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June 2018 Issue
Contents of the online version:
All photos are copyright either of the individual photographers or West Word.
Two new boats for Mallaig
Western Isles Cruises' new Knoydart ferry has arrived in Mallaig. The purpose built, 42 passenger, 14m catamaran is named Larven after the 1020m peak on the Knoydart peninsula. Larven will operate alongside Western Isles' existing boats, MV Western Isles and Big Dipper.
New fish farm work boat Betty Bheagh is owned by John MacPhie and Neil Morrison, and will be used for net washing and cleaning. Betty Bheagh was named in memory of John's grandmother, Bettie MacPhie.
MALLAIG HARBOUR'S NEW ICE PLANT PROJECT RECEIVES GRANT OF £182,000
A grant of £182,587 has been announced to help purchase and install a new ice plant at Mallaig Harbour. The funding is part of £6.9 million awarded from the sixth round of European and Maritime Fisheries Fund (EMFF) grants to 107 projects across Scotland to help fishing fleets land and sell their catch. The new ice plant project will cost a total of £365,175 and will ensure the quality of the Mallaig fleet's catches is maintained. Robert MacMillan, chief executive of the Harbour Authority, said 'assistance through the EMFF is crucial in supporting the costs for key harbour infrastructure and we are grateful for the award. Without this funding, the provision of a key component in the supply chain would be in doubt.' Patrick Hughes, chief executive of Seafood Scotland, commented that 'securing EMFF funding is vitally important to showcase Scotland's acclaimed seafood products and our ambitious exporters. This funding will enable Seafood Scotland to support our seafood companies from across the seafood supply chain. This EU funding and ultimately the support it provides can make a real difference to companies looking to make important connections with global buyers.'
ISLE OF CANNA HOSTS COLUMBA CONNECTION SYMPOSIUM
Canna House Archives is hosting a one-day symposium entitled 'The Columba Connection' on St Columba's day, Saturday 9th June. It will feature a programme of academic papers, guided walks and musical events, delivered in the appropriately named St Columba's Chapel, the island's Shearing Shed community space and in Canna House Garden.
The day also marks the 80th anniversary of Canna's purchase by Gaelic scholar John Lorne Campbell and his wife Margaret Fay Shaw. Over the course of their lives, as well as farming the island, they amassed one of the world's most important collections of Gaelic and Celtic folklore, song, story and image archives. The couple hoped to re-establish a traditional Gaelic-speaking Hebridean community, based around the church, farm and school. John firmly believed that Canna was once the 'summer home' of St Columba and was the noted Hinba referred to in Columba's papers. The archaeology points towards a monastic presence on the island at the time of St Columba.
The Chair of Celtic Languages, Literature, History and Antiquities at the University of Edinburgh, Professor Rob Dunbar, will deliver a keynote speech on the historical links between Columba, Canna and the Campbells. Brian McGee, Bishop of Argyll and the Isles, will be in attendance at the event to give a blessing at the Celtic cross.
Trust archaeologist Derek Alexander will deliver the archaeological evidence for Columba's presence on the island; the Canna rangers will conduct guided walks around the island; and Canna archivist Fiona J Mackenzie will perform some of the songs collected by the Campbells. More information is available from Fiona Mackenzie on email@example.com or 01687 462473.
Making The News
I think May is probably my favourite month of the year…. Sunshine, flowers everywhere, everything is suddenly green again, and no midgies! Mind you, I won't be saying that for much longer I'm sure. We're all kind of waiting anxiously for the day they return in full force…
Exciting news on the hall front, as the planning application for the refurbishment and extension has been approved and on top of that The Robertson Trust donated a massive £20,000 which will go a long way in the hall refurbishment. There have been approximately £270,000 pledges so far, and we are aiming for £418,000 so over half way there now! Now we just need to wait on the building warrant to be granted and the build project will be going out to tender. It's all starting to come together! Look out for info on the next gig which will be in June…
Also, fantastic news for Ian and Amie Dow, Johann and Mark who all finally got their planning permission through for their housing in Sawmill Wood. Let the building commence!
The road over the landslip is completely finished now, with works being completed just last week - seven months since the landslide occurred. It's been an ongoing process but it's finally back to normal. Let's hope there's no more landslides this winter.
Congratulations to Anna Robertson who won 2 competitions at the Lochaber Mod! The first one was the Advanced Under 18's fiddle (slow air, march strathspey and reel set) and the second was the Open Fiddle Under 15's - Well done Anna! So much talent.
And, finally, a very sad day came when we received the news that Rick Walsh, owner of the The Big House, has passed away. He was back living out in Philadelphia, America with his family and died peacefully at home surrounded by loved ones which is surely the best way to go. Rick was a very special, very unique, compassionate and eccentric man with a heart of gold who meant a great deal to many, many people. He will not be forgotten here on Knoydart. If anyone reading this ever met Rick, or knew him at all, please, raise a glass to a wonderful man. Heather Robb
ISLE OF MUCK
This month I want to talk about parking - parking in Mallaig. When visitors to Muck in April found the West Bay park full, we knew there was a problem which will not be solved by charging. As Eigg is becoming the West Coast's second most iconic visitor destination the problem is only likely to get worse. If there was plenty space in Arisaig or Morar a frequent bus service from there to Mallaig would be the answer but there is not. The long-term solution is to roll back the sea, build up the foreshore and create more space in Mallaig, but that will be expensive.
