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

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May 2013 Issue

Contents of the online version:

Top stories
Monthly news from Knoydart, Muck, Canna, Rum, Eigg
Lifeboat, harbour, railway & crofting news
Local history

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photo Sheila Henderson has given us an update on Smokey the Superstar! Smokey (right) was taken in by Bill and Sheila at Traigh Farm.
'Smokey the orphan lamb, who was rescued from flames last month by Neil MacKellaig while on a call out to put out hill fires, is doing great. He is quite a character and definitely a survivor!
'Smokey is always up to mischief and getting into trouble. When not nibbling away at the grass or trying to eat the flowers he enjoys joining in a game of football and boxing away annoying dogs! He also managed to get up onto a low roof and looked quite annoyed when he had to be rescued - again!
'Smokey has a new friend Jo and the pair enjoy playing together, lazing in the afternoon sun and sleeping in the dog kennel at nights away from the foxes. We are all eager to find out what Smokey's next adventure will be!'

Lots of awards this month!

Volunteer of the Year
National Charity, the Fishermen's Mission, recently awarded Kenneth MacKenzie from Mallaig their National Volunteer of the Year Award 2012. Nominated by Fishermen's Mission Area Manager for Mallaig, Karen Calder, Kenneth was recognised for his outstanding and dedicated contributed to the work of the charity.
Karen says 'Kenneth has been a dedicated volunteer at the Mallaig Mission for many years.' Karen goes on 'I can honestly say that without Kenneth this last year would have been very much harder. His help, sense of humour and hard work have made it a lot easier for me. Kenneth is a key part of the Mission here in Mallaig. I am delighted that the Trustees of the Mission have chosen to recognise such dedication and commitment to our fishermen and their families.'
The award was collected at the Annual General Meeting of the Fishermen's Mission by Ian Gatt, Chief Executive of the Scottish Pelagic Fishermen's Association and a Trustee of the Fishermen's Mission who then personally presented the award to Kenneth.
The Fishermen's Mission is in the process of undertaking work at their centre in Mallaig which will reopen in the very near future. Karen however remains available to help both active and retired fishermen in and around the area.


If you would like to know more about the work of the Fishermen's Mission you can visit their website www.fishermensmission.org.uk or call 01489 566910 for further details. Karen's direct contact details are:
Karen Calder Email - mallaig@rnmdsf.org.uk
Mobile - 07917754407
Office phone - 01687 462086


Wonderland best entertainment
Lochaber band Wonderland-Arisaig's Steve Brown and Claire Innes, Fort William, were named the North West's Wedding Entertainment of the Year at the inaugural Scottish Wedding Awards on 22nd April 2013.

Quiz Winners
Arisaig WRI brought home the trophy as winners of the Annual Quiz at the AGM of the Lochaber Federation of WRIs on April 27th. Last year they shared the shield with Fort William WRI. Report next month.

Enterprising winners
Budding entrepreneurs from Mallaig High School brought home the top business prize at the regional Young Enterprise Scotland Company Programme finals. They will now go on to represent the Highlands and Moray in the Scottish finals in June.

Mallaig High's Outstanding Enterprise Team, who swept the board of prizes at the Regional Young Enterprise Scotland finals
- Peter Mathieson, Jessica Baker, Jess Cunningham, Solène Cargill and Bryony Kirk

The Big Foot team created a book for children, incorporating a recipe, which teaches children practical reading and numeracy skills in a fun way. Max the Monkey and the Choconana Cupcakes sold out of its first print run and its second print run is still selling well.


The team take up the story:
On Thursday 25th of April our team set off to the regional finals in Inverness at Ironworks. We were all high with excitement yet sick with nerves.
We were up first for the interview and that's when things took off, the whole team was enthusiastic and raring to go.
After our success in the interviews it was time for a practice run of our presentation. With a maximum time of four minutes per presentation ours was running at seven! Despite this, the team stayed calm and we chopped our presentation to make it even stronger than before. Unfortunately, we had the daunting task of showing our presentation first - in front of about 120 people! Although we were all nervous, this did not show and the evening continued to be extremely successful for us.

The winning team and all of our many awards!

We won the Serco Award for Innovation - £100, the LifeScan Scotland Award for best stall and the Christmas trade fair - £100, the Tuminds Social Media Quaich for Marketing - £100, the Harper Macleod Award for best annual report - £100, the William Grant Award for pioneering leadership - £100 and finally the YES Highland and Moray Shield for best overall company - £500! After collecting a grand total of £1000 we were all completely overwhelmed and ecstatic!
So what's next for BigFoot? The Scottish Finals in Glasgow take place on Tuesday 18th June; we're already planning our outfits and Peter's on the prowl for a new suit. Wish us luck! A big thanks to Alan Cargill for all of the wonderful photos! Thank you to Fiona Baker, our business advisor who was a great help in the lead up to the event!
And thanks to Jamie Kavanagh, our link teacher who was so supportive!

Not forgetting our award winning hotels:
Glenfinnan House - Highland Family Hotel of the Year;
Arisaig House - top Best Value in the Independent's Top 50 British Hotels
Doune Dining Room - 3rd in Welcome Scotland's Top Ten Remote Places to Eat

Photo courtesy of Doune-Knoydart, who say 'The USA has cow birds, Africa has buffalo birds, but we've got ..... '

