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

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July 2006 Issue

Contents of the online version:

Top stories
Monthly news from Knoydart, Muck, Eigg, Canna
Road to the Isles Show
West Word ten years ago

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As West Word goes to press the tenders are going out for the proposed new stretch of the A830 between Arisaig and Loch nan Uamh - the final piece in the upgrading of the only trunk road in Britain to be single track. Councillor Charles King announced the news by saying: 'After many months of uncertainty and rumour I can confirm the tender process for the final section of the A830 is now back on.
'There have been environmental and legal difficulties which have resulted in a halt to the tender process, but in the last few months hard work and many meetings between the Scottish Executive, Highland Council officials and Arisaig Estate owners have resulted in all the problems being resolved which allows the tender process to be re-started. 'I am sure I speak for everybody in the area when I thank all those involved in the talks which have produced this result. The delays mean a contract award won't be made before the end of the year with a site start in January 2007, which means the project is running three months late.'

The Council is now in the process of publishing orders for 20mph zones for Cameron Avenue and Loch Nevis Crescent; these have been asked for by the residents and, subject to no objections, they will be in place shortly. There is also an order in process for Lovat Terrace, which was included in the order for the 20mph zone at Mallaig Primary School. It is hoped that the Minister for Transport Tavish Scott will be welcomed to formally open the new slipways at Canna and Inverie in August, provisional dates are the 23rd and 24th. Councillor Charlie King said 'This will see the completion of the Small Isles terminals and as we have seen in Eigg, Muck and Rum, they are bringing considerable benefits to the communities.'

Work has commenced on a new £100,000 Fish Auction Hall at Mallaig Harbour. Contractor A J Engineering & Construction Services, Forres, has laid the foundations and the steel framework of the building is presently being erected. The Fish Auction, which has attracted 75% grant aid (FIFG - 50%; Scottish Executive - 25%) is due for completion by the end of August.
'Although fish landings have decreased quite dramatically in recent years it is important to upgrade the port's facilities,' says Manager Robert MacMillan. 'In keeping with Health & Safety guidelines no forklift trucks will be allowed in the new Auction Hall due to diesel emissions - fish will be moved around the Hall via pallet lifters.'

Eight men and a teddy bear left Mallaig High School at 11am on Tuesday 13th June and returned to Mallaig on Saturday 29th June after an epic 4200 mile trip through Eastern Europe. The trip was to raise awareness and money for the Save the Children charity. Before they left Iain Macnaughton presented them with a cheque for £100 on behalf of HM Coastguard. We hope to feature story and photos next month - meanwhile you can follow their process (and teddy's), see great photos and donate money on their webpage on www.mallaigdeershunters.co.uk

On Friday 23rd July Mallaig was 'invaded' by 41 French Canadians who were searching for Le Chateau de Mallaig (the Mallaig Castle) as featured in the book by authoress Diane Lacombe. They were warmly welcomed by the Community and imbibed tea, coffee as well as Uisge-Beatha (which seemed to go down very well).
A big thanks must go to Malcolm Poole for the use of the Heritage Centre for this soiree and also to Rachel Inglis for her fiddling and to our tea and coffee servers cum highland dancers who appeared in full Highland dress - Katie MacNaughton, Kenna Robertson, Connie Grant and Megan McLellan, please take a bow.
We must also thank the Fishermen's Mission for use of all the last minute utensils, and last but not least we must give thanks to Helen for her (as usual) tasty baking.
Visitors and locals alike seemed to enjoy the day and the French Canadians were waved off with the well known Scots saying - 'Haste ye back'.
John MacMillan, Mallaig Community Council

group photo

Presentation photo
Presentation of Mallaig trilogy
Left to right: Martin Sullivan, head of Mallaig High School, Diane Lacombe, author,
John MacMillan, Chair of Mallaig Community Council, Laurent Lavigne, Diane's agent.