On the farm lambing is almost over and it has been a good one but not better than the last two years. The big drainage scheme in the fields is progressing well; helped by the wonderful dry weather. Two of these are being reseeded to increase the silage crop and Toby and Lewis have been planting trees wherever there is space available.
The basket making course in the hall was very successful and on Thursday we are welcoming Daimh to the same venue.
ISLE OF CANNA
Fantastic news on Canna! We have the Tighard Guest House open with new tenants Fiona and Iain, and also Café Canna open with new proprietors Gareth and Nic.
After a long winter it is great to be able to pop into the café for a pint or an evening meal. Gareth is experimenting with some interesting menu ideas and we are all enjoying tasting his new fare. I thoroughly recommend coming along to try it out.
The season has well and truly kicked off with an average of eight yachts in every night taking advantage of the Community Moorings. The Bella Jane RIBs are coming in thick and fast. We have also had a good number of cruise ships already and are looking forward to many more. We have also had some very expensive powerboat visitors like this Hunton Speedbird.
Lambing is also almost over with only one more ewe to deliver as of the 20th May. Just as well as we are looking forward to welcoming the band Daimh on the 25th and their exuberant music would certainly see the last lamb delivered!!
We are looking forward to Fiona Mackenzie's Symposium celebrating St Columba's Day and are expecting a full island for that event on the 9th June.
The renewables project is progressing well as is the new Sanday road. Hopefully I shall be able to provide pictures of the new road next month.
Criomagan (Crumbs) from Canna House
May has seen Archivist Fiona deliver a series of Canna House Advocacy projects throughout the Highlands and the Central Belt. School visits to Glasgow included a visit to Gartcosh Primary school where the whole school joined in with one of the songs collected by the Campbells. This school in particular was celebrating Scotland's languages and music this summer and wanted to hear about the Campbells and their lives. From Glasgow Fiona travelled to Skye where she delivered Margaret Fay Shaw's paper "Hunting Folksongs in the Hebrides" (which was published in the National Geographic Magazine in 1947) to a full house at the Duirinish Media & Culture Club in Dunvegan, illustrating it with Margaret's own images and film as well as her own voice. Margaret Fay Shaw first began to learn Gaelic in Skye and it was a Skye song "Thoir mo Shoraidh thar an t-Saile", which she first heard Mairi Macrae sing that night in South Lochboisdale, South Uist.
South of Skye Camera Club at Sabhal Mor Ostaig next played host for Fiona who gave a presentation about the more technical aspects of Margaret's photography career and collection "Bho Mhoch Gu Dubh - From Dawn till Dusk". Fiona was able to use some of Margaret's little-known images taken during her travels through Skye in both 1926 and 1929.
The Matheson family of Wentworth St where Margaret Fay Shaw lived for 3 months
Back on the mainland, Fiona presented "Portrait of an Island", Margaret's "Woman's Hour" broadcast from 1956, portraying life on Canna in the 50's, to an audience from the National Trust for Scotland's Patrons Club at Roshven, Lochailort. This was ahead of the Patron's visit to the island the next day. Lunchtime presentations in the Shearing Shed and St Columba's Chapel continue regularly on Wednesdays when the CalMac ferry is berthed for 2½ hours. Island visitors seem to enjoy having the chance to find out more about the island's story and see the images and films and hear the music from the Canna House archives. Preparations continue for the June St Columba symposium and Fiona will hopefully have images of the event for you all in next month's West Word. Fiona MacKenzie
ISLE OF RUM
Sadly our anniversary ceilidh was cancelled as the ferry didn't come, and the Skye ferry was also cancelled, and that was where the band were, but hey ho never mind, we still celebrated and will redo the ceilidh at another date in the summer.
May is always the busiest month here and there was lots happening; Ian has been reroofing the cottage at Kilmory and coming up with innovative plans for our internet service to possibly include fibre optic cable; the bunkhouse has taken on a seasonal extra staff member, Mark, to help out, and so far that's going well with the campsite toilets getting regularly cleaned now and repainted to make them more appealing.
SNH have started this year's volunteer programme with the return of Jen, über volunteer and at least two new ones who have been assisting David refencing the side castle field and putting up the electric fence on the front castle field for the return of the ponies to the village, there are three pregnant mares this year, so that will be exciting waiting for them to give birth.
Marine Harvest's shore base is coming on quickly. Most of the area has now been excavated producing a flat base for the shed construction, which is due to start in a couple of weeks; we had an informal meeting to meet the new staff and the construction guys in the hall, and one of the new staff is James McFadzean formerly of Muck, now of Rum - not sure who he'll be competing for in the Small Isles Games in July!
The Spring bank holiday weekend was particularly busy; while we waved at most of Eigg who were off to Canna for the Daimh gig, we had about 100 folk coming off the ferry to deal with for various celebrations. There was a 60th birthday party at the bunkhouse and a squad of musicians visiting Dave for a weekend of merry making…there was only one casualty, a hill walker, who was whisked off by air ambulance on Friday evening. The rest of the weekend went relatively smoothly.
