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

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June 2014 Issue

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Top stories
Monthly news from Knoydart, Canna, Muck, Rum, Eigg
Lifeboat, harbour and railway news
Local History & Genealogy

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A new wave energy device, created by Scottish marine energy company Albatern, has been installed off the Isle of Muck on Scotland's west coast.
The innovative collaboration between renewable energy and aquaculture has seen a WaveNET device sited at Marine Harvest's latest salmon farm off Muck which is due to be stocked with salmon in the summer.

Younger readers may be excited at the thought of minions bobbing about in the sea,
but this is the Albatern wave device installed off Muck,
showing the SQUIDS, with fish farm moorings in the background and Rum in the distance.

The WaveNET device - which consists of the world's first coupled array of three units known as SQUIDS - has already undergone preparatory trials at the dry dock at Kishorn Port. These trials were very useful prior to the open sea deployment, but this is the first chance to assess the technology in a real life situation. And as Albatern Chief Financial Officer David Campbell explains: "This is a hugely significant milestone for us, but we still have quite a long way to go. The next few months will allow us to test the devices in the water and assess both their generating performance and their ability to survive and operate reliably in what can be a very hostile marine environment."
The purpose of WaveNET is to assist in generating electricity for the running of the salmon farm which relies on a diesel generator.
The first two Squids underwent pre-deployment testing at the dry dock at Kishorn, having been transported there by Ferguson Transport, before being taken by boat to the site. The third device was transported to Mallaig and taken from there to the Isle of Muck farm.
David Campbell explained: "We were very lucky to be able to use the dry dock at Kishorn for testing the device. With the very challenging weather in December and the early part of 2014 this facility allowed operations to continue which would have been almost impossible anywhere else. "In fact this whole project has been an example of great partnership between many of the key players in Lochaber business. The moorings contractor was Mallaig Marine and Marine Harvest is of course a huge player both locally and further afield. HebNet have assisted us with integrating communications systems into their Small Isles Wireless Broadband network, and the FAI Ardtoe Marine Research Facility hosts the base station for our wave measurement buoy.
"The islanders on Muck and Eigg have also been very interested and helpful to us in carrying out this project."
The moorings were supplied by Inverness-based Gael Force Marine who are partners with Albatern and Orkney company Aquatera in a project to demonstrate wave energy applied to offshore aquaculture.
The testing of the device will take place over the next six months. And if successful, similar devices could be rolled out across other suitable farms for Marine Harvest Scotland and other salmon farming companies.
Chris Read, Environmental Manager of Marine Harvest Scotland, welcomed the development, saying: "We are always looking to innovate and this is a great opportunity to reduce our carbon footprint and support a developing technology. We're delighted to be involved and we look forward to seeing the results of the testing phase. It's particularly good to see so many local businesses involved in the process."

The Albatern wave device being installed off Muck

The WaveNET array is held in place by a mooring system at the end of the mooring system for the farm pens, and within the existing mooring footprint. The generators work by capturing the motion from the wave energy through hydraulic rams and a marinised hydraulic motor and generator set to produce the electricity.
Marine Harvest Scotland Marine Harvest (Scotland) Ltd is the largest salmon farming company in Scotland producing over 48,000 tonnes in 2013. The company has 48 sea farms situated in the Western Isles, Skye, Argyll, Wester Ross and Lochaber.
Marine Harvest Scotland's new Isle of Muck salmon farm is one of the first 'open sea' farms to be developed as part of the company's £80m expansion programme in Scotland.

BEAR Scotland have been commissioned by Transport Scotland to replace the bridge over the Allt Dearg watercourse on the A830 Mallaig to Fort William road. The bridge is located between Glenfinnan and Ranochan approximately 4 miles west of Glenfinnan, at the bottom of the Mhuidhe. The works will commence this month and take approximately six months to complete.
During construction the A830 will be reduced to a single lane and a temporary road diversion will be formed north of the A830. This will include a temporary bridge over the Allt Dearg. BEAR Scotland will endeavour to keep disruption to traffic to a minimum. They request drivers' patience and co-operation during this time.
The bridge is being replaced because it fails to meet current standards. The replacement bridge will provide increased carriageway and verge widths.
Dearg Bridge is one of a number of bridge replacements planned along this route over the next few years.

It's that time of the month again! Doesn't seem very long since I was writing this for last month. I must be getting old; time is fair passing at a rate of knots these days!
May has been a nice month, though not as hot as I had optimistically hoped it might be... There have been lots of dolphins in the area though, with Mark Harris managing to capture them on camera a lot of the time. It's not just the dolphins either, he's been capturing lots of other wildlife too, around the Small Isles. Amy (if your reading this!), I think he is taking your spot on the Knoydart photography front!
Bikes seem to be all the rage here at the moment, with Tommy providing an affordable bike hire service, with a special discount for hill walkers so they can cycle to the base of the hill they are climbing, as well as Fabrice just having got in some new electric bikes to hire out - for those who prefer to let the bike do the work for them! Have to say, I'm dying to try one. Imagine how great it would be if you didn't have to pedal uphill!
The volunteer days have gone well, with a very wet tree planting day, so well done to all those who helped out. I admire the determination to carry on, BBQ and all, despite the torrential rain! The next day was for the observatory, which was a much better day weather wise! Plans for the observatory are in good swing, it's going to be fantastic when it's complete
Now, I'm sure just about everyone saw it (if not in real life, definitely on Facebook!), but the Waverley paddle steamer came in last week, on a beautiful sunny day too. It was good to see it, brought back many memories from when I was wee and going on school trips aboard it, and our tearoom did a spectacular trade in Mr Whippies! Our poor wee machine nearly couldn't cope! It has been a pretty busy month in general all round with tourists but that was certainly one of the busiest hours!
It's also been a month for holidays, with a crew of Knoydartarians taking off to visit fellow Knoydartarian Paisley, in her new home in Barcelona! It was a whirlwind weekend visit to the Spanish city for Tommy, Rhona, Isla, Davie, Lorna and Cath and they took it by storm. It was great to hear the stories on the Monday when they got back - think more group holidays should be in order! Myself, Anna and Galen also got away though, for an amazing magical weekend at Knockengorroch, which as usual, has got to be the best weekend of the year! It was nice to see a few familiar faces there too; Ann Mariot made an appearance and Danny and Angie (our past foresters) were there, partying away.
Evening meals are going to be starting in the tearoom again 3 nights a week (Wednesday, Thursday and Friday), in fact, by the time you read this we should be up and running! We also have a new member of staff, Ian, who has joined the tearoom team and has balanced out the guys - girls ratio somewhat!
As I've mentioned before, there is a facebook page called Visit Knoydart which has all the current goings ons posted to keep you up to date, but now it has also got its own website so check it out on www.visitknoydart.co.uk
Think that's all for now folks, hope you all have a lovely summer as I'm going to be handing this column over to someone else for a few months as I am bound for America. See y'all when I get back!
Heather Gilmour