Knoydart Music Festival 2013 - what a weekend. I think I'll be recovering for the next couple of weeks! I really don't know where to start…
I think I speak for all the festival goers when I say what a fantastic weekend! It was superb on many levels: the music, the drink, the food, the craic, the activities, and you know what? A wee bit of rain never dampened anyone's spirits. As Billy Connolly said, 'There's no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing.'
So around 800 folk arrived by boat (and some crazy enthusiasts even walked in!), bringing music, stages, booze, craic, toilets, food, booze, tents, fun and more booze. Although it was also very child friendly, with their own Youth Space set up throughout the day. Music highlights must have been: Sketch, Federation of the Disco Pimp, Treacherous Orchestra and Peatbog Faeries. All the bands were amazing though, and soon got everyone warmed up from the chilly wind outside.
Wild Rover supplied lovely burgers and curries each night. Much needed grub to line the bellies before a long night of drinking and dancing. The Tearoom was also open all weekend and we sure got our fair share of festival goers. A huge thanks to all our helpers over the weekend, it was the best Tearoom Team anyone could ask for and made what could have been a chaotic couple of days run smoothly and with good craic. And we even had boys working with us!
The crowd funding was a huge success in the end, reaching a whooping £1606 (107%)!! So thank you all who donated.
It was great seeing old friends again as well. Ex-Knoydartians included Sandy Sutherland, Laurie Barker, Layla Sawford, Catriona Fleming (with Sandy and Finn), Ann Marriott and Paisley and Olivia Walsh.
The clean up last Monday after the festival uncovered some weird and wonderful things, but mostly a load of crap. However, some bright ideas have been had in the form of recycling: the carpeting that was in the comfy zone and the Youth Space will be used for fire beaters, and old, broken tents are being cut up into usable sizes to make bags, amongst other things. Look out for a sewing bee in the village hall soon!
Now, I could sit and list everyone who should be thanked, but I would be here for a really long time as there were so many people helping out in various ways before, during, and after the festival. They all deserve a thank you and I'm sure they have all been thanked appropriately, but I think for now, on here, I am simply going to thank Jacqui and Davie, as there wouldn't have been a festival at all without them. Hip hip!
What else has happened this month... Stags and chickens have been hanging out together at Doune, Jack passed his driving test, Tommy went on a heather measuring course (the plant, not the person), Grant went tractor shopping, Penny got a new puppy, P7s went to Ardgour Outdoor Centre (I'm very jealous), there was a successful deer drive at Airor, followed by heaps and heaps of tree planting, and lots of Local Development Officers came over and had coffee and cake with Davie.
There was also a touching play in the village hall, An Evening with Dementia. A fantastic one man show illustrating what it's like for someone who suffers from the illness. Bitter/sweet, it was tastefully done and well received.
Other things to look forward to in Inverie Village Hall are: Friday 17th May "Zombie Science: Worst Case Scenario" - a tutorial on the real science behind a zombieism outbreak, followed by a Zombie Disco; Friday 5th July Sharon King and the Reckless Cowboys; Wednesday 17th July Mystery Juice (who played at our very first festival!). So save those dates now!
We say goodbye to some folk as Llion has already left us and Stuart and Julie plan to leave within the next few months: we wish them all good luck in their next endeavours. But we gain a new Ranger as Lewis has come to job share with Tommy.
We had some special birthdays this month as well, big shout out to: Morgan and Victor Elvis who both celebrated their 1st birthdays, Aaran who celebrated her 30th (in style with champaign and strawberries!), and to Jan who celebrated her 70th.
The community also send their love and well wishes to Mrs Morrison who isn't keeping very well at the moment. We are all as keen to have her home as I'm sure she is keen to come home. Haste ye back, and in good health.
And that's all from me this month, ta ta
Amy Connolly

Another month and for many on the island May is a month of change - a change of houses. Mary and Toby, Ewen and Judy, Sandy and Vicky and Rosy Souter are all moving to new, refurbished or just different houses and all in one month. Gallanach Lodge, the outstanding creation of masterbuilders KDL, is almost complete and will be open for business before the end of the month. So will Port Mor House which Ewen and Judy operated for 25 years before Mary and Toby. Sandy and Vicky after many months of work are ready to occupy Shepherd's Cottage. Everything is new except the walls and the roof timbers. Rosie Souter is moving into the Pod. And here lies a sad story. Pat and Gwyneth Murphy left us in April to see more of their family. Originally selected by Lion television to join the castaways on Taransay in year 2000, after twelve months they were bitten by the island bug and found it hard to return to life in Preston. Then came some years on Bardsey Island off North Wales. On Muck they lived in an original but heavily modified Taransay Pod and worked tirelessly to help where ever help was needed on a whole range of tasks. They are greatly missed.
So lots of changes on Muck and some of these will be very visible at the Open Day on 9th June.
On the farm lambing is almost over and it has gone remarkably well possibly due to the very large quantities of ewe nuts which must have enabled the ewes to build up their reserves. For at the start of lambing there was absolutely no grass and even now it is very short indeed and not long enough to feed the cattle even though the bulk feed is finished. Challenging times in farming.
Lawrence MacEwen

It was a big day on Canna this month as the Island received some important visitors for Lunch.
Prince Albert of Monaco and Princess Charlene visited Canna on the 6th April with 14 friends on the Bella Jane for the afternoon and we all had a lovely time serving a seafood lunch and chatting to the party. The weather was beautiful and we couldn't have asked for a better day. The party were very friendly and Prince Albert even offered to help us with the washing up. This was a wonderful opportunity for the Island and a great day was had by all.