Rum primary have had a busy couple of weeks; last week they were on the HW&DT boat Silurian and this week had an otter specialist talking to them, and we have all just been on the seawatch trip on the Sheerwater and saw the first dolphins of the year, and a sea eagle too.
ISLE OF EIGG
As I write, the return of the Sheerwater and the cuckoo (later than usual by a week) have heralded the Eigg summer season, but with temperatures still failing to warm up, nature is a bit late: trees are only just unfurling their leaves, but the bluebells are now showing through and the lambing has been as good as could be expected this year.
One unusual and special event this May was the visit to Eigg of Liliana and Jeremias, leaders of the Misak people, one of Columbia's many indigenous peoples, at the start of their tour of Scottish Islands and Community buy-outs which ended at the Scottish Parliament on 8th May. On their journey over to Eigg on MV Loch Nevis Liliana and Jeremias were very courteously invited to the bridge by Captain Kenny MacDonald and really enjoyed this sailing experience which was a huge novelty for them as they live far from the sea in the mountain areas of Columbia.
The intention for the visit, organized by Scottish NGO Life Mosaic in conjunction with Eigg IEHT director Damian Helliwell, was for the Misak leaders to share their Plan de la Vida - a process which they have developed during their years of successfully fighting back the oppression suffered for centuries, culminating in the Misak reclaiming their cultural heritage and now training their young people at their own university to teach and transmit the knowledge that was kept underground for so many years, and which they now feel needs to be shared widely for humanity to have a chance to survive by stopping the destruction of the natural environment. "For us Misak, it is not the young people but the old people that are the future. They are the ones that hold the knowledge which can be used by our children!" explained Liliana.
Liliana at St Columba's Well
After a visit to the school and the Crofting Museum, the Misak leaders were invited to drink the water of the holy well of St Columba nearby, as water is very sacred to them. They were so impressed by the water from that well which comes from so deep in the earth that they asked to take some of it to be used for a particular ceremony. They considered that the water was imprinted with the story of the island's past and at the end of our shared meal in the Community hall that evening, they gathered everyone in a big circle and Jeremias ceremoniously sprinkled us with droplets of the water with the intention of reconnecting everyone to the island's past and also making our energy whole and balanced as it should be! Then, Liliana placed Maggie, our trusted IEHT secretary, at the centre of the group, and using a ball of string she connected every one of us to her, asking us the voice our hope for the future and what steps we felt was required to make it happen! A right good ceilidh followed on, with the added bonus of a couple of passing musicians contributing to the lovely tunes from Damian, Gabe and Co.
The following day was devoted to working on the the Eigg Plan de la Vida; in small groups working outside the community hall in the warmth of that lovely May sunshine, we established what we wanted to see in terms of education, communication and governance, three of the themes which stood out as we worked through the process. These issues were worked through using the symbolism of a tree, right from the roots to the branches and leaves. It was a really simple, easy to follow process which could appeal to everyone, and succeeded in producing actions points as well as underlying principles! Our Eigg green group is now really keen to continue exploring this method to help tease out what the green vision, mission, objectives and goals for our island. Thank you so much Liliana and Jeremias for taking us through this new participative tool which was so powerful and successful! Good luck in your work and wishing you all success for the future! We are told that a little bottle of St Columba's well bottle has now gone to the Misak sacred space in the High plateau of Columbia.
As we prepare to celebrate our 21st anniversary of the Eigg community buy-out, this visit was particularly significant: learning new processes to tease out our common vision, as it evolves through the new challenges that we have to face as the community changes and grows, will help the work that our elected representatives have already started at the end of our 20th year! We are also looking forward to welcoming Andy Wightman MSP to Eigg on Friday 8th June before the big night starts and hear from him how the land reform movement in which Eigg played such a prominent role - thanks to him and other activists - continues to develop and what part we can still continue to play!
Meanwhile, apart from these transatlantic cultural exchanges, we have also very much enjoyed the rehearsal of the Kate Bush Experience show (not the final name) which will be coming to Arisaig very soon and is totally unmissable, and a great poetry event with the ever so versatile Gerda Stevenson reading from her latest work "Quines". We are now looking forward to having thespians in residence on the island soon! Watch this space...
Jackie with Maggie
The Scots Makar, Jackie Kay, had a wee holiday on Eigg recently - here she is pictured with Maggie Fyffe. She spent some time with the school children and also held an impromptu reading at Lageorna which attracted an audience of 55!
Jackie will be appearing at the Mallaig Book Festival in November.
Arisaig Eco Project
Local interest and help with the project has already been huge as lots of locals and visitors have given their time to help tidy up the glass recycling area, pick up litter, begin to clear overgrown areas ready for forthcoming planting in front of the toilets (thanks Sean from the Arisaig Hotel!). Arisaig Primary and Nursery have been busy with all their food growing using donations of seeds and plants and as well as some sourced from Shielfoot Organics in Acharacle. If you have an excess of plastic plant pots (the black ones can't go in the blue recycling bin) Shielfoot Organics and Glenborrodale Nursery will accept clean and washed out plastic plant pots (1 litre plus) that they can use again for their young plants and seedlings.
