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

List of Issues online

May 2010 Issue

Contents of the online version:

Top stories
Monthly news from Knoydart, Muck, Rum, Arisaig, Mallaig
Trains - West Word ten years ago
Birdwatch - Local Genealogy

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Contact Details & How to Subscribe to the Paper
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Not to be reproduced without permission.

It was the most terrifying experience of my life', said Mallaig's Helena MacPherson, who had to pack up her kids and drive away from the heath fire inferno that threatened to engulf her house near Fank Brae.
'Flames were eight feet high,' she said, 'with thick blue smoke everywhere making it difficult to breathe. The fire claimed the kiddies' trampoline and swings in our garden and the flames stopped just feet from the oil tank. It was really frightening.'
Helena was not the only householder affected by the out-of-control heath fire on Tuesday 13th April as it threatened houses from the Manse out towards Glasnacardoch. Telephone lines were destroyed, as were satellite TV aerials, along with a host of pine trees, but thankfully there was no loss of dwellings due to the sterling work of the local Fire Fighters augmented by colleagues from elsewhere, and also aided and abetted by local volunteers - including the Rev Begg - who all worked tirelessly to beat the flames into submission.

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Helena said people doing the muirburning must think twice before setting the hills on fire. 'We must learn from this experience and never let to happen again,' she said. 'Burning must be done responsibly!'
But it did happen again! Not in such dramatic style and only needing one Fire Appliance, but still alarming and threatening.
As West Word was being compiled, on the afternoon of Saturday 8th May, Fire Fighters were called to an out of control fire in Morar-across from the railway station, up to the cross, and down along behind the houses just beyond the crossing towards the Church.
A statutory burning season is set out in the Hill Farming Act 1946 and is generally permitted in Scotland only between 1st October and 15th April inclusive. Muirburn may be made until 30th April where the land is below 450m (1500ft) above sea level or, where the land is above 450m, until 15th May.
Under the Muirburn Code the practice of muirburning below 450 metres is strictly controlled and regulated under legislation governing farming, wildlife and countryside, public health, built heritage and safety at work.
On 16th April 2010 the Northern Constabulary urged gamekeepers and landowners to keep muirburning under control after Fire Fighters had been called to series of call outs to heath fires across the Highlands.
Of course muirburning is not the only cause of heath fires. In dry weather discarded cigarettes, careless camping and even the steam train can cause fires which can spread alarmingly.

There has been a lot of talk of late about the wildfire that occurred around Mallaig on the 13th of April so I thought (with a little nudge from the editor) to put a small piece into the West Word.
I won't get into the nitty gritty of the fire but will give an overview from our prospective. The Mallaig crew were dealing with a wildfire up behind the old Fish farm Hatchery at Morar when our Control asked us to respond to a wildfire at Glasnacardoch as they were getting numerous calls as this fire was threatening property!
On attendance at Glasnacardoch the Mallaig crew were faced with a raging fire already burning into peoples gardens, which already totally destroyed a kiddies trampoline and was heading towards numerous fuel tanks and gas bottles with the occupiers pleading with us to save their properties, so to say the pressure was on is an understatement!!!
Once we started to get control of this fire and thought we could relax a bit, how wrong we were! Unknowing to us the fire or another fire was coming in on the other side of the village again with calls coming into our Control Centre with the worst of it heading towards the area between the Manse at the football pitch to Fankbrae.
Again the pressure was on but this time Fort William crew was with us and there were more Fire Appliances on the way. All in all there was eight Fire Appliances attended this incident, the most there has been at an incident in Mallaig, at one point there were ten Fire Appliances sitting in Mallaig as there were two sent to deal with the original fire we were at earlier at Morar. In April 2002 there was a similar fire in which there was six Fire Appliance in attendance.
Overall I am happy to say that with approx fifty Fire Fighters on scene and numerous members of the public using garden hoses and beaters etc, not 1 injury was reported and no one lost there property.
On a final reflection of it all it was a good job well done, especially to my crew who worked their socks of until help arrived. And when it did arrive from Fort William, Strontian, Spean Bridge and as far a field as Cromarty a big thank you to ALL the Fire Fighters who helped out as what can only be described as a very difficult arduous fire.
A mention of thanks must go to the community especially of the likes of Liam & Aaron MacLean who helped pull the hoses from one house to the next to the next. All the neighbours of the neighbours who were using garden hoses, beaters and anything else they could get their hands on to help. Richard Begg the local minister who was literally a God send!! He I'm sure must have worn out his shoes with the amount of running he was doing with his wheelbarrow ferrying our equipment from one house to the next and even helping run out hoses at the same time!! Well done Richard. Even the crew of the Loch Nevis arrived to offer their services. To everyone that offered refreshments, tea coffee juice etc..
And the girls in the mission, Adelle and Eileen who thought they were only going to cook one or two meals that night!!
It just shows how well a community comes together in the time of need and its one that I'm proud to be part off.
Watch Manager, D. Johnston
Mallaig Station

