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

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October 2013 Issue

Contents of the online version:

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

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A three year winter pilot ferry service between Mallaig and Lochboisdale will start from this winter, Transport Minister Keith Brown has announced. The MV Lord of the Isles is expected to provide the service and is an addition to the planned service enhancements on the Oban to South Uist and Oban-Barra routes as part of the Scottish Government's Ferries Plan. Mr Brown said 'I am acutely aware of the strength of feeling from local communities that we look closely at providing a service on the Mallaig to Lochboisdale route. We have listened to those views and we are acting.'

MV Lord of the Isles will run twice on Tuesday and twice on Saturdays

The service is on a trial basis and will be fully evaluated and reviewed at the end of the three year trial run. It will operate two days a week, on Tuesday and Saturdays, with two trips on each of those days.
The timetable, just published, runs from 12th November 2013 to 21st January 2014, and from 18th February to 1st April 2014. The ferry departs Lochboisdale at 6am and 2pm for the three and a half hour journey to Mallaig, leaving Mallaig for the return trips at 9.45am and 6.15pm. These times allow connection with the train to/from Glasgow.
The timetable from CalMac also lists an additional sailing from Lochboisdale and Castlebay to Oban, as included in the Ferries Plan, giving five sailings a week.
Stòras Uibhist, owner of the South Uist Estate and long time campaigner for the ferry link, welcomed the news but say it must be acknowledged that the winter season sees lower demand for ferries and the local economy will continue to be restricted during the peak summer months until a year round service is introduced.

It's rainy, it's nice, it's rainy, it's nice… At least it's nice sometimes. Fingers crossed October will be a dryer month. It's certainly still warm enough. Despite it still being uncharacteristically warm, we can feel autumn coming: the days are getting shorter, the leaves are falling, and the peninsula is winding down. Doune has closed for the season (where did the time go?), the Tearoom is on to their autumn hours (10-4), and there are less and less visitors every day.
However, some of the recent visitors have been arriving in style. There have been numerous helicopters landing on Knoydart over the last month, each greeted with moderate excitement and anticipation as rumours spread about VIPs on board. I've heard everything from Sting, a famous poker player, or a Chinese woman who owns a restaurant. I'm not sure which I was more excited about.
The Uke's went on tour! We travelled all the way to the Astely hall in Arisaig on Friday the 20th. The Mallaig/Morar/Arisaig choir were kind enough to invite us to their musical themed concert. We were a bit nervous playing along side a choir and such amazing singers, but they were very welcoming and a great laugh and put us at ease. It was a lovely night and over far too quickly. Thank you so much ladies and hopefully, maybe, it won't be our last collaboration?
Next day, after an early hair o' the dug, we carried on our tour in Mallaig at the mission's open day. The place looks fab: the café is fresh looking with great grub, the selection of second hand books and dvds are still there, there's a barber's, an art gallery, accommodation, and more. It was a lovely day with a great turnout.
Another successful day was the Tearoom's Macmillan Coffee Morning - raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support. As usual we had it running all day, with all of the money from our baking cabinet and 50p from every hot drink going to Macmillan. (Huge thanks to Dave Marriot for supplying the yummy pie and gorgeous gateau!) We also had different quizzes and games ongoing and then at night continued in the village hall. Wine, nibbles (both for a good cause), games and shenanigans. A good laugh.
As well as our coffee morning, we also had folk sponsoring Aaran Watson taking part in a challenge for 30 days: she realised she had roughly 48 pairs of shoes, so decided to try and wear a different pair of shoes every day for 30 days in a row. Doesn't sound challenging? Not only did it increase the already difficult question every woman faces in the morning, "What will I wear?", the great west highland weather did not help either! After all, she could only wear her wellies once! But with great determination and strength she pulled it off. A big well done to Aaran, and a big thanks as she managed to raise over £400 on sponsors alone! Which meant, overall, we all managed to raise a staggering £985 and counting! Well done and thank you to everyone who donated. It's a fantastic amount for such a small community and shows how generous everyone can be.
The community also had some sad news this month as Frank from Tarbet passed away. A fantastic character I only met a handful of times but will be sadly missed by those who knew him dearly. I'm glad I went to the Tarbet games this year and seen him on such good form: taking on his role as MC, shouting out orders to everyone through the megaphone, mumbling obscenities off the megaphone, and most of all playing his accordion… whilst wearing a pink cowboy hat. I hope I reach his age with as many stories to tell and jokes to laugh at. As one leaves this world, another one enters. Welcome home Baby Brown! Congratulations to Kristy, Jim and Kitty on their beautiful, new arrival. Maybe by the time this has been printed she'll have a name, but for now we wait with baited breath. Mum and baby are happy and healthy, and Jim has recovered from his ordeal of having to spend the night in the car.
Congrats also to Bob and wee Rhona who are now directors. Lots of building going on as KFT builds a shed, and Toby and his team continue with Knoydart Hide. There are two photo competitions on going at the moment for residents of Knoydart: one from KFT which ends 18th October, and one from Community Land Scotland which ends 30th November. So get snapping! Well done to Jackie Robertson for taking part in Baxter's 10k!!
A final congratulation is in order...'Stay the Same' had its premier on Knoydart on the 7th September. Well done to Sam Firth: what a beautiful film. A mostly local crowd was moved by it, some to tears, and we celebrated its success with our friend. I had absolutely no idea what to expect and I think, like many, I was blown away. Bravo Sam, it was all worth it.
I think I've rambled on enough for this month…
Amy Connolly