Forthcoming events include: Food Growing - Potatoes on Thursday 31st May at LSIC (Land, Sea and Islands Centre) at 10.30 am in conjunction with Lochaber Environmental Group, Beach Litter Pick at Traigh on Friday 8th June at 9.15am with Arisaig Nursery and Mallaig Nursery and Midsummer Picnic, BBQ and Football at Arisaig Playing Field on Sunday 17th June 12 - 3 pm and Arisaig Craft and Produce Fair at Astley Hall on Thursday 21st June 11 - 3 pm.
Coming Soon … Do you live in PH39 and have never composted before? - please email and we can help with a Free Composter Starting Kit. To get in touch please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org www.facebook.com/arisaigecoproject
A Write Highland Hoolie!
Mallaig Book Festival, Friday 9th November to Sunday 11th November
We can now announce four more authors for the Festival this autumn.
We will be delighted to welcome the very popular broadcaster and journalist Sally Magnusson who has written ten books, most famously her Sunday Times bestseller, Where Memories Go about her mother's dementia. She will be talking to us about her first novel, The Sealwoman's Gift, which draws heavily on her inherited half-Icelandic, half-Scottish traditional story-telling.
Renowned Scottish children's artist and illustrator Kate Leiper will be joining us for a special children's event. Her latest illustrated work, A Wee Bird was Watching by singer/song writer, Karine Polwart, will be hot off the press in time for the Hoolie.
Well-known Scottish literary critic and author Stuart Kelly writes regularly for The Guardian, The Times and The Spectator, and in 2014 was a judge for the Booker Prize. His latest book is The Minister and the Murderer, A Book of Aftermaths.
John Fletcher is an internationally acclaimed deer specialist vet who worked with them on the Isle of Rum carrying out important research in the early 1970's. His next book, Gardens of Earthly Delight, is a fascinating history of deer parks. His most recent work, Deer, is part of a series on animals published by Reaktion. His well-known food writer wife, Nichola Fletcher will be joining him at our Hoolie.
Last month we told you about Jackie Kay, Charles Maclean and Barry Hutchison and you can read more about all seven authors on our website and facebook page. More revelations in next month's West Word! Meanwhile you can book the West Highland Hotel at a special price but tickets won't be on sale until late June.
Read more: www.a-write-highland-hoolie.com
Local Chef in the Spotlight
Local commis chef Kirsty Buick was interviewed recently by BRAKES Scotland for a special article about young Scottish chefs in the Scottish Licenced Trade News. Brakes are putting young chefs in the spotlight to celebrate the Year of Young People.
Kirsty, aged 17, who first worked as a KP at Arisaig House and is now commis chef at the West Highland Hotel, Mallaig, says she is the third generation of her family to pursue a career in hospitality. She's interested in creating 'intricate dishes with unusual components' and working with local produce, and dreams of travelling around the world, learning about (and cooking) different cuisines along the way.
When asked which chefs she admired, and why, she replied 'Josh Arrindell, who I worked with during my time at Arisaig House. He was the person who really made me believe in myself - and for that I will always be grateful. Of course I also have to mention Harry Marshall, the head chef of the West Highland Hotel, who mentors me and is helping me develop my skills every day. He is very talented and has such a huge love for creating delicious food with local produce. I hope to be half the chef he is and I'm very, very lucky to have him to learn from. I also adore celebrity chef Monica Galetti's work; seeing such a successful woman in the industry is amazing - especially as kitchens are known to be quite male dominated.' Read the full interview at https://sltn.co.uk/2018/04/26/brakes-shines-light-on-chefs/
Ryan has chance to crack it at ICT
The recent unveiling of the ten starlets joining Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC has thrown up a link to the Island of Eigg.
Club director Gordon Fyfe was particularly interested in the signing of his namesake Ryan Fyffe, a tall defender. No relation - as their surnames are spelt differently.
However, when the photo of the boys and directors/management team appeared on social media, it became apparent that there is indeed a link between the two.
Ryan is pictured with (left to right) Charlie Christie, head of youth, John Robertson, manager and Graham Rae, chairman
Ryan is the grandson of Wes and Maggie Fyffe, who live on the Isle of Eigg. Maggie is secretary of the Eigg Heritage Trust and has been a driving force behind the huge progress made on the island since the community buy out in 1997. Wes is a football fan and attends ICT games when in Inverness visiting Ryan and Ryan's parents, Tim and Marianne.
Wes and Maggie are good friends of Gordon, who is a Freeman of the lsle of Eigg - recognition for his support to the community of Eigg during their purchase of the island, while Public Relations Manager of The Highland Council.
Maggie said: "There's a keen interest in football on the island and although there may be supporters of many different clubs (even one or two County supporters!), everyone here is very excited by what Ryan has achieved and will be closely following his progress."
Gordon, now retired, said: "It's a small world! Maggie got in touch with me when she spotted the photo of the Under 17 signings with the management team and directors. The family are justly proud of Ryan's achievement in signing professional forms with the club. He is part of what I'm told is the best young team the club has produced. With such strong connections with Eigg, let's hope he has a good crack at the big time!"
