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

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June 2010 Issue

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Top stories
Monthly news from Knoydart, Muck, Rum, Eigg
Birdwatch - Railways - West Word ten years ago

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A warm response in Mallaig awaited the twelve-strong Applecross Boat Pull team as they ended their three day stint of raising money for the RNLI. The team, made up of friends from Wester Ross, Caithness and Edinburgh, pushed and pulled the large replica Lifeboat, A'Chomraich, the fifty miles along the A830 from in three stages, leaving Fort William for Glenfinnan on Thursday 20th May and arriving in Mallaig from Beasdale on Saturday 22nd May.
Local Lifeboat and Coastguard personnel went out to help with the effort, which raised over £4000 to be distributed between the RNLI stations at Mallaig and Portree, the Children's Hospice Association Scotland and Highland Hospice.
Moe Mathieson, Mallaig Lifeboat's Operations Manager, said 'It's been a wonderful gesture from this hardy group of lads. The whole village turned out to greet them, and they had to pull the boat round the harbour a second time for more money to be put into the collecting buckets!'
Team spokesman Alfie Edwards of Applecross said 'We are just delighted to get to Mallaig, especially as the temperature had reached 27º by the time we arrived. The reception we received was equally warm!'

Below left: The team arrive in Mallaig, complete with piper, at the end of this year's Applecross Boat Pull. Photo Moe Mathieson.

photo photo

A well earned beer and cake at Mallaig Primary School before a second trip round the harbour and drams and more cake at the Lifeboat shed.
Is it true someone gave them a £50 note?!
Donations can still be made on www.applecrossboatpull.org.uk

The new hostel at Mallaig, providing residential accommodation for pupils from the islands of Canna, Eigg, Muck and Rum as well as the Knoydart Peninsula, was officially opened on Tuesday 25th May 2010.
The £4 million facility was built for The Highland Council by Les Taylor Construction. The three-storey, 21-bedroom facility, stands on an elevated site adjacent to Mallaig High School, which was donated by landowner, Sir Cameron Mackintosh, the famous producer of musicals and theatre owner and the Mallaig Common Grazing Crofters.
Sponsored by the Council's Education Culture and Sport Service, the building has been designed by architects in the Council's Housing and Property Service and features a new dining room for the school, quiet space, social areas and maximises the use of the site through its access and views from the bedrooms.
Councillor Michael Foxley, Leader of the Council's Administration, said in opening the hostel: 'This major investment by the Council once again highlights the importance this council attaches to our rural communities. Most importantly, the hostel provides pupils with a safe and homely environment. It will also be a useful community resource outwith school terms for residential workshops and holiday accommodation, which will generate income for the Council.'
Councillor Foxley recognised the important role played by former Mallaig Councillor, Charlie King, in promoting the project.
Councillor Bill Fernie, Chairman of the Education Culture and Sport Committee, paid tribute to the families, who had provided lodgings for the children over the last 10 years. He said: 'They have done a really excellent job and we thank them sincerely for their care. However, what a benefit it will be having all the children from the Small Isles and Knoydart under one roof, where they can gain support from each other and have professionals on hand to address their individual and common concerns.'

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Following on from a joint rescue exercise on board the Mallaig Lifeboat, Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team extended an invitation to crew members of the Mallaig Lifeboat to take part in a Mountain Rescue Team Exercise.
The invitation was taken up by Stewart Griffin, Hugh Cameron and Paul Sinclair, who were put through their paces as regards ice and snow climbing/rescue techniques on the slopes and gulleys of Ben Nevis.

