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November 2019 Issue
Contents of the online version:
Letter from the Editor
All photos are copyright either of the individual photographers or West Word.
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
Mallaig High School is (partially) taking over this edition of West Word for the 25th anniversary of the publication. We have interviewed many people to talk about their jobs or how they feel about how the area has changed through the years. We have also included local heroes who have been interviewed by pupils in the school - people who have done a lot for the community over the years.
In this issue we have to thank: all of the S1-S3 pupils of Mallaig High School and our teacher Miss Kate MacLennan, and also the Primary Schools for taking over the 'Round and About' section. Thanks to Kirsty Bloom, the editor of West Word for helping all of us out with our work. Once again we thank Morag and Ewen for helping with the printing and Anne and Jane for looking after the subscription envelopes this month. We also wish to thank Sonia for doing her train article and the Lifeboat crew for doing their monthly update.
We have found that there have been a lot of changes in this area through the years.
Ellie and Emma (S1)
Mallaig High School is 30 years old!
As it is 30 years since the High School was opened on its current site, the S1s are researching the history of the School as the focus of their History lessons this term, with help from Malcolm Poole and the Heritage Centre archives. They will also be finding out more about the school on its two former sites. They will mount a display in the Heritage Centre and we shall try to start a little archive to keep in the School.
If you have any photos, newspaper clippings or other types of evidence from your time at the School, we should be really grateful to see these and, with your permission, to take a copy of them to build our stock of sources - even if something seems insignificant, it can be used to extract a better picture of the past. We would particularly be interested in evidence of education at the older schools.
We shall also be inviting former pupils - the more mature the better! - to come and chat with the S1s about their experiences of education in the past. If you would be happy to pop in and talk with the pupils, or if you have memorabilia that you are happy for use to see and copy, please send your contact details to Margaret Andow at Margaret.Andow@highland.gov.uk
A valuable archive
Not just your local paper full of information - West Word is a unique record of life in our area, not only over the 25 years of its existence, but way into the past with its historical and personal accounts. Less and less content is coming our way, with people preferring to post things on social media - such a loss to future generations. Please, please keep sending to us - advertise your event so all those in the area who don't use social media have a chance to attend - tell us your success stories, send us your photos and memories. I've been told a number of times that West Word's internet pages have proved the only source of information on something that people have been able to find.
These are the things that have enabled West Word to be awarded Community Newspaper of the Year in the Highlands and Islands Media Awards three times, in 2005, 2009 and 2018. The prize is £200 for West Word and £100 for a charity of our choice, which has been given to Mallaig RNLI, The Mackintosh Centre and Mallaig Pool.
Technology has changed so much since West Word started in 1994. In the beginning, and for many years, the copies were printed out on individual double sheets which meant that the printing took place while the composition was going on. We couldn't add or change anything once the page was done making it more difficult to produce, but it was also more sociable, with volunteer printers working alongside the editor. Thanks to Ewen, Mick, Roger and Viv for those early days. Although the internet and email existed, it wasn't used by many and West Word didn't have it - all the submissions were on paper and had to be retyped by the editor into the pages of the paper.
The sheets, once all printed, were then taken in complete sets to 10 or 11 volunteer folders, who collated the pages and folded them to make the newspaper. Many of them - and I was one before I became editor in 1999 - laid the sheets out on a table, put on a cassette tape, and danced round the table putting the sheets together. This practice continued until we got our first printer with stapling facilities when we 'went digital' in November 2003. We still get offers from people to 'help fold'!
After seven or eight years we decided to buy a digital camera. Although they had been around a few years, not many people owned one and we were among the first locally. A big clunky thing it was, and we had to get some funding to buy it, and it was amazing to be able to take a photo and have it in the paper almost immediately; before that, we had to wait for people to 'finish the spool' and then take the film to Fort William or post it out to be processed. Digital meant an increase in new baby photos for us!
The need for folders is long gone - and how grateful to all of them we were, to be so keen to help even when the sheets were delivered to them at short notice - but we still need our volunteers. Many thanks indeed to Morag and Ewen who have helped with the printing for 25 years and to Nicky; the arduous task has now been reduced to lifting and counting completed papers, but there are more breakdowns and printer problems that they have to try to fix.
Thanks to all our contributors over the years and to the photographers, professional, amateur and accidental, who have ensured West Word could produce such a valuable archive.
(Editor 1999 - 2017)
Thank you, Robert!
To mark West Word's 25th birthday and 300th issue, Robert MacMillan was presented with a gift of appreciation for his long and valuable support to the newspaper (which includes a key role in setting it up!) spanning 26 years.
Ann Martin (Chair and former editor) and Director Jacqueline McDonell are pictured above with Robert.
Wow! Another month gone already! So fast!
On 28th of October a dead seal pup was found between Millburn Cottage and Mrs. Morrison's memorial bench. It had a large propeller slash down its back and its spine was visible. It just goes to show how dangerous boats can be to wildlife. Don't worry, we reported it to ranger Amie and she has told an organisation about it.
