any memorabilia of the Queen's reign over the last 60 years, please get in touch with Elizabeth Fleming or Angela Simpson.
The main event at this year's show will be 'Riders in the Storm', a unique and exciting equestrian trick riding and stunt team from Perthshire.

An appeal has been lodged against the decision to refuse planning permission for the erection of three wind turbines at Bunacaimbe, Arisaig (planning application reference 11/02287/FUL).

Experimental Film Project in Knoydart
Knoydart resident filmmaker Sam Firth has been funded by the UK Film Council and Creative Scotland to embark on an unusual film project about time.
Sam is filming herself in exactly the same place, at exactly the same time every day for a year outside her house in Knoydart. The project means she can't leave home for more than 23 hours at a time. This month she will be six months in to the project.
Sam described the film as "a bit more experimental than I am used to" she said "it is about our relationship with time, nature and place - people want to live a faster and faster pace of life and yet at the same time want to slow down the aging process."
This is Sam's third short film and follows the success of her one minute film ID which won several awards internationally and her second documentary film The Worm Inside a personal documentary about dealing with illness that gained a review from Sight & Sound Magazine. Both films have shown in film festivals all over the world. "I think in your late thirties you become increasingly aware of your own aging and the limitations of time, especially as a woman, up until recently I was living like I had forever which of course none of us do". Sam says the reaction to the project has been one of the most interesting things about it " I have had strangers tell me how they feel about aging and death, and I am pretty sure most of the locals think I am bonkers and a lot of my friends are worried the film might send me mad, but on a day to day basis I am actually enjoying it!"
Like most of her films the reasons for making it are very personal "I never expected to make work that was this autobiographical, it just came out of a natural progression. I love hearing peoples personal stories but am a bit nervous about asking other people to open themselves up in that way, a lot of people really don't want to, I much prefer helping people to tell their own stories." Sam plans to continue with children and community film projects along side her own work and has just got funding to make a film with Mallaig Primary School next year. She just needs to make sure she is back home again in time to film each morning. Sam is keen to collect people's responses to the ideas behind this project, particularly from people with a connection to the west coast of Scotland or those who have undertaken similar projects, and is asking people to submit their thoughts and feelings about time and the pace of modern living to be published on her website and blog as part of the project. She has already found that the local postie's dad has been taking photo's of the same gate every week for over twenty years. If you would like to read the blog, find out more about the film or submit a piece of writing, picture or photograph go to staythesamefilm.com.

Photo courtesy of Jim Manthorpe
Sam in July 2011
Sam in November 2011

In - and out! The annual New Year's Day quick dip in chilly Loch Shiel at Glenfinnan House Hotel drew a number of brave and hardy participants, including (below) the youngest, Ella, just four the day before, accompanied by dad Duncan Gibson. Thanks to Sine Gibson for the photos! Oh - and they are always looking for people to join in. Next year maybe?

photo photo

Personal angle
The atrocious storm force winds that struck west Lochaber on Thursday 8th December 2011 will long be remembered. Gusts of up to 100 mph were recorded, uprooting trees and road signs, dislodging slates and tiles galore, destroying caravans and sheds, disrupting travel by road, rail and sea, and causing power cuts and fuel and water shortages. It really was frightening. The large triangular road sign at the Mallaig roundabout stating 'Skye Ferry' may well be in Skye as it was last seen being blown down the road past Johnston Bros and the Cal Mac office towards the linkspan. Anyone in its way could have been killed.
Damage to the roofs of several buildings in the Industrial Estate occurred but the roofs of the Primary School. the High School and the new Hostel were badly damaged, with literally hundreds of tiles being ripped off. As I write this (6th January) the Primary School roof is still under repair. As the school was declared unsafe, the Church Hall was utilised as a makeshift but most welcome class room, while older pupils were accommodated at the High School and the Nursery at Arisaig Primary School. The canopy at Johnston Bros Petrol Station was damaged and the local Police Station was badly affected both inside and out via roof and ceiling damage. The Pool also had to close for a while.
Injuries did occur to several residents in the area but thankfully none were life threatening.
Trees were blown down throughout the area, some causing localised problems with roads - mainly side roads - being blocked. Alongside the canal at Mains Farm, several trees were quite spectacularly uprooted, including one at the old Mains football park!
Some falling trees, however, caused major problems as they brought down power lines. The subsequent loss of electricity for the next 46 - 54 hours (and longer for some) was a real hardship, particularly for older people dependent on electricity to heat their houses and cook their food. The situation was exacerbated when the public water supply went off and the problems became so severe that the Mallaig-Morar-Arisaig area was declared an 'Emergency Area' and a team of Red Cross workers of their Emergency Response Unit, helped out by a sterling band of local health workers, care workers and volunteers, distributed gas heaters and blankets etc to the elderly and the vulnerable, with Scottish Water delivering bottled water.
Yes, the storm of 8th December will long be remembered, but what shouldn't be forgotten is the excellent response of the emergency services and volunteers - not forgetting either the efforts of the Hydro Electric employees. Thanks everyone.

