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January 2019 Issue
Contents of the online version:
All photos are copyright either of the individual photographers or West Word.
FRIENDS OF KINLOCH CASTLE LAUNCH CROWDFUNDING APPEAL
Kinloch Castle Friends Association are launching a crowdfunding appeal on Monday 14th January at 12 noon to raise money to help pay for ongoing costs as they work towards asset transfer of the Isle of Rum's castle from Scottish Natural Heritage.
The first phase of the Friends' plan is to reopen the hostel, bar and bistro in the castle to enable more visitors to stay on the island. Further plans include creating hotel style rooms and restoring the fabric and fittings of the castle.
Inevitably, there are expenses involved with the asset transfer; in addition to surveyors, roofers and a range of other trades, KCFA also require funding for legal and accountancy costs.
A spokesperson said 'we are initially aiming for £10,000 and have some excellent rewards to tempt people - check out the website on or after 14th January.' https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/save-Kinloch-castle-isle-of-rum
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
A bunch of hardy souls braved the chilly seas for a dip on New Year's Day at Traigh again this year. It was a beautiful day with plenty of sunshine which ensured plenty of participants! Donations to local charities raised £95 - the money will be split between Mallaig Pool and Leisure, and Arisaig Primary School. Looking forward to seeing the same faces and more in 2020!
Katrina and Greg
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year folks! Hope everyone has had a fantastic holiday season. I'll report back on the festivities here next issue (once they have actually happened!).
This month started with Jim Hunter and the Disclaimers playing in the hall, always a nice evening of tunes and craic.
We also had a visit from Kate Forbes (MSP) following a visit from our Westminster MP Ian Blackford a few months ago who was briefed on our plans for a hydro-pipeline replacement. Kate visited for a similar briefing and to carry out a surgery for her Knoydart constituents. She listened to views on ferries, the Mallaig car-parking plan, schools and a whole range of other issues. After promising to look into things she joined locals at the Table and enjoyed a meal with a few folk at Cara's new restaurant "The Lookout". And speaking of the "The Lookout", I would highly recommend it! The food is amazing. The kids did very well learning and rehearsing for their annual Christmas performance, this year it was Whoops a Daisy Angel and they all did a great job. They (and us teachers!) are now all very much ready for the holidays!
There was also the annual pick (and chop down) your own Christmas tree day on the 15th December followed by local shopping and a drink on the house at the Foundation shop. It's proven to be a great place to buy locally sourced gifts, with its ever increasing variety of stock.
In Knoydart Forest Trust news - harvesting wood from the shelterbelts at Kilchoan and the next phase in Inverie woods is planned to go ahead between January and Easter 2019, meaning that the operation will be completed before the tourist season really kicks in. As with the previous clear fells KFT will be working with Scottish Woodlands ltd.
Fiona and Ian are busy putting together plans for the new "Food Forest" and there will be some volunteer dates early in the new year to prepare the ground. This will be a great new venture and hopefully will allow us to grow more local crops for food, thus reducing the amount that needs to be bought from across the water. I know I personally am very much looking forward to this. There's nothing quite like home-grown (and as a rubbish gardener myself it's fantastic to be able to enjoy the fruits of the labour so to speak!)
The new Foundation office is going well, in fact it is very nearly finished. It is situated beside the A-frames in the village, tucked near enough out of sight. This will allow the current office space right in the centre of the village to be freed up for… something which has not yet been completely decided. Watch this space!
And, finally, the new and much awaited Knoydart Brewery is now up and running, founded by Matt and Sam Humphrey who have put in a lot of work to get to this stage. They are brewing small batches of their launch beer "The Seven Men" which will be followed by "Heavenly Blonde". The beer is now on sale in the Foundation shop and also at River Cottage. They are also getting ready to start larger brews on their 5BBL kit and hope to get planning and a licence for a Tap Room in 2019. A very exciting time indeed!
Cheers for now folks
ISLE OF MUCK
December on Muck is a month that winds down, slowly but surely, from its usual hectic work commitments, whilst winding up for Christmas. On the work front the last shooting guests came and went without too much interruption from the weather. Several of the shoot lunches must have been a welcome respite from the wind and rain though Ed and Sharron must have had to mop up a considerable amount of water from the Craft Shop floor when they departed!
Colin has been busy replacing the slats at the Square that house the ewe hoggs while they are taught to eat bagged sheep food. This has meant that they will be housed later than usual, not that this matters. The important thing is they learn to eat concentrate food in their first winter, making pregnancy management much simpler in subsequent years. Colin confided in me that the project was bigger than he first thought but, I have to say, the end result is impressive. Staying with livestock, the first of the January calves arrived on Christmas Day, a week early. Obviously keen not to miss the festivities!