On Saturday 31st May we Celebrated the centenary of the Rhu Church on Canna which was commissioned by Allan and Robert Thom, erected lovingly after their father's death. .The Church, completed in 1914, it is a model of simplicity, restraint, and elegance. Its architect was Peter McGregor Chalmers, a master of ecclesiastical architecture in Scotland at the turn of the twentieth century. Harking back to numerous Irish early medieval round tower precedents, of which examples are to be found at Brechin Cathedral and at Abernethy, he based the design on that derived for the church of Kilmore at Dervaig on Mull, which he completed in 1904.
Although it was disappointing that the service was not attended by the minister for the Parish of North West Lochaber which have been raising money for the roof repairs and receiving donations from the Rhu Church itself, it was a wonderful day as two senior members of the Thom family, Gilmour Thom and Johanna Frampton led the service celebrating with their families and the Canna community with a beautifully personal and heartfelt commemoration followed by a tasty lunch at Cafe Canna afterwards. It was wonderful to see Gilmour and his wife Liz again after their visit last year as well as other members of their family and also to meet Johanna and her children Rosie and Robert and Grandchildren. That day there were three generations of the Thom family back on Canna and it was a touching and very poignant day but also a joyful one too.
Johanna and Gilmour presented the Island community with a beautiful album of photographs and articles exploring the Thom family history and time on Canna. This was a wonderful surprise for the community and will be cherished and displayed so it can be viewed by visitors to the Island. The Thoms stayed at Tighard Guest House which was built by Robert Thom for his son Allan and his new wife, Mary Cameron of Talisker (who he had married in 1896).
The house was filled with three generations of Thoms and Gilmour's parting words in the guest book were "Its good to be Home"
A fantastic time was had by all and historically an important celebration and commemoration of The Thoms of Canna.
Thank You Johanna and Gilmour for making the Canna Community such an integral part of this event.
Colin Irvine

Canna school out of mothballs
Three years after Canna Primary School closed its doors, it has opened again with a roll of three pupils - all from the same family. The Guthrie family moved to Canna last month, bringing the island's population to 19, and have been home-schooling their children up until the school re-opened with a relief teacher on Monday 19th May.

1.5 inches of rain and a strong SW wind failed to dampen the spirits of the 220 guests who came to Muck to attend the wedding of Toby and Mary on May 17th.
An outside beach wedding was planned but we had to plan for rain and had erected the Small Isles Marquee using large boulders to hold the guy ropes in the sand.
This was very successful and the Rev Alan Lamb and Edgar Ogston conducted the wedding ceremony sheltered from the rain. The guests then repaired to the farm and the beautifully decorated barns for canapés, speeches and a superb buffet supper prepared by the islanders. Dancing followed far into the small hours
This was the biggest event ever held on Muck and accommodation was stretched to the limit, but everything apart from the weather went perfectly.
Last week I made one of my infrequent visits to the mainland. I was at the market at Fort William selling stirks and barren ewes and prices were nothing to complain about.
By sheer coincidence I was also able to attend a concert in the Astley Hall mounted by the Stella Nova choir and a number of Arisaig children playing a range of instruments.
Both were magnificent. I was very lucky to be there! Returning to Mallaig I was amazed to see the Small Isles and Knoydart school hostel swathed in scaffolding. On enquiry I was told that £1 million has been allocated to repair a building only four years old and which was much criticised by me when it was opened. This is nothing short of a scandal and one can be sure that as usual no one will be sued and no heads will roll. They certainly ought to be!
Back on Muck the fish farm houses are rising rapidly despite the very short working week. When they are here the joiners are working every hour of daylight to compensate. Looking at them one is reminded how very flimsy modern timber frame houses are. The weight of the slates should keep them safe in the storms!
That is all for the month.
Lawrence MacEwen

As suspected our anniversary ceilidh was great, with the welcome addition of Ross Martin to the band, it couldn't have been better; lots of old friends were there and some new ones too, promising to be back next year, if we don't see them on Eigg next month first.
The community trust has a new development officer and ranger. The first is Steve Robertson and the second is Trudi Clarke, both have bags of enthusiasm and seem to be settling into their roles really well. Welcome both!!
Sealife spotting has started early this year with a bumper month of sightings of minke whale plus young; a megapod of dolphins off Kilmory; some porpoise and even basking sharks off Guirdil. From talking to the crew at Kilmory from the deer study, it seems the deer are calving late this year with remarkably few births so far, though they are expecting the rest to be born in the next week or so which will make their unusually late nights, even later. On other Kilmory deer study news, Sean Morris has got his old job back as the field researcher. After a 13 year gap working for SNH, he is returning to his old stomping ground. Congrats to Sean - we know how happy you are! Other comings and goings are welcome back to Jed, guitar player to the stars and generally handy person to have around - for the summer, also welcome back to Pat and Jim Morris for their extended stay and temporary farewell to Gav, Laura and Maggie who are off for a while to take up a teaching post, back soon though.
We had an important site meeting for the bunkhouse this week with representatives from the funders HIE and BIG lottery there to see progress and ensure that everything is going to plan. There were impressed that everything had gone smoothly and that the contractors were even suggesting they were ahead of schedule. Plaster boarding is due to be finished tomorrow and next week the painters are in. The bunkhouse should be open in September and will be a welcome income generator for the community. The public funding the community trust have received for this project is being put to good use and will provide much needed accommodation and services to the many thousands of visitors Rum gets every year.