Very exciting news as the Camus Arts centre has officially been granted its theatre licence by the Highland Council and we have a small programme of performances lined up for the summer. There will be a performance of a new Scottish play by the young playwright Fiona Connor called 'The Low Road' in August (dates to be announced) and an Illumination play based on the Lindisfarne Gospels to kick off the Feis on Wednesday 7th August as well as a new performance of a play with Gaelic music created by the National Theatre of Scotland about Margaret Fay Shaw and her life and collection of Songs.
Fiona Mackenzie the renowned Gaelic Singer who will be performing in the production and the team visited last week for research and creative ideas as well as planning out the space in the venue. The play is called 'A little bird blown off course' and will form part of a tour of Scotland and the Isles culminating with a final performance on Canna on September 14th in the Camus Arts Centre. More details of all of these performances and any others will be advertised on the Canna website in the very near future. Please contact Colin Irvine via email on camusartscentre@yahoo.co.uk for further information.
The Islanders enjoyed wonderful willow basket making workshops led by Alison Shaw who visits the Island regularly with her partner George Eddington who very expertly rebuilt the dry stone wall of an old blackhouse on Gerry and Murdos property whilst she provided expert basket making tuition. We had great fun and learnt new skills with some lovely and very useful baskets at the end of the two days.
The Amateur Radio Club From Kilmarnock and Loudoun visited the Island and stayed at Kate's cottage and began promoting amateur radio from Canna. They presented the Island with a commemorative plaque of their visit at the end of their fruitful stay.
Lastly for all the bird enthusiasts, a rare sighting of a Hoopoe on the Tarbert Road excited everyone as it's such a beautiful and colourful bird. We think it visited before if it's the same bird. It obviously enjoyed Canna so much it has returned.
Colin Irvine

An eventful month on Eigg, first of all the weather: after months of dry and still conditions, which put our renewables to the test - the 3 inches of rain we got overnight caused violent flash floods on the island with several homes flooded, rocks down our main hydro pipe which required Jamie donning a wet suit to clean them out of the holding pool, the bridge on Laig road floating away, bits of tar ripped from the road at the Bealach Clithe, and the track to the beach now so heavily gouged that no car can go down to the beach, which might be not so handy for our postie-beach dweller, but may help delay the erosion process already dangerously advanced there. As for the livestock, lambing ewes suffered greatly from the cold and wet conditions and there was quite a few losses.
Here is hoping for normal weather pattern to resume, but it seems unlikely....Meanwhile, Greylag geese on their way from Ireland to the Arctic overnighted in great numbers, swallows are back - on St Donnan's day - although the cuckoo, traditionally said to arrive on 17 April has not been heard yet.
We are welcoming the news that Chris Rumbold and Susanna Flack who sailed in to Eigg a few summers ago, have now become permanent Eigg dwellers, having bought Clanranald cottage. Sadly we had to say goodbye to Audra, our yoga enthusiast and latest West Word columnist as she has gone back to Indiana to resume her studies. However we are still keen practitioners, and continue to gather on a regular basis for shared practice. The Singing group is also going strong. At the pier, the long awaited improvements are being finally carried out: watch out for the brand new smoker's shelter and the new spacious craftshop!
As to Maggie Fyffe's birthday, it will go down in our annals not only as the day that Maggie Thatcher passed away but also as our first electricity-less day in the five years that Eigg electric has been operational. The problem lasted for two days (ironically coinciding with Muck enjoying 24 hour power at long last!), before it was fixed by our maintenance team, and it was a handy reminder of what life used to be like. Perhaps then, another idea that Eigg could have contributed to the Emporium of Dangerous Ideas event (part of the 'Future is Local' day organised in the Scottish Parliament on 26 April by the Community Alliance and to which Eigg was invited) apart from restricting the average electricity consumption to 5kW per day per household, would be to have a lecky free day once in a while to encourage people to reconnect with each other! All this playing of live music by candlelight was really great and did remind everyone of the good all days, pre-telly and social media when we socialised face to face! However, normality resumed in time for Sheena Kean to celebrate her 60th in style, with DJ Bean on the decks! Many happy returns, Sheena!
Camille Dressler

The second and last community croft on the Isle of Rum has been tenanted by Gav and Laura Copland, and their interests and activities ensure they will fit right in.
Gav has launched Mountain Leader guided walking tours, catering for all levels of experience from beginners to expert.
Gav also intends introducing 4x4 Safari trips over to Kilmory and Harris for a chance to see the Red Deer, Golden and White Tailed Eagles, the Rum ponies and the historical and geological sights of the island beyond the village. Special tours on a Wednesday and Saturday will fit between ferry sailings. For more info and to see what many visitors miss on a trip to Rum, search for Brocholme Croft on Facebook or email Gav at brocholme@gmail.com.


Gav introduces himself to West Word readers:
'To those of us who already live here, it isn't hard to explain why you'd ditch your career and travel north-north-west to seek a new life and a living out here, on the edge, where the mountains hit the ocean. It wasn't so much unhappiness in our old lives as ennui which set Laura and I on an adventure of volunteering on crofts up and down the West coast. Our first destination - Rum, where we celebrated our first wedding anniversary with a bottle of beer outside Jinty's shop - were looking for the right family to take up the tenancy of their last vacant croft, and just as we were looking for the right place to settle down and start a family. Having done some shepherding in the past and taught in outdoor education it didn't take us long, in our excitement, to write a business plan which might allow us to combine all our passions and interests. Brocholme Croft was born and in February this year we became the latest in a long line of crofters on Rum.
'And so it goes… approval was granted for a workshop up on the Croft for us to clip, clean and process wool. We're in the middle of building now, learning as we go the complications of deliveries from different suppliers through different agencies. A hubristic attempt to stay in tents on the croft was put to an end swiftly by the Atlantic and we re-located to a spare room in the village. We've started already offering guided walks and 4x4 Safaris across the island. We're busier than we ever imagined we'd be and already the island is become home in our hearts; helped along by the support and friendship of people who came to Rum before us, who paved the way and already know how things work and how to make them work!
'What a world the west coast is. I'd be lying if at times I haven't wondered if we're up to the challenge, but every day brings new confirmation that this is the place to be. Come over and see us sometime, as the website says: "...there's always something new to discover."'

