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May 2018 Issue
Contents of the online version:
All photos are copyright either of the individual photographers or West Word.
PARKING CHARGES TO BE INTRODUCED IN MALLAIG
At a meeting on 2nd May between Highland Council and representatives from the business community and Mallaig and Morar Community Councils, it was confirmed that Mallaig is one of 11 new locations in the Highlands where parking charges are to be introduced this year. A further roll out across Highland region will occur in 2019.
The Council say their reasons for introducing the charges are to improve Traffic Management, raise income for Highland Council, and devise a scheme for returning money to local communities for transport related issues.
Parking charges, which may come in to effect within the next six weeks, will cover both East and West Bay car parks as well as parking spaces in the village centre; charges are yet to be finalised.
'It's clear to me that the Council haven't thought this through' said East Bay resident Sandra McLean. 'I am certainly not against the introduction of parking charges and agree something has to be done particularly throughout the summer season but why must locals suffer? There are over 40 homes around East Bay and I'll bet the majority of residents won't even know about the threat of these parking charges.' See page 8 for full article. Mallaig Community Council are hosting a meeting at 7.30pm on 9th May at the MMCC to discuss the charges - all are welcome to attend.
NEW COUNCILLOR FOR CAOL AND MALLAIG
Congratulations to Mallaig's Denis Rixson who was elected councillor for the Caol and Mallaig ward in April's by-election. He joins councillors Allan Henderson and Ben Thompson in representing the ward.
CalMac ferry disruption continues
The delay in repairs to MV Clansman continues to have a knock-on effect on CalMac's services between Mallaig and Armadale. Clansman returned to service on 3rd May, between Uig - Tarbert/Lochmaddy, allowing the MV Hebrides to enter dry dock overhaul. Currently MV Loch Fyne (36 car capacity) is operating on the Mallaig-Armadale route subject to a tidal timetable in tandem with MV Loch Bhrusda (16 car) which is replacing MV Lord of the Isles (49 car) until further notice. There is clear major concern across the network of islands and communities that the widespread disruption to CalMac's services is now causing severe economic impact as well as threatening the summer tourism season. Kate Forbes MSP has called on Transport Minister Humza Yousaf to find an urgent solution to the disruption to our services.
Kate said "I am sure the Transport Minister will agree that this is deeply concerning, and we cannot lurch from summer to summer with growing uncertainty about this route."
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
It's more than a year now since I took over as Editor - this is my 14th issue. How am I doing? It's always good to get some feedback. If you have any ideas about things you'd like included in the paper, or things you'd like to see changed, then please let me know.
A word about the deadline for submissions: it's always great to receive the bulk of articles by the deadline but if you've got something you'd like included in the paper then please do send it in, even if it is after the 20th. I'll be editing the paper right up until it goes to print and I'll keep adding items in until there's no space left!
As always my thanks go to Ewen and Morag for their help with the printing - and extra thanks to Miya for doing a double batch of envelope labelling this month.
Well April started off with a glorious Easter weekend. The sun shone, we had pizzas from Kira's pizza oven, The Full Floor ceilidh band gave us some great tunes and dances and there was a fantastic egg hunt organised by the ranger service, with an excessive amount of chocolate planked. I believe Robbie, Archie and Kitty held a grand total of around 50 eggs (and bunnies and stags…) Even the last stragglers managed to find at least 10 surprises! After the egg hunt the parent council was providing soup, hot dogs, cakes and tea/coffee in the hall, to raise money for new playground equipment which we hope to be able to get at some stage.
Inverie also held its first ever 24 hour ping-pongathon at the beginning of the month! Locals and a few tourists began at 7pm and ended at 7pm the next night, taking shifts to ensure that it really did last for 24 hours. This was in aid of the hall refurbishment and the event managed to raise £1,200 (approx) which was amazing!
Spring has definitely sprung now, with the place covered in cheery yellow daffodils and lambs starting to appear at Inverguserain.
A friendly fox has also been causing some excitement around Inverie, appearing up at certain houses looking for scraps. Apparently he's a fan of bread and bacon. It's VERY unusual to see a fox in daylight like that here, I've heard many locals say they've never seen one except perhaps in the distance on the hills. He must reckon his luck is in!
Exciting news on the landslide front - The road is finally officially open again! It opened just in time for Easter weekend which was handy really as the place began to get busier. There is still a bit of work being done but it is at least drivable now.
Congratulations to Cara and Nicki who've come annually the last couple of years (Wilder Ways Trekking). They just got married down at Glaschoile and it looked like it was a lovely wedding. They certainly got the best day for it weather wise. They will be here for a while (til May 25th) with their horses, offering rides to suit every ability so if you fancy exploring Knoydart via horseback (I'd recommend it!) then get in touch with them by email firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next time folks
ISLE OF MUCK
Though the hill is only just turning from yellow to green, many of the fields aided by a dusting of 20:10:10 and some warmer weather are bright green and full of grass. Lambing appears to be going well but we are only half way so I cannot say too much yet.