Two major events took place on Muck in June - the Open Day and the Big O Ceilidh, the major Camas event of the year. The Open Day on the 18th was unfortunately on the worst Sunday of the summer so far but at least the sea was calm even if the rain poured down when everyone was ashore. 50 hardy souls crossed the water on Sheerwater and fitted comfortably on the trailers for the farm tour.
Barn dances are many people's idea of a good night out, especially when the band is of the quality of Freland Barbour and the Occasionals. 100 guests arrived on Sheerwater and Loch Nevis and even the weather behaved this time with enough wind to keep the odd midge under control. Everyone (I hope) enjoyed a bar-b-que of island produce - chops, limburgers and mackerel and the band played for most of the night. It was great!
On the farm shearing is over and the wool packed in fine new bags. It was not a year for early shearing but the 'contractors' had been booked and they joined Sandy Mathers on the 10th, earlier than most of Scotland! The weather was ideal but it was too early for record tallies as some of the milk ewes were decidedly sticky. On the 5th 12 wedders made the journey to Millers slaughterhouse at Grantown on Spey to return later in bags ready for the freezer - another strand of diversification.
Diversification was also the name of the game when on 23rd June Toby Flitchner arrived on the island with 48 adult pheasants, to see if they will thrive and breed. Toby, a superb shot, will also be reducing the island's goose population to sensible levels over the next few years.
Lawrence MacEwen

Congratulations to Lara who received the 'Student of the Year' award at Perth College Prizegiving for her achievements in the Tourism and Hospitality NQ Course.
Busy, busy Knoydart. Take a last look at the Old Pier; it is due to be demolished by the end of next week and will be placed beneath the rock armour in front of the village to reinforce shore defences against rising tides and storm damage. The shoreline has been landscaped, some existing vegetation has been preserved and survived including a few focal trees and Pierse Construction have achieved a pleasing structure, in my opinion. The approach to the New Pier is following the plan into which went a great deal of forethought and altogether the construction would appear to be blending well with surroundings rather than the dominant feature once feared.

pier photo

Last week Iain and Jo Wilson and I and Martin and Jane from Doune attended the 'From Croft to Catwalk' symposium at the Auction Mart in Fort William. The event ran all day but we were stormbound in Knoydart and only managed to join the evening events. The fashion show was a terrific project by pupils from Mallaig High School who designed, created and modelled items made from woollen products. Taking part were three lovely models from Knoydart, Anna, Alex and Pippa and friends.
School term has finished and of course there will be a number of changes at the start of next term. Tom moves on to Mallaig High School - good luck Tom - and all three nursery participants move into Primary one, each joining an established older sister! I wonder whether summer will extend through July into August for KNOYDART GAMES DAY - Saturday 5th August - date for diary.
Anne Trussell

It's June and here we go again, many friends converging on Eigg for another anniversary celebration; the JaMaTha line up was the best ever,, and the announcement that it may have been one of Croft No.5's last gigs was a total sad thing for their fans who danced their socks off to their bouncy tunes: that the box player has eastern European connections came as no surprise as his Scottish tunes kept turning into even more energising gypsy riffs: a class act, "thank you again, boys, we shall write to your blog to beg you to get together again, especially as we have been told that most of you are off to India for a break, should be good when you come back!" Do I sound like a teenage girl? must have been Eigged or something! Anyway, thanks a lot for the kool dance stuff too, Andy! And thanks to Charlotte also for putting on such a nice felt making workshop in the afternoon ( I bet she had no idea we were on a mission to create a backdrop for the stage, and we did !) She will be back in the autumn for some more wonderful felting… We also welcome a new island director on the IEHT board: Stuart Millar, whose responsibility will be to with economic development.
Another anniversary was a very special one for our shopkeeper and postmistress who hit the big five oh on the solstice! The evening brightened up for a really nice birthday party in our wonderful hall that she was very much instrumental in getting done up again: her sister Gina and her family came up from London and my Brian says, it was a pleasure to dance with her again: Ginger Rodgers and Fred Astaire is how he described it. Was the tequila that strong? Anyway, all the best to our shop Suzie, and many happy returns!
Then we had a concert & ceilidh with Nuala and friends, always a pleasure to see them again. Nuala, who's just back from teaching in Nova Scotia has put together a new band featuring flutes & whistles, accordion, fiddle, guitar & vocals. A fantastic sound & I hear there may be a CD coming soon.
The whole island of course is gripped by World Cup fever, what, even the scrabble championship is on hold, so there is nothing much more to report apart from the fact that the island children had a great time in their annual trip to Fort William, that our youngsters had a great time seeing FatBoy Slim in Inverness, and that everyone is looking forward to going to Muck to another Big Birthday party. It's festival time folks, and soon it will be Feis Eige time.
One more thing though, a warm farewell and good luck to the Robertson family who have now moved to Lochaline. We all wish them the best in their new jobs, and their new life. Kirsty Ann and Kathleen will be sorely missed by all their friends at school, but we know they'll enjoy themselves on the mainland. Good luck to Jodie and Calum in their studies too! My house won't feel the same without so many teenagers…So come back and see us soon!
Camille Dressler

