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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November 2017 Issue


Contents of the online version:

Top stories
Letter from the Editor
Monthly news from Knoydart, Muck, Canna, Rum, Eigg
Lifeboat and railway news
World Wide West Word

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A landslide at Soldiers Rock on the Knoydart peninsula resulted in the collapse of a 15 metre section of road on 24th October, cutting off the communities in Airor, Doune and Sandaig. The landslide also brought down a power line causing an overnight power cut on the peninsula. Staff and volunteers from Knoydart Renewables, Knoydart Foundation, and Knoydart Forest Trust had the Inverie Hydro back up and running the following morning and power was restored to the majority of houses but two properties are currently still without power. Knoydart Renewables are currently looking at options to reconnect the properties, which will involve either putting up new power poles or laying an underground cable.
A subsequent slip on the 31st October caused the loss of a further eight inches of road; the new temporary safety barriers were carried off down the hillside and later rescued.
The Highland Council said 'due to the geographical and physical constraints it is anticipated that the repair will take several weeks depending on the availability of specialist equipment and materials.' In the meantime community members have set up a shuttle with vehicles on either side of the slip and created turning circles to allow vehicles to manoeuvre. A pedestrian scaffolding bridge will be put in soon whilst longer term plans are considered.

Photo: Knoydart Renewables

Maggie Fyffe from the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust attended the Arctic Circle Assembly in Reykjavik in October to give a talk about Eigg's Green Grid.
The annual Arctic Circle Assembly is the largest annual international gathering on the Arctic, attended by more than 2000 participants from 50 countries. It is attended by heads of states, politicians, scientists, entrepreneurs, indigenous representatives, environmentalists, students, activists and others interested in the future of the Arctic.

Photo by Alasdair MacLeod

Maggie is pictured at a reception hosted by the Scottish Government with John MacKenzie of Glen Wyvis Distillery and Alison MacLeod of Applecross Community Company (who were also invited to speak about their respective community initiatives) and Nicola Sturgeon.

Well, last month's print run went far from smoothly and my thanks go not just to Morag and Ewen but also to former editor Ann who was able to step in and help out when I was away. After numerous visits by the engineers the paper was finally finished - it took over a week! Fingers crossed this print run will go smoothly and there will be no call outs to the engineer!
Last month's appeal for donations towards the cost of a new machine has already resulted in some incredibly generous contributions and I would like to thank everyone for their generosity. I'm happy to say that we have sourced a new machine and maybe - just maybe - it'll be with us before Christmas! We are continuing with our fundraising efforts - please see below for details of our JustGiving page.
My thanks also go to Anne and Miya for sticking labels on envelopes once again this month.
If you have any comments or you'd like to get in touch, you can email me on editor@westword.org.uk or call on 07538 530550.
Kirsty Bloom

Please help us fundraise for a new printer!
Some exciting news from the West Word office this month - we've sourced a new printer which costs just over £7,000 (happily lower than the cost quoted last month) and - fingers crossed - it could be with us some time in December!
We're busy applying for grants and funding - if you'd like to help contribute to the cost of the new machine we have set up a 'JustGiving' page where you can donate. The link is https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/westwordprinter