Now to the happier topic of the hall refurb! We interviewed Davie to find out a little bit more about its progress as it has been going full steam ahead. Davie told us that they have been working on the hall since August 27th 2019. There have been walls added to the new section, some nice modern windows to the old section AND lovely new doors to the doctor's surgery and the main entrance. You can really start to feel how big it will be. They are currently busy insulating the walls. There are plans to put a skylight in and the septic tank will be ordered soon. Davie told us they had an iPod on site to listen to music while they work and they are hoping to have the hall refurbishment finished by February 29th 2020…it will be a lucky leap year!
On Halloween night, Karen and Terry threw a lovely sort of mini Halloween party for all of the kids, and a few adults too! There was fun games, plenty of food, and a very spooky ghost! On the 1st November, a similar thing happened up at the Lookout. Cara, Kim and Veronica organised the party. It was great fun, even Baby Ellie turned up for some of the fun, and Hamish, who is one and a bit was busting some great moves. There was a gross pumpkin, full of spaghetti, and you had to put your arm in to fish out a treat, everyone loved that! Victor ate some of the spaghetti, yuck!
There was also an amazing adults Halloween disco at the Tearoom. We interviewed Isla to find out more. Isla told us about 25 people attended the disco and they raised £230 towards the hall funds.
The winners of the costumes are as follows:
Funniest man - Grant who was dressed as a table
Funniest Woman - Kira who was Iza from Still Game
Best Dressed Man - Mark who was a zombie
Best Dressed Woman - Ann who was Maleficent
Isla said it was a brilliant night and it was worth all the effort. She told us that next year they probably would not have the disco again as the hall will already be finished.
On Saturday, 2nd November, the village had a bonfire for bonfire night. Lots of wood had been collected and stacked to make a huge pile. Grant used a bow and arrow to set the bonfire alight, he dipped a rag in oil, and set it on fire before shooting it into the bonfire. Stephanie shared lots of mega sparklers with tourist's kids and local children. Will, Stephanie and Mark helped with the fireworks display. There was a great display of rockets, which squealed and banged all through the evening.
It has been a very eventful month and the pupils of Inverie Primary School have enjoyed writing this month's edition!
Inverie Primary School
ISLE OF MUCK
On Muck this month we all wanted to raise money for Lochaber Supports Refugees. We did a Night at the Museum where everybody chose something to do a big project about; it was homework too. Our exhibits were volcanoes, marine animals, castles, musical instruments and space. On the night everything went very well and we raised £190! (Hugh)
Halloween was frightfully cold, and the children got lots of sweeties. The Hall was decorated: it was scary but also amazing, and there was a creepy mask, fairy lights everywhere, a giant spider web with a balloon spider and creepily carved pumpkins. We went bobbing for apples and had some delicious food. (Willow)
After the Halloween party it was time for the scary walk which we do every year on Muck. We went to Port first and were greeted with a big bonfire. Ed hid in a wheelbarrow of seaweed to scare us, but fell out. Judy and Ewan made a ghost on a zip wire that came shooting out as we walked past. Colin was dressed as a wolf and jumped out of the burn trying to grab our legs, Barnaby jumped out of the dumper. After that we visited some of the houses and got lots of sweets. (Keighla)
We are getting ready for bonfire night. We are making guys to put on the fire and there will be a prize for the best one. Nearly everyone helped to collect wood for the bonfire and then worked together to pile up the wood into a huge pile. We are going to raise more money that night for Lochaber Supports Refugees. (Logan)
Here on Muck we have been practising the school songs and preparing for Christmas. The show is called the Night Before Christmas. The children are going to be toys, mice, children, Santa and a snowman. All the children are looking forward to the show. (Tara)
Our regular columnist David adds:
The weather has remained mild (and fairly damp at times) and, with only a few gales, the grass grows on unchecked, although the first dusting of snow was clearly visible as day broke on 25th, so winter is a coming! The sheep are now rotating round some of the in bye land prior to the tups going in. Fingers crossed the good grass with help next year's lambing percentages. Autumn migration is in full swing. Jenny MacEwen reported seeing the first Great Northern Diver in the bay at Gallanach, Whooper swans and migratory geese have been spotted heading south from their breeding grounds in the sub-arctic and the first Woodcock have arrived from Russia. Many people know that Redwings and Fieldfares, always an indicator of autumn migration, are absent all summer. Less well known is that "resident" species like Blackbirds and Song Thrush flood in from as far away as Scandinavia. It can be very evident here on the island as suddenly large numbers appear overnight.
Lawrence is back from his brief stay in Raigmore and on fine form. Thank you to all of you who asked me to pass on their best wishes. I'm not sure how many staff at Raigmore read West Word but you have our grateful thanks for looking after him so well.
We have had our autumn harvest thanks giving service, eventually! The weather derailed the original plans but the Reverend Stuart Goudie and his wife finally made it over and held the service between the two Saturday boats.
Regardless of the weather on the night, the Halloween cross island walk is an autumn highlight. Adults are dotted along the route, their sole aim to produce a few frightening moments. Aware of what's in store, the children are not easily fooled. But it can be done! One year somebody, dressed as a zombie, crawled out from under a trailer and grabbed an ankle. I swear you could have heard the screams from Eigg!
Muck Primary School and David Barnden
ISLE OF CANNA
Writing this on the weekend that the clocks go back (that's right - just after the copy deadline for West Word submissions! So if you are reading this, I got away with it..!) trying to take advantage of the extra hour. As a result, it's already dark and it obviously feels an hour later than the time says.. Why do we have Daylight Saving Time anyway? It seems it was introduced way back in 1916, as a means of providing extra daylight during the working day, and potentially saving energy too.