The school children worked really hard on their nativity play, The Innkeeper's Breakfast, and the performance was superb. Congratulations to all those involved. With so many children in nursery and primary, there was no shortage of shepherds and wise men. The islands youngest inhabitant, Magnus, had a cameo but pivotal role as the baby Jesus, which he took in his stride. The school Christmas party followed the play and Father Christmas dropped in, having asked for assistance from Marine Harvest who transported the sleigh, presents and reindeer.
On the Sunday evening before Christmas we had what was billed as the inaugural Christmas "Quallenge". A cross between a quiz and a challenge, Port Mor residents pitted their wits against those of Gallanach and, amazingly, only four points separated the two teams at the end of a fairly boisterous evening with Gallanach just holding on. I'm sure my voice, and nerves, will have recovered sufficiently in time to referee round two next December!
Christmas Day on Muck is always special with its focal point being the Christmas service, led as ever by Lawrence MacEwen. It's a time for the community to gather and celebrate this special time and all that makes small communities strong. This year we had two great musicians in the form of Willie and Ruth MacRae who inspired us to sing the carols with great gusto.
Regular readers will have no doubt read in last month's edition that the inimitable Lawrence MacEwen has "hung up his pen" so to speak after 24 years writing for West Word. It's a record that's unlikely to be equalled. It goes without saying that I will be consulting him regularly. They are big boots indeed to try and fill and my feet do not measure up unaided!
From all of us here on Muck, a very Happy New Year to you all.
ISLE OF CANNA
2018 has been a full on, busy, and at times very challenging year for all here on Canna, but lots has been achieved. Apologies for the sometimes very short news items but here is a brief snapshot of some of the positive events which have happened throughout the year.
Pete Holden, NTS Senior Ranger retired but both he and wife Liz stayed on, thankfully.
Hippy themed party to celebrate Pete's retirement.
New NTS Rangers Mike Butler and Gillian Gibson arrived to job share new post.
First ever Zwartble lambs born on Canna - cute factor!
SSE and contractor CHAPS arrived for Renewables Project.
Bumper crop of lambs on Canna Farm.
Cafécanna was reopened by new owners Gareth and Nic.
Tighard Guest House open for business with new boss Fiona.
West Coast 'Supergroup' Daimh play the Shearing Shed coinciding with Isebail MacKinnon's 50th - surely this a must for all bands now!
Black Isle contractor Findlay Crawford constructed the new Sanday Road single handed.
We celebrated 50 years of the Canna Bird Ringing Team: the longest continual seabird monitoring project in the world.
Sessions and Sail ceilidh with Barry Nisbet and crew visited - please revisit.
Visit to Muck for the Small Isles Games and socialising.
St Columba's Day and subsequent award for the Symposium - well done to Fiona and the Canna House Team.
Canna House renovations ongoing.
Caroline MacKinnon's surprise 21st birthday party.
Renewable Energy System commissioned and being run by community energy company CREEL.
Canna mapped in 3D by Drone.
Tim Shea, whose ancestors were from Canna has been volunteering here for the last few weeks and we would all like to take this opportunity to thank him for all his hard work especially his research into housing and our Dark Sky application. (More info to follow in next month's issue.) Also a big thank you to Dr Banks, Pete Fowler and the crew of Amelia who battled their way out to Canna this month to see regular patients but also to see resident carer Jane who had a suspected broken arm. Jane had to be helicoptered off and indeed had sustained two fractures to her arm. Canna Coastguard team assisted with the evacuation, once again proving how important our wee teams are for isolated communities.
Finally, thanks to Lawrence MacEwen from Muck for his years of contributing to West Word, always interesting, sometimes controversial, honest, entertaining and much looked forward to, we will miss you.
Criomagan (Crumbs) from Canna House
December started with the completion of the first phase of remedial works in Canna House. The West wing windows have been replaced and work on the roof completed which should hopefully make a difference in the winter gales!
The island resounded to the strains of some fabulous new "traditional" tunes being composed to accompany the production of a film Fiona is making about the films of Margaret Fay Shaw. Four of Scotland's best known and most in demand young traditional musicians and composers were in residence to compose the soundtrack and over the course of four days, embraced island life in all its mantles - including howling gales and sleet! Lead artist James Duncan Mackenzie, piper with the well-known band Breabach, was joined by fiddler Neil Ewart, pianist and sound engineer Ross Wilson and multi-instrumentalist Alan Nairn in their sessions of composing, inspired by watching Margaret Fay Shaw's films. Some interesting new 'sounds' of parts of Canna House will make their debut in the film, including the Canna House front door!
The band concluded their trip by playing for the island residents at a ceilidh dance in the Shearing Shed - just what was needed to shake off the low temperatures! The resulting commissioned music will be heard later in 2019.
Bliadhna Mhath Ur from Canna House!