Well, all the rain recently has certainly caused some dramatic damage. On the road to Airor, not far from Scottas, there was a major landslide which has taken away part of the road, making it impassable for vehicles. The part of the road which has been torn away is on a steep incline, and it will be some time before it can be repaired. Luckily no one was injured when the slip happened, and it did cause an overnight power outage but there were several hard-working locals who were out working during the night and first thing in the morning to restore power. The impassable road means that all residents in Sandaig, Doune and Airor are now even more remote but they aren't letting it get to them…The kids who live there have all managed to make it to school still and Veronika carried on with Fish and Chips, with Drama Dave running a taxi service from the Airor side to make sure people still got their tea! Keep Calm and Carry on, as they say. The council have been over inspecting and assessing the damage and are trying to find a solution but it certainly doesn't look like it's going to be easy. Worrying to think it's only October still too…what else are we going to be up against this winter?!
The tearoom did well, raising a grand total of £378.14 for Macmillan on the Macmillan coffee morning (Although I believe it ran all day, not just in the morning, and there was a quiz at night).
The Forest Trust ran their annual photo competition again this year, with decent cash prizes up for grabs. The winners for the adult woodland category were Iain Wilson (who was monumentally surprised when he won!) and Stephanie Harris, runner up. Other winners for the other categories included Mark Harris, Anna and Struan, Kitty and Megan from Doune (sorry if I've missed anyone!). All the entries were displayed in the hall and personally I thought they were ALL spectacular shots, each capturing something different about our homeland and making it look magical.
Some really sad, disappointing news this month too - The Kilchoan Farm shop which until recently had operated on a 24/7 open door policy is now being locked up in the evening after a second incident where the honesty box was emptied. So sad and disgusting that anyone would even think to steal the money from an honesty box.
We had a fantastic (albeit very short) gig from an unusual band called Yoko Pwno (no, I didn't spell it wrong…) but then Davie played tunes afterwards to keep us all going when we'd just got started!
On the Renewables front there has been some good news… The bid they submitted to the Innovation fund to undertake feasibility on the options for battery storage has been successful and a consultant will be recruited soon to lead on the feasibility. This project will undertake a study on the feasibility of exporting surplus energy from the community owned hydro-electric scheme using SLIQ flow batteries and electrically charged electrolyte. Keep up to date by following Knoydart Renewables on Facebook.
I was planning to include some insight into future forest plans and community development this month; however, I can't get the right documents to open to read about it again before I relay it to you readers so I guess it will have to wait!
Cheers for now,
Heather Robb

The salmon are back in the Muck cages. After several journeys by well boat from the farm near Craobh Haven the part grown fish are swimming in the rougher seas east of the island. Whilst in the boat they spent 12 hours in tanks filled with fresh water. After 12 hours any sea lice present would be dead. Sunday 15th October was to have been the highlight of the autumn holiday on Muck. We were planning a party - a birthday party. A big O birthday with a 7 in front. The celebrant was Bill Barber who with his partner Sukie has been coming to the island for many years and have been to many parties. But not 'front of house' as they say in the trade. No; while most were enjoying themselves, Bill and Sukie were working away behind the curtain helping the islanders feed and water the party goers. A band had been engaged for the hall but Cal-Mac had other ideas. Though the weather was no worse than it had been for weeks (and with the steady hand of mainly Captain Kenny at the wheel we have enjoyed an excellent service) they suddenly decided to cancel the weekend service and run a composite service covering all the islands but for Muck hours ahead of timetable. While party goers struggled to reach Mallaig in time and some even managed a charter, the band did not make it. Today music can come from many sources and after a superb supper there was plenty of dancing in the night that followed. A successful evening and many thanks Bill and Sukie!
It is October and the shooting season is in full swing. The Sheerwater and Briscoe are whizzing across the water to Rum and Muck. While below the game birds are meeting a varying fate, far above Golden Eagles wheel and soar; at lower levels Sea Eagles show their presence at times while everywhere are
Buzzards in the hope of food. I have written enough but in a future month I will tell you the amazing effect shooting has had on wildlife here.
Lawrence MacEwen

Another pretty wet and windy month on Canna with fewer visitors and only the occasional RIB from Elgol. We welcomed back our regular drystone dykers who managed a tremendous amount of work down at Tarbert despite the weather.
We are now into the winter timetable so our ferry links are greatly reduced with only two regular visits from the Lochnevis each week.
The farm has managed to send another full load of sheep, a mix of blackface and cheviots, off to the sales in Dingwall on the 26 October.
Towards the end of the month we had a visit from the Spanish John to supply us with farm feed and also some much-needed diesel for our generators and domestic heating. They also left with some of our old vehicles heading for the scrapyard which was greatly appreciated as it has tidied up the island ready for winter.
Donald MacKenzie