Just had a last-minute request for a column, so this one will be short and sweet! Well, it's gardening galore in Inverie, with plenty of local residents joining new (appropriately-named) Foundation employee Sam Gardener in the Community Garden. We've lots'o'plots, with everything from tatties to carrots to gnomes to gun-turrets (?) putting in an appearance. And plenty of activity in one polytunnel, with the other due to be re-covered soon. This, and other funding, has all been pushed forward by our Powerdown Officer, Gwen.
On the buildings front, Toby is running around even faster than his usual Super Mario speed, with Ian and Jackie's large luxury self-catering accommodation taking shape above the village, and the foundations of the affordable housing next to Manitobas being dug in (I hear there's lots on the Knoydart Construction Company front happening in Mallaig as well). Good news in Airor too, where it looks like planning permission has been granted for an affordable-rented house. This means that the Knoydart Foundation will soon be able to rent out three houses to residents - a two-bedroom and two three-bedroom properties.
The early May Bank Holiday was very busy, with 20 tents on Long Beach on Sunday night (boosted by the late arrival of nine kayakers). Some joined in with Nat and Meagan's leaving party / Danny and Angie's pre-wedding party, where the log-cabin proved useful for providing shelter from the brief smirrs of rain.
Election Day (yes, I'm writing this late!) was as exciting as ever, with rumours of a 90% turn-out on Knoydart. Whether we were all voting for a revolution will never be known (I thought we'd already had one?)
Looking ahead: we're honoured to be hosting a band who are stalwarts of the Scottish folk scene: the Tannahill Weavers, playing Inverie Village Hall on Wednesday 2nd June - well worth the trip if you fancy making it over.
Tommy McManmon

The wedding of Colin and Ruth. Saturday dawned cloudy but dry. Later a cold north-easterly set in the only flaw in an otherwise perfect day.
From every part of Britain the guests came. By afternoon there were including the islanders 220 in number possibly the largest gathering ever to assemble on the island. At 2.30 pm the bride and her maids embarked on the heritage vessel Mascot, sailed round the island to Gallanach where they disembarked into dinghies to be rowed ashore and carried up the beach by a team of kilted men. Then to the barn which weeks of work had transformed into a venue suitable for the ceremony. White fabric cascaded down the walls beautifully decorated with foliage and flowers. There Colin and Ruth exchanged their promises and then we were all outside for champagne and canapés with photographs in between. Later everyone escaped the chilly wind in the new barn also totally transformed with fleece, bunting and balloons. There were tables for all and a magnificent buffet laid out along one side the result of days of planning and work by the island ladies with a little help from Strontian. Near the entrance sat the sizzling pig which had been slowly roasting since morning. There was wine, toasts and speeches until suddenly most of the tables disappeared and the musicians climbed to their platform. Pneumatic Drills are one of a new generation of bands with a wide range of instruments and vocals included. They were great and they played the night through. Then a few hours sleep and it was time for the Sheerwater to start carrying the guests back to Eigg and the mainland. Faultless planning and weeks of work; this was a day that Colin and Ruth and indeed all of us will never forget!
Lawrence MacEwen
P.S. The Open Day this year is late. It is Sunday 27th June. All welcome.

The community trust is going to advertise the land crofts again, to try and get more people to come to the island. They are also going to build two holiday houses this year and once they get planning permission and funding they will be building houses over the next two years.
The Small Isles games are on Saturday 19th June. There will be a band and a ceilidh and all the games will be fun.
Nell & Cara

It sounds like an April fool, but it was for real: 33 Finns from the Turku and Åland archipelagoes arrived on Eigg for the Easter Weekend, ready to experience the various aspects of our island life, especially ceilidh dancing and our successful carbon reduction initiatives, as they too have joined the green island challenge adopted by ESIN, the European Small Islands Network. They were impressed by what they saw on Eigg although they concluded that our wood burning stoves were lagging far behind theirs in efficiency, which is not hard to believe with the winters they have to endure. Another thought was that we ought to build a sauna on the beach with our spare capacity so that anyone coming down from the Sgurr could relax in the steam before diving into the sea!! This cultural exchange included a Scottish -Finnish buffet on Friday 2nd April, which brought all islanders together as the Scots sampled the many ways rye is used in Finland - bread, sweet and alcohol, the Finns swapped smoked reindeer for haggis and the accompanying nip! Much fun was had by all, and hopefully, Eelin Hofström's dreams of youth exchanges between Vanö, Eigg and other Scandinavian islands will come to fruition. In the meantime a big thank you to Megan and Katrine for cooking such a feast on Eater Sunday, to Phil and Claire for helping and to the Knoydart boat for taking the Finns across from Armadale and the Sheil bus for stepping in to take them back to Edinburgh on Easter Monday! Thank goodness there was no Icelandic ash in the sky at that point!
If our Scandinavian friends felt at home in these Baltic temperatures which showed little sign of abetting throughout the month, the wildlife has certainly been affected, showing a marked delay in the signs of spring. However the cuckoo arrived on time and primroses are now gracing every south facing slopes. Lambing is well under way, and there is a quantity of young calves to be seen gambolling about in Cleadale, so plenty to keep crofters out of mischief! One crofter that was definitely kept out of mischief this spring was Alistair Kirk, as he trained for the Brighton marathon on 18th April, which he entered along with Jamie, his daughter's boyfriend. Alistair managed to raise a record £1500 for cancer research, and is now thinking of the next event. Congratulations for your efforts, Alistair!
A first for Eigg was also the event organised by the WEA's Women at work project at Lageorna, where after a wonderful tapas buffet, a large number of Eigg women explored the subject of assertiveness, and concluded that whilst it certainly was not gender specific, it was founded on respect and self-confidence, both of which are not always met in equal quantities at home and work.
Another first was the filmmaking experience introduced to the Eigg primary youngsters by Sam Firth: for most of April, they turned themselves into scriptwriters, actors and directors under Sam's expert guidance. The film on the theme of space will be shown on 26th June. Sam finished her stint on Eigg by showing her Knoydart 10th anniversary film, which was inspirational: it would be great if she could help us work with our archive footage to show how it all happened here!
Finally April went out with a last icy blast, which did not deter the many islanders who made it to Muck on the first of May from enjoying the island's tremendous hospitality. The wedding of Colin MacEwen and Ruth Hartland will be remembered in island annals as a wonderful celebration, and we wish them all the very best for the future!
Camille Dressler