News from the Isle of Rum Community Trust Ranger Service
Spring is turning into the usual funny old mix of conditions, as you would expect at this time of year, but despite the chilly flavour at the moment, the Rum Community have been braving the elements once more for the annual April beach clean. All worked very hard, so thanks to everyone. What a speedy and efficient job, we should go professional! Who said that the Dunkirk spirit was dead, and after a few barbequed sausages everything was achievable. I can't remember how many 1 tonne sacks we filled in the end, but at least six for sure, and a huge (it was massive) piece of plastic mooring rope that Sean (not the Rat) couldn't walk away from and leave polluting Rum's awesome coastal habitats. Booooo, marine plastic is bad!
On the tour front, things have been slow for this time of year (maybe something to do with the weather), but I hope things will pick up soon.As it's the Year of Natural Scotland, we've lots of events organised this year. Forthcoming ones include a Spring Flower walk on May 7th, the Biodiversity of the Rocky Shore guided walk on May 20th, and Jim Blair form Lochaber Geopark will be back again this year for our Rum Geology Day on May 21st.Please check out the events page on our website for more information www.isleofrum.com
Recent wildlife this spring includes the return of our most important biological feature, the manx shearwater. They were first spotted around the coast in late March and are now in full breeding mode as is everything else on the island! Otters (yes they do exist Nic) have been spotted on several occasions during April in the Loch Scresort/Caves Bay area. Our usual returning summer migrants including greenshanks, wheatears, swallows, blackcaps, chiffchaffs and willow warblers are back in relative abundance. A little more unusual was a yellowhammer on April 1st, ,a female goshawk on April 2nd, 2 Canada geese on the 6th,a lone Lapland bunting on the Dibidil track on April 7th and a grey wagtail in Kinloch on the 12th.Redwings, which are on passage migration to Scandinavia at this time of year were abundant mid month, when at least 200+ moved through. Our resident golden and sea eagles are sitting on eggs at the moment and during sunny days, goldies in particular, can be seen hunting along the main ridges. Apart from peacock butterflies, few invertebrates have been seen as it's been rather chilly. Early spring flowers out at the moment include common milkwort, lesser celandine and wood sorrel is in flower down at the South Side Trail.
Mike Werndly
IRCT Ranger Service 01687 462404

Arisaig Post Office faces an uncertain future under plans by Post Office Ltd to 'relocate' their network of small post offices.
Arisaig is a sub Post Office operating from its own premises, part of the 11,800-strong network of UK post offices overseen by Post Office Ltd, most of which are run by franchisees. Post Office Ltd, the UK state-owned network, is undertaking a major business transformation programme and intends to cut its post office network by 20%. Post Office Ltd is currently making a £40 million loss a year.
There are also 374 larger post offices owned and directly managed by Post Office Ltd which are known as Crown Post Offices.
Post Office Ltd is looking for franchise partners to take over both Crown and sub-post offices, not simply co-locate in the same site. However, the company insisted that the move was 'not a closure programme', and said there would be 'no compulsory redundancies' as part of its strategy.
Britain's largest postal union, the Communication Workers Union, said it believed the Post Office Ltd plan would mean cutting staff by 700. The union described the move as a huge blow to the network, which they say will effectively mean closures of Post Offices across the country. Tuesday May 7th saw nationwide strikes by Crown Post Office workers in the row over job losses and pay cuts.
It will no longer be financially viable for Arisaig Post Office to run as it has been doing as the income will be based on processing fees and will fall dramatically to around £5,500 per annum, plus £200 per month from Royal Mail for rental of a sorting office space.
A representative from Post Office Ltd was in Arisaig last month, visiting local businesses to see if any were interested in taking the post office into their premises.
Arisaig Community Trust is meeting a representative from the Post Office on Friday 17th May, at 1.30pm in the Land, Sea & Islands Centre. Members of the community are invited to attend if they are interested in the future of the village post office.

News in Brief

The weeks and months seem to fly by and now we are preparing once again for the Road to the Isles Agricultural Show which is being held on Saturday 8th June at Camusdarach, Arisaig, by kind permission of the Stuart family.
There are livestock classes for Commercial Cattle and Highland Cattle, and Blackface and Non-Blackface Sheep. There are also two classes for 'undressed' cattle and there is a beautiful trophy for the winner of this section, so please do put in your entries! The judging of the livestock classes commences at 10.30a.m. The livestock section is always well supported and we are looking forward to a good turnout again this year. Please telephone Audrey MacDonald on 01687 450267 if you wish to enter any of these classes and have not received a schedule. Entries are open to all on the Ardnamurchan and Morvern peninsulas, all communities along the A830, and also Knoydart, the Small Isles and the Isles of Skye and Mull.
The judging of the Baking, Handicrafts and Floral Decoration classes begins at 11a.m. Entries are taken on the day and should be brought to the Handicrafts tent between 9.30 and 11a.m. on the morning of the Show. We are hoping for plenty of support for these classes, so please bring along as many entries as you can. Schedules are available in local Post Offices and shops, or telephone 01687 450655 for information.
The afternoon's entertainment begins at 1.00p.m. with a piping recital by some of our local young pipers. This is followed by a fantastic act called 'Dingle Fingle', a professional clown act featuring a comedy car slapstick stunt show. This act is very entertaining and should not be missed. Fantastic family entertainment! Audience participation guaranteed! There will also be a sheep dog demonstration by Mr. Mike MacNally from Invergarry, followed by a parade of Highland cattle and a machinery demonstration.
There will also be the ever popular Dog Show, so smarten up your pooch and you could win a prize! There are prizes for both local and visiting dogs!
Dingle Fingle will round off the afternoon with 'Flower Shower', a super show featuring a fantastic flower with fun and frolics for all the family!
During the afternoon there will be sheep shearing demonstrations, a display of wood-turning, and a demonstration of chain saw carving. We are also hoping to have some poultry on show and for sale.
The catering tent and barbecue will be open for all with lots of good things to eat. All in all, there should be something for everyone to enjoy so please come along and support your local Show and we hope that you all enjoy a good day out! We look forward to seeing you there!

