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June 2019 Issue
Contents of the online version:
All photos are copyright either of the individual photographers or West Word.
Marathon and Festival of Running raises over #&163;11,000 towards the Mallaig Pool Refurbishment
There's no doubt we were blessed with the weather, but the running community are such big hearted, spirited, supportive people, it would be hard to dampen their spirits. Mallaig Pool and Leisure's Road to the Isles Marathon and Festival of Running on Saturday 11th May was an amazing day and we've been overwhelmed by the feedback. None of it would happen without the generosity of our marshals and volunteers who make the day possible - a massive thank you to all of you.
Mallaig Pool is a small charity run by volunteers, and like every charity, it struggles to make ends meet. It's really expensive to keep a swimming pool running. Standing still is hard enough, but also not good enough. The building is deteriorating and our dedicated team of staff and volunteers are working hard to continuously improve. Our Running Festival has taken over 10 years of graft by a battalion of volunteers to build it to the level at which it operates today. We can say with confidence it's now firmly a part of the national running calendar - and one of the best - with unparalleled scenery, great local support and outstanding local hospitality. Over 500 runners and running clubs from up and down the country turned out for the day, many making a weekend of it, bringing with them family and friends.
Photos by Arthur Campbell
Not only was it an amazing day, but the run raised in the region of #&163;10,000 towards the refurbishment of the Pool. With the contributions of Sarah Winnington-Ingram's delicious paella and the Friends of Mallaig Pool and their delicious tea tent, a further #&163;1,000 was raised. We'd make nowhere near this amount of profit without businesses donating and people giving their time freely.
There are so many people to thank, which we will do personally over the coming weeks, but to name a few key players: Brian and his team at the Pool, Graham Moss, Ben Gunn, Henrik Chart, Gavin, Joan Smith, Jane Rushton, Michelle MacDonald, Sarah Winnington-Ingram, Alison O'Rourke, Nick Murray, Peter Jackson, Emma and Hazel Walters-Moss, Arthur Campbell, Willie Simpson, Gavin Davies, Pam MacDonald, Sooz Foster, Heather MacDougal, Erin MacDougal, Ezme MacDougal, Anna King, Kay Rodgers, Matt, Andy and Joey Baker, Helen MacDonald, Heather Simpson, Jill and Duncan Lee, Hannah McNeil, Jane Foster, Helen McDonell, Angus Kennedy, Rachel Crawley, Ross Martin, Brad Cain, Christine Ewers, Lorna Colston, Katrina Barry, Jane Gunn, Jonathan Auty, Eileen and Neil Cameron, Jim Christian, Duncan O'Rourke, Jonathan Auty, Sandra Becker, Lynne Barrie, Jill and Arthur Whittaker, Adrian and Lizzy Bark, Margaret Gunn, Steven, Benn and Grace MacDonald, Sheila Kingswood, Erin O'Rourke, Chris Bradbury, and Anne Titley. And to local organisations; Arisaig Community Trust, Jaffy's, Ginger, Andy Race, Arisaig Hotel, Mallaig Co-op, RNLI, Arisaig Games Committee, Mallaig Police, West Coast Railways, ScotRail, Wayoutwest.
A big debt of thanks goes to Scottish Sea Farms for their major sponsorship.
1st Alfie Bentley Lochaber Athletics Club 2:57:14
2nd Liam Hutson Lochaber Athletics Club 3:01:56
3rd Martin Maginnis Linlithgow Athletic Club 3:29:03
1st Paige Douglas Edinburgh Running Network 3:26:00 [3rd place overall]
2nd Jacqui Cattanach 3:29:59 [1st V35]
3rd Jennifer Urquart Nairn Road Runners 4:00:36
Men's Half Marathon
1st Alan Ross Lochaber Athletics Club 1:21:41
2nd Jason McMinn Kirkintilloch Olympians 1:23:41
3rd John MacKeod 1:23:50
Ladies Half Marathon
1st Sarah Atwood Skye and Lochalsh 1:28:25 [10th overall]
2nd Kirsty McBirnie Carnethy Hill Racing Club 1:39:21
3rd Angie Neffab-Main Edinburgh Running Network 1:41:01
For full results:
If you took part in anyway - then you're all winners to us. Thank you.
Another month gone by already… The good weather mostly continued, though we got some much needed rain eventually. The midgies have also made an appearance but still hoping they might not be too brutal this year. Time will tell…
There have been a lot of visitors this month, with the ferry on a Friday afternoon and Monday morning being particularly busy, especially with the two bank holiday weekends. All good for the local economy though!
