Lochaber Small Business of the Year 2015
Community paper for Mallaig, Morar, Arisaig, Lochailort, Glenfinnan
Glenuig, Knoydart and the Small Isles

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January 2018 Issue

Contents of the online version:

Top stories
Letter from the Editor
Monthly news from Knoydart, Canna, Rum, Eigg
Harbour and railway news
World Wide West Word

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The Friends of Kinloch Castle (KCFA), are exploring the possibility of an asset transfer of the castle to the Islanders via a Community Interest Company. The Friends are working out a business case and have arranged visits by building experts to look at the castle; their assessments have been universally positive with regards to retaining and restoring the castle to bring it back into use. KCFA initially need seed funding from owners Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) to restore the building to the condition it was in before the hostel accommodation in the castle closed. This would enable some kind of income-generating activities to take place and increase visitor numbers to the island which have slumped since the hostel closed.
Major issues such as water ingress, roof repairs and broken heating systems, plus the need to re-equip the hostel and related facilities will all require substantial investment to get the castle going again, if only to accommodate workmen for further repair work. The seed funding currently on offer is not enough, and further discussions are being held with SNH with the hope that an agreeable solution is found soon.

photo photo

Ewan MacDonald, chair of the Friends of Kinloch Castle, pictured on the castle steps and inspecting damp in one of the rooms.

Sam's epic walk for PTSD awareness
Former soldier Sam Doyle stopped off for a night in Arisaig this week on his 7,700 mile walk around the entire coastline of the UK. Sam, who spent eight years in the Army and saw active service in Afghanistan, was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in 2013 and says he 'lost everything' as a result of the condition. Now he's walking his way to a cure and raising funds for charity PTSD Resolution on his journey.
Sam, who is from Rossendale in Lancashire, started his walk in Blackpool on 27th May 2017 and is estimating it will take him 2.5 - 3 years to complete his circuit. Walking a minimum of 10 miles a day accompanied by his dog Jess, he's covered 1,300 miles so far, and is currently into his 7th pair of boots! PTSD Resolution helps veterans and reservists who are struggling to reintegrate into a normal work and family life because of trauma suffered during service in the armed forces. Sam is raising money for them via his fundraising page www.justgiving.com/fundraising/sam-doyle1 and you can follow his progress at www.facebook.com/samswalkingptsd
Sam spent a night at Arisaig's new bunkhouse and would like to thank the Arisaig Hotel for supporting him on his walk. All the best, Sam and Jess!

Happy New Year to all our West Word readers - I hope you've had a peaceful and enjoyable festive season.
My apologies for the paper being a little later than intended this month - it was tricky trying to put it together over the Christmas holidays with so much else going on!
I am just in time though to remind you about Ian Blackford's visit to Mallaig on Friday 12th however. Please do go and express any concerns you have to him over the Royal Bank of Scotland's plans if you can.
As always my thanks go to Ewen and Morag for their help with the printing, and also to Anne and Miya for sticking labels on envelopes once again.
Kirsty Bloom

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year folks. Hope everyone had a fantastic time over the festive period. But you'll have to wait til the next issue to find out how things fared here - it's certainly looking good! Makes writing a bit confusing though, as Christmas has yet to happen (This is the 22nd...)
The primary and nursery children did amazing in their Christmas concert on the 20th December - total proud teacher moment - and they were surprised by a visit from Santa on the last day of term. Santa even took time out for a home visit since Victor was off sick... I believe even Isla was a bit startled to have Santa popping up at her window!
Anyways, in other news, sadly we did not win Venue of the Year at the Trad Awards though the locals who attended the live show certainly had a grand old time, despite the not winning. Thanks to everyone who voted for us though! Maybe next time...
The addition of veg to the Kilchoan shop is going down well - what a difference it makes being able to get fresh produce as you need it without having to do a whole order from the co-op. Also, now that tourist numbers have dropped there are plenty of eggs to go around!
I believe power to the broadband has been restored, with works having been carried out on the power line last week. The Council road workers have taken up residence in Ivy Cottage and will be around for quite a while...
Calum Wilson made a return for Christmas from Whistler, Canada - nice to see him home again, and Jasmine Humphrey has survived her first term away at Uni, also returning for the holidays.
Knoydart House did well on being shortlisted for the Scottish Rural Awards, Hospitality awards 2018 - We shouldn't be surprised though as Jackie has a particular talent for promoting! Well Done!
You may have heard rumblings of our wee hall getting a much-needed upgrade come 2018 and there is now a blog where you can keep up with the plans. The official crowd funding campaign will launch early in the new year. You can follow the progress on https://www.knoydarthall.com/single-post/2017/12/13/A-new-year---and-a-new-hall---approaches
And finally, there is a job opportunity at Kilchoan Estate to fill Fay's place (Seasonal House-keeper). If anyone is interested contact Kilchoan (Jacqui) on kilchoanestate@btinternet.com or phone 01687 462133 Monday-Friday 9am - 2pm for more details and application form. All applications must be returned by the 31st January.
Hope everyone had a fantastic festive period!
Heather Robb