Peace has descended on the island after a hectic summer and one calm day follows another with hardly a visitor in sight. As all the lambs have left and most of the fields are empty, each day they present a darker shade of green. And most of the calves have gone too; gone to the sale at Fort William at prices way above last year which is very encouraging. We still have six cracking Sim-Luing heifers as there was no room in the truck. They are booked for 12th October at Fort William.
Many changes on the island in 2013 and this month I can report yet another. Colin ever up for a challenge has completely gutted the bothy-bunkhouse with the aim of bringing them up to modern standards. Built around 1902 following the wedding of Sandra's grand father and for 2 decades housing the island school it is a building full of history. But the island must move on.
But no news on the new teacher, no news about jobs on the Fish Farm. Hopefully I will have more to report next month.
Lawrence MacEwen

September brought stormy weather but also some warm sunny days which I'm sure everyone enjoyed.
Eight volunteer dykers from Cumbria (below) spent a week mending and rebuilding walls around the island and its good to see no gates in the gaps! The group are mostly retired and wanted to come to an area where they could practice a different style of dyking than they're used too. They really enjoyed the experience and are coming back next year.


Work is nearing completion on the new community shop which will be ready for next year and its been another good job from A A Young's boys.
Camus Arts Centre has had two plays on this month, A Little Bird Blown off Course written by and featuring Gaelic singer Fiona J MacKenzie and An Idiot at the Wall by Elspeth Turner. Both were thoroughly enjoyed and it is hoped more events will be organised for next year as it is a fantastic if small venue.

Cast of 'An Idiot at the Wall'

Sheep sales are over for another year and although prices are back on last year the farm has done not too badly, Lambs averaged £57/hd with a top of £60/hd and cast ewes averaged £76 with a top of £95. The lamb average was down £6 on last year but compared to a lot of farmers who are down £10-£12/hd it was not too bad.
Rabbits continue to be a major problem and contributed to a huge landslide which blocked the main track to Tarbert. A digger had to be hired over from the mainland to clear about 100 tonne of soil and stones off the road.
Geraldine MacKinnon

September has been typified by building projects and brambles - work is progressing well up at Gav and Laura's wool workshop on croft 2, reckon the roof will be on by the end of October, which is pretty good progress really with the imminent arrival of baby Copland; The fruit cages/turkey enclosure (which is it?) is under repair on croft 3, after being tackled by one of her own turkeys, Nic has clear intentions of keeping them from running riot anymore (until Christmas anyway). Claire has her new shed to store all her equipment for running the teashop; and most importantly the community bunkhouse is waiting on its building warrant and work is expected to commence by the end of the month with an expected finish date next May - we can hardly wait, what a momentous project for us here! And as for the brambles, well there's so many of them, the freezers are groaning under the weight and they deserved a mention.
Rum community has bought its own tractor, a wonderfully empowering piece of kit for us, means we can pick up our own gas bottles off the ferry and move scrap cars, fallen trees and rent it our to our new crofters and lots more I reckon, we are all suitably happy.
Jinty has remodelled the shop for the winter and re-purposed the ice cream freezer to accommodate the frozen peas and fish fingers too, her new winter opening hours coincide with the change to the ferry's winter timetable - which in itself takes us months to adjust to, so confusion reigns, more than usual.
Last month's harvest meal organised under the 'Blasda' banner was a great success, there was an opulent variety of Rum produced fare including several venison dishes which left us all full and the music provided by the Shearwater guys was great - highlight of the day was Eve Morris (aged 5) dancing marathon, even the ever faster cossack music was not enough to beat her. Phew, she put us all to shame!
The red deer rut is well under way in Kilmory Glen, no sign of Autumnwatch this year, but that doesn't mean the action is any less impressive, is Percy still king of the glen we wonder? Will find out next month with an update from the Kilmory research staff.
Loch Nevis's annual refit was organised earlier this year to avoid clashing with the school holidays and hasn't caused as much mayhem as in previous years, the timetable has pretty much been adhered to and the service carried out with a smile, many thanks to CalMac, the crew of Orion and Loch Bhrusda.
Fliss Fraser

September has been a busy month on Eigg for birthdays, especially in the Carr family: first wee Maggie's whose 4th birthday brought a load of indians and cowboys to Laig farm for a scrumptious feast provide by her mum Saira, one of the talented Eiggy Bread food duo: that rainbow-coloured layered birthday cake with lemon cream filling was truly a foodie's dream - It was a great follow-up on Dan Leaver's Pop up Hebridean larder restaurant, which featured a well attended feast of local food at the hall earlier on in the month - Then it was the turn of Maggie's auntie Frances, 25 this year, and finally Colin and Marie's. Some of us are seriously contemplating going Sober for October to recover from it all. (Och well, perhaps Movember will do.)
In the meantime, a great welcome back to Tamsin and Stuart MacCarthy with 2 year old Teadhgan who are now settling on Eigg after 3 years in Nepal. Great news, not least for young Innes Kirk who also celebrated his first birthday this month during his holiday en famille in Cornwall!
It's been a busy time for musicians too, with Damian Helliwell recording his first album in his very own recording studio at home, under the watchful eyes of the Cormack brothers, one at the sound control, the other behind the camera. Phew, an intense few days by all accounts but well rewarding, watch out for the release of "Meta" with Eilidh Shaw on the fiddle, Damian's girlfriend Jenn on the double basse, Andy Thorburn on the keyboards and Donald "Drummie" on percussions. Expect to be surprised! As to the Pictish Trail, Johnny and his lads are on tour again, starting with a gig in France and many more from Brighton to Paisley, Maggie is doing a grand job of putting it all on Facebook, and Eigg followers have had lots to read recently, it's been red hot with all that is going on! What with superb moon shots of the Harvest moon and a calendar of all the activities that have or are about to resume, singing, yoga, chi kung...
In the meantime, silage is safely in, and stock gathered for the sales. Early September lamb sales have been a bit disappointing, and higher prices are expected for later on in October.
As the Loch Nevis annual refit has been put forward to this month, there has been a little disruption on the usual ferry routine, but it has to be said that it was a great improvement on changes happening right in the middle of the October holidays. Well done Cal Mac for making a real attempt to keep everyone abreast of almost daily changes in vessels and arrival times. It worked out ok in any case to convey a couple of Eiggachs to Canna for the 2nd show of the season in the old St Edwards chapel, now Canna's new art centre and theatre, accommodation courtesy of the community there! It was a superb show, with plenty Gaelic to satisfy the most ardent Hebridean culture aficionado and the space was absolutely perfect: Canna's answer to the Mull Little Theatre! Many thanks again for the hospitality! Please invite us again, opportunities for inter-island exchange are only too few, and we all need to work together to ensure that we can make the most of our tourism opportunities. The Small Isles don't stand to profit much from the proposed Lochaber BID, but much more from joint promotion locally and further afield. In which case, the inclusion of the Small Isles in this autumn's Infinity Scotland show is most welcome!
Camille Dressler

