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

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July 2011 Issue

Contents of the online version:

Top stories
Monthly news from Muck, Canna, Rum, Eigg, Arisaig
Birdwatch & Astronomy
Railway News - Crofting Roundup - Harbour News
Local Genealogy & History

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When Kirsty Bryden, together with her friend Roddy MacInnes, died in the tragic accident at Loch Eilt last September, she was on the eve of a venture she had dreamed up to raise 10,000 for children with serious and limiting illnesses. Now dad John will carry out her dream when next month he sets out on a 5000 mile trip around the coast of Britain on Kirsty's 12hp Honda motorcycle.
On Monday 4th July Jan and John Bryden launched the Kirsty Bryden Memorial Trust in a short ceremony in their Lochailort garden. Present to unveil a plaque set in a granite block was Dave Thompson MSP, who was instrumental in the Bryden's campaign to have safety barriers erected along the lochside at the accident site.
Fr Joe Calleja blessed the memorial and Ewen Henderson from Strontian, a friend of Roddy's, played the pipes.
John spoke of his daughter's commitment to the needs of sick children and her work in Mozambique with the charity 'Over the Wall'. Jan made an emotional appeal to everyone to 'do their bit' to help those less fortunate. She gave an example: if everyone filled a Smartie tube with 20p pieces for their cause, even that would make a difference. A charity called Kirsty's Kids has been set up by the Brydens, who will pay all administration costs and also the expenses of the trip around Britain themselves so that every penny raised will go towards helping sick children.
Go to www.kirstyskids.org to read more about the charity and the Memorial Trust.
Jan and John Bryden with MSP Dave Thompson at the plaque

Local outrage at Highland Council's decision to close the public conveniences in Arisaig village at the height of the summer season has resulted in Arisaig Community Trust taking on the responsibility to keep them open, as from July 1st.
Arisaig, Caol and Kinlochleven were the Lochaber loos set for closure at the end of June, together with a further ten Highland-wide. The shock decision by Highland Council gave very little time for alternative solutions to be put into place but the directors of Arisaig Community Trust were up for the challenge and have spent the last two months in discussion with the Council.
Chair Ann Martin said 'Although we will be in receipt of an annual sum of over 3000 Highland Comfort Scheme grant, we have done our sums and the running costs will be well over 6000 a year. We need to do a lot of local fundraising but we're sure Arisaig residents will support us in keeping this essential service open. This is absolutely what the Trust was set up to do - to save a local service from closure. Although it's been a difficult couple of months with a lot of hard work put in by the directors, we never had any doubt about taking them on. They are the first public toilets travellers come across after leaving Fort William and are very well used by bus trippers, lorry drivers and boat users as well as car passengers - and locals. To close them would have been crazy.
'The Trust is running the loos under a temporary licence from the Council while a contract for sale is drawn up. We will buy the building for 1 but overheads are heavy - supplies, paying a cleaner, insurance, rates, electricity, repairs - and we are hoping the Council will do some work on them to improve their standard before we buy.' The Trust's first fundraiser will be to serve refreshments in the Astley Hall on Friday July 29th.
Other public conveniences across the region are set for closure next year.

Mallaig's RNLI crew praised for saving six lives
A Coxswain and his crew who saved six lives and prevented a major environmental disaster have been singled out for praise by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. The crew from Mallaig were presented in front of more than 100 people attending the RNLI's annual awards ceremony in Perth.
A video was shown highlighting the role they played in a shout lasting more than 11 hours during which they battled 50mph winds to stop the Red Duchess, a 76metre coaster carrying coal, from going aground on the island of Rum after the vessel had suffered complete machinery failure.
Mallaig's all-weather RNLI lifeboat Henry Alston Hewat was launched on 2nd November 2010 into the teeth of a gale - the coastguard's emergency towing vessel Anglian Prince would not arrive for six hours - and set up a tow.
A decision was taken not to evacuate the vessel's crew because it would be too dangerous in the face of the bad weather conditions and the Red Duchess was laden with coal and awash across her hatches.
At one point the vessel was just 1.5 miles away from crashing onto the island and creating an environmental disaster. Her crew had been watching powerlessly as the cliffs of Rum loomed ominously closer.
But the 45-ton lifeboat, with a crew ranging from 20 to 51 years old, saved the 2,500-ton Red Duchess from going aground.
Later the Anglian Prince arrived and towed the vessel into Rum before she was taken to Stornoway for repairs.


photo The RNLI presented the Coxswain Michael Ian Currie with a framed letter of thanks signed by the RNLI chairman Admiral the Lord Boyce.
The crew of Hugh Cameron, Kevin McDonell, Stuart Griffin, Angus McLean and Cameron Sangan were given a letter of appreciation signed by the RNLI's Chief Executive Paul Boissier. Paul Jennings, the RNLI's acting Divisional Inspector for Scotland, said, 'In recognition of his leadership, boat handling, determination and the sheer concentration required to tow the 1200-ton motor vessel Red Duchess for six hours in severe gale conditions and thereby saving the vessel, all six crew and preventing a severe environmental impact to the Isle of Rum, Coxswain Michael Currie is awarded a framed Chairman's letter of thanks on behalf of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.'