Things are changing on the Foundation front, as Cath and Angela both hang up their hats after many years hard work. Cath will soon be moving on to work for Community Energy Scotland up in Orkney and will be greatly missed in our community but it is an exciting new opportunity for her and gives us a good excuse to visit Orkney! Angela is taking on a new role in Fort Augustus though will be continuing to live in Salem. Good luck to both of them! The Foundation office is also saying goodbye to Mags, who has been dealing with the financial side of things for the last couple of years so it really is all change at the moment. If anyone is interested in taking on Cath's job which involves administration type stuff, on part time hours, please do give the office a call for more information on 462242.
The ranger service had their annual visit from the George Watson College students and once again they worked hard and did themselves proud, carrying out two Landrovers' worth of rubbish from Cable Bay which is a beach you can only access on foot. Each year they do a grand job and the effect is noticeable as the amount of rubbish generally decreases.
The village hall had its last night of craic and seshing before the much-awaited renovations begin, which is all very exciting and we are greatly looking forward to the completed project!
What else… The Brewery has produced a new beer, Nevis Lager, which is now on sale in the Foundation Shop and is going down well. The shop also has other new stock and is doing nicely and the Tearoom is now on summer hours so that's 9-5 Monday to Friday and 10-3 on a Saturday (closed on a Sunday).
ISLE OF MUCK
It's a drought! Ok, I might guilty of a little journalistic licence but at time of writing we are short of water, with little prospect of serious rain. At present the situation isn't a problem, more like a Met Office yellow "be aware" warning. The water supply on Muck is complicated. Six separate sources of varying strengths feed differing numbers of properties, from a single house in one case, to all of Port Mor in another. Although it has come close at times, no one has ever run out of water completely due to water levels rather than supply issues. The only real exception was when the pier was built when large quantities of water were being used. That said, we all need to be aware that levels are low and take appropriate measures to conserve water where possible, thereby avoiding problems later in the year if the unseasonably dry spell continues. Not withstanding, I'm holding off with my rain dance. I'm a bit worried that if it works it might not know when to stop!
On the 11th of the month we had the first of this year's entertainment organised by CAMAS (Community Action for Muck in All Seasons). The Midlands Children's Theatre enthralled children and adults alike with The Bluebird, a story of a Russian Tsar's quest for happiness and inner strength. It was colourful, entertaining and heavy on audience participation. Four of the island's children were "enlisted" from the audience to play parts in the performance which they did with confidence, two of whom I might add where only three years old.
There was also a CAMAS beach clean on the 18th at Fang Mor and the large turnout cleared sack after sack of plastic waste. Long past time we as a species though more about plastic usage and disposal, but well done everyone.
Staying with the organised events theme, the inaugural Feis Bheag on Eigg was a great hit with the Muck children. The weather gods made getting there and back easy and a great time was had by all. Again, well done to everyone who helped organise the event. We are looking forward to next year already. On the 11th of the month we had a consultation on the Islands Bill with the National Island Plan team. It gave everyone who attended a chance to air their views on what makes living here great and what we would like to see changed. Potentially a chance to highlight the challenges we all face living on the islands and to influence government policy towards island issues. Two hours of lively discussion produced, not surprisingly, some common themes that most people liked as well as those they wanted changed. Now we've had plenty of consultations over the years and some would say to little effect, but it would be hard to fault the enthusiasm of the National Island Plan team. At least someone in the corridors of power had the common sense to send bona fide islanders to ask the questions. Time, I guess, will be judge and jury as to what difference it makes.
On the farm lambing is, to all intents, over. The last stragglers are still producing the odd new arrival but thoughts are now turning to other matters. Fields are being shut up for silage, decisions made on what areas are to be reseeded this year and shearing can't be that far away. The byre cows are out with their calves, although at first they seem reluctant to break the habit of returning to the yard each evening to the shelter of the byre. With the sun higher in the sky and the temperatures improving, the island is bursting into life and is now a patchwork of vibrant greens interspersed with flashes of colour provided by the bluebells, flag iris and marsh marigolds. Let summer commence! Now, where did I leave the sun tan cream?
ISLE OF CANNA
This month saw the inaugural Isle of Canna 10K Trail Run take place on Saturday 18th May. After tentatively advertising the event early in the year, we were soon oversubscribed by the numbers of bookings (who said we'd be lucky to get twenty...!?). Ultimately, 72 participants came from far and near to take on a challenging route out to Tarbert and back, and around part of Sanday. Having had virtually no rain for nearly six weeks, the overnight showers at least dampened down the dust on the course, and made for cooler conditions on the day.
Well done to our island joggers for the original idea, and our sponsors - Graficanna for the professional looking webpage, signs and markers; Café Canna for the T-shirts; Tighard Guest House contribution toward the band; Canna Campsite for drinks and water; Mallaig Co-op for donation - and thanks to all the organisers, marshals, helpers, caterers, first-aiders, hangers-on, CalMac and other boat operators for getting everyone here - and of course to the actual runners and supporters. Quite an undertaking!