Rum Bunkhouse

Rum is always popular for its unique geology and we get a number of under graduate visitors every year here to carry out field work, but this year has been very busy we are currently awash with student geologists who are struggling to cope with this year's early onset bad midges - you've noticed then! Haven't seen so many midge hoods this early before.
Nic and Ady travelled all the way to Norfolk for a cob building course. Nic would love to build a cob house here and with all this mud, we say go girl! They are starting small with a cob henhouse - looking forward to seeing you all covered in mud in the summer as well as the winter!
We have a delightful old lady visitor at the moment who is 90 and was last on Rum in 1947, her husband proposed to her over at Harris and she is full of interesting stories and tales of sneaking onto the island when it was closed...
Rum primary sports day is on Friday 6th, all welcome. Stuart has some interesting games lined up for everyone, pictures of us making fools of ourselves will be in next month's West Word.
Fliss Fraser

"Generally and unfortunately, a very quiet May for birds with almost no migration of any note and egg laying decidedly late in many seabird species" reports our Eigg Wildlife warden, the rain washing away the eggs in many lapwings' nests. Nevertheless, numbers of the usual summer migrants have continued to build up with Cuckoos particularly prominent as the month progressed. Odd notes included a few Great Northern Divers lingering until the month's end, several sightings of White Tailed Eagles, a few Sanderling, Dunlin and a Tree Sparrow which seems intent on hybridizing with a female House Sparrow! The offshore waters have remained extremely quiet though a few Common Dolphin were seen on the 24th and the first Minke Whales and Basking Sharks were reported on the 18th and 25th respectively. Our Dolphin and Whale watch is to resume next month starting on the first weekend of June.
On the fairly rare warm days this month, there were several sightings of Orange Tip and Green Hairstreak butterflies. The moth list has also grown with new species identified. However, the rain seemed to have benefited some species at least as there was an outstanding count of 69 Frog Orchids at the islands main site on the 27th! The island certainly is at its greenest, with bracken growing visibly by the day, progressively drowning the abundance of bluebells whose colourful show is always best earlier in the month. Either end of the day are now bringing clouds of midges such as haven't been seen here for a long time!
To do all this counting and reporting, John was helped by Sara, one of our Spanish volunteers, and according to him, one of his best birder volunteers ever! Sara is one of three Spaniards currently volunteering on the island, alongside one Japanese and one Swiss IVS volunteers at the Earth Connection centre! With Gyorgy, our ubiquitous Hungarian, Eigg is becoming very international indeed and it certainly made for a very lively Champion League final!
The Whitsun week at the end of the month has seen a record number of visitors on the island, and the return of many kent figures, such as the many descendants of the Eigg MacQuarries. One of their Canadian relatives actually came to visit this year, an 11th generation descendant of the Great Piper of Eigg! Stepdancer Jenny MacKenzie from Cape Breton and her husband Kenny, a piper and fiddler, are a lovely couple and we hope to see them again!
Our social life has certainly been busy, with Eigg School inviting parents and islanders to the Muck and Eigg Commonwealth games dinner to sample dishes from many islands around the world, including wonderfully fragrant Caribbean cooked by two St Lucians who had great fun introducing our kids to cricket. Next there was a great music night with transatlantic tunes from America, Scotland and England, followed by tunes with Gabe, Damian and Jenn. Dan of Hebridean Larder did one of his now very popular taster menu, excelling himself with a menu of 8 spring-inspired courses. Finally we welcomed home the latest addition to Eigg's growing population, baby Ivy Dawn Kirk, born in Inverness on 17 May, with a fantastic barbecue organised by proud parents Yasmin and Ruaridh.
Camille Dressler

News in Brief

Is Moby McClean's solo record of occupation of Rockall under threat? Nick Hancock from Ratho, near Edinburgh, landed on Rockall on 5th June in a bid to set a world record of living alone on Rockall.
Back in 1985, from 26th may to the 4th July, local adventurer Tom (Moby) McClean spent 40 days alone on Rockall flying the Union Jack, affirming the UK's claim to the island.

John Angus Gillies, more commonly known as Gillie, manager with salmon farmers Marine Harvest, is also set to visit some of his colleagues as part of his 145 mile cycle challenge to mark the tenth anniversary of the opening of the firm's Mallaig harvest station.
Dubbed the 'Fish Cycle', the 145 mile route starts in Armadale in Skye and passes sites at Lochalsh, Duich, Loch Garry, Loch Lochy, Blar Mhor Processing and Farms Office, Glenfinnan, Loch Ailort Recirculation Unit and Ardnish Feed Trials Unit before ending in Mallaig. It will take about 15 hours to cycle the route.


Funds raised from the challenge which takes place on 20th June are being split between Mallaig's Fisherman's Mission and the newly formed Mallaig and District Camanachd Shinty Club recently resurrected after a 15 year absence by Gillie and two of his colleagues.
And Gillie is calling on colleagues to join him on his gruelling trip. He said: "I wanted to do something to something to mark the anniversary of the Mallaig Harvest Station and with the Commonwealth Games fast approaching this seemed like an ideal challenge. I'd be delighted if any of my Marine Harvest colleagues want to join me en route for one mile or even ten. "I'd also like to thank all my sponsors and supporters for their help in organising the challenge."


Sponsorship for the challenge is being provided by Marine Harvest who have donated equipment and transport on the day. Gillie's back up crew will be provided by Kyleakin firm DA MacLennan Joiners with support from Marine Harvest colleagues along the route. Food, power drinks and nutrients are being supplied by Nevis Cycles and David and Jackie MacLennan from Harry's Coffee Shop in Kyleakin.
Anyone who'd like to make a donation towards Gillie's challenge should visit www.justgiving.com/Jayne-MacKay1

