Lochaber Small Business of the Year 2015
Community paper for Mallaig, Morar, Arisaig, Lochailort, Glenfinnan
Glenuig, Knoydart and the Small Isles

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May 2016 Issue

Contents of the online version:

Top stories
Monthly news from Knoydart, Muck, Canna, Rum, Eigg
Railway, lifeboat and harbour news

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The lovely stone built development at The Old Quay, Mallaig, financed by Sir Cameron Mackintosh/Nevis Estates was officially opened by the theatre impresario on Saturday 16th April 2016.
A large crowd gathered to witness the event and hear Sir Cameron pay tribute to the local contractors and workforce whose craftsmanship and skill had produced such a wonderful building.
Sir Cameron was presented with a decanter, glasses and a bottle of whisky by Mallaig Harbour Authority Chairman Mr Charlie King as a memento of the occasion.
The Old Quay development, which includes a Bakery and a Pizza Crannog, also incorporates the Mallaig Marina Centre providing shower, toilet and laundry facilities for yachting personnel using the Mallaig Marina.

Sir Cameron Mackintosh (left) receives gifts from Charlie King, Mallaig Harbour Authority Chairman.


The happy crowd which gathered to see Sir Cameron Mackintosh open The Old Quay marina centre also partook of pizza and chicken from the rotisserie in the newly opened Crannog.
The menu has a range of eight pizzas from venison to vegetarian, whole and half chicken flavoured with salt and pepper, garlic and herb or spicy paprika.
The bakery is open 9am - 3pm Tuesday - Friday; 9am - 4pm Saturday; and the Crannog 4 - 10pm Friday to Sunday.

SNP's Kate Forbes from Dingwall was elected MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch at the elections on Thursday 5th May. She won with an increased majority of 9.043 votes and takes over from retired SNP MSP Dave Thompson.

The Jacobite was welcomed back into Mallaig on the first day of its 22nd year of service, Monday May 9th, with all concerns about West Coast Railway's safety management addressed. The suspension imposed by ORR was lifted on March 23rd.
On board was Lord Faulkner of Worcester, former deputy speaker of the House of Lords and President of the Heritage Railway Association. Also on board was Fern Britton, about to start a charity cycling challenge from Fort William to Inverness via Skye.
The WCR's 'flagship' was met by a crowd of locals and visitors, and a party of school pupils waved 'Good Luck' posters for Fern Britton, who had travelled on the train, at the start of her cycling challenge to Inverness via Skye.

Fern Britton, the popular TV broadcaster, was in Lochaber to start her cycling #Challenge 58 Highland Tour in aid of the Genesis Research Trust, a charity which funds research into the causes and cures for conditions which affect the health of women and babies of which Fern is the patron.
The 23 strong team of women and one man started in Fort William on Monday 9th May and will cycle to Inverness via Skye and Ullapool, a distance of 360 miles over six days, aiming to finish in Inverness on Monday 16th May with a fundraising target of £58,000.
The first leg brought them to Mallaig on Monday 9th May, with Fern travelling on the first Jacobite of the year. With them is Lochaber paramedic Alyson Stewart from Lochyside. A party of primary school children were there to wave them off (you can see Fern waving in the photo below).
In the afternoon they went over the sea to Skye on the ferry heading for Torridon and Ullapool on the day that Lochaber had the hottest weather in the UK - 27ºC! If you wish to donate text Fern15 £3 to 70070 to give £3 or visit the website www.fernbrittonchallenge58.com