All the best for 2012 and once again, a sincere thank you to all West Word readers for the support and encouragement, and don't forget if everything is coming your way - you're in the wrong lane!!!

Grey Dog loch

A Ch Ghlais Mheobail
By J J MacDonald

Are you one of those people who when wandering alone on the hills or working in the garden often have the uneasy feeling that you are being watched by some unseen being? If so, and your forebears were MacDonald's from Meoble, near Loch Morar in Inverness-shire, then the chances are your mysterious companion is an enormous deerhound known in the traditional fireside tales of the district as A Ch Ghlais Mheobail - The Grey Dog of Meoble.
The story of the grey dog of Meoble dates back to the early 1800's at the time of the Peninsular wars and is associated with a young Highlander by the name of Dugald MacDonald who owned a magnificent deerhound of which he was very fond. Like many older men of this generation Dugald went off to the war and was away from home for several years. When at last he eventually returned he was told that his beloved dog had left home. She had taken up residence on an island in the middle of a small loch high among the hills and there had given birth to four pups. The pups were now almost full grown and he was warned that due to their lack of human contact that they were so savage that it was unsafe to go anywhere near them. Ignoring the warning, Dugald set out to visit the hill loch and on reaching its shores swam across to visit the island. The deerhound was away and her pups on hearing him approach emerged from their lair in the heather, attacked him and tore him to pieces. When the deerhound returned and saw what had happened to her master, her howls of agony brought the folk of the glen to the scene. The pups were speedily hunted out and killed and Dugald's body was taken down and laid to rest in the little burial ground at the mouth of the Meoble river.
Here the deerhound began a lonely and pathetic vigil frequently wakening the neighbourhood with her mournful howling as she watched over her master's grave, until one day she was discovered lying stretched out dead beside it.
For long afterwards the story of her watch was talked about throughout the district but gradually with the passage of time it was largely forgotten until one of Dugald's brothers became seriously ill at Rifern, a small crofting township lying across the river from the graveyard. One night the ghost of the deerhound appeared at his bedside, it looked at him for minutes, then gave a terrible cry and disappeared. A little later the man died. The spectre of the grey dog had made its first appearance.
Another story about the grey dog concerns an old highland woman who lived in Glasgow in the early 1900's and whose family were related to the MacDonald's of Meoble. She lived alone and had been confined to her room for many years and a friend who lived across the street was in the habit of calling each day to attend to her needs. On one occasion as the friend was leaving the flat, a large dog, of a type she had never seen before, passed her on the stairs. She thought no more about it until the following day when much to her surprise she saw it again, this time lying on the old lady's doorstep, with difficulty she pushed it aside and entered the house. In the course of conversation she happened to mention the dog, her friend sat up in bed her eyes alight, "describe it to me" she said in a low voice, "well" replied the other, "it was very big - about the size of a Shetland pony, grey in colour with a long curly tail." "Ah!" exclaimed the old lady with a smile of contentment on her lips. "the faithful friend - she came at last," and with that she sank back on her pillow and passed away.
Not so very long back, round about the 1930's I think, a local man, Mr Allan (Ruah) MacDonald of Kinsadel, Morar, a much respected fishing ghillie on Loch Ailt and a man who took keen interest in the daily happenings in the area, recounted the time when he saw the grey dog. It happened early one winter's night on a long quiet stretch of the Mallaig road not far from his cottage. As he was walking along he suddenly saw a huge dog coming towards him keeping a steady pace on the opposite side of the road. He did not recognise it as belonging to any of the neighbouring crofts and as it passed he called out but it ignored him and went on its way. Minutes later he turned round to have another look at this strange animal but it had completely disappeared. Later that week came of the news of the death in the nearby village of an old man who had been one of the MacDonald's of Meoble - the dog had been out to keep its usual tryst. Mr MacDonald's description of it coincides well with the legendary accounts. "It was as big as a stirk with a curl to its tail and had long wiry grey hair." He had never seen anything like it before.
There are many more stories of the grey dog appearing even in Nova Scotia as a lot of the MacDonald's of Meoble and their families emigrated to Prince Edward Island in the Gulf of St Lawrence and then moved into Nova Scotia. (I have enclosed a photo of what the dog would have looked like and a map of the hill loch which is called Lochan Tain MhicDhughail high above Loch Beoraid.) So there you have it, the Legend of the Grey Dog and some of its sightings, and also remember that if you are a MacDonald of Meoble or distant relative of them, and you are out wandering the hills or even working in your garden, you could have the company of a large grey deerhound. (P.S. It is also known to have appeared at times of birth). You never know when it will make its next appearance.

