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

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March 2012 Issue

Contents of the online version:

Top stories
Monthly news from Knoydart, Muck, Rum, Canna, Eigg
Railway new & Harbour news

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Nevis Radio is appealing to the Lochaber public to help them meet the cost of vital transmitter repairs, or face losing the service completely.
The Nevis Radio Transmitter Appeal has been launched after a recent fault at the community based radio stations' main transmission aerial at Treslaig, high above Loch Linnhe put the station off air, leading to hundreds of enquiries from listeners as to when normal service would be resumed A temporary fix has been made at Treslaig which has put Nevis Radio back on air, but on much reduced power, which will mean that it is unlikely the signal will reach the other transmitters serving Mallaig, Arisaig, Small Isles and surrounding areas. Service should return to normal whenever the new equipment is installed.
One of the few qualified engineers in Scotland was brought up from the Central belt and while he quickly identified the problem, the costs involved in its repair and maintenance could end up putting Nevis Radio off air for good.
Chairman Iain Ferguson said: 'Listeners will be aware that we have been experiencing intermittent breakdowns in broadcasting for some time and this was caused by a fault in our studio equipment, caused, we believe when the air conditioning in the equipment room broke down overnight, allowing a huge amount of heat to build up, while also spraying the room with water.
'As it costs a minimum of 1000 to call out the engineer to even look at it, we have been discussing this with our insurers for some time and still have not reached an agreement. 'However when the amplifier at Treslaig suddenly dropped to very low power, we had to make an instant decision to call him out without delay.'
Nevis Radio is now facing an immediate bill of 1000 for the engineer, with an additional 2,500 just to renew the faulty amplifier, together with a 200 per week rental charge for a temporary replacement, then a further 1000 for the engineer to return and fit new equipment. This will rocket even higher if is found that more equipment needs to be replaced. An aerial which links the Nevis Radio studios to Treslaig will also be replaced at a cost of around 500. This is also on order and will be delivered at the same time.
Iain said: 'Nevis Radio has been at the heart of the community for fifteen years and people turn to us for to help them with everything from a lost cat and requests to more serious information such as road closures, accidents, school closures and severe weather warnings - this very local, immediate information is not available anywhere else and in some cases could literally be a matter of life and death to listeners.
'We now have to turn to everyone we have helped and ask them to help us. We need many thousands of pounds right now and even more over the next year to help meet the enormous costs of transmission masts not only at Treslaig but across the network in Mallaig, Ballachulish and other areas, so that as many Lochaber residents as possible can listen to 'their' local radio station and I and the other volunteers who keep Nevis Radio running would urge you to help. 'The benefits of Nevis Radio to Lochaber businesses, groups, organisers of events and individual listeners are immense and would be a devastating loss to the area. The message is simple, dig deep and help us right now, or we won't be there when you need us most! We are doing everything we can to restore the signal to all areas and would ask everyone to bear with us while we wait for the work to be completed.
"It is a very expensive operation and we have launched a dedicated fund raising campaign to support this and all of our transmitters. We need to raise at least 20,000 by the end of this year to ensure that all of them can be looked after, so I would appeal again to everyone to give us their support.
'Please help and please be patient while we while tackle the problems and restore the service across the whole of Lochaber
Donations can be made to the 'Nevis Radio Transmitter Appeal' at the studios on the Ben Nevis Estate, or shortly through the website www.nevisradio.co.uk. For further information phone 01397 700007.'

Following a public meeting attended by some 100 people, our three Highland Councillors and MSP David Thompson, the plea has gone out for everyone possibke to write letters and/or respond to the Ferries Review document to show support for the Mallaig Ferry.
The Review states that the Mallaig-Armadale ferry service is mainly used by tourists and is therefore not absolutely essential to the community it serves. Removal of the ferry was considered but rejected. The Review states 'The preferred way forward is to retain the summer service with a minimum subsidy only. The winter service will continue to receive the present subsidy.'
The knock-on effect on this suggestion on the local economy would be widespread, devastating and could lead to the service being terminated in future years if the numbers using the ferry fall due to increased fares.

