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

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July 2013 Issue

Contents of the online version:

Top stories
Monthly news from Knoydart, Muck, Rum, Canna, Eigg
Railway, crofting and harbour news

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All photos are copyright either of the individual photographers or West Word.
Not to be reproduced without permission.

Jo Stanton-Thornton had a pine marten on her bird table in East Bay, Mallaig

These little deer visited Julie Williams' garden at Glenancross, Morar. Sika or roe? Our Facebook friends came down on the side of sika.

Ambitious plans to redevelop the old village hall site at Mallaig have been submitted to the Planning Authority by Nevis Estate.
The plans involve the demolition of the old village hall followed by the creation of a new Marina Facility Building - a building that will house the toilets, showers and laundry facilities for use by the yachting personnel berthed at the Marina.
There will also be a retail area on the ground floor with living accommodation on the first floor.


Alongside the new Marina Facility Building there are plans to construct an eye catching "crannog" which will incorporate a local delicatessen/hot food kiosk and covered seating area.
As part of project, the existing Public Toilets will be demolished along with the old hall and re-housed in the Mallaig & Morar Community Centre.
Work on the new toilets is set to commence imminently. The old hall will be demolished in the autumn and the new facilities should be completed in time for the 2014 summer season.

BigFoot take the stage at the Scottish Finals!
Mallaig High School's Young Enterprise Team took part in the Scottish Finals of the Young Enterprise Scotland Awards on June 18th. The Big Foot team with their entry of Max the Monkey and the Choconana Cupcakes came first in all categories in the regional awards in April and travelled to Glasgow in good spirits. They came second in the Marketing Star School Awards and third in Best Report category and enjoyed an Awards dinner dressed to the nines.

Bryony Kirk tells us:
We set off on Monday in the search of a pair of shoes for Solène - possibly the most important task on our minds. After finding a pair it was time for us to get to work. We spent the evening preparing our power point presentation and going over our lines, we were stressed, nervous and buzzing with excitement.
After a restless night the big day had finally come. With an early start of 8.30 all four of us (Peter Mathieson, Bryony Kirk, Jessica Cunningham and Solène Cargill) were dressed to impress. We arrived at the Thistle Hotel in Glasgow and began to set up our trade stand. With jungle leaves, inflatable monkeys and a tower of cupcakes it was hard for us to concentrate...but we somehow managed to assemble our fun stand. After being judged on our trade stand and our interview it was time for the presentations. We were all ready to go and delivered a seamless presentation with a few witty jokes from Peter here and there.


When the long day was over we had to rush back to the hotel to change into our evening attire, some prepared with a can of red bull and others took a well-deserved power nap. It came to the time of the awards ceremony and we were all dressed in our glad rags - even Mr Cargill and Mr Kavanagh were looking sharp! We sat down for a lovely dinner and finally had time to relax. Although we didn't win the big prize of the evening we came second for the Marketing Star School Award and third for the best report. We were all delighted with our performance as a company and went home with smiles all round.
We hope to continue the business for as long as we can. Our success as a company hasn't just been down to our hard work but also the continuous support that we have had from the community. We would like to say a big thank you to the Arisaig Fund who supported us during our trip down to Glasgow, thank you to Jamie Kavanagh for being such a helpful Link Teacher, thank you to Alan Cargill for driving us here, there and everywhere, thank you to our amazing youth worker Laurie who was always willing to help us, thank you to all of the teachers who put up with our constant demands, thank you to our business advisor Fiona Baker who showed us how to run a business and thank you to Kay Jones for making all of the delicious cupcakes!

Lochailort Hatchery recognises local history
Marine Harvest's new £16m smolt hatchery at Lochailort was opened on 7th June by First Minister Alex Salmond MSP, who described it as 'the largest and most technically advanced hatchery in the world'.
He went on: The site of the building is steeped in history. As well as being the location for the first trials of commercial scale salmon farming in the country, it was the first site of the commando training station during the Second World War, then a naval training camp for the WRNS (the Wrens).'
A booklet produced for the opening day contains some pages on the role Inverailort played in Word War II and an information plaque is on display on the site. The commandos were trained to carry out covert missions against enemy forces in Europe and were sent behind enemy lines across Europe to the Middle East.
Attending the ceremony was Lady Ross, who was stationed at Inverailort as a Wren.