Many thanks to Iain Thornber (Historian) Knock House, Morvern, for his help with this article.

A Ch Ghlais Mheobail

Arisaig Games and Boisdale are pleased to announce the 2012 Boisdale Prize for young artists.
The theme of this year's competition is A Ch Ghlais Mheobail.
Entrants are asked to submit artworks which explore themes around place, nature and ceanglas (emotional ties to people and place), perhaps with reference to this legend or families. More information on this topic can be found on Arisaig Games website as can the full entry requirements, or request further information from Arisaig Games Pas de Bas Secretary Chas MacDonald at info@arisaighighlandgames.co.uk

Nine prizes are available in three age categories, for Local class entries (no adult prizes this year):
Juvenile: 0-10 yrs 15, 10, 5
Juvenile 2: 11-13 yrs 45, 25, 15
Junior 1: 14 - 17 yrd 100, 60, 30
Although this is an individual competition, if school groups wish to co-ordinate entries through one person, e.g. a teacher, that is acceptable.
The 2012 Arisaig Games will be held on Wednesday 25th July at Traigh Farm. It will be preceded by a pipe band and clan march through the village of Arisaig.

The Grey Dog
From Allan Gillis in Ottawa, a native of Cape Breton and a descendant of emigrants who left the areas of Morar, Arisaig and Eigg.
To this day the cries of a wailing dog may be heard whenever one of the 'Siol Dhughaill' - 'the Seed of Dugald', dies; and even in faraway Cape Breton the same wailing cries of a dog that is never seen, heralds the news that one 'Siol Dhughaill' has passed away. [Supposedly, it was last heard in Antigonish when Sister St. Veronica was waked.]
One descendant of the "Siol Dhughaill" (Morar) MacDonalds, Dougie "the Gill" MacDonald of Creignish Rear, Inverness County, often told the tale of the Cu Glas and could account many instances of its howling being heard at the deaths of these MacDonalds in the New World.

The article above, by J J MacDonald, has been in West Word's possession for a number of months, waiting until there was room to print it. Happily, this month there was room, and the decision was made to do so before we received the notification of the Boisdale Prize on the same theme!
Another coincidence was an email on the subject being sent to Elizabeth MacDonald from frequent correspondent Allan Gillis in Ottawa - see above.
A small coincidence is that A Ch Ghlais' name was Ealasaid, which is Gaelic for Elizabeth - and Elizabeth MacDonald is a key player in the organisation of the Pas de Bas part of the Games.