Ryan will soon complete his studies at Inverness Royal Academy and reports for full time training in mid June. He plays central defender for the high achieving Under 17 team, which has won 20 of its 22 games this season.
Public Toilets Project
An application has been submitted by the Highland Council on behalf of Morar and Mallaig Community Councils and Mallaig and Morar Community Centre, to the Rural Tourism Infrastructure Fund. The application outlined proposals to build two new toilet blocks, one in Morar and one in Mallaig, and re-open the block at Traigh Beach. The fund was announced last year by the Scottish Government with the aim of improving the infrastructure in rural places which have suffered pressures from an increase in the numbers and types of visitors. It is a two stage application process with an initial expression of interest followed by the full application later in the year for successful applicants.
The project would see the refurbishment of Traigh toilets, which would hopefully include a waste disposal point for campervans, the construction of a small toilet block on Morar Games Field which would include showers, and the construction of a large toilet block at land adjacent to West Bay Car Park in Mallaig. This would include showers and waste disposal points, and would be built using environmentally sympathetic building methods.
The estimated cost of the project is £320k with the hope of 70% coming from the Infrastructure Fund and the rest coming from European LEADER funds.
This project leads on from the Seasonal Pressures Paper written last year which looks at the issues locally and identifies possible solutions. Copies of this paper can be requested by emailing Morar Community Council at email@example.com
Parking is also discussed in this paper.
We are very pleased to be able to say that we have made it through the first stage of the application process. This was a big hurdle but there's lots to do now and if successful we aim to getting the facilities open next year sometime.
The Community Council welcome any comments or suggestions on the toilet project.
Mallaig Lifeboat Log
30th April 2018 Isle Go
Launched at 12:28 by Stornoway Coastguard to the assistance of an 8m RIB to the East of the Isle of Eigg. Whilst on passage from Eigg to Mallaig the RIB with three persons on-board suffered engine failure due to a burst pipe flooding the engine compartment. The casualty issued a PAN PAN for assistance which was picked up the Coastguard and another vessel in the area. A local charter vessel took the RIB under tow to the slipway at Eigg to await the Lifeboat's arrival. Owing to low water the Lifeboat was not able to get to the jetty so a mooring was picked up and the Y-Boat sent ashore to ascertain the casualty crew's intentions. The casualty requested a tow to Mallaig to undertake repairs by local engineers. The Y-Boat towed the RIB out to the Lifeboat and once the tow rope was attached the Lifeboat slipped the mooring at 13:40 and proceeded to recovering the Y-Boat before making way to Mallaig. With fine weather and calm seas the Lifeboat arrived back at Mallaig at 15:25, berthing the RIB at the Marina. Lifeboat ready for service at 15:40.
Photo by Moe Mathieson
14th May 2018 Medivac from Isle of Eigg
Launched by Stornoway Coastguard to convey Paramedics to the Isle of Eigg at 15:10. A visitor to the Island had taken unwell after reaching the summit of the Sgurr, the highest point of the Island. The casualty was helped down off the summit by members of the public and down to the Tearoom located at the head of the jetty. On the lifeboat's arrival at 16:10 the paramedics attended to the casualty at the Tearoom. Although feeling better the casualty's heart rate was on the high side so it was decided to transfer to the mainland for further assessments. Lifeboat departed Eigg at 16:33 and berthed in Mallaig at 17:10. After the patient and his partner were taken ashore the Lifeboat was made ready for service at 21:40.
18th May 2018 Medivac from Isle of Eigg
Launched by Stornoway Coastguard to convey an injured person from the Isle of Eigg at 13:00. A local had slipped when getting out of his vehicle and injured his ankle. Fortunately a visiting Doctor was in attendance and carried out a full assessment of the casualty before the Lifeboat arrived at Eigg harbour. The casualty was able to walk assisted down the steps and on-board the Lifeboat. Arriving back at Mallaig at 14:40 the casualty was handed over to the ambulance service for conveyance to Belford Hospital, Fort William. Lifeboat ready for service at 15:00.
22nd May 2018
Launched by Stornoway Coastguard to the assistance of a grounded yacht in Glenuig Bay, Moidart at 16:05. The casualty entered the bay by the wrong channel and grounded on a submerged reef on falling tide with two crew on board. When the Lifeboat arrived on scene at 16:05 the casualty vessel had settle on her bilge and was in no further danger of listing further. The Y-boat was launched with two crew on-board to assess the casualties for any damage or ingress of water. No damage was found and the casualty's crew and their dog were taken on-board the Lifeboat to await the flood tide. At 22:00 the yacht's crew re-boarded, and assisted by the Y-Boat the casualty was pushed off the reef and escorted to a nearby mooring. With no water ingress and only some scratched antifouling reported, the Lifeboat recovered the Y-Boat and departed the scene at 22:20. Lifeboat fuelled and ready for service at 23:45.
26th May 2018
Launched to the assistance of a disabled yacht at 15:25 by Stornoway Coastguard. Whilst motoring in the Bo Faskadale area the yacht picked up a discarded rope in her propeller. With light wind the yacht was making very slow progress under sail and it was quicker for the Lifeboat to tow her back to Mallaig to affect repair. On scene at 16:05 a tow was quickly established and the yacht brought to the entrance of Mallaig harbour. Once alongside the Lifeboat the yacht was taken into the Marina and berthed at 18:05. Lifeboat made ready for service at 18:30.