Criomagan (Crumbs) from Canna House
October is always a busy month for folk in the Gaelic world, the month when the Royal National Mod takes place. This month was no exception, with this year the Mod coming to Lochaber, a 'Home' Mod! Canna archivist Fiona took the opportunity to work on events for the 'Mod Fringe' in particular. The Lime Tree Hotel and Art Gallery in Fort William was the venue for a multi-media presentation by Fiona entitled "Hunting Folksongs in the Hebrides". This was based on an article published by Margaret Fay Shaw in the National Geographic Magazine of 1947. In it, she described her work in the Outer Hebrides in the 1930's and 40's, collecting Gaelic folksongs and recording a disappearing way of Hebridean life through pictures and film. This article was immediately recognised as being a classic record of Gaelic culture for the future, and to this day remains one of the only comprehensively detailed records of a life which no longer exists in the Outer Hebrides.


Fiona re-presented the article but complemented it with Margaret's images and film, John Lorne Campbell's sound archive and Fiona's own voice, to tell the story. The venue was perfect for the occasion and the full house audience seemed to enjoy all the sights and sounds, including the recording of Pooni the Siamese cat.
Fiona also took the songs of the Canna Collection to the Seann Nòs (Traditional) Gold Medal competition for the first time! On her return to Canna, Fiona was successful in locating a Mod programme from 1950 from next year's Mod venue, Dunoon. Just one of the examples of the treasures to be found in Canna House.


And for Halloween?


"Halloween was a night of much jollity (sic. South Uist), when the house was invaded by visitors in the ugliest disguises they could contrive of sheepskin and unravelled rope. One little boy spent the day carefully removing the entire skin off the head of a sheep so he could slip it over his own head like a bag, with ears intact….."
Fiona MacKenzie

Apologies for missing last month's West Word, so here's a whistle-stop tour of September and October…
Plans for the proposed MHS fish farm around the coast at Camus Pliasgaig are still with Highland Council, we won't find out whether it will be successful or not until December. If the fish farm goes ahead we can expect another six to nine people living here and whilst these posts are two weeks on, two weeks off, we hope and expect, to some degree, that Marine Harvest embrace the community's desire to attract more individuals and families to move here permanently.
The layout of the new IRCT houses has been revised to make them more Rum friendly and making better use of the affordable design; The plan is to build four 2 bedroomed houses with grant funding from the Rural Housing Fund - we also hope to attract families and individuals with the skills we are currently lacking on Rum.
The stag season has been busy with a lot of guest shooters coming over to assist with the annual cull (guest shooters makes it sound a bit like a game show!) and lots of rut action down Kilmory Glen has been really popular with visitors of the non-shooting variety; both of the Ranger rut walks were full to capacity.
In other wildlife news, a Glossy Ibis was spotted by Trudi in the castle field this last weekend - an unusual visitor to these parts.
While the season is drawing out a bit at the bunkhouse and B&B, the café in the hall is winding down but Kim still plans to open on boat days for visitors wanting a bit of tea, cake and a friendly chat this winter. The weather has been mixed this summer but doesn't seem to have deterred visitors to Rum, still keen to see the Castle, explore the hills and admire the wildlife.
The Friends of Kinloch Castle visited again recently and were shocked to see how much the castle had deteriorated since their last visit. With only one part time manager, Ross, who has to do everything and most of the tours, it is easy to see how quickly things can slip without adequate staff. The KCFA are now more determined than ever to get the castle operating in some form again, perhaps as a hostel/bar/restaurant to begin generating some revenue but before even that can happen on a small scale there is an enormous amount of work to be done putting the castle back into the basic condition it was in when the hostel was closed. And the drainage problem, which has been causing the basement to flood for months now, is still a mystery?? Any drainage experts out there that can help? Please contact SNH.
In other SNH news, they have successfully recruited another staff member to assist David with practical management on the NNR: welcome to Colin Kerr who is moving here at the end of the month.
Finally, after much fuss over an electricity cable, Rum Enterprise's camping cabins are now connected to our electricity grid and also have WiFi, hurray! A bit more 21st century living at the campsite and to that end plans to hopefully renovate the campsite's toilet and shower facilities should take place this winter.
Fliss Fraser