Positive feedback so far indicates we expect to have to repeat the exercise next year (and the next, and the next...?) We rounded off the day with enough residual energy for a typically rousing Canna ceilidh, music provided by Yung Fellas.
On the 13th, we hosted the Scottish Government team who visited to hear our thoughts and, comments as part of the ongoing consultation on the National Islands Plan. Being a 'small island' community gave us an opportunity to have a round table, face to face, frank discussion and comment on issues such as housing and transport services, which will no doubt also be of interest to our neighbouring Small Isles communities.
Seabirds are now returning to their breeding sites, including the Puffins at Dun Mor on the south side of Sanday. This year we have installed bright 'Puffin' signs designed by Anna, to help guide visitors to the site to view the birds, hopefully without getting dive-bombed by the resident Bonxies.
Cuckoos have arrived, though no sound of Corncrakes yet, and there was a sighting of a Minke whale off the south of Sanday on the 19th. On the farm, a successful lambing is almost complete.
I couldn't help noticing the piece in last month's West Word about BT's efforts to persuade communities to find interesting uses for red telephone boxes for the giveaway sum of a pound. Call me old-fashioned, but I think we have a perfect solution for our red box here on Canna - a public telephone! With a virtually complete lack of mobile phone signal here - something which most locals and visitors consider a good thing - the phone box is still able to provide a useful, if occasional, service. We will be contacting BT shortly to ask them to replace the door, which unfortunately blew off in a gale a few weeks ago...
Finally, the dry spell since mid-April has meant our water supplies have run dangerously low, and we are now officially on water rationing. This is not unknown at this time of year, but probably something we will need to address in future if we are to consider additional housing on the island. In the meantime, perhaps the good folk of Canna will come up with some novel ways of saving water. Shower with a friend..? Wash clothes by beating on a rock..? Drink beer and gin...??
Criomagan (Crumbs) from Canna House
May is always a busy month for Canna House and garden and this year has been no exception.
Pete and Liz Holden have been working very hard in Canna House garden and it's looking lovely, particularly after the weekend of rain we've had! The Garden is open to visitors who can take a breather and admire the view over the bay or take a walk around and look at the various items of interpretation information about the Archives.
Fiona took the Lord of the Isles over to South Uist at the beginning of May to deliver the launch of the new film Solas about the life and film work of Margaret Fay Shaw. This new Art Documentary will be shown over the course of the next year at various film festivals before going on general release in 2020. The full house in St Peter's Hall, Daliburgh, laughed and wept, in turns, during the run of the film, recognising long gone family members and hearing their voices. The film is complemented by a brand-new soundtrack especially composed by piper James Duncan Mackenzie, which will eventually be released on a new album later this year.
'Dh'čirich mi moch madainn Chčitein" is the name of one of the best-known waulking songs contained in the Canna Collections, and May certainly did the traditional Hebridean art of waulking proud! 2019 sees the 50th anniversary of the seminal work of Waulking Songs, Hebridean Folksongs, being published by John Lorne Campbell. It has been out of print for many years but Birlinn Ltd have recently re-printed it and to mark this occasion, Fiona invited the "Sgioba Luaidh InbhirChluaidh" or "Inverclyde Waulking Group" to come and deliver a weekend of waulking workshops and demonstrations. The team of nine ladies were delighted to come to Canna for the first time and sing the songs, in the place where they were compiled into "Folksongs".
Team leader Frances Dunlop said, "it was a very special occasion for us to come here and Waulk the tweed in the place where John Lorne Campbell transcribed and compiled them." Visitors and residents alike joined in at the table.
ISLE OF RUM
Today is the 31st May and it looks like we are getting all the accumulated rain from the last two months in one day. But what a dry spell! Unfortunately, we went the longest stretch not being on hydro for many years, and the water pressure, even here, was getting low.
Team Rum ventured over to Canna for the 10k run. Jed, Ali and myself plus our support team took up residence in the byre to mentally prepare and limber up…. Whilst Ali and Jed jostled for prime starting positions, I was quite happy to start off further back and still watch lots of people run past me! Jed came in first out of the three of us in a respectable 50 mins, followed by Ali and me. The rest of the afternoon was taken up with a BBQ on the beach a few celebratory proseccos. A good day was had and hope Canna do it again next year - maybe we will too!
Mowi invited the community out to visit the fish farm to explain in more detail what they do and talked about a proposed expansion. It was a productive visit and educational for everyone seeing the detail to which they manage the welfare of the fish.
Our tenth anniversary ceilidh and BBQ went well; it was great to have Fras playing and see friends who came over for the night. Ten years of community ownership has brought so much beneficial change to Rum, and a lot of it is happening right now.