An Tilleadh 2014 is Nearly Here!
An Tilleadh 2014, the two week events festival being held as part of the Year of Homecoming 2014 is almost upon us. With just six weeks to go until we begin, we have added another event to the lineup at the Land, Sea, and Islands Centre in Arisaig called An Sgeulachd / The Tale. It's being led by Allan Johnny Sandy of Arisaig, and will feature a series of stories from his collection which relate to the history of the area, and not all of them light! There's a good deal of the supernatural involved in old Highland tales. This event is also being preceded by a children's event on the same themes, but much more child centred, and a lot less scary. It's on Thursday 24th July, 6.30pm for the under 10's and 7.30pm for the over 10's. For more details see the contact information at the end.
The next day (Friday 25th July) there will be a day trip to Iona which is open to all. It's a great opportunity to get driven through Moidart, Sunart and Kingairloch, visit Duart Castle (Macleans) on the way down, and if you want, you can also visit Fingal's Cave on Staffa. Places are limited on this trip, so early booking is very important if you want to go.
Saturday 26th sees a Roots Day trip to Knoydart, followed on Sunday 27th by an ecumenical service of thanksgiving on Borrodale beach. Again, all are welcome at these events.
The programme finishes off with the Pre-Games Cilidh at Arisaig Games on Tuesday 29th July, followed by the Games on the 30th. This year there is a change to the usual arrangements for the two parades in the village and the opening. The village parade will be too large to hold in the village and then dovetail with the Games, so there is a to be a large ceremonial march from Traigh House to the Boathouse and then to the Games field. There are some special arrangements for this which will be posted on the Games website at the usual address www.arisaighighlandgames.co.uk
Any bed and breakfast or other accommodation operators who have overseas bookings for that week are encouraged to let their guests know about the march, and encourage them to they bring their local, regional, or clan banner to fly in the parade.
The Ceremonial March is part of the Clan Donald Gathering which is being held in conjunction with Arisaig Games. As we all know, Arisaig Games is a great day of sport, dancing, music, and community!
The full programme can be found on the Games website, or by contacting Chas MacDonald at antilleadh2014@arisaighighlandgames.co.uk
We hope to see you all!

RUSHfest Scotland event raises over £3,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support
Three fans of the legendary Canadian rock band Rush organised a day of events to celebrate the band's 40th anniversary and in doing so raised £3,135.58 for the Scottish arm of Macmillan Cancer Support.
Steve Brown (Arisaig), Mike Sword (Falkirk) and Gordon Smith (Lanark) spent months putting together a full day of events for like-minded fans of the Canadian trio Rush. RUSHfest Scotland took place on Saturday 17th May at Dreadnought Rock in Bathgate - Scotland's longest running rock club. Almost 200 fans attended from all over UK, Ireland, Italy, USA, Canada and as far afield as Brazil!

Back row (l to r): Gordon Smith, Mike Sword. Steve Brown. Front row (l to r): Linda Hamilton from Macmillan Cancer Support, Angie Townsend

The day's events included tribute bands, quiz, guest speaker from Toronto and an auction hosted by Scotland's top rock DJ Tom Russell.
Steve says "Whilst organising this event we reckoned we could raise about £1,000 for the charity. We have been totally blown away by the fans' generosity and raising over 3 times that amount. Sincere thanks to everyone that took part. "
A very close friend of the organisers is currently battling liver cancer. Angie Townsend from Edinburgh was the inspiration for choosing Macmillan Cancer Support as the charity to benefit from the day's profits.
Angie says "We need to continue to support Macmillan because cancer affects not just the sufferer but the whole family. To have a friendly face my husband and children can talk to through the rollercoaster ride that is cancer, is important to all of us. Macmillan not only offer emotional support, but can help with finances, and sources other services you might need, which, when you don't know where to start, is invaluable. Without them the world would be a much scarier place."

Nicky and Hendrik Chart, Morar, found this giant jellyfish washed up on Morar beach on the 9th June.
Henrik says: The jellyfish (Rhizostoma pulmo) has been on the BBC news recently; I attach an image alongside a tennis ball for comparison.
It is commonly known as the barrel jellyfish, the dustbin lid jellyfish or the frilly mouthed jellyfish.

On Sunday May 11th, people from Mallaig, Morar and Arisaig boarded the Western Isles for a VIP champagne cruise to Tarbet, calling in to Inverie to pick up Knoydart residents.
Joe Blower and his crew pulled out all the stops, with Nathan Ritchie piping the boat in and out of Inverie, a superb buffet provided by the West Highland Hotel, live music, and whisky tasting courtesy of Ben Nevis Distillery.
A wonderful time was had by all and a massive thank you to Joe and everyone who made it such an enjoyable afternoon!

Passengers enjoy the whisky tasting courtesy of Ben Nevis distillery
Music by (l to r) Angus Binnie, Eildih Shaw, Ross Martin, Tia Files and Lachie Robinson

RET extended to Small Isles and Skye
The Scottish Government is extending the Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) to include inter-island ferries and will encompass a further 14 ferry routes, including services to the Small Isles, Skye and Raasay.
However, ticket prices will not be announced for several months, and Transport Minister Keith Brown said work was required on how to deal with the expected increase in the number of people wanting to travel when the fares are cut.
The scheme was launched on routes to the Western Isles and Coll and Tiree in 2008 to bring fares in to line with the cost of road travel.
Islay, Colonsay and Gigha were added in 2012, with Arran to follow suit in October.