Fern with Lord Faulkner beside the Jacobite.
Photo John Yellowlees


It feels like April has been a particularly long and busy month! There has been loads going on around here. At the start of the month we had Steve's 60th which was a brilliant night/weekend and a great kick start to the month. It was also pretty decent weather which made it feel like spring was truly here, so there were a few nights of sitting out in the sun having a wee swallie, appreciating that it wasn't raining and there were no midgies. It's a good month, is April (Well, if we ignore the massive whiteout that took us all by surprise last week…One week we're sitting out in less than 7 layers, the next week we're building snowmen. Bizarre…) Steve's party weekend was followed by an amazing gig by Dallahan, who were awesome. Such a good vibe going on! Lewis and Galen have also both turned 21 this month so it was a good party month!
Veronika's café "The Roads End" out in Airor seems to be doing really well, and it's brilliant having somewhere else to go if you want to go for a wee run on a weekend afternoon. The food there is also delicious! Well worth a visit that's for sure. The Pottery and Tearoom is also now onto its summer hours and it won't be long before evening meals will start again (June I think). The new decking out the front is proving popular and has increased the capacity (well, provided it's no pourin' with rain or black with midgies in the summer!). They are actually looking for a member of staff to join the team for the season, so if your reading this and think it might be for you (Great Craic and accommodation available) just go on to facebook or call and have a wee chat with Rhona or Isla. I highly recommend it, it's a good place to work!
Doune is open for the season now too, and as well as the Dining Room there is also The Galley on the Hill, a new venture run by Penny, who is opening a pop up style café for lunches and evening meals. I believe you just have to let her know you are coming. AND Morag and Bob are also reopening the Snack van this week! For such a small place we seem to have a lot of food choices at the moment! We're all going to end up fat by the end of the summer at this rate!
Oh and STILL on the subject of food, Kilchoan Estate are opening a new little farm shop up at the office on the estate, which will sell their venison as well as other things like cheeses, pates and oatcakes, chutneys and jams, milk and fresh eggs from their own hens. (The eggs, not the milk) The shop will also be stocking Knoydart crafts. It's all very exciting! What else….Congratulations to Mark, who was a finalist in the 2016 Daily Mail Great British Wildlife Photography Challenge and his photo of a dolphin was exhibited in the Strand Gallery in London. What a great achievement!
There was a craft fayre on the Bank holiday weekend, which I believe was a busy wee day. We have so many talented locals here, who all make uniquely lovely things, from cakes to walking sticks to jewellery to cushions… You're guaranteed to find something to take away!
Lambing is under way for Jo and Iain, and I'd safely say the nursery kids were pretty excited when Iain very kindly brought two of the little orphans in for a feeding session. One was already called Orca because of the markings on her face but the other was named Bluetack, by Innes. Too cute! It was a good day at nursery, what with wee lambies and birthday cake for Wee Victor who turned 4. Where does the time go? (I expect I will be saying that again in another 4 weeks when this column is due again!)
Have a good one folks.
Heather Gilmour

The big event for April was snow. Snow, lying on the ground is a rare event on Muck and for the winter just passed the white stuff has been completely absent until the 27th of this month when 4 inches fell; the first serious snow since December 2000.
How did the snow affect the lambing which by then was well through? The lambs already born appeared completely unaffected but those born in the snow were brought in under cover. And it has been a good lambing. A very low death rate probably helped by Beltex tups replacing Suffolks helped. One set of quads and nearly 40 sets of triplets certainly did. The down side has been 32 orphan lambs on powdered milk. Many of these were the triplets for a ewe is better rearing just two. The other problem is fields as bare as I have ever seen them on 1st May, though the ewes in them are all being fed.
The other event of note this month was the visit to the island of Kate Forbes, SNP candidate for a wide area in the Holyrood Parliament. Visits by political hopefuls are almost as rare as snow. Unfortunately I had already voted but Kate is a very personable lassie and I wish her well. I must warn however that a one party state is rarely a good situation
That is all this month.
Lawrence MacEwen

We wanted to tell you about our brilliant trip to Glasgow with Eigg Primary. We went to 'The Peoples' Palace' where we were given a tour and we saw the 'steamie' and the 'single end', and we saw some fly catching plants, as well as lime and lemon trees! In the evening we went and played mini golf and it was so awesome fun, but some of the holes were a tiny bit tricky. At the Transport museum there was a Victorian street which had one of every type of transport, including double Decker trams. We also visited a tall ship where we learnt about the Titanic and the P2s did a sink or swim workshop and the P4, 5, 6, 7 did a lesson about marine biology. On the Thursday we went to New Lanark where we pretended we were in a Victorian school. Then we went through the factory to a roof top garden with a fountain in it! In the evening we went swimming. On our last day we went to the Science Centre which was fantastic. The best thing was the space hall. In it there was every planet including the sun!
Since the holidays we have begun planting out seedlings in the poly tunnel, including some sugar snap peas and broad beans; we hope the good weather continues.
PC Hugo from Mallaig Police Station came into school and talked to us about the work that he does and answered some our questions. Thanks PC Hugo.
We also had a joint assembly with Eigg Primary, with Mr Murray, all about having a positive attitude at school. Eigg Primary also have a new student called Finn.
Hazel came into school and was teaching us how to work with clay. We had to work fast so the clay wouldn't dry out. We really enjoyed making our different pots, and are looking forward to painting them when they are ready.
We have also put duck eggs in the incubator and we are going to watch them carefully. We have a big net outside our school and we are going to cut this up to make our duck proof fence as we are going to keep them in the wild garden. We used the net to problem solve and measure and we did some scrambling through it. We also have some stick insects we need to watch carefully as they can hatch between April and June!
Muck Primary School pupils

Murdo and Gerry on the farm have been run off their feet with more calves and new lambs appearing daily across the island. The arrival of snow has not been very welcome, however it has not been lying unlike on some of the other islands.
The wild garlic is covering parts of the island so freshly made garlic soup has been on many dinner menus with some of us experimenting with different ways of preserving it varying from freezing it, drying it and, of course, garlic pesto!
The Canna Campsite has three new additions with the arrival of camping pods which will shortly be installed ready for the new season. It was a case of all hands turning out for the tricky task of lifting them off the lorry at the pier.

