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October 2021 Issue
Contents of the online version:
All photos are copyright either of the individual photographers or West Word.
CORUISK TO RETURN NEXT SUMMER
CalMac have announced that MV Coruisk will be returning to service on the Mallaig - Armadale crossing in the summer of 2022.
The Scottish Government have purchased a second-hand ferry, MV Utne, from Norway in a £9m deal. The vessel is due to be transferred to Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL) at the end of October and will undergo modifications before joining the CalMac fleet next summer. It is earmarked for the Oban - Craignure service, allowing for the return of Coruisk to Mallaig. This will also enable MV Lord of the Isles to deliver additional services to South Uist.
MV Utne, a passenger/Ro-Ro cargo ship built in 2015, is currently owned by Norwegian shipping firm Norled. The 50m (54 yards) long vessel can accommodate 195 passengers and 34 cars.
MV Coruisk was built in 2003 for use on the Mallaig - Armadale route and has been operating on the Oban - Mull route since 2016. The Sleat Transport Forum said, 'The return of the Coruisk will restore long lost confidence on the route, so badly disrupted since 2016.'
Knoydart Hall's Big Relaunch!
Way back before lockdown in March 2020 one of West Word's cover stories announced that Knoydart's newly refurbished community hall was set to open its doors 'with a really good shoogle'. Eighteen months and three attempts later the hall is finally able to hold its opening celebration with the 'Big Hall Relaunch' on Saturday 6th November! Get ready to party there with the legendary Shooglenifty, supported by the unstoppable A.M.K (Angus Binnie, Murdo Cameron and Kenny Knowles).
All tickets will need to be reserved in advance. The ticket sales link will open online at 5pm on Wednesday 20th October on www.knoydarthall.com. If you previously reserved tickets pre-covid please note that with so many changes due to covid cancellations the organisers have decided the best thing for all was to start afresh and launch a fresh ticket sale, giving everyone plenty of notice to bag tickets on ticket sale day.
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
Great to hear that the Coruisk will be back here where she belongs next year - at long last!
It's so lovely to be able to put an entire page and a half of adverts for events into the paper this month after eighteen months of virtually nothing to promote. There's enough going on locally for me to reinstate the old style 'Diary' what's on listings on the almost-back-page too! I've not put the 'Regular Events' column back together yet so if you have an event to add to this then please do let me know. Don't forget all listings and 'ads' for local events are free, so if you're organising a gig, bake sale, coffee morning, meeting or any other event then please send the info to me!
Thanks to Lucy for this month's seasonal word search, and as always to Morag and Ewen for their help with the printing and to Anne and Jane for labelling envelopes (with nice new labels this month!)
A New Partnership for Canna
A new Partnership for Canna was launched on 23rd September. The Canna Partnership, which brings together the island's owners, the National Trust for Scotland, and the island community, aims to use the skills and experience of both to develop a positive future for the island. A formal Agreement between the two will see islanders become more deeply involved in the formal operational and strategic management of the island. They will work with the Trust to employ staff, develop island properties, deliver better services for visitors and look after Canna's unique cultural and natural heritage.
Geraldine MacKinnon, Chair of the Isle of Canna Community Development Trust said: "This is a real step forward for Canna. The National Trust for Scotland have owned Canna since 1981 and, as a community, we have benefited from their ownership. However, the time has come to work even more closely together to build a thriving and sustainable community here. We all work and have very busy lives, but have found time to come together as a community to open and run a community shop, develop our own award-winning renewable energy system for the island and install and manage community moorings. We are currently raising money to build three new houses on the island to help grow our population and looking at plans for new tourism accommodation and community and visitor facilities. We may be small in number, but we are very resourceful and resilient and we will be bringing that, together with our passion for this beautiful place, to the Partnership."
Phil Long, Chief Executive of the National Trust for Scotland commented: "The National Trust for Scotland have been the proud custodians of Canna since it was gifted to them by the renowned Gaelic scholar John Lorne Campbell and his wife, Margaret Fay Shaw in 1981. Campbell's legacy was clear in that the island was gifted to the Trust to ensure the preservation of the unique Hebridean way of life and culture of Canna. In our forty years of ownership, we have invested significantly to protect this legacy and ensure the special natural and cultural heritage of Canna is preserved for future generations. The people who live on Canna are central to that legacy and we could not fulfil our obligations to John Lorne Campbell without them. The Partnership will ensure we can harness the Trust's long experience of caring for such special places to the community's drive and passion to build a successful future for the island. Our joint work on housing development and improving the visitor experience are examples of where we can work better together. Like the community, we are ambitious for Canna and excited to see how the Partnership can develop."
It's been an exciting month here for the Old Forge CBS, since the launch of the share offers. By day 7 the minimum target had been reached, and by the end of week 2 the maximum target of £240,000 had nearly been achieved as well… Now, with only a week left til the closing date (which has been brought forward a week due to how close we are to the target) the total is sitting at £233,025 and I'm sure we'll get there and more. The story even featured on the news, as you may well have seen/heard.
Knoydart Forest Trust had a good couple of days when John Risby and Ian Collier from Scottish Forestry came to visit at the start of the month to have a wee look round the new woodland at Mary Ann's Point and Coire Sgreucha and discuss future plans on community owned and neighbouring land. Remember, if anyone would like to support the regeneration of Knoydart's community woodland, you can always donate to the Plant Knoydart Trees scheme!
The ranger service has its first Brown Trout fishing experience planned for the 3rd October, which is a new addition to the range of activities the ranger service has to offer.