ISLE OF RUM
A festive month filled with lots of celebrations here on Rum. Rum Primary school put on their Christmas show early in the month based around an advent calendar and attended by pretty much the whole island. Lesley, Neil and Dougal returned home to Rum bringing our newest resident baby Aila home. Birthdays on island included Bunkhouse manager Jed, celebrated with a pingpong tournament in the village hall, Scarlett turning 16 and Shopkeeper Jinty's birthday on the last day of the year. Early December saw lots of wheelbarrows being used to transport felled Christmas trees around the place.
The weather has been unseasonably calm with still no snow on the high peaks; definitely the first Christmas in my time here on the island without even a speck of snow in sight. It's been nice to have little in the way of ferry disruption too and Trudi was certainly relieved to have such kind weather for her seasonal winkle picking. We've had some cracking sunrises and sunsets and also enjoyed seeing the photos on social media from Mallaig, Eigg, Muck and Canna residents of those, often with Rum in the background.
Rum has felt pretty busy over Christmas with most islanders staying home for the holidays and lots of visiting relatives bolstering numbers on island too. We had Christmas Eve gatherings at the bunkhouse and the shop, the usual couple of hours of shop opening for a drink while the dinner was cooking and a fair few Rumachs sharing a communal Christmas meal in the village hall on the big day which has become something of a Rum tradition. Hogmanay was a bit quieter with lots of people heading off island for celebrations elsewhere this year.
We may be short of visiting hill walkers at this time of the year but it's not stopping residents still being active with Fliss and Ali often spotted out running, Sean pacing around hitting his daily steps target and Nic heading up the Coire Dubh trail on a regular basis. Other folk have had a bash at the Coire Dubh walk too with some hilarious pictures from Trudi documenting her walk up.
SNH have been busy with the hind cull and lots of folk have been taking advantage of the couldn't-be-more-local venison for sale as a result and stocking up freezers for the year ahead. Kim is already working on a fabulous sounding menu for the reopening of Kim's Caffe in the spring with Rum venison featuring centre stage.
We had a TV crew visiting the island for a few days capturing audio and video footage of the Hebnet fibre optic upgrade which is being rolled out to some of the village households and work on that started with Ian and Dave busy laying out the giant rolls of cable around the place. The big machines on the Marine Harvest and IRCT house plots are all asleep for the holidays as I type but huge progress has been made on the sites and is due to recommence again soon.
To end the year Ady on Croft 3, who is now renowned for some New Year's Eve drama or another, managed to catch a buzzard with his bare hands! It had killed and was feasting on one of the Croft 3 chickens and had gotten waterlogged in the scramble with the chicken so was unable to take off when Ady disturbed it. Ady took it to Sean, our resident bird expert on the island, and after a good feed and a dry out it was released the following day seemingly unfazed by the whole experience. Ady is hoping it has not completely forgotten it though and maybe looks elsewhere for its next meal! Happy New Year to all West Word readers. May 2019 be a good one for you all.
ISLE OF EIGG
December seems to have gone in a flash this year on Eigg, busy with events leading up to the festive season: The Christmas market at the hall on 8th December was extremely well attended with crafty stalls which included lovely aromatherapy soaps and scented candles by Amanda, the new dweller at Forrester's cottage, great recycled textiles wreaths by Libby and a whole new willow range by Catherine and Pascal. Money was being collected for the school funds, and between the tapas stall, and the Mince Pie March to the hall which involved a good number of adults and children, and the tombola, and the chilli stall - in all, over £600 was raised! Well done kids!
The community Christmas meal was held on Saturday 15th, when Santa visited the hall. The three year olds could hardly contain their excitement, and a great time was had by all. Then it was the Christmas play which this year was all about the festival of lights in the Indian, Jewish and Christian traditions: a 60 minute trip round the world with great singing and dance moves by our enthusiastic youngsters! Another fantastic production by Nan Fee at Eigg Primary: bravo Nan! (Read more in the school's blog post, below!) Then to top up the festive spirit, it was the candle-lit Christmas eve carol service at St Donnan. With the full moon on the winter solstice and no disruptive weather to add suspense and drama, it made the usual festive visiting even more enjoyable, even though it is quite weird to have the same temperatures in December as in June!
New Year smoothly followed on with many visitors coming to celebrate with us: there was a full house for Hogmanay at the hall which brought together again the Eigg Experience line up we've become familiar with and featured this year Tam the Banjo and piper Jarlath Henderson. Led by energy power house Eilidh Shaw, the dancing tunes were awesome. And DJ Dolphin Boy excelled himself after an act that was a hard one to follow, so altogether it was a great way to start 2019, a year in which Brexit is likely to bring us a few challenges .... And so, a happy New Year to all West Word readers from us all on Eigg.