I didn't write a column last month and will try to talk about something more than the Hall... I will just remind folk that others are very welcome to write a piece instead of or as well as me, and contributions on what to say are very welcome!
The ladies who are embroidering the Prestonpans Tapestry have been working away at it, both in Morar and Arisaig. I took a photo of some of them in the Hall last month but somehow it didn't make it off the camera - sorry, ladies. However Anne Cameron and Helen Brodie are pictured in the Lochaber News w/e May 8th, with others participants from around Lochaber, in the company of Donald Cameron of Locheil, the 27th clan chief of the Cameron clan, in his ancestral home of Achnacarry Castle.
Last October West Word reported on the visit to Arisaig by members of the Battle of Prestonpans 1745 Heritage Trust who launched the project and enlisted the help of a number of keen embroiderers from Arisaig and Morar.
The idea is for each locality to embroider two panels of the 104 metre long tapestry (made up of 104 panels) which picture Bonnie Prince Charlie's activity in that area. The Arisaig ladies waited some time for theirs to arrive, only to discover that, not only had they gone to Eriskay by mistake, but that one of the ladies there had started sewing the Borrodale House panel. All is now well, however, and pictures showing the Prince's landing at Loch nan Uamh, his despatching of the French ship which carried him, and his arrival at Kinlochmoidart House are under way in Arisaig and Morar.
The Heritage Trust are taking the finished tapestry on a tour along the routes that BPC and Sir John Cope took in 1745, and I believe the Highland Council are hosting a civic welcome for them in Fort William. The tapestry will be displayed in the Astley Hall on August 3rd and 4th, with a small entrance fee. They are hoping local groups will stage a re-enactment of the local events - any takers??!
Having read about Dougie the Dyker in the accounts in West Word of various island communities over a number of months, I belatedly realised he was in Arisaig too, building a splendid wall for Ronnie and Martine. I was too late to get a photo for West Word. I had been speaking to him at a concert he came to in the Hall, still without realising who he was or in fact that I had spoken to him before, on Muck! Perhaps he'll return-he seems to have made a name for himself along this part of the Western seaboard!
Speaking of concerts, I must mention the few we've had since I last wrote. The Boogie 'n Blues concert in March, which I couldn't attend (just did the fun bits like setting up chairs and putting them away again), went down really well, with both the performers and the audience full of praise for each other. It wasn't a huge audience, but hopefully we can have Bob Hall back next year at a busier time. Many thanks to Anne Baillie and Joanna MacEachen who ran the evening in my absence. They both usually help me at concerts, serving the refreshments, and are going to be running two in July when I a) run away to Eigg Feis to do some baby sitting and b) go down to Devon for a school reunion. I'm very grateful to them! Duncan Chisholm and Ivan Drever went down a storm as usual, with a great turnout of about 70 folk, with some coming from Knoydart and Eigg to hear them!
I'll just put in a mention the Duplets here. Fraya, who lives in Arisaig (and was pictured with her West Word in California in last month's issue) and her fellow Duplet Gillian are featured in a full page article in the Lochaber News w/e May 8th. They will be playing in the Hall in July, so try to come to support them.
We're looking forward to the summer season of Produce Fairs, which went really well last year. It would be great to think we could expand on these. When the Community Trust manages to get allotments up and running, and with local people more geared to growing to sell, perhaps we could even have them weekly or fortnightly. The Table/Produce Fair last month did quite well, not so busy as later in the year, but we expected that and put it on really as a reminder to gardeners to get growing to sell! Wondering what to do with all your extra seedlings, baby plants, all that veg that's ready at the same time, etc? Well, there's your answer. You can always sell them for a charity if you don't like the idea of making cash for yourself.
Still talking about the Hall - a Hats Off to the bin men who replaced the wheels which had fallen off one of the wheelie bins.
And a thank you to Robert MacMillan, who has given me photocopies of the Amateur Dramatic Society programmes mentioned in January's Personal Angle column. I shall put them into the display cabinet in the Hall at some point.
Exciting news about a possible twinning with a village in the Czech Republic!
I shall end with a congratulations to Marian MacMillan and Jo Markland who were given 10 out of 10 on Polling Day by the Election Inspector who arrived at the hall near to the end of a long busy day, on her way to Mallaig and Morar. She told them that not only were their premises perfectly presented (try saying that quickly) but that it was the best she had seen all day and the only one to have everything done correctly! Well done, ladies!
Ann Lamont

