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

List of Issues online

September 2008 Issue

Contents of the online version:

Top stories
Monthly news from Knoydart, Rum, Muck, Canna, Arisaig, Glenfinnan
Crofting Roundup & Fishing Focus
Local Genealogy & Letters

Letters, e-mails and comments are welcome.
Contact Details & How to Subscribe to the Paper
Sign our Guestbook

All photos are copyright either of the individual photographers or West Word.
Not to be reproduced without permission.

Head Teacher Joan Smith has retired after a career spanning thirty-eight years at Mallaig Primary School. Nine years ago Joan took on the role of Acting Head on a temporary basis until the post could be filled, and two years later took on the role of Head. We wish Joan health and happiness in her retirement!

lifeboat photo

Mallaig Lifeboat Day
Having only established a Fundraising Branch approximately 7 weeks ago, the group were delighted with the success of the Lifeboat Day on Saturday 23rd August, which was held to celebrate the 60th year anniversary of the Lifeboat being in situ in Mallaig. From the 11am start to the 2am finish it was all go! Highlights of the day included Bertie and Stuart being met off the Steam Train by local piper Katie Macnaughton, Stormy Stan (a.k.a. Mike) getting his huge beard shaved off by Maureen, tours around the lifeboat which saw queues of people desperate for a look, fantastic food being on offer, catering for all tastes, and the Lifeboat display, which saw the crew racing down the pier and onto the lifeboat to rescue 2 drunken fools in charge of a boat!!
In the evening, Turn up the Heat provided a wonderful range of music to keep the dancers happy, and the bar staff did well to keep up with the demands!! The Auction was a huge success, with 8 locals being sold as Slaves - watch this space for information about what their tasks involved! We are all interested to see exactly what Stuart Griffin is to be doing at the Fire Station!

[Thanks to Moe Mathieson for the photos]

Lochaber Provost Allan Henderson and Lifeboat Coxswain Bertie McMinn - and the Jacobite

Members of Mallaig Lifeboat crew received letters of thanks for their rescue of a fishing boat in stormy weather just off Glasnarcardoch Bay in January. Mission Superintendent Stanley Ross and launch operations manager George Lawrie read out the crew’s heroic exploits to the crowd at the start of the day’s events.

RNLI personnel and the Jacobite

Overall, the day was a HUGE success, and the Fundraising group managed to raise over £6000, though this figure is still rising as more donations come in! We would like to thank the following people: Mr Shuttleworth and the Steam Train crew for allowing 2 of the crew to hop on board, Allan Henderson and Stanley Ross the Mission Man for opening the day and making the presentations, Katie Macnaughton for piping, Taff and his 2 friends for making a smashing job on the BBQ, all the ladies who donated baking/ soup (delicious!), all those who donated to the tombola and to the fund, Frank and Shirley for doing a great job on the Tombola, Pimmy and Mark for helping set up on the pier, Keith for compering the Lifeboat display, everyone who gave up their Saturday afternoon to help out, Turn up the Heat, all the bar staff, the local bars for closing early, the local boats who donated prawns etc, John Cameron and Jeff Lawrie for donating to the BBQ, the Coastguards for helping out during the day and also for putting themselves up for auction!, Ross MacKay, Pam MacDonald, and of course the Lifeboat Crew themselves! Apologies if we have missed anyone out! Your help and support was much appreciated, and without you, the day would not have been such a success. Moran taing!!
Dawn MacPhie, Mallaig Lifeboat Fundraising Branch

So, a quick round-up: we've all been recovering from the excesses of the Knoydart Games, and getting our heads together to talk about the Foundation's 10th Anniversary celebrations which will be taking place next year. Lots of events lined up, including the possibility of a very special music festival. We will of course keep you informed as to the full timetable - but put it this way, whichever month you choose to visit our peninsula next year, there is likely to be something happening (depending on funding, of course).
Had a few cruise ships in again - the noise of the Hebridean Princess dropping anchor after dark the other night put the heebie-jeebies up a few people....
Lots of talk about woodfuel systems for the future here, which look very promising, and we hope that something comes of the car-club which has also been talked about on Eigg.
Tommy McManmon