ARISAIG COMMUNITY TRUST NEWS
December saw the final completion of the new workshop at the LSIC. There will be an open day on 23rd February and by then we should have finished fitting out the interior and other finishing touches. Artefacts from the LSIC will be stored there in rotation and there are 2 rooms that can be used for workshops or events. Many thanks to Knoydart Construction who did an excellent job on the build and interior. We are looking forward to putting the building to use!
This month we are applying to the Scottish Land Fund to develop an idea for new housing in Arisaig. The fund is a two-stage process and if we are successful it would allow us to purchase a plot of land in Arisaig. The first stage awards money to 'develop the idea', and would pay for an architect or building company to survey the land and write a master plan for the project. The result of this work is presented at stage two, which awards the funds for purchasing the land. The application has been based on the housing survey we carried out in May 2018 that showed a need for new houses and a desire for different routes to home ownership, such as rent-to-own or affordable self-build plots. Throughout the development stage there will be several community consultation days for people to input their views. We are being supported by the Highland Small Communities Housing Trust to develop the project and, if the funding applications are successful, hope that several new homes could be available by 2020-21.
Following the high-profile campaign to prevent kelp dredging in the Highlands, we have been approached by a new company seeking to set up small sustainable seaweed farms around the Highlands. Their goal is for the farms to be community owned and run, and are offering support with a feasibility study to investigate several sites in Arisaig. We have invited the group, Scottish Seaweeds, to come and hold a public talk at the Astley Hall on Wednesday 30th January, 3-5pm. It would be great if people who are knowledgeable about seaweed or marine farming could come along. If it appears beneficial to the village, we would support a group to set up the business.
At our next meeting, on 10th January, a representative from Mallaig Pool and Leisure will be joining us to discuss hosting 2019's Marathon events in Arisaig. This would mean using the playing field as the start/finish point and the route going through Arisaig. More details on that soon.
The next AGM for the Trust will take place in February, date yet to be confirmed.
Wishing everyone a happy new year!
Mallaig and Traigh public toilets and motorhome service point - project update.
The good news is that planning for the Mallaig public toilet project was passed at the planning committee on 5th December. This was a big hurdle and required a few alterations to the designs at the last minute to get it over the line. The key change was the removal of the grey water disposal point (water from motorhome showers/dish water) - this would have impacted on the adjacent car parking spaces. There will still be a Motorhome service point including an Elsan Point (for motorhome sewage) and a water hose; these are things we were keen to keep as the lack of these facilities was one of the main drivers of the project. We plan to look for alternative sites for a grey water point, although this will now be a separate project.
There was one condition placed on the planning consent which is that we have to commit to landscaping the remaining picnic area and produce designs. We are now sourcing funding for this as it wasn't included in the original project costs. We will consult the community once we know what the budget is. We are keen to make the area accessible to people with restricted mobility.
The next hurdle is the asset transfer of land for Traigh and Mallaig. The initial plan was to transfer the land to the charity however it has now been decided to simply lease the land from the Highland Council. We are still waiting for confirmation and what the terms of any lease will be. Settlement of the asset transfer is the last condition we have to meet for the Rural Tourism Fund, and we will then be in a position to start the tendering process.
We are on track for a spring opening of the Traigh toilets and early summer for Mallaig as long as there are no major issues. (which there could always be with these kinds of projects!)
Please contact us with your thoughts or queries.
Sustainable Seaweed Farming Proposal
Arisaig Community Trust have recently been approached by a new company, Scottish Seaweeds, who are looking to set up small, community owned and run seaweed farms around the Highlands.
The company is based in Oban and are linked to SAMS, the Scottish Association for Marine Science. SAMS have two experimental seaweed farms near Oban, where they grow seaweed on lines and investigate the most advantageous species to farm, develop cultivation and harvesting techniques, explore how to identify and control seaweed pathogens and research the policies needed to manage such an industry. They are currently focusing on cultivation of Alaria esculenta, Saccharina latissima, Laminaria hyperborea, Palmaria palmata and Ulva.
Scottish Seaweeds are offering support with a feasibility study to look in to the potential of several sites near Arisaig and have been invited to come and hold a public talk at the Astley Hall on Wednesday 30th January, 3-5pm. Please come along to find out more about their proposals.
Message from Police Scotland
Following a recent joint community council meeting which was also attended by the Police Inspector for Lochaber Isla Campbell, it was felt that it would be useful to clarify the following points which are particularly pertinent during the summer months predominately around the B8008 and the beaches.
For those that are unaware, the way in which the police can be contacted across Scotland has changed. The public are unable to contact Mallaig Police Station directly and now must phone either 101 for non-emergencies or 999 for emergencies.