Mallaig Turbines
As you will have seen from the 'news in brief' last month, Mallaig and Morar Community Centre Association withdrew our application for planning permission to site a turbine at the far end of West Bay car park. We took this decision for a number of reasons, but mainly to give us some time to explore alternatives. We've had a concerted fundraising effort over the last year, which has meant that the financial position is not quite so precarious, and has allowed us some breathing space to look at options. However, we have also made a list of the work we would like to do to the hall, and the new equipment we'd like to buy, and it is still apparent that we need to be making more money from somewhere to make all this happen!
Between Christmas and New Year, we had a visit from a potential supplier, and we requested that they would also provide information on the potential of siting the turbines either closer to the hall, (near the recycling bins) or further from it (near the sewage works). They felt that both of these could be viable subject to certain conditions. Siting a turbine near the sewage works would incur higher cabling costs for us, and we need to do some more work on the financial viability of this for the MMCCA.
One thing that has changed in the interim, which was mentioned by Ranald and Sue Coyne in last month's West Word, is the introduction of 'feed in tariffs', which are basically an incentive to households and businesses (including community businesses) to generate electricity from renewable sources.
In our original proposal, we indicated that the Community Centre uses over 46,000kW of electricity per year, and that we would like to install about 12kW of turbine(s), either using two 6kW turbines, or one 11kW turbine. One 6kW turbine generates 15,000kWh (kilo-Watt hours) per annum, so two would generate double this, 30,000kWh. The new feed in tariffs will 'pay' us 26.7p for each kWh we generate for a period of twenty years. If you do the sums on this, it equates to a potential income for the community centre of £8,010 per year for generating the electricity. In addition to this, we would also have the savings we make in not having to buy some much electricity, and a further payment of 3p per kWh for electricity we 'sell' to the grid. Until all renewable energy projects have meters installed, the electricity 'sold' to the grid is assumed to be 50% of the power generated by the system. For us therefore, this would equate to an additional £450 per year income, and the potential savings, which were roughly calculated at £4,000 per annum.
For any community building, it makes financial sense to take advantage of this income, and especially at the moment, when there are also grants available for the installation or renewable energy systems.
We are having our AGM on Tuesday 5th May, at which we will have a further discussion about how to take forward the project. We will also hopefully have attracted some fresh faces to the committee, with some fresh ideas. Watch this space!
Jacqueline McDonell

Plans to 'twin' Arisaig with a village in the Czech Republic are being discussed with a village called Velehrad in Moravia.
After the successful installation and unveiling of a memorial to the Czechoslovakian SOE soldiers of Word War II in Arisaig last November, both Arisaig Community Council and members of the Czech Republic expressed a wish to foster the connection, and the idea was set afoot to achieve twinning status with a suitable village with similarities to Arisaig.
Dr Paul Millar, the Hon Consul-General based in Edinburgh, has been liaising with one of the Memorial Trustees Mr Miroslav Anger in the Czech Republic to further the arrangements. The village of Velehrad has a direct link with one of the SOE wartime parachutists, and is in very pretty hill country with vineyards and orchards in the heart of the plum brandy distilling area. It has a population of 1,323 and is the most important place of pilgrimage in the Czech Republic.

Exchange wanted
Meanwhile, a family of one of the donors to the SOE memorial has asked if there would be a chance to send their youngest son, who is 11, to Arisaig this summer during school holidays to a local family on an exchange basis, for experience and language practice - he speaks school English already. The family are from Prague but for the summer have a country cottage north of Prague, and the grand-parents also live in the country, west of Prague, in pretty countryside near the 'royal' castle.

West Word wasn't taken on so many journeys last month - we wonder why!
I'm sure we could have had a nice set of photos
taken in airports and ferry terminals while people waited for the volcanic ash to settle!

We start off with a space theme. Above, having watched the launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery, Celia, Allan and Freya MacKenzie caught up with their reading at the Kennedy Space Centre, Florida. Celia is the daughter of Mary Ritchie, Morar.
New subscriber Susan McQuarrie in Seattle was delighted to receive her first copy and took it to the city's Space Needle. She's very much looking forward to visiting this area in July as she has discovered some of her ancestors lived on the Isle of Rum prior to the Clearances in the 1820's.

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Although normally an internet reader of West Word in his Hockley, Essex home, Alan Freeman (a.k.a. Sherpa Tensing), took advantage of the real thing when he and his son Paul holidayed in Inverie (left). The photos were taken on the summit of Meall Buidhe (a Munro of 946 metres) on a very misty and cold April afternoon.

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Off on a cruise next, with ex-Mallaig man Archie Gillies, reading his copy on board Pacific Sun cruise ship with his two sons Shane and Jared. Archie and his wife Betty, who live in Gisborne, New Zealand, recently spent 10 days with thier family cruising the Pacific Islands. photo

On and Off the Rails

Summer Timetable starts on Sunday May 23rd.
ScotRail's timetable changes on Sunday May 23rd, with several alterations from winter timings.
One important alteration which involves train arrival into Mallaig is the re-timed Glasgow Queen Street to Mallaig. On Mondays to Fridays until September 24th, the train departs Glasgow at 09.07, arriving in Mallaig at 14.09. The Saturday departure from Glasgow to Mallaig departs at 08.21, arriving in Mallaig at 13.35, as does the Sunday service which starts at Fort William, leaving from there at 12.12.
Note that weekday arrivals into Mallaig for Skye will have to catch the 15.10 ferry, allowing time for a meal, shopping, etc. Saturday arrivals will have the option of the earlier 13.45 ferry. Sunday arrivals into Mallaig from Fort William will be able to catch the 14.40 in June, July and August only. After that the 16.00 ferry will be the first available to Skye. For ferry bookings and timings, call 01687 462403 or 0800 066 5000. Alternatively, e-mail enquiries@calmac.co.uk or for online reservations go to www.calmac.co.uk/reservations.