28th May 2018
Launched to the assistance of a disabled fishing vessel by Stornoway Coastguard at 09:15. Whilst engaged in fishing operations the trawler's engine began to overheat. Unable to rectify the problem and with no other vessels in the area the trawler asked for assistance of the Coastguard. On Scene at 09:35 the Lifeboat took the casualty towards Mallaig in benign conditions. Once out of the harbour the casualty was able to make the short trip to the pier under her own power. Lifeboat ready for service at 11:25.
30th May 2018
Launched at 12:25 to the assistance of an elderly gentleman who had fallen off a cliff and sustained a head injury at Camusunary Bay, Isle of Skye by Stornoway Coastguard. On-board were two paramedics from the Scottish Ambulance Service. Also attending were two Coastguard Helicopters. Arriving on scene at 13:10 the Paramedics were transferred ashore by Y-Boat to the casualty location to be debriefed by the Helicopter winch men who were already on scene. Regrettably the casualty had succumbed to his injuries from the fall. Once the casualty's partner and Paramedics and one other were recovered back to the Lifeboat the Y-Boat returned to the shore to recover the casualty's remains. The casualty was transferred by Y-Boat from the scene down to Elgol jetty where Coastguards and Police were waiting to receive the casualty's remains. Once the handover was complete the Y-Boat was recovered aboard and the Lifeboat departed back to station 14:00. Lifeboat berthed and ready for service at 15:45.
30th May 2018
Launched to recover an injured Kayaker on the south side of the Rhu Peninsula Arisaig at 22:45 by Stornoway Coastguard. One member of a party of two kayakers stepped into a burrow or crevice during a walk above the beach where they were camped for the night. This resulted in a suspected torn ligament in the right knee. Assisted by the other person they managed to get back to the beach and raise he alarm by mobile. On scene at 23:00 two members of crew went ashore by Y-Boat and recovered the casualty to the Lifeboat. The crew returned to the beach and recovered the other member of the party along with their kayaks and kit. Y-Boat recovered at 00:00 and proceeded back to Mallaig. Alongside at Mallaig 00:25 casualty transferred to awaiting ambulance for onward travel to Fort William Belford Hospital.
31st May 2018
Launched at 20:20 to the Loch Scavaig area by Stornoway Coastguard. A yacht at anchor in Loch Scavaig spotted a climber stuck on a ledge above Loch na Leachd. It became evident that he was crag fast and in need of assistance. Along with the Lifeboat being dispatched Rescue 948 was also sent to the area. Although the casualty was located high above the shore line, if the Coastguard Helicopter could not affect a rescue by winching, the Lifeboat would be utilised to transfer Mountain Rescue to the scene. Fortunately Rescue 948 managed to position itself above the casualty and lowered the winch man down on a long wire to the ledge. Minutes later the casualty was being winched on-board and to safety. Rescue 948 landed the casualty at Elgol and then proceeded back to base. Lifeboat stood down at 21:20 and also returned to base berthing and ready for service at 22:10.
There were three cruise ship visitations by the French owned Le Boreal last month, Saturday 12th May; Thursday 24th May, and Saturday 26th May.
Le Boreal by Moe Mathieson
This is the third successive year that Le Boreal has called at the Port of Mallaig with the holidaymakers on board either being picked up or dropped off so that they can enjoy the delights of the steam train journey on the West Highland Line.
There was one further visit by a cruise ship, the 156 metre MV Silver Cloud operated by Silver Sea Cruises, Fort Lauderdale, anchored off the port on Friday 25th May awaiting the embarkation of its 300 plus passengers who had enjoyed a trip on the steam train.
No other cruise ship visitations are planned for 2018.
Congratulations to Joe Blower and the Western Isles team on the arrival of their new passenger ferry, the 14m long Larven. The Larven, built by Powerglide in Wadebridge, Cornwall is licensed to carry 42 passengers plus 3 of a crew and it's expected to take up service at the start of the month.
Local fish merchant Mr Andy Race stepped down from the Authority in April of this year having served a period of 28 years as a Board Member of the Mallaig Harbour Authority.
Andy was duly elected onto the Board of the Authority in 1990 to represent "other harbour users" and on the 1st June 1990 attended his first meeting! Sitting around the table with him on that day were Michael Currie, Peter Downie, Willie Jack (all Mallaig and North West Fishermen's Association): Charlie King and Michael Foxley (Highland Regional Council); Charlie MacGillivray and Cpt RCS Campbell (Caledonian MacBrayne); Charlie Sinclair (British Rail); and Willie Sutherland (Scottish White Fish Producers).
A presentation in honour of his 28 years with the Authority will be made to Mr Andy Race later this year!
Taking over from Andy will be Mr Jim Wilson, an ex Morar resident who now lives in Pitlochry.
HWDT's floating classroom visits the Small Isles
During a couple of days of calm seas and sunny weather, the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust island-hopped from Muck, to Eigg, to Rum, sailing their research vessel, Silurian, on a trip with a difference.