Talking of energy (how was that for a convoluted link..), we just learned that our CREE (Canna Renewable Energy and Electrification) Project is one of the four finalists in the 'Best Community Project' category of the annual Scottish Green Energy Awards. The winner will be announced at an award ceremony in Edinburgh on December 5th. That means an invitation to a black tie dinner for one member of the Canna community.
Still on awards, Anna's design company, Grafficanna, has been nominated in the Gaelic Awards, taking place in Glasgow on November 19th. Anna, who produces t-shirts, badges, posters, signs and logos in Gaelic has been nominated for the Arts and Culture award, for outstanding contribution to Gaelic culture.
On the farming calendar, Gerry has been away to mart again. This time for calf sales, where she was pleased that the prices seemed to have improved somewhat after the earlier lamb sales.
I do get confused for a while by altering the clocks. I did get to idly wondering if, living on an island, we could actually get away without Daylight Saving Time altogether. Mostly we go about our daily lives, not really concerned about the actual time. I reckon we could convince holidaymakers and visitors to alter their watches. Oh, but hang on... we'd always be late for the ferry... or would we be early.....??
Criomagan (Crumbs) from Canna House
John and Margaret Campbell of Canna had a lifelong connection with the island of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia where they recorded many hundreds of songs and stories, preserving them for posterity on paper and in sound recordings. Both John and Margaret were accorded honorary degrees at St Francis Xavier University in Antigonish for their priceless work there over the years, beginning in 1932 when John undertook the first ever complete census of Gaelic in the province, a work which has since formed the core of language studies in Nova Scotia.
Canna House archivist Fiona Mackenzie was recently invited to present a paper at an innovative new conference at St Anne's Gaelic College in Cape Breton, entitled "A'Chanain Cheòlmhor - Language Revitalisation Through Music". The Conference explored the theory behind and techniques employed, in the revitalisation of minority languages and speakers and participants came from across the globe to create debate on contemporary initiatives in the field.
Fiona presented a paper entitled "Facal, Fuaim is Faileas - the Canna Collections. An holistic approach to language learning". Fiona demonstrated how the Canna Archives give us a legacy of ways to stimulate the learning senses. The audio and the visual. When combined they give us an holistic assault on the senses, a choice of learning routes. Hear the tune, see the contributor's image, hear the word, see the word, and speak the word….teach the word.
Using material from the Canna photographic, film and paper archives, Fiona focussed on the resources available to language professionals, tutors and musicians alike, and providing examples of how they can be used as a stimulus to the core of language learning, for all ages. It also of course, featured live Gaelic song, performed by Fiona herself!
Also featuring in the weeks programme was the Nova Scotian premiere of the new film 'Solas' produced by Fiona as part of the Solas project to redigitise and promote the Margaret Fay Shaw film collection. The film includes images taken by Margaret in 1937 in Nova Scotia and also includes a rare sound clip of the "Mi'k Ma'k" people singing in their indigenous language.
During the week, Fiona was also asked to make a video describing her most recent project - #GaelTrail - incorporating the material collected by Margaret and John in Cape Breton, particularly in 1937, the year of their most important folklore collecting tour of the province, which lasted three months. Since August 2019, Fiona has delivered a social media campaign entitled #GaelTrail, following the diaries of John Lorne Campbell during that trip and pairing those for the first time, with the images of the contributors and other artefacts of that trip - for example, the number plate of the car they took with them to Cape Breton then! The conference participants were most excited to see the pictures taken by Margaret on that trip and hear the sound recording made by John then, most of them, for the first time.
During the course of the week, Fiona was delighted to find out that the project has been nominated as an example of exceptionally good practice, in the 'International' category of the Scottish National Gaelic Awards to be held in Glasgow in late November.
#GaelTrail can be found on the @CannaNTS Twitter page and on the Canna House Facebook page.
ISLE OF RUM
The Isle of Rum: Our home, tourist destination, wild nature kingdom, mountain host and a place of change. Since West Word was first published, 25 years ago, our silhouette against the sky hasn't changed but a lot of the details of Rum have changed.
School has a new fence and a fresh coat of paint, but the view remains spectacular.
Only two of our residents remain the same, but lots of other people have come to join them, and some of us have even been born here! And we are hoping to welcome even more new residents as our house building program is completed. We are really looking forward to that!
Back then, the residents on Rum were the 17 or so SNH staff and their families, some were seasonal, some permanent. Today we still have seasonal residents and we really enjoy getting to know new people and hear about where they are from. Our current residents number not many more than back then, but we have builders and MOWI staff and volunteers to add to our community.
About the houses: two have burned down in the last 25 years, but four new ones will be ready for new families in the new year. Our housing has improved from tied and feudal to community ownership with security of tenure and community empowerment! Our castle, however, has gone from hotel to hostel to closed and an uncertain future . . . but we have a wonderful community-built bunkhouse which welcomes walkers and all other weary travellers.
The Red Deer project is still gathering information and data about these amazing large land mammals, just as it did 25 years ago, although it is now run by Edinburgh University rather than Cambridge. This year the Rut was particularly good and we are expecting lots of early calves next spring. We have many visiting stalkers to deliver the stag cull in September and October - again more people to meet and talk to - but SNH do the hind cull, which is happening at the moment, and if you are up early enough you can see chestnut and autumn leaf coloured ponies setting off for distant destinations across the island.