Mr Ronnie MacKenzie, originally from Inverie and now resident in Fort William is pictured here presenting Mr Michael Ian Currie, Coxswain of the Mallaig Lifeboat, with a cheque to the value of £517.00 - proceeds of a collection taken at Ronnie's 70th birthday bash at the Railway Social Club in Fort William last month.
A big Thank You to Mrs Isobel MacPhee, seen here presenting the Mallaig Lifeboat Coxswain with one of her regular donations to the Mallaig Lifeboat.
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Mallaig RNLI salute lifesaving legacies that keep the charity afloat
It's a sobering fact that six out of every ten RNLI lifeboat launches in Scotland are thanks to the money given to the charity in legacies. To put this into perspective, without these generous donations both great and small made in people's wills, the Mallaig RNLI lifeboats would not have been able to react to 20 of the 34 emergency call outs they received last year (2009).
Michael Ian Currie, RNLI Coxswain at Mallaig, is surrounded by reminders of just how important legacies are to him and his volunteer crew:
'We are very lucky to be part of such a supportive community. Every time we launch the boat we are reminded of the generosity of local people and supporters of the RNLI. Our lifeboat Henry Alston Hewat was funded by a gift left to the RNLI by Catherine M Hewat of Lanarkshire. A local man John Smither kindly remembered us in his Will and last year his legacy covered the cost of essential maintenance on the lifeboat. So many people have made donations and every penny helps the charity to train and equip the local lifeboat crew. It buoys you up something good to know the support people have for the institution and the service we provide.'
To find out more about leaving a gift to the RNLI in your will, contact Linda Aitken RNLI Legacy Manager for Scotland, on 01738 642999. Alternatively, for more information go to www.rnli.org.uk/legacies

Society hostess Irana Frump and her entourage visited Mallaig on Tuesday June 8th to commemorate the 1931 Scottish tour of Argentinean superstar Carlos Gardel. Irana, accompanied by Councillor Frank Patterson, is on a tour of Western Scottish sea ports.
Or - was it something else?
Right: Irana and the statue to Carlos Gardel in Mallaig.

Irana has already visited fifteen towns and villages throughout Scotland to pay tribute to the matinee idol, who, she tells her audience, always made a point of giving free performances in smaller venues when undertaking highly paid engagements in the dancehalls of larger cities such as Glasgow, Edinburgh and (on one occasion) Inverness.


Local people were invited to meet Irana on walkabout and to join her and Councillor Frank Patterson who made a short speech at 1.30pm on the raised decking area to explain the local significance of Gardel's visit 79 years ago. Irana then unveiled a statue to Gardel.
To further commemorate Carlos Gardel's 1930 visit, when he only ever spent 90 minutes in any of his unannounced venues, after an hour and a half the statue disappeared, as mysteriously as it had arrived.
Carlos Gardel, who died in an air crash in Colombia in 1935, was tango music's biggest superstar. There are still many fans all over Latin America, 74 years after his death, who will tell you that 'Gardel still sings better every day'.
And, as far as the history books show, he had no connection with Scotland. Until, that is, one of the country's leading street theatre companies arrived on the scene to tell the impressive (if not a little tall) tale of Carlos's links with several small Scottish towns. The performance was actually the work of Mischief La-Bas, a Glasgow-based street performing arts company which has spent the 15 years since its formation 'gently warping the underlay of the fabric of society' - and so true to life were the performances of the cast that perhaps more than a few of the audience may not have realised that the scene was not entirely serious...
Photos Robert MacMillan.