We took part in the National Island's Plan consultation by Scottish Government. There was a reasonable turn out which captured a good cross section of views and aspirations, including the children who are mostly interested in a swimming pool and skate park. Looking forward to seeing what the final plan actually says!
Red deer calving has started, meaning extra faces in the Kilmory study area and long hours for Ali and Sean and the crew. Eider chicks and goslings have ventured forth and mister overly-friendly stag has taken up residence on the campsite - no need for Derek to mow at all now!
ISLE OF EIGG
As usual for the last few years, a really cold start to May, but with the sun shining increasingly hotter, the island is looking its best with a spectacular show of creamy flowering hawthorns, bluebells everywhere, wild garlic flowers in the woods and wee lambs gambolling about everywhere.
Just as John the Bird was determined not to have a 70th birthday celebration, we were equally determined he would have one, and a very good party it was, with John in top form!
Lots of theatre this month, with a moving performance of Matthew Zajac in The Tailor of Inverness, and an entertaining cabaret style show - Dark Carnival - looking at the unlikely theme of death with songs, storytelling and a free glass of whisky for everyone in the audience. Its "Death Island Discs" did prove very popular indeed!
The Scottish Government's National Island Plan team also visited Eigg as well the rest of the Small Isles as part of its island consultation which so far has included 55 island communities! It was an interesting process which teased out what was good about island life and what could happen to make it better. The consultation finishes in July for a draft plan to be published in September. It's encouraging to see such a strong engagement with island communities and desire to ensure decision-making is island proofed: Highland Council, beware: issues like the Mallaig parking or education in the Small Isles will have to be subjected to a proper impact assessment.
Feis Eige organised its first Feis Bheag this month, and our children really enjoyed the Highland dancing and all the Gaelic games our tutor Morag came up with! Well done, Feis Eige! Our main Feis will be on in July as per usual, so look out for the posters in Mallaig and surroundings and info online.
Eigg Primary went on several visits including an overnight one to the Isle of Muck for sports, games and a show. The children loved it and it was a good introduction to her position for our new Muck and Eigg Head teacher, Louise Taylor, who is settling nicely on Eigg. Meanwhile, Sue Hollands, who served as Eigg interim head teacher, is now covering the Isle of Rum and is sure to bring her long experience to the job. Congratulation, Sue!
Eigg Primary, parents and other members of the community gathered round at the pier head for a very successful Extinction Rebellion protest march at the beginning of the month, targeting a large group of walkers coming to the island for the weekend: coming from Edinburgh where the movement is gathering pace, they all cheered our demonstrators. More protest marches are planned to coincide with large groups coming to Eigg.
What would be great of course, would be for Eigg to reduce its fossil fuel footprint by at least reducing the amount of diesel using vehicles, and it's something that might be easier to tackle through the support of the Clean Energy EU Islands Initiative that Eigg is involved with alongside the other off-grid islands of Scotland and the Orkney Renewable forum. It's quite a challenge, when electric vehicles are expensive and diesel second hand vehicles dirt cheap...
On the environment front, the Eigg Environmental Action Group (formerly known as the Green Team) invited a number of speakers and activists from the Coastal Communities Network for a well-attended fish farm information-sharing afternoon. With the Panorama programme on the subject following on the same day, the community is now well primed to ask searching questions to the MOWI representatives when they come to present their "organic" farm proposal next month.
That's it for this month, we are now looking forward to Howlin' fling and our anniversary event next month! Happy spring everyone!
Arisaig War Memorial Interpretation Panel
The improvements to Arisaig War Memorial have been completed with the installation of an interpretation panel on a stone cairn at the foot of the path to the monument. The striking panel describes the preparations for the erection of the memorial and its unveiling in 1920 to commemorate the dead in the First and later also the Second World War. The specification of the monument was by George Washington Jack, who also built the Club Room at the Arisaig Astley Hall. Jack collaborated closely with Philip Webb, the main architect used by William Morris.
The panel shows images of four of those who fell in the war: James Campbell, Donald MacDonald, John MacDonald and nurse Mary McKinnon and serves as a reminder of the youth of those who were killed. The panel was designed by local firm MacDonald Orr Design and the plinth was built by Billy MacMillan. This completes the earlier work undertaken by the Highland Council and by local contractors Lorne MacMillan and Hugh MacDonald. Both the panel and the refurbishment of the path up to the monument have been made possible by support from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The results of investigations into the fate of local people will be available in a booklet in June 2019 and it is hoped that this could provide a basis for continuing research.
A Write Highland Hoolie: Mallaig Book Festival
Friday 8th - Sunday 10th November 2019
The 4th Hoolie will again be held in the West Highland Hotel this year and details of the authors will soon be available on facebook and our website. There are a few changes to how we organise it this year - one thing we are sure will be welcome is that we are selling tickets through our website and not using Eventbrite, so all the information will be easily accessible in one place.