The community of Elgol has once again given a generous contribution to Mallaig Lifeboat, raised through various events over the year which culminated in their annual gala day. A cheque for 2,500 was handed over to Lifeboat crew members who had staged a rescue exercise during the gala day.

Pictured left to right: Lifeboat crew Willie MacDonald, Martin Currie, Kevin McDonell, John MacPhee and Paul Sinclair, with Coxswain Michael Currie in the far right, receive the cheque from community representatives Iain MacKinnon and Mairi Henderson. Photo courtesy of Moe Mathieson.


At last a month when I have nothing to say about the weather it has been so normal ! At the hall site the frame is now finished and the whole building is encased in a green waterproof membrane. Many of the windows are in and the cladding team have arrived to attach the final covering which appears to be slate grey.
On the farm silage has started and shearing is over. Never have fewer hours been spent in the shed even though ewe numbers are greater than for a number of years. Two of the Muck shearing team David and Colin had been to Eigg where they joined Eigg farmers Alex and Sarah, Colin, George and Sara for a shearing course. All except the two girls were experienced shearers, but they gained valuable tips to improve speed and quality. Colin and Sarah also gained the bonus of having their hoggs shorn early reducing the danger of fly strike.
While on topic of Eigg it was great to see Simon Helliwell here today. He had come to sort out the first stages of a Muck connection to the Eigg fast broadband network. I am not a big user of E-mail or the internet but for those who are Avanti speeds must be a real pain. Anything Simon can do will be of real benefit to the island and much appreciated.
Lastly a CAMAS event at last. The Ceilidh Trail will be with us on Friday 15th. All welcome.
Lawrence MacEwen

The island has been incredibly busy with visitors although the weather has been poor. Birdlife here is booming too with three sea eagle chicks in one nest, a shellduck with twelve large chicks and six very noisy corncrakes.
Our new Aberdeen Angus bull is out with the cows and I think they're suitably impressed!! and the Highland bull and cows have been strategically placed by the pier for photo opportunities.
A new family, The Spences have arrived so more update next month.
National Trust Conservation Volunteers have been here for a week working in Canna House Garden and on the farm and as always have done a great job.

News from Gille Brighde:
It's been a really busy month - the yachts are back and the cottages full! Nice to familiar faces as well, with a quick visit from Gordon and Julie - who were married on the island five years ago. They celebrated their anniversary by throwing a wee party on their boat, they had some friends from the big city with them - a make-up artist and hairdresser - we were well behaved (honest!!) but the highlight was definitely hearing Gerry and Murdo discussing whether it was possible to give a sheep a bob!!
The day trips are picking up well - packed lunches at the puffin stack, a walk round Tarbert and a cold beer before the ferry back to Mallaig - what a good way to spend a Saturday.
Gerry MacKinnon

The school pupils, in a burst of summer activity, have painted a wonderful mural on the side of the old bike shed, see picture left, a scarecrow to scare the birds away from the soon to be school garden, they have also acquired a polytunnel which should be up by the end of the summer holidays. Rum Primary said goodbye to Nell who has completed P7 and will be off to high school in Mallaig next term. Good luck Nell!!


Definitely deserving a mention are Nell and Cara's film making skills which have exceeded all expectations by their production of 'Sports Outcasts' - their own hilarious take on Wimbledon - all the drama, all the tantrums, all the shattered dreams...
SNH have presented plans of the pier shelter they intend to build on an area of land retained in their ownership. It's an attractive looking building and will provide much needed shelter for visitors waiting for the ferry and getting caught in the weather... all going to plan, we're told it will be complete by April 2012. One thing it won't have is toilets... and given that a loo is definitely needed on the pier, the community trust have agreed to install a composting toilet to fill the gap. Don't be put off! Composting toilets have come a long way since a hole in the ground and a bucket of sawdust. It will meet our green credentials and avoid the expense of putting in a septic tank.
A whistle stop tour from building standards this month inspected and signed off a raft of work completed over the last couple of years including the village hall extension, the Whitehouse conversion, the larder extension and the otter hide. This visit coincided with the Lochaber access officer who was over looking at the path network and discussing local access issues.
Vikki, our new development officer has had a busy month; she has been to a housing conference, a village hall seminar, off to Eigg to pick Maggie's brain and soon going to Knoydart to see Angela and Davie. Slowly getting through the lengthy list of work, Vikki has been negotiating the common grazing land to go with the crofts and making a good start on our long overdue housing plot and housing allocation policy - with so many new people moving to Rum within the last, say, five years, we will probably have another housing workshop to provide more information on all the options for affordable housing.
The Castle is closed for the first week of July for boiler repairs, castle tours are still taking place and the shop, cafe and craftshop etc are still open. Everything a la chateau will be back to normal after that; including a new manager, I'm told.
Lesley has added to her emerging pony herd with a couple of new additions, Athena and foal (no name yet). They are Lesley and Cara's own ponies but are related to the existing Rum herd by being related to Lewis.
That's all folks.
Fliss Fraser