Murdo showing off his forklift skills with Gerry and Pete assisting

The first of the visitors have started arriving with several yachts using the moorings already and two visits this month from the cruise ship Stockholm.
Polytunnel wars have started in earnest with a number of islanders competing to get vegetables growing as quickly as possible. We have already sampled radishes and salad leaves. Some unwelcome visitors have made an appearance in the polytunnel in the form of the unique Canna mice who seem to have a taste for peas and beans. We have humanely caught at least ten of them and released them a considerable distance from the scene of their crimes.
Donald Mackenzie

The Canna Wood mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus)

Criomagan from Canna House
This month saw the sad farewell to the last of John and Margaret's much loved feline friends - Pepa, at the ripe old age of 20. She was Canna House's 'Little Shadow' and liked to follow all visitors around the House until she found a welcoming lap. We are convinced that she was actually Margaret Campbell's spirit, watching over us and making sure we were behaving! She could be found participating at our waulking song sessions and getting in the way of any stray architect or surveyor who happened across her path. She will be sadly missed. It is sad that she was the last of the Campbell's original pets, apart from the venerable Cairn terrier, Paxtu, who has lived with Magda Sagarzazu since Margaret's death in 2004, but it also helps to remind us that John and Margaret are still with us very much in living memory.


Farewell to Pepa

April also saw the Commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the death of John Lorne Campbell. He died in Fiesole, Italy on April 25th, 1996. His remains were repatriated to Canna in 2006 and is now buried in the bluebell wood which he planted himself. The Canna residents held a commemoration in the woods with song, story, memory and reading and the chilly evening sun shone on the gathering . "Bu leibh Rum, is Eige is Canaidh, Eilean nam Muc fo'r chuid earrain…." (a song collected by John).

Iain Latharna Caimbeul 1.10.1906 - 25.4.1996.
Fear Chanaidh

Fiona MacKenzie

A mad month of weather just like all our neighbours for us here on Rum with sunburn and snowstorms all within the same week. The real influx of tourists has yet to start - just as well given the weather, but we've had our usual university groups and walkers here during April. The swallow and cuckoo are both back and we spotted bats flying around just yesterday, all of which probably herald the imminent return of the midge but I'm trying not to think too much about that!
Lots of celebrating here on Rum - A surprise birthday party for Doug in the castle which was almost as much a surprise for the guests as for Doug himself as he came in fresh from the shower! He was dressed but he did duck back out of the party to put a few more clothes on! Our monthly community bring and share meal for April was themed Childhood Favourites - sausages, beans, jelly and ice cream all consumed with childlike glee. May has a theme of takeaway food and June will be food from the sea. May will also see our anniversary ceilidh on Friday 13th - hope to see you there with your dancin' shoes on!
Spring has definitely sprung up on Croft 3 with the first chicks hatching, a broody turkey sitting on a huge clutch of eggs and romance in the air for Bob the new boar and the assorted Croft 3 sows. Bob came to us having been injured in transit and was not looking at all good but seems to have made a great recovery and has everything in full working order! Seeds are germinating, fruit trees are blossoming and we can finally believe that we may get a summer after all. April saw our four year anniversary of arriving on Rum.
The three wee shops on island are all reporting promising early sales for the season - Kate's Tattie House crafts with her fabulous painted buoys, Croft 3 with its latest line of cuddly midges and Rum Crafts with new soaps - all on facebook so do seek them out and give them a like.
Talking of shops, Jinty's shop is almost unrecognisable after its extensive refurbishment, it's always been like a tardis - bigger on the inside - but now it's bigger than ever and even has aisles and shopping baskets!
Happy birthday in May to Ady and to Fliss.
Nic Goddard