A very busy Knoydart summer seems to be in full swing already. The midgies arriving, albeit a bit late, reinforces the impression. All the accommodation is booked up most of the time, all the service providers in heads down full on mode. Knocking about some numbers the other week we came up with the figure of 40,000 visitors per year. Seeing it written down it seems silly but we thought we were being conservative at the time. As well as the visitors, among whom there is always lots of familiar faces, summer brings with it new staff and returning students or travellers. Good to see Paisley back and Calum should be around by the time you read this. He's to officially open the Forest Mountain Bike track some time this month. The track is quite stunning and well worth a turn round, although up to now it's mostly been the preserve of me and the dog; walking.
The local social scene is as busy as ever. Trips to Eigg and Knockengorroch were the major awaydays for some in May while the bursting into the music world of Freddie and the Tadpoles at the informal Thursday night man's night at the pub was the talk of the steamie. Friday afternoons also have their moments enlivened by the tension, joy and jealousy surrounding the Village Hall 50:50. The appearance of the sun, even with that cold northerly, has brought out the barbie. Grant had a big bash up at the shed which had at least one full-scale skinny dipping event and one flooding. The skinny dipping at least was captured for posterity by a host of visitors on Seafari and SeaKnoydart. The Youth Club took themselves and their gear over to Ard in Tigh for an equally uproarious bash and, although the details are closely guarded, there was talk locally that instead of keys in the bowl it was to be false teeth. Other things: the birth of pups to Scruff, the passing Jacqui's other dog Corinne, Sandy Sutherland passing his trolley dolly exams for a Canadian airline, and the annual visit of the Waverley paddle steamer.
On a more domestic front gardens, gardeners, chickens and coops are everywhere. The Market Garden is going from strength to strength under the hand of Sam Gardener(yes his name) and the individual plot holders. The plastic is now on the second polytunnel, after a big effort the other week. Passing by the gate on a daily basis you can't help but be impressed by the bent backs on display. Long may it last. Chickens on the other hand. An unforeseen downside to the keeping of chickens is the proliferation of egg pieces. Something has to be done or work breaks have to be held in the open.
And work other than the visitor stuff goes on. The builders, halfway through the new-build for Ian and Jackie, windows in and cladding on, will split into two teams so that the new Foundation builds can start. The whole project, a two and three bedroom semi at the Manitoba's end of the village and a three bedroom house in Airor, is part funded through Rural Homes for Rent, very daunting for those involved but long overdue. Day to day work at the Foundation and trading companies continues as usual with much discussion and action over the likes of quarrying, sewage and power lines.
Congratulations to Ian and Catriona Fleming on the birth of another boy. Sandy will be made up.
Get well soon to Donald MacGuglash, we're all looking forward to seeing you back soon.
Condolences to the Nicholson family on the death of long-term Knoydart resident Mrs Nicholson who was buried in the Kilchoan graveyard last week.
Things coming up:
2nd June - Tannahill Weavers
15th June - Prize Bingo!
16th June - Open Day Knoydart Hydro. Phone Gwen 462242 for arrangements
19th June - Three Men and a Boat - ceilidh
28th August - Knoydart Garden Open Day - produce, crafts, music, ceilidh.
Cheers for now
Davie Newton

With only around one inch of rain in May the island is very dry. This is the fifth month in a row with below average rainfall. 2010 has been like none other in my lifetime and its great.! On the farm the animals have really benefited particularly the sheep which as they originate from the Middle East , thrive better in cold dry conditions. So that must be part of the reason why we have around 100 more lambs this year. The other is that we fed better.. Lambing was the easiest yet with fewer ewes assisted and fewer lambs born dead. I wish every winter could be like 2010 but of course I am only referring to Muck.!
Just a reminder, the Open Day is Sunday 27th June the weekend after the Small Isles Sports on Rum. And you have to book on the Sheerwater. See you then!
Lawrence MacEwen

It's a busy time on Rum with lots of cruise ships visiting and other visitors to the island. David Frew has left the castle manager position and has started as the new Development Officer with the Isle of Rum Community Trust. So it's goodbye Dave and hello again Dave! We are still in the process of appointing a new castle manager and catering manager so watch this space.
We had the IRCT AGM in May and have appointed 3 new directors to the board - Dave Beaton, Jinty Crockett and Jonathan Read aka Sarge. We also have 5000 new residents to the island, some honey bees that will help to give us bumper fruit crops. The Island Games are coming up soon - they are on Rum on Saturday the 19th of June. We hope to see many of you there. The events will start after the Shearwater arrives and there will be a BBQ and ceilidh in the hall in the evening. There is a discounted accommodation rate in the castle for visiting teams (please book ahead) and we have the campsite up and running too (no need to book at the campsite - £5 per adult and 2.50 per child per night). The Red Deer Project is busy with calving at the moment so many late nights for the workers and volunteers out on the hill looking for newborn calves. The midges have made their appearance which must mean summer is here.
Georgina McMillan
Administrator and Company Secretary, Isle of Rum Community Trust