A very quiet month on the island. We did not suffer as much as expected from Storm Caroline for which we were grateful. However we did get plenty of snow towards the middle of the month. Well, plenty of snow by Canna standards anyway. This provided some great photo opportunities and the island dogs enjoyed it.


We are expecting a few visitors for New Year, including one hardy soul, Patsy, who will be arriving for her third New Year swim on Coroghon beach! I shall stay on the shore wrapped up and ready with the bottle of brandy.
We hope everyone on the other islands and the mainland has a great Festive Season and we look forward to seeing you on Canna in 2018.
Donald MacKenzie

Criomagan (Crumbs) from Canna House
December's a quiet month in Canna House with lots of preparation going on for events and exhibitions for the New Year. Contents in the House have all been securely packaged and boxed up in preparation for works beginning on the House early in the New Year, mainly on the exterior building fabric.
Kathleen Raine, the well-known poet born in London 1908, but of Scottish descent, was a close friend of John and Margaret Campbell of Canna House and wrote many of her best known works in Canna House itself. She took great inspiration from Canna in all its many guises and delighted in focussing on the House itself. For Christmas tide in Canna House, she wrote the poem For the Visitor's Book and in it, described the setting of Margaret Campbell's sitting room at Christmas time. You can hear the whole poem and see it described on YouTube at https://youtu.be/9xc-e8FG67g


Here is the first verse:

The cards that brighten the New Year, a Christmas tree grown in the wood
The crimson curtains drawn, the owl whose porcelain holds a lamp to read
The music on the Steinway grand piano with its slipping scores
Of Couperin, Chopin and Ravel
John and Margaret Campbell made this room to house the things they treasure
Records of Scotland's speech and song, Lore of butterfly and bird
And velvet cats step soft among learned journals on the floor.

And an unusual find in Canna House attic - a Mickey Mouse Christmas comic from 1947, 70 years old!


Fiona MacKenzie

A quiet December and festive period with a lot of folk away, though we still managed a Christmas party or two and a Hogmanay celebration. Kim cooked Christmas dinner for ten at the bunkhouse and Dave pulled out the usual fireworks on the 31st.
We' re so very lucky to have the whole island to ourselves when there's so few people around; I said a few years ago how isolating it can be and while that's still true, it also gives me a strong feeling of gratitude for being so fortunate to live here.
Well, it's now the New Year and lots to do! The village hall upgrade had begun with the decking being pressure washed to prepare for a new coat of oil.
Sadly, the turkeys, who escaped the Christmas table, had taken up residence there and made quite a mess, still nothing a pressure washer can't handle!
School's back with new topics and ideas, and as plastic and recycling is big news, the school are applying to become ocean guardians to help clear the beaches of all this toxic waste; Rum Ranger, Trudi has already been out on the shore in the village clearing up.
Visitor management and marketing is another big issue for the islands at the moment. Rum has its own small group but at the recent Small Isles Community Council, it became apparent that we need a Small Isles-wide marketing group to manage a better online presence and have a more joined up approach to visiting the islands. It's clear that if we work together we can come up with a much better visitor experience no matter which island is visited.
Fliss Fraser