ScotRail Club 55 offer
ScotRail's very successful 'Club 55' is back again. Running from may 1st to June 28th inclusive, it enables 55 year olds and over unlimited return travel on the rail network anywhere in Scotland above Berwick-upon-Tweed and Carlisle. You can travel on any day and return in up to one month. The cost of the £15 ticket includes free seat reservation if purchasing in advance, or you can purchase on the day of travel at a booking office, or on the train if travelling from an unmanned station. All that is needed is proof of your age, i.e. bus pass, driving licence, etc.
There are some restrictions with regard to time of travel, but not on the West Highland lines, Far North lines, or Inverness to Kyle. To find out more about Club 55, call into Mallaig or Fort William staffed stations and pick up a leaflet. For just completing the feedback form within the leaflet you will be entered into a draw, and could win £100 worth of High Street shopping vouchers to spend at a retailer of your choice. Should you be in possession of a Senior Railcard or Disabled Persons Railcard you are entitled to a discount of £2 on the ticket price of £15.

Special trains visiting Mallaig
April 21st saw the Network Rail's weedkiller train and April 27th a Network rail engineers' train visit Mallaig. The latter was carrying out bridge and viaduct inspections prior to the start of heavy traffic on the West Highland Line. Saturday May 8th will see the first visit of SRPS (Scottish Railway Preservation Society) to Mallaig. Starting at North Berwick and picking up en route via Edinburgh, Waverley and Falkirk High, meeting the West Highland Line at Westerton. The train will be hauled by two Class 47 locomotives supplied by West Coast Railways using SRPS Mark 1 carriages. Due in at approximately 1400 hours, it will have a stop in Mallaig for about one hour. Just enough time to water the carriages, and for the 350 passengers to visit the shops and restaurants n Mallaig. We look forward to welcoming them, they always spend well when they visit us.

Royal Scotsman Luxury Landcruise train into Mallaig
Once again the Royal Scotsman train is coming to Mallaig for summer visits. Operated by Orient-Express and crewed by West Coast drivers and guards, the train consists of nine beautifully restored carriages, top and tailed by either two English Electric Class 37 locomotives or two Brush-Sulzer Class 47 locomotives or a mixture of both. Both classes of locomotive are over 40 years old and have been lovingly restored and maintained by West Coast Railways.
To date, the booked dates for visits to Mallaig are as follows: Saturdays May 29th, June 12th and 19th, July 24th and 31st, August 7th, 14th and 21st, September 11th, 18th and 25th, and October 2nd, 9th and 16th. Please note that these dates could change or be cancelled due to bookings and are only a rough guide to their visits to us. The three night journey from Edinburgh and return, with meals and accommodation on board, costs £2,950 and covers 660 miles of rail travel. Further Royal Scotsman details can be found on www.orientexpress.com. Usually arrival into Mallaig is at 10.54 and departure from Mallaig 11.38. The Royal Scotsman which visits Mallaig is called The Western and departs Edinburgh Waverley on Friday lunchtime, stabling overnight at Spean Bridge with a Saturday departure from Fort William at 9am.

West Word Book Competition
Win a newly published book by railway author Michael Williams, called The Slow Train. The author takes a journey back in time and reflects on the mark that Dr Beeching's cuts made on Britain's railways.
He describes twelve most fascinating and historic journeys in Britain, back to another era when travel meant so much more than hurrying from one place to the next in crowded carriages, condemned by broken timetables! On the Slow Train reconnects with that long-missed need to lift our heads from the daily grind and reflect that there are still places in Britain where we can stop and stare. In its pages you will find many things; a love of railways, a love of history, a love of nostalgia, a love of the exuberance of people and a love of life. One chapter in the book is called 'The 2.15 from Euston - The Deerstalker Express to the remotest station in Britain'. The final leg is aboard The Jacobite steam train to Mallaig. The book is priced at £14.99 and can be purchased from prefacepublishing.co.uk direct or from Amazon, and will be available at most good book shops nationwide.
If you would like the chance to win a copy of On the Slow Train, just answer the following question and send it on a postcard to me, Sonia Cameron, Fasgadh, Marine Place, Mallaig PH41 4RD, to arrive no later that May 29th.
Question: The Royal Scotsman luxury landcruise train is operated by - who? Good luck.