Around 100 people attended a meeting called by Mallaig Community Council on Monday 20th February 2012 to discuss the Ferries Review document. This Review document has been compiled as a result of a wide ranging review to provide clear strategic guidance for the provision of ferry services in Scotland through to 2022.
The section of the report that is of keenest interest to this community is between paragraphs 96 - 99. In summary, it is stated that the Mallaig-Armadale ferry is largely used by tourists.
The Draft Ferries Plan is to make a distinction between routes that are absolutely essential to the communities they serve and a discretionary service linked to tourism. The ferry service is now mainly about providing tourists with the opportunity to travel to Skye and the mainland in a different way from the road connection. Removal of the Mallaig-Armadale ferry was considered on the basis that it is not an essential service. This option was rejected as it was thought "this might have implications for the local economy". The preferred way forward is to retain the summer service with a minimum subsidy only. The winter service will continue to receive the present subsidy.
The community is asked for their views on this proposal.

Chairman of Mallaig Community Council, Martin Sullivan, welcomed all to the meeting especially MSP Dave Thomson and all three Highland Councillors. He proceeded to open the meeting explaining that Mallaig Community Council had called it to inform the public about the suggestions in the Government's Ferries Review and to discuss what we can do about it and the way forward.
Mr Thompson stated that we need as many people as possible to send their views onto the Government.
Councillor Henderson expressed the view that we need a strong voice from this end - we need to put aside the Lochboisdale/Mallaig ferry service for now and let the Uists carry this forward with our backing. He said the real issue for us here is the potential downgrading of the Mallaig/Armadale service. He believes that what is needed is an upgrade to the service along with a more sustainable winter service.
The main contributors to the discussion were Gavin and Sine Davies of the West Highland Hotel, Steve Macfarlane of the Glenuig Inn, Andrew Simpson representing the Road To The Isles Marketing Group and Andy Race, local fish merchant. They all pointed out just how important the ferry is to all their businesses. Gavin said that 55% of people visiting his hotel are on coaches which carry on over to Skye; Andy pointed out that his business relies on the ferries and Skye businesses for a large part of his business and Steve pointed out that tourism is the lifeblood of this area - cut that off and everything in the area gets degraded. Martin Carty had been researching CalMac figures which show an increase in all passengers which has continued even during these difficult times. Andrew said that prices rising, resulting from a loss of subsidy, will kill the ferry just as effectively as cancelling the service.
Councillor Henderson pointed out that 150 coach trips have already been booked for this year for the Skye Ferry from one Company alone but if prices rise this might not happen again Charles King stated that the ferry service has not been classed as a lifeline ferry service and we should be getting together with the Sleat Community to put a strong case forward. We have to fight for the established route and it would be wrong to have it downgraded now. Allan Henderson said that Sleat Community Council are holding a meeting and will come back to him after their meeting.
Andy also spoke of the Fisheries Local Action Group which is offering half a million pounds to help fishing communities during the downturn of fishing while the ferry, one of the biggest things that helps this community, could be downgraded. He urged everyone to fight it. If it wasn't for tourism, he said, many local businesses wouldn't be what they are.
Sonia Cameron believes there is not enough connectivity between public transport, particularly in the winter with the times of the Sunday ferry not tying in with the train. If there was better connectivity this could create an even longer season than we have now.
Mr Thompson urged everyone to fill in the consultation document. We want this service maintained not downgraded and our arguments are economic, based on the promotion of tourism through the connectivity of routes in the West Highlands. He is hopeful that we will have a strengthened Mallaig/Armadale Service. Hard economic times are not a reason for cutting this ferry as more money should be spent on capital expenditure not cutting the infrastructure. These arguments are strong and sound even in hard financial times. He would be reporting back to Alex Neil, MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure and Capital Investment that week. John MacMillan of Mallaig Visitor Centre expressed his disappointment that the meeting had been called to support a well-used service when we should be supporting the re-introduction and benefits of a Mallaig/Lochboisdale service. A show of hands of the meeting of people in the room supporting the reinstatement of this service had a 100% approval.
At the end of the meeting, four actions were noted. They are:

All present were pressed to pass around the message to write or fill in the online questionnaire and to let visitors know about the possible threat to the service. Pamela Morrison agreed to set up the e-petition using the Government's website only to find that the site is out of action. There is a hard copy for signature in Mallaig Toys and Gifts Shop.
The address to write to in support of the service and removal of the threat of taking away the subsidy is:
Colin Grieve, Transport Scotland, Ferries Unit, Victoria Quay, Edinburgh, EH6 6QQ or email: Colin.grieve@transportscotland.gsi.gov.uk
The online questionnaire is available at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/QZ25CFT. There is also a link to the review document at this website.
Full sets of these minutes can be read at the PO Mallaig and the Fishermen's Mission.
Sue Barrett

At the Mallaig Community Council meeting, on the issue of the Scottish Ferry Services Draft Plan, one of the actions agreed was to instigate an e petition.
Unfortunately the Scottish Parliament's e-petition facility is in the process of being updated and is unavailable at the moment. We have contacted the Clerk of the Petitions Committee and have been advised that the service will not be resumed until the end of March.
In the meantime: Martin has been in contact with the Sleat Community Council to coordinate a joint effort and include them in the organisation of the petition. The background /admin for the petition has been completed so that when the e-petition site is back on line we are ready to upload it.
Finally, a paper copy of the petition is available in the Gift Shop. Please sign this and encourage others to sign it. We would also encourage people to respond to the Draft Plan either by completing the survey (link above) and / or by writing to our MSPs.
The Review document is on www.transportscotland.gov.uk
Pamela Morrison

Hello again
It's an odd time of year this year. The frost and the snow never arrived, the dog comes back from a walk covered in ticks and there seems to be more walkers and visitors than I can remember in February. Add to that that three families have decided that they have to leave Knoydart (at least temporarily), and you can see that this February past has been a bit odd. Good luck to Andy and Karen - in the Borders for Karen's new job; to Jim, Claire and Oren in Salford for Jim's MA; and to Toby, Kath, Finn, Lachie and Coll who are only over in Mallaig but will be missed nonetheless.
February wasn't shy of other things happening either though. Returning former residents included Liam, who was here as a ghillie many years ago, as well as Phil and Andy, who have worked at the pub. A Knoydart page on Facebook has also seen a fair few old memories being aired, and some great old photos. Some of the broader Knoydart population also turned up for the Banana Sessions gig in the first half of the month which was a great success, with Dave and Jan Marriot especially having a ball dancing to a Prodigy Medley that the band do. The Hall also hosted a Banana themed film night, and Amnesty book sale and the kids eco club where the annual pancake flipping race was won by Anna Robertson. This was all in the cold hall. It is now, remarkably, the warm hall, thanks to the installation of a new heating system. This might cause some confusion to long term users of the building, especially on first entry, but you soon settle down and welcome the unusual sensations of heat.
Lots of work going on: Paul Thomson working away on numerous roofs where the last 8 months of storms and rain has revealed so many problems; Steve down at Sandaig, Mark and David now out of the ground on the 2 new houses, Andy working up at the Chapel, pressure tests at the Hydro, Bobby Beveridge working for John Sellers, and the Broadband installation slowly coming on. The office work of all the businesses goes on apace with the Forest Trust especially being focused on a mountain of paperwork. Sam has been continuing on with her film, notwithstanding the attention, as well as being in Mallaig to do a film project with the primary school there, helping Kira with her Festival Film and doing a cleaning job or two. Oh and just to be clear - there is not a Music Festival this year - we have had a few confused phone calls.
With Spring in the air there seems to be a bit of a keep fit/de-tox fever hitting the peninsula - good luck to all embarking on these regimes. There is a rumour that one of them will produce a keep-fit video for all and another might take on the running of a boot camp - watch this space. On the health front Tim is well on the way to recovery after his knee operation and is scooting about on the quad.
Special mention to Archie and Robbie for how well they can ride their bikes.
Best wishes to Steve and Izzie as they head off to Inverness for the impending birth.
Congratulations to Chic and Joanne on the arrival of baby Reuben. We all wish them well and hope to see them as soon as possible.
Davie Newton