Volunteering Opportunity on Isle of Rum
Saturday 23rd to Saturday 30th November 2013

We are looking for volunteers to work with the Community Ranger on a conservation volunteer project. The main work will be in rhododendron clearance using the lever and mulch method but other conservation tasks may be included in the schedule.
Applicants with previous experience in this field are particularly encouraged to apply but all applicants will be considered. You will need to be physically fit, have a good sense of humour and an interest in the environment.
Successful applicants will be provided with accommodation for the duration of their stay in our camping Kabins and ferry tickets to and from the island (you will need to make your own way to Mallaig which is our nearest port). Everyone will be rostered on for communal cooking duties.
Evenings will be free so there is plenty of time to explore the island, spot wildlife and experience the culture of Rum.
In the first instance please contact Nic at the Rum Volunteer Programme on volunteering@isleofrum.com or write to Nic Goddard, Isle of Rum, PH43 4RR including a CV and covering letter. Successful applicants will be contacted shortly afterwards.

The £4 million Mallaig High School Hostel, opened in March 2010, is already in need of major repairs as rain and wind seep into the building. Standing as it does on a hillside looking out to sea, it receives the full brunt of what our west coast weather can throw at it and the fabric is not up to the challenge.
The problems were revealed after renovations were undertaken at the school and hostel. The school has received new windows and ramps. A project to improve fire safety and strengthen emergency staircases uncovered the need to remove and replace masonry in the hostel's walls.
Some 30 pupils from Knoydart and the Small Isles stay at the hostel during term time and have been dodging buckets in the corridors set to catch leaks.
It is estimated the repairs could cost a six figure number.

The refurbished Morrison Building threw its doors open to local people on Saturday September 21st 2013 with an invitation to have a look round the businesses housed there and the renovated accommodation on the first floor, listen to music and partake in some refreshments.
A good crowd gathered to see James Hepburn, perform the opening ceremony with a speech and ribbon cutting. Young pipers Gregor Innes and Cameron MacBeth marked the occasion with some tunes. James served on the Local Mission Committee from its inception.
Councillor Allan Henderson presented Charlie Mills, representative of the Mrs K G Morrison Discretionary Trust, owners of the building, with an original programme of events when the Fishermen's Mission building was opened in 1977 by Cameron of Locheil.
Entertainment was provided by the Knoydart Ukulele Orchestra as guests explored the building and enjoyed tasters of the food served at the Mission Café.
Charlie Mills, who has spearheaded the takeover of the building, said 'I was extremely pleased to see so many local people on the Open Day. Local support has made the whole project worthwhile personally to me.
'I was delighted to welcome Philip Rhodes, Trustee of the Morrison Trust, and Iain Morrison of the Morrison family. Iain travelled from the Isle of Bute with his partner Jackie to be there on the day.

Allan Henderson (right) presenting Charlie Mills with the original programme of 1977.

'Special thanks to Allan Henderson for presenting us with the programme of the original opening of the Mission Building, which will take pride of place on the wall and will add to the evolving history of the Morrison Building (which will always sbe known as The Mission!). 'We were very proud to hang a photograph in the entrance hallway of Iain's father and Philip's stepfather, John Morrison, who served many years in the Merchant Navy.'

Improvements to the A82 at Pulpit Rock, Ardlui (south of Fort William) will necessitate the following closures, for the safety of road users and road workers:
Overnight between Monday 7th October and Monday 21st October inclusive and Monday 4h November to Monday 11th November inclusive.
During overnight closures, the road will close at 10pm and re-open at 6am each day.
Closure dates are publicised on the Transport Scotland website and promoted through Traffic Scotland, news releases, variable message signs and local newspaper adverts.

New road signs
Are Transport Scotland trying to rename Mallaig?
These signs at Fort William only give the Gaelic spelling.
Photos Iain Ferguson, The Write Image



News in Brief

The beautiful church of St Mary and St Finnan in Glenfinnan has been undergoing major restoration work for the last few months.
The church was built 140 years ago, designed by Edward Welby Pugin, the son of A W N Pugin who designed the interior of the Houses of Parliament.