At Rum Primary we have two children in the school and one in the Nursery. Our school is filled with imaginative displays and lots of science, maths and outdoor equipment to fire up our creativity and unleash new questions for us to investigate. We take every opportunity to get together. Recently, we enjoyed day trips to Canna, welcomed a wildlife cameraman, scared ourselves silly (and funny) with a fancy dress Halloween party and had the very best community bonfire building event, ever. Watch this space for the fireworks that will definitely follow!
Rum Primary School
ISLE OF EIGG
As it is West Word's anniversary, Tadhgan, Maggie, Betsy, Freya and Agnes did some research and found out lots of things about Eigg 25 years ago. It would have been 1994. Agnes and Freya thought that 25 years is a very, very long time ago. If someone was a baby 25 years ago they would be a grown up today. Trees would be taller now and some might even have blown down.
In 1994 the people who lived on Eigg started to think about buying the island. They came up with that idea because they thought the people who owned Eigg then weren't doing a very good job and that they thought they could do it better. They started to plan how they would do it.
They needed to raise a lot of money. One and a half million pounds. They asked their friends for help. Bands like Shooglenifty, who are still around today, played at a ceilidh called Not The Landowners Ball. Betsy's dad remembers going to it. Lots of and lots of people thought what the people on Eigg wanted to do was a good thing. 10,000 of them sent money to help. One very generous lady gave one million pounds. Only Big Maggie knows the name of the lady - it's top secret. It took three years to buy the island and the buyout happened in 1997.
There were 65 people living on Eigg 25 years ago. Now there are 110. So there are 45 more people living on Eigg now than in 1994.
There was a shop on Eigg, but it wasn't at the pier like it is today. It was in the Swap Shop in the middle of the island. Today it has "The Old Shop" painted on the outside. Inside there is an old shop counter with weighing scales on it. There was a wee castle at the pier. Inside was the tearoom, which was run by Marie, wee Maggie's granny.
The school was in the same place as it is today but there was only one room, the classroom. The room which now has the nursery in it was inside the school teacher's house, and there wasn't a learning centre. When it was an election day, people had to use the classroom for voting in. This meant the pupils got a day off school.
The ferry was called the Loch Mhor. The Loch Mhor couldn't get to Eigg; it was too big for the small pier. Tadhgan and Freya's grandpa used to take passengers on his little boat to meet it just off Castle Island. If you were on the Loch Mhor you would have to jump out to get into the wee boat which would then take you to Eigg. It was the same when the Loch Nevis replaced the Loch Mhor, and you can still see the door in the side of the Loch Nevis where people jumped in and out. Today there is a new, long pier that means the Loch Nevis can come right up to Eigg.
25 years ago there was electricity, but instead of it coming from Eigg Electric's renewable sources, everyone made their own electricity with a generator outside their house. There was no internet 25 years ago, and some people lived in caravans instead of houses. Instead of staying in the school hostel, the High School children stayed with other families on the mainland.
Tadhgan and Freya's mum were living on Eigg 25 years ago, but their dad was not. Maggie's dad was living on Eigg then too, but not her mum. They would have been 16 years old. Betsy's mum and dad didn't live on Eigg then, but her dad used to visit. He was a bit older than 16. Agnes' mum and dad moved here with her and her sister nearly two years ago.
Eigg Primary School
Kinloch Castle Asset Transfer Bid Rejected
An application by Kinloch Castle Friends Association (KCFA) for asset transfer of 'A' listed Kinloch Castle from the current owner, Scottish Natural Heritage, has been rejected. The announcement was made on the 8th November following a meeting of the SNH Board held on 29th October.
KCFA has expressed extreme disappointment at the decision to reject its bid for asset transfer. A spokesperson for the organisation said "If this Castle was on the mainland there would no question about its continuing survival. We are determined to continue to fight for the castle and the opportunities which our business plan provides to contribute to the economic regeneration of the island and the wider community. We have identified potential alternative sources of funding, and we will be pursuing further discussions with SNH and the Scottish Government. Our exploration of other funding mechanisms within the financial community has provided independent corroboration that our business plan is robust."
KCFA submitted the bid for asset transfer after SNH declared that that the organisation had no further need for the castle, which had at one time been run as an upmarket hotel with hostel facilities, providing accommodation for up to 56 people. Since then, visitor numbers to the nature reserve have halved because of a lack of accommodation, while doubling in neighbouring Eigg and in the West Highlands generally. Rum has recently lost the services of a Ranger as reduced visitor numbers led to a reduction in hours which made the post non-viable. The Ranger did a sterling job organising a wide variety of walks, talks and other events highlighting and interpreting the natural attractions for visitors.
This impressive 'A' listed building had been occupied since built in 1900 until the closure by SNH in 2013 of hostel facilities, and since then it has deteriorated substantially with repeated outbreaks of wet and dry rot, and water ingress. The original population also fell from 42 to a low of around 20 people. It is estimated that an increase in visitor numbers with restoration of the castle would create employment opportunities for up to 50 people, not only in the castle, but also for subsidiary businesses, such as the provision of outdoor experience activities. This would contribute to the economic regeneration of the island and wider communities.