Davie Newton and Anna Wilson have been elected as new directors of the Foundation, replacing Ian Robertson and Morag Anderson. The Foundation Group realised during Lockdown that there are too many proverbial eggs in the "tourism basket" so to speak (meaning that, more or less of all the KF's income relied mainly on tourism, either directly or indirectly). As small as it might sound, we as a community, are technically owners of almost 0.1% of Scotland and therefore have a responsibility to ensure the land is contributing as much as it can to help fight climate change, as well as biodiversity and social emergencies which might occur.
The Foundation have now produced a new Strategy plan which recognises this and are proposing a business model based on community regeneration of the landscape, such as habitat regeneration, peatland restoration, carbon credits, and food production to name but a few. In order to achieve these things though, what our community needs is young and active people to be able to nurture the landscape, bring about changes and in time, care for what will become an ageing community. This is where things like the housing plan become important because we will need decent accommodation for new people, and seasonal workers such as ghillies, tree planters and hospitality staff (AND PUB STAFF - soon!)
As part of the Knoydart Climate Conversations, the Knoydart Climate Conversations group and Loch Nevis Coastal community group are having some marine biodiversity training workshops this week, alongside a marine themed conversation about seagrass. The Groups will be joined by Seawilding Team members Katherine and Eric for marine biodiversity survey training.
Beannachdan bho Gleann Fhionnain!
This month Glenfinnan Community Council accepted dry food donations from FareShare to distribute to some of the residents in the village. FareShare redistribute surplus foods from some of the UK's top food companies to more than 10,500 charities and community groups.
Our more mature residents were the first to receive these bags of goodies and we hope to distribute our next shipment of donations to the households with young families. If anyone in Glenfinnan feels that they could benefit from a food donation, please contact Glenfinnan Community Council and we will be more than happy to help. Many thanks to Linda Campbell at the Caol Community Centre for all your hard work in making this happen.
On 3-5th October, there will be a drop-in exhibition depicting the Building of the Mallaig Railway held at Glenfinnan Station Museum Dining car 12 noon - 5pm. Celebrating 120 years since the opening of the Mallaig line in 1901, Glenfinnan Station invites you to a preview of the new post-pandemic exhibition and meeting space now taking shape in the dining car. Admission is £1 with tea AND cake! Please wear a face covering.
Glenfinnan SCIO are happy to announce the appointment of car park attendants at the new Community car park. The gentlemen are doing a fantastic job in making sure the visitors are parked safely and within the law!
With the changes of the seasons come some changes in the Glen, houses up for sale, houses being built and a community building renovation so it looks like we will have a busy wee winter in the village!
Chan fhiach taigh mòr gun straighlich - A great house without noise is worth nothing.
(I will be taking direction from my new Gaelic Guru - Gladys - as I fear my translations may be slightly suspect!)
ISLE OF MUCK
Hello, Muck Calling . . . well, another Season has gone and time to take stock of how it went. How were visitors' experiences . . . how did facilities hold up . . . what can we do to improve come Easter? All valid and important points to chew over whilst we batten down for the winter and already what a change in the weather, with the ground so dry there is a lot of surface water trying to soak through but much needed. On that note can we give Neil and the boys from Mowi a massive shout out and thanks for all their help with our mini water crisis, who along with Colin, Sandy and Barnaby used their resources and manpower to move water around the Island. Even the Fire trailer was called into action using its pump to shift water from the Guesthouse into main tanks. Well done Ewen.
What a welcome and diverse Council visit we had to the Small Isles. It was a fantastic chance to bring up a variety of issues all in one workshop and I do hope it was productive for both sides and a blueprint for future visits as it seemed to benefit from being on the ground and experience first-hand some of our challenges as well as being able to put faces to names. The School had a trip to Nethy Bridge and all had a fantastic time whilst there with swimming and climbing being firm favourites . . . kindergarten had the run of the School for a few days!!
Ed and Sharon Hawan are preparing to leave our wee community for Greener pastures - literally, as it is to the Emerald Isle they are headed and we will be sad to see them go, but we wish them all the very best. Ed has finally run out of areas to strim on Muck and needs a bigger challenge!!
Well that's us for another spell,
ISLE OF CANNA
Following on from a very busy summer, things have quietened down here in the last month and everyone is looking forward to some quieter time to take stock and re-charge.
Thankfully September has been wetter, allowing our water supply springs to refill and top up our storage tanks. Due to the increase in visitors and potential future developments on the island, we are looking at creating a Water Management Plan to see where we can be more responsible in how we use our water. This may be something that resonates with other islands in our group and it would be good to get feedback from them on this.
Canna Farm and Burnbank Croft have been selling lambs at Dingwall and prices have been possibly the best ever and in line with what farmers should be getting for producing a prime product. Averages have been up £20 - £29 per head on last year. Burnbank Croft topped this sale, selling Cheviot ewe lambs for £130 per head.
Steve and Rowan from Wind and Sun have been over to do annual maintenance on our Renewable System and iron out a few small issues and we should be all sorted for the next year.
A big thank you to everyone (and dogs, Fen and Tan) who took part in the "Memory Walk" for Alzheimer's on Sunday 19th The walk was around the whole coastline of Canna to raise funds and remember Anne MacKinnon who had close connections to Canna and the MacKinnon family. We raised £665 and had a fantastic walk which took five hours to complete, and we did enjoy a most welcome drink at CafeCanna at the end.
Once again, thanks to the crews of the Larven and Loch Bhrusda for standing in for the Loch Nevis.