As a winter project I have been reading through the farm diaries which cover the last 50 years, my watch on the island and more. Strong on the weather, the day to day farm work and a record of the births, marriages and deaths of the cows. Weaker on the human story, when people came to and left the island and the big events between which is what I am most interested in. But when I add my memory we could end up with a fascinating and reasonably accurate account of the last half century on Muck.
Spring is here, the daffodils are flowering and it is Camas time once more when we plan the social events which will cover the summer months. With the hall ready and waiting and the official opening on 18th May we are planning an interesting and varied programme and we are hoping to sign up some of the same artistes as Eigg and Rum to reduce costs. There should be more details in April West Word after the AGM of Camas.
That is about all this month.
Lawrence MacEwen

I'll start with the news that Kinloch Castle hostel is now not closing at the end of June. We are all heartily relieved and understand that the hostel will stay open until replacement accommodation is ready. Good news all round!
Down at the hall, which Claire has now painted yellow, a spring clean has been taking place to get ready for summer - summer being that of year when it gets warm, the sun comes out and it stops raining we live in hope. Mike, the ranger, will be basing Ranger Services in the hall this year - a programme of walks and talks is busily being planned as well as the launch of the long awaited wildlife garden, see www.isleofrum.com for more details.
The nursery position at the school is still vacant and has been re advertised; the community, especially the parents, are very keen for the nursery to continue and understand that although accommodation is not provided with the post, there may be something available in the village for anyone interested in the job.
Crofting news - Lesley and Neil are overwhelmed with eggs, their newly acquired chickens are doing their thing very nicely and down the road IRCT have allocated another croft, the new tenants are hoping to move here later this year.
Meanwhile back at the school, with the carpet cleaner broken, staff and pupils are having to operate in a worrying amount of glitter, gummed shapes and scraps of sugar paper -however, this is better than last term when the amount of sultanas in the school was reaching crisis point! In other school news, Cara is busily learning the capital cities of Europe and preparing for next Wednesday's World Maths Day, which can get very competitive if you want to reach the heady heights of a 'human computer'.
The roof on Harris Lodge is undergoing temporary repairs whilst IRCT look into costs for repairing the entire roof which got so badly damaged in December. With the rain getting in, further internal damage has been caused now, making a lot of the rooms barely habitable, bad news for the happy fencing man who is staying there.
Work on the pier, castle and roads and storm damaged trees continues.
Fliss Fraser

SNH's team at Kinloch Castle on the Isle of Rum are busy gearing up to welcome visitors for a new season. The castle will open again in April, with hostel, bar and bistro all ready for staying guests and daily tours of the building's stunning interior.
The winter period has seen extensive work undertaken on the castle's roof and this work may continue into the summer. This is part of a conservation plan to care for the Grade A listed building.
Castle Manager, David Armstrong, said 'We can confirm that accommodation, bar, bistro and castle tours will be available all season, right through until October. The accommodation provision may change and improve within the season as we are currently exploring bringing new accommodation to the island; we'll keep our guests fully informed of any changes.
We are also taking bookings now for a special event on 7/8 April to celebrate the return of the Manx shearwaters, with a play, BBQ and boat trips. There will also be an exclusive guided night-time walk up to the colony to experience the adult birds arriving back at their nest burrows - book fast, places are limited.'
To find out more and book accommodation, please call Scottish Natural Heritage on 01687 462037 or visit www.isleofrum.com. For information about the shearwater event, please contact Lesley Watt, Rum Reserve Officer, on 01687 462026.