Lesley Watt along with her partner Neil Boyd are set to become the first crofters on the Isle of Rum in the modern era. The whole of the island was previously owned and managed as a National Nature Reserve by Scottish Natural Heritage. However, assets and land in Kinloch Village were transferred in two phases (2009 and 2010) into the ownership of the Isle of Rum Community Trust (IRCT) and three bare land crofts were created. The IRCT objectives for the crofts are to provide security of tenure on the island, to encourage both local and new people to take up crofting activities and to encourage a sustainable economic base for the Isle of Rum community.
Lesley and Neil were successful in their application to let the 6.31 hectare Croft No. 1 in May 2011 and are planning a number of small enterprises including sheep and chicken rearing and keeping horses. They also plan to build their house on the croft as soon as possible as they are currently living in shared rented accommodation.
Ms Watt said, 'We are very excited about the new opportunities now open to us on Rum through the crofting tenancy. This enables ourselves and the local community to be more self sufficient and gives us security for our future on the island.' A spokesperson for the IRCT said, 'This is great news for the islands community and sees the Community Trust fulfilling a number of its objectives including promoting sustainable development and encouraging a sound economic base for the Isle of Rum Community.'

Following David Frew's departure in March, IRCT has appointed a new Development Officer; Vikki Trelfer started on 6th June and is getting into the swing of island life. Vikki previously lived in Inverness and worked for the Citizens Advice Bureau, and in August will complete her MSc in Sustainable Rural Development through Aberdeen University. Her contract is funded by HIE and LEADER and runs to the end of November 2011, but we are hopeful it will be extended for a further two years.

June kicked off in style with a two day party in the hall as Calum and Brendan celebrated their 21st birthdays. The music could be heard from far and wide as Calum demonstrated his DJ skills on a sound system rigged up by Mick Brett. The party only came to an abrupt end when the computer was unplugged and the intricate tangle of wires could not be reconnected!
The following weekend was Eigg's 14th birthday and saw a big crowd of people over from the mainland to celebrate the anniversary. There was a good selection of music on Saturday night with the regulars JaMaTha and DJ Dolphin Boy at the beginning and end of the night and two new bands, Rura and Sketch in between. The variation between ceilidh music, more modern traditional music and some chilled out tunes seems to work well with every different musical taste catered for. We will have to try and top it next year for the 15th anniversary! Aside from the beginning of the summer music and ceilidh season, the long awaited shearing course finally took place in the middle of the month, with everyone who took part finding it a worthwhile way to gain or improve on their shearing skills.
The BBC were over once again to film a positive report on Eigg's recent population rise and a look at how a lot of young people either decide to stay or have returned in the past few years with increasing opportunities to start new ventures and to find accommodation. One way of attracting new people is in the form of volunteers who stay on after their placements are finished. Just as well the volunteer house is filling up nicely with at least four volunteers here for long periods and a few bigger groups who have been over recently, doing a much appreciated job of clearing the rhododendron up by the hall!
Eilidh Kirk

Apart from the huge effort put in by the Arisaig Community Trust to keep the toilets open, a number of other tourism related things have been happening in the village over the last month.
Paul Millar, Hon Consul of the Czech Republic, returned with helpers and they carried out some landscaping around the SOE monument on the sea front, laying granite slabs and planting a tree. A few months ago he erected two large granite slabs with the names of the fallen Czech SOE operatives engraved on one, and a list of their missions on the other.
During the month, the village map organised by the Community Council was erected opposite the Post Office. It is a delightful piece of artwork by Fort William artist Felicity Nightingale, framed and mounted by All Round Signs, and funded by the Councillors' Discretionary Fund, the Arisaig Fund and the Community Council. The copyright of the picture has been given to the CC by Felicity and the original will go in the Land, Sea and Islands Centre and a copy at the Railway Station, and it is hoped that postcards etc of it will be available too.