As usual these past few years, April came in like a lamb and went out like a lion as shown by the five inches of snow on the 28th! Our kids loved that quick burst of the white stuff, but farmers and crofters were not so happy as the cold seriously affected lambing.
Otherwise, the month was one of festive cheer: Following our foot-stomping Easter ceilidh, Dallahan brought us a seamless blend of trad tunes from East to West which got us on the dance floor again on a night which saw many happy returns for our iconic Trust secretary and helmswoman, Maggie Fyffe who was 67 that night, with absolutely no thought of retirement, if some may be wondering. Other April birthdays were our American History society volunteer and wonderful yoga instructor Sadie MacQuarrie who celebrated her 30th at Damian's together with Catriona, back from New Zealand with husband Russell for a wee holiday in the old country: it was great to see her looking so good with her neat little bump and we wish them the very best when the time comes! More birthdays this month, with Hannah Morrison reaching the ripe old age of 16, landing at the same time a starring role in Sam Firth's new debut fiction feature. She could not have chosen a better young actress! Well done, Hannah! As to Maisie, what more could you wish for, a 7th birthday than a disco party at the hall! Fun was had by all, and as usual, Maggie Carr (aged 6)bossed old and young into doing an impromptu session of hilarious Maggie Yoga: we old yins, have potential, she says, but we need to keep trying…
With half of the Jobson family having finally managed to move to the island (other half to follow in July), young Finn and fellow Eigg Primary pupil Dylan went on their outward bound adventure which features not a few dips in the loch! Rather them than me, but it's all character-forming!
Other character-forming activities on Eigg have been the training for the Morar and Mallaig half marathon: with Larraine, Sadie, Tamsin and Katrine going for it all guns blazing! Here's to Eigg girl-power! I'll drink a freshly made green smoothie to you all!
Cycling to make your own green smoothie (made with Eigg's fresh ramsons, dandelions, comfrey, nettle etc alongside more exotic ingredients such as avocados and pears) will be on offer as part of the extensive health fair programme scheduled to coincide with the opening of the new Small Isles Surgery (if it gets finished in time, that is) which will see the visit of guests from the NUKA foundation, the inspiration behind the current Small Isles medical provisions. Meanwhile inspiration for static cycling: young Eve and Jocelyn on Rum (12 or 13 years of age between them) who I was able to witness pedalling furiously outside the Rum shop - "doing their cyclexercise", when I went for a wee sailing recky with Selkie skipper Celia prior to June expeditions there. More aerobic exercise and slightly less healthy beverages were also on offer in the middle of the month, when an island ceilidh massive was held to celebrate the marriage of Frances Carr to Stephen Nelson, on the week-end of their son's Colm's first birthday. It was a marvellously relaxed occasion, with plenty of handsome kilts, suits and dresses around and a radiant bride, resplendent in her dress complete with silk lace shawl of course, made by Jenny our lace knitting genie. The Navy blue colour scheme suited bridesmaids Amy, Joanne, Bryony and Maggie to absolute perfection. The wedding band, Fras, was the perfect entertainers and kept everyone dancing to the small hours. Great auntie Chrissie totally approved and showed she could do free style like the best of them. Dad of the bride, Colin went all emotional but this thankfully cut the formalities to a very minimum, just as the married couple wished! A great night altogether, thank you Frances and Stephen and all the best from all of us. Enjoy your honeymoon trip to the States when it comes…
Camille Dressler

Morar Community Council recently conducted a survey among local residents suggesting a number of sites for a Highland Council bus shelter in the village and asking them to submit their preferred one.
80% of the returned surveys were in favour of placing it at the bottom of the hill somewhere in front of the Columba Road houses before reaching Morar Motors.
Thee is also be a bus shelter planned for land outside Tioram once the landowner has been consulted.
An exciting new concept for the Morar River estuary has been suggested by artist Bruce Munro, which has met with the approval of the Community Council. Bruce specialises in light installations in landscapes which are ephemeral, time based pieces recorded with film and still photography.
Bruce was on holiday in the area in the first week of May and he and his wife were captivated by the raw beauty of the Morar Estuary. He has sought the Community Council's approval because, he says, he endeavours not to impose his art on people and places. Depending on permission from the landowner, Nevis Estate, the installation would be in place for ten days and will be powered by 12v batteries. It will take a couple of years for the prototype to be designed and tested 'on a quiet estuary in the south west' before installation on the Morar estuary.
Bruce says "The inspiration of this project came from a visit to Uluru (Ayres Rock) in central Australia. It's based on the belief that all time, past, present and future is interlinked. Morar sang out to me, just as the Rock did.'
You can see Bruce's work on his website www.brucemunro.co.uk

Tarbet Challenge
As promised, it's happening again
Sunday 14th August 2016
This event takes place in the Mallaig & Morar area and consists of a 7 mile walk along the shores of the famous and beautiful Loch Morar, arriving at the remote township of Tarbet on Loch Nevis. The Western Isles passenger ferry then picks everyone up returning to Mallaig after a cruise down the loch lasting approximately one and a half hour, a great chance to do some sea life spotting. On arrival at the pier in Mallaig we will be met by young local piper Nathan Ritchie who will lead the way to the Chlachain Bar where you will provided with fish suppers and a pint where we will also be treated to young local folk band Maratime for a wee ceilidh.
Huge thanks once again to all who took part in our first ever Tarbet Challenge last year, hope to see you all again this year. Last year we raised £1390.15! Massive thanks to all our contributors and supporters, your continued support is invaluable. Tarbet Challenge on Facebook

Isabel MacPhee from Caol is a well known face in our area, having given donations many local charities in the past, rhe RNLI among them. She raises the money from her raffles, which always feature on her table at the Arisaig Produce Fairs.
The latest big raffle is for a beautiful basket of baby items, all donated by Isabel, to raise money for the Cuddle Cot Appeal.
There is a Cuddle Cot in the Belford Hospital but another is needed in the community. The cots allow parents and family members to spend time with their babies after they have died or are stillborn. Angel Wings, a baby and child support group is fundraising for a cot which will be held by John McLellan funeral directors to be taken to a home when needed.
Donations can be sent or handed in to Scott Greenlees at the funeral director's premises in Dudley Road, Fort William.
Isabel McPhee handed over a donation of £60 for Arisaig Primary School to teacher Muriel MacDougall at the April Produce Fair in Arisaig. She also gave West Word a donation of £100 at the same event.
In front of Muriel is the baby basket, tied with a bow, which is being raffled for the Cuddle Cot appeal. It is full of baby toiletries donated by Isabel herself and baby clothes she has knitted.