Ten authors, plus five talks at the High School and Mallaig Primary School - there is something to everyone's taste. Add in two evenings of ceilidhing with local musicians and some of the authors and anyone else who wants to join in!
Facebook: A Write Highland Hoolie.
Mallaig Lifeboat Log
It has been "All Quiet on the Western Front." Considering that it is summer there have been no call-outs recently. Hopefully this situation will continue. At times like these full-time staff can get on with essential maintenance work. Better weather and being alert to potential dangers can only have a beneficial effect.
West Bay Access Road
Plans are well advanced for the creation of an access road from the Highland Council's Industrial Estate onto the Harbour West Bay Industrial Estate and we hope to progress this issue in the coming weeks/months. Harbour Engineers Wallace Stone have submitted drawings/plans to Highland Council seeking their approval and once this is granted the contract will be put out to tender. Hopefully this will be sooner rather than later.
Following on from their successful inaugural season participating in the Skye and Lochalsh Football League (they reached three finals and won the League Championship) it was agreed at the latest meeting of the Authority that we continue sponsorship of Mallaig F.C. for the 2019 season.
Photo by Moe Mathieson
The photo shows Robert MacMillan of the Authority (extreme left) presenting a cheque for #&163;1,500 to Jamie Young of Mallaig FC. Other team members in the photo are, from left to right, Andrew Sneddon, Brett MacMillan, Frazer Davis, Ryan MacDonald, David Buick, Liam McLean, Andy Cunningham, Rhys MacLeod, Damian Kenning and David Currie.
Best of luck to Mallaig FC for the 2019 season - here's to more success!
After 35 years at the Authority I have decided to retire and I leave office at the end of June. My successor has been appointed and Mrs Jacqueline McDonell will take up her role on Monday 3rd June.
I have greatly enjoyed my time with the Authority and would like to thank all Board Members who have served the Authority and helped me greatly through the years.
I need to thank in particular Mr Michael Currie who was Chairman for most of my time with the Authority and Mr Charlie King who was appointed Chairman in 2014 and was Vice-Chairman for the previous 30 years or so. Over the years they have helped me enormously as we plotted a course through sometimes very stormy waters!
Photo by Iain Ferguson
I would also like to thank Harbour Staff, past and present for putting up with me and always being there when needed. They really did go the extra mile when requested.
Thank you all very much, and best wishes to Jacqueline in her new post.
On and Off the Rails
'Hot off the Press' Draw
Usually I leave 'reviews and draws' until the end of my column, but this is such a 'scorcher'! (Literally an exclusive, as multiple copies are only being printed as I write this!) I am the first person to be able to offer a draw for a boxed set containing three DVDs (with a total running time exceeding two hours 15 minutes) and a 32 page special edition Map and Fact Guide with photographs of The Jacobite steam train journey between Fort William and Mallaig. How good is that?
Dragon-in-the-Firebox Productions have come up with this neatly contained package complete with audio of the locomotives (no music, no mundane commentary - just pure, as-filmed, sound) which will be retailed at #&163;25 and you could be the lucky person to be drawn to receive this, simply by sending in a postcard to me, Sonia Cameron, Fasgadh, No. 5, Marine Place, Mallaig PH41 4RD to arrive no later than the draw date of Monday June 24th 2019, with your name, address and contact telephone number. Disc one shows the journey taken by The Jacobite on a twice daily trip from Fort William to Glenfinnan. Disc two is from Glenfinnan to Mallaig and return. Disc three is a bonus disc which features The Festive Jacobite (those were the days!), The Jacobite Musical Montage, Beyond The Jacobite, plus Steam across Scotland.
Combined with the full colour booklet it is well worthy of a stamp and a postcard to enter this draw.
Should you wish to purchase a copy without entering the draw I can provide you with the details of how to do this. Simply ring me on 01687 462189 and if I'm not available 'I will return your call' as it says on my wonderful old fax/answerphone - which works every time!! Just in time for Father's Day - or Birthday - or even to put away for Christmas (if you can remember where you put it!!)
Did you see the 'tempter' piece in the May Lochaber Life written by Iain Ferguson about my ex-boss, curator John Barnes, and his proposed plans to mark the 125th Anniversary of the West Highland Line (between Fort William and Glasgow)? The article says that John 'is hoping that he can, with the WHCRP, put together several events such as short story and photographic competitions and has a number of other 'irons in the fire' at the moment to help make it special.
'In a move to promote this, he has recently been able to commission a series of prints taken by well-known railway photographer, W J Verden Anderson, featuring engines on the line from 60 to 70 years ago.' There will also be an exhibition in The Highland Bookshop in Fort William.