Christmas Snowy wonderland came to us about three weeks too early but the beauty it conferred to our island landscape was no less enjoyed! Our toddlers loved it, rolling massive balls here, there and everywhere and the trio of French photographers that tramped through the island taking black and white shots were besides themselves with excitement at the magical light it conferred to the landscape.
One of them, Charles, who is working on a long term Eigg photography project, is from Northern France and brought his special waffle maker to treat the islanders to this local speciality at the Christmas Fair that took place in the hall on Saturday 9th December, a day when we all enjoyed Ailidh's festive cooking, each other's creative creations and home produce as well as Stu and Gabe's biers, including a new white bier with a fancy German name which proved very popular indeed.
It seemed no time at all when it was time to gather in the hall again for the Children's festive show, devised by Nan Fee on the Celtic theme which was this term's topic at Eigg Primary. A Winter Solstice told the story of the fight between light and dark, the deciduous oak and the evergreen holly, and the celebration of fire and birth of the new year on the longest night, a tale executed with tremendous gusto and charm by our four Primary and one Nursery kids, assisted by their teachers. Music by the Eigg ceilidh group, keyboard by Nan, additional singing by the Eigg singing group, lovely kids' voices, complete with a comedy cameo by Santa himself, contributed to weave a magical spell that lasted and lasted, until the evening finally ended with mince pies and mulled wine as well as a friendly Celtic warrior joust! Well done all at Eigg Primary and Nan especially, we adults can't wait to get all thespian in our turn!
Then it was Santa's proper visit to the hall on the 16th when the community gathered for its Christmas meal: a great combo to be done again please! Food was a total feast with everyone contributing a wonderful medley of tastes and flavours in the congenial décor put together by our mistress of entertainment, La Morrison herself. It will be Claire and Phil's last Christmas on Eigg, as our purveyors of Italian ice cream and friendly Northern cheer have decided to move to the sunny climes of Malaga and are departing in February. It certainly will be a nice to visit!
Meanwhile we also welcome the new owners of Tigh Eilidh, Kaj and Stacey who are coming over from Berlin to check their new abode. 2018 will be a year of embracing change, what with the new green meetings, the new forestry shed, and potentially the new pier building, the new houses... In the meantime, all the best for the festive season to you all, West Word readers, wherever you are! Oh, and if you are needing a last-minute present for landscape and animal photography lovers, Gregg Carr's 2018 calendar has great Eigg views and stunning pictures of the Sea Eagle and Rob Rob, our postie's cheeky pet robin!
There are a few left, so hurry or they will be gone...
Camille Dressler

The new Arisaig Community Trust board held their first formal meeting in the Land Sea and Islands Centre on 13th December. The board comprises Julie Gordon (Chair), Iain Macniven (Vice Chair), Judy Budge (Treasurer), Pamela King, Peter Fleming, Jane Foster and Paul Sheard. Here's a note of various things that the board is working on for the community:

All in all there is a lot going on and, needless to say, volunteer support from the community for aspects of these various projects will always be welcome!

Harbour News December 2017

The 2017 sprat season drew to a close on Monday 18th December with a total of 1,400 tonnes being landed at the port by the four local trawlers who prosecuted this year's fishery - Caralisa OB956; Independence OB196; Mareather OB503; Rebecca Jeneen OB38.
However this represents a drop of 35% when compared to the 2016 sprat season when the same four boats landed a total of 2,140 tonnes and is indeed somewhat symptomatic of the fishing trend evident over this past year with landings of shellfish and whitefish also considerably down on 2016. It's certainly not been a great year for our local fishermen.

Sterling progress is being made on assembling the Outline Business Case of the Mallaig Harbour Masterplan with a series of meetings being held with various stakeholders in the run up to completing all documentation.
Consultants Fisher Associates plan to deliver the Final Draft of the Business Case in January 2018 with a view to it being an agenda item at the next Harbour Board Meeting on Friday 17th January 2018.

Cargo ship Vestland made its first ever visit to Mallaig docking in the Outer Harbour @ 11.55hrs on Saturday 23rd December.
It subsequently was loaded with 800 tonnes of fish feed for fish farms in the Western Isles and Orkney.

New Year Greetings
On behalf of the Chairman, Board Members and Employees may I wish all harbour users/stakeholders A Happy and Prosperous New Year!
Robert MacMillan
01687 462154 info@mallaigharbourauthority.com