The asset transfer set out KCFA's proposals to use the building, following restoration, as a bed and breakfast facility to provide additional much-needed indoor overnight accommodation for visitors to the island, together with bistro and bar facilities which would ensure it was self-sustainable.
While Rum is now experiencing inward investment and regeneration, with the establishment of a fish farm off the island by MOWI, and the construction of new housing stock (both for the largely transient fish farm workers, and also for local residents), additional employment opportunities are required to encourage more people to settle on the island, reversing the decline in the resident population, and ensure the viability of the island's primary school. Rum is mostly owned by SNH, although the houses in Kinloch village transferred to the local community. The asset transfer of the castle is regarded as the next phase in the return of the island's assets to a community which was dispossessed in 1828, at the time of the forcible clearance of over 400 people to create a sheep farm.
The provision of additional indoor accommodation in the castle building would enable larger educational study and outdoor leisure groups, currently deterred by the limitations of available accommodation, to spend time on Rum, studying and enjoying the island, a National Nature Reserve.
Meanwhile the future of the castle remains uncertain. SNH commissioned a feasibility report on the future of Kinloch Castle in 2016, and the conclusion was that a sustainable solution for the castle must be achieved. 'The cost of failure to the island and wider community, the present custodian, the public sector, central government and all other stakeholders is likely to be considerably more than the cost of success.'
Canna's Renewables Project Shortlisted for Green Energy Award
Canna's Renewable Energy and Electrification (CREE) project is a finalist in the Scottish Green Energy Awards 2019, shortlisted for the Best Community Project Award. The winners at an awards ceremony to be held in Edinburgh on 5 December.
The CREE scheme is maintained by the community and comprises:
- 159kW battery storage
- 30kW wind (6x5kW wind turbines)
- 30kW ground mounted Solar PV array
- Electrical grid and control infrastructure
- Equipment accommodation
The six turbines are served by a small inverter shed which in turn links by cable into the island's existing electricity distribution network. The wind turbine array works in conjunction with a bank of photo-voltaic cells. Both feed electricity via inverters to the battery storage located within a new shed. The 159kWh battery bank also links to the electricity distribution network and will make use of the existing diesel generators as a back-up power supply. The use of wind and solar PV on the Canna grid ensures a diverse mix of generation which can supply the island in all seasons. When there isn't enough wind or sun to meet demand, the system turns the generators on automatically, running on full power for a short period until the batteries are fully charged.
This project also utilises smart technology to autonomously balance supply and demand through use of the battery bank, and using remotely-triggered auxiliary heat loads. This enables the generators to run as efficiently as possible, further reducing runtime.
The CREE replaced the old diesel generators in October 2018 and was officially opened on 6 April 2019 by the Scottish Minister for Connectivity, Energy and the Islands, Paul Wheelhouse MSP.
Mallaig Harbour News
First of all, Congratulations to West Word on their 25th anniversary, and 300th edition. I thought it would be good to start this month looking back at what was happening in autumn 1994 around the harbour.
The new linkspan facilities at Mallaig and Armadale had been in operation for their first season, and a larger ferry, the Iona, had been servicing the Mallaig-Armadale route, while a new twice-weekly route had begun from Mallaig to the Western Isles. Up to September 1994, numbers between Mallaig and Armadale had risen from 120,399 passengers in 1993 to 138,342 in 1994, cars were up from 26,958 to 32,636, commercial vehicles from 62 to 86 and coaches from 432 to 686! However, there was concern that while the port was busier, it was easier for people to by-pass Mallaig and head straight south. (As a comparison, in the year from 1st April 2018 to 31st March 2019 the ferry carried 332,944 passengers; 77,181 cars; 2,367 Coaches and 825 Commercial vehicles.)
In December 1994, Mallaig Harbour Authority was welcoming the announcement of funding of £4.1 million towards the £6.8million cost of creating a new breakwater for Mallaig, and expanding fish landing and berthing facilities and the construction of a new fish market to meet European Union hygiene standards!
Mallaig and North West Fishermen's Association was calling for a total ban on twin-rig trawling in all Scottish waters following on from a ban on the use of 70mm fishing gear.
The West of Scotland Fish Producers Organisation had lodged its draft constitution with the Scottish Office and was awaiting approval. It had received 72 applications for membership from vessels as far away as Cape Wrath and the Solway Firth, and including the Western Isles.
The MHA Minutes for 7th October 1994 also noted that 'a wind generator "kit" has been purchased and once suitable weather occurs it will be installed at the Lighthouse', and that, 'With increased yacht usage at the port the possibility of establishing yacht moorings was to be examined'.
Back to the present month, and I have been on holiday for two weeks, but have managed to fit in quite a few meetings with Harbour Users and other partners around this. I mentioned last month the final meeting of the STAG appraisal group, and we are hoping that this will be published shortly.
As a Board, we are looking at how the Harbour Authority can become more environmentally friendly and reduce our carbon footprint. One of the quickest ways we can achieve this is to reduce our electricity consumption, and we are hoping to change all the pier lights to LED lights as a first step. We are also working with Westwheels, who have been successful in attracting funding for an electric vehicle, and we hope to get grants to install electric vehicle charging points at the harbour. If we are successful, these will also be available for public use.