Lady Ross with the panel commemorating the Commando Camp at Inverailort, 1940-45,
which Marine Harvest have erected at their new smolt hatchery.
Lady Ross was in the Women's Royal Navy Service (Wrens)
stationed at Inverailort in World War II
and was a guest at the hatchery opening ceremony on 7th June 2013.

Alex Salmond with Arisaig graduate employee Jennifer Colston feed the fish at the new hatchery. Photo Arthur Campbell.

Well summer was nice while it lasted. It's been fairly dreich here the last wee while but lots of dolphin sightings on the way to Mallaig and back have been brightening up our days. And of course the start of the summer holidays is bringing smiles to many faces here. Although the last day of primary school for Freya and Calum may have brought a wee tear to other's faces. Not Freya's though as she celebrated in style: taking a running leap off the pier. We wish them all the best when they head off to high school.
Also wishing Paul Thompson all the best as he moves from Knoydart, although I'm sure we'll see him back over the odd weekend or two.
The summer also brings home Livvy for a wee while. Plus lots of new pub staff which is always fun and exciting, including Mark, Magda, Natalia and Kerrera. And welcome to our new maintenance man Johann, and new KFT worker and partner Ian and Amie.
I also need to add a very belated welcome to Max who joined the Kilchoan team.
Another new addition to Knoydart is of course Josephine, Izzie and Steve's new baby girl. Huge congratulations to the family, hope everyone is well: what a gorgeous girl.
We've had some great music this month (with more on the way!). A few weekends ago seen some of the best tunes in the pub for a while from The Trooters who were touring. We also had a fantastic concert from The Incholm New Music Ensemble. And the Ukes had their second gig in Mallaig, at the fish feis this time.
In other news there's been a series of planking on the peninsula and small isles; yachts have been beaching; I passed my driving test (yay!); Davie, Lorna, Kira and Freya are off to Italy; Isla's moving hoose; congrats to Fred who got the a-frame; Tommy has some very cute guinea fowl keets, and I heard a rumour there might be sunshine on the way... fingers and toes crossed.
I think that's it for now folks!
Amy Connolly

June has been a month of consolidation after the far reaching changes of May. Gallanach Lodge looks resplendent with newly sown lawns in front and snow white gravel behind. But anywhere would look good in the June sunshine; sunshine so powerful that our PV panels have been providing almost all the electricity needed by the island. But then so far our power requirements are very modest and will grow with the onset of winter and the passage of time.
And the sun certainly shone on our Open Day on the 9th. It was the best Open Day weather in 27 years. A fully booked Sheerwater included Hugh MacLean ex Hamilton Bros who knows every crofter and farmer in the West Highlands and is the owner of a photographic archive of massive proportions. I was able to make Hugh feel at home with the loan of my Ferguson 35x tractor which came to the island on Wave on 28th May 1964; but now shone in the sunshine in a new coat of red and grey paint.
Good to get so much agricultural news from Canna particularly as Muck missed the May sale in Fort William where Geraldine MacKinnon did so well. After all she is the Small Isles farmer whose achievements we all aspire to. But Geraldine must have taken time off to watch Countryfile hence the Galloway bull. But Adam Henson's Beltie went walkabout; hence some unexpected calves. At least Winnie and Gerry's photogenic animal cannot get past Canna if he feels like leaving Sanday.!
A new month and a change of weather unfortunately. No one will notice if we get a soggy summer - except ourselves and our visitors!
Lawrence MacEwen

The MacKinnon family have been having an extended family reunion with relatives from New Zealand as Angus and Hector MacKinnon and their families have been over in Canna for three weeks. It was great to catch up and meet new members of the family.
Work has started on the new community shop which will be up and running for next season so everyone on the island will have a busy winter making crafts to stock it up.
The re-build of Tigh Beul na Faladh is nearing completion and we are now actively looking for a family to take this property on and hopefully get the school reopened again. The guys from A A Young Contractors have done a great job and we have enjoyed having them on the island. The Highland Ringing Group are back for their annual visit mainly ringing birds in the seabird colonies on the north side of the island. They have been coming to Canna for over forty years and have built up an amazing record of birds and numbers of birds on the island.
We welcomed Kate Longhorne to the island this month, she is a student at Sabhal Mor Ostaig in Skye and is helping with the Gaelic Archives and tours in Canna House.
Shearing is well underway on the farm and it is good to see so much more grass than this time last year.
Geraldine MacKinnon