As would be expected October saw "a reasonable mix of bird species passing through the island with the first winter visitors arriving and the last summering species moving off", John the Bird tells us., The word 'wintering' conjures up the first cold period of the autumn, but our weather has been incredibly mild with flowers lingering in our gardens and leaves in the woodlands. There is an abundance of apples and plums in the community orchard. A long staying Greenshank can still be seen around Clanranald pier, enjoying the muddy sands at low tide as our heron does and getting a good feed.
Autumn passage produced a few Whooper Swans, two White Fronted Geese on the 13th, several groups of Brent Geese, a short-lived movement of Redwings with a peak count of 360 on the 21st, three Brambling on the 26th, as well as a flock of 50 Golden Plovers, a couple of Jack Snipe and a couple of Dippers. A Great Northern Diver was seen on the 15th, whilst a Merlin was present throughout the first half of the month, and finally there were regular sightings of Sea Eagles!
After the short flurry of people during the October holidays, islanders were all pleased to get into that mellow end of season mode: far less frantic, more time to chat, pool table back in Galmisdale Bay café … Still nice enough to sit outside! Marie enjoyed her birthday which all of a sudden turned a Monday into a Saturday! Peggy, after a fall which gave her a huge bruise on her face and everyone a terrible fright, improved in time for a her 87th birthday which she seemed to have thoroughly enjoyed! Many happy returns to mother and daughter! Mick also celebrated his 71st at the pier with lots of bubbles whilst Wes decided to have a really quiet one as Maggie was off to Reykjavik to give a presentation on the Eigg Green Grid at the Arctic Circle Assembly, an annual event looking at mitigating climate change effect.
As to myself, I travelled to the 3rd European Rural Network which was held in Venhorst, in the Brabant region in the north of Holland. Hospitality for the 275 rural delegates, organised by the local volunteer groups was tremendous and we learned during a number of "expeditions" around Brabant the meaning of the Dutch concept of always looking to reach a position of mutual gain - the "Polderen" evolved from their traditional need for cooperation to keep encroaching seas at bay. It was obvious that in some countries like Finland, Estonia or Sweden - where the Rural parliament movement was born - the concept of Rural proofing was not a new one. Scotland with its island proofing draft legislation, its community empowerment and its community energy appears to be an inspiring model at many levels! Many Eastern European regions represented were very interested to find out more about the Scottish model!
At the end of a busy week, I had the chance to contribute island grassroots views on island proofing to the hearing organised by the Scottish Parliament's Rural Connectivity and Economy Committee, alongside six other representatives. The final question on Brexit took us all by surprise, but it was an opportunity to remind our MSPs that the UK has no territorial cohesion policy taking into account island regions like the EU has, and so that there is a worry as to how the islands will be considered in any redistributive scheme if any after Brexit!
It was brilliant to be back for Halloween, which on Eigg was celebrated twice this year: on Saturday with guising and on Tuesday at school where it was associated with celebrating the Celtic New Year. Nan Fee, our new school teacher, managed to get our youngsters to perform 2 mini shows, including Ghostbusters! The children had a ball and their audience too! Last but not least, BIG congratulations to Emily Reid and Joe Cormack on the (early) arrival of their twins, May and Innis!
Camille Dressler