Out at the fish farm the salmon are all gone - sold; and the cages are going too. The plan is for them to be replaced by a new fleet including two extra cages which will be stocked at the same time as the new Rum farm. Everything there will be the same as Muck including the new landing ship under construction in the Netherlands - the Askaval.
Back on Muck the Craft Shop is now open though patrons are still fairly thin on the ground. A new addition to the stock are Muck baskets, crafted by Ed and very attractive. Speaking of baskets, Jenny is organising a basket course starting 4th May in the Hall. This is fully subscribed but there is a queue for a later course which still has space. Let her know if you are interested.
And finally a new addition to the community. I am delighted to announce the arrival on 29th March of Marian Tracy Mathers, 6'2 lbs.
ISLE OF CANNA
At the beginning of April we had a grandstand view from Canna of the wildfire on Rum. Thank goodness nobody was injured. Whilst it was spectacular we hope we do not see such an event again. It was a useful reminder to everyone as to how easily a careless cigarette end or naked flame can cause such devastation.
Finally a bit of warmth in the sun and the farm is pleased to see the grass growing again just in time for the onslaught of the main lambing which is now well underway.
The preparatory site works are well underway for the renewables project and we are receiving almost daily deliveries of materials and plant for the five contractors on site. They are finding the lack of a road on Sanday and the need to be aware of the tides a bit of a challenge. The good news is that work on the Sanday road should start at the end of April which will make a huge difference to everyone here.
Our community space, the Shearing Shed, has also had a makeover with huge thanks to A A Young Ltd, Joiners of Fort William, who laid a brand new floor for us in less than 24 hours. Our ceilidhs will be a lot more fun now we don't have to dance on concrete! A warm welcome to Nic and Gareth who have arrived to run Café Canna. We are looking forward to the opening night on the 5th May.
Criomagan (Crumbs) from Canna House
April has seen the first of the series of Canna Archive lunchtime talks for visitors in The Shearing Shed/St Columba Chapel on Canna. Archivist Fiona has devised a series of talks, all of around 30 minutes duration, on the material from the Archives on a variety of subjects including "Saving the Songs", "Portrait of an Island", "Contrast - a contrasting Musical Life", "Hunting Folksongs on the Hebrides" and "The Campbells of Canna". Fiona uses the photographs and film of Margaret Fay Shaw, the sound archive of John Lorne Campbell and her own voice to tell the story of the Campbell's lives and their work in Folklore in the 20th century. The talks are delivered on Wednesdays between 1.15pm and 2.00pm whilst the CalMac ferry Loch Nevis is in dock for 2 hours and are timed to allow visitors to participate as well as time to explore the island, shop and the Fuaim na Mara Exhibition on the pier. All welcome, with entry by donation if desired, to the Canna House Archives. Dates for talks are as follows with amendments on the Canna House facebook page or email Fiona on: email@example.com for more details.
May 2, 9, 23, June 8 (Friday talk), 20, July 18, Aug 1, 15, Sept 5.
Canna House garden is beginning to flourish in the milder days we have been having and even now provides a lovely, calm spot for a rest when visiting the island. While you're there, perhaps go and visit the last resting place of John Lorne Campbell in his own bluebell wood. John died in Italy on April 25th 1996 before being re interred on Canna 10 years later.
There's still time to book one of the last remaining places at the St Columba Symposium on Canna on June 9th. Titles for the papers during the day include "The Campbells, Canna, and Columba: Literary and Historical Connections", "Chapels, crosses and curses: the early Christian archaeology of Canna", "Aon Teanga (One Tongue) - Re-uniting The Language of The Three Gaelic Nations" and "O'er the perilous path of the sea - prehistoric island connections between Eire and Alba". More information available on the Facebook page or email Fiona at the address above. From the Carmina Gadelica:
Latha Chalum Chille/St Columba's Day
"Diardaoin Là Chalum Chille chaoimh, Là chur chaorach air seilbh, a dhol dheilbh beairt, 's a chur bà air laoigh.
Thursday the day of kindly Columba, the day to gather the sheep in the fold, to set the loom and put cows with the calves".
ISLE OF RUM
A busy month all round and a definite feeling of positivity is in the air.
April kicked off with the launch of Trudi's art exhibition in the village hall. It was a great night with free bubbly and Kim's venison lasagne which is becoming mighty popular with everyone including Jinty's new puppy Jake, who nearly leapt right into it but was snatched away in the nick of time. Puppy Jake is the offspring of Jock, who died recently and keeps the Rum Labrador line (from Danu) going for another generation.
Marine Harvest have taken up residence on the pier quite literally, as with accommodation all booked up and the castle hostel sadly still off limits, they have had to import portacabins to house the contractors constructing the shore base. Work is progressing at an alarming rate and rather handily we are getting regular visits from Spanish John.
Big news was the wildfire that spread along the north-west coast of Rum a few weeks ago. The alarm was raised by a phone call at lunchtime from Gerry on Canna and soon smoke could be seen from the village rising in the distance. As darkness fell, you could see flames and, from pictures from Mallaig and Eigg, an eerie orange glow around Rum. As the night progressed it did seem as though it was getting closer to the village but it remained on the far side of the Kilmory track. It went out overnight due to rain and was checked by helicopter the following day. It was an exciting night - we were inundated by messages checking we were all okay; if the wind had been more easterly, there could have been more damage and the fire might have headed down Kinloch Glen. This was the first wildfire on Rum since Dibidil burned back in 2000 (I think) and started in a similarly foolish fashion.