Five 'shouts' for the Mallaig Lifeboat during April - one of them, the incident concerning the yacht Janet MacArthur, was featured in last month's West Word.

Thursday 4th April: Launched at the request of the Stornoway Coastguard as part of an ongoing search for a missing hillwalker, the Lifeboat crew was asked to search the woodland above the shore at the entrance to Loch Hourn. Aerial reconnaissance indicated what could be red clothing in amongst the trees on the shoreline but Lifeboat crew found only two creel buoys that someone had tied to a tree above the shore. With nothing else to be seen in the area, the crew returned with the buoys and, with no further tasking from the Coastguard the Lifeboat, having set out on the mission at 1115 hrs, returned to station, was refuelled and ready for service at 12.50 hrs.

Friday 5th April: Lifeboat launched at 1700 hrs. to go to the assistance of the yacht Janet MacArthur grounded on a reef in Sandaig Bay, Knoydart. On scene were the local passenger ferries Venturer and Meri 3 and a partner yacht, Sleat Queen, which was attempting to pull the casualty free. On its arrival on scene the tow was transferred to the Lifeboat, but after a few attempts to pull the 8 metre yacht free, plus the fact that the tide was on the ebb, it was decided to abandon any further attempt to pull her off the reef. The Y-boat was launched and transferred four of the yacht crew to the Lifeboat but the yacht skipper remained on board and, with the help of the two man crew of the Y-boat, shut off all valves and outlets on board the Janet MacArthur. As the tide ebbed, the list was monitored and a bag of spare sails was stuffed under the bilge to act as a cushion between the hull and the rock. It was also agreed to deploy the Lifeboat's anchor to act as a kedge on the yacht broadside to try to hold her up in case the list became so severe and water entered the cockpit. Fortunately, as the anchor was deployed, the casualty settled onto the reef.
After discussions with the charterers, it was decided to leave the anchor attached to the casualty, and the Lifeboat returned to Mallaig, refuelled and ready for service at 1900 hrs. In the early hours of Saturday morning, the yacht Janet MacArthur floated off the reef unassisted and returned to Armadale for haul-out and inspection. Lifeboat anchor recovered from location.

Tuesday 9th April: The wind force was a gentle breeze at 10.15 hrs when the Mallaig Lifeboat was launched to assist in the search off the island of Skye for a missing hill walker. After searching for several hours to no avail, the Lifeboat returned to station, ready for service at 15.30 hrs.

Saturday 27th April: Lifeboat launched at the request of Stornoway Coastguard at 21.08hrs to go to the assistance of an 8 metre RIB which had shipped a couple of large waves while en route north to the Kyle Rhea Narrows. Fortunately the RIB had not lost power and was able to continue slowly northwards, but the skipper had requested an escort from the Lifeboat until he was up through the Narrows.
As the Lifeboat proceeded north towards the casualty, it soon became apparent that the RIB, maintaining a steady 8 - 9 knots, would be nearly through the Narrows before the Lifeboat was on scene. Consequently the Kyle Lifeboat was launched to meet the casualty and escort the RIB to safety.
Mallaig Lifeboat was stood down and returned to base, being refuelled and ready for service at 23.05 hrs.

Sunday 28th April: Following a request from Ambulance Control in Inverness, the Mallaig Lifeboat was launched at 00.36 hrs and proceeded to Inverie on a thoroughly miserable night with driving rain and strong southerly winds, to medivac a female who had slipped and dislocated her knee whilst spectating at the Knoydart Music Festival. Once alongside Inverie pier, the stretcher, Etinox and First Aid Pack were quickly transported to the campsite, but on arrival the crew were heartened that whilst the casualty was awaiting assistance her knee had re-aligned and, although sore, she was able to hobble to the landrover to travel down to the pier and the awaiting Lifeboat. The casualty (accompanied by her husband) was conveyed to Mallaig by the Lifeboat and transferred to the waiting Ambulance and taken to Fort William's Belford Hospital for treatment. Lifeboat ready for service at 02.00 hrs.

News from Mallaig Harbour

Yachting Pontoon
The Authority, relatively pleased with the uptake of berths at the pontoons last summer, is considering extending the facility via the placement of one or two extra sections.
During an operational review the requirement for an extra pontoon length (or two!) located in the south west corner of the existing structure was identified. Once in-situ this would enable all the locally owned small boats to be concentrated in the one general area and free up more space for visiting yachts.
The cost for the extension is being examined by our Engineers Wallace Stone and if favourable the new section(s) could be in place sometime during the summer.
We are also initiating the placement of a "walkthrough" or "up and over" ladder at the pontoons. This will greatly benefit crews from vessels using the moorings by providing safe access from the small rubber dinghy's onto the pontoon.
It is envisaged that the ladder, currently on order, will be located on the pontoons nearest the mooring trot.

New Fishing Vessel
Mallaig Skipper James Manson, together with his sons Jason and James Jnr. started fishing prawns in the Minch last month with the 17.9m single rig trawler Independence (right) which they bought from Scarborough.


Now re-registered OB 196 rather than SH 196, Independence replaces the family's previous trawler, the ex-ringnetter Margaret Ann II OB 198 which has been bought by Sean McNab of Ardglass, Co Down.

In accordance with the Modern Trust Ports for Scotland - Guidance for good governance, published by Transport Scotland, the Authority plan to hold an open meeting with all pier/port users, stakeholders and members of the public being able to attend. The meeting will be held in the Mallaig & Morar Community Centre on Friday 31st May 2013 at 2.15pm.