Kinloch Hostel is open for business and the options appraisal process to decide the future of Kinloch Castle is well underway with consultations, meetings and expert input. Fundraising is happening hither and thither on the island with a pop up Community Teashop every Sunday in the village hall to raise funds for the village hall which requires some rescue work thanks to a woodworm infestation. A different little version of teashop springs up every Sunday thanks to various islanders offering their time to make the brews and bake up a storm. We're also raising fund for the Blackhouse project which Sylvia is leading - an ambitious plan to rebuild a blackhouse on Kinloch campsite.
We've waved a teary goodbye to Rachel Wild who leaves Rum after three years having worked as Catering Manager at the castle. We'll miss you Rach - come back and visit often! We're welcoming back Stuart and Julie Poole who are coming back to Rum Primary School, we're also welcoming back Mark and Doug now the start of the deer cull is with us - ghillies from last year who are both returning for this years season. With the kids home from school for the summer holidays too we have a real population boost!
We had the Zombie Science lecture visit Rum this week which was great - we'll all sleep a little sounder for knowing we are properly prepared for that worst case scenario of zombie apocalypse - and that Croft 3's Davies and Ady both have very clean hands!
We're looking forward to hosting the Small Isles Games on 13th July - hope to see loads of you there for welly wanging and more. We've the Screen Machine coming on 19th for a big screen visit that has us all very excited planning who'll be sitting in the back row with who!
Midgefest on the 27th means this month is a very full diary for us. Thus far the midges have been keeping a fairly low profile but we're armed and ready for if they do put in an appearance.
July is a birthday-tastic month here on Rum with Vikki, Lesley, Ross, Dave, Gav and Laura all celebrating - Jinty has ordered in extra stocks of birthday cake candles!
Nic Goddard

Eigg seemed to have been pretty popular with the media this June as we were visited by no less than three TV production companies working respectively for BBC Alba, ITV and BBC2! We all thought Heather Dewar, who presented the BBC Alba documentary was absolutely delightful. I for one thoroughly enjoyed taking her round our little croft museum and guiding her to the Massacre Cave with a stop at Sheila and John's new venture, the Craigard Garden Teas and Gallery. Sheila was absolutely thrilled to have her art collection commented on by a professional artist, and we all enjoyed the fabulous mainland views from their patio with our coffee and scones. As to Ade Edmonton, who fronted the ITV programme, he was deemed to have retained some of his humorous persona from The Young Ones, of course, but with a much conventional look, which is hardly surprising after all this time!
He was pretty good on the mandolin anyway and everyone enjoyed the Pier session with him. More of Eigg Ceilidh music will find its way on film as the Round Britain crew filmed the first part of our Anniversary celebration featuring Yamatha…It will be fun to see how they've put it all together later on in the year when these shows will be aired...
So this was Eigg showing itself at its best for the world, and for our guests coming to help us celebrate our 16th anniversary. Breabach and Bombskare went down a treat warming the audience further after the wild ceilidh dancing: Yamatha still got what it takes after all these years! And DJ Dolphin Boy was as excellent as over taking us to the small or maybe not so small hours...
What was special about this anniversary though, apart from the return of so many friends, was the celebration to mark the retirement of John Booth as a director of Eigg Electric after steering it so competently through to the completion of the Green grid, then through its first 5 years! A well earned rest for John and Christine, who were presented with a bench made out of Eigg wood by Karl and a collection of shrubs for their garden at Galmisdale which offers a delightful show of colours to all passers by on the way to the Sgurr! Part of our celebration was also the publication of the much awaited definite edition of the Birds of Eigg by John Chester, our SWT warden, which features a collection of anecdotes about our much loved 'Birdie'.
Another notable celebration took place with Eigg Primary school being one of 25 schools in Scotland to receive their Social Enterprise Award. I had the great pleasure of accompanying Mia Lancaster and Logan Wallace with their teacher Sue Hollands to the Assembly Hall in Edinburgh where they were presented with their award by John Finney MSP, the finance minister. John Swinney complimented our youngsters on their environmental enterprise, which will encourage people to use cloth bags instead of plastic bags, and ordered their bag featuring the logo 'Give a Hoot, don't pollute!' on one side and a SOS for the marine life on the other, as they are feeling passionate about the plight of the marine life faced with so much plastic pollution. With a visit to the Parliament, Dynamic Earth, Jimmy Cheung and the swimming pool, it was a very full day indeed! Last but not least, our Eigg lads , Ben, Joe and Brendan with Johnny Lynch aka the Pictish Trail, were part of the Glastonbury line up this year. They played on The Park stage on Sunday morning to a sizeable audience, which of course included a few Eigg fans, Greg, Felicia, Sarah, Emily and Hamish, as well as myself: what a month of celebration and music! And there is more to come with the return of Rock and Blues cover band - Blaze - this July: the fun continues!
Camille Dressler