May has been an eventful month for the Eigg children as they starred in their own movie which they made under the learned guidance of Sam Firth from Tiny Star productions in Knoydart who also took that opportunity to screen her film about Knoydart's big anniversary last year, which was of great interest to us all. The theme they chose to work on was space and I shall not say anymore or it might spoil the grand premiere of the film which is scheduled for 26 June. "Evening gear and frocks de rigueur please, if you plan to attend!" Then at the end of the month, it was Ian Boyd and his wild foraging walk which was well attended, followed by a forest school forage special where the children made and cooked bread on sticks and ate a salad of wild leaves they gathered themselves under Ian's expert eye. Then they had the visit of MSP Mary Scanlon to bring it home what parliamentary democracy is all about, the end of a project about the elections which organised the children in such parties as the Music party and got them to conduct their own polls throughout the Small Isles. Then it was the Secondary School kids' turn to star, in the formal opening of the long-awaited hostel in Mallaig which by all account was well worth the wait, as our teenagers absolutely love it!
Meanwhile, the first SWT volunteers of the season - like swallows announcing spring - arrived to help John in a variety of tasks, including this year the building of a herb garden in the Lodge grounds. They are being housed in what was previously the day care centre, as Garden cottage is being pulled down in anticipation of a new, green, state of the arts, volunteer house which will be party financed from our Big Challenge winnings. Another bunch is also expected to work at the Earth Connection Centre, and Nora and Bob have been working non-stop to ensure that the centre is ready for the 19 June when the first course will be starting.
Then there was the unexpected arrival of Bulgarian George after his first visit 9 years ago, which followed what was deemed to be one of the best gigs ever on Eigg by London top Klezmer band Sh'ekoyokh. More Balkan tunes then, together with a fine demonstration of Bulgarian steps by George and his friends Emanuala and Kostiu.
And by the way, the rumour is that romance is not dead on Eigg, as Sue and Alistair left the shop and restaurant in their son's hands and eloped to Applecross for a couple of days on their own to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary.
With the weather warming up at long last, gardening has been pretty frenetic on the island to catch with triffid like growth, with Saira selling her lettuces leaves like hot cakes at the pier.
However the down side of all that good weather is that the wind turbines are not turning and there ain't much electricity produced by water either. The photo-voltaic are working fine, but we need to double the amount we have at present to make a significant alternative to the other two energy sources. Luckily, we have been entered in the Ashton Awards, an international award for alternative energy schemes. Winning the award or some of the lesser prizes would come in very handy for the purchase of new photo-voltaic cells for our scheme. So lets keep our fingers crossed!.
Finally it is with great sadness that the news of the tragic death of Patrick Mackinnon from Canna was received on Eigg, our heart goes out to Wendy and their children as well as to the rest of the family in Canna. One cannot help from feeling that we do have inadequate counselling support in our part of the world, particularly in the islands and that more help should be made available to families and individuals in times of crisis. Maybe this is something that we ought to seriously think about...
Camille Dressler.