Criomagan (Crumbs) from Canna House
September in the Canna shop saw the arrival on the shelves of a book recently published by Birlinn, Canna Schooldays by Kate Riley, who spent ten years teaching on Canna and Rum. She first came to Canna in 1986 to cover maternity leave and stayed as head teacher for six years during which she documented and researched the history of the Canna school. She now lives in Dumfries and Galloway. The book gives us a fascinating insight into the generations of pupils and teachers who passed through the school door since it was built in 1878. Kate Riley relied heavily on the knowledge, encouragement and support of the previous Canna House archivist, the late Magda Sagarzazu and she credits Magda with her instruction "Now you know what you should do, go and do it"- this sounds just like Magda! I would definitely recommend this read to anyone with an interest in the social history of Canna.
This month also saw the successful delivery of the "Crunluath" workshop in the Shearing Shed. This project was originally planned for 2020 but was postponed due to COVID and was supported with funding from Feisean nan Gaidheal's "Tasgadh" fund. The workshop gave the dozen or so participants the opportunity to learn pipe and whistle tunes and Gaelic songs, all connected to the Sea and Shore, to celebrate Scotland's year of 'Coasts and Waters' and all the tunes and songs are to be found in the Canna Archives. The participants were led by well known traditional musicians James Duncan Mackenzie (pipes and whistle) and Katie Mackenzie (Gaelic song) and with the provision of whistles (all Covid friendly of course), several participants left, whistles in hand, determined to learn more tunes and songs. Katie led the workshop also in a traditional tweed 'waulking' and James concluded the day with a set of fine traditional tunes on the Highland pipes, a real treat for Canna. Katie and James then spent a few days on Canna filming for an ongoing project to celebrate the links of St Columba with three Gaeltacht islands of Scotland and Ireland - Canna, Lewis and Cape Clear. It must be several decades, if ever, since a pibroch was sounded on Eilean a Bhàird in Canna Bay! The resulting broadcast quality film will be released at the end of the year.
ISLE OF RUM
After that blazing summer it only seems equal that we get some rain and wind and back to the seasonal weather we know and, well, put up with.
This time of year the Loch Nevis goes away for its annual refit and spruce up and we get replacement boats. I think most things went to plan; I think the only cause for concern was the difficulty reading the timetable updates between the two replacement boats. Freight has continued as usual except for a few ongoing issues with the shop getting its supplies. The number of day trippers and tourists has dropped, but we are now in stalking and deer rut season; the village is noisy with stags roaring in the woods. It also seems that all the university groups who visit throughout the year are all coming in September and October; this nicely extends the bunkhouse season up until November.
Alex has taken it upon himself to organise not only a darts and pool league but also a Small Isles football team to take on Mallaig FC! Watch this space, it could get interesting or absolutely hilarious. Definitely a match to watch.
Not much else happening this month except a visit from Highland Council to talk school issues, waste management issues and anything else that came up. It was a jolly enough visit; we put some faces to names and got some promises that we hope are kept.
I think that's all for now.
ISLE OF EIGG
And just like that, another season is upon us. Autumn on Eigg - season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. A bountiful harvest of apples from our community orchard, the hedges heavy with ripe and juicy blackberries, and we have even been blessed with some beautiful sunshine, in between the heavy showers. The water shortage that caused us some concern and worry in the summer is but a distant memory and the burns are now gushing with gallons of the stuff! We have a new group of hardy sea-swimmers that meet every week, whatever the weather, and they hope to continue through the winter. Fair play! The community enjoyed a really lovely orchard day when a small crowd gathered to collect the ripe apples for eating followed by a fire with cake, freshly pressed apple juice and other refreshments. Our community shop had a full store of fresh red juicy apples for all.
On World Peace Day (21st September) Norah organised a film night at the hall, with our amazing new cinema kit. We watched The Breadwinner, a very beautiful and extremely moving animation about Afghanistan. All of the money raised on the night was given to a charity which is helping and supporting Afghan refugees arriving in Scotland.
We had a very pleasant visit from a delegation of Highland Council officers who dropped into Eigg as part of their Small Isles tour. They were very impressed by Eigg's achievements and took on board our concerns about transport and education. The Isle of Eigg brewery is now standing. Well done to the McCarthy brothers, Stu and Rich, who managed to erect it in a matter of days! We look forward to the next stages, and hopefully to some tasty local beer before long!
Johnny Lynch, our resident music maestro of Pictish Trail and Lost Map fame, celebrated the big 4-0 with a thoroughly enjoyable gathering at the community hall. This was our first occasion back in the hall dancing together since the beginning of 2020 and it has to be said, it was emotional. Some of us may have even shed a wee tear to be back doing what we Eiggachs do best! DJ Fee played a brilliant set and looked so delighted to be back in her happy place behind the decks. The electro-pop band Maranta travelled all the way from Edinburgh to perform for us, and Dougal had great fun playing with his new iPad and controlling the new hall soundsystem! Great craic altogether!
And finally, it was time for us to say a fond farewell to Eigg Tearoom and to the Craft Shop, as the current building is cleared out in preparation for Phase 2 of our new Laimhrig development. Building work is beginning next week and we wish the workers all the best with the next stage! Eigg Shop will continue to operate as normal throughout.
A Write Highland Hoolie!
Mallaig Book Festival
Friday 12th - Sunday 14th November
Only just over a month to go now! Tickets went on sale online on the 17th September and have sold steadily from the start. The Friday evening ticket for the talk from Paul Murton on The Highlands is now sold out. The ticket price of £14 includes the talk with musicians Duncan Chisholm and Hamish Napier, a welcoming dram and entrance to the evening ceilidh. We are sorry but only ticket holders and hotel residents will have entry to the ceilidh.