Each year since the buy-out in 1997, the Isle of Eigg has celebrated its achievements and this is no different; Eigg is a determined, enterprising community.
June 12th is not only 16th anniversary of the buy-out but also marks five successful years running of Eigg's world-leading electricity system. Community-inspired and community-run our scheme uniquely combines power from the three renewable resources of solar, wind and hydroelectric generators into a stable controlled grid that supplies all who live, work and holiday on our Island. Life changing and life enhancing the system has encouraged growth and development in new directions and, after five years, the benefits of community ownership continue to accrue. At a ceremony to mark John Booth's retirement as Director and voluntary Project Manager from Eigg Electric, Eddie Scott, Chair of the Resident's Association, said; 'The electricity scheme has been central in uniting the community and we simply could not have taken it forward without John's pragmatic and dogged determination. We owe him a great deal.'
In 1986, when petrol was a mere £1.89 a gallon (£0.41/litre), John Chester moved to Eigg as the Islands ranger with the Scottish Wildlife Trust. His first progress report notes that he spent that first year living in 'Woodman's Bothy', a 6' by 10' shed with no running water. Sadly Woodman's Bothy was destroyed in a recent gale, but John Chester still stalks the island, recording everything that flowers or flies in his annual Birds of Eigg reports. Isle of Eigg Heritage has now published these reports, incorporating Eigg bird records from as far back as the 1700's, in his first book. The Birds of Eigg, a compendium that demonstrates his remorseless attention to detail and breadth of ambition.
If it were just that, it would be enough, but those who have known John over the years have added their tuppence-worth in tribute to the man and his obsession, and the book is richer and more humorous for this. Better still, all the profits from the book go towards keeping this essential wildlife work going. In congratulating him, Colin Carr, said; 'John Bird is synonymous with Eigg, a tireless ambassador reaching visitors and volunteers alike; we are very proud of him and that his work is now available in this book.'
Chair of the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust, John Hutchison, said; 'We have come a very long way since 1997. At that time we had an uncertain future and a dispirited, shrinking population. Now we have 40% increase in the population and a healthy school roll. The community continues to work enthusiastically in taking the Island forwards.'
NB: the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust is a partnership between Isle of Eigg Residents Association, Highland Council & Scottish Wildlife Trust


Birds of Eigg can be purchased for £12 at www.isleofeigg.net
The book has been published with assistance from Scottish Wildlife Trust & Scottish Ornithologists Club

Screen Machine, Scotland's only mobile cinema, is heading to Eigg and Rum with the latest movies as part of its 15th anniversary celebrations.
The 35 tonne articulated lorry which houses 80 seats and a state-of-the-art cinema, rolls onto Eigg on Thursday 18th July with kids' film, Epic and the latest version of the Superman myth, Man of Steel. It will also screen the film dubbed "Scotland's home movie", We Are Northern Lights, which features clips of the island among hundreds of others from around Scotland.
The cinema then heads to Rum on Friday 19th July with Epic and The Great Gatsby, before heading back to the mainland.
Speaking about the trip, Screen Machine operator, Iain MacColl, said: 'I've wanted to bring Screen Machine to Eigg for many years and I'm delighted we can finally do this thanks to funding from Creative Scotland and Highland Fuels.'
Full details can be found at www.screenmachine.co.uk

Face painting, cookery demonstrations, Pamela Burns' Irish dancers and a performance from the Knoydart Ukuleles were among the highlights of this year's Fish Feis on Mallaig Pier on Saturday June 29th. The rain mostly stayed away and crowds enjoyed stalls and sideshows.
Photos courtesy of Lorraine Edgar

Right: John Doyle of the West Highland Hotel joined Michelle Milligan of the Steam Inn in fish recipe demonstrations.