The Marina closes for the winter at the end of October, so we have to say thanks to Courtney McLean and Michael MacLelllan for all their work over the season.
We have also said goodbye this month to Colin MacDougall, Alec Kennedy and Avril Trotter, who finished in the Denholm Fishselling Office this month - we will miss working with them.
The MCA hosted a roadshow in Mallaig on the 30th October to consult fishermen on a new Code of Practice for Small Fishing Vessels which is in development. The code proposes a number of new requirements for vessels, and is effective from October 2019. You can find it by searching the internet for MSN 1871.
When the new Passenger Access Pontoon was built, lots of people commented on why the ramp was built so high. It was engineered to take account of the biggest tides, and this photo, taken on Tuesday 29th October, which shows the pontoon level with the top of the pier, demonstrates the need for the height.
Mallaig Lifeboat log
23rd September 2019 Assisting in Joint Search for Hillwalker
Requested to launch by Stornoway Coastguard at 20:30 to assist in transferring Coastguard teams and assist in searching for missing hill walker by Loch Nevis. A female was missing after separating from her partner due to turning her ankle on the Sunday morning. Rather than scale the pass she decided to take to the coast and make her way to Inverie and get a lift back to Mallaig whilst her partner continued to finish the route. No contact had been received from the walker by Monday evening so Police requested a search be mounted to find her whereabouts. The Lifeboat crew conveyed seven Coastguards to the area and began a shore search from Inverie River using the Y-Boat towards Kyles Knoydart. The Lifeboat entered the top Loch and put another team to Camusrory to search that area. After the Camusrory team was recovered the Lifeboat was joined by Rescue 948 from Stornoway who commenced searching the higher ground and paths that crisscross the area towards Inverie. The Lifeboat regrouped with the Y-Boat at Kyles Knoydart and transferred two Coastguards to search the out building and fields around Kyles Knoydart hamlet. With nothing found the Coastguards returned to the Lifeboat. As the Lifeboat started to leave torch light was seen coming towards the beach abreast of the Lifeboat. A search light was trained on the beach and casualty was located waving from the beach. The Y-Boat was dispatched back to the beach and after speaking to the person confirmed that this was our missing hillwalker who had taken refuge for the night in the wood store of one of the buildings. We assume that she must have been woken by the sound of the Helicopter overhead and then noticed the Lifeboat lying offshore. She was none the worse for her ordeal, and after the Lifeboat collected all the other teams it proceeded back to Mallaig, berthing at 01:30 on Tuesday morning.
12th October 2019 Assisting broken-down Yacht
Launched by Stornoway Coastguard at 17:30 to the assistance of a broken-down yacht off Mallaig harbour. The yacht was unable to start its engine due to problems with the fuel system. A short passage to the casualty and a tow rope promptly delivered over had the casualty in tow for the Marina at 17:47. Once in the harbour, the yacht was taken alongside and berthed on the hammer head at the Marina. Lifeboat on the pontoon berthed and ready for service at 18:15.
Closure of George Walker & Co. Fishsales
The closure of George Walker & Sons (Fr) Ltd signals the end of a 75 year association with the fishing industry in Mallaig. The company was established in the mid 1940's and in the years that followed it was instrumental in providing financial support to generations of fishermen.
During the 1960's Mallaig was the busiest herring port in Europe and this successful period for the company continued through to the 1970's when it was bought over by Christian Salvesen who were based in Edinburgh. The introduction of a herring ban forced the Mallaig fleet to turn to alternative catches such as whitefish and prawns. This eventually led to a further change of ownership in 1986 when the company was acquired by The Denholm Group.
The boom years of the herring fishery could never be replicated but despite this the office of George Walker & Sons at its peak acted as agents for nearly 50 locally owned vessels along with the same number of visiting vessels who would operate from Mallaig during the busy prawn and whitefish season.
Such a contrast to the number of fishing vessels operating from Mallaig in 2019.
(Manager, Denholm Fishselling Ltd)
Arisaig's Apple Day at the Land, Sea & Islands Centre
We were lucky enough to have a glorious autumn day for our celebration of the local apple harvest last month. Everything was glowing - including the faces of those of us having a turn at operating the community apple press outside in the sunshine!
There were lots of lovely apple varieties on display (all locally grown) for people to look at, learn about and taste. Books and pamphlets about apple growing and preserving were on display, and the baking table was groaning with delicious apple themed cakes, pastries and savouries. All in all, a lovely day, and one which we hope to repeat.
BIRDWATCH September 2019 by Stephen MacDonald
Wader passage continued well into the month and the first migrant geese and swans were reported. Waders were mostly seen on the shoreline around Traigh and Camusdarroch. Sanderling, Dunlin, Ringed Plover and Turnstone were the most numerous species involved. Small numbers of Black-tailed Godwits were seen in fields at Traigh and Back of Keppoch.
On the 9th, two Bar-tailed Godwits were seen roosting with various other waders on rocks by Traigh golf course. In poor weather on the 2nd, 60 Knot were seen flying south past West Bay, Mallaig. On the 19th there were at least five Greenshank feeding at Kinloch Moidart. Three were at the Morar Estuary on the 30th.