The 2017 Rum Rut Walk
We've had astoundingly good weather for the last three years of Rut Walks, so we were possibly overdue for some bad - and at first, it seemed we had it REALLY bad! The rain was torrential as we set out for Kilmory, twelve of us altogether, including Jon and Angela of Glenloy Lodge with a party of six. We picked up Jen at the Croft 3 junction - she was baby-sitting the Croft 3 menagerie for the weekend - and then struggled through a world of water up through Kinloch Glen.
Gushing streams sluiced down over the road, while horizontal rain soaked us from head to toe. Regretting not covering my rucksack with a bin bag, and worried about my camera gear, I stopped to move my sandwiches on top of the gear, hoping the plastic sandwich bag would protect my equipment. It doesn't bode well, I thought, plodding along despondently, that my binoculars are so wet I can't see a thing through them, and there's a sandwich protecting my camera.
Despair not! said Rum: the rain stopped and two golden eagles appeared over Mullach Mor! Haaaaaaallelujah!!! That's 7 for 7 now - next week's walk will be No. 8 - will the eagles continue?
The rain held off for the rest of the way down to the rutting greens at Kilmory, where we met Ali, the field scientist. Wisdom11, a six-year-old stag, was holding sway in the dunes. Tatler06 and Bobby were back on the greens, but Zaphod had not been seen yet. Sargasso, who broke an antler in spectacular fashion on AutumnWatch in 2015, was back in fine fettle on the laundry greens again. He can be seen strutting and roaring in the photos. There was less activity than other years, but we did get to see some running about and roaring.


A few more torrential showers hit whilst we were safe inside the deer hide, and we were then treated to a stunning rainbow over the beaches.


After Ali's talk in the "Cave of Skulls" - the old laundry shed, where the deer project keeps its equipment and skulls - we decided to head back while the rain held off.
We saw another golden eagle over Mullach Mor - a juvenile this time - and found some Pale Butterworts by the roadside: carnivorous plants with buff leaves and white flowers.
Back in the Village Hall, Kim served up soup, veggie lasagna with salad and garlic bread, followed by caramel cheesecake. Heaven! If the deer were not enough by themselves, it was worth getting soaked for eagles and cheesecake.
Trudi Clarke
30th September, 2017

Camille Dressler appointed to the new CalMac Community Board
Camille Dressler, Chair of the Small Isles Community Council, is delighted to have been successfully appointed to the newly created CalMac Community Board alongside Rob Ware from Sleat, and representatives from Colonsay, Arran, Cumbrae and other islands. She had initial informal meetings with Angus Campbell (Chair) and Brian Fulton (Director of Community and Stakeholder Engagement) in Fort William on Monday 16th October to discuss the role and work of the board and is looking forward to contributing the unique Small Isles perspective to the work of the Community board. Camille said "one of the really challenging issues is how the carbon footprint of our ferry service can be lowered in future; this will require creativity and thinking out of the box, so I look forward to engaging with the board on this topic as well as all the other issues that are familiar to us. I look forward to working with Angus Campbell who I met when he was Leader of the Western Isles Council. He has the well-being of island communities at heart and I think he will be an excellent chair."

Mallaig Lifeboat Log

21st September 2017
Launched by Stornoway Coastguard to convey Paramedics to Isle of Eigg at 17:40hrs. A resident of the Island had sustained a fractured wrist and was in need of hospital attention. Alongside the jetty at Eigg at 18:20hrs, the Lifeboat was met by local Coastguards and also the Island's First Responder who conveyed the Medics to the Casualty location on the North side of the Island at Laig. Once attended to the casualty was brought to the Lifeboat at 19:05hrs and boarded for the return passage to Mallaig. Lifeboat docked at pontoon 19:45hrs and the casualty was then transported via road ambulance to Fort William's Belford hospital. Lifeboat ready for service at 20:00hrs.

6th October 2017
Launched to the Kinloch Hourn area by Stornoway Coastguard at 03:25hrs. A party of five had departed from Kinloch Hourn for Barrisdale, a twenty five minute journey. By 03:00hrs the party had not arrived at their destination and the resident stalker at Barrisdale became concerned and decided to inform the Coastguards. Just as the lifeboat entered the Loch, Stornoway Coastguard was informed that the party had arrived at Barrisdale safe and well. Apparently they had been stranded on a sand bank in the Loch and had waited for the tide to refloat their craft. Lifeboat stood down and returned to base berthing at 04:40hrs.