The public are advised to call 101 should they wish to report instances of obstructive parking. Whilst the Road Traffic Act does not provide a definition of what is obstructive, action by the police would be considered if, for example, a fire appliance would be unable to pass. Whilst it cannot always be guaranteed that police will be able to attend, the call will be recorded which will enable the problems encountered to be highlighted. Of course we will endeavour to be proactive in peak periods but cannot be aware of everything without public assistance at the time it is happening.
Parking was decriminalised in October 2016 and responsibility was passed from Police Scotland to the Highland Council. This means that parking in any metered bays, disabled bays or on double yellow lines should be reported to them for enforcement. The police can only enforce dangerous or obstructive parking. More information on this can be found on the Highland Council website.
Some examples of other times it would be suitable to phone 101 would be if someone is urinating or defecating in circumstances where it is likely to cause annoyance, if campervanners are emptying their chemical waste at the side of the road or similar, or the cutting of trees or fences for fire wood. All of which could be a criminal offence.
Police Scotland are also looking to recruit Special Constables and if this is something you feel you would be interested in then please either come and speak with us at the station or look up more details on the Police Scotland website. Often in rural beats such as Mallaig not having two officers on duty can make any enforcement difficult and this would help us.
If you have any specific questions, comments or suggestions then please get in contact with us.
PC Hugo Martin
Arisaig Seniors' Christmas Meal
This year's Arisaig Senior Christmas Lunch was on the 12th of December in the wonderful Arisaig House. Although many locals couldn't make it due to illness, loss or other unhappinesses, there was still a big crowd that could attend. And it was absolutely fabulous!! The whole house was beautifully decorated, the food amazing (three courses, accompanied by wine and other fluids), a wonderful welcome in the bar and hall with Christmassy music played on the big piano by our choir director Ally. Just before lunch, Vera made a great speech thanking Anne for all her years of organising the Arisaig Lunch Club.
With the staff so kind and helpful and those lovely locals with a car driving lovely locals without one, what could have gone wrong. A very, very big thank you to Sarah, Chef Colin and staff of Arisaig House for making everybody feel so welcome and happy and Christmassy spirited. (And full! Very, very full!!)
JB & MW
Mallaig Lifeboat Log
The Lifeboat has not been called into service since October therefore allowing the full-time staff to carry out much needed care and maintenance. This is a quiet period and long may it continue. However the Lifeboat is still on constant standby in case there are any incidents.
The Staff and the Volunteer Crew wish everybody a Safe and Happy New Year and thank all for the continued support which has been very helpful in the past year.
Harbour News January 2019
Projects for 2019
This new year will herald the completion of two projects that have been bubbling away for the past few months.
The Passenger Ferry Access - which will replace the steps - will be in situ by the time the February 2019 issue of West Word hits the streets. Contractors Gael Force Ltd will be on site on the 8th of January, will begin lifting in the guides on the 11th, the pontoons on the 14th and the access ramps and bridges on the 16th January.
Mallaig Harbour Ice plant is due to arrive in Mallaig mid January. The Ice Plant, which consists of two 40' containers, one on top of the other, will then be assembled, commissioned and become operational early in February 2019.
It's been a dismal end to what has been a dismal year for our fishermen with not even an end of year boost for the sprat trawlers. There's been no sprat landings (so far) this winter.
It all adds to the doom and gloom as it's fair to say that since October 2017 - a total of 14 months - the prawn fishing in the South Minch has been poor, the usually abundant grounds providing sparse return for the effort and fuel expended by the skippers.
One could argue that the fishing industry in Mallaig is at its lowest ebb ever, certainly within living memory and its extremely worrying with only a handful of fishing boats left in the port. Not so long ago Mallaig used to boast over 40 locally owned vessels employing up to 160 (mostly) local men eager to put to sea and eager to get the rewards. It would seem that a way of life is fading away before our very eyes.
Tommy Ralston, an ex fisherman, prawn buyer and Lifeboat Coxswain, who sadly passed away last year, wrote a book entitled Captains and Commanders which contained this nostalgic poem, also called Captains and Commanders. Read it please and ponder!
Captains and Commanders
The pier is growing busy now; the crowds are all around.
But though I sit and listen hard, I cannot hear a sound.
Hey, there's Big Willie, large as life, and Willum John, I swear.
Auld Petey, aye and Smithy too, now there's a royal pair!
There's 'Porter' with his rolling gait, the Mallaig Mor his aim.
And Ronnie follows hard behind; his goal is just the same.
And there's auld Robbie Hepburn; whose guiding hand, I know,
Has helped so many young lads on, and shown the way to go.
There's Clainey, with his cheery grin, and Charlie Duncan too.
The Martins, and Jimmy Henderson, come striding into view.
That's old Manson there, I see, he gave this place a start.
He's at the root of most of this, a Thurso chiel at heart.
Then Jimmy Aitchison comes by, with Ecky at his side,
They're in a fearful hurry, are they trying to catch the tide?