Hello everyone. Well, this has certainly been a very busy month! The first thing that is special about this month is the weather! I think everyone will have to agree that the weather this month has been wonderful (when it hasn't been chucking it down).
Talking about the weather a Mr & Mrs G Galloway just got married on Canna on the 21st. Because of one of the rare occasions where the weather turned nasty, the poor couple thought that the boat wouldn't turn up with almost all their guests and the priest! But the CalMac boys reviewed and decided to send the boat out. I will not go into much detail about the dancing until about 2 o'clock in the morning or the massive seafood buffet or the drinking, it may make you all too jealous and I want to wake up tomorrow!!!
As everyone may already have heard the late great Dr John Lorne Campbell's remains were brought back to Canna. Unfortunately this event also clashed with the wedding and only two islanders were able to make it to the ceremony. His remains were removed from Italy after being there for 10 years as is the custom.
A few years ago sculpture artist Kenny Munro came to Canna to do a project with the school. Some time after he left we received a request from Mr Munro to make some drawings of things on Canna that he could eventually copy onto metal to weld onto a massive steel chair he was making. The chair was to be dedicated to a friend of his that had recently died. After a lot of organising we agreed a date that Mr Munro could come out and fix the chair to Canna Pier. The Chair and Mr Munro and a friend arrived on Canna on the 23rd June. After quite a short time, after being helped by the school, the chair was secure and we got to go home out of more rain. (Photo next month.)
To finish this month's snippet, the ashes of my great uncle Neil MacKinnon were buried on the 24th. A church service was held for him at St Columbus Chapel, this service was well attended by his friends and relatives. The ashes were taken to a small croft on Sunday as Neil's final resting place.
Kathryn MacKinnon

Photo (courtesy of Chris Gray) of the new slipway at Canna
pier photo

Visit of the Duke and Duchess of Rothesay to Kinloch Castle, Isle of Rum
On Thursday, 1st June, the Duke and Duchess of Rothesay paid an official visit to Kinloch Castle, Isle of Rum. They arrived by helicopter just after midday for a 2 hour scheduled visit.
On arrival, they were greeted by the Lord Lieutenant of Inverness-shire, Donald Cameron of Locheil. The Duke and Duchess went into the great hall of the castle where they were shown proposals prepared by the Phoenix Trust for the restoration of the castle. After that they had a conducted tour of the main apartments of the castle. Following that they met, and talked with invited guests in the castle dining room. The invited guests consisted of the entire Rum Community, David MacLennan, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) Area Manager (Stornoway), Tom Cane SNH Property Manager, and Douglas King, Secretary of the Kinloch Castle Friends Association. Both the Duke and Duchess were very impressed, and said that it was a lovely property. They were very keen to see it restored, and hoped that funding for this would be available very soon. The Duke said that he would continue to monitor progress on the restoration proposals. He first became interested in the castle when he saw it appear on the BBC Restoration programme, but this was the first time that he had the opportunity to visit it. The Duke and Duchess left after 2 hours and 20 minutes on the island.
The proposals for the castle which are still being developed propose that there will be major restoration, maintenance and repair works carried out. This will include the majority of the contents. The front of house rooms will be converted with minimal alterations to the fabric into a lodge type hotel with 6 or 7 en-suite letting rooms. There will be limited public access to the principal ground floor rooms with tours timed to fit in with visiting ferries and cruise ships, roughly similar to that at present. At the back of house rooms, currently occupied by the hostel, 8 apartments are proposed ranging from 1 - 6 bedrooms. They will be used for short-term holiday lets. Before work can commence, a new hostel and education centre will have to be built. It will be on the site of, and cover the same footplate as the former greenhouses at the north-east corner of the walled garden. Work on the castle will not commence until the new hostel is open. That is likely to take at least 2 years before the new hostel goes through the planning process, and is built. The design of this building has not yet been finalised.
Estimated costs of the works are £8,000,000 in total, £6,000,000 for building work, and £2,000,000 for restoration of contents. Updates on the above information will be issued as soon as they become available.
Douglas King, Honorary Secretary, Kinloch Castle Friends Association