Meanwhile back in the village, Rum's new Heritage Centre is now open in the Old Dairy. Sylvia has been working hard preparing the exhibition of Rum's history, so please pop in Mon - Fri 12 - 4 for a look and a blether.
Local business is blooming; Croft 3's 'in the shed' has branched out into clocks; Nic has embraced the concept of 'Rumtime' and has come up with a selection of slate clocks with witty sound bites. With the reorganisation in the hall and Kim's funky new serving boards and menu, Rum Café has been stowed out and as Kim has branched out into evening meals, you can now get your tea cooked too! Fliss (that's me) is getting a luxury Shepherd's hut delivered later this month, which will provide more holiday accommodation; sited on the shore adjacent to Ivy cottage, it'll have a good view too.
KCFA launched their appeal for funds to help re-open Kinloch Castle (hurray) but with the bureaucracy of asset transfer taking so long, it may well be several months or even next year before they can start work. This is unfortunate news as it has been hoped they would be able to open on a minimal basis to house contractors this summer. In more slow bureaucratic news, the schoolhouse still sits empty, unused and falling into disrepair as Highland Council seem to think this is good use for it on an island with a housing shortage. Despite requests by us, our local councillor, our MP and MSP to rent it, keep it heated and house volunteers or temporary staff while it is not needed by the school, Highland Council have been on radio silence. Whilst the schoolhouse is not needed at the moment, it could well be needed once the cluster arrangements change next August and also when the nursery reopens later this year as we have no nursery teacher or anywhere to house them.
Lastly, it is 9 years since our own community buyout of the village took place, and to celebrate our annual ceilidh in the village hall will be on Friday 11th May - all welcome!!
Rum wildfire - update
A fire started accidentally in the north west of Rum on the 4 April. Due to the dry conditions and a steady wind the fire spread quickly. The risks of wildfires at this time of year is higher due to the amount of dead vegetation left over from last year. We contracted a helicopter on Wednesday afternoon to try to control the fire and the fire went out sometime in the small hours of 5 April, as confirmed by the helicopter which returned that morning.
The blaze as seen from the Isle of Canna (Donald Mackenzie)
We are grateful for the help of the Fire and Rescue Service who advised us over the phone and sent a crew by boat to check the remote Bothy at Guirdil which was close to the fire.
Since then we have started a review and have been assessing the extent and the impacts of the fire, and more information on this will be published when it is completed. Initial investigations show the fire spread over an area of approximately 750ha, and the indications are of a hot and shallow burn, which should help to minimise impacts to the habitats. We hope that there is no serious damage to the habitats, but we intend to quantify this as the investigation progresses.
Although the fire did spread over a large area, the majority of the island is unaffected, and so we continue to encourage visitors to come to enjoy the National Nature Reserve, the wildlife, scenery and the other attractions on Rum.
Ian Sargent, Scottish Natural Heritage
From Croft 3 on Rum (Nic Goddard).
ISLE OF EIGG
Great to see the return of spring greens: can't get enough of ramsons soup, ramson pie, ramson pesto, its electric green livening up any pasta dishes! Weren't the Eigg cows clever to go on the rampage through the pier woodlands and eat their fill of the stuff, so much so that islanders were turned off the first spring milk with its garlicky flavour when milk didn't come out of a carton or a plastic bottle back in the days? Now if it had been France with as many cheese specialities as there are days in the year, they would have surely made some kind of seasonal unique strongly favoured cheese? Never heard of any particular Ramson crowdie made to capitalise on nature's bounty - I will have to ask Fiona MacKenzie if there is anything on this in the Canna archives when I go there in June for the fantastic event she has planned - but it's probably a matter of time before some clever bod decides it's the latest in-flavour for gin: Green ramson gin, strong on the palate with a clean garlic aftertaste, fantastic with dried seaweed to add that marine top note .... If only brexit would not do away with local specialties protection in the UK, such a Hebridean combo could become another outstanding marketing success in the current gin craze that has seized the country.
Never mind ramson's traditional blood tonic properties, we'll soon have home grown oysters to feast on, as Stephen Nelson's application for a low impact pacific oyster farm at Kildonnan's Poll nam Partan has been granted approval and he is now ready to set up for business. It will take a good 5 years to produce fully grown oysters, but it will be well worth the wait! In the meantime, patience is the name of the game and Frances will be able to do a lot of the initial turning over of the shellfish growing on their low trestle beds before Stephen can work from home in a few years' time! Well done Stephen and Frances for a really innovative project for the island.
Quite unlike Marine Harvest, who might have thought adding the word organic to their latest proposal for Eigg would seduce us into buying into their plans; well they can think again as the majority of residents are still opposed to the idea of a salmon farm in our waters: the latest government report on Scottish salmon farming does not make happy reading as many of us have found out.