Our fantastic ceilidh on Saturday evening will feature Ingrid Henderson and Iain MacFarlane. Entry to this ceilidh is limited to owners of tickets to Ghillie Basan's talk, A Taste of the Highlands, and hotel residents. Ghillie's talk includes a complimentary pre-dinner tot of gin.
Remember that tickets MUST be booked in advance because numbers are more limited. We must ask that you print them out to bring with you or have them to view on your phone. If this is impossible for you, then please contact The West Highland Hotel, details below. All talks are £8, with the exception of Friday's.
There's something for everyone - natural history, history, crime, cookery, real life adventures . . . We haven't forgotten the very wee ones wither, with BookBug coming in for an hour of storytelling and singing at 1.15pm on Saturday and 11.15am on Sunday.
Our programme is online at www.a-write-highland-hoolie.com with details of all the authors, and you can sign up there for our newsletter.
Our schools' competitions are going extremely well. We have all the writing entries in, shortlisted by the teachers; the resulting list of 35 is being judged by writer Alan Windram who will decide the winning three in each category. The Gaelic entries will be judged by High School Gaelic teacher Colin Masterton. The art entries will make for a lovely exhibition at the weekend. The standard of the entries is very high and the Sunday afternoon prize-giving and sumptuous tea should be great fun. There will be songs from Mallaig Gaelic medium and entertainment from children's author Alan Windram. Prizes will be awarded for the writing and art competitions, and also for last year's writing competition. Everyone is welcome to come along!
We will not be producing the programme booklet this year, but a tri-fold leaflet will be available soon, at the usual local outlets.
West Highland Hotel: 01687 462210 firstname.lastname@example.org
A Write Highland Hoolie: email@example.com www.a-write-highland-hoolie.com
Message in a Bottle - Island School Project
This year Scotland is hosting the United Nations climate change conference, called COP26, in Glasgow, providing an exciting opportunity to get involved in global climate change discussions and policymaking.
The Small Isles primary schools of Eigg, Muck and Rum are participating in a unique project, 'Climate Change Message in a Bottle', run by Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law and Governance (SCELG), in partnership with Glasgow Science Centre, Island Innovation and Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum and Arts Centre, N Uist. The project aims to educate and engage island primary pupils in climate science, clean energy and COP26.
Alongside other island schoolchildren from 30 schools across the Scottish islands and the world, pupils have participated in discussion-based educational workshops which encourages them to place (their) islands at the centre of climate change decision-making. This has been followed up by a shore visit to do a beach clean and salvage any plastic bottles and materials, and with it send their 'message in a bottle' to delegates at COP26. Film content from the project will be collated and plastic bottles received will be made into a sculpture to be unveiled at COP26 events. After COP26, we will return to schools to explain how their messages were received and the impact they had far beyond their own islands. The island children have come up with some very clear messages focusing mainly on helping our oceans, wildlife and stopping plastic pollution. "S.O.S. - Save Our Seas - and Plant more Trees" has been a popular chant!
We were lucky enough to get a video message of support from global pop star Sting, which you can see on Facebook
For more information about the project and other related events run by the SCELG go to: www.strath.ac.uk/research/strathclydecentreenvironmentallawgovernance/scelgcop26/ Norah Barnes, Isle of Eigg
COAST Public Art Project
The culmination of the COAST Public Art project took place on Saturday 2nd October with the Open Day in the new Sun Lounge Café area at Mallaig Pool and Leisure. It was fantastic to see so many of the local Community and Art workshop participants come out and support the Pool and the Friends group's fundraising efforts, and view the new Artist and Community Artworks on display.
Initiated by the Mallaig Pool and Leisure Board and supported by the Friends group and by a successful application to Creative Scotland, the COAST project was a collaboration between Mallaig Pool and Leisure, the Community, Arisaig Eco Project and Artists Jane Rushton and myself. It has involved the local Community in beach cleans and Art workshops over the last few months and informed by the projects theme of protecting our natural marine environment, the Community made Collages out of the found marine litter which were then photographed. Jane's installation was made using the beach rope and plastics and my Ceramic Artwork wall commission was also made for the corridor to the Sun Lounge area.
The projects aim was to highlight the local impact of marine pollution, through the medium of Art, and reach all ages in the Community and also encourage visitors to the area to respect and appreciate our incredible natural environment.
A huge thanks to everyone who worked so hard at the Community beach cleans and everyone who created such amazing Artworks at the Community Art workshops. Thank you to Tiina and Brian and all the fantastic staff at Mallaig Pool and Leisure, to Willie MacDonald for installing my Ceramic Artwork, to Mallaig Harbour Authority, to Alison O`Rourke at Arisaig Eco Project for organising the beach cleans and Arisaig workshop, and especially to Artist Jane Rushton for all her work and creativity and for helping to make it all possible.
Arisaig Community Trust News
Land, Sea and Islands Centre
Thank you to everyone who has visited the Centre over the summer. Since opening in May, it has gradually got busier as the months have passed and there have been some lovely comments in our visitors' book. Thankfully, we were allowed to relax the numbers in the centre when Covid measures were relaxed and we will continue to monitor this in line with government guidance. We will continue to open daily throughout October.
A huge thank you also to our fantastic volunteers who continue to give up their time to work at the Centre. We couldn't operate seven days a week without their dedication. If you would like to join our wee team, we'd love to hear from you. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call in for a chat.
ACT are looking to replace the well-used benches along the Arisaig shorefront, and local residents will have the first opportunity to donate a memorial bench. Donations will be made available via Just Giving within the next month, with the intention of installing the new benches in the Spring.