The condition of the church has deteriorated over the years and has seen several valiant attempts to make it waterproof, with the congregation raising the money and carrying out repairs. Now Alisdair (Pod) Carmichael from Glenuig is undertaking the major work. The fabric of the church had become soaked with water running down the inside of the walls and leaks from the roof valleys. Internal joists, wooden flooring around the altar and wood panelling was plainly damp and wet rot widespread. The windows have seen many different plain and frosted glass used which detracts from the look of the church. The stained glass window needs considerable work. The internal lighting is poor and barely sufficient and the electric heating likewise.
The Stations of the Cross (possibly by Pugin) number only 11 and these are in poor condition, likewise the altar, also likely to be by Pugin, has deteriorated with age.
Despite this the roof is in pretty good condition and the remedial work is clearly identifiable and not technically difficult. There is no sign of dry rot which is a relief. £200,000 has been raised towards fixing the roof and walls, but a further £100,000 is required to restore the interior. You can give a donation through www.justgiving.com/glenfinnan-church

and our gardens win prizes too!

Knoydart couple Lorna Schofield and Davie Newton are officially the best neighbours in Lochaber - after being named winners of the inaugural Monsignor Wynne Good Neighbour Award, introduced by Lochaber Housing Association as part of its "jubilee" celebrations. Lochaber Housing Association launched the annual award earlier this year - along with the LHA 25th Anniversary Community Fund and an award for each of the local high schools - to mark the association's quarter century and underline its continued support for local communities. Named after LHA's first chairman, the Monsignor Wynne Good Neighbour Award recognises those who have made a real difference to their local community.

Knoydart’s Lorna and Davy with Anne-Marie with the Monsignor Wynne Good Neighbours Award.
Photo Anthony MacMillan, Photography, Fort William

Anne-Marie Scott, aged 70, of Tigh na Dobhrain, Inverie, on the remote Knoydart peninsula, nominated next door neighbours Lorna and Davie to thank them for all they have done for her over the years.
Along with their young daughters, Freya and Kira, the couple have consistently looked out for Anne-Marie - whose son lives in Leeds - taking care of all her needs from grass-cutting, path-clearing, chimney-sweeping and stacking firewood to helping her get online and watering her pot plants while she's away from home.
'They are just great neighbours to have,' Anne-Marie said. 'Lorna even makes sure I have my sunscreen on when the sun is really hot! I had a bad fall last year and they are very good about checking on me - it is wonderful to know that they are there should I ever need help in the future.'
Lorna and Davie were presented with the Monsignor Wynne quaich and gift vouchers at LHA's 25th anniversary AGM.
Blair Allan, LHA's Chief Executive, said: "This award offered an ideal opportunity for our clients to say a big thank you to a kind and caring person who has made a difference to the local community with their acts of kindness."

Other awards presented at the 25th anniversary AGM included the Best Garden Award, which went to Julie MacAskie of 9 Canon Gilles Place, Fort William, and the Best Garden Tubs/Pots award, won by Mervyn Wreford of 3 Columba Court.

photo photo
Julie MacAskie with her certificate
and her winning garden in Arisaig.

Stronlossit couple Brian and Collette Strachan - the longest serving LHA tenants, who moved into their home in LHA's first completed development in November 1990 - were also presented with a gift to mark the occasion, by former LHA chairperson Monsignor Thomas Wynne.
Following a cake-cutting ceremony involving LHA chairpersons past and present - Monsignor Thomas Wynne, Alison Gainsford and Di Alexander - a number of awards were made to Lochaber Housing Association itself, including the Investors in People Gold Award and Care & Repair accreditation.
To commemorate the 25th Anniversary of Lochaber Housing Association, established in 1988 to provide quality affordable housing and services for residents throughout Lochaber, current LHA chairperson Di Alexander - who has been involved since the Association's inception - has written a booklet of personal reflections covering the first quarter century. Copies are available from Lochaber Housing Association, 101 High Street, Fort William (Tel: 01397 702530).


New Ferry Link
The re-establishment of a Mallaig - Outer Isles Ferry Link is the big news this month with a three year winter pilot ferry service between Mallaig and Lochboisdale set to commence this coming winter.
The service is set to be carried out by MV Lord Of The Isles and will start in mid-November through to early April with a 3 week break in February when the LOTI is unavailable due to refit cover elsewhere in the ferry network.
Transport Minister Keith Brown announced the project on the 26th September saying 'The Scottish Government's Ferries Plan outlines our ambitions for ferry services across Scotland over the next decade with enhancements on the Oban-South Uist and Oban-Barra routes coming on stream this winter.
'In addition to those enhancements, I am acutely aware of the strength of feeling from local communities that we look closely at providing a service on the Mallaig to Lochboisdale route. We have listened to those views and we are acting'.
He said the move follows detailed analysis of the availability of vessels across the Clyde and Hebrides routes and, over the next three winter periods, the feasibility of the service will be tested on a trial basis.
Although the timetable has yet to be agreed its looking likely that the daytime service will run twice weekly probably on a Wednesday and a Saturday.
The Scottish Governments decision to introduce the pilot ferry service caught us by surprise as there was no indication or discussion on the matter, indeed my statement in the Authority's Annual Review now looks decidedly off-key as it reads "The Ferries Plan does not contain much hope for those seeking the re-introduction of a Mallaig - Lochboisdale ferry service... and it's the widely held belief that there is little political ambition for the re-introduction of such a service"!!
So it was a surprise announcement but a most welcome one. Mallaig Harbour Authority welcomes the news of the new service and will do all it can to make it a success.