Pier Resurfacing
Work on the pier resurfacing contract is nearing completion and contractor Noel Regan & Sons should be off site by Friday 10th May.
The work has taken longer than expected and I thank everyone affected by the traffic upheaval for their forbearance and understanding.
Robert MacMillan
Port Manager/Secretary
01687 462154

Mallaig & North West Fishermen's Association The new Chief Executive Officer of the Mallaig & North West Fishermen's Association, Mr Alastair Skinner is welcomed by Association Vice-Chairman Tony Kenning (right) and Director Mark Robertson.
Inverness based Mr Skinner who served for six years with the Queen's Own Highlanders has a lengthy background in the fishing industry having spent six years on board the trawlers "Heather Sprig" & "Monadhliath" and sixteen years as a Government Fishery Officer in Scrabster and Ullapool where he attained the position of Senior Fishery Officer.
Mr Skinner (46) took up his appointment on Monday 8th April 2013.


On and Off the Rails

Network Rail Weedkiller
Wednesday 27th April saw the Network Rail Weedkiller train on the West Highland Extension. Comprising of a Windhoff MPV Master and Slave Unit, Nos. DR 98911 and 98961, the multi-purpose vehicle came into Mallaig mid-morning and, after a short break, returned to Fort William. The use of the weedkiller is part of Network Rail's commitment to a cleaner railway.

Photo by Steve Roberts

The Great Britain VI Touring Train
Great Britain VI Touring Train steamed into Mallaig at 10.50am on Friday 26th April. Starting in London on 20th April, it was Day 7 when a six coach train visited our area. Passengers arriving in Mallaig then transferred to the Coruisk for a sailing to Armadale, then on to the Kyle of Lochalsh by coach to pick up another steam train to Inverness. The Inverness passengers made the revers journey and travelled to Fort William using the awaiting steam train at Mallaig. after an overnight stay in Fort William, the train departed for Edinburgh. The Fort William to Mallaig train was hauled by John Cameron's K4, The Great Marquess, and driven by Jacobite driver Alex Iain MacDonald. The Kyle of Lochalsh train was hauled by Iain Riley's Black 5 no. 44871.
After an overnight stay in Inverness, the train departed for Edinburgh in order to join up with the Fort William section.

Above: Jacobite driver Alex Iain MacDonald with friends aboard The Great Britain VI at Mallaig.
Below: Great Britian VI at Polnish. Photos by Moe Mathieson

Latest news on The Jacobite
The Jacobite steam train season starts on May 13th. As I write my column, I cannot confirm the locomotives that will start the season. At present it will probably be North Eastern Locomotive Preservation Group's K1 no. 62005 and a Black 5 (either one of Ian Riley's or Bert Hitchin's.)
The times and fares this year are as follows:
Train 1: Runs from 13th May to 25th October, Monday to Friday and 22nd June to 22nd September Saturday and Sunday.
Train 2: Runs from 3rd June to 30th August Monday to Friday only. Train 1 Train 2

Departure from Fort William 10.15 14.30
Arrival into Mallaig 12.25 16.29
Departure from Mallaig 4.10 18.40
Arrival into Fort William 6.00 20.24

Please note: The morning train (Train 1) has a 30 minute stop at Glenfinnan on its outward journey (Fort William to Mallaig). The afternoon train (Train 2) stops briefly for 5 minutes only at Glenfinnan in both directions.

Fares: Std Class First Class Adult Day Return 33.00 £ 56.00 Child Day Return £ 19.00 £ 31.00 Adult Single £ 28.00 £ 51.00 Child Single £ 17.00 £ 26.00 Private table for 2 N/A £115.00

Group discounts are available - tel. 0844 850 3132
The General Information line for all Jacobite enquiries is 0844 850 4682.
For telephone bookings, use these numbers: 0844 850 4680 or 0844 850 4681 or go to www.westcoastrailways.co.uk to book online.
Bookings can be made by post. Write to: west Coast Railways, Jesson Way, Carnforth, LA5 9UR and enclose an s.a.e. for return of your tickets.
A fee of £3.25 is payable for advance bookings.

Should you not want to book in advance, just turn up at either Fort William or Mallaig Station 15 minutes before the booked departure time and speak to the train guards: Train 1, Florence MacLean; Train 2, Lachie McNeil. Occasionally tickets are available on a first come - first served basis. Please note: this does not normally apply to First Class travel due to the limited seating arrangements.

Should you wish to book a place on this year's Jacobite to celebrate a special occasion - wedding, anniversary, birthday etc - I would recommend you book as soon as you read West Word, as bookings start as early as December the previous year!
Seating in the First Class is limited due to there being only one carriage per train.

Special Trains in our area
May 4th sees the start of the 'Special' trains arriving and visiting our area. On that day the Scottish Railway Preservation Society come to Mallaig from Glenrothes, and the first Royal Scotsman visits Mallaig from Edinburgh.
2013 promises to be a busy time for Specials to visit us.
May 11th sees the return of The Royal Scotsman and on June 15th SRPS return to Mallaig with a train from Ayr.
Both of these train operators use West Coast Railways locomotives and train crews. With the Class 37 English Electric locomotives (usually requested by these operators) becoming increasingly rare due to their age, a new 'breed' of locomotive will probably be making more appearances on these trains. West Coast Railways now have a pool of six Class 57 locomotives to call upon. Although the Class has already made regular appearances on The Scotsman, the Class 37 was a favourite for SRPS tours. 2013 promises to bring some interesting 'traction' to our line!

Club 55 news
ScotRail's 'Summer of Adventure' continues with the announcement 'Club 55 is back - so get set for a sensational summer'. A good thought for all of us to feel positive about indeed. So, if you are 55 or over, you can travel between any two Scottish stations for only £19 return. Senior and Disabled Railcard holders also get an additional £2 off. From May 19th to June 30th, as many times as you want to travel, with a month to complete the return journey, you can go to your local booking office, phone 08457 550033, or go online to scotrail.co.uk/club55, where you will find ideas of where your Club 55 fare could take you.
One plan I heard of was to depart from Mallaig on Coruisk to Armadale, take a bus to the Kyle of Lochalsh, take the train from Kyle to Inverness (what a a scenic journey that is) and onwards to Edinburgh, and return from Edinburgh to Mallaig on the train a few days later. If you live in the area, your bus card can be used on the ferry, free of charge, so the whole trip would only cost £19 return. Remember to take proof of age with you when you travel. As always seat reservations are free.