In order to give visitors to the area the chance to donate to its general upkeep, ACT will also be upgrading the path along the shorefront by offering personalised bricks, available via donation on their Just Giving page. Local residents awill have first access to the bricks, with the remainder then being released to the general public. The funds raised from this project will go towards resurfacing the shorefront car park. Full information about this will be posted on our Facebook page and website over the coming weeks.
As Covid restrictions gradually lifted, we welcomed the return of after school football with Pamela MacDonald and we were also delighted to see the space used by Arisaig Primary School for their return to school PE lessons. Thankfully the weather has been very kind to us and such outdoor activities could go ahead. We are extremely grateful to all our playing field volunteers who do a fantastic job of maintaining the area and ensuring any problems are reported and fixed. As October approaches and the grass cutting season comes to an end, we wish all our grass cutting volunteers a HUGE thank you and a happy and well deserved break from the growing season!
Community Housing Project
We are still working through the technical aspects of the project along with our contractor S&K MacDonald and development partners at Communities Housing Trust. Below are some of the questions we are often asked about the project, to give readers an update or for those who have not heard of the project until now.
What are we doing and why?
The project will build six houses for rent - 3x 3 bed and 3x 2 bed - and have four discounted self-build plots for sale. It is a joint project between Arisaig Community Trust and the Communities Housing Trust, initiated in 2018 after a housing needs survey showed up to 30 new homes would be needed in the next five years to meet the current demand. The houses will be built on a two acre site on Station Road, Arisaig, which is in the process of being purchased from the Macmillan Estate and Transport Scotland.
What stage is the project at?
The project is currently securing the consents required to start building: planning permission, building warrants and roads construction consent, as well as approval from Scottish Water and SSE, are all needed. This process has taken longer than we initially planned for but it is hoped that all consents will be in place by the end of 2021.
How will they be allocated?
The Communities Housing Trust (CHT) will manage the allocation of the rental houses once they are built and also the tenancy agreements. The allocations policy will prioritise those living or working in the Arisaig area and will be an anonymous process carried out by CHT. Tenants will need to show they can afford the rent and have a connection to the area, such as current address or place of work. Rents will be set at social rent levels, in line with what tenants at Lochaber Housing or the Highland Council would pay.
The self-build plots will have a rural housing burden attached to them which means they must be occupied as a primary residence and the discount applied to the plots will be passed on at the point of future sale. More information on the rural housing burden can be found on CHT's website. As with the rental homes, buyers of the self-build plots must be able to show a local connection.
How is the project funded?
We have secured over £1 million in funding for the project, from the Scottish Land Fund, Rural Housing Fund and Quaker Housing Trust. As the construction industry as a whole is experiencing financial challenges and materials shortages, we are trying to raise additional funds to make sure the project stays financially secure.
If you would like more information on the project, please contact:
Or see our website www.arisaigcommunitytrust.org.uk
Mallaig Lifeboat Log
21st September 2021
Launched by Stornoway Coastguard at 00:20 to the assistance of two stranded hillwalkers at the mouth of Loch Scavaig. The couple had walked from Camusunary into Loch Scavaig via a precarious route known as the "Bad Step". Unfortunately their walk took longer than expected and when they returned to the "Step" darkness had fallen and they did not have the confidence to negotiate the "Step". They then contemplated going higher up and over the top of the route which would be even more dangerous. Eventually common sense prevailed and they stayed where they were and contacted the Coastguard and informed them of their predicament. The Lifeboat proceeded to the area and quickly located the couple by their head torches on the shoreline at 01:15. The Y-Boat with two crew proceeded ashore and recovered the couple back to the Lifeboat. Once out from under the mountains the Coastguard informed the Lifeboat that Police Scotland would meet the couple at Elgol pier and transport them back to their vehicle some miles up the road. The Lifeboat picked up a mooring at Elgol and awaited for the Police to arrive before transferring the casualties ashore. 20 minutes later a quick flash of blue light identified the police car approaching the pier. The Y-boat was relaunched and the couple were taken ashore. Once the Lifeboat recovered the Y-Boat she departed Elgol at 02:15, berthed in Mallaig at 03:15 and made ready for service.
24th September 2021
Requested to launch by Stornoway Coastguard to the assistance of a fallen walker at Talisker Bay in NW Skye at 18:48. Rescue 948 was also tasked to the locality. The walker had suffered injuries to his thigh and back and was in danger of being cut off by the tide. Local Coastguards located the casualty and were joined shortly afterwards by Rescue 948. The Helicopter medic packaged and recovered the casualty to the aircraft and proceeded to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness. With the situation in hand the Lifeboat was stood down and requested to return to base at 20:00. Lifeboat fuelled and ready for service at 21:30.
Michael Ian Currie
Mallaig Harbour News
It's hard to believe that we are into October today - although the weather this week is definitely designed to remind us that summer is over. That said, we still have some visiting yachts at the Marina, and this week we have also had two Navy Patrol vessels, HMS Explorer and HMS Express, using the pontoons. At just over 20m long, these Archer class P2000 Patrol Boats are some of the smallest vessels in the fleet, and have been participating in Joint Warrior training exercises around the coast.
Some of you will already be aware that we are having difficulty with our lighthouse at the entrance to the Harbour, and it is currently unlit. A Navigational Warning has been issued, and we have finally tracked down someone to replace the lighting unit, so we are hopeful that the issue will be resolved by mid-October. In the meantime, please take extra care when entering or exiting the Harbour.