Happy New Year!
I just love this time of year: a clean slate to start again, the planning of my volunteer gardening work, visits to other station adopters, Model Rail Scotland in February at the SEC to visit, etc!
Then there are the 2018 rail-related calendars to look at that we received as presents, and the lovely job of putting them up where the light will catch the wonderful prints. The empty steam train diary - the Flying Scotsman this year - just daring me to make my first handwritten mistake in it! So many beautiful Christmas cards - no two the same - depicting heritage railway societies, locomotives from all over the world, prints of railway paintings, even a Thomas the Tank Engine card. We love them all so much that I leave them up for all of January. The railway 'family', once you belong to it, consists of wonderful people who follow my column in West Word. You get yearly updates on their lives which are always inspiring. Always with kind words, true values on life, and a belief in hard work that shows rewards.
Next to look at will be the many books and DVDs received as Christmas gifts (many were given too!) Jigsaws, playing cards, even Indian railway long taper matches! Preserved Railway Line pens, keyrings, tea towels, sweets etc. Christmas Day in our house is such fun. Thank you all. It makes me so optimistic and happy, and enables me to be inspired and give back - and what's wrong with that? If we all did a little bit more volunteering and a little less sitting thinking 'I could not do what you do' - well, you can!


Camping coaches
The recent photos and comments sent in on Morar camping coach holidays in the past has been interesting. Accommodation in camping coaches or station buildings are still a very happy way to spend a family or group holiday in many places in the UK. Locally of course we have carriage accommodation at Glenfinnan, along with the dining car. Climbing clubs use it, stag and hen parties, overspill from local weddings, and volunteer helpers, as well as the general public. At stations further down the line we have dining at Spean Bridge, hostels at Tulloch, Corrour, and Bridge of Orchy, tearooms at Rannoch and Crianlarich, and, on the Crianlarich to Oban line, accommodation at Dalmally station and in the Loch Awe camping coach. For details on any of the above telephone me, Sonia Cameron, on (01687) 462189.


Jacobite update
The locomotives - steam and diesel, plus carriages, guards van, crew quarters, GUV and buffet car will all depart Fort William on Wednesday 3rd January to be used for other duties, and for work to be carried out on them before returning to resume the service at the end of March 2018.
The 'Easter Specials' - Fort William to Mallaig and return - commence on Friday 30th March (Good Friday) to Friday 6th April. The Summer Steam Train Season starts three days later: April 9th - October 26th. Morning service: Monday to Friday, April 9th with weekends from June 2nd to September 30th. Afternoon service: Monday to Friday, May 14th to September 14th - with weekends added in from June 16th to September 2nd. Tickets or gift vouchers are on sale now from www.westcoastrailways.co.uk

Dates for your diary
Model Rail Scotland at SEC Glasgow Friday 23rd to Sunday 25th February. I covered this last month. For more details contact me for go to www.modelrail-scotland.co.uk
Friends of Glenfinnan Station AGM on Saturday 3rd March in the sleeping car at Glenfinnan starting at 1:30pm. Soup and sandwiches will be served. A Viaduct Trail working party will follow the AGM on Sunday 5th March. Sleeping car accommodation on the Saturday at no cost for working party participants. For more details please contact Hege Hernaes on (01397) 722295 or go to www.glenfinnanstationmuseum.co.uk or email glenfinnanstn@btconnect.com

Morar station defibrillator
I have been very pleased to act as coordinator between Morar Community Council and Abellio/ScotRail/Health and Safety working towards the now installed defibrillator for use by any third parties to give it assistance in the case of heart failure (although one hopes it will not be needed). West Word agreed (as did the landlord) to have it installed on the office/station building at Morar Railway Station. The power supply required comes from the inside of the building and it is situated near to the window and station seat. There is a talk through process to using it and it is illuminated in the hours of darkness (which at the moment is about 16 hours a day!) It is fully accessible 24/7 every day of the year.
I believe it to be the first one installed at a railway station in Scotland. Some achievement indeed! Virgin Trains are all equipped with them, but I think this is the first on a railway station building. Well done to all who came up with the idea in the first place, the fundraising team, Morar Community Council and everyone else involved. I'm glad to have played my small part.