There were six call outs during the merry month of May for Mallaig's Severn Class Lifeboat Henry Alston Hewat.
Sunday 4th May: Mallaig Lifeboat launched at 15.31 hrs to assist the 12 metre yacht Ocean Lord into the safety of Mallaig Harbour.
The yacht had sailed from Canna but approaching Mallaig Ocean Lord's engine failed to start due to a flat battery. With the wind almost non existent, the skipper of the yacht had contacted Stornoway Coastguard requesting assistance. A short trip ensued for the Lifeboat to the entrance to the harbour, Ocean Lord was soon alongside the Lifeboat and inbound for the Mallaig Marina. Lifeboat ready for service at 1600 hrs.
Monday 12th May: Having received a request from the NHS 24 duty doctor and Fort William Belford Hospital, HM Coastguard duly requested the assistance of Mallaig Lifeboat to evacuate a 46 year old man with an arm injury from his yacht Varis moored in Mallaig Harbour. Lifeboat launched at 04.35 hrs and duly conveyed casualty from his anchored yacht to the Lifeboat pontoon where he was handed over to the local Ambulance personnel. Lifeboat ready for service at 04.45 hrs.
Saturday 17th May: At the request of Stornoway Coastguard, the Mallaig Lifeboat was launched at 20.35 hrs to got to the assistance of a 70 year old lady who had fallen and was suffering from breathing problems and a possible broken rib. The lady, a guest at a private function on the Isle of Muck was already nursing a broken arm so had been unable to cushion her fall and had landed heavily.
On arriving at Muck at 21.35 hrs, the Lifeboat was precluded from berthing at the slipway because of the exceptionally high tide. Moored ultimately to the Outer Dolphin of the pier, the Lifeboat crew and medics decided that the best course of action would be to bring the casualty onboard on the Lifeboat's stretcher. With the local Coastguard team and crew, a quick and effortless transfer ensued and, with the lady made comfortable (and being consoled by her husband), the Lifeboat departed Muck at 21.45 hrs. On passage the casualty was constantly monitored by the medics and at 22.35 hrs the Lifeboat was moored at Mallaig Harbour and the casualty transferred to the Ambulance crew for the onward journey to Fort William's Belford Hospital. Lifeboat refuelled and ready for service at 22.50 hrs.
Thursday 22nd May: Weather cloudy, visibility good, swell 1 metre, breeze strong: those were the weather conditions at 16.32 hrs when the Mallaig Lifeboat was launched to go to the aid of the yacht Odyssey of Sleat which had gone aground on a falling tide in Loch Scavaig, Isle of Skye. The 10 metre yacht was hard aground and heeled over. Four of the eight crew were transferred ashore to the climbers' bothy at the head of the Loch, the other four remained onboard making the vessel secure.
Once on scene (17.28 hrs) the Lifeboat crew launched the Y-boat and inspected the grounded yacht for any damage, but all that could be found were mere scratches to the keel and the rudder. Owing to the windy nature of the area - being directly below the mighty Cuillin Range - the Lifeboat anchored off the grounded yacht to await the flood tide.
The four crew men ashore were brought on board the Lifeboat by the Y-boat and given hot drinks and food. As the flood tide advanced, a tow rope was established between the vessels and at about 00.30 hrs the casualty floated free of the reef and was brought alongside the Lifeboat so the crew could rejoin their colleagues. With everything in order, the skipper of Odyssey of Sleat decided to return to Armadale where the charterers were waiting to inspect the vessel. With no further assistance required, the Lifeboat returned to Mallaig, was refuelled and ready for service at 02.16 hrs.
Monday 26th May: Mallaig Lifeboat launched at 11.50 hrs to go to the assistance of the Glen Tarsan aground on a reef on the north coast of Rum. As a precaution, the passengers were transferred ashore to a beach by the Glen Tarsan's crew in their tender. Once on scene (12.40 hrs) the Lifeboat waited in excellent weather conditions and let the tide refloat the motor cruiser. The crew of the Glen Tarsan returned to the beach and brought the passengers back to the Lifeboat. At approx. 13.30 hrs the Glen Tarsan became free of the reef so the Lifeboat set off to accompany the Glen Tarsan to Mallaig.
To everyone's delight, as both casualty and the Lifeboat departed the area, a large pod of Common Dolphins - at least 200 strong - decided to entertain.
Glen Tarsan and Lifeboat docked at Mallaig at 1600 hrs. Lifeboat ready for service at 16.20 hrs. Friday 30th May: Via the Harbour Master, the trawler Ocean Challenge requested an escort into Mallaig Harbour by the Lifeboat. The fishing vessel Replenish had the Ocean Challenge under tow and was proceeding to Mallaig as Ocean Challenge was suffering from losing main engine oil. Skipper agreed to restart his engine for the last half mile into the harbour with the Lifeboat in close escort.
This was duly carried and the 18 metre trawler succeeded in berthing in the Outer Harbour under her own power. Lifeboat ready for service at 14.35 hrs.


The Waverley, the last seagoing paddle steamer in the world, paid its annual visit to Mallaig on Wednesday the 28th of May. Unlike some previous occasions there were no weather issues this time around and she docked just after 2pm to pick up passengers then departed for a sail up Loch Nevis to Inverie before docking again at 5.15pm. If you want to find out more about the Waverley then you can do so by logging on to www.waverleyexcursions.co.uk

Waverley at Mallaig Harbour, photo by Moe Mathieson

Lochboisdale to Mallaig Service
It was disappointing to hear the news that the Lord of The Isles has had to be taken out of service last month for essential hull repairs. Problems with her steel structure were picked up as part of a routine inspection.
MV Lord of The Isles was the vessel that operated on the inaugural Lochboisdale to Mallaig 2013/14 winter trial (completed on Tuesday 1st April 2014) but, as we all know, due in the main to bad weather, only managed to carry out a little over 50% of the scheduled crossings. Vehicles and passengers conveyed on the 2013/14 Lochboisdale to Mallaig service were as follows:- Passengers 1437 - Cars 510 - Commercial Vehicles 59

Road Equivalent Tariff
Transport Minister Keith Brown announced on Tuesday 27th May that road equivalent tariff (RET) would be rolled out to all ferry routes in the Clyde and Hebrides ferry network including both the Mallaig-Armadale and the Mallaig-Small Isles service. RET will come into force at the start of the 2015/16 winter timetable so making journey's less expensive for passengers, cars, coaches and small commercial vehicles.
The Transport Minister said "This is a key commitment in the Ferries Plan that will be welcomed by the communities who use the service as well as visitors to the islands. We have already seen the positive impact of RET on other ferry routes around Scotland - this further roll out is expected to bring similar economic and tourism benefits.
"We would expect a reduction in fares to lead to an increase in demand on these services" he said "particularly during the summer timetable. We will therefore work with members of the affected communities to find ways of managing this demand!"

A new heart defibrillator has been located at the stairwell of the Harbour Building.
The defibrillator has been provided by the British Heart Foundation after the Harbour Authority provided the sum of £400 to part fund the machine.
Training on how to use the potentially lifesaving equipment has also taken place with Harbour Staff along with representatives from the Mallaig & North West Fishermen's Association Ltd, Marine Scotland and Denholm Fishselling Ltd, all being present and put through their paces by The Scottish Ambulance Service.

Robert MacMillan
Port Manager/Secretary
01687 462154

On and Off the Rails

Leo du Feu book competition Sketches from Canada
There was good interest in the competition to try to win two copies of the book that resulted from Leo travelling across Canada by train after winning a scholarship and sketching the wildlife seen on the journey. The two fortunate winners are: Mr I Massie from Tayport (ex BR Mallaig) and Isabel MacPhee from Caol, Fort William.
Congratulations to you both.