photo photo

A wooden bike rack, made by Frank Baillie for the Community Council, has been placed opposite the shop. The bike rack was commissioned after a request from Colleen MacLean, who cycles to her job at the shop and realised there was nowhere safe to leave her bike. Thanks go to Frank for donating the log and his time.
Work on the Astley Hall car park, on the waste ground opposite the hall, has begun, with Fion Construction putting in the dropped kerb and 6 metres of tarmac required by the Planning Department. Later on this year, work will be carried out to clear the rest of the area. Cuttings will be taken of a large buddleia and a broom bush and they will be replanted along with some other landscaping. The car park will take 11 - 12 cars and will be for the use of the community, not just hall goers. The Hall Committee is grateful to the Arisaig Fund, the Gower Trust and the Councillors' Discretionary Fund for helping to pay for this facility. Another plea here for your help to keep the public toilets in the village open. Please support any fundraising effort and put your spare pennies into the collecting boxes which will appear. The first if these is on Friday 29th July when the Arisaig Community Trust is doing the refreshments at the Waterstones Book Fair event in the Astley Hall. Help is needed - offers of food and raffle prizes and assistance in the kitchen - ACT would be grateful for even an hour of your time. But please come along and have your lunch!
Ann Lamont


Tougal Beach
Thank you to those who have sent us their comments regarding this issue. We are trying to get some more expert advice on this subject. In the meantime we can monitor whether the current signs about camping that are up at the beach are having the desired effect. We intend to hold a Public Meeting in September to which the Councillors, landowner and police will be invited. Please let us know your views or ideas. You can leave an email on our website or contact any of the directors. Lottery
Our 200 Club is about to start (see last month's news). Watch out for the letter that will soon be coming through your letterbox! Lottery membership forms will also be available at our stall on Games Day. Promoter: Audrey MacEachen, tel. 462592. Email audrey-mac@supanet.com

Crepes & Coffees for taste buds of all ages!
Come and taste our special European style pancakes with sweet or savoury fillings on Wednesday 20th July in the Mallaig & Morar Community Centre from 11am - 2pm. All welcome!

Gemma van der Zanden, tel. 462876; Anna Cornelius 462702; Audrey MacEachen 462592; Eleanor Read 460007; Keith Elwell 460216; Mairi MacLean 462823; Tiina MacVarish 462230 and Martin Poole 460365.

The Class of '83 is planning a reunion on Saturday 27th August at 8pm in Caol Community Centre. Most if them will be hitting the grand old age of 40 this year which seems good enough reason for a gathering!
A Welcome Drink, a disc and buffet are on offer at 10 a head. Tickets are available at the door or from Aeleen Campbell on 07760 155313, Karina Matheson, at The Granite House, Fort William, 0749 878515 or Facebook, and Tangles Salon, High Street, Fort William.

It was a long night on Wednesday 8th June for the Mallaig Coastguard Team when a planned power outage went wrong after lightning struck a cable in Stornoway. This meant that the Coastguard Station Officer, Ian Macnaughton had to arrange for his team members to man the aerial site at Arisaig and later the Station radio in their new premises on the Industrial Estate, in order that no mayday or urgency messages or calls for help were missed.
The Mallaig Coastguard aerial site at Arisaig enables VHF (marine) radio coverage from Ardnamurchan Point to Skye and out beyond the Small Isles.
BT finally fixed the problem at 4am and the team were stood down, having been in control of the airwaves for 16 hours. Coastguard Sector Manager Phil Wren said 'The Coastguard Agency is indebted to the team for giving up their time to ensure that the seas around here remain safe.'

Birdwatch by Stephen MacDonald - June 2011
June was a much quieter month both weather and bird wise. Only two sightings of note, first a single Long Tailed Skua between Arisaig and Eigg on the 7th and the other was a flock of at least 12 Common Scoters flying north, just off Arisaig on the 12th, both sightings from the MV Sherwater.
Still a few waders lingering at Traigh until mid-month. On the 7th there were at least 8 Sanderlings and 20 Dunlin there. The highest count of Turnstone was 16 seen at Traigh on the 17th. also at least 6 Curlews at Traigh until the month end.
Still a few Great Northern Divers lingering throughout the month offshore from Traigh and Arisaig, most seem to be Immatures. A few more Eiders and Shelduck with well grown chicks at Traigh and a pair of Greylags on Loch Morar with 5 well grown goslings mid-month. The Arctic Terns at Traigh seem to have abandoned all nesting attempts by the 3rd week of June.
Tawny Owls with fledged chicks were seen at Beoraid, Morar, on the 16th. Still a single Barn Owl at the usual site in Mallaig throughout the month.
Early in the month, 2 Lesser Redpolls that were caught by members of the Highland Ringing Group in a Morar garden had been ringed during the previous winter at two different locations; one at Kiltarlity, SW of Inverness, and the other just outside Kettering, Northamptonshire, showing quite a difference in wintering locations.
A Great Skua photographed from the MV Sheerwater on the 25th was wearing a colour ring which indicated that it had been ringed as a chick on Handa Island in 2004.