There's Alec Duncan too, I see, he's in an awful state.
Ah, they're seeking after Black Jim aye, they're needing lobster bait!
The ghostly mist grew lighter then, the figures ceased to come
And I realised that my visions of the nearby past were done.
Where are these men? Where have they gone? We need them sorely now
To lead us forward. "Light your torch! We'll follow. There's the lowe!"
It cannot happen, that I know; their time I fear has passed.
The harbour lies near empty now - I cannot see a mast.
The way of life I knew has gone; so many men have died.
I sat alone on Mallaig Pier. I sat alone - and cried.
On and Off the Rails
Draw results December 2018 issue
Not a single local entry for the two Christmas Draws was received - shame - but plenty of postal entries.
The Tornado at the NYMR DVD's (both correct entries - answer a) A1) were drawn and dispatched to David Hurdle - a recent subscriber from Sheringham in Norfolk - and Anthea Robinson from Livingston, West Lothian.
The 'stunning' On the Road to the Isles books (again correct entries, answer 24th September 2018) - were drawn for and dispatched to Ron Thompson from Gloucestershire and Andrew Dean from Leicestershire.
Congratulations to all four of you. Plenty more draws to come in 2019 - including this issue …
Draw to win Peter's Railway Books
Now entering their 11th year of encouraging children (young and older) to be passionate about trains - and engineering - as a future career possibility, author Christopher Vine and illustrator John Wardle have produced two new books which I am delighted to offer in a draw. The first is Peter's Railway Activity Book, crammed with games, puzzles, words and numbers (engineers love numbers!) plus technical drawings to paint or colour in, making learning a pleasure and fun. The large softback book retails at £4.99 and is a joy to behold.
The second is number 13 in their smaller format series of books and is entitled Peter's Railway - the Four Seasons and is priced at £4.99. A charming story about Peter and his railway, Grandpa's tales from the old railways, with pages about how-it-works. It takes you through the four seasons in a year and is a joy to read.
To try and win either of these books send a postcard with your name, address and telephone number to me, Sonia Cameron, Fasgadh, 5 Marine Place, Mallaig, Inverness-shire PH41 4RD. Go on! Have a go! It could be you that's lucky. No question to answer, just the luck of the draw.
To purchase any of these books or to find out more go to www.petersrailway.com You can even obtain a free e-book, Peter's Railway E-xtra by download from the site. What's not to like!! The closing date for entries to my draw in Friday 25th January 2019. Good luck!
Book Review and chance to WIN THE BOOK Transforming the Railways of Central Scotland
I recently had the pleasure of sharing a railway carriage with Dr Ann Glen. Ann hails from Airdrie. I met her at Tweedbank Railway Station, the furthest point on the three year old Borders Railway branch line from Edinburgh.
Ann's background is in History and Land Geography and she is a walking encyclopaedia on railway history, past and present. Her latest book/publication is titled Transforming the Railways of Central Scotland - From a Pioneering Intercity Route to EGIP and is a fascinating read, with exceptional illustrations from past and present. During our hour-long journey (on board a Class 158) we discussed her book and she agreed to donate a copy to use as a draw prize in West Word.
I'll give you a brief description of the book, as to go into it in detail would take up many pages! It consists of six chapters, and is in soft back, 112 pages, priced at £18.00. Its size is approx. 8.5 x 11.5", ISBN no. 978-1-9 1 1177371, and is available to purchase from Lily Publications, Isle of Man. Telephone me on 01687 462189 for any further details if required.
After the introduction, Chapter One describes how the first intercity line in Scotland evolved, this being between Glasgow and Edinburgh. First opened in 1842, now 77 years on the line is still the busiest line in Scotland. Over the years it has undergone many changes in rolling stock, locomotives and infrastructure, the most recent being its electrification. This, in turn, has reduced the journey time between Scotland's two major cities. It's hard to believe that you can now do the journey of 45 miles in less than an hour, including stops at Croy, Falkirk, Polmont and Linlithgow.
Chapter Six describes EGIP (Edinburgh - Glasgow Improvement Programme) from its inception to completion. With engineering photographs and maps, Ann has shown in great detail the obstacles that had to be overcome in order to make the project a success.
In all, the book is a fascinating read, with beautiful illustrations and glossy photographs. It is the only book that describes the transformation of the Railways of Central Scotland in such detail. In order to enter the draw for a copy of the book, just answer the following question: How many chapters are in the book? Please put the answer on a postcard with your name, address, postcode and telephone number and send it to me at the address above. Closing date for entries is Friday 25th January 2019 - good luck!