Arisaig Highland Games celebrates its 80th birthday this year, we are looking for any items you may have associated with these historical past years of Arisaig's Highland Games; photographs, stories regarding the history of the games and of the competitors/committees of the past.
We would be grateful for anything that we could collate into a display to put on show at the games this year for everyone to see, not only for the locals but worldwide visitors are extremely interested in our history.
We can return anything you may be able to loan and look forward to hearing your tales of games of yesteryear, characters and even of old events that were held which are no longer associated with highland games.
Please contact the games committee through
info@arisaighighlandgames.co.uk or (01687) 450 381, Claire / Gus Cameron

Martine Wagenaar in Arisaig has been testing out a new 'recipe' she found on the internet.
She says 'I'm not a 100% sure yet, but I've been using a 'new' anti deer spray and it seems to work. The gunnera across the road and the tulips in the garden have been the deer's favourite food for many years. But these nights, when we watch them, usually numbering about 15 or so, they munch everything across the road, apart from the stuff that I've sprayed with this amazing spray. Even more amazing is that you make it yourself and it is very cheap too. The ingredients sound ridiculous, but you don't see me laughing.'
Recipe: One egg yoke + one tablespoon of baking powder + one litre of water. Mix well and spray on the deer's favourites. Keep the rest in the fridge.'
If this really does works, there'll be many people grateful to you Martine! Let's have some feedback if folk try it...


'Spring' in Mallaig brings forth railway 'Specials'
Although it hasn't felt like Spring (four inches of snow in Mallaig and Arisaig last Thursday, 28th April!) we have started to see some interesting 'Specials' visiting our area. A Statesman Rail touring train from London arrived first, followed by Pathfinder Tours' 'Spring West Highlander' and, to date, two 'Belmond Royal Scotsman' four day 'Western' journeys from Edinburgh. Although the weather did not always ensure a sunny/warm arrival, with bitter northerly winds at times, it did not dampen the good spirits of the guests. It's good to see visiting 'Specials' still willing to come to our area, bearing in mind that the scenery is magnificent whatever the weather. I was on the Pathfinder tour which had started at Eastleigh, Hampshire, an everyone on board marvelled at the scenery and the welcome they received. A big thank you to all the businesses which opened on the Saturday evening to welcome them. As a special bonus, a pair of DRS Class 37's was used throughout the whole four days. These vintage locomotives are still a firm favourite with rail travellers despite being fifty years old. The photographers and sound recordists were all over the hills throughout the journey, and the snownand deer showed Corrour and Rannoch off to perfection.

Class 37 No 37610 at Arisaig with the Spring West Highlander

Class 37 locomotives at Fort William
On Monday May 2nd, a Class 73 No. 73966 (see photo) arrived into Fort William Station from Polmadie for crew training on coupling/uncoupling prior to these locomotives being used on Serco's Caledonian Sleeper. As soon as training is complete the currently used Class 67's, hired in from D B Cargo, will be released and the Class 73's will be the future motive power, leased from GB Railfreight.


2nd Generation RETB almost complete
The refurbishment of RETB (Radio Electronic Token Block) signalling equipment is now nearly complete, and all the Class 156 units have been fitted with new digital, dedicated channel radios. Visiting locomotives are having to use 'portable' RETB units until they receive their dedicated radio and new National Radio Network number.
At a future date, with space permitting, I hope to write more about the RETB refurbishment and how it works.

New Staff for Mallaig Depot
Currently Staff training/Route Learning activities are taking place to enable two new conductors and one driver to work out of Mallaig.
Kevin MacMillan is currently training as a conductor and is the third generation of his family to work on the Railway (no pressure there then, Kevin!). Moved into the area from Oban are Caren McPate, also training as a conductor, and her partner Gavin Bell who is training to be a Driver on our line, having previously been a Driver on the Oban line. Good luck and welcome to all three of you.

The 2016 Jacobite Season Commences
Monday May 9th is the start date of the much looked forward to Jacobite Steam Train service operating between Fort William and Mallaig, Monday to Friday. Into Mallaig at 12.25pm and departing at 2.10pm - locals, adjust your shopping times accordingly!
One week later, on Monday May 16th, the afternoon Jacobite commences Monday to Friday; into Mallaig at 4.40pm and departing at 6.38pm. I have leaflets/timetables available. If required, contact me on 01687 462189.