EIGG REPORT by John Chester
For breeding birds it has been generally a very difficult spring with numbers of many resident species much reduced as a result of the prolonged extreme winter weather. Particularly affected have been Woodcock, Snipe, Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Robin & Goldcrest while Stonechats have dropped from 30+ pairs to only four pairs & Grey Wagtails have disappeared completely!
Following this the dreadful May weather wrecked havoc amongst many breeding species with seabird nests being washed from the cliffs, many ground breeders flooded out & a dearth of insects causing real problems for many passerine species.
There are though a few bright spots with the large Rabbit population producing good seasons for Golden Eagles & Buzzards and Long Eared Owls raising several young. Red Throated Divers and Arctic Terns have bred late and may hopefully yet fledge a few young, Great Skuas made a first ever (failed) breeding attempt and several migrant species, in particular Blackcap, Sedge Warbler & Whitethroat, are present in extremely good numbers.
The offshore waters have generally been very quiet with the almost total lack of Basking Shark records a complete contrast to recent springs. Minke Whales too have yet to appear to any extent & the only real 'action' has involved the large numbers of Common Dolphins seen on several occasions.
Overall it's been a pretty dreadful spring for butterflies with sightings few and far between and even the normally abundant Green Veined Whites very scarce.

That's it now, believe it or not the nights are getting shorter again already and we're nearly into out monthly run of impressive meteor showers that lead up to...let me just say December. It's still too early for that other word.
What happens during July though looks more like a warm up, with several 'small' meteor showers peppering the sky. The Piscis Austrinids, the South delta-Aquariids, and the Alpha-Capricornids all peak around the end of the month, while at the same time the mighty Perseids start limbering up for their big show during August. More on these in the next article, as they should be peaking around the 15th of the month.
We had another near-miss at the end of June when Asteroid 2011 MD, no bigger than 20m across, skimmed past at a distance of 8000 miles above us. While certainly not big enough to cause a threat, it was only spotted a few days beforehand. The actual passing of the object was visible from South Africa, which would have been a sight to behold.
And on that same note, astronomers have announced the discovery of a new comet heading our way. PANSTARRS (named after the telescope that spotted it) is still at a distance of 610 million miles, and really very faint at 19th magnitude, but they have already been able to ascertain that it should come within 80 million miles of us during the early months of 2013. PANSTARRS has the potential to give us the best comet sighting since Hale-Bopp in '97, so watch this space.
Still on the subject of small, icy nomadic objects in our solar system, two new moons have been discovered around Jupiter. The fact they were discovered more than ten months ago goes to show how small a thing this is these days. There was once a time when the discovery of a new moon would immortalise the discoverer in the history books, but not anymore. These two new moons bring Jupiter's total moon count to 65, a small piece of trivia for you if you're planning any pub quizzes soon...
As always, clear skies and happy viewing!

Bob and Louise Nolan from Aberdeen found a novel way to bring deafblindness to the attention of the public when they undertook a 1000 mile tandem ride around the Scottish islands from Unst in Shetland to Glasgow's George Square taking in 22 islands and even more ferries in between.
This was a gruelling journey for anyone, but even more so for Bob who is registered blind and very hard of hearing, and his deaf wife Louise, the front rider. The couple communicated on the journey whilst moving by lipreading using a wing mirror. Both are committed to keeping fit and the punishing 70 mile a day schedule over some of Scotland's steepest hills required them to be at their peak!
Bob, 53, is chairperson of Deafblind Scotland and is raising funds for a new Training and Resource Centre to be built on their "Field of Dreams" in Lenzie. The couple have so far raised around 8,000 and hope the funds will continue to come in.
Deafblindness can happen to anyone, particularly due to people living longer, illness, or even prolonged exposure to loud music and deterioration to ones eyes, such as Macular Degeneration. Bob himself, has a genetic condition known as Usher Syndrome which causes deafness from birth and deteriorating tunnel vision in the teenage years.
The Nolans were accompanied by their support team, their son Josh, 16, Drena O'Malley who works for Deafblind Scotland, and her husband Hammie who has a bike shop in Kirkintilloch and who was an invaluable support to keep the bikes on the road and running sweetly.
Deafblind Scotland are most grateful to Phil of the West Highland Hotel who gave the group heavily discounted accommodation and to Ashley of the Tea Garden who generously gave the group a well earned dinner free of charge.
Anyone who wishes to continue to contribute to Bob and Louise's Cycle Challenge for the building of a Centre for Scotland's deafblind adults can do so at: www.justgiving.com/Bobstandemride2 or go to www.deafblindscotland.org.uk