The first Pink-footed Geese reported were seen on the evening of the 15th, when two skeins of 110 and 75 flew south east over Morar. The next major movement was not until the month end, when there were numerous reports all over the north and west coasts of Scotland, no doubt helped along by the northerly winds. On the 29th several skeins involving 200-300 birds were seen over Arisaig and at least 210 flew east up Loch Morar in the early afternoon. A single Pink-foot was seen feeding alongside the Greylags at Traigh the same day. A skein of 85 flew east over Loch Ailort on the 30th. On the 20th, three Whooper Swans flying south over Invercaimbe were the first of the Autumn. The next report was not until the 30th when five were seen over Arisaig.
Large movements of seabirds during the month, with lots of Kittiwakes, Gannets and Auks seen.
Great and Arctic Skuas were seen regularly, with 11 Great Skuas south past West Bay, Mallaig on the 2nd. Two reports of Pomarine Skuas, a possible juvenile seen from the Mallaig-Rum ferry on the 4th and an adult on the 29th, just off Eigg. Several reports of Storm Petrels throughout the month.
On the 8th an Osprey was seen fishing on the Caimbe, Back of Keppoch at high tide.
Tawny Owls were heard again around Woodside, Morar and Barn Owls were reported from Mallaig. Several reports of Sea Eagles, including one circling over Mallaig Harbour, then flying across to Knoydart on the 4th.
The first Redwings of the Autumn were heard flying overhead at night on the 29th and 30th. The first Fieldfares reports were 15 at Millburn, Rhue on the 30th.
By the month end at least 125 Manx Shearwaters had been ringed and released. Most rescued from Mallaig, although a few were found in Arisaig and Morar.
Here is a selection of Mallaig High School's contributions to the anniversary edition
Michael Ian Currie, Lifeboat Coxswain, age 60
Interview by Finn
"I have been doing this job for 10 years. Originally from Barra, I left school to come here to join the fishing - first as crew then skipper. I have been here since 1975 and in that time I've seen a lot of changes in Mallaig. It's gone from a busy fishing port to one which now mostly deals with pleasure craft and workboats.
"Initially, I joined the RNLI as a volunteer and crewman. For the last 10 years I've been station Coxswain. We average 45 shouts a year: mostly yachts, pleasure craft and medivacs on the islands. The station has two full time members and 18 volunteers. Our present boat is a Severn Class lifeboat and it has been in service since 2001.
Photo by Kirsty Bloom
"On a typical day, I firstly do the Station's administration, answer emails, check safety equipment and organise training. The most exciting thing in the job is when the pager goes off as we don't know what we're going out for. Ultimately, it's a very rewarding job."
Kenneth John MacKenzie, Book Seller, age 69 (left)
Interview by Iona
"I have lived in Mallaig for 69 years. Over the years I have seen changes with the roads because they all used to be single track. I like living here because it's peaceful - my favourite place being Traigh beach.
"My most special memory is that I met my wife here. I used to be in the Coast Guard and the police and was a Constable.
"Now I sell books in aid of local charities and I raised £10,000 last year for local causes. The Queen even invited me to the Royal Garden party in Holyrood because of all the work I did for charities and children's badminton!"
Make my Mallaig
Mallaig is a place full to the bottom of the sea
with spirit and originality.
Steam train and the infamous Harry Potter.
Or the world-famous food - fish n' chips.
Astronomically amazing views of the vast and rugged mountains,
bumpy green and brown countryside.
Or what goes along with that - the astonishing vast amount of wildlife.
Also, that may be a Stag / a Doe:
Birds with seemingly effortlessness power to glide mercilessly through the air
piece by piece making peace.
Marine life such as fish
Personally I like starfish, jellyfish -
you can kind of see a personality with them and that always brings tourists.
And ugly seagulls swooping on tourists' chips -
makes my day looking at their faces.
The boats are welcoming
big bright bold colours that glisten
in the sunlight and at night
the stars reflect on the sea
there are so many of them if you want a ride on one.
Will I see you in Mallaig?
GAELIC IN THE COMMUNITY THROUGH THE YEARS
Mrs Dawn Macphie, Mallaig Primary School, has recently been nominated for the for a Scottish Gaelic Award, under the category of 'Innovation in Education'. This is very exciting and this should be recognised in the community.
Dawn says, "I came to the area in 2002, and taught at Lady Lovat Primary School for three years before the Gaelic Medium Unit outgrew the school building and we transferred over to Mallaig Primary School. I have been teaching through the medium of Gaelic for 17 years in total - making me feel very old!
"I have been nominated for a Scottish Gaelic Award, under the category of 'Innovation in Education'. The Scottish Gaelic Awards have been running for a few years now and recognise the hard work going on across the country in support of Gaelic. The award ceremony takes part on 19th November in Glasgow. There are two other nominees in my category.
"I was nominated by Mr and Mrs Beck, within our school, due to the commitment I have towards raising attainment in Gaelic Medium Education. I have introduced a range of new teaching styles and strategies over the last few years in phonics, reading and writing. The biggest change in my teaching has been through a push in Learning through Play. Within my class, we have many play sessions across the week, during which the children can choose their own tasks or those which I have set out and enjoy learning whilst playing. I play with the children and this helps to develop their skills and their oral Gaelic, taking the learning in whichever direction it naturally flows towards.