The sound of Gaelic conversation once again echoed around the walls of Canna House on the Island of Canna. The house, once the home of eminent Gaelic scholars, Dr. John Lorne Campbell and his wife Margaret Fay Shaw now in the care of the National Trust for Scotland, was the venue for an Ulpan course last week. Members of the Canna community and NTS staff took part in the week long course funded by the NTS as part of the Scottish Islands Year. Course tutor was Kevin Ian Rodgers from Oban. He thoroughly enjoyed his week on Canna with his wife Kirsty , daughter Katherine, who celebrated her fourth birthday on the island and son Billy. The Canna community are hoping to further strengthen the use of the language on the island by continuing with its learning programme and Fis events.
Bha Gidhlig ri cluinntinn a-rithist taobh a-staigh ballaichean Taigh Chanaidh an t-seachdain seo chaidh. Bha Taigh Chanaidh na dachaidh gu Iain Latharna Caimbeul agus a bhean, Mairead Fay Seathach son iomadach bliadhna ach 's ann bho cram Urras Naiseanta ha h-Alba a tha e 'n-diugh agus b' ann san taigh fhin a chaidh crsa lpan a chumail. Ghabh muinntir a choimhearsnaichd agus luchd obrach an Urrais pairt sa chrsa. 'S e Urras Naiseanta Na h-Alba a mhaoinich an crsa mar pairt dhe Bliadhna nan Eilean. Chaidh an crsa a libhrigeadh le Caoimhin Iain Rodgers s an Oban. Thug Caoimhin a theaghlach cmhla ris ; Kirsty, a bhean, Catrona, a nighean agus Billy, a mhac. Chrd an t-seachdain riutha uile gu mr agus chm muintir an Eilean fiu 's partaidh dha Chatriona air an ltha breith aice. Thathar an dchas gun cm muintir an Eilean orra ann a bhith neartachadh an cuid Gidhlig tro 'm program ionnsachaidh aca agus tachairtean na Fise.
"If this course is anything to go by, the people of Canna have laid the first serious stone in rebuilding Gaelic's standing on the Island. They should be very proud of what they achieved in a week. Cmaibh a' dol e! " - Kevin Rodgers, lpan tutor.

With the somewhat acrimonious departure from Canna last month of the Spence family after only nine months on the island, the national press has been featuring articles on the failure of the National Trust for Scotland to keep new residents contented and secure. Sixteen people have left in the last year, reducing the population to ten, the lowest ever recorded. With the departure of the Spences, the school has closed as there are no longer any children. NTS say they are reviewing how they deal with new families wishing to move to Canna, but those who have left say it is not island life that is to blame, but lack of security.