There are has been much in the press recently about Arisaig's well known painting, Letters and News at the Loch-side, by Henry Tamworth Wells, dated 1868.
Prior to the opening of the Fort William to Mallaig railway in 1901, the Arisaig mail was delivered three days a week. Three mounted postmen were employed and they went in rotation, starting at 5am from Fort William . The first was John Cameron, who succeeded his father aged 14, and he, after many years was succeeded by his son Hugh who retired just after the First World War to Lochyside, Banavie. The second, was known in Gaelic as 'An Cuninach Mor' and the third was, 'Am Posda Ruadh', which doubtless referred to his red hair. Each in turn went from Fort William to a little way beyond Arisaig in the same day, a distance of about 41 miles and returned the following.
It seems the Posda Ruadh was a crusty character with a sharp tongue and a ready answer. One day when he reached the Lochailort Inn, where many people from a wide area left their letters for the post, Mrs Leslie, the amiable landlady, came out with a large quantity of them and a good handful of pennies as stamps were not easily obtained in these days. 'There you are again,' said the post, 'with your load of coppers! Do you think I am going to take all that copper to Fort William? You will be coming next with an apron-full of eggs to pay for your letters and expect me to carry them to Fort William.'
A man on horseback with a saddle pouch at his side delivering mail to Frank Astley, appears in the Arisaig painting. It has been suggested this is Donald MacDonald from Achraig by Keppoch Moss, who was described as a 'mail-runner', but his red-hair suggests he could be Am Posda Ruadh above. This painting is full of local mystery and worthy of further study.
Iain Thornber, Morvern

On and Off the Rails

Annat Signal Box
As I reported in my column in West Word November 2011 , Annat Signal Box, situated at Corpach, has now been demolished with its previous operations transferred to Banavie Signalling Centre.
In the article, I mentioned that as far as I knew, Annat Box was the last of its kind in Scotland, but West Word reader David Wright from Inverness contacted the Editor with information on three other working examples on the Scottish Rail Network.
Thanks to David, I can confirm their locations. For those of you interested in railway signalling they are as follows:

The actual distances in brackets are measured in miles and chains, 80 chains equalling 1 mile to be exact!
My thanks go to David for bringing these signal boxes to my attention. It just goes to show that you never stop learning!
By the way, the level crossings in question are classed as either MCB or MGW in their level crossing abbreviatiuons.
Holywood (HW) is an MGW (Manned Gate with Wickets)
Dunragit (DR) is an MCB (Manned Level Crossing with Barriers) operated locally by signalling or crossing keeper.
Kilkerran (KK) is also an MCB (as described above).
I hope this makes it all very clear and understandable!

New ScotRail leaflets now available
A Better Way to Go leaflet is a guide to a great range of tickets. Issued by First ScotRail, valid from 2nd January 2012 until further notice, it covers days out, advance purchase, commuting and business and touring Scotland.
This leaflet is some 27 pages long, so it is not possible to explain it in its entirety! Basically, it conveys the message 'Which ticket is right for me?' This leaflet can be obtained free of charge from any manned ScotRail booking office.
In order to plan the correct journey which suits you, and select the best ticket price it is worth picking up a copy. It will certainly save you time and money when planning a future journey.

Club 55 is here again
Once again First Group, including First ScotRail, has introduced its popular 'Club 55' promotion. It runs from 16th January until 31st March 2012 for travellers aged 55 years and over. The same rules apply as before, but there are some additional restrictions due to other train operating companies operating on the same rail network as First ScotRail.
The main alterations or restrictions apply to travel on Sundays between Aberdeen and Edinburgh in both direction, and also travel between Carlisle and Berwick-upon-Tweed. These stations are the most southerly that can be travelled to using a Club 55 ticket. I would advise that you call at a manned ScotRail ticket office and pick up a Club 55 leaflet as it explains the conditions in full, something that I am unable to do in my column due to available space, etc.
You could of course go to the website at www.club55.co.uk or call 08457 55 00 33 The cost of a Club 55 ticket is 19 return,or 17 with a Senior or Disabled Persons railcard discount.