Off the Rails - a Visit to Mallaig 2019, the full colour map and listings of all participating outlets which I produce every year, is now on the tables of the two daily Jacobite steam trains and supplies are available on request from the Mallaig Heritage Centre for shops, hotels, B&Bs, etc to give to guests.
Saturday and Sunday afternoon Jacobite steam train journeys will be added to the timetable commencing Saturday June 15th until Sunday September 1st. So that will be two Jacobite return journeys between Fort William and Mallaig seven days a week - easier to remember!
ScotRail continue all year round now with their very busy timetabled service. We are so lucky to have the four trains a day (in and out of Mallaig) Monday to Saturday and three trains a day on a Sunday. New timetables of train times are now available at staffed booking offices - in our case Mallaig and Fort William. The timetables are pocket sized and are available for other ScotRail areas too. Always useful to have one in your purse to help visitors! I'm often thinking 'why are they only available at booking offices?' It would help if they were available at Tourist Offices, hotels, CalMac etc.
If travelling to F.W. (or further) do take advantage of the free seat booking service. You literally cannot rely on getting multiple seats at this time of year. You can also book forward facing or backward facing seat but remember than at F.W. the train changes direction!
I will keep it short and sweet this month as I intend to include some photos to accompany the column.
See you on the train,
Royal Scotsman engineer, Alain Faizant, gives the 'thumbs up' as the Royal Scotsman takes on water at Mallaig.
WCR driver John 'Cushty' Rogers takes a well-earned break as he brings the Network Rail weedkiller train into Mallaig in May.
'Cushty' and Jacobite train guard Florence MacLean take a photo call before working on the morning Jacobite in May.
Photos by Sonia Cameron
News from Mallaig Pool and Leisure
This month we said a fond farewell to Catherine McDonell who's been teaching aerobics classes at the Centre for more years than we can remember. Catherine's association with the Pool as Manager, Instructor and volunteer stretches way back over 20 years. The place won't be the same without her as she's been such a big part of our fitness community. We wish her every success and happiness in her new adventure and hope she'll be back in the studio with us one day soon. Catherine, we love you and miss you already. Catherine has big trainers to fill, but we're looking for a fitness instructor who can particularly take on the Monday class, and to develop other classes. If you think this is you then do please get in touch - we'd love to hear from you. If you're interested in training as a fitness instructor then we can help and support you to achieve that. As we get this in place, we aim to have a new programme of classes for the autumn.
It's been a busy month at Mallaig Pool with staff gearing up for the summer season. We'll be running an NPLQ course in the next few weeks so if you want to train as a lifeguard and work at the Pool now's the time to get in touch with the team. Just phone, message, or leave your details at reception. Biggest news is the great success of the Marathon and Festival of Running raising over #&163;10,000 for the pool refurbishment. We're over the moon and want to thank everyone who helped. Our next event will be the Traigh Triathlon on Saturday 21st September. If you'd like to join us as volunteer then we'd love to hear from you. Or get training and enter for the mini, sprint or standard - a distance to suit all abilities and a four-month training goal. The entry central booking system for our Marathon & Festival of Running 2020 on Saturday 9th May is now open. You'll find the link via our website.
We are delighted to have received an anonymous donation in the region of #&163;6,000 to replace our ageing pool cover and to purchase a new poolside spinal board - one that can be operated by two people rather than five. The old one will be used for training purposes. The new pool cover will help to better conserve heat loss from the pool so reducing our electricity bill. The spinal board, long overdue, had become a critical health and safety upgrade. A brief update on our Spa - following Kenny's generous donation to fix the pump, the chemical dosing unit packed up. This has now been replaced and we are awaiting water tests before to get up and running again soon.
In April we welcomed Jane Rushton and Peter Jackson as co-opts to the Board of Directors, making our number back to the magic nine. They've also volunteered to work with the team on the pool refurbishment project. This is moving forward after hitting some obstacles over the winter months. We've new drawings and a timetable to start phased alterations with a small extension to the rear of the building overlooking the football field. All things being well this will commence around October and give a small space for a café. This part of the building project is grant funded by, and with thanks to, Highland LEADER through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and HIE. We'll have more news on this next month.
Mallaig Pool and Leisure is a small charity dependent on time given by volunteers, by local fundraising and grant funding. If you'd like to get involved with our charity and give back to the community, in whatever capacity, we'd love to hear from you. Everyone has something to offer. Our next major fundraiser will be led by the Friends of Mallaig Pool and Leisure when they'll be running the Charity Shop from Mallaig Community Centre from Monday 15th - 26th July. We'll need volunteers to donate, sort, set-up and work in the shop. Get in touch if you have some time to spare and join the fun.