Key Personnel
In past columns I have listed the Chairman and Managers who have served the Mallaig Harbour Authority since its inception in 1968.
It was a fairly easy task to identify them as all it took was a trawl through the Minute Books of the Authority. However it has proven much more difficult to establish just who occupied the most important chair over the years - I mean of course the role of typist, secretarial assistant or whatever name was currently in vogue at the time of appointment!
Not long after the Authority was founded the first appointment was that of Jessie Morrison from Inverie in 1969 and from that date the following have all been employed by the Authority (I use their name at time of appointment): Margaret Aitchison; Blanche Coates; Roberta Hepburn; Suzanne Duthie; Sandra MacDonald; Lorna MacDonald; Shona MacDonald; Judi Wiseman; Kathleen Gorrie; Carol Milligan; Heather Fraser; Caroline McLean; and Audrey McKay.
There is at least one name missing from that list and the lady in question was employed for a short period of time c1976 and her departure led to the employment of Suzanne Duthie on a temporary basis. Her husband Jeff worked at Moray Seafoods and turned out for The Mallaig Stars FC on a number of occasions that year.
Sincere apologies if I have missed anyone else out!!!

I was contacted recently by Mr Ian Atkinson, Edinburgh.
Ian, a professional photographer, was commissioned by the Highlands & Islands Development Board to take photographs of the construction of the new Mallaig Harbour back in the early 70's and, on his impending retiral, he was offering me the negatives of the photos he took back then.
I was delighted to accept his offer and once I get the negatives on to disc, I intend to present a copy to the Mallaig Heritage Centre.


Here's one of the photographs taken by Mr Aitkinson. It shows D.A. MacRae's Kipper House not long after the railway lines down to the pier had been removed and the new concrete access to the fish pier created.
Robert MacMillan, Port Manager/Secretary
01687 462154 info@mallaigharbourauthority.com

A quieter September - 4 call outs - compared to 7 in August for the Mallaig Lifeboat, the Severn Class Henry Alston Hewat.

Monday 2nd September: Coastguard requested a lifeboat launch at 19.05 hrs to go to the assistance of a woman, suffering from suspected broken ribs, on the Isle of Eigg. Lifeboat arrived on scene at 19.40 hrs and the patient was helped on board for onward transportation to Mallaig where she was handed over to the waiting Ambukance personnel. Lifeboat refuelled and ready for service at 20.55 hrs.

Tuesday 3rd September: Lifeboat tasked to the Outer Harbour at 08.43 hrs to assist in recovery of crewman who had fallen in the hold of the cargo ship Fame and was suffering from a leg injury. A stretcher and crewmen boarded the vessel, with the casualty eventually being lifted ashore by ambulance and coastguard personnel. Lifeboat retrieved crewmen and stretcher and returned to station at 10.00 hrs.

Saturday 7th September: The Mallaig Lifeboat was on show at the Kyle of Lochalsh Marine Day when Stornoway Coastguard contacted the Lifeboat to assist with a Medivac of a woman on the Isle of Eigg who was suffering from a dislocated shoulder.
Lifeboat made way for Eigg but was soon stood down as casualty was being taken to the mainland by another vessel. Lifeboat returned to Mallaig, refuelled and made ready for service at 17.10hrs.

Tuesday 17th September: Mallaig Lifeboat tasked by Stornoway Coastguard at 14.08 hrs to go to the assistance of Kayakers in Loch nan Uamh. A telephone call from a member of the public reported that four kayakers were experiencing difficulties off the shore at Smirrisarry to the west of Glenuig.
Whilst the Lifeboat was on passage to the scene, information received from a crewmember of the fact that a local kayak trainer was conducting an exercise in the area was relayed and further checks found this to be the case and the Lifeboat was stood down.
What the member of public probably saw was the team carrying out Eskimo rolls and being assisted by other team members. A false alarm with good intent.
Lifeboat arrived back on station at 1450 hrs.


September competition results
Lots of interesting postcards and letters this month. The draw has just been done and the two lucky winners, who will each receive directly from the publisher, Amberley Publishing, a copy of the book West Highland Extension, are Mrs E M Lyne from Whitchurch and Mr Slingerland from Slough. Congratulations to the winners, commiserations to all the other entrants.]