On and Off the Rails - by Sonia Cameron

Change of staff at Mallaig Booking Office
After ten years of loyal, helpful service at Mallaig Booking Office, Suzie Sangan waved away her last passenger train at 6.15pm on Saturday July 2nd 2011. As I write this column on Sunday July 3rd, she is on a train heading for Glasgow to commence several weeks of Conductor training, followed by route and rule familiarisation on board trains between Mallaig and Crianlarich under supervision. Finally, around the end of September, Suzie will fledge and become a fully trained, flying solo, ScotRail Conductor. Good luck Suzie, you have served us well these last ten years. See you on the train!
In the meantime, following a training period in Glasgow, new shoes are under the counter at Mallaig Booking Office. Filling them, with a little trepidation I'm sure, we welcome Anne Cameron from Arisaig. Initially she will be under supervision, but I'm sure she'll emerge to be as informative and helpful as Suzie has been. Good wishes for your new careers go to both of you.

Afternoon Jacobite settles into new time slot
Following several alterations to the time of arrival and departure of the newly introduced second service of the day on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays (as reported in last month's West Word) the afternoon Jacobite has settled very nicely into its new slot and is working currently with five coaches. The rolling stock consists of Mark 2 coaches with comfortable upholstered seating and extra first class capacity. A self-contained catering coach with seating capacity for nineteen passengers also forms part of the rolling stock. Departing on Wednesdays, Thursday and Fridays, until Friday August 26th, at 2.45pm from Fort William, it arrives in Mallaig at 4.45pm. Leaving Mallaig at 6.40pm, it arrives at Fort William at 8.24pm. Already it is proving useful as a mid-afternoon steam-hauled service for tourists who have arrived in Fort William on the Caledonian Sleeper train or the ScotRail lunchtime train and want a look around Fort William before travelling on for their booked stay in Mallaig. The 'yard' at Fort William could easily be a scene from the last century with three steam locomotives, two sets of coaches, showering facilities and a full kitchen. Alongside this is the constantly changing coal stack and ash stack, plus the working turntable. It is a sight to behold. The support crew work tirelessly alongside the fitters to keep everything repaired, oiled and watered, in between batches of Mallaig fish and chips and trifle - eh lads!

Florence's Flyer
Wednesday 29th June 2011 was a special day for Florence MacLean, the 'she who must be obeyed'! she's really a wee honey of a guard on the Jacobite Steam Train. It was her big birthday, the one where she celebrated being 35 + 15 years of experience!! And what a present awaited her when she pulled into 'the yard' at around 7.30am that morning! Ian Riley has commissioned a train head board to go on the Black 5 45231 Sherwood Forester that was running that day - and instead of the Jacobite, the train became Florence's Flyer! Her Guard's van was filled with balloons, flowers, chocolates, etc - and the passengers and crew sang her Happy Birthday. You deserve all the adoration you got that day Florence, now you should write a list of fifty things you want to do in the year - and carry them out!

Photo by Steve Roberts

CROFTING ROUNDUP - by Joyce Wilkinson, SCFA Representative/Area Assessor

Report shows Crofting decline
A recent report [June 23rd 2011] by SNH on the habitats of areas in Skye and the North Highlands as well as in the Borders, shows the negative impact on the social, economic, community and natural heritage of the area, with the sharp decline on sheep and cattle numbers. The report was compiled by naturalists and crofters/ farmers from these areas and the decline in species in the case studies can easily be mirrored in many townships throughout the highlands including our own. The report was compiled with crofters and farmers and the extent of the damage is being blamed on government policies over the last few decades that have made it impossible for crofting to continue as it once was. Losses that can be directly attributed to decline in crofting are detailed in the report but I have listed some below and included the species directly affected.