Everything is gearing up for a really busy July, with so much going on in the area that folk will be spoilt for choice. We've got a lot happening in the Astley Hall during the week the Games are on, an attempt as an 'Arisaig Week'; we have the second Arisaig Craft Fair with refreshments by the WRI and demonstrations of various crafts throughout the day; activities for the kids and good music for the grown ups. Meanwhile the Land, Sea & Islands Centre goes into its longer summer opening hours and still has the little exhibitions on Jemima Blackburn and emigration to Canada as well as the ever-popular SOE bits and pieces. There is now a video of the local area showing while the Centre is open, and there are more local crafts on sale.
The Games themselves (and the second Clan Ranald Gathering) kick off with a parade through the village by the Lochaber Schools Pipe Band which does something to bring the atmosphere of the Games back into the village, sadly missing since they moved from the field down the Rhu road.
Having shared my little personal angle with a few folk (i.e. those who read this bit!) last month I then found myself a centrefold! In the Sunday Post. They liked the story of my holey hanky and came and took photos of me, Eilidh and Ross, who should be talking to me again by the time they make me a grandmother.
And I'm very pleased and excited to report that - there are swallows nesting in the eaves at Highland!
Ann Martin

Caroline Horner and Carline Lindsay stopped off in Arisaig, staying with Ranald and Su Coyne at Dolphin House for their first day off since starting their fund-raising 1,500 mile expedition around the coast of Scotland, The two Carolines have spent the last ten months planning the walk which will raise money and awareness for Save the Children (Scotland). They set off from Gretna on 1st June 2006 and reached Arisaig on Saturday 24th June.
On their way the girls are staying with people who have offered them hospitality. Caroline Lindsay's mother met Su Coyne a few years ago when they both went to Romania to help with a gardening project.
Caroline Horner said 'The aim of the trek is to raise awareness of the work Save the Children does in this country. They do a lot of work with mothers and young children 'at home' although the perception amongst the public is often that the project works only abroad.'
Caroline Lindsay added 'We'd like to thank Ranald and Su and people like them who have kindly offered to put us up and have made the trip possible.'

Their route follows the coast of Scotland from Gretna up around Cape Wrath and down the east coast to Berwick, and staying as close to the sea as possible. They will be doing the equivalent of walking London to Paris seven times! They hope to reach Berwick by the end of August.
So far they have raised £15,500 towards their target of £20,000. To sponsor their expedition or make a donation, go to their website www.twofitladies.co.uk or send a cheque to Kirkland, Whittinghame, Haddington, East Lothian EH41 4QA. The website has a diary of their trip with some stunning photographs.

The Road to the Isles Agricultural Show was held on Saturday 10th. June at Camusdarach, Arisaig by kind permission of Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Simpson, and again proved to be a great success with an increased attendance enjoying the best of summer weather.
There was an excellent turn-out of exhibitors, both in the livestock and baking and handicrafts sections, with some entries coming from as far away as the Isle of Mull.
The committee are very grateful to everyone who entered the competitions and really appreciate the support which they get from all participants. All the results and prize-winners can be seen below.
The afternoon entertainment got off to a 'flying' start with The Drakes of Hazard - a display of sheepdog handling using Indian Runner ducks by Mark Wylie from Luss. Mark kept everyone entertained with his commentary and explanation of the skills involved both for the dogs and the ducks!
There then followed a Slow Bike race by the Mallaig and District Trials Club, and the Mallaig Deershunters were also in attendance promoting their tour of Europe in aid of Save the Children.
Musical interludes by the Lochaber Wind Band and a display of bagpipe playing by Katie MacNaughton certainly helped the afternoon move along.
Iain McConnell of 'One Man and his Dog' fame gave a display of sheepdog handling with his dog Dan while his daughter Dayni worked with Jaff.
There was also a parade of Highland cattle with a commentary by the judge, Angus Mackay of Oban, explaining the characteristics and qualities of this ancient native breed.
Dog lovers were not forgotten with an eagerly contested dog show where Anne Keanan with Solas took the prize for best local dog and Louise Luis won best visiting dog with Hector.
During the afternoon there were demonstrations of sheep-shearing, Ronnie Campbell of Roy Bridge doing the old-fashioned hand clipping while Peter Kennedy of Fort William did machine shearing, and Duncan Gillies from Taynuilt gave his usual excellent show of woodcarving with a chainsaw.
The 'Guess the Weight of the Lamb' proved very popular with joint winners being Essle Watt and Barbara Guy both guessing the exact weight which was 77 lbs.
A Football Penalty Points Competition took place in the afternoon and the winners were : up to P.3 - Billy O'Keefe of Glenfinnan; P.4 to P.7 - 1st. Angus MacNaughton and 2nd. Robbie de Fresnes, both of Morar; Secondary - Ross Douglas of Arisaig. The trophies and raffle prizes were very graciously presented this year by Mrs. Grace Henderson of Morar Lodge. The afternoon's entertainment finished with another super show by the Drakes of Hazzard and their minder, Mark Wylie, who gave the show an excellent finale.
Once again, thank you to everyone who supported the Show in any way, by competing, demonstrating or just by turning up on the day! We hope you enjoyed yourselves and look forward to seeing you all back again next year