Glenuig: Less energy, more recycle
The project to reduce energy use in Glenuig Hall and increase recycling in the Glenuig area is a success. Replacing the lighting in the Hall Complex with LED units and improving the insulation of the building has achieved an annual saving of an estimated 1.9t CO2 equivalent: 135% of the target saving of 1.4t CO2e. Working with the Highland Council to install a glass recycling facility adjacent to the Community Shop also reached its target: in the first six week period 0.35 tonnes of glass was collected, a rate equivalent to the target of 3 tonnes in a full year and a saving of 1.63t CO2e a year. The weight of glass collected is increasing - 0.5 tonnes was collected in the second period.
It has not proved possible to quantify the general increase in recycling and the corresponding decrease in waste sent to landfill. Nevertheless it is anticipated that the project has increased the awareness of the local population to the importance of increasing recycling and reducing waste. Throughout the project, the local community was engaged with a series of newsletters, media releases and a dedicated noticeboard. The final event was an environmental evening with a series of short talks and a discussion session.
Grateful thanks for advice, resources and/or help, all provided without charge, to: - The Highland Council Waste Management team (Andy Hume and Hannah Bathgate); Glenuig Community Association volunteer directors and/or members (Eoghan Carmichael, Alasdair Carmichael, Glenda Green, Roma Scott, Anne MacIntyre) and the volunteers at the Glenuig Community Shop. Thanks also to the funders, the Climate Challenge Fund (Fiona Cunningham), the Lochaber Environmental Group (Stephen McDonach, Zach Wishart and the volunteer directors) and the local contractors who carried out much of the work ably directed by Pod who did not charge for his input.
On behalf of the Glenuig Community Association
Bon Voyage and safe journey on the yacht Safe Arrival to Gabriel Clarke (right) and James Stevenson who set off from Mallaig on Tuesday 28th May on an epic once in a lifetime 1200 mile trip to Greenland.
Heading west from Mallaig, through the Sound of Harris into the Atlantic Ocean, Greenland will be the next port of call for Gabriel and James who have spent the past few weeks at Mallaig Marina preparing their Rival 32 yacht for the voyage. Their objective is to approach the west coast of Greenland by sea and attempt to seek out and climb new rock routes along the west coast.
Although from Cornwall both Gabriel and James are no strangers to Mallaig as both have served on the sailing ship Eda Frandsen, a common sight on the Marina at Mallaig for a number of years now.
Gabriel (26) has served as skipper and mate on the Eda Frandsen for the past three years while James (27) served on the vessel last year. More info can be found at: asafearrival.wordpress.com
Mystery at the Mackintosh
Recently, the piano at the Mackintosh Centre was condemned by the piano tuner as being beyond repair - the plant that was resting on top had been overwatered and the water had seeped into the frame.
On dismantling, a selection of two and four penny tickets for a concert in the Queen's Hall (possibly London) on Thursday 18 December 1930 were found including two for the stewards. The show was being put on by Barclays Bank Musical Society.
A further ticket to a concert in the same venue, this time for the Hamilton Harty Symphony Concerts, by the no less than the Halle Orchestra and costing 8 shillings and 6 pence was also found. It is probable that this piano was brought north by someone who has moved here and the piano has been on the move since.
Can you shed light on the journey of this piano? Please get in touch with the editor of West Word if you can!
Auntie Mary's Creepy Crawly Corner
Thanks Kirsty for asking for the name of this worm, and for taking great close-up photos when you were exploring the inter-tidal zone at Kentra.
Thanks for sharing the very clear photos which show key characteristics of this worm making it much easier to identify. The following information comes from the listed references. It looks like a King Ragworm (Nereis virens), a greenish-grey-coloured polychaete, one of the three orders in the phylum Annelida - the true worms. Annelid worms are segmented and have a separate coelom which is the secondary body cavity in more complex invertebrates and runs through the length of Annelid worms.
Polychaetes are the group, also called Bristle Worms, with many chaetae on each segment; these little bristles, made of chitin, are akin to a mammal's claws or nails (made of keratin) and are used to get grip for moving along over or through sand or mud. The chaetae are on the ends of parapodia which are paddle-shaped appendages, outgrowths of the body wall found on most segments apart from at the head and tail. Most polychaetes live in the sea, including intertidal substrates and estuaries.
The lucid photo of the distinct King Ragworm's head shows the central proboscis of the mouth which contains the eversible jaws, the 2 prostomial palps, the tentacular cirri and the 4 'black' eyes. All these structures enable this predator to catch its swimming live prey, hold it, and then swallow it by retracting its jaws back into the King Ragworm's mouth. In the King Ragworm the parapodia develop foliaceous gills over the worm's back increasing the surface area for respiration.