Arisaig Games has announced three major developments for 2010's event, on July 28th.
A significant sponsorship deal has been struck through the growing clan heritage strand of the games with Glenlivet Whisky.
Glenlivet will be sponsoring the piping competition at the 2010 games, and prize money will be increased substantially. Arisaig will now have some of the biggest prizes in piping in the west Highlands. It is hoped, too, that the numbers of pipers will be increased and provide a greater spectacle for this celebration of Highland culture. The Glenlivet team will host an exhibition tent with free tastings of their products in their tent. They will also be welcoming local licensees to visit and develop a greater appreciation of their product. The deal was coordinated by Ranald Macdonald, younger of Clan Ranald, son of the current chief. Welcoming the deal, games secretary, James MacKenzie, said "We are delighted that The Glenlivet are to sponsor the Piping competitions at this years Arisaig Highland Games. Support from such a high-profile brand is an exciting development for our event." Ranald is also proprietor of the Boisdale group of restaurants and eateries in London and the southwest. Boisdale will be providing a unique event for a Highland games in the Glenlivet tent when two of their chefs will demonstrate butchery and cookery skills in front of spectators.
The second development at Traigh this year will be An Tilleadh. This is a new event based on the acclaimed Homecoming 2009 which sought to bring far flung people home to Scotland to sample the culture of their past and present heritages. An Tilleadh, (Gàidhlig for 'The Return') seeks to do the same for families whose roots are in Arisaig.
The inaugural An Tilleadh will focus on Alasdair MacMhaighstir Alasdair, the first bard of the Gàidhlig Enlightenment and bard to Clan Ranald. A forceful and raucous figure, MacMhaighstir Alasdair was born at Dalilea near Acharacle, and ended his days living on Rhu. He is acclaimed as one of three of the greatest Gàidhlig poets ever to have lived, his main rival to the title being the late Somhairle MacGilleathain.
The third of those bards is the contemporary Aonghas Phadràig Caimbeul who lives on Skye. Aonghas Phadràig will also be at An Tilleadh performing and discussing the poetry of his bardic predecessor. Complementing him will be Allan MacDonald, Glenuig, another huge name in Highland culture. One of the three piping Whaler boys, Allan is famous worldwide and has an abiding interest in Ṕobairachd and the history of piping in general. He has published widely and teaches on the RSAMD BA Music: Piping course at the Piping Centre in Glasgow. For that combination alone the event will be worth coming to. But there will also be contributions from Jane Henderson of Mallaig, and Maggie MacDonald, Curator of the Museum of the Isles at the Clan Donald Centre on Skye.
An Tilleadh is a two day event, however. The day before the games Elizabeth and Allan MacDonald will be leading a walk to Rhu to see where MacMhaighstir Alasdair lived. The walk will also cover the birthplace of the legendary bard, Ossian, as well as a variety of other important historic sites and features. The MacDonalds are well known to local and international readers of the area's newspaper West Word, where Allan has a regular column on genealogy, to which Elizabeth also contributes as well as doing her own one off features and series.
Elizabeth said recently, "We are thrilled to be getting An Tilleadh underway. The history and genealogy strand of cultural interest has been growing rapidly in recent years, and it is good to see Arisaig taking its place in that. We have a great story to tell, and a huge number of descendant families and other Albaphiles scattered across the globe to tell it to." An Tilleadh will finish its first day with a visit to Castle Tioram where Boisdale, Clan Ranald and the Glenlivet are hosting a Wild Highland Barbecue for guests.
The final development for Arisaig Games is its website. Due to be launched just before the games this year, the site has been funded by a generous grant from the Arisaig Fund, a trust set up by Arisaig Partners, an international investment management company, to benefit Arisaig and projects designed to promote and develop the village.
Chas MacDonald, Promotions Manager, was enthusiastic about the site, saying "The grant from the Arisaig Fund has been fantastic for us and is greatly appreciated, This quality of site would have been almost impossible without this help. It will allow us to get our message out to our competitors and regular visitors, as well as to let people coming to the area know that a great event is on hand for them, at what is truly one of the most beautiful settings on earth.
An Tilleadh spans 27th - 28th July. Games Day is Wednesday 28th. There will be a parade through the village at 10am, followed by the opening procession at 12pm at Traigh, both of which all are welcome to join. And Games Day ends with the Games Dance at 10:30 in the Astley Hall in the village. Visit www.arisaighighlandgames.co.uk for more information or just to come along.