Meanwhile, marine plastics have been the focus of our green team's work: local champion Katie Miller, whose monthly beach clean-ups have been a real success, has mooted the idea of getting our visitors to help, and very soon we will have wooden bins for the two main island beaches where everyone - islanders and visitors - are invited to put what they have gathered on their beach walk.
Also on the waste issue, anaerobic digestion specialist, Michelle Morrison, came to Eigg to give a presentation on small scale anaerobic digestion schemes which produce biogas from food waste and sewage as well as other organic material. Anaerobic digestion is a bit of a science in itself, but Michelle is ready to offer support to any local initiative, so our green team is currently considering how to take this forward.
With the Easter Ceilidh starting our visitor season with tremendous gusto - what else could you expect from a band calling themselves the 'Wine Soaked Rag Ceilidh Band' - it also made for a very happy 18th birthday for Hannah Morrison and a memorable stag party for Nitework's Gaelic singer extraordinaire - he gave us a rousing impromptu example of his talent during Angus Binnie and Yogi's concert at Galmisdale cafe the night before - it's certainly not every day you have 27 Sgiathanaich dressed up as navy commanders stripping the willow...
Now we're looking forward to the visit to Eigg of two Miska Indians from Columbia looking at issues of land tenure on Friday 26 April. More on this in next month's West Word!
Last but not least, congratulations to the Canna folks for their persistence and hard work in getting their funding for their own green grid! Putting to good use the Atlantic gales as Geraldine puts it, is showing how the Scottish islands can be a real source of inspiration for other islands in the Clean Energy EU Island Initiative!
Knoydart's Ping Pong marathon
Knoydart Community Hall hosted a 24 hour non-stop 'Pingpongathon' early in April to raise money for the hall refurbishment fund. Residents and Knoydart friends took on the biggest game of ping pong ever seen on the peninsula and raised approx. £1,200.00! They've just had planning permission granted for the refurbishment and extension to the hall. Congratulations all!
Morar Hotel under new ownership
The Morar Hotel re-opened for the season on 5th April after new owner Ravi Raveendran took over on 26th March. The hotel will be open all year round and is being run by a management team with over 30 years' experience in the hotel industry. Manager Andrew Walker, who was previously based in Perthshire, says 'we have a five to seven year plan for the hotel, starting with redevelopment next year. We will be diversifying in to all market segments, and want the hotel to be a part of the village - a local bar.'
The bar is open to all from midday - 11pm every day with bar meals available from 12-8pm. The dining room is open for lunch from 12-2pm and for dinners from 6-9pm.
Expansion plans for Isle of Muck Salmon Farm
Marine Harvest has submitted an application to Highland Council to increase production at its salmon farm off the Isle of Muck.
The farm was opened in 2014 as part of an £80 million expansion which has seen the creation of a series of larger "open sea" sites. The opening of the farm created six full time permanent jobs on the island with a major element of the original plans the construction of new houses to accommodate staff. Now the company hopes to increase production at the farm and, in the process, employ three more people.
The changes to the farm would involve moving the equipment nearer to the shore and extending the moorings boundary 75m to the northwest. Two new farm pens would be added, with the same design as the existing equipment. This would allow for an increase in production from 2,500 to 3,500 tonnes.
The existing salmon farm consists of 10 circular pens, each one 120m in diameter. Up to 4,000 tonnes of fresh salmon have been grown in the pens every two years. The 300 tonne feed barge was built in Inverness by Gael Force Marine.
Isle of Eigg Trail Running Retreat
Those four glorious days of sunshine we experienced in late April came at exactly the right time for the inaugural Isle of Eigg Trail Running Retreat. Katrin Bach of Eiggy Bread and I (Laraine Wyn-Jones of Eigg Adventures) worked hard for over a year, planning and arranging the ladies only retreat to encourage people to come to the island and share our love of running on the amazing trails we have here on Eigg.
During the four days on the island, 18 ladies joined us and covered nearly 30 miles across and around the island, running through forest, across beaches, up cliffs and over boggy moorland, a brand-new experience for many of them! We roped in several members of the Eigg Run Club into working as run leaders with us, so huge thanks to Becca, Tamsin and Sadie for doing a fabulous job of guiding and hand holding where needed.
Run Retreat Laig Bay (photo by Laraine Wyn-Jones)
The ladies also cycled, kayaked and hiked their way round Eigg and spent a few happy hours down at Galmisdale Bay Tearoom, meeting the locals and enjoying the Laig Bay Brewery pilsner.
By night, they relaxed in the Glebe Barn hostel and enjoyed the delicious and nutritious delights of Eiggy Bread's cooking. Saira and Katrin were bombarded with requests for the recipes of their granola and wild garlic soup, in particular.
We were fortunate enough to be sponsored by Sealskinz, who provided our participants with some wonderful kit, including waterproof socks, hats and gloves. Typical then that we experienced such beautiful weather, but we have no doubt they'll all enjoy using the products in the future. It's almost a shame they didn't arrive a week later, when standard Scottish weather resumed service!