King Ragworms are usually found in the intertidal zone sand or mud, sometimes beneath stones where the worm builds itself a burrow lined with mucus, or swimming in the shallow sea above. Forward-passing undulations of the body muscles keep a steady current of water flowing through the burrow from which the worm extracts oxygen. It emerges from the burrow to seize a passing animal with its powerful jaws or when looking for a mate. In Europe this species is recorded from the Atlantic north and west coasts of Britain and Ireland, and the North Sea the west Baltic.
Dr Mary Elliott
P.A. Meglitsch 1972 Invertebrate Zoology,
A.C. Campbell 1976 the Hamlyn Guide to the Seashore & Shallow Seas of Britain & Europe
R. Phillips Dales 1967 Annelids
E.J.W. Barrington 1967 Invertebrate Structure & Function
D. Nichols & J.A.L. Cooke 1971 The Oxford Book of Invertebrates
M.S. Laverack & J. Dando 1974 Lecture Notes on Invertebrate Zoology
BIRDWATCH April 2019 by Stephen MacDonald
A mainly fine and settled month with some warm and dry spells. A lot more birds around as many of our summer migrants returned to breed and winter visitors headed north to their breeding grounds.
Highlight of the month was a stunning male Hawfinch seen and photographed in a Morar garden on the morning of the 19th. A handful are reported each year on the West coast and are most likely Scandinavian birds on passage.
The first Wheatears reported were singles at Traigh on the 1st and Milburn, Rhue on the 2nd. Also on the 2nd, six or seven Sand Martins were seen at Loch Nan Eala and by the 5th several were seen at the Rhubana colony by Loch Morar. Two Swallows were seen near the Mains Farm, Arisaig on the 18th and the first House Martins were seen at Traigh Farm on the 28th.
The first Chiffcaffs were heard at Rhubana on the 5th and Woodside on the 7th. Willow Warblers soon followed with reports on the 14th from Camusdarroch and on the 15th from Lochailort and Morar. Blackcaps were singing at Alisary, Loch Ailort on the 17th and two early Wood Warblers were singing at Druimindarroch on the 19th. Grasshopper Warblers were heard 'reeling' near Mallaig on the 20th. On the 22nd and 24th a Garden Warbler was seen and heard near Woodside, Morar. Sedge Warblers were heard at Back of Keppoch and Rhubana from the 28th.
Common Sandpipers were back on the 21st with reports from Camusdarroch and Loch Morar. On the 22nd one was at the head of Loch Ailort. The first Whimbrels of the spring were three feeding in fields at Traigh on the 30th.
Pink Footed Geese were reported heading north from about the second week. Unusually, a group of 13 birds settled in fields at Traigh Farm on the 18th and stayed feeding in the vicinity until the month end, when numbers had increased to 18.
Goldeneyes lingered on Loch Morar till midmonth and a single female was on Loch nan Eala until the month end at least. 14 Red Breasted Mergansers were at Camusdarroch on the 14th. Up to 30 male Eiders were seen together in Loch Ailort at the month end, the females presumably already incubating eggs.
On the 11th, the male Mandarin Duck was seen displaying to a seemingly unimpressed female Mallard on the Morar estuary.
The Little Egret remained throughout, being seen at various locations in the Arisaig area.
Redwings were still passing through the area during the first week, with flocks in excess of 200 birds seen at Glenan Cross Farm and near Loch nan Eala, Arisaig. Numerous reports of Bullfinches feeding on fruit trees in Morar and Arisaig Gardens. Reports of Siskins and Redpolls increased dramatically from midmonth.
Two recoveries were made during a ringing session in a Morar garden on the 27th. A male Lesser Redpoll that had been ringed approx. 400 miles to the south-east in Norfolk on the 14th January 2018 and a female Siskin that had been ringed near Fochabers, Moray on the 4th April 2018. On the 30th a Herring Gull seen in Mallaig, had been ringed as a chick on the Traigh islands on 5th July 2014.
WORLD WIDE WEST WORD
Here's Ian and Cynthia Buick outside St Michael's Cathedral in Kiev, Ukraine recently and ...
- fancy them meeting Chai and Harriet Jones, enjoying Ukrainian hospitality in a Kiev riverside pub!
Thanks to Alan and Flo Cargill for keeping up the tradition of taking West Word around the globe and sending in this photo of themselves taken on 15th May at the UN Cemetery, at Busan, in The Republic of Korea which honours the UN soldiers who fought for South Korea from 1950 to 1953. Alan says 'We were on a two week trip visiting our daughter Solčne who is on a 6 month internship near Seoul.'
Michael and Pat Cross (ex Mallaig) take time out to read West Word after travelling on CalMac from Lochboisdale en route for London.
Watch this space for extracts from next month's issue!
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