Below right: a hilarious version of 'Rasputin' was performed by the Knoydart Ukulele Band and Tommy McManmon.

photo photo

Only one call out for the Henry Alston Hewat during the month of June.
Thursday 13th June: Lifeboat launched at 15.20 hrs to go to the assistance of the yacht Janjo of Arisaig, grounded on a rock whilst departing Isle Ornsay. When the Lifeboat arrived on scene at 15.45 hrs, Janjo was stuck fast in the reef with a slight list to starboard. A line was attached from the Lifeboat to the yacht and after consultation with the skipper it was decided that the best course of action would be to wait for the tide to flood. After a couple of hours, it was clear to all that the 10 metre yacht would float free on the rising tide so the rope was cast off and, with a gentle nudge from a local chartered RIB, Janjo of Arisaig came free. With no sign of water ingress or prop damage, Janjo proceeded under her own power to Mallaig. Lifeboat refuelled and ready for service at 18.15 hrs.

John Bryden, with pillion passenger Eeyore, ready to leave his home in Lochailort on 4th July to travel to Russia and back on his tiny motorbike.
After a short service to commemorate two years of the Kirsty Bryden Memorial Trust,
John set off with a number of other bikers who rode with him part of the way to Hull and the ferry.
John hopes to travel more than 8000 miles ot raise £15,000 for the Trust.
As West Word goes to press he has reached Norway.

Eeyore at the Arctic Circle.

The Mallaig Lifeboat visited Elgol on Saturday 22nd June to participate in the local Gala Day which was celebrating its 21st birthday! It's become a tradition for the Lifeboat to take part in the Gala Day in recognition of the financial support that the Lifeboat receives from this area of Skye. On the day of the Gala, the Mallaig Lifeboat crew received a cheque for £2500 which had been raised collectively by the communities of Elgol and Torrin over the past twelve months.

News in Brief
Tobermory lifeboat crew has found what appears to be a US Coastguard-certified craft with bullet holes in it south of the Isle of Muck during a callout at July 3rd. The RNLI said the upturned 14ft aluminium dinghy appeared to have been in the water for some time. The dinghy was recovered to Tobermory and the Receiver of Wreck is attempting to trace the owner.


Above: A panel for The Great Tapestry of Scotland which has been worked by a number of ladies in Lochaber - Helen Brodie. Morag Keenan, Heather Simpson, Paddy Borthwick, Felicity Blackburn, Eileen MacPhie and Linda McLean. The project aims to depict 12,000 years of Scottish history in 150 panels and is being stitched by volunteers all over the country. This panel (no. 11) is of the Dalriadan influx and Columba at Iona.

An extremely wet day wasn't enough to dampen spirits on June 22nd for the Mallaig & District Swimming Pool's fund raiser.
Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Tigger were at the Pool Gala Day - aka Murdo Colston, Neil Taylor, Liam Dyer and Ross Martin - collecting from steam train passengers and on the pier.

photo photo

Above: Guess the weight of the special birthday cake
made by Rachel Dempster was a very popular competition.
Left: Manager Bryan was well and truly gunged with a concoction of fish 'soup'.
Photo by Robert MacMillan.


Public Meeting
The first ever open/public meeting called by the Authority and held in the Mallaig & Morar Community Centre on Friday 31st May 2013 did not attract too many members of the public but those who did attend proved to be extremely interested in what the Authority had achieved in the past few years and they also had a sneak preview of plans currently being drawn up by Nevis Estate to convert the old hall site via the construction of an impressive new Marina Facilities Building. This is the building that will house the toilets/showers/laundry facilities for use by the yachting fraternity berthed at the pontoons.
It is the Authority's hope that the new building will become operational in time for the 2014 summer season.

Car Park
By the time this item has been printed in the July West Word the new Authority Car Park should be in operation.
The car park contains twenty two parking bays and access/egress will be controlled via the raising/lowering of a padlocked security barrier.
To keep up with demand for parking spaces the Authority is now developing the car park down on the steamer pier so new fencing, bay markings and barrier have been ordered and should be in situ mid July.
Anyone seeking to reserve a car parking space (cost £50.00 per annum) please contact the Harbour Office, contact details are listed below.