With only 4 dry days this month, painting and decorating in time for the summer season has been a gruelling task as everything is so wet. Nevertheless repairs are now finished at the Eigg Museum of Crofting live which is scheduled to reopen on 2 April, and in Cleadale the Lochaber Housing association tenants have now finally got their brand new kitchens. Peggy is absolutely delighted with hers!
The few nice days have seen Eigg gardeners out in force then retreating indoors in disgust. Even the ibises (all 7 of them) must have decided it was too wet to stay as they left on Wednesday 29 after their 5 weeks stay. It has not been nice for calving cows as there is so little shelter for them and this has been quite a worry for our Eigg crofters and farmers, but there is a good number of calves gambolling about all over the place. Catriona and Breagha are really enjoying the 4 cute highland calves at Howlin, whilst wee Maggie at Laig is really excited at her mother's newly arrived Soay sheep! With the chicken pox epidemic hitting Eigg, parents are grateful for anything that keeps them occupied around the house! Meanwhile Neil, our new Compost doctor, is going around island houses to check the state of composting on Eigg; not bad but a bit wet, is the verdict so far, we now look forward to a vastly improved production of black crumbly stuff.
On the historical front, the Eigg History Society is delighted that funding has been awarded by the HLF to investigate the location of St Donnan's monastery at Kildonnan. They are now looking for volunteers to supplement the archaeology team who will be working from 16 June to 7 July, and anyone interested in donating a few day's time is welcome to enquire about participation (see the new Eigg History Society website for details). Every Monday during the dig, there will be a guided visit of the site in any case for people interested in what is going. Prof. John Hunter from Birmingham University who will also do two lectures on Early Christian sites and on forensic archaeology.
Wedding invitations have been sent out for Jamie and Eilidh's big day in August. They are away just now doing their archery course, and Jamie is going to run in the Lake Maggiore marathon, supported by Eilidh, Sue and Alasdair as well as Ewen and Jacqueline: Italy beware, the Kirks are arriving. In the meantime, Eigg is getting ready for its first organised hill race on Sat and Sunday 7 and 8 April. The fudge and ice creams stalls will be there, as our Eigg local producers are gearing themselves for their regular produce fair...
And if you are interested in following what's been tweeted about on Eigg, you can look @eiggbox for Lucy's Eigg box project or @isleofeigg. The Iscape project has also started a facebook page for the Small Isles and tweet@smallisles is about to start too!
But never mind all these virtual tweeterings in the clouds, it's lovely to hear plain real bird song starting in earnest, a proof that spring is on its way.
Last but not least, a good welcome to John and Sheila who have now completed their move from Canna to their new home in Craigard. Sheila has risen to the challenge of displaying (almost all) her beautiful painting collection in a much smaller place than Tigh Ard, and the effect is just as stunning!
Camille Dressler

Harry Cline of Lochailort wrote to West Word:
Following my reported sighting of a Siberian Accentor on 1st or 2nd December 2011 at Lochailort, it seems that this is the first report of this bird in Britain. The RSPB would not believe this as I didn't take a photo during the 15 seconds I watched it from four feet away.
We have now sighted an even rarer bird, which by their rules they must believe as we have a photograph taken by S. Lees of Glenuig.

Mallaig Lifeboat Log
The Mallaig Lifeboat was called into action on three occasions during February 2012.
Wednesday 1st February: Mallaig Lifeboat launched at 19:40hrs at the request of Stornoway Coastguard to medivac a patient from the Isle of Eigg to the mainland. In good weather conditions (a crisp winter's evening) the Lifeboat made good time arriving at Eigg at 20:15hrs where the patient was taken on board and Lifeboat set off for Mallaig with minimum delay. Patient was transferred into the care of the Ambulance Service when the lifeboat docked at Mallaig.
Lifeboat refuelled and ready for service at 21:24hrs.
Saturday 11th February: The Mallaig Lifeboat was launched at 10:53hrs at the request of the Stornoway Coastguard to go to the assistance of the fishing vessel Coquet Light disabled by a fouled propeller whilst fishing in the Sound of Sleat.
On scene at 11:41hrs the tow rope was quickly passed and the tow to Mallaig commenced. Once outside the harbour the stricken vessel was taken alongside the lifeboat for safe entry to the port.
Lifeboat refuelled and ready for service at 12:41hrs
Sunday 12th February: Launched at 20:35hrs the Mallaig Lifeboat was tasked to go to the assistance of an ill crew member on board a local prawn trawler berthed at Rum Pier. The crew member of the Silver Dawn had suffered a seizure and on contacting the Coastguard the skipper of the trawler was informed that it would be in the best interests of the patient to get him to the mainland as soon as possible for medical treatment. Arriving on scene at 21:17hrs the fisherman - although a bit groggy - was able to board the Lifeboat unaided and the Lifeboat set off immediately for Mallaig where they docked at 22:14hrs when the casualty was handed over to the care of the Ambulance Service.