19th October 2017
Launched to Inverie, Knoydart, by Stornoway Coastguard at 10:05hrs to medivac a pregnant woman. Two paramedics transferred to Inverie to attend the woman who was suffering from severe pelvic pain. Berthing at 10:20hrs at Inverie the medics, along with three crewmembers, were transported to the casualty location at a local bunkhouse. After assessment the casualty was stretchered and brought back to the Lifeboat via land rover. Once the casualty was boarded the Lifeboat returned to Mallaig berthing at the pontoon at 11:40hrs.The casualty was transferred to Fort William by road ambulance for further treatment. Lifeboat fueled and ready for service at 12:10hrs.
Jim Morton

On and off the Rails

Looking book back to October - on the rails
Sunday 1st: Last weekend Jacobite of 2017 to Mallaig. Iain Riley's LMS Stanier Black Five locomotive 45407 Lancashire Fusilier was rostered on it. Lots of farewell waving to catering staff and West Coast staff on board who were leaving for Uni, College or other rail duties.
Monday 2nd: LMS Stanier Black Five locomotive in light steam, plus the Mark 1 set of coaches used to the afternoon Jacobite - with diesel locomotive 37685 Loch Arkaig departed Fort William depot/yard on the elongated journey back, eventually, to Carnforth, having served as well this year.
Thursday 5th: the ACORP (Association of Community Rail Partnerships) National Awards took place at the Roundhouse in Derby. Four Scottish stations - in three categories - were shortlisted and represented, along with ScotRail officials. Helmsdale station came third in the "Involving Children and Young People" award for their involvement with Gray's School of Art for the "Photographic and Darkroom Project" which they operate at the premises on the station. Congratulations to all who were nominated. It is great achievement to volunteering with ScotRail.
Saturday 7th: West Highland and Jacobite Statesman Touring Company used the Jacobite stock to run to Mallaig and back from Fort William as part of a three-day tour from Kettering - picking up at other destinations en route, dining on board and staying two nights in Fort William hotels. The tour was repeated to Mallaig again on Saturday, October 28th - this time departing from High Wycombe, picking up at Banbury and other destinations.
Wednesday 11th and Thursday 12th: two days of bustitution on ScotRail services - from Crianlarich to Mallaig and return each day, due to Mallaig driver shortages, and no free time Fort William drivers available. Shortage on most trains of catering staff in October due to long-term illness and ScotRail now not hiring in agency workers for catering. We currently have two full-time catering staff based at Fort William.
Saturday 14th: last Belmont Royal Scotsman luxury touring train of 2017 visited Mallaig - but currently they are listing 18 Saturday visits to Mallaig as part of their 2018 itinerary of tours. This was further boosted by the television programme Richard Wilson's Highland Fling on More 4 on Thursday 19th following the renowned actor Richard Wilson travelling on the Scotsman and talking at length to Michael Andrews, the general manager. Splendid publicity for us and the choice of travel! Richard was also filmed boarding and touring on the Hebridean Princess ship which tours our waters. He visited Kinloch Castle on Rum and Kyle of Lochalsh, overnighting in Loch Nevis.
During October also, the Bank of Scotland polymer £10 notes - new issue - arrived in Mallaig, with The Jacobite crossing Glenfinnan viaduct on the reverse. Also shown on it is the monument on the banks of Loch Shiel. More publicity for the area for years to come! One week earlier an Oban Bank of Scotland mobile bank was at Glenfinnan station. As The Jacobite arrived staff and customers on it were able to exchange their old coins and notes for the new Glenfinnan note - very enterprising!
Thursday 19th: last rostered day of duty hauling The Jacobite stock to Mallaig for the NELPG owned K162005 - which then departed Fort William depot/yard on Friday 20th to return - eventually - to work on the North York Moors Railway at Grosmont for the winter - and to receive a 'winter overhaul'. Wednesday 25th: booked visit by Lochaber Chamber of Commerce on The Jacobite. We hope they enjoyed the experience and their lunch in Mallaig. Haste ye back.
Friday 27th: last rostered day of the summer Jacobite. Presentation and many photographs of a beautiful cake to the West Coast Railway's Jacobite staff and crew, the catering, raffle and on-board train shop staff, the driver of the day, all the 'Riley boys' on the train and footplate, the crew in the yard/depot at Fort William who clean the train inside and out each day, the fitter at the yard, and finally, she who must be obeyed! - Train Manager, Guard and so much more, 'fragrant Florence' Maclean, the 'go-to' person!! The cake was crafted by Matthew at The Bakehouse, The Old Quay, and the idea was pulled together by yours truly! It was paid for by local shops, restaurants and businesses who value and appreciate the trade that Jacobite customers and staff bring to Mallaig. Thank you all.