Dates for your diary 2019
Once again Model Rail Scotland's exhibition is being held over the weekend of 22-24 February at the SEC in Glasgow. Prices are as follows:
Adult Advance £12 (£13 on the day)
Child Advance £5 (£6 on the day)
Family Advance for 2 adults and 2 children £28 (£29 on the day). Advance tickets can be ordered by post by sending a cheque/postal order (payable to AMRSS) and stamped SAE to AMRSS, PO Box 9117, Shotts, ML7 9AF, or purchased online - see the 'tickets' link on their site www.modelrail-scotland.co.uk
Times of admission are: Friday 22nd 10.30am - 6pm, Saturday 23rd 10am - 6pm, and Sunday 24th 10.30am - 5pm. If in possession of advance tickets for any of the days, entrance is available 30 minutes before the long queues are allowed in, and you receive a free, glossy, fully informative show catalogue as you are admitted, and given a 'hand stamp' to allow you to exit and return to the show all day and make use of the many types of food outlet on site. Thinking of the many model rail TV series that have been shown this year past - including the line built and run from Fort William to Inverness - I'm sure many more people will be encouraged to visit the show this year! See their website for more details. Jacobite Steam Train 2019 Season
Fort William to Mallaig return.
Friday 19th to Sunday 21st April 2019.
The Jacobite runs from Monday 22nd April to Friday 25th October on Mondays to Fridays - and on Saturdays and Sundays from Saturday 4th May to Sunday 29th September.
The trip runs from Monday 13th May to Friday 13th September on Mondays to Fridays and on Saturdays and Sundays from Saturday 15th June to Sunday 1st September.
The morning service departs Fort William at 10.15 and arrives into Mallaig at 12.25. Departs Mallaig 14.10, arriving in Fort William 16.00.
The afternoon service departs Fort William at 14.30, arrives in Mallaig at 16.40, departing at 18.38 and arriving back in Fort William at 20.31.
For ticket prices, availability and bookings please call 0844 850 3137 or go to West Coast Railways' website, www.westcoastrailways.co.uk
I know how important it is to publish this information for the local businesses: hotels, B&Bs, pubs, shops, boat operators, cycle hire, Heritage Centre - even for the Health Centre and Pharmacy. In fact I may as well conclude that The Jacobite times are needed by every resident in Mallaig! As some locals say, 'I need to know when The Jacobite is in so that I do not park and shop at those times'!! Hope the information helps and that Mallaig has a busy season. We welcome the staff and customers on The Jacobite and the crews on the locomotives. We support them, and they support us. Long may it continue!
Following on from the long-awaited news that when the 'Summer Sunday Service' resumes from March 31st 2019 it will follow on at the end of 'summer' and become an 'all year round Sunday service' with no changes as we go into Autumn/Winter: I personally have to thank the timetable service planners, and Network Rail, for making this happen, and of course the Mallaig and Fort William drivers and train crews who will implement it. The next step now is for us to help use and promote it. It does mean that we can leave Mallaig by train on a Sunday, and get back, to go Hospital and care home visiting, visit places and friends, go shopping, have a meal; students can return home for the weekend and get back with their washing done!! BUT also the reverse should happen, in that tourists and visiting friends and relatives can visit us. I really, really hope that this two way transition can work for us all and that shops and visitor attractions plan staff rostas so that the welcome that we give Sunday visitors is as good as it is in the week. The opportunity to eat out for us locals on a Sunday will improve, with it being worthwhile opening. Let's get behind this opportunity and support it. The idea has been a long time coming. Let's make it happen for ScotRail and for the good of Mallaig.
The staffing levels of Mallaig crews are better now than in the past two years. Fort William is not far short of being fully staffed, and we welcome all the changes.
Amid failing performance levels in other parts of Scotland we are quietly getting on with ours. Once we get extra seating, luggage and cycle space in the form of an extra carriage on each train (a converted Class 153) in 2020 (if not sooner) we will have five car units - imagine that!
Now to the issue of rising fares that are now in place. We are lucky that we do not run 'peak time' on our lines - just a regular service. This means that the very best way to purchase tickets is to invest in a 'Highland Railcard' once a year. You can purchase one at Mallaig or Fort William staffed booking offices. You need to provide a passport size photo (you can get one at the Pharmacy in Mallaig) plus proof of your address (e.g. passport, driving licence, utility bill etc) and £15. This will then give you half price travel on any train out of Mallaig, all year round on journeys booked in advance to Oban, Glasgow, Inverness, Kyle of Lochalsh, Wick and Thurso, and anywhere else on the network within the limits of the railcard.
A new national discount railcard for persons aged between 26-30 was launched on January 2nd 2019. Along with the '16 to 25' discount railcard it qualifies you to 1/3 discount on rail travel nationally. Details are online or ask at your local booking office - both cost £30. In September a new national discount railcard for 16 to 17 year olds will come into use. This will give a guarantee of 50% off most fares, including peak, off peak, super off peak and advanced tickets as well as travelcards. The end result is that by September everyone under 30 will qualify for discounted rail travel by purchasing a railcard yearly. Phew!