Keep Scotland Beautiful - Gold Award for Mallaig Station
You will read elsewhere in West Word about the explanation for the above headline, but I would just like to say how delighted we are to have been visited, nominated and awarded 'Gold' status for Mallaig Station. The Mallaig Drivers, Conductors, Booking Office Staff and carriage cleaner all go that extra mile to be helpful to travellers. Sometimes just a welcoming word or a couple of minutes' assistance really makes a difference. Especially during the last few weeks, when many journeys are partly travelled in darkness, often under difficult stormbound conditions. It is nice to know we are appreciated. Thank you.

Model Rail Scotland 2012
This year's event promises to be bigger and better than ever. Held at the Scottish Exhibition Centre, Glasgow, over three days - Friday February 24th, Saturday February 25th and Sunday February 26th - it is the biggest Model Railway Show ever to be held in Scotland! With 55 layouts, 150 exhibitor stands, Gauge Societies, Prototype Societies and working demonstrations, it is simply the hobby's leading show. With direct to-the-door bus and rail links and catering facilities in-house, the show - spread over two halls for the first time - is an ideal family day out. Go to www.modelrail-scotland.co.uk for more details, or contact men on 01687 462189.

New Year, New Carriage Doors
I have recently been contacted by John Yellowlees (External Relations and Communications Manager First ScotRail). He has informed me that trials are currently being carried out on a new design of interior sliding doors on Class 156 Super sprinters, the units used between Mallaig and Glasgow. The interior doors on all Class 156 units were removed as a result of the derailment of a Glasgow to Oban train in 2011. The original sliding doors were heavy, and it was felt that serious injury could have occurred should a door close on a passenger in the event of a train falling o its side due to a derailment. Luckily, the older type of door involved in the involved in the Oban derailment did not cause any passenger injury, but after careful consultation and meeting with Health and Safety representatives it was agreed that until a permanent safe solution evolved, all interior doors would be removed.
The new doors will initially be fitted to middle internal door frames of all trains. Then to the luggage rack end, but not (for quicker exit if needed) to the toilet/disabled end of each set. They will be of a lighter construction and will be of a 'shatter' type material so that emergency access will not be inhibited in the event of an accident. When units arrive at Corkerhill, on a rota for servicing the new doors (once trialled) will be fitted as or when available. Watch this space.
See you on the train.
Sonia Cameron.

News from Mallaig Harbour - December 2011

Pelagic Landings
The brief pelagic fishing season ended in early December with 55 tonnes of herring being landed by the Rebecca Jeneen/Ocean Hunter/Caralisa/Margaret Ann - the boats who had been prosecuting the sprat fishery. Most of the herring was sold for bait.

Modernisation of Trust Ports
The long running process - some might say saga - to initiate the Modernisation of Trust Ports legislation via a Harbour Revision Order will now spill over into 2012. It had been hoped to advertise for new board members last month but although I have been told over the phone that the Government Minister has indeed approved and signed off the Revision Order our lawyer still awaits written confirmation of this.
Receipt of the signed off HRO will allow the Authority to proceed with introducing the legislation which includes new criteria and procedures for the nominations and selection of new Board Members.

The following excerpts are taken from a letter issued to several local community concerns by Mr Douglas Low, Managing Director of fish feed manufacturer EWOS Ltd.
'You will probably be aware that EWOS Scotland are now using Mallaig Harbour as a distribution hub for salmon feed for delivery to customers on the West Coast using the MV Fame.
'We have shipped around 8,000 tonnes this year since the warehouse was opened in July and expect that to increase significantly in 2012 to around 25,000 tonnes which will mean nearly 1,000 lorry deliveries to the harbour.
'We have a policy of supporting good causes in the communities in which we operate and have an impact and clearly Mallaig qualifies in that respect. Accordingly, in the run up to Christmas we have decided to share a total sum of 5,000 around a number of Mallaig local community concerns.'
The letter, accompanied by a cheque, proved to be a nice Christmas present for the Mallaig RNLI Station, Mallaig & Morar Community Centre, Mallaig Swimming Pool, Fishermen's Memorial Statue, Mallaig Community Council and West Word.