Run Retreat Laig Cliff (photo by Laraine Wyn-Jones)
Our ladies came from all over the country, even as far afield as Bristol and many of them have expressed interest in bringing their families back to enjoy Eigg with them.
We're really delighted with the feedback we received and we're already planning a further retreat for September. It's such a fantastic way to bring people to the island, who truly love the outdoors and appreciate what a special place this is.
On that note, here's a quick quote from one of our happy customers: "I completely, totally and utterly had a blast. Great food, great company, lovely running guides and the weather... well, what can I say, it was amazing. I LOVE Eigg!"
A Write Highland Hoolie!: Mallaig Book Festival
Friday 9th November to Sunday 12th November
We are excited to announce that the Makar, the National Poet for Scotland, Jackie Kay, is one of the prestigious writers who will appearing at the Book Festival this autumn! Jackie is a prize-winning poet and author and is Professor of Creative Writing at Newcastle University.
Held again in the West Highland Hotel, the third Festival promises to be packed full of entertainment, good writing, music and good craic. What better way to kick off the weekend than with world renowned malt whisky expert Charles MacLean who will be opening our festival with a whisky tasting and talk based on his book - Scotland's Secret History - The Illicit Distilling and Smuggling of Whisky.
The multi award-winning children's author, screenwriter and novelist, Barry Hutchison will be holding a special event for Mallaig High School pupils during the Hoolie. As well as writing over 80 books for children and teenagers, Barry regularly contributes to comics like The Beano and DC Super Hero Girls, and has written for both the comic-book and TV versions of the US animated series, Supermansion.
There are another eight exciting authors coming - please check out our facebook and webpages www.a-write-highland-hoolie.comto keep up to date with who will be appearing., and of course look out for more in coming West Words.
Arisaig Americana Music Festival: Bringing Americana Music to the West Highlands!
Arisaig Americana is a not-for-profit organisation which aims to put Arisaig on the Americana music festival map with an annual genre-specific festival featuring Old Time, Bluegrass and Alternative Country.
The first Arisaig Americana Music Festival will take place on Saturday 23rd June 2018 at the Astley Hall, Arisaig and will feature afternoon instrument workshops and an evening concert of 4 bands, finishing the weekend with an afternoon-to-evening bluegrass music session at The Crofter's Bar, Arisaig Hotel on Sunday 24th June.
From 2019, the festival will move to its permanent Spring date of the last bank holiday weekend in May. There are a number of venues throughout the Highlands which feature top acoustic roots acts and our aim is to become an annual fixture in the West Highlands as a quality small festival specialising in Americana music, where renowned musicians want to come and perform.
Music derived from the Carolinas, Kentucky and Tennessee can trace its roots to the early settlers from the British Isles, Europe and Africa. In particular, Old Time music is directly linked to the traditional music of Scotland, England and Ireland where settlers in the Appalachian Mountains fused folk music traditions with European and African traditions, bringing about a rich variety in musical styles. Bluegrass is a newer style that evolved from the traditional 'mountain' music and Country music is associated with the rural Southern and Central States. Today in Americana music there is everything in between those traditional styles as well as modern interpretations and progressive forms.
As a growing genre in Scotland, Americana music currently has four dedicated festivals, namely the Southern Fried Festival in Perth, Glasgow Americana Festival, BlueGrassmarket Festival in Edinburgh and The Moniaive Bluegrass Festival in Dumfries and Galloway. In addition, Glasgow's Celtic Connections festival regularly features world-renowned Americana artists. We aim to add The Arisaig Americana Music Festival to that established list of sell-out festivals.
The 2018 festival features a choice pick of established Scots-based Americana artists:
Edinburgh band The Wynntown Marshals recently marked a decade together with their fourth release 'After All These Years' and have been championed by BBC broadcasters Bob Harris, Ricky Ross, Iain Anderson and Roddy Hart. They'll appear in Arisaig exclusively as an acoustic trio featuring Keith Benzie on lead vocals and guitar, Iain Sloan on pedal steel and David McKee on bass.
Glasgow based The Daddy Naggins are one of the busiest, most energetic bands on the Scottish scene delivering traditional bluegrass classics, folk songs and well known modern covers, all with that traditional high lonesome bluegrass harmony. The 5-piece line-up is Darren Young on guitar, Garry McFadden on banjo, Laura-Beth Salter on mandolin, Aileen Gobbi on fiddle and Hazel Mairs on bass. Scottish duo The Jellyman's Daughter lands squarely in the middle of a strange crossroads between bluegrass, post-rock, folk and soul. Emily Kelly and Graham Coe have played extensively in the UK and toured Europe and Canada. Hot on the heels of their second album release tour, they'll be performing in Arisaig as a 4-piece with guest players on banjo and bass.
From the Highlands, Glasgow and Midlothian Crow County Pickers is a new collaboration of old friends who blend effortlessly with their natural empathy and shared passion for Americana music. Having carved their names individually in the UK Americana music scene, the band features singer- songwriter Mairi Orr, dobro player Dave Currie, mandolinist Craig McKinney and guest bassist Alan Finn.