Jacobite steam train update
The morning train has now settled happily into its allocated timings. 'Florence', the first class carriage, has been completely refurbished and upholstered, and such is the need for first class accommodation that the corridor coach has also been refurbished and upgraded to first class status.
The train is running full every day, and we have already seen groups of 'Harry Potter' characters travelling in costume. On Saturday June 21st - the start of Saturday and Sunday running for three months and the Fishermen's Mission Gala Day - Jacobite soldiers and associates will be travelling to Mallaig on the train and collecting for the Fishermen's Mission. Expect mayhem and much merriment when the train arrives into Mallaig at 12.25pm on that day!
The afternoon Jacobite service commences on Monday June 2nd and will run Monday to Friday until Friday August 29th. Departing Fort William at 2.30pm, with a stop at Glenfinnan Railway Museum, it will arrive in Mallaig at 4.29pm and depart at 6.40pm.

The first day of this year's Jacobite steam train into Mallaig.
Guests of ScotRail's External Relations Manager, John Yellowlees, gather round the newly planted barrel steam train.
Photo by Steve Roberts

Railway Touring trains into Mallaig in June
SRPS railtours visit us on Saturday 7th June from North Berwick, diesel hauled to Fort William and steam hauled to Mallaig. It will just be a short visit in the early afternoon due to the length of the journey and freight train and ScotRail pathing, but their guests always manage to spread themselves around Mallaig very quickly!
The Royal Scotsman returns to us on Saturday June 21st and Saturday June 28th.

ScotRail update
Club 55 continues until the end of June. Great value as always, but why, at this time of year, have we no catering facilities on our line??
The ScotRail franchise and the Caledonian Sleeper franchise dates draw closer. Officially the given announcement dates are August 2014 for the sleeper and October 2014 for ScotRail, although 'leaks; in the press may appear before then!! Both franchises are due to commence on April 1st 2015.

Looking back
I was pleased to recall this week that 30 years have passed since steam trains returned to the West Highland Mallaig Extension Line. On May 27th 1984, LMS 'Black 5' 4-6-0 No 5407, Alderman Draper, departed from Fort William for Mallaig in conjunction with a rail tour from Euston, and became the precursor to a regular series of trips from Fort William to Mallaig operated by BR ScotRail.
Now look how dependent we are on the amount of tourism generated by West Coast Railway Company, all of the charter rail companies and First ScotRail, who bring people to Mallaig for the first time - who leave cowing to return 'and stay longer next time'.

Edinburgh Waverley - A Novel Railway Station
The above is the title of a book that I have been fortunate enough to obtain as a competition prize this month.
I know the author, Dr Ann Glen, personally and many of you will have seen her in Mallaig but maybe not realise who she is.
The book (A4 size) has charted the story of Edinburgh Waverley from its earliest days to the present. In the 1840's when its origins began, three railway companies vied for the site and for control of profitable lines along the East Coast. Deriving its name from Sir Walter Scott's first novel Waverley, the station is one of the largest in Britain, being both a terminus and accommodating through routes. The recent refurbishment, taken forward by Network Rail, of this World Heritage Site, is recorded in the book in great detail. The photography is fascinating and the details contained therein are superbly recorded by Ann.
Ann Glen comes from a family of civil and mechanical engineers with links to railways. She is a graduate of Glasgow and Strathclyde Universities, a Fellow of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, and by profession a geographer and economic historian. Her career has covered teaching, lecturing and research. On a personal level, she is generous with her time, and patient, and is now active in local government.
I am so excited with this book and so will be the winner of the competition this month. For the rest of you, the Book is titled Edinburgh Waverley, costs £18.50 + p & p, 144 pages, A4 hardback and is available from Lily Publications Ltd (based on the Isle of Man), tel. 01624 898446, www.lilypublications.co.uk
I will be urging local book shops to stock it. The ISBN is 978-1-90745-25-0

How many Railway Companies vied for the site in the 1840's? Answers by post please to Sonia Cameron, Fasgadh, Marine Place, Mallaig, Inverness-shire PH41 4RD, to arrive no later than Thursday June 26th. Good luck. Send in a postcard. Have a try!
See you on the train.
Sonia Cameron

What journeys we've been on recently!

Jenny Sharpe from Cnoc na Faire, Arisaig, took us to Venice and says of her photo - 'With my gondolier - chucked David overboard!'

The Chlachain Ladies Darts team went to the Railway Club in Fort William to play at a ladies darts competition. Here is a picture of them with the other competitors (and West Word of course!). They brought back some trophies to Mallaig, as you can see! Didn't they do well!

The Harkins family - Thomas and Julie and their daughters Chloe and May - took their West Word from Arisaig all the way to Lands End. We've been pictured at John O'Groats before so now we can say we are read the length of Britain!

Angela O'Donnell sent us this photo of her sister Bernie with her daughters Megan and Eilidh (from Inverness) enjoying catching up with the West Word while visiting her in Austin, Texas.

John Ferguson, Robin Hanratty & Colin MacDonald took their copy of West Word to read before setting off on a 5 day walk along The West Highland Way. The walk was in aid of The Brain Tumour Trust which raised over £11,000. They say 'Thank You to Everyone who kindly sponsored us!'

Mallaig's Kelsey MacBeth and Jenna MacDonald were both chosen by Edinburgh Youth Gaitherin to be part of a group of six highland dancers representing Scotland in the UKM Arctic Festival in Finnsnes, Troms region of Arctic Norway. The girls travelled to Norway at the end of March to experience a weeks dance school with many other nationalities, learnt and taught new dances to each other and performed on Norwegian television. Well Done girls! And of course they took their West Word with them!

Lynn and Joyce Milne of Tigh-na-Mara, Arisaig, took their copy to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil for their Golden Wedding celebrations. Here they are, with Lynn wearing his Knoydart Eagle T-shirt!

Jean Macnaughton, Elizabeth Johnston and Ruby took their West Word from Mallaig to relax in sunny in Cyprus.