Species affected or in direct decline due to all of the above include Moths, Bats, Bumblebees, yellowhammer, corn bunting, reed bunting, twite, lapwing, snipe, corncrake, dunlin, curlew, greenshank, golden plover, skylarks, pied wagtails
In the Skye area used for compiling the report it was concluded that sheep and cattle numbers are in decline, and active crofters are also in decline. It was also noted that summers in the last 15 years are 30% wetter so silage making and bought in fodder have replaced hay making and other winter feed crops.
The increase in housing development is due to the number of people wanting to come and live in a rural environment, but development on crofts has subdivided units and led to a change in the crofting ethos
The Scottish Crofting foundation attribute the changes above to the implementation of government policies that make it financially impossible to continue crofting. Planning policy, led by government policy on housing along with financial pressures have led to the loss of in bye and good grazing land. The increased bureaucracy, regulatory burden, cross-compliance and paperwork were putting people off bothering with keeping livestock. Most participants felt that funding was targeted at farmers and larger producers. The current schemes available for funding do not target crofting. Click here for the full report (PDF).

The Crofting Reform (Scotland) Act 2010
On July 1st 2011 sections 40 (limitation on crofter's ability to nominate disponee) and 41 (extension of period during which sum is payable on disposal of croft land) will come into force.
Section 40: Limitation on crofter's ability to nominate disponee
Section 40 of the 2010 Act provides that a crofter who applies to the Land Court for an order authorising him to acquire part or all of his croft land may only request title to be granted in his own name, or that of a family member . Previously, a crofter could nominate any third party to receive the payment and this was used as a loophole to avoid the 'landlord clawback ' which was payable if the land was sold on within 5 years. This part of the Reform Bill has been put in place to dampen speculation on croft land. It will come into force on July 1st.
Section 41: Extension of period during which sum is payable on disposal of croft land
Section 41 of the 2010 Act amends section 14(3) of the 1993 Act to extend the period during which a crofter who has acquired his croft land (or the crofter's nominee), must make a further payment to the landlord. The period has been increased from five to ten years. This part of the Reform Bill has been put in place to further dampen speculation by developers , it means that if you purchased a piece of land that is under crofting tenure from a private or community landlord, you would have to wait ten years before you would not be required to share the proceeds of a further sale with the landlord. It will not impact on those crofters with families who wish to build and live on their croft land.

Crofting What's on

SAC Free workshops
Sheep meeting on Flock management, tup preparation, fluke etc. Venue Arisaig, Date to be announced

SAC Training courses some being run in conjunction with Scottish Crofting Federation

All the above courses are venue and date to be announced, call SAC Oban to register an interest 01631565074. Courses can only go ahead if there are enough participants

SCF courses (Some dates still to be confirmed)

NEWS FROM MALLAIG HARBOUR - by Robert MacMillan, Port Manager

Fish Feed Storage Facility
The opening of the new Fish Feed Storage Facility at the port is set to take place on Tuesday 12th July 2011 at noon.
Provost Allan Henderson, who as well as being the local Highland Councillor is also a member of the Mallaig Harbour Authority, will officially declare the facility open by the formal cutting of a ribbon draped across the doorway of the building.
The official Press Release is as follows:-
The opening of the new 1,000 tonne capacity fish feed storage building in Mallaig on Tuesday 12th July 2011 is another landmark in the continuing development of the port. Authority Chairman Mr Michael Currie states 'Our close liaison with West Lothian based fish feed manufacturer EWOS Ltd has enabled the Authority to proceed with confidence on the building of this facility and we are delighted to be expanding our operational base via this development - a development that opens up new business opportunities for the port of Mallaig.'
Over the next two years EWOS Ltd intend to ship 40,000 tonnes of feed through the port and with west coast salmon farming sites continuing to increase in numbers and size Mallaig, with this new storage facility, is geographically positioned to become the main distribution hub for fish farm feed on the west coast of Scotland.
'We would like to congratulate Mallaig Harbour Authority on the completion of the new feed storage warehouse" says Douglas Low, Managing Director of EWOS "and we're looking forward to commencing feed distribution from the port. Mallaig will be the operational base for our delivery vessel the MV Fame which services salmon farms on the West Coast, Western Isles and Shetland.
'We chose Mallaig because of its location, facilities and road links and of course the progressive attitude of the Harbour Authority to new development and investment. We have enjoyed working closely with them for the last 10 months and they have delivered an excellent facility."'
Marine Harvest's Business Support Manager, Steve Bracken declared 'This is good news for Mallaig and the salmon farming industry particularly with the very real prospect of new farms being developed in the Minch in the coming months. Marine Harvest already has its harvest station in Mallaig and with the Authority and EWOS now having this new feed store, it will help the port consolidate its position as a leading fish farming supply base for the future.' Port Manager Mr Robert MacMillan said 'With project costs in the region of 480,000 the Authority is indebted to Highlands & Islands Enterprise who backed the development financially and to our Engineers Wallace Stone Ltd and main building contractor Noel Regan & Sons who have worked together to provide this excellent facility.' He went on 'Fish Farming is becoming increasingly important to Mallaig Harbour and the building of this storage unit complements the existing Marine Harvest Factory which employs 23 local workers and handles 40,000 tonnes of salmon per year.'
Elaine Jones, Development Manager with HIE, said: 'Highlands and Islands Enterprise has been working closely with Mallaig Harbour Authority as it develops ways to grow and diversify its market. They are innovative in their approach to meeting the needs of their existing and potential customers and we are delighted to have been able to help with funding for this building at such a key site on the West coast.'