Saturday 28th: chartered train mentioned earlier, from Fort William to Mallaig, and back, by steam.
Sunday 29th: Last day of full ScotRail Sunday service until probably March 2018. Surely one year we will get an all-year-round Sunday service that connects to public service travel in the daytime from Fort William to Inverness, Glasgow, Edinburgh and beyond. This is meant to be the 21st century.

West Coast Railways presents:
The famous Jacobite steam train festive service 2017 from Fort William to Mallaig and return from Monday, December 4th to Friday, December 22nd (Monday to Friday) and Wednesday 27th December to Friday 29th December. Ideal for school Christmas parties on board, work Christmas parties etc. Book online at www.jacobitetrain.com or telephone (0844) 850 4680 or (0844) 850 4681. Mallaig will be looking to give you a Christmas welcome between 12.25 and 14.10 each day of the above. Hopefully the Christmas lights will be on and the large Christmas trees will be up at the Old Quay and in the centre of the village. Who knows what other delights will await you! Come and find out.

ScotRail update
Monday to Saturday you can arrive into Mallaig at 13.35 and depart at 16.10 or 18.15. The booking office in Mallaig is staffed from 09.30 to 16.00 and has facilities from Monday to Saturday. The real-time digital display stand is now in its hole-in-the-ground as we go to press but is swathed in black plastic, and the hole is still open at present.
Club 50 is currently offering a return ticket anywhere in Scotland (return) on ScotRail - a return ticket valid up to a month for £17. To take part you must have first obtained a Club 50 card (valid for a year from date of purchase and available online or from a booking office). You must travel outwards o or before 14th November and return at the latest by 14th December. It is an ideal ticket to go and deliver or purchase Christmas presents, go to a show, or pantomime. Travel to the Christmas markets at Glasgow or Edinburgh, etc. Check online at www.ScotRail.co.uk/offers/club50 or call at any staffed booking office. You can reserve seats free of charge in advance, store your luggage and relax. Just don't try and move out of Mallaig on a Sunday!

Friends of the West Highland line magazine Autumn/Winter 2017
… is currently available through me. The only magazine spotlighting the West Highland Lines and ScotRail network past and present with excellent full-colour photo reproduction. If you would like a copy posted - £3.50 plus P&P - ring me on (01687) 462189.
See you on the train,
Sonia Cameron