"I started learning Gaelic in Primary 6, when I joined Còisir Og Loch Abar with Chrissie MacEachan. I did not have any Gaelic at home, or in my extended family, but I took an interest in Gaelic singing and it inspired me to go on to learn Gaelic at secondary school. It was good to get more experience in learning Gaelic sounds and also to gain further understanding about what I was singing about!
"Gaelic is important as it provides children the opportunity to become bilingual - this opens doors for future career paths and also makes it easier for children to then learn further languages. There is substantial evidence that it makes children's brains more receptive to learning. The Gaelic culture is rich and children are exposed to the culture through education on a daily basis - particularly singing.
"Despite not having any Gaelic in my family, I had always wanted to be a Primary School Teacher. In 4th year at Lochaber High School, I met with the Gaelic Advisor for Highland Council. He explained Gaelic Medium Education to me and we discussed the various options and opportunities I could have if I followed a path towards Gaelic teaching. I realised that, in doing GM teaching, I would have a wider range of job opportunities as I would be qualified to teach in Gaelic or English.
"Every parent has their choice within our area to choose Gaelic Medium or English Medium Education, but the children within the other classes and schools in our cluster are also taught Gaelic as a Learner in the upper primaries. It can be very difficult to promote GME, though we have an open-door policy and we encourage anybody to come and visit or get in touch to ask questions about GME if they are considering this option for their children.
"Teaching is an extremely difficult job, but in my opinion it is even harder in Gaelic Medium as we simply do not have access to the resources which are available in the English Medium. However, it is an incredibly rewarding job. I have worked exceptionally hard over the last 17 years within GME and therefore it is wonderful to be recognised for my dedication to the language, the culture and particularly to creating resources and fun learning experiences for the children. I dedicate a lot of my time to making learning fun for all and I love seeing the children's faces during interactions and lessons, and being happy to come to school. I am working on creating a fun phonics programme for GME, and I am constantly working to promote Learning through Play. If I was to win the award, I feel this would be a testament to my hard work and efforts!"
Lee and Callum
Camusdarach - What's In A Name?
Camusdarach (Gaelic for Bay of the Oak) is without doubt the jewel in the crown of Scotland's celebrated West Coast. Both locals and visitors revel in its dazzling arc of brilliant white sand , intense (and if truth be told somewhat chilly) blue waters which draw your eye to the horizon - and a skyline which boasts the conspicuous crest of Eigg, jagged hills of Rum and towering Cuillins of Skye. Whilst the beach as many admirers - tourists come from all over - visitors to Camusdarach may be in for a surprise for in recent years, the beach as been home to way more than dog walkers, kayakers and sand castles.
In the late 80s, Camusdarach became globally famous as 'Ben's Beach' - starring in the quintessentially Scottish Local Hero - a film about a rich American oilman who wants to develop the beach, a poor beach bum who wants to live on it, a community who want to profit from it and a real live mermaid who wants to save it. More recently the beach took a starring role in popular TV series Hamish Macbeth - and in the last few years had featured in Visit Scotland's global advertising campaigns.
Not just for the famous, however, visitors to Camusdarach in October 2017 could have been forgiven for thinking they had walked into a war zone as the beach was quite literally invaded by 120 members of the Royal Marines 1st Assault Boat Squadron, complete with two hovercrafts and assault boats, as they played a key role, manning a Forward Operating Base for Joint Warrior - the UK and Europe's largest military exercise.
It's not just humans, however, that take the beach by surprise. Huge winter storms in 2014 washed the body of a large Minke whale ashore. Sadly somewhat decomposed and terribly smelly, the body of the once majestic mammal caused much concern - especially to those who live nearby the beach. Discussions ranged from blowing it up Hollywood style with a large amount of (probably unsourceable) dynamite to sawing it into manageable chunks for easy burial. Thankfully neither was necessary as an even bigger storm reclaimed it before any decisions had been made!
Over the years Camusdarach has changed little - it remains a place of exceptional beauty, crystal clear waters and global acclaim. It had so much to offer - everything that is apart from the oak after which it is named.
WORLD WIDE WEST WORD
West Word has been to the USA recently with Daimh (L - R Ellen, Angus, Ross and Yogi) - here they are at the International Car Forest at Goldface in the Nevada desert!
Jean Duncan enjoyed reading her copy when she was on holiday in Colonsay.
Former editor Ann took a look at her copy (with front cover of her granddaughter's artwork) at St Margaret's Hope in Orkney, waiting for the Pentalina to dock. Ann and husband Richard were pleased to witness the arrival in Orkney of Pentland Ferries new catamaran ferry, MV Alfred, from its trip from the shipyard in Vietnam. Alfred is hailed as the most environmentally-friendly ferry service of its kind in Scotland, with a shore-based wind turbine providing power when the vessel is docked overnight. But Ann had a big fail in trying to meet up with ex-Knoydart resident Cath Curd in Kirkwall despite best efforts from both!
Sue Hollands and Neil Robertson took a copy to the foot of the Franz Joseph glacier on New Zealand's South Island during their recent trip to Singapore, New Zealand and Australia.
Eilidh Martin also took a copy to New Zealand when on tour with Shooglenifty, and after their Dunedin gig shared all the news from the West with Kirsty the editor's sister, Brigid, who lives there and had enjoyed a great night out dancing to the Shoogles!
Watch this space for extracts from next month's issue!
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