To look forward or look back?
Let's start by looking back over the last month. All daytime services, both ScotRail and Jacobite, have been running at full capacity. The Club 55 promotion by ScotRail of £19 return tickets anywhere in Scotland on their services - and even sneaking in Carlisle and Berwick-upon-Tweed - is such great value. I have seen many happy travellers coming to Mallaig 'just because we could' and staying overnight to travel back in daylight the next day, well pleased with their stay. More importantly, vowing to do it again whilst the promotion is on. It continues until the end of November for the outward journey, returning by the end of December. Honestly, £9.50 each way for travel anywhere in Scotland on the ScotRail network! It's a steal! Check it out online or at nay manned Railway Station, pick up a leaflet and go. Life is too short not to do it.
The Jacobite has now settled into Monday to Friday lunchtime trips. With the glorious weather we are experiencing at the moment (shush), the lochs and glens, the mountains and coastline are showing off a treat. Florence and her 'team' are even cleaning the train windows at lunchtime in Mallaig! The old glass in the carriage windows just waits to be grimed with sooty steam from the tunnels on the line. Modern windows have coating to make for easier cleaning, but Florence and Co have a hosepipe, a bucket and sponge and a broom!! Florence can wield her broom fast enough to deter any onlookers!!
The Royal Scotsman has one more visit this year, on Saturday October 5th. Their track access dates are already showing online for 2014, proving their commitment to the West Highland Extension. Haste ye back.
On Saturday 28th September, The Jacobite was taken over (as part of a three day touring train trip called 'The West Highland and Jacobite Statesman) by Statesman Rail. The tour started and finished at London Euston Railway Station. They are back again into Mallaig on Saturday October 12th 2013, and are planning three or four tours next year.
On Saturday 21st September, Fort William was visited by the Railway Touring Company operating the 'West Highlander Steam Express' for an overnight stop, before visiting Oban, and on 28th September Pathfinder Tours operated the 'Autumn Highlander' touring train into Fort William for a day visit as part of a three night stay in the Paisley area.
This past week was also significant for Mallaig. HiTrans hosted, at the West Highland Hotel, a Northern Periphery Programme European Transport Conference. All the delegates (including Iceland, Sweden and Ireland) were encouraged to attend entirely by Public Transport - and did! Some delegates even came with their bicycles and travelled to Morar and Arisaig, catching a train back, between presentations. There were study tours to Eigg, Armadale and Inverie, a memorable late afternoon ScotRail train journey from Mallaig to Corrour, where we dined magnificently at the Station House Restaurant, returning to Mallaig on the last train of the day. (Ollie and Lizzie have created an oasis in the middle of wild Rannoch Moor since opening CSHR in August 2012. Three rooms above the restaurant are now beautifully refurbished and can be booked in advance. The rooms and meals can be viewed online. They close in November for a kitchen refit, re-opening in December.) Thanks to Sine and Gavin, plus all the staff at the West Highland Hotel for making everyone's visit memorable. Sine and Julie Bryce gave an inspiring presentation to delegates on behalf of the Road to the Isles Marketing Board. After that, if I didn't already live here, I would!!!

Delegates attending the Journey Genie conference

Scotland's contribution to the Conference Programme was the launch of Journey Genie - Highlands and Islands Journey Planner. To access it go to www.journeygenie.co.uk. Enter where you want to start a journey in Scotland, and where you want to go to (in Scotland) and your journey will be planned for you. It is live now and costs nothing.
Still looking back, did any of you spot on the TV the West Coast Railway's steam locomotive 46115 Scots Guardsman hauling Ryder Cup golf team captains from Edinburgh Waverley Railway Station to Gleneagles as a launch to a series of events counting down to September 26th 2014?

NELPG's K1 No 62005 returns to Fort William
As reported in last month's column, the K1 suffered major cracks in its firebox stays, and had to return to Carnforth on a low-loader, leaving behind its tender.
After extensive (and expensive) repairs, it resumed duties on The Jacobite commencing 30th September. On Sunday 22nd September it hauled the West Highlander Steam Express from Fort William to Arisaig. It left Fort William at 6pm, arriving into Arisaig at 7.45pm, returning to Fort William at 8pm. The locomotive looked splendid in the evening light, and made for some spectacular photographs.
With one month left to run, The Jacobite passenger numbers are still high, with fully booked trains on most days!

Class 66 GB Rail Freight Locomotive is finally 'cut up'
As I reported last July (2012) in my column, a GBRF, Class 66, No 66734, de-railed on 28th June, due to a landslip at Loch Trieg, whilst hauling 14 Alumina wagons to Alcan in Fort William. Due to the remote location, it was impossible to recover the locomotive in one piece. After consultations took place between the owners, insurers and Network Rail, it was agreed to build a 'platform' and slip roadway down to the loch, and cut the locomotive into manageable pieces. Finally, the pieces were transferred to Tulloch on a road/rail vehicle, and then moved to Network Rail's yard at Fort William, from where they will be transported to storage in England. Most of the major components that were undamaged, namely the power unit, intercooler, bogies, traction motors and main alternator and electrical cubicles, will be stored and eventually be used for spares for other Class 66 Locomotives.


Since the derailment the site of the Locomotive had become quite a tourist attraction, with many a photograph taken. All that is left to do now is to dismantle the 'workers' village' and transport the components to safe storage. Since the introduction of Class 66s there have been only two locomotives scrapped due to accidents. A total of over 400 Class 66s were manufactured between 1998 and 2008 in Ontario, Canada.

Most definitely Off the Rails - the derailed Class 66.

Florence's 'A Team' Ben Nevis Challenge
As I indicated last month, the Ben Nevis Climb took place in good weather and with good timings. Florence (the train manager on The Jacobite) is still accepting donations for the Renal Unit of the Belford Hospital until the end of the season when she will hand the monies collected over. I will let you know the total.

Association of Community Rail Partnerships (ACoRP) 2013 Community Rail Awards
Very briefly (the Editor of West Word will be sighing with transcribing my handwriting at this stage), these awards were announced (and are online) on Friday September 27th.
Best Station Volunteer Project - larger projects:
Sponsored by Arriva Trains Wales. 1st place was awarded to Louis Wall (South /west Scotland Railway Adopters Garden Group) for Irvine Railway Station floral displays. Well done Louis.
Best use for Station Buildings category:
Sponsored by Rail Heritage Trust. 3rd place was awarded to Coco Works Coffee House on Inverurie Railway Station. Congratulations Jennifer, George and staff.
Passengers Matters category:
Sponsored by Abellio. Highly commended was accredited to Louis Wall for planting Lemon Eucalyptus bushes at Barhill Station to combat 'Midge Infestation' - and it worked!