Their goal was to inspire the next generation, encouraging pupils from each primary school to explore the yacht and discover what life is like on board a whale research boat. Also in the mix were opportunities for pupils to marvel at some surprising truths about the mysterious whales, dolphins and porpoises that inhabit our seas. Whilst on board, pupils listened to sounds from under the waves, handled real teeth and baleen specimens, and shouted "SIGHTING" as Paddy their inflatable porpoise, popped up off the bow.
"My favourite part was listening to the whales and dolphins. The snapping shrimp was my favourite, it sounded like castanets," said David.
"I liked standing at the front shouting 'sighting'!" said Jasper.
With the Small Isles' outstanding natural beauty and diversity, HWDT were delighted to hear the pupil's had lots of stories of incredible sightings, right on their doorsteps.
Nan Fee, teacher at Eigg Primary School, commented "for island children, it was so inspiring to have hands on experience of being on the water and learning about the wildlife in our local environment. We have left Silurian feeling enthusiastic and inspired to learn more and get more involved. Thank you HWDT for this unforgettable experience." The floating classroom trip was a huge success and HWDT would like to thank all the schools and communities for being so welcoming, as well as players of the People's Postcode Lottery who have supported the project by raising funds through Postcode Local Trust.
On and Off the Rails
Forget late spring, summer has well and truly visited us with a bang! The hanging baskets are up at Mallaig Railway Station: Steve and I had a marathon finish to get the chains on the baskets - and the automatic watering system installed - between trains, but we did it. Do take a look if you have time. They are growing nicely and filling out by the day. Now it's all down to watering and deadheading plus completing the whisky casks. The bedding plants and shrubs are coming on so fast. Lupins are in full flower, lilacs are just ready to burst. It has never been a better year for pieris and hydrangea, flaming red or what!! The smell of honey from the alyssum is so fragrant, and stocks, marigolds, lobelia etc are so strongly coloured. Talking of watering, I am an early-morning waterer! Armed with my Smidge to deter the midges, my wellies and rubber gloves, I am as 'happy as Larry' - even when the station retractable hose pipe gives me a soaking. Squelch home satisfied! When the hostas and fuchsias catch up, it should be a good show.
The nesting gulls are sitting tight on eggs alongside the lines. They can be aggressive - they do not like dogs on retractable leads taunting them, but will happily come around me for fresh water from the hose pipe! Too many visitors feed them with chips, which just makes them defecate all the way along the platform. I wish we had "do not feed the gulls" signs up, not for the gulls to read, but for the public - ha ha!
Looking back to May
We saw visits from the weedkiller train and track evaluation train through the night in the past two weeks, both bristling with technology on board. Extra Jacobites were commissioned by visiting cruise ships - taking passengers to and from Mallaig and Fort William. These are extra trains to the bookable regular service. We can only hope that their brief visits make guests want to come back at a more leisurely pace - and stay awhile! The heatwave experienced this week (last week of May) led to concerns that there could be line side fires from the Jacobite engines. To alleviate this, the morning train has run under light steam at the head of the train - with a Class 37 diesel (West Coast owned) assisting with power from the rear of the train. This results in extra fuel and labour costs, but keeps the fire risk low.
The afternoon Jacobite has been operating with a class 47 diesel locomotive - again from West Coast. This has a wee 'growl' to it and a peculiar sounding whistle/horn! In both cases extra shunting is required at Fort William and Mallaig, but a routine is now established.
'Off the Rails a Visit to Mallaig' leaflet 2018
This annual leaflet and map of Mallaig is produced voluntarily by myself each year with Steve's photography, and goes on the tables of the incoming Jacobites. It is very well received; you never see one thrown down in the street. You do see people turning around in a circle outside the station until they establish which way up the map is! It's quite a funny procedure. Thanks go to all the local businesses that agree to take part. If any B&B, guesthouse, hotel etc requires a small quantity for their hospitality folders ring me on (01687) 462189 and we will help.
ScotRail's charity for 2018
Every year ScotRail choose a charity to support, including fundraising. This year the chosen charity is MNDScotland. MND use the cornflower as their emblem, and I have been given a few packets of cornflower seeds to plant (it is still not too late to plant them straight into the soil for flowering this year) and I have several packets left over from my own planting. If you would like to try for one of the packets, send me a SAE to Sonia Cameron, Fasgadh, 5 Marine Place, Mallaig, PH41 4RD and if I've got any left you will get one. If they grow, MND Scotland is asking you to share hotos of your grown cornflowers online at @MNDScotland .
MNDScotland is the only Scottish charity providing care and support to people affected by Motor Neurone Disease as well as funding research into finding a cure.
Dates for your diary
Saturday 2nd June: Saturday and Sunday morning Jacobite service commences! That now gives us a Jacobite into Mallaig at 12:25, seven days a week until Sunday 30th September. The Waverley paddle steamer should be sailing from Oban to Armadale - picking up passengers and sailing to Inverie, Loch Nevis at the same time on the first day. That will make a great photo opportunity if it comes off!
Saturday 9th June: luxury touring train Royal Scotsman visits.