Lord Faulkner of Worcester with Sonia in Mallaig on the first day of the Jacobite season. Photo John Yellowlees

Touring Trains into Mallaig in May
The Belmond Royal Scotsman is due in on Saturdays 7th and 21st. The Scottish Railway Preservation Society also visits us on Saturday May 21st in the afternoon.

Book Review and Competition
My reading choice this month is Scottish Railway Icons - Central Belt to the Borders, published by Amberley Press. Chris Hogg (previous Head of Photography at the National Rail Museum, York) has collaborated with Lynn Patrick to co-author this book, which alphabetically celebrates in photographs and text, the heritage and legacy of their choice of Scottish Railway icons, stations, viaducts, buildings etc. bringing their stories to light. Available at £14.99, ISBN 978-1-4456-2109-8, it is well researched, engaging, a good read and I have a copy to give away!
Competition: Name the two authors - it's that simple. Postcard please to Sonia Cameron, Fasgadh, 5 Marine Place, Mallaig, Inverness-shire PH41 4RD by the closing date of May 28th when I will draw the winner. Good Luck!
Last month's draw, to win a copy of Ann Glen's book The Waverley Route: its Heritage and Revival, was won by Susan Fraser from Kilmarnock. No local entries received!

When travelling between Mallaig and Fort William by train, try to spot the location at each station (except Arisaig and Glenfinnan at the time of writing) of the new circular/dome shaped CCTV cameras and give a wave! It will make someone happy!!
See you on the train
Sonia Cameron

Bear Scotland has been commissioned by Transport Scotland to replace the bridges over the Ranochan and Arieniskill watercourses on the A830 Mallaig to Fort William trunk road. The bridges are situated 7 and 9 miles west of Glenfinnan.
The work will commence at the end of May 2016 and it is anticipated they will take six months to complete.
During construction the carriageway will be restricted to single lane with temporary road diversions. Traffic will be controlled by traffic lights.


Sinking in Harbour
On Saturday 30th of April the local trawler Alex C BRD18 sunk when berthed at Mallaig Harbour.
Thankfully there was no one on board at the time of the incident.
The Authority is indebted to all who helped alert the authorities and helped deal with the emergency situation.
The Harbour workforce aided and abetted by volunteers deployed beams around the vessel to contain any oil/fuel leakage from the vessel, secured the vessel to the pier, monitored the situation regularly and kept MCA Coastguard informed with regular updates.
The vessel was lifted upright on Friday 6th May and in the early hours of Saturday morning was relocated to Lovat Beach.



New Wellboat
The official naming ceremony for the new 70 metre well boat Ronja Challenger took place in Norway on Friday 29th April. The vessel, owned by Solvtrans and leased to Marine Harvest then docked at Mallaig Harbour on Tuesday 3rd May after completing her maiden voyage.
It is expected that the Ronja Challenger will replace the Ronja Pioneer which has been working out of Mallaig for the past several years.
Robert MacMillan
01687 462154

Mallaig Fishermen's Co-op Donate Defibrillator
Staff of Mallaig & District Swimming Pool and Leisure Centre are delighted to have been donated a new portable defibrillator unit by Mallaig Fishermen's Co-op. All the boats in the Co-op - Aubretia, Caralisa, Contest, Coquet Light, Ocean Trust, Rebecca Janeen and the Silver Dawn, contributed to the purchasing of the unit. This is an invaluable piece of lifesaving equipment for the community. The unit is situated at the entrance to the swimming pool and is available 24 hours a day for anybody who needs it in an emergency. It is a very simple and easy to use piece of equipment which could save a life. So a sincere thank you to the Mallaig Fishermen's Co-op.
Tony Kenning the Chair of the Fishermen's Co-op (right) is pictured here handing over the defibrillator to Brian O'Rourke, the Centre Manger. Members of the 'Wise Craic' active lunch club, show their appreciation and hope they will not need to use the unit in the near future if they keep active!


I much appreciated the polite and courteous tone of Tom Bryan-Brown 's response to our Small Isles CC statement in the March Issue.
We certainly would be happy to enter in a dialogue about winter shelter.
However, we need to reiterate the need to consider the reasons why the MPA was set up in the first place, which is to protect the current relict population of fan mussels at the bottom of the Sound of Canna.
The distribution of fan mussels appears to been formerly far wider and Small Isles Community members report that fishing vessels tied up at Canna pier used to regularly land examples of fan mussels in the early 2000s that they had dredged up. This indicates that fan mussels are not immune to fishing pressure and that there would be scope for recovery if the protected zone were to extend beyond their current limited distribution. Indeed in some areas, fan mussels have been reported in quite shallow depths.
So Tom is quite right that prawn trawling is more of a threat to fan mussels than scallop dredging because it focusses on deep mud areas, which seems to be their main current distribution. However the MPA is also set up to protect a number of other priority marine features that are seriously impacted by scallop dredging, and this is why we are not prepared to agree to any compromise on that issue.
Reading recently the beautifully produced interpretation panels for the Mallaig Harbour, the final words relating to the resilience of the Mallaig community in the last panel struck me deeply: If resilience is the capacity to adapt to change, then, my suggestion is that the Small Isles MPA is an opportunity for Mallaig to embrace change again and, as the gateway to the future
Small Isles MPA, make the most of new opportunities that will come along.
In the meantime, since the Scottish government is looking at establishing Regional Marine Planning Partnerships, the Small Isles Community Council will certainly want to be involved and no doubt, the MNWFA will want to be represented as well, so it does make sense that we learn to work with each other in a spirit of mutual respect.
Camille Dressler, Chair, Small Isles CC