Very briefly looking forward - finally!
Saturday 12th October: Extra Jacobite, working as day two of 'West Highland and Jacobite Statesman' three day touring holiday. Statesman Rail, into Mallaig 12.20. departs 14.10.
Saturday 19th October: Scottish Steam Charter Photographers' Special 2013. Organised by West Coast Railways and using Ian Riley's two Black Fives, 45407 and 44871, over two days
19th/20th October. This charter is completely sold out (in one week!). The only time it will be in Mallaig is very early on the 19th. At 3am, one engine and tender and coaches will depart Fort William Yard tender-first towards Mallaig. It will be chimney first from the Mallaig end before sunrise (it says) and an early run back to Fort William with run-pasts en route, and stopping at Glenfinnan and Banavie for photographers to detrain. Expect to see lots of strangers lurking in the bushes that day plus lots of cars following!
Friday 28th October: Last Jacobite to Mallaig for 2013. What a season it has been! Come to the Railway Station in Mallaig at 12.20 to thank the crew and join in the party.
Saturday 26th October: All steam engines, diesel engine and coaches depart Fort William. Charter train bookings being taken by SRPS Railtours, eventually arriving at Carnforth empty stock on 27th October.

ScotRail Timetable changes
Not for the better I am sorry to say.

Commencing Monday 28th October: Lunchtime train into Mallaig, re-timed to arrive into Mallaig 13.34. departing Glasgow Queen Street 08.21, Monday to Saturday only. Two carriages from Crianlarich. Re-timed all along the route. Check timetables.

Commencing Sunday 3rd November: Sad to say NO 10.10 departure from Mallaig or 13.34 arrival into Mallaig on a Sunday. You wonder what we have got to do to drag ScotRail into giving us a full Sunday service.

So, the only trains on a Sunday are 16.05 departing Mallaig, all stations to Glasgow Queen Street - and - 23.35 arrival at Mallaig having departed Glasgow Queen Street 18.20 all stations to Mallaig.
See you on the train - but not much on a Sunday!
Sonia Cameron


Felicity Bartleet, a subscriber from Great Tey in Essex, sent us this photo of herself with Colin MacKenzie at Loch Roag in South Uist. Felicity says 'We sailed all round Skye and the Outer Isles from 1977, but gave up 16 years ago (old age!) and now fish all over the Hebrides. We love West Word - it's marvellous. We were friends in our sailing days with Donald MacDonald at Tarbet, Loch Nevis.

Subscriber John R. Batts took his copy from Banbury all the way to Ängelholm in Sweden. What better way to pass the time while waiting for the train to pass!

One from the archives - Helen Berryman from North Thorsby, Lincolnshire, read her copy at Vindolanda on Hadrian's Wall. She was on her way home after a holiday in Arisaig last year visiting her cousin, Ann the Ed. They had a great reunion - they hadn't met for 36 years!

Kirsty Benfield, Arisaig, and Aimee Lawrie, Mallaig, went out volunteering to Malawi and made sure they packed their copy (and that's Aimee's father and brother on the cover!)

Birdwatch by Stephen MacDonald
Migrant wader passage dominated the bird sightings during the first half of the month. Up to 6 Black-tailed Godwits were in fields at Traigh golf course on the 5th and small numbers of Whimbrel, Curlew and Golden Plover were seen feeding in the fields there on several occasions. On the shoreline waders seen included Sanderling, Turnstone, Redshank, Ringed Plover and Dunlin. On the 21st, 46 Lapwing and 3 Snipe were seen roosting by the Caimbe Bridge, Arisaig.

Star bird this month though was a vagrant from 'across the pond', an American Golden Plover (right), that was first spotted in a field next to Traigh golf course on the 15thh after several days of strong westerly winds. This scarce visitor to Western Europe lingered till the 19th, attracting the attentions of a good number of birders from across the country. It breeds on the tundra of Arctic Canada and Alaska, wintering in Southern South America. Another fairly scarce bird for this area was a Grey Phalarope seen and photographed from the MV Sheerwater, 1.5 miles NW of Luinga, Arisaig, on the 19th. photo
Photo of American Golden Plover
courtesy of Stephen MacDonald

A sure sign of Autumn was the sighting of Pink-footed Geese heading south, with approximately 300 seen over Morar on the 17th and a similar number seen near Arisaig the following evening. There were several other reports of Pink-feet up until the month end. A single Brent Goose was seen feeding and resting in a field near Traigh on the 12th. The first grounded Manx Shearwater appeared on the 1st. Numbers grounded on the mainland around Mallaig, Morar and Arisaig remained fairly low compared to the past two years, but by the month end 168 had been ringed and released.
A Storm Petrel found on board a fishing vessel tied up in Mallaig harbour in the 2nd was apparently uninjured and flew strongly when released near the Morar estuary, away from potential gull predators around Mallaig harbour. Still steady reports of both Greatt and Arctic Skuas offshore in the Sound of Sleat throughout the month.
Several reposts of Sea Eagles along the shoreline from Mallaig to Arisaig during the second half of the month must have involved at least three different birds.
Two late Wheatears, 1 at Rhue, Arisaig on the 29th and another on the outer breakwater, Mallaig, on the same day, were most likely Greenland Wheatears.