Jacobite Steam Train
Monday May 17th will see the start of the 27th year since the return of steam trains to the West Highland Line, and the 16th year of the Jacobite steam train service from Fort William to Mallaig. Locomotives this year will be K1 and Black 5. the timings are unchanged, with departure from Fort William at 10.20 and arrival in Mallaig at 12.25. As with every year, the Mallaig seagulls have just started nesting in the sidings! Departing from Mallaig at 14.10, arrival in Fort William is scheduled for 16.00 hours. Pre-booking this service can be done by calling West Coast Railways on 01524 737751.
Tickets can be purchased for travel between Fort William/Glenfinnan/Arisaig and Mallaig - single or return - but tickets for this journey are on a limited basis only, and are best booked in advance by checking with the on-board train guard Florence a day or so before you intend to travel.
See you on the train.
Sonia Cameron

West Word - ten years ago
The headline on the May 2000 issue was 'Just What The Doctor Ordered!' and hailed the official opening by Sir Cameron Mackintosh of the new Mallaig Health Centre, built at a cost of £780,000.Sir Cameron had started the ball rolling initially with a donation of £100,000 to develop the site. It tool five years hard bargaining to buy the land, St Elmo and Croft, and the site presented tremendous difficulties in clearing and levelling because it was solid rock. The rock which was removed was used in the forming of a new harbour pier. We also pictured the old corrugated tin hut which had done sterling work as a consulting room, and which was demolished only a few months ago. The plaque which was on the door of the hut, dedicating it to the memory of Lt. J H Baldwell, was featured in Personal Angle in March 2010. It was intended to be placed in the new Centre but went missing after being sent away to be repaired and polished.
Someone told us that, while sitting in a traffic jam in Slough on the M25, they heard on the car radio that Mallaig no longer had to share their health care with sheep in a tin shed! A second smaller headline celebrated the fact that the Donna Marie, skippered by Donald Clarke, was the first fishing boat in the UK to achieve an Investors in People Award, with a bigger story and photo inside the paper.
Inside there was still much muttering and concern about the hundreds of reflective marker posts and all the signs which had been placed along the A830. Cllr Charlie King said he had more complaints about them than he's had on any subject for a long while and he was going to contact The Scottish Executive to make the points that they confused deer, the reflections from them made it hard for drivers to see deer at night, and also made drivers think other cars were coming towards them as their own lights reflected, and that they were an eyesore on a picturesque road. Ten years on, they are a worse eyesore because many of them have broken and fallen over. We also had a photo of an old and a new Z bend signs, where the new one had been put in and the old not removed. In one case the Zs bent in opposite ways. Arisaig was set to lose its policeman as the Police House was going to disappear under the proposed by-pass but the village had been promised a Mallaig officer dedicated to Arisaig liaison, an upgrade of Police car to give better response times to call outs, an it was agreed that Arisaig could be part of a pilot for a new type of Police Call Point. Wonder what happened to all that then?
A band of folk dedicated to raising money for the new Mallaig & Morar Community Centre, in the process of being built at the time, completed a sponsored Drove Road Walk. They even composed a song!
West Word took possession of a new digital camera, courtesy of funding from C J Lang (Spar), Mallaig Harbour Authority, M & NW Fishermen's Association, and the Mallaig, Morar and Arisaig community councils. Only ten years ago but digital cameras were a rarity then and we were so proud of the fact we could take a photo which could be in the paper almost instantly! The Editorial mentioned a blackbird who liked his acoustics and which used to charm me as I sat typing. I think of that blackbird every year at this time and I'm astonished it was so long ago! No wonder I don't hear him these days!
We were celebrating keeping our three-weekly mobile skip service after a trial period - let's hope we'll be celebrating that again later this year once the service has been reviewed. A meeting was held in the West Highland Hotel by railway enthusiasts, train and tour operators, hotel and business owners, and Councillors and community councillors (sum total ten people!), to discuss ways to ensure the Centenary celebrations of the West Highland Line Mallaig extension, set for April 2001, would be lasting and beneficial. Ambitious ideas were put forward for a year long programme of events, with the ultimate dream being a reinstatement of the platform canopy and the railway turntable. An enthusiastic committee was needed to take the ideas forward…
The base of the original turntable pit had just been unearthed on the site of the new Community Centre.
The Duke of Edinburgh's Award scheme was being run in Mallaig for the first time. West Word's story of the tuna landing at Mallaig the previous month earned it a place on Scottish TV's lunchtime chat show 'Room at the Top'. Colin MacDougall was interviewed live on the show via a phone link. The cover of West Word was shown on screen a few times as well as Moe's picture of the tuna, but some of the contents of the paper seemed to cause the 'sophisticated' presenter some amusement!
There was a hill fire on Rum which caused the Fire Service to go over on the Lifeboat to deal with it. The alleged cause was a hillwalker, who needed to relieve himself - so good so far - shame he decided as an environmentally friendly act to set fire to the toilet paper used!! Our occasional article A Backward Glance featured the memories of Arisaig's Marie 'Post Office' MacPherson. She reminisced about her India-born Portuguese father, who became the doctor in Arisaig in 1912. He made his own medicines and drove one of the only two cars in the area, which he got rid of after an accident in favour of a white pony called Dolly. He was the man who brought the telephone to Arisaig in 1933.
In that article Marie recounted that she was born on May 7th 1915, the day the Lucitania went down, and if news had travelled faster in those days her father said he would have called her Lucy. West Word went out the day before Marie's 85th birthday, and after folk read the article she told me she was inundated with cards and gifts!
In another of our occasion articles, A Sense of Adventure, Ranald and Su Coyne continued their trip to Vietnam.
Mallaig's erudite Denis Rixson had just published his latest book, Knoydart - A History. The 75p paper consisted of 38 pages 36 plus two inserted), the beginning of the gradual increase in size to today's regular 40 - 44 pages - sometimes 48!