Chainsaw Course
Four of the Authority workforce recently attended a safety course on chainsaw use. Organised by The Mallaig Training Centre, the two day course provided not only safety training on the use of the power saw but also on the maintenance and up keep of the equipment. We would like to thank Ms Jane Henderson of the Mallaig Training Centre for organising the course.

Name Coincidence
It's not too surprising for fishing boats to have similar names but what is surprising is to have two of them in the same port and to be moored up alongside each other as happened recently at Mallaig Harbour. This picture shows the Aberdeen registered Trustful alongside it counterpart from Tarbet, Loch Fyne.


Yachting Development
The new 900,000 Yachting Development which was due to be operational by Mid July has been delayed by two weeks. It is now expected to be functioning by the end of July. Contractors on the land reclamation aspect of the development should be finished within the next week with the pontoon manufacturer then coming on site to put the pontoons in place. Tentative plans are now underway to officially open the Yachting Marina in August 2011.

Wide World West Word
Only two contributions this month! Has no-one been away?
Are there no subscribers keen to show us where they live?
photo photo

Tom Champagne and Nadia Schwartzmann outside the Lighthouse Keepers' Cottages they own and run as self catering accommodation at Cantick Head Lighthouse on the island of Hoy in the Orkneys, taken by our Ed Ann and husband Richard on their recent holiday there. Recognise Tom's name? For many years he was the man who signed the Readers Digest prize draw letters - and the winning cheques!

Angela O'Donnell, from Mallaig and now living in Texas, says West Word was a great beach read in Hawaii!

A Little Genealogy by Allan MacDonald
More from the Annals of Skye - Soay

My apologies to readers of this column, which has been missing my contributions over the past six months.
December and January brought a viral infection which laid me low for some six weeks and really emptied my head of everything and blunted my concentration. Although I was able to collect information for an article, I couldn't get it together in chronological order to make it understandable.
Besides that, I had lots to do helping my son Charlie to produce the games booklet. The booklet and Ealasaid's excellent book on the history of the Church of Scotland, Arisaig, which celebrates the bi-centenary of the building's erection under the auspices of the then Clanranald, will be on sale at Arisaig Games. Elizabeth, along with other church members, will be on hand to answer questions. All proceeds from the History of the Parish of Arisaig will go to church funds.

The Annals of Skye. In response to my article in the April issue of WW when I mentioned a Soay marriage, I received a letter from Fiona Stewart, also a 'photo of a wedding party. This is her letter.
"I recently read your article in West Word - The Annals of Skye by Donald Gillies. I was particularly interested in the excerpt - Page 22. February 26th 1943. A Soay Marriage - the second in fifty years. "A marriage of local interest in the Island of Soay. The contracting parties being Mr John MacAskill, Soay and Miss Mima Campbell, daughter of the late Mr Donald Campbell and Mrs Campbell, Soay. The ceremony was conducted by the Rev. A.A. MacDonald, Free Church minister, Bracadale." A list of guests follows including "Mr Angus MacIntyre, (retired engineer) Mallaig, a native of Acharacle." (grandfather of our own Countryside Ranger, also Angus Macintyre).
My mum was born and brought up on Soay and she and her family were evacuated from the island to Mull in 1953. I am interested in the social history of the area have gathered a wealth of photos taken on the island - I am attaching a scanned picture of John and Mima MacAskill's wedding for your interest. The bridesmaid was the bride's sister Annie Campbell who only died a couple of years ago aged 100. Mima herself died in 2009 well into her 90's and is buried beside her husband John in the cemetery at Carbost. Both sisters lived in Craignure, Mull - their mother, Mrs Campbell is the small lady in the hat beside the bridesmaid. I would be interested to hear of any other mention of Soay in the Annals.
Fiona Stewart

Wedding of John MacAskill and Mima Campbell 1943
My thanks to Fiona for her information and wedding photo and in answer to her request, next month West Word will feature two extracts from the "Annals of Skye" by Donald Gillies. They document Gavin Maxwell's purchase of Soay and the setting up of his shark fishing venture.


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