Finally, tickets in Scotland are now 3.2% more expensive on average. However, in our area the capped increase of all off-peak fares is only 2.2%. The bottom line is: own a railcard, purchase tickets in advance and then with the discounted fares you will save money - honestly! One journey to Glasgow and back using this method will save you the cost of a railcard for a year. What's not to like!
See you on the train,
Lest We Forget
I am seeking assistance from the readers of West Word with a genealogical / historical question.
Recently, members of our family visited the Culloden Battlefield. The wealth of careful research and attention to detail was impressive and educational. However, we were surprised that the MacLellan name was not mentioned as serving with the Glengarry contingent.
Our MacLellan ancestors emigrated from Bourblach in 1815.
Many thanks to Allan and Elizabeth MacDonald who wrote an article regarding MacLellans in West Word in July 2007 and passed along most of the following information.
In 1762, the document Rental of the Estate of Glengarry, referring to the "Barony of Morar" lists 17 Gillis, 7 McDonnell, 1 McDougal, 1 McEachen and 15 McLellan renters or wadset holders. It is reasonable to conclude that most of the same families lived there in 1745/6 and thus would have contributed men to Glengarry's forces supporting Bonnie Prince Charlie.
Two Neil MacLellans, father and son, are mentioned in this 1762 document. Our verbal family history says they were our ancestors, that our family lived on Bourblach "for generations" and that several of Neil's (Jr.) brothers served in "the '45." It is said that only one returned - Angus MacLellan, who lived afterwards in Arisaig.
The book, The Muster Roll of Prince Charles Edward Stuart's Army 1745 - 46, No Quarter Given, edited by Alastair Livingstone and others, lists many that were known to have served. Recorded, under the MacDonell of Glengarry's Regiment, are: Angus and Donald as farmers from Bourblach, but also two other Anguses and two other Donalds as farmers in Morar. However, they are all designated as MacLennans rather than MacLellans. That is likely a mistake, based on the 1762 document and oral history.
In his book Arisaig and Morar, A History Denis Rixson agrees that they were most likely MacLellans.
History should be as accurate as possible. Our ancestors and their families and many other families made sacrifices that should not be forgotten.
Is there a way that the record at Culloden can be updated? Is there a person, committee or some other body that might authorize changes at Culloden, in order to enhance the historical record? (This is not an attempt to replace MacLennans, but to add MacLellans.)
Perhaps you can help? Do you have any additional information? Are there any other names or stories that have endured? If so, please contact me through the Editor at West Word. Maybe we can initiate a change.
WORLD WIDE WEST WORD
Here's Linda, Marion, June, Rita, Eileen and Heather having a break at the Christmas markets and doing some sightseeing at Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna.
BIRDWATCH November 2018 by Stephen MacDonald
Birdwise, pretty typical fare for November, the exception being the continued sightings of Little Egrets throughout the month, from Invercaimbe, Loch nan Ceall and Loch Ailort.
On the 4th a Kingfisher was seen on the Morar River, presumably the same bird that has spent the previous two winters there.
A male Blackcap visited a Woodside, Morar, garden daily until the 16th, feeding on fat balls. A female visited a Rhubana View garden until at least the 8th and another was seen on the 17th in the same garden where the male had been feeding.
There were up to three adult Whooper Swans on Loch nan Eala throughout the month. Also on Loch nan Eala there were 25+ Teal, 12+ Wigeon, two Goldeneye and a Little Grebe. Three Slavonian Grebes were first seen on Loch nan Ceall on the 4th.
Wigeon were also seen on Loch nan Ceall, Silver Sands, Traigh and the Morar Estuary, where on the 23rd there were at least 16 near Bourblach.
At least ten Canada Geese were at Back of Keppoch on the 10th, feeding alongside the Greylag Geese. They remained in the area throughout the month being seen at Traigh Farm and Camusdarroch also.
There were at least two Greenshank on the Morar Estuary on the 19th. At Back of Keppoch and Invercaimbe there were small numbers of wintering Curlew, Lapwing and Oystercatcher. At Camusdarroch there were 20 Ringed Plover, one Dunlin and one Sanderling feeding on the tide-line on the 8th. As the month progressed there were increased sightings of both Snipe and Woodcock from throughout the area.
Jays were seen on several occasions near Loch nan Eala, Arisaig and on the 18th there was a report of one in a garden at Lochailort.
Barn Owls were seen and heard around both Back of Keppoch and Morar. Tawny Owls were reported from Arisaig and Morar.
Several reports of Sea Eagles from Camusdarroch and Loch Ailort. A female Hen Harrier was seen by the A830 to the east of the golf course on the 4th.
Watch this space for extracts from next month's issue!
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