Wednesday 3rd March 2016 Fatality
An emergency radio call directly to staff at the Lifeboat station by the Knoydart ferry that they had located a person in the water close by to a drifting vessel close to the entrance of Mallaig Harbour. The Coxswain immediately requested Stornoway Coastguard to page the crew. Once the crew had assembled and the Lifeboat backed out of the pontoon the ferry who had recovered the casualty aboard and had proceeded to carry out CPR assisted by local fish farm workers who also rendered assistance from their own vessel. Since the Lifeboat pontoon was now vacant the ferry was requested to berth there by Lifeboat crew to allow easier access for Paramedics, Police etc.
Meanwhile the Lifeboat proceeded to sea and recovered the casualty's boat back to the Marina.
Unfortunately despite everyone's best effort the casualty could not be revived. Once the body was recovered ashore the lifeboat was berthed back at the pontoon at 16:30hrs and made ready for service.

Friday 25th March 2016 Fatality on Isle of Rum.
Following a request from the Coastguard, the lifeboat was launched to assist with the recovery of a body discovered on a difficult to reach part of the shore on the Island of Rum. There was a delay in departing for the incident as the two officers from Police Scotland who were to be transported to the scene had to come from Fort William.
Arriving on scene the Lifeboat was unable to access the area of the shore and launched the Y-boat to enable recovery. Two crew members, along with a constable from Police Scotland went ashore and with the assistance of Rum Coastguard personnel placed the body into an ambulance pouch and recovered it to the lifeboat. The Y-boat was recovered and the Lifeboat proceeded back to Mallaig.
The body was handed into the care of Police Scotland and the lifeboat was refueled and ready for service at 15.30 hours.

Wednesday 30th March 2016 Jacqueline Anne grounded
Launched by Stornoway Coastguard to the assistance of the Fraserburgh registered fishing vessel Jacqueline Anne which had grounded on a reef on the North end of Rum at 18:10hrs. Arriving on scene at 18:55 hrs. the Jacqueline Anne was found to be hard aground by her stern on the reef. Fortunately the tide was on the flood. The Lifeboat managed to get close enough to the casualties bow to pass the tow rope over to the trawler. The Lifeboat maintained a constant pull on the tow rope and with the aid of the rising tide Jacqueline Anne floated free of the reef and was towed clear into deeper water at 20:00hrs.The trawler's crew carried out their own inspections of the vessel and found no ingress of water and all machinery functioning as it should be. The tow was dropped and Lifeboat escorted the trawler for a while to make sure all was in order. With the Skipper satisfied that he would make Mallaig unassisted the Lifeboat proceeded back to Mallaig and was made ready for service at 22:00hrs. Jacqueline Anne berthed safely in Mallaig at 21:40hrs.

Thursday 7th April 2016 Kyle Rhea Ferry grounded
Launched to assist Kyle Lifeboat in the recovery of the grounded Kyle Rhea ferry by Stornoway Coastguard at 13:45hrs. Whilst the Lifeboat was pulling off the berth the Coastguard notified the Local Operation Manager that the ferry had managed to get their passengers ashore and that Kyle Inshore Lifeboat was attending on scene. The ferry crew were happy to remain aboard and await the rising tide to float the ferry clear. Lifeboat reberthed and ready for service at 14:30hrs.

Monday 11th April 2016 Paramedics to Isle of Eigg
Launched by Stornoway Coastguard to convey Paramedics to the Isle of Eigg at 11:05 hrs. A young lady had come off her cycle whilst descending a hill on the main road on Eigg and sustained a head injury. On arrival at Eigg at 11:40 hrs. the First Responder met the Medics from the Lifeboat and conveyed them to the location. Unfortunately the young lady had a nasty cut to her head which would require stitching. For this to be done it meant returning to the mainland onboard the Lifeboat with the Paramedics. The young lady was accompanied by a friend back to Mallaig arriving at 12:45 hrs. Lifeboat ready for service at 13:00hrs.