In 1970, holiday maker Tom Shead found two stones on the beach at Silversands which he thought looked interesting. He took them home and there they have remained until now - when Tom decided they should come home. Where better to put them than the Land, Sea & Islands Centre.
So on a sunny day in June, Tom's daughter Jill, her mother June and Tom's granddaughter Melissa, handed them over to Ann Martin at the Centre.
The stone in Melissa's hands looks exactly like the drawing of a bronze axe head in a booklet at the Centre about the finding on Eigg of Bronze Age moulds in 2001. There appears to be signs of shaping and there is a 'heel' at the narrow end where it could have been attached to a handle. The other stone could possibly be a whetstone. Or they might just be interestingly shaped pebbles! We will try to find out! Meanwhile they will go on display in the Centre.
Thanks to Tom for taking care of them for forty years, and to Jill and family for returning them.

Birdwatch by Stephen MacDonald
A few waders still passing through during the month, while some of out local birds had newly hatched chicks.
The first Lapwing chicks were seen at Back of Keppoch on the 11th and 12th when there were several broods seen in the fields there.
By the end of the first week, Sedge Warblers and Whitethroats had arrived and were widespread throughout the area.
Still a few Whimbrel passing through, with 8 at Portnadoran on the 5th and 6th, the last report a single bird at Glasnacardoch on the 19th. Migrant Dunlin and Ringed Plover were seen at Traigh throughout the month with at least 80 Dunlin and 40 Ringed Plover there on the 22nd. Small numbers of Sanderling and Turnstones were also seen on several occasions.
Some other migrant birds included 42 Brent Geese seen flying North past Luinga Mhor on the 5ht, an Immature Glaucous Gull at West Bay, Mallaig, on the 13th, and 3 Goldeneye lingering on Loch Morar on the 2nd.
Still good numbers of Siskins, many new with newly fledged young, reported from garden feeders. Linnets and Twites were widely reported and Lesser Redpolls were sometimes the most numerous visitor to niger feeders at Rhubana View.
A pair of Stonechats with newly fledged chicks at Carnoch, Arisaig, on the 30th was a welcome sight, as they are missing from many areas where you would normally expect to see them. It seems they have suffered because of the severity of last Winter.
Several Sea Eagle sightings and a couple of Osprey sightings in the area during the month.
Tawny and Barn Owls reported from Arisaig, Morar and Mallaig. After a report mid-month of 'young birds' calling in a forestry plantation, it was discovered that a pair of Long-Eared Owls had nested and fledged several chicks.


Soon-to-be-residents of Arisaig, Rory Duncan and daughter Molly get accustomed to the area by browsing West Word near their present home in Chateauneuf-du-Pape, France. Rory's wife Carol and younger daughter Louise are already in residence in the Free Church Manse in Arisaig.

Travelling back from work on board a ship in the Gulf of Mexico, Arisaig's Neil MacLean had to fly from Dallas airport. This American policeman was so taken with Neil's West Word that he took it! and wouldn't let Neil have it back. We'll keep West Word readers informed if we get a new subscriber in Dallas! Neil's ship was over there trying to help combat BP's oil spill. photo

Bunty MacDougall of Mallaig and her granddaughter Natalie on holiday - guess where!
You see, you don't have to go abroad to take part!

News in Brief

On and Off the Rails

Jacobite Steam Train
Monday May 17th saw the first Jacobite Steam Train service of the year into Mallaig, hauled by 'Black 5' No 45231, The Sherwood Forester.
The booked locomotive was due to be KI 62005 but the engine failed on May 7th due to a horizontal crack in her right hand cylinder. The locomotive had passed its 'fitness to run' exam prior to departing for Fort William on Thursday May 13th, but on returning to its depot at Shildon a small steam leak was found and so it was decided to send Ian Riley's Black 5 No 45407 in its place as a back up for 45231.
Hopefully the KI 62005 will be up in Fort William and commence duty on the Jacobite week beginning June 7th. As last year, the two locomotives will work week about, with crews changing on a two-week basis. The two drivers allocated for this season are Paul Kane from Carlisle and Alex Iain MacDonald from Fort William, originally Morar. There is a well stocked gift shop on the train, open to the public from approximately 1.30 - 2.10 each day that the Jacobite is in Mallaig station.
The three resident seagull families are rearing their chicks alongside the rails of Platform 2 again this year. So far there have been no fatalities to humans or birds!