For most of September you would have seen a platform hanging over various parts of the quay in the Outer Harbour as Holequest undertook drilling and core sampling as part of the detailed design works for the proposals to deepen the Outer Harbour and develop more quay space. Samples were taken from six different locations so that we can be certain of the depths of the existing piles holding up the breakwater and have a better understanding of the type of materials on the existing seabed within the area. This is the visible start of a programme of investigations and design works which are costing around £450k and we are grateful that HIE have approved a grant of 40% towards the costs. These works will allow us to go out to tender for the actual construction works, and give us certainty of costs to apply for funding towards the capital works - hopefully early in the next financial year.
The Marine Management Organisation has just published their UK Fisheries Statistics for 2020. Given the ongoing decline we are seeing in the fishing industry in Mallaig, this makes for interesting reading. Headline figures are:
In 2020, UK vessels landed 623 thousand tonnes of sea fish into the UK and abroad with a value of £831 million. Compared to 2019, this is a slight increase in the quantity of sea fish landed and a 16 per cent decrease in value landed.
Compared to 2019, the number of UK vessels has fallen by 128, a decrease of 2 per cent similar to the change between 2018 and 2019. All these vessels were under 10 metres (10m) in length. While there were some vessels over 10m decommissioned and registered in 2020, the total number remained the same as 2019.
The UK is a net importer of fish. In 2020 the UK imported 672 thousand tonnes of fish, with a value of £3,206 million. It exported 423 thousand tonnes. Compared to 2019, imports were down by 7 per cent. (The majority of our imports are from China, and the majority of our exports to France). We import more tuna and export more salmon than any other species, but the UK is also a net importer of Cod, shrimps and prawns, and a net exporter of Mackerel!
The number of fishers in the United Kingdom has steadily declined by 45 per cent since 1994 and by three-quarters since 1938. This is a sobering statistic - in the last 27 years, the number of fishermen has declined by almost half! The report explains this in part by saying that 'The long-term decrease in the number of fishers is associated with reductions in fleet size and the move to fewer larger vessels. Relative to their capacity, larger vessels do not require as many fishers as small vessels.'
Of the four UK nations, Scotland lands the most fish by both quantity and value, and in 2020, pelagic species (mackerel and herring) made up 57% of the total quantity landed, but brought in less value than demersal landings.
In 2020 shellfish landings decreased by 18%, while their value decreased by 33%. The price per tonne for shellfish decreased 20% compared to a decrease of around 8% for both demersal and pelagic species. This was as a direct result of lockdowns - shellfish species tend to be landed and sold fresh for use in the hospitality sectors in the UK and abroad, and this market crashed as lockdowns were imposed. The demersal and pelagic sectors were impacted to a lesser extent as they are primarily for consumption in the home, and can be landed and sold frozen so are more resilient to changes in the market. Nephrops (also known as langoustine or Norway lobster), crabs and scallops are the main shellfish species landed by the UK fleet, accounting for 60% of all shellfish landings in 2020. Landings of these three key species decreased between 2019 and 2020; the decrease in the value of Nephrops landings was the most severe at 44%. As discussed previously, the shellfish sector has been hit the hardest by the ongoing pandemic.
In 2020, UK vessels landed a total of 502 thousand tonnes of fish and shellfish from UK waters with a first sale value of £700 million. By tonnage 53% of this was from the Northern North Sea; mackerel and herring made up 70% of those landings whereas haddock, whiting, cod, monkfish and saithe combined accounted for a further 19% of the total UK landings from UK waters of the Northern North Sea. This is reflected in the fact that Peterhead was once again the busiest port, with £153.9million of landings, followed by Lerwick, Scrabster and Fraserburgh.
There's a much higher level of detail in the report, but the statistics above give some context to the reduction in fishing not just in Mallaig, but in many smaller ports around the country as fishing effort changes and becomes more concentrated around fewer larger vessels and ports.
On and Off the Rails
My intention was to write this column on the day of the last afternoon Jacobite steam hauled train service on Friday 1st October, but with 20 lightning and thunder strikes in two hours, electricity 'blipping' outages during it and three massive soakings when I just had to be outside, even when fully kitted out in waterproofs, wellies and bump cap - and then having to dry everything off - I gave up the intention!
As I watched the afternoon crew on The Jacobite depart it was with a tinge of sadness. Some will not return next year due to retirement, one is emigrating, etc. but there were also shouts through the steam of 'see you next year!' The passengers were trying to keep the windows clear on the inside with demister and paper towels, lights were on, champagne, chocolates, and fish and chips were being devoured, bouquets were on three tables, and Harry Potter regalia being worn. The last whistle hung in the air and the rear lights disappeared - but it was worth seeing. I turned away and told myself, 'You didn't let Mallaig down by saying goodbye and thanks, you've had your two coronavirus jags and the 'flu jag - now get inside!'
For the next four weeks we still have the morning Jacobite, seven days a week, with the last day of the 2021 season being Friday 29th October.
Many touring coach break brochures for 2022 are including days on The Jacobite in their itineraries. So Mallaig can look forward to that.
As we move forward to a time when we can travel again by train with confidence it is good to know that we still have four trains a day, each way (excluding strikes still each Sunday) and that we can progress down the line on our West Highland extension journey, picking up passengers as we go to onwards to the West Highland line, for the autumn, winter and spring months (that is four trains a day in each direction of course).
To encourage us back onto the rails there are several really good deals just announced by ScotRail on offer, albeit that the best ones involve having an email address when we have a perfectly adequate staffed booking office bristling with information on the computer! and the printer works.