The harbour and its environs did not escape unscathed from the effects of the storm force winds that battered the north-west coast on Thursday 8th December 2011. It was widely regarded as the worst storm in living memory with winds of 95mph recorded down on the pier. Damage did occur to buildings in the Industrial Estate but this was minimalised by the actions of the Harbour Master James McLean and his team who struggled manfully and successfully to limit the effects of the storm force winds to Harbour property.
A high light tower canopy was torn off and was last seen spiralling into the sea just missing the Lochnevis in the process; some damage occurred to the pier blockwork in the Outer Harbour; and waves and spray affected the West Bay area, the old Purse Net Factory and the Marine Harvest Factory.
Thankfully the new yachting pontoons were not adversely affected but two yachts being stored on land down close by the Ice Factory were damaged when one yacht was, quite literally, blown over onto the other!

Ferries Review
The eagerly awaited Government Ferry Review was published just prior to Christmas but as it offers no commitment to a Mallaig/Lochboisdale service it's fair to say that the Review can be classed as a major disappointment for those who championed and campaigned for the re-introduction of such a service.
It seems incredible that the efforts expended by all (particularly by Storas Uibhist), the lobbying of M.P.'s, local government officials and Councillors (on both sides of the Minch) that a Mallaig/Lochboisdale link should be so summarily dismissed.
The Review states:- 'We have considered whether a Mallaig to Lochboisdale service could become the principal route for the Uists and Benbecula. We believe that, given the shorter crossing between Lochmaddy and Uig and the easier access to this service by a greater proportion of the Western Isles population, it is correct that Lochmaddy to Uig remains the principal route for the Uists and Benbecula.' It goes on: 'However, we accept the strength of feeling held by some of the South Uist community. We will further consider the economic viability of this proposed service in the context of other planned improvements to services to, and within, the Western Isles.'
This is a big disappointment to Mallaig Harbour as we had high hopes that there would be a Government commitment to the introduction of a Mallaig-Lochboisdale service or, at the very least an agreed trial link-up for say a summer long period to access levels of demand and the viability of such a service.
This Review is looked on as a blueprint for future ferry services and communities have until the end of March 2012 to comment on the plans. A final Ferries Plan will then be published later in the year.

After almost four years with the Authority pier worker Tony Skea has left to join the RNLI. Tony is due to take up the position of Mechanic on board the Mallaig Lifeboat Henry Alston Hewat early in the new year.
Best wishes to you Tony from all at the Mallaig Harbour Authority!

Robert MacMillan
Port Manager/Secretary
01687 462154

Mallaig Lifeboat Log
In the last month of the year 2011, the Mallaig Lifeboat was called into action on two occasions.
Monday 5th December: Lifeboat launched at 12.28hrs with paramedic on board to go to the assistance of a crew member of the local fishing boat Amethyst who had collapsed in the vessels accommodation area while the trawler was fishing in the Sound of Rum. On scene at 13.01hrs the paramedic assessed the state of the casualty and with Helicopter Rescue 100 - which had been scrambled from its Stornoway base - encountering snow showers and still 25 minutes away it was agreed that the Amethyst head east for the quieter waters of the Sound of Sleat to enable the casualty to be airlifted to hospital.
On arrival overhead Rescue 100's winchman was lowered on board the fishing boat and confirmed the paramedics earlier assessment that the crewman be airlifted to hospital. However a heavy snow shower forced the helicopter to land on the Aird Peninsula but once clear skies prevailed the Rescue helicopter got airborne and was soon hovering above the local trawler preparing for a high line transfer to the aircraft.
With their usual slick manoeuvring, the winchamn and casualty were soon on board the helicopter and en route to Broadford Hospital on Skye. The Amethyst and the lifeboat headed back to Mallaig with the lifeboat refuelled and ready for service at 15.06hrs.

Thursday 8th December: Lifeboat launched at 09.10hrs at the request of Stornoway Coastguard to attend to an injured man on Inverie. A resident of Airor had been cycling to Inverie when he came off his bike and struck his head. A local resident had found the cyclist in a confused state and fearing for his wellbeing notified the Coastguard. With an impending storm forecast the lifeboat was quickly dispatched to pick up the casualty and arriving on scene at 09.37hrs, the injured cyclist was quickly boarded and the lifeboat returned to Mallaig to hand the casualty over to the Ambulance Service for onward transportation to the Belford Hospital, Fort William Lifeboat back on station and ready for service 09.51hrs.