Kin Connections by Marlene MacDonald Cheng (mcmcheng@shaw.ca)
The surname 'MacIsaac' has had a long connection to the MacDonalds of Clanranald; they were bailiffs to the Chief of Clanranald from at least the late 1400s up until just before Culloden. Some historians claim that the name may have come to Scotland from Ireland at the time when Angus Og, Lord of the Isles, married Aithna (Agnes), daughter of Guy O'Cahan, Earl of Ulster. As part of the marriage tocher (dowry), O'Cahan sent to Scotland 140 of his people, each one representing a surname in his realm. It is presumed, but not confirmed, that the MacIsaac name was part of this contingent. It is universally accepted that the MacIsaacs, through their loyalty in carrying out duties to the Clanranald chiefs, earned their place in Clan Donald History. When Dugall MacDonald, 6th of Clanranald, was murdered (probably in summer of 1520), it was a MacIsaac who managed to take his body back to Moidart for a proper burial, even though he was warned that he would be killed if he did so. In 1715, before leaving to join the Jacobite troups, Clanranald requested his right-hand man, Dugall MacIsaac, to set fire to Castle Tioram as soon as he (the Chief) left to join the war, saying (according to Father Charles MacDonald), "…I shall never come back again (Cha till mise gu brath tuilleadh), and it is better that our old family seat should be given to the flames than forced to give shelter to those who are about to triumph over our ruin." (The Clan Ranald of Garmoran by Norman H. MacDonald, p. 289) And so did MacIsaac follow the instructions of his Chief.
The MacIsaacs who came to Nova Scotia were hard working and clever people. Within the space of 50 years we find them and their descendants scattered all over the eastern part of Nova Scotia and Cape Breton, as well as in the United States of America (east coast mainly). Some have been members of Parliament, some well-respected lawyers and merchants, etc., and most of them have done well for their families.
John MacIsaac (pioneer) of Moidart, Scotland, his wife having died, came to the South River in Antigonish County, accompanied by his five sons and two daughters in the year 1801 on the ship Nora. The names of the sons were John, Duncan, Angus, Hugh, and Archibald. The daughters were Margaret and Mary. Three of the brothers - John, Duncan and Archibald, settled on the west side of the South River at what later became known as Dunmore (referred to in earlier columns). Their brothers, Angus and Hugh, settled on the east side of the South River, opposite the farms of John, Duncan and Archibald. The sisters were Margaret and Mary. I presume, although I couldn't find direct confirmation, that the father and sisters stayed with one of the sons at South River. Once married, the sisters would have lived on their husbands' farms. A half-brother of the above mentioned children of John MacIsaac (pioneer), Ranald (from John's first marriage), emigrated from Moidart to Inverness County, Cape Breton, at a later time.
John MacIsaac Jr. (pioneer) was married in the old country to Ann MacIsaac (Anna nighean Easpuig - Ann daughter of Archibald, some of whose relations settled in Cape Breton). Unable to have children of their own, John and Ann adopted a young girl, Sarah Cunningham, who died early in her married life. When Sarah died, John designated his brother Duncan's son, Angus, as his heir. John and Ann's place was a favourite stopover for the priests who served this part of the country. At that time there were plenty of Ash trees on John's property, one of which was ancient and beautiful. Under that tree the priests said Mass for the local people of Dunmore and surrounding communities for many years.
Duncan MacIsaac (pioneer) was married to Mary MacLean, daughter of Duncan MacLean, progenitor of the MacLeans of Bailey's Brook, Nova Scotia, and other parts of Antigonish County; the MacLeans also emigrated from Moidart, Scotland. The children of Duncan and Mary MacIsaac were: John, Angus, Donald, Mary, Ann, and Margaret (Peggy).
Archibald MacIsaac (pioneer) stayed on his property at South River until 1822, at which time he removed to Broad Cove Banks, Inverness County, Cape Breton. He married Mary MacDougall of that place and they had eight children: Donald, Angus, Archibald, John, Dougald, Catherine, Mary, and Margaret.
Angus MacIsaac (pioneer)'s farm at South River was beside his brother, Hugh's farm. He married Catherine MacFarlane (Catriona nighean Dhugaill - Catherine daughter of Dugall), and they had seven children: Angus Og (young Angus), Donald, John, James, Archibald (Archy), Catherine, and Ann.
Hugh MacIsaac (pioneer) removed from South River to South West Margaree, not far from his brother Archibald. He married Penelope Campbell of Malignant Brook, Antigonish County, and they had ten children: Angus, Donald, John, Archibald, Mary, Catherine, Margaret, Sarah, Janet (Jessie), and Ann.
Margaret MacIsaac (pioneer) is said to have been married to Donald MacGillivray (Domhnull mac Eoghainn) of Lismore, Pictou County, but I could not find confirmation in the records to substantiate that.
Mary MacIsaac (pioneer) was married in 1803 to Captain Alexander MacGillivray of Dunmaglas, Pictou County, and she was his second wife. His first wife was Mary MacDonald, a sister of Fear a' Ghlinne (John 'Glenaladale' MacDonald) and Maighstir Uisdean MacDonald (Father Uisdean or Austin who ministered to the people of Knoydart and Moidart, Scotland, before coming to PEI in 1808). Captain Alexander, born in Arisiag, Scotland, emigrated to Nova Scotia with the Moidart people in about 1791. I will discuss his children from the first marriage at a later date.
The children of Mary MacIsaac and Captain Alexander (Alasdair) MacGillivray (second family) were: Hugh (Eogainn Mor), Archibald, Augustine (Uisdean), Andrew, Ann, Flora, and Mary. At first this second family lived in the area of Dunmaglas, Pictou County, Nova Scotia, but in 1819 they moved to the middle section of the South River. There they were provided with homes of their own on adjacent pieces of land and expected to work together at making a living for themselves. It's hard to believe that seven children, aged 15 and younger, would have been, in those days, contributing members of a family that had to work hard in the 'forest primeval' to feed and clothe themselves.
Please feel free to contact me if you have information on MacIsaac families or if you would like further information.

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