The first is the ScotRail Club 50 card available to persons 50 years of age or over. This is an actual card that comes to you through the post but you cannot apply for it by post (why, ScotRail marketing department, when your target age range is not likely to have an app, or a smart phone, email or tablet?)
This card will allow you to have discounts and offers for one year from the date of purchase. You can buy online, or at your local booking office, and can renew online year on year. You pay £15 a year and need to provide a recent (passport quality) photo. You then produce your smart card at a booking office which will give you 10% discount on what ScotRail call 'off-peak and advanced tickets', but in reality is all trains out of Mallaig! You carry your card with your tickets when travelling. This 10% discount is also available if ordering on telesales. However if ordering online select 'ScotRail Club 50 web' from the online list of ScotRail rail cards and, guess what, you get a 20% discount! Using the ScotRail Club 50 smart card you can travel with discounted tickets anywhere in Scotland on ScotRail trains. This ticket does not allow you to break your journey i.e. if you are travelling to Wick or Thurso from Mallaig you would probably not be able to complete the journey outward in one day. If this is the case you can de-train, stay overnight and resume your onward journey the next day. If catering is on-board and available, you qualify for a 50% discount on your purchase of hot or cold drinks. Sadly we have had no catering on the Mallaig extension for 2.5 years!
However there is more news for us over 50s once you've navigated getting the smart card, and it is here that things start to excite me!! As I write this on Monday 4th October, from today a £10 flat return journey ticket to travel anywhere in Scotland is available! You must book in advance, not on the train. You can do this at any booking office. Your outward journey must be taken by the 21st November, and you must return within one calendar month of outward travel. So the last possible date of your return would be Monday 20th December. Of course if you were away for a given time there is nothing stopping you with booking onward and return day trips for another £10 at the same time.
ScotRail Santa Express - All Aboard for festive fun
Now I know that Edinburgh Waverley station is a long way from here, but if you are planning to as a family, or with grandchildren, to visit Edinburgh around the dates of Saturday 4th, 11th, or 18th December to see the Christmas markets or the festive seasonal lights, then this should make you read on!
Join Santa and his elves for the following treats on offer.
1) Saturday 4th December will see the first 'Santa Express' leave Waverley station at 08.58 heading to Aviemore with refreshments served along the way. From there it will continue along the Strathspey Railway - a restored section of the original Highland railway through the stunning Cairngorms scenery to Boat of Garten. Here passengers will disembark and be entertained by a piper playing Christmas music and served festive food and drink, before heading back to Edinburgh. Tickets are £30 per child, £60 per adult or £160 for a family ticket.
2) On Saturdays 11th and 18th December, in the morning and in the afternoon, the Santa Express will depart Edinburgh Waverley, cross the famous Forth Bridge and travel around the Fife Circle. Perfect for families with young children, the trip will last approximately one and a half hours and will feature Father Christmas handing out gifts.
All of the Santa Express trains will be decorated throughout and Santa's elves will be on board, adding sparkle and surprise.
Tickets for the Fife Circle journey start at £12.50 per child and £25 per adult with a family ticket costing £65.
Tickets are bookable now on the ScotRail website under 'Santa Express' and are likely to be as popular as mince pies and mulled wine, so to avoid disappointment book your tickets now!
It is currently expected that the trains will be able to run at full capacity and passengers will be asked to wear face masks. To make sure everyone is in the Yuletide spirit, special Christmas masks will be handed out. Let the magic unfold! ScotRail have announced that all proceeds from the Santa Express will be donated to the charity 'Railway Children' supporting street children across the UK, India and East Africa.
GO-HI Phone App
A couple of issues ago I reported on the rollout of this travel app which allows users to plan, book and pay for journeys for all modes of transport on any Android or iPhone mobile device. It provides instant access to information on buses, trains, taxis, car hire, car clubs, bicycle hire, air travel and ferries.
The one-stop app also now provides information on locations for food and drink, cash machines and electric vehicle charging points.
The initial six month pilot project has now been extended to two years with funding secured from Transport Scotland's Mobility as a Service (MaaG) investment fund. Local councillor Allan Henderson, who is involved in his role as Hi-Trans chairman, sees the new funding as a significant vote of confidence in the project.
Free bus passes
Rolling out of a scheme granting free bus travel to people under 22 has been approved by the Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee at Holyrood. Under-19's are now due to get their passes in January 2022 and under 22's in 2023 as the scheme expands.
ScotRail/Abellio/RMT Strike continues
Sunday 3rd October was week 28 of the strike and it is currently scheduled to run until the end of October. ScotRail engineers have now also voted to hold a series of strikes during COP-26, on 18-19 October, 1-2 November, 10-11 November and 12-13 November.
Remember, at present guidance regarding face coverings when travelling on any public transport is to wear one and protect everyone.
See you on the train - maybe.
Stop Press - tea trolley spotted on the midday train from Fort William to Mallaig on 6th October!! Ed
Mallaig and District Canoe Club
Wednesday 29th September was a day of sunshine, showers and rainbows! Sadly, it was also the day of the last scheduled club paddle of 2021. The plan was to paddle from just north of Port Appin to Castle Coeffin on the west side of the island of Lismore. The forecast had been for strong gusty winds, but when the five paddlers set off from the shore near Polanach north of Appin, the sky was blue and the sea was flat calm. To take advantage of the benign conditions, it was decided to start by paddling down the more exposed west side of Shuna Island and on past Eilean Glas and Eilean Gainimh to the sheltered bay of Port Ramsay at the north end of Lismore. The wind started to pick up as the group left the shores of Shuna and it was evident that the gusty winds in the forecast were on their way! Having reached Port Ramsay, the paddlers pulled up on Ramsay Island for lunch from where they had great views across the bay to a row of pristine white cottages and the imposing ruins of a limekiln.