Saturday 23rd June:
Free Bluegrass taster workshops open to music students and adult learners.
Bluegrass guitar at the Land, Sea & Islands Centre 1pm - 2pm
Bluegrass fiddle at Astley Hall Clubroom 1pm - 2pm
Bluegrass mandolin at the Land, Sea & Islands Centre 2.30pm - 3.30pm
Bluegrass 5-string banjo at Astley Hall Clubroom 2.30pm - 3.30pm
Early evening concert at Astley Hall:
The Jellyman's Daughter & Crow County Pickers, 7pm - 9pm, £12
Late evening concert at Astley Hall:
The Wynntown Marshalls Trio & The Daddy Naggins, 10pm - 12am, £12
(Full evening concert ticket available at £24)
Sunday 24th June:
'The Big Bluegrass Session' at The Crofters Bar, Arisaig Hotel from 2pm onwards.
Tickets are available now online via the website www.arisaigamericana.com
Mallaig Harbour News
Passenger Ferry Pontoon
Plans are well in hand for the construction of a passenger ferry pontoon/walkway in the Inner Harbour. This will replace the existing wooden steps and make future access to the small passenger ferries much safer and much more user friendly particularly for the elderly and infirm. With no objections raised following the advert placed in The Oban Times on Thursday 1st March 2018, Marine Scotland has subsequently granted the Authority a licence to carry out the necessary works.
Construction is expected to commence October/November 2018.
In 2015 Marina Sant Carles, Spain, introduced an annual open day to attract the public, create a customer event and seek better integration with the local town and its businesses. The event was a huge success for all concerned and was quickly adopted by the rest of the marinas in Catalonia. In 2017 the event was adopted by the whole of Spain and is now firmly established in the annual calendar.
So why shouldn't Mallaig Marina host its own Marina Day? That's exactly what we are going to do and it's on Saturday 9th June 2018. Hopefully the weather will be kind and, helped by local marina users, local lifesavers and other local groups, a fun day of "street fair" type attractions with music, BBQ, boat trips etc will hopefully ensue! Put it in your diary:
11am to 4pm on Saturday 9th June 2018!
As stated in previous West Words, the Mallaig Harbour Authority is 50 years old this year, and we are planning some celebratory event possibly in the Mallaig and Morar Community Centre in September for harbour stakeholders. Once our plans are finalised they will be published in West Word and on our web-site. My quest for photographs of the harbour and harbour related events goes on so if you do have any photographs of Mallaig Harbour covering the period 1968 to present I would be obliged if you could send them to me. (They will be returned).
Here is one taken on the 30th May 1986 on the occasion of the opening of the Breakwater Extension to the Steamer Pier by Lord Gray of Contin, Minister of State for Agriculture and Fisheries at the Scottish Office.
Left to right: Michael Currie, Harbour Chairman; Mgr MacInnes; G. Gordon Jackson, Former Harbour Secretary;
Sir Russell Johnston MP and Lord Gray.
To mark the occasion young Roslyn Currie (7) presented Lord Gray
with a night time photograph of Mallaig Harbour.
Harbour Authority Board Members and Senior Staff as at 1st May 1986 were as follows:
Chairman: Michael Currie
Vice-Chairman: Charles King
Caledonian MacBrayne Ltd: Capt R C S Campbell and Charles MacGillivray
British Railways Board: Clive Evans
Highland Regional Council: Councillor T Kirkwood
Mallaig and NW Fishermens Association: Peter McLean and William Skinner
Other Users Representative: Ronald C Reid
Other Vessel Users Representative: George Alexander
Secretary: Robert MacMillan
Harbour Master: Capt John Murray
Mallaig Lifeboat Log
27th March 2018 Lost Kayaker
Requested to launch by Stornoway Coastguard to assist in locating an overdue Kayaker at 18:01hrs. Apparently a kayaker had lost his kayak in the Loch Moidart area and was walking back to his setting off location. The informants had become concerned about the time he was taking to return and reported their concerns to the Coastguard. As a precaution, the Coastguard requested the Lifeboat to proceed to Loch Moidart and find the overdue kayaker. As the crew assembled at the station to don their gear the launch was cancelled by the Coastguards as the kayaker had reached his companions safe and well at 18:07hrs.
4th April 2018
Requested assistance from Scottish Fire and Rescue through Stornoway Coastguard to convey firefighters to Isle of Rum at 15:23hrs. A large heath fire had broken out on the island and there was concern that property in the area might be under threat. Owing to personnel shortage at local fire station the lifeboat had to await the arrival of a crew from a flank station. Once the other crew had arrived the Lifeboat departed for Rum at 15:40hrs. The brief was firstly to proceed to the area of the fire to ascertain its proper location and its severity before landing the fire crew. Once on scene at the location the Area Commander was able to gauge the fire's track and intensity from seaward. As there was no property in danger and the fire was tracking towards the snow line it was decided that the fire should be left to burn itself out. Also the logistics of getting crew to that area would have proved difficult. Lifeboat proceeded back to Mallaig berthing at 18:30hrs. Lifeboat ready for service at 18:15hrs.