West Word - ten years ago
The main story on the cover of the July 1996 edition of West Word linked the past with the present with a photograph of local bathing belles of the early 60's, a time when Mallaig had a sandy beach round the bay. It highlighted the story that locals wished the sandy beach, long disappeared under rocks and boulders of the road widening, to be reinstated.
This was one of the 'findings' of a public meeting which had been held in Mallaig High School as consultants Halcrow Fox unveiled the Mallaig Waterfront Master Plan; the plan was detailed on page 3. It was also revealed at that meeting that Morrison Construction would be constructing the £7m outer breakwater scheme.
It was a busy time for meetings with Nevis Radio holding court in the Mission to discuss their plans to broadcast into the Mallaig area, while the Highland Council were initiating lots of meetings throughout Lochaber to discuss The Lochaber Plan - A Blueprint For Future Development. It's interesting to note that some 10 years later some projects, like new jetties at Inverie and the Small Isles, have become a reality while others, like 'a bowling green for Mallaig', have fallen through the cracks!
Issue 9 Vol 2 edition of West Word (cover price 50p) reported that Neil Robertson on Eigg was to receive grants from Lochaber Ltd and LEADER to set up a small horticultural unit to help make the island self sufficient in fruit and veg.
Page one also hinted at the return of klondykers to the port of Mallaig whilst page 5 was given over to local fishing news with Marine Scientist Ross Campbell being commissioned by the Mallaig & North West Fishermen's Association to produce a Fisheries Management Plan to help safeguard stocks and fishing on the West Coast of Scotland.
Cruise ships and film stars visited Rum while at Glenfinnan the new Dining Car at the Railway Station was opened. Info from Inverie informed us that Donald celebrated his birthday on the Spanish John - with a kissogram!! While the Isle of Muck Open Day attracted lots of visitors including 59 on the ferry Eigg from Kilchoan.
The schools were much in evidence with features from the pupils of Lady Lovat Gaelic Medium Unit, Lady Lovat Primary School children in Morar who led an anti-litter campaign, while Jane MacEachen, Eilidh Young, Hazel MacGillivray and Rachel Carr of Mallaig High School wrote of their 3 day trip to London with the heading 'Arts Appreciation and Careers Awareness.' Peregrine Falcons and other birds of prey were special guests at the Road to the Isles Agricultural Show and Mallaig's Donna Clarke was pictured with her dancing trophies won at the Lochaber Mod.
Paul Galbraith's 'A Tale of the Sea' found him reminiscing and recalling some wartime navel stories, and Aunt Prudence offered up some Astrological Advice.
The wedding photograph of Freda and Donnie MacDougall who were married in Aberdeen on the 29th July 1954 graced page 17, so congratulations to you both on your 52nd wedding anniversary.
The What's On column on the 32nd and final page told us that a Song, Music and Laughter Show starring Calum Kennedy would be held in the Mallaig Hall on July 20th
The Personal Angle column told of two Arisaig youths, K.K. and Bod, who survived a (toy) helicopter crash on Loch Ness side and the snippets scotched the rumour that the Mallaig creelboat Misty Blue is to be renamed Ceo Gorm (sorry Hendry!)

Hogwarts Express comes to Mallaig - Saturday 8th July

Watch this space for extracts from next month's issue!
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The paper version of West Word contains 36 pages (A4 size) including:

  • Reports from the local communities
  • Reports from the coastal ranger, lifeboat log and weather
  • Columns on local sport and politics
  • Poets corner, letters, snippets
  • Feature articles, local events, festivals and games
  • .....and lots more photos!

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