Lime is used for treating heavy clay soil and for making cement. For centuries lime making on Lismore was a "Cottage Industry" and was not put on a commercial basis until 1800 when a Roman Catholic Seminary was founded on Lismore by Abbot Chisolm. He also founded the lime-burning industry to finance the project. The quarry and seminary were built together at Kilcheran on the southeast of Lismore. Sir Walter Scott was reputed to have sailed by and made the sarcastic remark that the quality of the lime was superior to the quality of the students! Both ventures came to an end in 1840.
Thereafter the work to produce lime continued at five different sites - Salen, Port na Morlach, Alisra, Sheep Island and Port Ramsay. Salen quarry, the largest, functioned till 1934. Work at Port Ramsay ceased at the outbreak of World War One.
After lunch the wind had picked up significantly and it was decided to abandon trying to reach Castle Coeffin which would have taken them round to the very exposed west coast of the island. Instead the group paddled round Eilean Ramsay, past Eilean nan Caorach (Sheep Island where there is another limekiln) and Inn Island and on to the mainland and Castle Stalker (in the Gaelic, "Stalcaire", meaning hunter or falconer). This tower house or keep sits on a rock in Loch Laich and was built in 1446 by the then Lord of Lorn, Sir John Stewart. Having paused to take photographs the paddlers set off again into the stiff breeze. As they rounded the Knap into the Sound of Shuna the winds once again died off and the group had a pleasant two kilometre paddle through moored yachts to the take out back at Polanach.
This trip really encapsulates all that is held dear by devotees of sea kayaking. In a sea kayak you can get away from the crowds to see up close and explore parts of the coast hidden from those tied to the land. You get to experience and learn about the changing weather and how it affects the sea and the land. You can appreciate the diversity of wildlife on our shores and in the sea, enjoying close encounters with iconic creatures such as otters, porpoises, dolphins, basking sharks and sea eagles. In addition, you can learn so much about the history of the coastal land and its people. All this in the convivial company of others who share your passion.
As club paddlers officially hang up their paddles for the winter, they will be planning new and exciting adventures for 2022 in the hope that we all stay safe and healthy in the meantime. If anyone is interested in learning about sea kayaking the Club is planning to run a "Come and Try" session in the Spring. You can also learn about the club on our website www.mallaigcanoeclub.co.uk
Finally, the club would like to pay tribute to former club member Deirdre Roberts (above, centre) who sadly passed away a few weeks ago. Deirdre was a stalwart of the club who attended many paddles and could always be relied upon to help out at any fundraising events as well as throwing herself wholeheartedly into the social side of the club. She will be sadly missed.
BIRDWATCH September 2021 by Stephen MacDonald
September started with fairly warm, dry settled conditions, but by the end of the third week it became more unsettled, with windy conditions and the first prolonged spells of heavy rain for some time.
Still some wader passage throughout the month, but with the good weather during the first half, most birds passed through quickly. Most reports were of fairly typical species like Dunlin, Sanderling, Turnstone, Ringed Plover, Golden Plover, Snipe, Curlew, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Greenshank and Bar-tailed Godwit. The majority of sightings were from Traigh, Back of Keppoch and the Morar Estuary.
There were two scarcer species reported during the month. A juvenile Curlew Sandpiper was first spotted on the shoreline near Traigh boatshed on the evening of the 7th. It was seen almost daily in that vicinity until the 16th, usually in the company of Dunlins. A Little Stint was reported from Traigh by a visiting birder on the 21st.
Plenty seabirds still on the move with numerous reports of Arctic and Great Skuas. Five Arctic Skuas were seen on the 22nd from the MV Sheerwater and 17 Great Skua were seen between Rum and Soay on the 7th, many predating newly fledged Manx Shearwaters. Storm Petrels were reported on several occasions, with at least six seen on the Oberon Bank on the 5th. Large groups of Gannets and Kittiwakes feeding close inshore during the windier weather towards the end of the month. A single Arctic Tern seen in Loch nan Ceall on the 30th was a late sighting. By the month end just over 300 Manx Shearwaters had been rescued in the local area. After a quick health check they were ringed and released. As expected, most birds were found in Mallaig, but several were found in Arisaig and Morar early in the month.
The first Pink-footed Geese of the autumn were seen over Loch Ailort on the 23rd, where several skeins were seen heading south east over the loch. They have been a bit slow in arriving this year. The first and only report of Whooper Swans so far this autumn was of five birds seen over the Morar Estuary on the 24th.
Still some large flocks of finches feeding on thistles and grass seeds around Traigh and Back of Keppoch. Most of the birds are Goldfinches and Linnets, with smaller numbers of Twite, Greenfinches and Chaffinches also.
Tawny Owls were heard calling on several occasions in the Woodside and Rhubana areas of Morar during the month.
WORLD WIDE WEST WORD
Former Ed Ann and husband Richard toured the Crannog Museum and workshops at Kenmore on Loch Tay and gave their copy of West Word to Rich the guide. During lockdown, Rich and his partner had produced a free newssheet for all local households and he was very interested in our own paper, enthusiastically accepting the copy to take home. The Crannog itself burnt down in June but the Centre has great plans to rebuild on another site across the loch.
Salisbury resident Cameron Purdon took his West Word on holiday to Corfu!
Watch this space for extracts from next month's issue!
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