SRPS Touring train comes to Mallaig
Saturday May 8th saw the first 2010 Scottish Railway Preservation Society excursion from North Berwick to Mallaig and return. The journey was a re-creation of their first ever SRPS trip some 40 years ag, and the engine carried a commemorative headboard to mark the event. There were 400 passengers on board, plus the stewards and catering crew - and I think every one of them purchased a pint, a postcard or an ice-cream. Time only allowed for a one hour stop - but it was good for Mallaig while it lasted. The locomotives used were CL47 No 47670 and 47804, both owned and crewed by West Coast Railways, and driven by the two Jacobite steam train drivers. SRPS plan another trip to Mallaig on 'Saturday September 18th, this time from Ayr. They would like to come to Mallaig more often, but die to the length of their journeys it is not possible to obtain pathing (access to the line) for the whole journey.
For eleven Saturdays this year the Royal Scotsman luxury touring train has priority of pathing, as well as the welcome ScotRail service plus the Jacobite on Saturdays from June 26th to August 29th - plus some Saturdays in October this year. There are just not enough hours in the day, or passing places on the lines to accommodate everone who wants to experience the 'Iron Road to the Isles'! Are we not just in a privileged position to be so wanted!!

West Word Slow Train Book Competition
Once again I am delighted at the large number of entries for this competition. The brand new book The Slow Train by Michael Williams continues to get good reviews nationally. There can only be one winner, and there was only one wrong entry, so the 'lucky dip' rule came into force. I can declare that the winner and soon-to-be owner of the book is Dennis Eddie, 7 Blaven View, Mallaig. Congratulations Dennis - maybe you'll get to read it while awaiting an ambulance call-out!

Network Rail's Permanent Way Engineer to retire
Mallaig based Permanent Way worker Chris Jones has finally called it a day, and put his orange 'Hi Vis' overalls into retirement. For the past 20 years, Chris has been a vital part of the Network Rail Engineering team which maintains the rail network between Mallaig and Rannoch. In his 20 years of valuable service, Chris has seen many changes of companies and working practices. Some of the changes not always for the better, says Chris. Although modern machinery has taken some of the back breaking work out of the maintenance structure, at the end of the day it's the permanent way man who walks every inch of the track who makes sure every sleeper, chair, fishplate and rail head are in a fir condition for passenger trains to run over in safety.
Chris will be sadly missed by all his colleagues and workmates, and by all of us who saw him walk the line in all winds and weathers (a task he probably won't miss now he's retired!). We all wish Chris a happy retirement from the railway, aware that the knowledge and experience he has gained in 20 years will go with him and sadly not be handed on to a future generation.

BBC Songs of Praise filming in Mallaig as West Word goes to press Wednesday 9th June.
BBC Scotland were filming on the Jacobite in May for a forthcoming six-part series based on 19th century travel journals and Victorian Guide Books. Possible transmission to be in Mondays on BBC4 in October this year.
BBC Radio Scotland were recording on the Jacobite on Thursday June 4th for transmission of Out of Doors on Saturday June 6th between 6.30 - 8am. Ewan McIlwraith and Mark Stephen were involved in the interviewing.
Sally Magnusson and film crew for BBC 1's Songs of Praise are recording with ScotRail this month for future transmission.
Summer catering service resumed on the West Highland Extension Class 156 service by ScotRail until the 25th September. Check timetable for services covered.
Club 55 - anywhere in the country above Berwick-on-Tweed and Carlisle still available for £15. Check with manned stations for details.
See you on the train.
Sonia Cameron.

West Word - ten years ago

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