20th April 2018
Launched to assist a reported capsized canoe off Mallaig at 13:55hrs. As the lifeboat cleared the harbour entrance she was stood down by the Coastguard. The incident was actually on an inland Loch next to the main road between Fort William and Mallaig. Three people had been on Loch Eilt in an open canoe which had capsized. Fortunately they managed to make it to shore to where police were in attendance. All were taken by ambulance to Belford Hospital, Fort William for further assessment. Somehow or other in the initial call from Police Scotland to the Coastguard the location was not picked up properly, hence resulting in the Lifeboat being launched. Perhaps 'next to the Mallaig road' was conveyed as 'next to Mallaig'? Lifeboat berthed and ready for service at 14:10hrs. Jim Morton
My class @ 50: Portrait photographer Donald MacLellan records the lives of his Mallaig classmates in new exhibition
While visiting family in Mallaig in the summer of 2016, Donald MacLellan came across a photograph in Mallaig Heritage Centre, showing his second year class at Mallaig Secondary school in 1980. Looking at the faces of his 26 classmates he wondered where they all were and how they felt life had treated them, as they approached the year in which they would celebrate their fiftieth birthdays.
Seeing the photograph encouraged Donald to set out on a personal mission to track down his former classmates and photograph them at their places of work. Although some had remained in the Mallaig area, most had moved away and the following 18 months saw him travel over 3000 miles, to destinations as diverse as Dublin, Aberdeen and Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
The result is an engaging and thought-provoking exhibition, providing a snapshot of the lives of one group of children from a Highland community.
Myclass1 . Credit: Moe Mathieson] (L-R) Creag Browning, Donald MacLellan and Tommy MacDougal at the opening of Donald's exhibition.
Born in 1967 and brought up in Morar near Mallaig, Donald MacLellan studied photography at Salisbury College of Art and, after working as an assistant, set up as a freelance photographer for UK and international newspapers and magazines. Over the last 25 years, he has built a reputation as a portrait photographer, focusing on actors, writers, artists and celebrities.
Of his four major exhibitions, three have been solo shows at the National Portrait Gallery in London, the only photographer to achieve this distinction. His work is also in the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.
My Class @ 50 is on display at Mallaig Heritage Centre until 31 October 2018.
On and Off the Rails
Sir William McAlpine's visit to Mallaig on The Jacobite
As promised in April's West Word, this month I'm looking back to 2008 and a visit to Mallaig by Sir William McAlpine, who died in March aged 82. 'Britain's greatest railway enthusiast', the millionaire whose love of steam trains motivated him to rescue Flying Scotsman from scrappage in America in 1973 and to support countless railway preservation projects in the UK, Sir William was the great-grandson of "Concrete Bob" - Sir Robert McAlpine.
On Thursday, July 24, 2008 bathed in brilliant sunshine, Sir William McAlpine Bt and his wife Lady Judy McAlpine arrived in Mallaig aboard The Jacobite steam train. He had travelled up the previous night on the overnight Caledonian sleeper from London Euston to Fort William, and then transferred to his favourite method of transport, the steam train.
Along with Sir William were a party of invited guests, who were later to travel back to Glenfinnan on The Jacobite to unveil a special plaque at Glenfinnan station Museum and at Loch nan Uamh viaduct.
Sir William unveils the plaque on the Loch nan Uamh viaduct.
After alighting from the train, Sir William and his wife Judy were escorted by local piper Katie McNaughton towards the station building where she presented Sir William with a box of his favourite 'Jaffy's' kippers. These were kindly donated on behalf of the residents of Mallaig by the Mallaig Harbour Authority. On receiving the kippers Sir William made a brief speech where he thanked the people of Mallaig from making his visit a memorable one and said he was looking forward to having the kippers for breakfast on his return!
Sir William meets The Jacobite train crew.
Ever since the construction of Glenfinnan and Loch nan Uamh viaducts back in 1898 a story had been bandied about concerning a horse and cart falling into one of the viaducts during its construction. It wasn't until 1997 that some preliminary work was carried out to try and determine which viaduct contained the horse and cart. Back in 1987 Professor Roland Paxton carried out an inspection of Glenfinnan viaduct using a fish eye lens camera mounted on a long pole, scanning each of the 21 arches. Holes had been drilled in each pillar to accommodate the camera, but disappointingly nothing showed up except some timber work that had been left after the completion of the viaduct.
It was then that Ewen MacMillan of Borrodale remembered from local hearsay in his father's time that the accident had occurred at Loch nan Uamh viaduct. On 7th April 2001 the Professor and his friend Doctor Colin Stove, from Edinburgh-based company Radar World, spent 11 hours of intensive site work involving the transmission of radio waves through walls up to 9 feet thick. Amazingly the data received revealed the image of a horse and cart in the central pier. They decided to mount a plaque at the very spot where the horse and cart fell in. The funding for the site work was generously given by Sir William McAlpine, whose great-grandfather built the viaduct along with Glenfinnan viaduct, back in 1898, and in order to thank Sir William he was invited to unveil the plaque on July 24, 2008.