New Start
Mr Lewis Affleck commenced employment with the Authority on Monday 10th June. Lewis (seen below on the right), already a well known face on Mallaig Pier through his 6 year long association with CalMac, is looking forward to the new challenges that his job as a Pier Worker with the Authority will bring!


Harbour History
The Minute Book of the Mallaig Harbour Authority contains detail of all the meetings held by The Authority since its inception in 1968. It is the duty of the Secretary of the Authority to write up the minutes of the meetings which are then circulated to all the Board Members for their approval and once approved, usually at the next meeting, the minutes are signed and dated by The Chairman as a true record.
Over the 45 years of its existence the Mallaig Harbour Authority has only ever had three people holding the office of Secretary:

I well remember my interview with the Harbour Board back in 1984. Goodness knows what they thought of my appearance as my face resembled that of a panda - big black eyes, and a broken nose - the result of an injury playing football.
Incidentally I would like to thank all Board Members of the Authority past and present for their assistance to me over the years.
So there you have it only 3 Secretary/Managers in the past 45 years.
It's also worthy of note that all three, Messrs Jackson, Thom, MacMillan also acted as Secretary to the Mallaig & North West Fishermen's Association.

Robert MacMillan
Port Manager/Secretary
01687 462154 info@mallaigharbourauthority.com

Road to the Isles Agricultural Show 2013
The Road to the Isles Agricultural Show took place on Saturday 8th June, at Camusdarach near Arisaig and the committee are again indebted to the Stuart family for agreeing to host the show and for providing some of the facilities.
The livestock numbers were down a bit this year which is disappointing and we hope that they will improve again next year. Nevertheless, the standard of livestock was very high and the judges commended those who did enter, some of whom had come from as far away as the Isle of Mull. The Baking and Handicrafts sections were well supported, with the Schools section being especially busy.
After all the judging, the afternoon entertainment began with a piping selection by Cameron MacBeth from Mallaig. This was followed by the first show by 'Dingle Fingle', a comedy car stunt show, which proved very entertaining.
The trophies were then presented by Mrs. Jean Ogston from Mallaig.
The parade of Highland Cattle always proves popular and the commentary by Angus Mackay from Taynuilt was both entertaining and informative.
There then followed a machinery demonstration by Hamilton Bros. from Campbeltown and a sheep dog handling display by Mike MacNally from Invergarry.
The Open Dog Show is always a big hit and the judge this year was Teresa Wade from the Isle of Mull. This is quite a big task but Teresa was able to pick two worthy winners.
The afternoon ended with another show by 'Dingle Fingle' involving a comedy crimewatch theme.
Throughout the afternoon there were demonstrations of woodturning by Paul Biggin from Corpach and chainsaw carving by Iain Chalmers from Culbokie, while Donald MacColl from Spean Bridge gave an excellent display of sheep shearing by hand.
The barbecues and catering tent were very busy and the response to our request for baking to raise money for the repair of the east window in St. Mary's church in Arisaig was absolutely amazing. We were delighted to receive about 1000 pieces enabling us to donate £750 to Father Andrew. Thank you so much to everyone who baked such a wonderful selection, and be assured that those left unsold at the end were used for the next fundraising lunch. It was a fantastic community effort.
An excellent day's entertainment, both educational and informative, was helped in no small measure by the fantastic weather which saw the sun shine all day!
The committee wishes to thank all those who helped and supported the show in any way and hope that you will all return again next year!

Thank you to those who sent in photos - unfortunately we can only use a few.

Photo of Dingle Fingle by Kelly Norman, aged 14

Photo by Ceithir Raithean Self Catering

Super star Smokey, who was rescued from the hill fire, was the focus of the Guess the Weight of the Lamb. Photo by Alison Wooffinden.

Photo by Moe Mathieson

Photo by Alison Wooffinden

Photo by Moe Mathieson

Photo by Richard Lamont

Photo by Alison Wooffinden

CROFTING ROUNDUP by Joyce Wilkinson,
Crofters Commission Area Assessor and Scottish Crofting Federation Area Representative

The latest update from the new Common Agricultural policy sounds as if it could be good news for crofters and farmers in the west coast.