Monday 11th April 2016 Missing crewman
Requested by Coastguard to wait for low water and search around Mallaig harbour with the Y-Boat for a missing person. A crewman from a workboat had not been seen for two days and Police were concerned for his safety and his whereabouts. The Y-Boat carried out a thorough search of the inner and outer harbours without success. Y-Boat reboarded at 17:30hrs and Lifeboat returned to pontoon Police are continuing with their enquiries.
Jim Morton

BIRDWATCH April 2016 by Stephen MacDonald
A few more summer migrants arriving as the month progressed, although some must have struggled in the cold and snowy conditions in the final weeks. A male Wheatear by Millburn, Rhue, on the 6th was the first reported in this area. By the month end they were widespread with many birds still passing through.
On the 12th, a Chiffchaff was heard calling at Rhubana View and on the 14th the first Willow Warblers were heard near Woodside, both Morar. A Blackcap was heard singing in Larachmhor Gardens, Arisaig, on the 19th.
The first Tree pipits were back near Mains Park, Arisaig on the 18th. The first Cuckoo reported was heard in Bracara on the 16th, then the next report was near Beoraid, Morar, on the 20th.
A single Swallow was seen near Woodside, Morar, on the 23rd and another at Traigh Farm on the 25th.
Whimbrel on passage to Iceland were first reported on the 20th, when 8 were seen by Traigh golf course. They were seen in varying numbers till the month end, with sightings from Gorten, Traigh and Back of Keppoch. 32 at Traigh on the 29th was the highest count. Small numbers of Golden Plover, Curlew and Redshank were seen at the same locations as they moved through the area. Snipe were heard 'drumming' at Rhubana and Loch nan Eala.
A single Whooper Swan was on Loch nan Eala till the month end and singles of both Greenland White-fronted and Pink-footed Geese lingered with the local Greylags around Traigh and Back of Keppoch.
An Immature Iceland Gull was still around Mallaig harbour till the 25th at the least.
The leucistic Great Northern Diver was seen several times during the month at the mouth of Loch nan Ceall. Other Great Northern Divers, many now in breeding plumage, were seen along the coast between Arisaig and Mallaig. Black-throated Divers were seen off Camusdarach on several occasions.
Small groups of Redwings were seen in Morar and Arisaig till the month end.
A Peregrine Falcon was seen hunting over Traigh Farm and the nearby shoreline on a number of days and Sea Eagles were widely reported.
Both Twites and Linnets were reported from several gardens in Morar and Mallaig. Redpoll and Siskin numbers increased rapidly from mid-month.

Auntie Mary's Creepy Crawly Corner
Some of the references l use are from quite old books as the facts haven't changed and are sometimes explained more clearly in those tomes. This month here is some info. hot off the press! It is about current research into the mechanisms of how insects fly.
The following information comes from Biology News, University of Oxford, Issue 5, 2016 :
In one blink of a human eye a fly can move its wings 50 times. Researchers are trying to understand the workings of the intricate flight mechanism which allows this rapid motion. The difficulty in imagining the insect wing hinge is such that there is no consensus on how the wing even moves back and forth. Data so far, using high-powered X-rays, indicates that the exoskeleton of the insect acts as a complex, flexible mechanism, whose deformations are an essential component for insect flight. S.Walker is studying how the insect thorax is used to amplify and transform the small linear strains produced by the flight muscles, into the large, non-linear flapping motion of the wings.

Hopefully we'll get an update before too long. Meanwhile here is the "story so far" as learnt when l was a student and included in an answer in the June 2007 West Word.


How does a bumble bee fly when it is so heavy compared to the size of its wings ?
Bumble bees belong to the same insect group as wasps and ants. A characteristic feature of the Hymenoptera is that the wings are joined, on each side, by a row of tiny hooks on the front edge of the hind wings. At the base of the wings is an arrangement which we were taught to refer to as "the click mechanism". Energy is stored, by a form of compression - a bit like with one of those metal toys which emits a loud cracking noise when you compress a piece of metal and then release your finger pressure. This mechanism allows the Bumble bees to move their wings to and fro much faster than would otherwise be possible which provides sufficient energy for uplift and flight.
Dr Mary Elliott

References : Simon Walker article in Biology News, University of Oxford, Issue 5, 2016.
M. Chinery 1993 Collins Field Guide to Insects of Britain and Northern Europe.3rd edition.

We have a bit of a coup this month!

Here's a photograph of Patricia Wilkinson (formerly of Arisaig) and the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, reading a copy of West Word at Patricia's house near York! The Archbishop stayed with Patricia at her home for a week at the beginning of April during his Pilgrimage of Prayer around North Yorkshire and he was said to be thrilled to be featuring in May's edition of West Word! Patricia is the mother of Paula, who edited West Word for the first three months of this year.

Not Mallaig and Morar on the 28th April - our stalwarts went further afield for their snow. Colin MacDonald, Brian Ferguson and Willie Simpson are relaxing on the slopes of Verbier, Switzerland, with their West Word.

A far cry from the Mallaig - Fort William bus route! George McPhee - who took retirement recently from driving Shiel Buses, enjoyed a holiday to Florida. Here he is, in Orlando, with his copy of West Word. George says "Retirement is hard, thank you A830 people. Miss you kids."

Watch this space for extracts from next month's issue!
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