Birdwatch by Stephen MacDonald - April Report
A lot of movement with birds this month with many of our Summer visitors making an appearance.
On the 6th a single Swallow was seen over Arisaig Marina, with 2 and a Sand Martin at Back of Keppoch on the 8th. The first House Martin reported were at Traigh Farm on the 26th.
On the 11th, Willow Warblers were seen at Morar and Gorsten. A Chiffchaff was heard singing at Beoraid, Morar, on the 13th and the first Grasshopper Warbler was 'reeling' at Tougal on the 28th.
An early Common Sandpiper was at Loch nan Uamh on the 11th, the next sighting not until the 20th at Traigh.
The earliest confirmed report of the Cuckoo was on the 21st when it was heard in Arisaig village and also out at Arisaig House.
A few waders passing through the area, many in fine breeding plumage. Golden Plover were seen throughout the month in varying numbers, mainly at Back of Keppoch and Traigh, the highest number being 18 at the latter site in the 28th.
The first Whimbrel were 2 seen at Traigh on the 20th and some were seen daily till the month end, the best count a flock of 26 at the golf course on the 28th. On the 25th there were 20 Turnstones, 17 Dunlin and 20+ migrant Ringed Plover feeding in the tide-line in front of Traigh House. A single Sanderling was seen feeding with Dunlin at Traigh on the 27th. Nine Black-Tailed Godwits were seen trying to land in a field at Back of Keppoch on the 28th, but were quickly chased off by the local Lapwings which were already on eggs. Single Black-Tailed Godwits were also seen at Invercaimbe and Traigh during the last week of the month.
Flocks of geese were seen flying over the area from the start of the month. Some confirmed sightings included 120 Greylag north over Keppoch on the 9th, 35 Greenland White-fronted Geese over Kinloid on the 11th and a flock of 30-40 Brent Geese over Loch nan Ceall during the last week. A possible Snow Goose sighting on the 11th when a white goose with black wing tips was seen flying high over Arisaig amongst a flock of about 200 'grey geese'. Also on the 11th , 9 Whooper Swans were seen flying north over Back of Keppoch and a pair of Long-tailed Ducks landed on the sea off Gorten.
Still quite a number of Wheatears, White Wagtails and Meadow Pipits passing through. On the 25th, a damp drizzly day, at least 23 Wheatears were in a roadside field at Invercaimbe. Merlins were seen on several occasions at Back of Keppoch and Traigh, a male Peregrine was seen 'stooping' at ducks on Loch nan Eala on the 17th and a Red Kite was reported from Camusdarach on the 24th. Immature Sea Eagles were seen over the Sound of Sleat and at Loch Eil. The Barn Owls were still present in Mallaig and Tawny Owls were seen on several occasions in Arisaig.
The adult Iceland Gull was last reported in Mallaig on the 5th. On the 26th, five Sandwich Terns were seen offshore from Silver Sands, Traigh and a single Sandwich Tern was seen close inshore at Traigh on the 28th and 29th. The first Common Terns reported were 3 at the mouth of Loch nan Ceall on the 27th. Great Skuas were back in the Sound of Sleat from mid-month and numbers of Puffins, Razorbills and Manx Shearwaters increased as the month progressed. Plenty Greenfinches, Goldfinches and Siskins reported from garden feeders in Arisaig and Morar. Also at Morar at least 7 Lesser Redpolls were at Niger seed feeders at Rhubana View. After the recovery of a colour-ringed Twite last April in Morar, another marked bird was seen feeding with other Twite at Back of Keppoch on the 12th. From the colour combination it was discovered that this month's bird had been ringed at Montrose Basin during the past winter and was the first reported sighting so far this year on the West coast.

A Little Genealogy by Allan and Elizabeth MacDonald (email: ealasaid6@btopenworld.com)
The Campbell Boat Builders Back of Keppoch