I am pleased to say that the Scottish Crofting Federation will be organising a series of courses in our area beginning Jan 2014. Topics covered will range from Crofting horticulture to Crofting heritage skills, crofting livestock, record keeping and a wide range of croft related topics, both practical and educational.
The venue, dates and type of courses are still to be finalised but I will update through this page. Meanwhile please do not hesitate to contact me if you think of a topic that you would like covered.

On and Off the Rails

Peter's Railway Activity Book - Competition
Many thanks for all the correct entries I received from young and old, naming Peter's Railway Book author as Christopher Vine.
There are two winners who will each receive a copy of the newly released Peter's Railway Activity Book signed by the author. They are Declan Mathieson of Mallaig and Isobel MacPhee of Fort William. Congratulations to you both. I hope you enjoy the book. They will be coming to you both directly from the author.
Should you wish to purchase one of the books in the series, they are available at the Jacobite steam train onboard shop whilst it is in Mallaig each day, or from Glenfinnan Railway Museum, or you can visit the author's website at www.petersrailway.com or write to Christopher Vine, PO Box 9246, Bridge of Weir, PA11 3WD, or telephone 01505 614513.

Summer edition of Friends of the West Highland Lines' informative edition of West Highland News plus'
The latest edition of tis very popular magazine is now out. Bustling with news, comments, events, photographs, etc., it is priced at a very reasonable £2.90. copies are now on sale at Bill's Place, Fort William Railway Station, in the shop on the Jacobite steam train, or form myself directly. Just give me a call, and I can either deliver or post a copy to you. Just telephone 01687 462189.

Book Review and Competition
We have (thanks to Amberley Publishing in Stroud, Gloucestershire) two copies of a newly released book to give away in this competition. Titled Great Railway Journeys Through Time - West Highland Line and priced at £14.99, the author Dr John McGregor shows extensive knowledge and a love of the railway. The book focuses on the line between Glasgow and Fort William from 7th August 1894 when traffic began on the line (the official opening at Fort William came four days later) to 2012. With a seven page introduction, the book consists of 88 pages of photographs (colour, black and white and sepia), many of which I have not seen before - all with up to five lines of descriptive captions. Dr. McGregor is a trustee of Glenfinnan Station Museum and a member of the Friends of the West Highland Lines. He has recently retired as a lecturer at the Open University and lives near Edinburgh. In the credits, locals John Barnes, his wife Hege and Malcolm Poole all receive acknowledgements. It really is a 'must have' book for West Highland Line enthusiasts. It will shortly be on sale in Mallaig Heritage Centre, is already on sale at Glenfinnan Station Museum or, if you wish to order it online the ISBN number is 9781 4456 13369.

To be in with a chance to win one of two copies of the book, have a go at the following question, and you will be entered into the draw.
Question: What is the distance between Glasgow Queen Street Railway Station and Fort William Railway Station - is it a) 122¾ miles; b) 101¾ miles or c) 99¾ miles? Good luck. Answers on a postcard please with your name and address to Sonia Cameron, Fasgadh, Marine Place, Mallaig, Inverness-shire PH41 4RD to reach me by Saturday July 27th 2013.

Scotland Caledonian Sleeper Franchise
At the end of June the Scottish Government Agency Transport Scotland announced the names of the three companies invited to tender for the franchise of the following Scottish Sleeper Train Services to and from London: to Fort William, Inverness, Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh. They are (and here is where it gets slightly complicated!) in no particular order:

The successful bidder will be announced in June 2014, with the new contract commencing in April 2015. The franchise is expected to last for fifteen years. There is more information in detail that outlines some of the expectations and requirements of the franchise in the current edition of the Friends of the West Highland Line magazine mentioned in my column.
Interesting times ahead...
See you on the train.
Sonia Cameron


First Minister Alex Salmond spared a few moments to discuss some content with Ewen MacDonald at the opening of the Lochailort hatchery last month. Ewen not only worked for Marine Harvest for many years, both at Lochailort and on Loch Morar, but is also one of West Word's valuable printers! We can reveal what they are saying: Mr Salmond is reading Sonia's On & Off the Rails column and commented on the steam train; Ewen replied that his brother Alex Iain is a steam train driver and as it happened they were looking at a photo of him!