Saturday 16th June: Saturday and Sunday afternoon Jacobite service commences. Into Mallaig at 16:40, this gives us a Jacobite seven days a week until Sunday, 2 September. Saturday 23rd June: luxury touring train Royal Scotsman visits.
Tuesday 26 June: Harry Potter's 22nd birthday! Expect to see many fans on the two Jacobites that day, all looking for that extra item of memorabilia no doubt.
See you on the train,
BIRDWATCH April 2018 by Stephen MacDonald
Although a cold start to the month, our summer migrants started to show up in ever increasing numbers as the month progressed.
A bit later than normal, the first Sand Martins were seen around the colony at Rhubana, Morar on the 8th. The first Chiffchaffs were heard in Morar from the 11th and Willow Warblers were first heard on the 15th, around Woodside, Morar.
The female Blackcap that had spent the last couple of months around gardens at Rhubana View must have moved on, having last been seen on the 6th. However a male was seen on feeders in a garden by Arisaig railway station on the 7th and on the 14th males were heard singing in Morar. The Cuckoo was first reported from Glasnacardoch, Mallaig on the 19th. Also on the 19th single Common Sandpipers were seen on the shore by Traigh House and also on the Morar River by Rubhana Lodge.
Two Swallows seen by Traigh Farm on the 21st with the first reports of the year.
The first Whimbrel passing through were five on the shore by Traigh golf course on the 26th, while nine were there on the 29th. Other waders on passage included Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Turnstone, Redshank and Curlew. A single Sanderling was with Dunlin at Traigh on the 19th.
During the first half of the month there were widespread reports of Redwings, presumably Icelandic birds heading back north. Throughout the rest of the month there were also large numbers of Meadow Pipits and White Wagtails on the move, again most likely birds heading back to Iceland. Numbers of Siskins and Redpolls increased rapidly as the month progressed. Both Twite and Linnet returned through the latter part of the month with reports of birds at garden feeders from both Mallaig and Morar. A Twite caught in a Morar garden by a ringer on the 21st had been ringed in the same garden almost 2 years previous, on 6th May 2016.
Bullfinches were reported from Morar and Camasdarroch, mostly seen on fruit trees or hawthorn. Reed Buntings were seen at Loch nan Eala and Rhubana, Morar.
Small groups of Whooper Swans were still reported flying north and a lone adult was on Loch Eilt until the month end. The drake Mandarin Duck was last seen on the Morar estuary on the 15th.
Presumably the same Magpie as reported last month at Back of Keppoch, was seen at several locations during the month, including Arisaig village, Invercaimbe, Traigh Farm on the 15th, Morar on the 9th and in a Mallaig garden on the 20th.
The financial effects of Brexit on Scottish Islands
As the UK discusses ongoing border and customs union issues, the islands of Europe met to make the case for them to have a special place in the EU post 2020 Territorial Cohesion Policy at the EU parliament on 24 April 2018. The meeting was called by MEP Tony Picula who chairs the islands, coastal regions and mountains intergroup. Presentations from Sweden, Azores, Corsica and Croatia made the point that the islands are at the forefront of the Green energy revolution, but still need to compete on equal footing with other regions in the EU as their GDP is still largely lagging behind owing to the higher cost of life on islands, and therefore argued that they need to benefit from special measures.
This was very much taken on board by the MEPs in attendance, but the bad news is that the UK exit from the EU is changing everything: it is removing a good part of the budget that would have come to the islands, and it will make the lobbying power of island nations and nations with islands much weaker, as the island regions of the UK - mostly in Scotland but also including the Isle of Wight and the Scillies - will no longer have a voice.
The absence of the UK will therefore have consequences at policy levels, although many of the Scottish island councils who are currently members of the Islands commission in the CPMR (Confederation of Peripheral and Maritime Regions) want to retain their place and influence in this strong representative body, but how this can be achieved is still problematic. Commissioner Corina Cretu from DG Regio was quite pessimistic about budgets but hopes to persuade the Netherlands to contribute a bit more. In the meantime, the Big Question is what will be replacing at UK level the EU Territorial Cohesion policy on which allocation of funds is based at the moment. I have asked this question from our politicians, and so far it does not look like this important plank of financial distributive justice is going to be replaced by an equivalent policy for the UK: this will have strong implications not only for our Scottish islands but for all of the Highlands. What is going to replace the European Rural Development Fund (ERDF), or the European Social Funds (ESF) on which many of our services and development programmes depend? What about the FARMERASMUS programme allowing young people to learn about farming in other countries? As to the future of CAP, for those with an interest in the issue, they can look at the post of that name on our website and discover what the thinking is for the next tranche of funding which is all about intergenerational solidarity: i.e. ensuring young people can get into farming. Will this be replicated? ( www.scottish-islands-federation.co.uk ).
World Wide West Word
Laura Green (nee Cruden) read her copy of West Word (which her friend Katrina McFall sends her every month)
while she was queuing up for the final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Lisbon on 12th May.
Here's Neil Lennon catching up on West Word along with Anne Ramsay from Torbhan, Kinlocheil at the Hibernian Player of The Year Awards.
Allana Wares and James Martin took a copy to their wedding at Granville Hall, Adelaide on the 7th April. Congratulations Allana and James!
Watch this space for extracts from next month's issue!
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