The first plaque unveiling ceremony was at Glenfinnan station Museum, and then the invited guests travelled to Loch Nan Uamh viaduct, where Professor Roland Paxton gave a brief speech underline lining the work involved in ascertaining the correct location of the horse and cart. He then thanked Sir William for his financial help, and invited him to unveil an identical plaque to the one in Glenfinnan station Museum.
After the unveiling ceremony at Loch nan Uamh the guests departed for Glenfinnan viaduct to view the original ground work that was done in 1987, this being a series of holes drilled in the 'King' piers (from the West the 8th or 'Mallaig', and the 13th or 'Fort William'), both 15ft wide, the other piers being much too narrow. These plaques can still be viewed either on the viaduct at the Glenfinnan station Museum.
Dates for your diary
Wednesday 2nd May: Engineers train works its way from Oban via Crianlarich to Fort William. Visits to Mallaig by them and the "weedkiller" train will shortly follow I'm sure.
Saturday 5th May: The Royal Scotsman Touring Train visits Mallaig. Arrive 1045 depart 1135. Guests have pre-booked a request to visit Mallaig Heritage Centre.
Sunday 6th May: The Northern Belle Luxury Vintage Train visits Fort William from Glasgow. This is a one day "Dine on the Line" visit, with time in Fort William. Arrive Fort William 1150 depart 1540. The enthusiasts will be out to see this!
Monday 14th May: The afternoon Jacobite steam train service commences Monday to Friday until September 14th. Morning services on a Saturday and Sunday commence on June 2nd and the afternoon service at weekends commences on June 16th.
Sunday 20th May: ScotRail summer timetables commence. As I write this I am not aware of any changes on our service - but if travelling please check in advance at Mallaig or Fort William booking offices and ask for a copy of the summer timetable, or check on the ScotRail website.
Refurbished class 156 super sprinters
Last week I travelled between Glasgow Central to Edinburgh (via Shotts) on a refurbished class 156. My first impression was that I was pleasantly surprised. The seats were more upright, but very comfortable (with plush fabric) for the back, which was sculpted. The head height was good for me. There were three pin plugs above the tables for laptop and phone charging (no USB sockets!) The seat edges against the windows are now flush, meaning no detritus can be deposited in the space between the seats and carriage sides. Also the tables are tapered which makes entry into the seats easier. There was enough bike and wheelchair spaces, and the 'facilities' were clean and tidy with warm water. Good result!
See you on the train,
BIRDWATCH - March 2018 by Stephen MacDonald
Another cold but mostly dry month with predominantly easterly winds.
Some movement of birds as the month progressed. Several flocks of Whooper Swans were seen flying northwards from mid-month, the largest flock of 60 plus birds over Loch nan Ceall, Arisaig on the 26th. A group of seven birds spent a few days on Loch Eilt from the 17th. A male Gadwall was seen on Loch nan Eala and Loch nan Ceall in the company of Wigeon from the 25th - 27th, most likely Icelandic birds passing through. Numbers of Shelduck built up, with reports from Glasnacardoch, Morar Estuary, Back of Keppoch and Loch nan Ceall.
Two Black-throated Divers in breeding plumage were on the sea just off Mallaig on the 20th and several Red-throated Divers were seen and heard on Loch Ailort during the last week. Several flocks of Golden Plover were seen from mid-month, mostly reported from Traigh and Back of Keppoch. Lapwings were back on territory at Invercaimbe and Back of Keppoch by the month end. During the harder frosts early in the month, several Lapwing and Snipe were seen feeding by the water's edge of Loch Morar, near Rhubana Lodge. There were still two Greenshank wintering on the Morar Estuary on the 18th.
The Kingfisher and Mandarin Duck remained at their usual haunts on the Morar River throughout the month. The female Blackcap seen last month continued to visit feeders in a garden at Rhubana View till the month end.
Skylark numbers gradually built up with flocks seen at Traigh golf course, Invercaimbe and Morar.
The first Wheatear of the spring was not seen until the 30th, near Millburn, Rhue.
Several reports of Bullfinches from Camusdarroch and Morar, feeding on the first buds emerging from Hawthorn and fruit trees. Redpoll and Siskin numbers slowly increasing as the month progressed.
An unusual report for this area was of a Magpie visiting a garden at Back of Keppoch. It was seen on several occasions feeding on the ground below bird feeders, but was extremely wary. This is probably the first report since five or six years ago, when a bird was seen in Mallaig. On that occasion a few days after the Mallaig sighting a bird was reported on the south end of Skye. There were several sightings from around the island, but it seems to have settled in the north end of the island where it is still being seen regularly.
On several days during the last week a Nuthatch was seen in woodland in Arisaig. Although there have been previous sightings in Arisaig, all from garden feeders, it is still a scarce bird in Highland and a description/photograph is still required before it is accepted on to the 'Highland List'.
After a Cormorant ringed on an island off Traigh was found dead in Co. Wicklow, Ireland in early December, another from the same island but ringed a year earlier in July 2016 was found dead in the River Spey near Boat of Garten on the 14th March.
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