Our new genealogy columnist, Marlene MacDonald Cheng is pictured with her copy and husband Mantis on the island of Oahu, Honolulu, Hawaii, where they celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary. Waikiki Beach is in the background - we believe you! Marlene and Mantis live in Victoria, British Columbia - happy anniversary to you both.

Mallaig's own Elvis wearing his new blue outfit just after he had entertained the staff and clients of the Mackintosh Centre. Blue suede shoes next?

Daisy and Daniel Mabbott took a copy of West Word to Disneyland Paris at the end of June. They are the Grandchildren of Tuppy and Dave Arthur of Tigh Beag, Arisaig.

Grace Macniven took her West Word on holiday to Antibes where husband Iain, behind the camera, says 'Note W E S T spelled out in the background - sort of'!

Auntie Mary's Creepy Crawly Corner
Thanks to Ashley MacDonald for sending this photo to West Word and rescuing this large hawk-moth.
Several readers of the West Word facebook identified the moth in the photo as a Poplar Hawk-moth (Laothoe populi).


The following description comes mainly from the Field Guide to the Moths of Great Britain and Ireland.
Apparently its unusual grey-brown wing shapes, held with the fore-wings covering much of the hind-wings, act as camouflage by blending in with tree bark on which it rests during the days. If alarmed, the Poplar Hawk-moth can move its fore-wings forward revealing a reddish patch at the inner edge of each of the hind-wings; these are supposed to frighten predators. This night-flying moth is named after one of the main food plants of its caterpillars, poplars. In Lochaber, where poplars are not so common, the larvae may feed on Aspen (Populus tremula), or on Willows (Salix spp.) especially Goat and Grey Willows which both occur naturally in Lochaber. According to the Field Guide : adult Poplar Hawk-moths are frequently attracted to light, with the males tending to come after midnight and the females earlier and in fewer numbers ! There are 9 species of hawk-moths resident in the British Isles and the Poplar Hawk-moth is the most widely distributed and common.
The adults do not feed. The caterpillars are green with yellow stripes and red spots, with a typical 'horn' at the hind end. The larvae are around between June and September and they spend the winter as pupae underground, near the caterpillar's food plant.
Dr Mary Elliott

Reference: Paul Waring & Martin Townsend (2009) Field Guide to the Moths of Great Britain and Ireland. 2nd Edition

Birdwatch by Stephen MacDonald
At the beginning of the month there were still a few birds passing through, with small numbers of Dunlin, Sanderling, Turnstone and Ringed Plover seen around Traigh during the first week. On the 5th, a Brent Goose was seen resting on the sea in front of Traigh House, a very late date. About the same time, there were still several summer plumaged Great Northern Divers around the coast at Traigh and Loch nan Ceall. A bird that was surely summering was seen and photographed close inshore at Muck on the 23rd.
A late Pomerine Skua was seen heading north on the 17th between Arisaig and Eigg from the MV Sheerwater.
The first report of Storm Petrels was on the 7th just off Arisaig, and there were several more sightings in the Sound of Sleat as the month progresses. A probable Leach's Petrel was seen from the MV Sheerwater between Rum and Soay on the 20th.
Many more of our local breeders had started to produce youngsters during the month. Mallards were seen with very small ducklings on Loch nan Eala on the 1st and several broods of Eider were seen around Traigh from the 3rd week of the month. A pair of Black-throated Divers had at least one good sized chick by the 3rd week on Loch Morar.
Lapwing chicks were seen around the Caimbe and Achnaskia and some large Redshank chicks were seen there on the 25th.
Newly fledged Goldfinches were seen on feeders at Rhubana View from the 11th, along with numerous young Siskins. A male Bullfinch was seen to be using seed feeders in a Morar garden from the 11th and from the 16th it was joined by a female till the month end at least. Apart from a report of a single male Bullfinch using feeders in an Arisaig garden, this is a fairly unusual occurrence in this area, although further south and east in Britain it is now quite common to see Bullfinches on bird tables and feeders.
A newly fledged Siskin that was ringed on the 24th May 2012 in Morar was re-caught by a ringer in Keith, Morayshire on the 23rd April 2013. Maybe it decided to spend the summer on the east coast!

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