Birdwatch by Stephen MacDonald
A fairly typical May, with little out of the ordinary to report, although a Corncrake heard calling around Silver Beach Croft, Invercaimbe, from the 22nd was a bit unexpected but a welcome report, as locals there reckon that it has been over 30 years since they last heard them on the croft!
Three Velvet Scoters seen from the MV Sheerwater off the east side of Eigg during the second week were unusual.
With the mostly settled weather, most of the typical migrant waders did not linger, moving through quickly. Several groups of Whimbrel were reported early in the month, with Traigh Golf Course a favoured area. A flock of 26 were seen there on the 6th, but numbers dwindled rapidly. Several flocks of migrant Dunlin, Ringed Plover and Turnstone were seen on the shore by the golf course, with a group of approx. 40 Dunlin and 30 Ringed Plover actually feeding on the greens on the 19th. On the 7th there were at least 10 summer plumaged Turnstone at Traigh and several 'Northern' Golden Plover at Skye View, Back of Keppoch. Visitors from Edinburgh were delighted to spot a Common Sandpiper on the 17th and 18th on rocks at Roshven.
Drumming Snipe were seen and heard at Loch nan Eala and Back of Keppoch throughout the month. 'Roding' Woodcock were seen and heard around Beoraid and Rhubana during the last two weeks of the month.
Good numbers of Terns back at nest islands off Camusdarach - Traigh, mostly Arctic but also a few Common Terns. The Kumlien's type Gull was still about Mallaig Harbour until the 22nd.
Numbers of Great Northern Divers built up mid-month offshore from Camusdarach south to Loch nan Ceall prior to their departure to breeding grounds, most in fine breeding plumage. Red-throated Divers also seen in the same area with birds commuting inland to their breeding lochans in the surrounding hills.
Plenty of reports still of Redpolls, Siskins, Goldfinches etc. coming to garden feeders, with the first juvenile Siskin seen on the 4th.
Blackcaps and Whitethroats seen and heard at several locations in the Morar area. Sedge Warblers seen and heard at Loch nan Eala, Silver Sands and Rhubana throughout the month.
Reed Buntings were seen at Loch nan Eala and Rhubana, Bullfinches were reported from Morar and Camusdarach on several occasions.
A Barn Owl was seen hunting along the roadside at the east end of Arisaig village mid-month.

In this centenary year of the Great War, and having purchased a copy of the CD titled Arisaig and South Morar Record of Service 1914 - 1918 (March issue of WEST WORD) during a recent visit to Arisaig, I was reminded of a somewhat intriguing set of coincidences surrounding my wife and I in 2005 which, if you'll permit me, I'd like to share with your readers.
To start at the beginning, we are seasoned caravanners and have stayed in France on many occasions on our way south to other parts of the continent. In June of that year we happened to stop for a few days in the Picardy region on our way back to Scotland. During our many journeys through the north of France we frequently discussed a long held wish to pay our respects to the war dead at one of the many war cemeteries scattered throughout the north of the country. One morning in late June, purely by chance, we found ourselves on the D1 road between Soissons and Chateau-Thierry when we noticed a sign for a Commonwealth War Cemetery. On the spur of the moment, we followed the signs for the D1240 up a hillside for some two miles before finding the cemetery in question on a plateau just outside the village of Buzancy. The name of the village meant nothing to us at that stage. However, on entering the cemetery, we were astonished to discover it contained the headstones of almost every Scottish Regiment in existence at that time. These included the Cameron Highlanders; Gordon Highlanders; Seaforth Highlanders; Black Watch; Kings Own Scottish Borderers; Royal Scots; Cameronians (Scottish Rifles); Royal Garrison Artillery; Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and the Royal Field Artillery to name but a few. The graveyard could truly be described as a "Scottish Cemetery".
There was yet another surprise in store. On opening the Book of Remembrance, which was housed in a beautiful stone memorial chamber (similar to a tiny chapel) I was amazed to find an entry which read "GILLIES, Private, ANGUS, S/23283, 8th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders. Killed in action 28th July, 1918. Age 21. Son of the late Mrs Mary Gillies of 5 Bunnacaimbe, Arisaig and Angus Gillies, Moss of Keppoch, Arisaig". It soon dawned on me that he was born the same year as my father, Simon McKinnon. As children, they would undoubtedly have shared the same classroom in St Mary's Catholic School, Arisaig and would then most likely have been conscripted or enlisted at the same time! My father served in the Royal Garrison Artillery in the Italian campaign and was fortunate enough to survive the Great War whereas Angus was tragically killed in action in the battle of Buzancy in July, 1918 and lies, like many other young soldiers, buried in a foreign grave far from his native soil. (In later years my father established a successful grocer's business in Arisaig and, among other accomplishments, was a Councillor with Inverness County Council).

Needless to say, we found the whole experience very emotional. The atmosphere in the cemetery was electric and you could almost imagine you were hearing the sound of pipes and drums in the distance. We said a few quiet prayers and returned there the following day to lay a bouquet of flowers on Angus's grave. While there, I recorded some video footage from which I've extracted some still images. The quality is not the best since this was recorded shortly before the emergence of high definition cameras - but I include it for what it's worth.

photo photo

The story does not end there! Several weeks later, on visiting our home territory, we climbed up to the war memorial overlooking our old school in Arisaig and there, as anticipated, was Angus's name inscribed on the monument.

Angus Gillies

Although there now seems to be some mystery behind the discovery of the Arisaig and South Morar Record of Service 1914 - 1918, I well remember as a child my father showing me the book and contents in the Astley Hall 'Clubroom' as it was then called. It was, therefore, with considerable interest I awaited the production of the data CD of the same title and I was thrilled and tremendously proud to see the photographs and war records of both my father (an only son) and Angus Gillies (an only son) enrolled in the list of those brave men and women from Arisaig and South Morar who left their native heath to serve their country in the 'war to end all wars'.
Finally, it might be of interest to your readership to know that by carrying out a search of the internet under the heading 'Scottish Military Cemetery, Buzancy', they will find more information about the conflict in that area and will see Angus Gillies's name on the roll of the war dead.