Rail magazine
ScotRail's on board train magazine Insight May/June 2013 is now available on board if you are travelling, or when a train is at a manned station.

Employee of the Month award
I am delighted to report that Mallaig based ScotRail Conductor Isobel MacBeth has recently been accredited 'Employee of the Month' status by ScotRail for devoting her time at Crianlarich Railway Station during shift time to keep the toilet and staff room facilities clean whilst no paid staff have been available to carry out the work. As a result of this, Isobel now goes forward into the 'ScotRail Employee of the Year' nominations which are voted for by staff across the train operating company. The results are announced at an Awards ball in Glasgow each year. Good luck Isobel!
See you on the train!
Sonia Cameron

Personal angle
Looking out of my office window one sunny morning last month, I noticed a gentleman on the pier with what looked like a photo album, and he seemed to be looking for landmarks and comparing them with the photos in the album. This indeed is what Steve Simpson from Harlington in Bedfordshire was doing as I discovered when I 'accosted' him on the pier.
It seems that he had acquired the black photo album at a car boot sale and there was no indication as to who it had once belonged to or indeed who had taken the photos.
The album was manufactured by Eastman in the USA and the photos were placed in the album with great precision, each one with a silver inked border and each one titled. This album was obviously of great importance to the owner - it's such a pity we don't know who he or she was.
The black and white photographs are all good quality with scenes from Loch Morar through to Mallaig Vaig and even Skye. Mr Simpson was happy to share his photos and he also indicated that he would have no problem if I wanted to print them in West Word over the next few months. Here's two to get started:

Herring curing on Mallaig Pier

A crofter's cottage, Mallaig.
The cottage was situated alongside the road to Mallaig Vaig, close to where the Swedish Houses now sit.

Thanks Steve for the use of the photos!

Birdwatch by Stephen MacDonald
It was into the second week of the month before the first of our summer migrants were reported from this area.
On the 11th, a single Sand Martin was seen feeding at Gorten, Back of Keppoch. On the 15th a single Swallow was seen by the farm buildings at Traigh. The following day two Swallows and six Sand Martins were feeding around the hydro dam on the Morar River. On the 17th the first House Martins reported were seen feeding around the boatshed at Arisaig Marine, along with numerous Sand Martin and Swallows.
A male Wheatear seen at the Caimbe Bridge, Arisaig, on the 15th, was the first reported. Three seen by the roadside between Druimdhu and Portnadoran on the 18th were the next reported.
The Cuckoo was first reported on the 19th at Millburn, Rhue. Also on the same day, there were numerous reports of Willow Warblers from Morar, Camusdarrach and Portnadoran. A male Blackcap was seen in a Lochailort garden on the 21st whilst the regular female was seen in its usual Arisaig garden mid-month. A Chiffchaff was heard calling at Hazelgrove, Arisaig, on the 28th. Common Sandpipers were late with the first report being two birds at the Caimbe Bridge on the 24th.
The first Whimbrel of the Spring was a single bird seen and heard at Gorten, Back of Keppoch, on the 12th. A few other singles were reported until a group of four were seen on the high tide line in front of Arisaig Post Office on the 28th. A further three were seen the following day at Rhue. Small numbers of Golden Plovers were seen at Traigh and Back of Keppoch on various dates, but 22 birds at Achnaskia, Back of Keppoch, on the 17th were the 'Northern type'. Small numbers of Dunlin, Turnstone and Sanderling were seen along the shoreline near Traigh golf course from the middle of the month.
Small numbers of Canada Geese were seen on several occasions at different locations about Arisaig, Back of Keppoch and Morar. A single Pink-footed Goose was seen with Greylegs in a field at Traigh on the 24th.
Two Yellowhammers were seen on feeders at Lochailort on the 13th and Linnets were on feeders at Fank Brae, Mallaig, from the third week of the month.
A Twite seen at Achnaskia croft on the 24th was bearing colour rings, which on investigation showed that it had been ringed at Montrose Basin during the Winter just past. It is part of an ongoing study to discover the breeding grounds of Twite that winter at certain sites on the East Coast.

CROFTING ROUNDUP by Joyce Wilkinson
Crofters Commission Area Assessor and Scottish Crofting Federation Area Representative

Heather burning
The months of March and April were ideal for burning off the old white grass, bracken and heather. This practise has been going on during the dry weather in early spring throughout crofting history, and previously would have occurred naturally. The moorland grazing on the west differs from the grouse moors of the east as the peat moss is wetter but heather can become too strong and can quickly crowd out other grasses like sedge and bent. A rotation of controlled burning every two years will allow new grass to come through, and cattle and sheep will use the sward more readily with the new growth, providing more manure/ phosphates and some nitrogen . Burning also clears cover for ticks and if done early enough does not have any effect on nesting birds.
There has been a lot of bad press recently over burning, and a ban was put in place latterly. If burning is conducted in a controlled manner with enough people on the ground and by contacting fire control in Inverness first then it can do its job. The consequence of not burning would be letting heather and dry grass become so long and woody that the risk of fire is greater, at a time of year when birds are nesting and trees and shrubs are in leaf.