Ferries Review Consultation
It's fair to say that the Authority was disappointed with the Scottish Governments Draft Ferries Review document which was published just prior to Christmas.
Although set to be the blueprint for ferry services on the West Coast of Scotland for the next ten years or so the document is far from being forward thinking, innovative and inventive. Indeed instead of it being positive it was particularly downbeat - certainly from a Mallaig prospective - and offered no joy to campaigners wishing for the re-introduction of a Lochboisdale to Mallaig service and even cast doubt - wittingly or unwittingly - on the future of the Mallaig/Armadale Service.
The importance of the Skye Ferry to this area of Lochaber and to South Skye is beyond question or doubt and for the Ferries Review document to contain lines like "we could remove the service on the basis that it is not an essential service" and "Because of the tourist trade removing the service altogether might have implications for the local economy" shows a lack of understanding or realisation by Government Civil Servants, who framed the document The importance of the Skye Ferry to Mallaig Harbour can be illustrated by the fact that over 240,000 passengers, 54,000 cars and 1,500 coaches use the service annually.
One good piece of information contained in the Ferries Review document is the extension of RET (Road Equivalent Tariff) for services on the West Coast over the term of this Parliament. This would have the effect of bringing fares for passengers, cars (including small commercial vehicles) and coaches using the Mallaig and Armadale ferry.

The Lighthouse on Sgeir Dhearg which stopped functioning on the 24th January due to a mains cable fault was finally re-connected with the Lighthouse becoming operational again on Thursday 1st March.
Relaying the new cable was not an easy task but with the aid of a local dive team, workboat, electrician and the forward planning and application of the Harbours own workforce the Lighthouse was finally reactivated.
A back-up system to ensure the Lighthouse remains operational when mains power fails in future is now on the Authority's "to-do list".

Non Executive Board Members
A total of nineteen individuals responded to the advertisement carried in last month's papers (Press & Journal, Oban Times, Free Press and West Word) seeking Non Executive Board Members for appointment to the Mallaig Harbour Authority.
A candidate short leet has now been formulated and interviews are scheduled for April. The new Mallaig Harbour Revision Order - which sets out the way forward via the Modernisation of Trust Ports Legislation - is due to be introduced on 1st April 2012.

photo photo

Silver Cloud
Doesn't this shelter deck on the Wick registered Gairloch based prawn trawler Silver Cloud look as pretty as a picture? Wonder if this idea to brighten up the life of the fishermen will catch on...and did skipper Iain MacKenzie wield the brush?

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

On and Off the Rails

Model Rail Scotland Competition Results
Competition entries came in thick and fast (except for people I met in the street saying things like 'I meant to enter' or 'There was no point in entering because I never win anything' or 'Is the competition closed yet?' or trying to give me the answer verbally to enter. Remember my glass half-full mantra. It is always worth entering, anyone has an equal choice. I love free to enter competitions by post, although they are harder to find these days with email or pay-by-text or phone call being the norm, but the pleasure of not knowing whether you could win even if it is a pen or pencil or a Steiff bear or a whisky rare bottle, and yes, I have won them all!, is so tangible it is fun - and the stamps (if it's not freepost) are helping to keep the Post Office/Royal Mail going! Anyway, thank you to all who entered, I even received one by post on the day West Word hit the shops! and it turned out to be a winner. Four happy families went to the show, as did I, and they were: Nancy McLean, Mallaig; Nancy Dunn, Mallaig; Fiona Carlisle, Ardnamurchan; and Jenny Foster, c/o a Portree B & B! Some winners were seen at the show by me, some by other people from the Mallaig area. So well done and thank you for having a go. All female winners for February. Come on fellas, have a go at this month's competition!