Translation of inscription on a cairn erected by the French Army following the Battle of Buzancy:
"Here forever shall flourish, amid the Roses of France, the
glorious thistle of Scotland"

Allan MacKinnon, Haddington

Many thanks to Allan for his article.
Allan is a former Police Chief Superintendent of the Lothian and Borders Police. Prior to his retirement from the police he was the Divisional Commander in charge of policing in the centre of Edinburgh. He and his wife, Jessica, are natives of Arisaig. Jessica's sister, Merac Macdonald lives in Back of Keppoch, Arisaig and her other sister Peggy Milligan resides in Mallaig. Their brother, Sandy Macdonald is the proprietor of Gorten Farm Caravan site, Arisaig.
A copy of the War Service Records book can be seen at Mallaig Heritage Centre where CDs of the virtual book are available at £10 each. A copy of the book can also be seen at the Astley Hall by arrangement and CDs are obtainable from Ann Martin, info@astleyhall.org.uk, 01687 450263.

Kin Connections by Marlene (Miri ilidh) MacDonald Cheng (mcmcheng@shaw.ca)
On Easter morning, 20th of April 2014, in Windsor, Ontario, a man much loved by many went peacefully to his eternal rest, surrounded by his loving family. Alistair MacLeod, the "Cape Breton Bard", was dead! Every one he knew, and those who had heard of him but never met him, mourned his loss.
Alistair was the son of the late Alexander MacLeod and Christena MacLellan of Dunvegan, Cape Breton. His ancestors came to Parrsboro, Nova Scotia, from the Isle of Eigg in 1791. They removed to Broad Cove Banks, Cape Breton, in 1808 so that they could be closer to relatives, friends and a priest. Alistair's sloinneadh (male lineage) was Alistair mac Alisdair 'ic Iain 'ic Alistair 'ic Dhonnchaidh 'ic Dhmhnaill. (Alistair, son of Alistair, son of John, son of Alistair, son of Duncan, son of Donald)

Alistair MacLeod

Alistair was born in North Battleford, Saskatchewan on 20 July 1935. His father had moved his family there, looking for work as a farm hand during the Great Depression. Five years later, they moved to Edmonton and then to Mercoal, Alberta, where his father worked in a coal mine. Alistair's parents, whose first language was Gaelic, were very homesick for Cape Breton. After the war, they returned to Cape Breton where they lived in the old farmhouse that Alistair's grandfather had built in the 1860s. Alistair was then ten years old. He enjoyed school and was especially fond of reading and writing. In 1954, at age 19, he moved west again, and lived in Edmonton where he delivered milk to people's doors with a horse and wagon. Two years later, he returned to Nova Scotia where he went to Teachers' College in Truro. The following year he taught school at Port Hood Island. In 1957 Alistair entered St. Francis Xavier University where he earned a BA and B.Ed. in 1960. In 1961 he received his MA from the University of New Brunswick, then headed south to Indiana where he received his PhD from the University of Notre Dame in 1968. What was the reason he went all the way to Indiana to study? It was because Frank O'Malley, one of his literary heroes, was teaching Creative writing there.
Alistair was a Professor at the University of Windsor, Ontario, for more than 30 years. About 1971 he married his Cape Breton sweetheart, Anita MacLellan, daughter of Lewis MacLellan and Sarah Walker. He and Anita lived in Windsor, Ontario. They had seven children, one of whom died in infancy. Alistair also had a sister, Marylin, who predeceased him.
Alasdair loved to write and he was very particular about what he wrote. Although he didn't publish much, what he did publish was universally admired. He won a number of literary prizes, including the 2001 Dublin Literary Award, Ontario's Trillium Prize and the Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award. In 2008, Alistair was named an Officer of the Order of Canada, and in 2009, Alistair's only novel (published in 1999), No Great Mischief, was named Atlantic Canada's best book and it was also short-listed for the Canadian Giller Prize. Alistair also authored the following books - The Lost Salt Gift of Blood, To Every Thing There Is a Season, Island: Collected Stories, Remembrance, and As Birds Bring Forth the Sun and Other Stories.
Yes, Alistair was an excellent writer but he wasn't one who liked the spotlight. He was a humble and gentle man who loved nothing better than bringing his family back to Cape Breton each summer. When he wasn't writing in his little shack that overlooked Margaree Island, he was enjoying his family and chatting with neighbours and friends. He showed an interest in everyone and made sure that his children came to know all his relations and friends in his home away from home. I sometimes attended the annual Broad Cove Concert at the end of July, and there I would find Alistair, selling tickets in the ticket booth, or helping with moving staging about. He always took time for a bit of a story at some point during the event.
Alistair's son, Daniel, spoke about his father at the gathering after the funeral service in Broad Cove. He told a story about his grandfather MacLeod who some years back became ill, and the family had misgivings about him driving the car. Daniel had a word with his father, Alistair, suggesting that perhaps they should unhook the car's battery. His father looked at him and said, "Your grandfather worked very hard all his life for that car and I'm not going to sabotage him now that he's sick." Daniel said, "I knew right away how wrong I was. Dad was obsessed with the dignity of people."
Alistair MacLeod had a great love for his people and their Gaelic culture. Even the poorest were of importance to him. This love is clearly evident in his short stories and novel. The people he writes about had hard times, but most of them never forgot the culture that they came from. The culture still binds them together today.
Reverend Duncan MacIsaac, a cousin of Alistair, presided at the funeral Mass. Under the lovely arches of the 167 year old St. Margaret of Scotland Catholic Church, he quietly reminded the people, who had assembled to say "Goodbye" to Alistair, saying, "He left words for us to meditate upon. Alistair believed in us." What a worthy comment on the love and respect that Alasdair had for his neighbours and culture, and how deeply they felt about him! He is sorely missed.

"Alistair, gus am bris an l agus an teich na sgilean"
(Alistair, until the day breaks and the shadows flee).

Alistair MacLeod's novel, "No Great Mischief" can be purchased at Amazon, as can his books "The Lost Salt", "To Every Thing There Is a Season" (A Cape Breton Christmas story), "Island: Collected Stories", "Remembrance", and "As Birds Bring Forth The Sun and other stories".

"The Boat", one of Alistair's early short stories is available on-line in PD format, at: http://hrsbstaff.ednet.ns.ca/twatson/TheBoat.pdf

Please feel free to contact me by e-mail for more information on Alisdair's ancestors.

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