N.B. Due to not having a full crew complement to launch, Coxswain M. Currie requested two local boatmen assist as crew to this "medivac" call from Inverie. Drew Harris and Tom Harris (father and son) boarded to assist without hesitation and crew were grateful for their assistance!!

Annual Statistics
Mallaig's Severn Class Lifeboat the Henry Alston Hewat was called into action on 32 occasions during the year Jan - Dec 2011 - one more than 2010!

Annual Statistical Table:-
2011 - 32
2010 - 31
2009 - 33
2008 - 32
2007 - 29


News in Brief

Birdwatch - December 2011 by Stephen MacDonald
Little out of the ordinary to report this month. There was an influx of Iceland Gulls during stormy weather at the beginning of the month. A juvenile Iceland Gull was seen on 1st near the West Highland Hotel, Mallaig, and on the 4th there were at least 2 adult and 3 immature Iceland Gulls about Mallaig Harbour, along with the immature Glaucous Gull which had been present since late October. A male Blackcap seen feeding in a garden at Coteachan Hill, Mallaig, from the 9th to 11th was noteworthy.
Whooper Swans were present on Loch nan Eala, Arisaig, throughout the month; however there must have been some changes, as there were 10 adults there on the 4th, but on the 20th there were 12 present, that included 2 family groups containing 2 + 1 juvenile. In excess of 50 Teal were also present on Loch nan Eala.
On particularly windy days, large numbers of Grey Herons could be seen huddled in groups in the reed-beds that surround the loch, and a count of 50 was made between Christmas and New Year.
Small flocks of Greylag Geese were seen at Cross Farm, Traigh, Kinloid and Arisaig throughout the month. A few more Goldeneyes seen on Loch Morar as the month progressed and at least 2 male Goosanders on the west end of the loch from mid-month.
Kestrels were seen regularly at Back of Keppoch, Traigh and Morar, and Hen Harriers were reported from the Back of Keppoch area and also Arisaig, near Loch nan Eala and the Rhue road.
On a particularly stormy day late in the month, an adult Sea Eagle was seen at fairly close range as it sheltered in a tree near Loch nan Eala. A few more Snipe and Woodcock reported this month from Morar and Arisaig.
Yellowhammers and Great Spotted Woodpeckers were reported from garden feeders in the Arisaig area.


Lots of photos this month, perhaps due to our plea to send them in however long ago they were taken.
Keep them coming! And thanks to everyone who joins in.

Kate MacDiarmid and Pauline Cunningham went from Arisaig to the Giant's Causeway in Antrim, Northern Ireland with their West Word..

Elliot Ironside isn't reading his copy over Mallaig - he's above Sidney, Australia!

Arisaig's Rosy MacEachen (left) on a recent visit to her friend Fiona Scott, enjoyed the West Word at Falkirk Wheel.
Fiona is a frequent visitor to the area and a subscriber.

Heather, June, Linda, Eileen, Marion and Rita left Mallaig to take their copy to the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin.

Morar's Lorraine and George Pendreigh went to Italy last October and went to the Dumo in Florence to read theirs.

The MacLellan family from Morar went en masse to Banbury, Oxfordshire, for Christmas
and where else would they read their copy but at Banbury Cross. One copy?

Manja Gibson with daughters Sine and Ella left the cold and damp of Glenfinnan for Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands,
where they caught up with their reading on the Jandia peninsula national park. Windy but warm!

Sarah Davie sent us this photo of herself with her grampa Willie Simpson reading West Word at the Acropolis in Athens.

Bob Wright of Knoydart took his to the 'other' Knoydart in Nova Scotia, Canada

Those Simpsons get about! Here's Willie Simpson with his copy on the western rim of the Grand Canyon
in the Mojave Desert in Nevada.
We're glad to report that we didn't distract him too much and he made it safely home!

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