Last week we had a visit from two Australian ladies - sisters Diane and Pamela Robertson from Queensland. They are researching their ancestor William Campbell, one of the well known family of Campbells who were boat builders in Back of Keppoch for nigh on a hundred years.
John Campbell was born on Eigg in 1770 and, after moving to Back of Keppoch c. 1800 he married Margaret MacInnes, b. 1770. John and Margaret had three children. (1) Catherine or, Kate, b. 1811, (2) Mary b, 1813 and (3) Duncan b. 1816.
(1) Kate Campbell married my gg grandfather, Ronald MacDonald from Arisaig, b.1810, d. 1840 aged thirty years. Kate was still alive in 1891, aged seventy eight years.
(2) Mary Campbell married Roderick MacDonald, a seaman from Back of Keppoch, in 1840. In 1861, they were living in 2 Bunnacambe with four children, Margaret, Sarah, Catherine and John.
(3) Duncan Campbell was a time-served carpenter when he married Grace MacLeod, b. 1816, on 2nd February 1841 and they settled in Back of Keppoch where he was building boats. Duncan and Grace had seven children, (1) Ronald, b.1842 (See note 1) (2) John, b. 1845 NFI.(3) Flora, b. 1848, married Archie MacDonald, Bunnacaimbe on 8th February 1869. (See note 2) (4) Ann, b. 1850, married Angus MacDonald, Bunnacaimbe. (See note 3) (5) Angus, b. 1852, married Alexandrina MacLellan from Mallaig or, Morar and they took over his father's boat building business which continued till c. 1936. Angus and Alexandrina had seven children. Mary b. 1886. Flora b, 1888. Duncan b. 1890 (priest) Angus b. 1892, to be seen in the photograph of the last launch at Back of Keppoch in 1936 (photo in the Land, Sea & Islands Centre). James, b. 1895 was killed in 1914. Ronald, b.1897 was married to Theresa MacKinnon of Rhu. Ronald was severely afflicted by injuries received in WW1 and spent many years in hospital in Inverness where he died aged 93 in 1990. John, b. 1899. NFI.
(6) Duncan Campbell, b. 1855, son of Duncan and Grace, married Christine MacVarish of Melfort, near Oban and Old Cottage, Arisaig on August 18th 1885. They went on to have three children, Ronald, Colin and Mary who married Angus Macleod from Eigg. (7) William, son of Duncan and Grace, married Annabella MacKenzie from Traigh on March 9th 1886 and they had four children. Margaret, Grace, Ronald and Isabella. Their mother, Annabella, died at Isabella's birth. William and Annabella's second child, Grace, married Peter Stuart Robertson who was an electrician on ocean going ships Peter had been to Australia before his marriage. In the 1920s the couple decided to emigrate from Glasgow where they were living, to Australia where where they had four children. William, Duncan, Grace and Rose. Duncan Robertson married Kathleen McDonald in Queensland and they had six children. Margaret, Diane, (our visitor) Peter, Pamela, (our visitor) Francis Maxwell, (Max) and Iain.

Note 1. Ronald, b. 1842, eldest son of Duncan and Grace Campbell, and a tailor to trade, was married to Isabella Williamson, b. Kilmonivaig, 1848. The couple had five children. Grace, b. 1872. Joseph, b. 1874. John, b. 1877. Duncan, b. 1879 and Donald, born 1880. They had Campbell's shop near Arisaig Post Office. It was a draper's shop and employed three tailors. Grace, b.1872, married Alex. Thomas MacWilliam whose family had the Post Office at that time. We know that there was a Fr. MacWilliam in that family but whether he was the son of Alex. and Grace or, brother of Alex. We do not know.
Note 2. Archie MacDonald of Bunnacaimbe, b. c. 1836, was the eldest son of Donald MacDonald, b. Arisaig 1787 and his wife Ann, b. Glenelg, in 1804. Archie's siblings were, Ann, b.1838 and John, b. 1844. The census record suggests that they lived around Sunnyside.
Note 3. Ann Campbell, b. 1850, married Angus MacDonald, Bunnacaimbe, b. 1844, on 3rd May 1872. Angus and his parents, John and Sarah MacDonald, lived on the croft now occupied by Alasdair Gillies. Angus and Ann emigrated to the USA and had at least, one daughter who married a Mr Fuccine, combining the two names to create the family name, Fuccine MacDonald. They had five daughters and some of their present -day descendants live on a cattle ranch in Argentina.
Note 4. In the death entries of St, Mary's register in Arisaig, Angus Campbell, b. 1852, died on the 17th October 1935 aged 83 years. His son, Angus , b. 1892, died ten weeks later, on 30th December 1935, aged forty four years.

Notes on MacLeods. Grace MacLeod was the eldest child of Duncan MacLeod, Eigg, b.1780 and his wife, Ann. This family lived next door to the Campbells at Back of Keppoch. Grace's siblings were, Christian, John, Ann and William. Ann, b, 1826, married John MacIntyre and their daughter Ann, married Allan MacDonald, Tigh an Lòin whose son William was discussed in April's West Word. In 1861, aged 81 years, Duncan MacLeod was living with his daughter, Grace, in 6 Back of Keppoch. Widower, John MacLeod, son of Duncan, uncle of Ann MacIntyre, was living in Taigh an Lòin in 1891, aged 70 years, with his niece, Ann and William his g. nephew aged 11 years. The family croft, on the shore at Back of Keppoch, passed to MacLeod descendants who emigrated to New Zealand, returning after a few years, only to emigrate again to Australia, in the 1970s. At this point Archie MacMillan, late of Arisaig Hotel, and his wife Catherine, took over the tenancy. Archie's eldest son, Gilleasbuig and his wife Marion, now run the croft.
There are many present-day relatives of both the Campbell and MacLeod families in Arisaig today and the present Campbell family in Eigg is, also a possible connection.

A wee note of interest. There is a pipe tune called "The Australian Ladies" which was composed by William Ferguson and is a 2/4 march.

A correction to April's article. Our good friend, Bernie Chisholm, Port Hood, Nova Scotia, has pointed out that Angus L. MacDonald was never Prime Minister of Canada. He was Premier of Nova Scotia, twice. Sorry Canada and Bernie. Hope we have got it right this time or we will be hearing from you again!

(Editor's note: we also received this email from 'John' in Canada:
'This from the April 2010 edition, ..."Judge Hugh's brother, Angus Lewis, became first Prime Minister of Canada..."
The first Prime Minister of Canada, was a Scot, but he was Sir John A. MacDonald. The year was 1867.'

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