Richard Lochead gave an update on CAP to delegates on 17th April
It was heartening to see how he used the words 'Crofters' as well as farmers, many times during his speech
This would give encouragement to the view that those keeping stock in the west could be better of in 2015
The way this will happen is through an enhanced Less favoured area scheme, and an enhanced beef calve scheme
Nobody can guess at the Single farm payment figures until the allocation figures for the UK and Scotland are out. As a new member state as it stands at the moment we would be better off. But Scotland is arguing for a fairer share of the budget within the UK.
New entrants will be looked after and won't have to buy entitlements, any active new entrants at the moment should register their interest in the proposed interim scheme that could come into play before 2015.
A small farmer scheme suitable for crofters will mean opting out of a lot of the red tape and receiving a sum that could be £1000 or more
The SRDP which at the moment has no options suitable to crofters or small farmers is to be revamped. You can have your say on what changes you would lke to see by attending roadshows that are to start soon. Date and venue for our nearest area is Thistle Hotel Inverness weds 7pm 8th May. The meeting arranged for Oban on 23rd May is now in Tarbert Loch Fyne
CAP will favour the active crofter and the Crofting Commission will be working along the same principles.
Unused grazing shares that could be activated by other crofters could be assigned over on a letting basis. As it is at the moment an unused grazing share is of no benefit to crofter that cannot activate them .

Croft register and SAC
Anyone wishing to register their croft and having difficulty can use the services of the SAC Oban who will do it for a fee.


Noel and Patrick O'Donnell took their copy to Austin, Texas - or did they borrow Angela's!

Arisaig's Julie Wilkinson, just become Mrs Macaskie, remembered to take her West Word on honeymoon to San Franciso where she visited the Golden Gate Bridge!

Richard Lamont packed his copy in Arisaig and unpacked it on the Isle of Lewis when he visited the Callanais (Callanish) Standing Stones, recently made famous by the animated film Brave. You can just make him out in the drizzle.

Kin Connections by Màiri Éilidh Dḥmhnullach (Marlene MacDonald Cheng)
We welcome Marlene, a Canadian subscriber, who will be contributing occasional genealogical articles to West Word. You can contact her on mcmcheng@shaw.ca

As a descendant of the MacDonalds of Morar, the surname Gillie (or Gillis) has been intertwined with my genealogy for generations. Some time ago I set out to untangle those Gillies roots.
My four-times great-grandfather was Angus Gillies of Morar, Scotland. One source claims that Beoraid, North Morar, was his birthplace, but that might not be correct. Angus was born about 1755. His father was John Bàn Gillies and his mother was a MacGillivray of the Arisaig area, Scotland. Angus had two brothers who also came to Nova Scotia, John (also called John Bàn) and Donald.
As a young man, Angus became gille to John MacDonald, 8th of Glenaladale. He must then have been about 15 years old, and only 13 years or so younger than his master. Glenaladale was planning to bring a shipload of emigrants to St. John's Isle (now PEI). When the emigrants departed from Scotland aboard the ship Alexander in 1772, Glenaladale was not with them, nor was Angus. John was busy seeing to his affairs, but in 1773 he and Angus set sail for Boston, where they picked up supplies for the emigrants and then headed for St. John's Isle. Glenaladale was concerned about how he would support himself and his relations in the new land. He wanted to become involved in the government of the island (a lucrative business), but he found out that he couldn't achieve public office without swearing an oath against his Catholic faith, and that he would not do. Therefore, he decided to take Angus to Nova Scotia where Lt. John Small (promoted to Major in 1777) was recruiting a Regiment called the Young Royal Highland Emigrants, to fight for the Loyalist cause in the American Revolutionary War (1775 -1783).
The remuneration was good and the young men were excited about the prospect of fighting. John was registered as Captain and Angus as Quarter Master.
When the war ended in 1783, Captain John headed for Britain to tend to affairs, and Angus decided to explore the Merigomish area on the Gulf Shore of Nova Scotia, where others in the Regiment had settled. Before long he met the love of his life, Elizabeth Grant (b.c. 1757), daughter of Peter Grant who had settled in that area. They had seven children. Their first child, Ann was born about 1784; Angus must have been recalled for duty, because Donald, their second child was born about 1785 at Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia (a military base for Britain); Peter (Paddy) was born about 1786; John was born in 1787; Catherine was born about 1789; Angus (later known as "Squire Angus") was born in 1791; and Jane was born about 1792. Angus Gillies (pioneer) died 9 August 1835. His wife Elizabeth died 18 April 1825.
It is interesting to note that Angus Gillies used the name MacDonald when he enlisted, and from that time on he has been known as Angus MacDonald in all the written records of Nova Scotia. There is much speculation on this side of the water regarding why Angus changed his name. Some people say that it was because Glenaladale had arranged a land grant for him in the name of MacDonald. That doesn't make sense, because it is clear in Government records of the time that men had to apply personally for their land grants. A family legend, told by Angus (Gillies) MacDonald's grandson (Squire Angus MacDonald) to his daughters, Rachel and Dolena, is thus: A Gillis woman from Morar, Scotland, married one of the MacIain MacDonalds of Glencoe, and the couple lived in Glencoe. This Gillis lady escaped the massacre perpetrated by the Campbells under English orders in 1692. Her husband was killed, but she made her way home over the mountains to Morar, carrying their child. Living with her parents, she brought up the child as a Gillis, fearing Campbell vengeance on a survivor of the Massacre. When Angus "pioneer" settled in America nearly a century later he took back the original name of MacDonald that his ancestor had abandoned. I don't know if this story is true, and I expect we will never know why. After doing so much MacDonald genealogy, I know that it was common for people connected to the clan to change their name to MacDonald; it could be as simple as that. All of Angus and Elizabeth's children used the surname MacDonald.
Donald, son of Angus (pioneer), had a son John, whose daughter Elizabeth was the mother of my father's mother, Catherine Elizabeth (Sutton) MacDonald. Thus am I descended from Angus (Gillies) MacDonald.
Next time you will hear about Angus' brother, John Bàn Gillies.

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