Riley & Son to continue operation of Flying Scotsman
Locally we all know that Ian Riley is the owner of three Black Five locomotives that haul The Jacobite steam train for the train operating company (TOC) West Coast Railways. A modest man, always with parade gloss polished shoes and boots, who is also the main qualified driver of them, along with his 'Riley's Boys' team. He takes on apprentices, turns them out after years of graft to be fitters, firemen, drivers etc. Some stay on for years, others filter into other railway jobs - but they are railwaymen for life - as is he.
His company, which he owns and operates from Heywood, Lancashire undertook the rebuild/overhaul and eventual operation for the National Railway Museum in York (NRM) of its flagship Gresley 'Pacific' A3 No 60103 Flying Scotsman. The work was completed in January 2016 and since then his company has been operating the A3 on behalf of NRM, but the contract expiry was the end of 2017.
In August NRM's parent body, the Science Museum Group, opened invitations to tender for the custodianship of the locomotive, which had been due to close on September 13th. This date was later extended to September 27th. There were other bidders, and the final contract is currently being negotiated, but all parties have been informed of the result: Riley and Son are the preferred bidders (phew!!)
The new contract will be for a period longer than five years - and Flying Scotsman's operation schedule for 2018 will be announced in the New Year. Will it include a visit to Fort William this year? Maybe/maybe not, but whatever happens, Ian Riley is having a Happy New Year, as I hope you all do too.
See you on the train,
Sonia Cameron
Fasgadh, 5 Marine Place, Mallaig, Inverness-shire PH41 4RD.
Phone/fax 01687 462189

World Wide West Word

Finlay Smail took his copy with him to Australia and stopped to read it at the Devil's Marbles in the outback of the Northern Territory, not far from Alice Springs. Finlay says 'we completed an epic road trip covering over 5000km in a campervan from Melbourne, through the centre of Australia and back to Brisbane.' Happy travels, Fin and Fern!

June, Marion, Rita, Eileen, Heather and Linda stopped to read their copy in Heroes Square, Budapest.

Anne Marie and Michael Ian Currie are pictured during a recent holiday to Los Cristianos in Tenerife at the end of November. This copy of West Word was left with Michael Ian's sister Mairi who resides in Tenerife.

Here's Esme reading West Word at home in Arisaig.

Tom MacKinnon is also Down Under just now, and says 'here's me and the gang at the WACA (in Perth, Western Australia) on the 3rd day of The Ashes - the last ever Internationals to be played at this famous ground. I'm not the biggest fan of the sport but as you can see from the flag, always up for a laugh!'

BIRDWATCH November 2017 by Stephen MacDonald
Winter visitors continued to arrive throughout the month, with several sightings of Whooper Swans flying over. The first Goldeneyes were reported from Loch Morar and the Morar Estuary from mid-month.
Wigeon numbers also built up with reports from Morar, Traigh and Loch nan Ceall, with a flock of 30 seen on the shore between Morroch and the LSIC, Arisaig on the 9th. Wintering Slavonian Grebes arrived back on Loch nan Ceall, where on the 29th, eleven were seen along with 42 Red-breasted Mergansers and four Red-throated Divers.
Red-breasted Mergansers were also on the Morar Estuary, with a male Goosander there on the 4th.
The first reported Iceland Gull of the winter was an immature seen by the fish farm, Loch Ailort on the 14th. On the 19th it was joined by another, with both birds still present at the month end. Three were seen in Mallaig on the 25th, no doubt taking advantage of the sprat fishery. On the 29th, there were at least four Iceland Gulls present, along with an immature Glaucous Gull.
The returning 'Viking Gull' (Herring and Glaucous hybrid) was spotted back in Mallaig on the 19th. Now in its 5th year, it is identifiable by its damaged leg. A few wintering waders seen in the Traigh and Back of Keppoch areas, mostly small numbers of Curlew, Redshank, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover and Turnstone. Similar species were to be found on the Morar Estuary, where two Greenshank were also seen on the 19th. Purple Sandpipers were seen on the rocky shore by West Bay, Mallaig from the 25th. Jays were seen or heard on several occasions in the Arisaig area, with three seen by Loch nan Eala on the 29th. Two Jays were seen almost daily in and around a garden near Loch Ailort, taking advantage of a huge crop of acorns. They were often seen burying the acorns in the lawn.
Most of the migrant thrushes had moved on by mid-month, with only singles or small flocks of Redwings and Fieldfares reported.
Flocks of Siskins were reported from Loch nan Eala and Alisary, Loch Ailort, feeding on Alder cones. On the 26th Redpolls were seen on Birch trees in Larachmhor Gardens, Arisaig.
Long-tailed Tits, Tree-creeper and Goldcrests were seen on several occasions visiting a garden by Woodside, Morar.
Sea Eagles were reported from throughout the area. On the 23rd two birds were seen over Mallaig by numerous observers.
Both male and female Hen Harriers were seen in the Back of Keppoch area on several occasions.
Barn Owls were seen around Camusdarroch and Invercaimbe and Tawny Owls were seen and heard by Morar Lodge, Woodside and Rhubana. The Kingfisher was still present on the Morar River until the month end.

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