Visit to Arisaig Nova Scotia
Grace and I spent a very enjoyable holiday in Nova Scotia, including Cape Breton, a number of years ago. Cape Breton seemed almost more Scottish than Scotland. On that holiday we were briefly in Arisaig which is in Antigonish County, Nova Scotia - a small community like our Arisaig, but with even fewer amenities in terms of hotels, shops etc. and a bit more strung out as a settlement than back here. In September this year we were back in the Maritimes and prior to our visit I got in touch with some community representatives in Arisaig NS and arranged to meet up.
Arisaig NS has many similarities with Arisaig, Scotland, in terms of being coastal - on the Northumberland Strait; having a harbour with a strong fishing history; and a very close community feel about it. It also has a graveyard filled with headstones bearing the names MacDonald, MacEachern, MacDougall etc. It is also famous amongst geologists for its fossils.
We arrived for one night, staying in an Airbnb owned, it turned out, by Charlie Renouf, one of the community members we were to meet that evening. He also had a lovely dog and a house next door to a gin and vodka distillery.
An event was organised for that evening in the village hall. Little had we expected to see about 20 cars in the car park and to be met by a very large group of local residents, virtually every one of whom had either been to Arisaig in Scotland, were planning to go, or had relatives over here, and had fascinating family histories that they could relate etc. They were all very proud of their various Scottish connections. Theresa Thompson, Cathy MacDonald and Marcie MacQuarrie were among our various hosts - Theresa and family were over here a couple of years ago and Marcie's family are coming over here next August. The event was enormously convivial and I am sure that further new connections have been made which will endure.
I said a few words about Arisaig & District Community Council and Arisaig Community Trust, we posed with the obligatory copy of West Word and handed over a few small gifts, and were delighted then to be presented with the official Arisaig NS tartan, framed with a description and dedication on the reverse, to be taken back to the Land, Sea and Islands Centre - a task we achieved despite some concerns about delivering it back intact across the Atlantic.



Safely back here, we arranged with Alison Stewart that the tartan would be officially handed over at a small ceremony with volunteers at the Land, Sea and Islands Centre in order to round off what had been a thoroughly enjoyable and interesting event forming part of an excellent holiday. The photos which accompany this article show various members of the Arisaig NS community, including in the group photo Ranald MacDonald and Mary Anna MacDonald, the two oldest residents in the community. They also show the handing over of the tartan.
Iain & Grace Macniven

BIRDWATCH by Stephen MacDonald - September 2017
A Grey Phalarope seen from the MV Sheerwater on the 2nd, about a mile west of Arisaig, was probably the most noteworthy sighting of the month. The number of juvenile Manx Shearwaters recovered ashore in the area was very low in comparison to previous years. Approx. 44 birds ringed and released by the month end. Such a low number was probably due to the prevailing weather conditions. Many days of southeast winds kept them offshore, then north or north westerlies pushed the birds further south. Interestingly higher than the usual percentage were recovered in Arisaig.
Still small numbers of waders passing through including Black Tailed Godwits, Dunlin, Redshank, Curlew and Golden Plover.
The first migrant geese of the autumn appeared late on the 8th and early in the morning of the 9th, when the first skeins of Pink Footed Geese were seen flying over Morar and Loch Ailort.
Other migrants noted during the month included White Wagtails and Wheatears, mostly seen along the strandline at Traigh and Back of Keppoch. Large numbers of Meadow Pipits also passing through.
The first Wigeon and appeared back on Loch Nan Eala and Loch Nan Ceall midmonth.
Numbers of Red Breasted Mergansers built up on Loch Nan Ceall and the Morar estuary. At the latter site a group of 43 were counted on the 18th.
A flock of 40+ Goldfinches was seen at Camasdarroch on the 22nd. Several other mixed flocks Of Linnets, Twite and Goldfinches were noted around Traigh and Back of Keppoch. Yellowhammers were seen at Gorten, Back of Keppoch. For most birds the breeding season was well and truly over, however a pair of Housemartins were still feeding a second brood of well grown chicks at a nest in Loch Ailort during the second week of the month.


West Word reader Irene Smith from Midlothian took her West Word to read when she visited St Kilda recently. She said it had been a lifelong dream to visit the archipelago and she wasn't disappointed.

Iain and Grace Macniven didn't forget to pack their copy on their recent visit to Arisaig, Nova Scotia.

Here's Charles Murray on a walking holiday in northern Portugal with friends. The photo was taken just across the Spanish border, looking across the River Minho which forms the border there, towards northern Portugal. Charles said 'we had a great trip, and enjoyed some wonderful hospitality in this charming corner of the country.'

Four Traigh golf club members took their West Word on an outing to Barassie golf course (a generous gift from David Shaw-Stewart). Pictured are Linda McLean, Heather Simpson, Marion Carr and June Foxwell.

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