Model Rail Scotland over for another year!
As a follow on to competition results, just a few words about this year's exhibition, held in the halls at the SECC, a first for the organisers. Although not in adjoining halls, the walk between halls did not distract from the many exhibits and displays on show.
I visited on the first day (Friday) and was surprised to see so many people so early in the day. Most stands were doing a roaring trade, with the sale of locomotives and rolling stock. The exhibition featured 55 layouts, some static, and some live working models, I must admit some of the 'live' versions were rather enthusiastic, and I witnessed several de-railments due to 'over enthusiasm'!
Since I returned from this exhibition, I have spoken to several people who exhibited, and they all agreed it was a great success, with all three days being well attended. I would like to express my thanks to the organisers of Model Rail Scotland and, in particular, Ross Squire (Press and Publicity Officer, AMRSS) who kindly donated the four family tickets for the show.
We all look forward to next year's exhibition.

At Model Rail Scotland, I was fortunate to meet the author, Christopher Vine, whose name features regularly on my reading list. He is as enthusiastic about railway journeys, model rail building, seeing life through children's eyes and encouraging learning through reading as I am, but has the wonderful ability to transfer knowledge through words in such an enthusiastic way that has me returning to him all the time. He is a Chartered Engineer, whose great interest has always been railways, steam engines and, in particular, model engineering.

Always fascinated by all things mechanical and electrical, he says his first words spoken were 'turn it on' and 'turn it off' - which are words I offer to my special fella many times a day!! He has written a series of books - four since 2008 - available in hardback, and now four different paperback books. All follow the theme of 'Peter's Railway'. Peter is the grandchild of a farmer who builds a working railway on his farm (I am Peter in my head!). I am fortunate enough to be able to offer a 2011 revised edition of the first hardback book, Peter's Railway 1, which will be signed by the author and sent directly from him to the winner, PLUS a set of the four new paperback books, sent the same way for the second winner to be drawn. photo

As Dr Pete Waterman, OBE, says in the foreword of Peter's Railway, 'I hope it will encourage a future generation to get involved with a preserved railway or to make models themselves, and possibly even consider a career in engineering,'; and Sir William McAlpine says, 'I wish I could have had these books when I was a boy, they would have given me as much pleasure as they do now; and so much information!'

Competition question
What were author Christopher Vine's first words spoken? Answers by post please, to Sonia Cameron, Fasgadh, Marine Place, Mallaig, Inverness-shire PH41 4RD, no later than Monday 26th March 2012. Good luck!
If you wish to purchase any of the books, or for more information on availability, titles and prices, go www.petersrailway.com, or contact Christopher Vine by email at info@petersrailway.com Alternatively, write to Christopher Vine, PO Box 9246, Bridge of Weir, PA11 3WD.
Four wee extra exciting parts to the hardback book series are the watercolour pictures by John Wardle, the technical drawings at the end of each chapter, the special how-it-works pages with simple (but accurate) explanations and, in addition, Grandpa telling wonderful stories from the old days on the railways. I just adore them.

Network Rail engineering at Mallaig
As reported in my column last month, the engineering work at Mallaig has almost been completed, with all three sets of points and associated track work in place and passed for running.

Oil siding re-connected to running line
As an addition to the planned work, a decision was made to reinstate the redundant oil siding.
This line had not been used since the transfer of oil deliveries to road transport, and a section of the track was removed in order to repair a section of line towards Morar. A decision was later made to remove the 'ground frame' in order to minimise maintenance to the existing trackwork.
The original idea was to use the old oil siding as access to a turntable, but as this did not materialise it was made redundant.
It's nice to see the oil siding reinstated, who knows what will arrive there in time to come! We will have to wait to see!

SundayMallaig/Glasgow Rail timetable additions
From Sunday March 25th 2012 until Sunday October 28th 2012 (oh! how we wish it was all year round!) ScotRail resume the Sunday service as follows: depart Mallaig for onward travel to all stations to Glasgow, 10.10, 16.05, plus an 18.15 to Fort William. Trains will arrive in Mallaig at 13.34, 17.43 and 23.35. For any further information, pick up a timetable at any staffed railway station, contact traveline on 0871 200 22 23 or go to www.travelinescotland.com
See you on the train.
Sonia Cameron

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