Rum has been busy recently with various arrivals and departures. First to report is the birth of my very own baby Daughter, Kaitlin Jean who was born on 14th June weighing 7lb 3oz. Then on 13th August Sean and Ali celebrated the arrival of their extremely cute baby daughter, Eve Mary weighing 6lb 9oz. I think it is fair to say that we are all frazzled but happy! SNH are also currently in the process of recruiting a new Reserve Officer so perhaps we will have someone new to welcome there soon.
Goodbye to forestry student Neil and deer management student Mike, although he was back again just a week later working as a Ghillie - can't keep away from us Mike?! Farewell also to Reserve Manager, Ed Hawan and his wife Sharon who left in July after 4 and a halfyears on the island. All the best to them all for the future.
The community trust are working towards improved facilities and a shower for the campsite and on Saturday 21st August, the Rum residents got together to undertake a bit of a clean-up. After a hard days work of strimming, moving and hacking at brambles the result was much tidier and larger area for camping. What an improvement. It is such a beautiful location for camping with stunning views so it is nice to see it looking so much better!
As I write, contractors are on the island installing a new satellite broadband service as part of a Scottish Government initiative to bring broadband services to remote areas. Internet services on the island are currently slow and frustrating so here's hoping that service improves for everyone on the island - even Kilmory might get it!
The summer teashop has been up and running in the village hall since June now with Davie Chainsaw at the helm. The poor thing is currently hobbling around the island on crutches after a rather unfortunate accident at Kilmory when he was airlifted out with a broken ankle.
The midgies had a slow start this season and overall it's been a fairly 'mild' summer for midgies. We have all been wondering why? If anyone can offer up a theory we'd love to hear it!
Stroma Frew

Men and women of the cloth are not thick on the ground in Lochaber at the moment so we were very lucky to have Alan Lamb on the island to christen Mary and Toby's youngest son Jasper Traquair Fichtner-Irvine. The service took place in the berber tent in the policies of Port Mor House and Jasper behaved perfectly.
Avanti Communications is here - the latest team to pick up the challenge of providing us with broadband. Gone are the troublesome repeater stations; each house having its own dish courtesy of the Scottish Executive. Already the Craft Shop has become an internet Craft Shop with patrons queuing to use Jenny's laptop.
The island sports were held on the 9th of August and in spite of a poor forecast the weather held up well. Competitors representing Muck, Rum, Eigg and the Rest of the World battled it out in a range of children's and adults events. The ever popular hill race attracted a first class field and the 'double-points' allocation proved decisive in the overall adult standings which finished with Muck in first place on 82 points, Rum 2nd, Rest of the World in 3rd and Eigg finishing in a creditable fourth place. Many thanks to all who took part, and to Pam McDonald and Emma Walters for organising the children's events. A barbeque and ceilidh with Ian Macfarlane and friends followed and made for a great evenings entertainment.
On the farm it has been a difficult season for hay making though silage with only two days from cutting to baling has always been possible. On many days the sun shone over Canna while the rain clouds gathered in the southeast with us between. Not hay making weather, though Sandra Mathers managed some - just.
The Wednesday market in the dome or tent has created a lot of interest even if no one is going to get rich. Vegetables, bread and crafts have been the good sellers and next year should be even better as the word spreads.
Lawrence MacEwen

Despite rumours of a decrease in numbers of visitors to the Highlands, this year we seem to be as busy as ever. Not only this, but also bucking the trend is our local weather which appears to defy all logic. While the rest of the country is deluged in what can best be described as monsoon rain, we're over here basking. Maybe word has got out. Fine weather makes good for the garden and on the farm, where much work is in progress before the poor weather returns and the going gets tough. The only problem is the grass which is starting to fight back and has all but destroyed one lawnmower. If you're quiet, you can almost hear it growing…
Basking sharks, too; plenty of the slippery-finned plankton-gobblers being spotted off the West End and one observed in a stand-off with the Loch Nevis while she was at the pier. Much delight for the passengers but mere consternation for the skipper as the little basker was in the way and refused to respond to calls on channel 16.
"Brenda" and "Wilma", our resident historic tour guides (ha ha) were busy this month, and I'm pleased to say that once again visitor casualties were kept to a minimum. Despite the diversity of flora and fauna on offer, much visitor interest seemed to focus on water (where does it come from?) and sewerage (where does it go?). Thankfully, I managed to avoid the discussion on pre-Christian anthropomorphic iconography.
The BBC's Neil Oliver and the crew of Coast were dispatched our way to look for wildlife, and they found it…eventually. If the bone rattling pick-up ride to the other end of the island didn't do them in, the subsequent overland epic with helmets and full pack more than finished them off. Add the fact that they forgot the sandwiches…well they didn't really stand a chance. (So I handed them some chicken in a flour tortilla and said, "It's a wrap". Boom boom…) And as they left, out of time and over budget, tired but happy…no-one mentioned the pair of large birds soaring above the pier. Actually I made that bit up. But they did get their eagles! There were meetings galore this month; community meetings, brief meetings, meetings about meetings and even World's Largest Coffee meetings. The next meeting is scheduled for the 5th of November, and there are sure to be fireworks… (I certainly hope to be well briefed on that occasion).
Financial News…the Sanday Carrot declined against most major currencies, including Canna Spinach and the Cabbage, which produced a record yield last week and a market flood. With the economy producing its weakest growth performance since 2005, this fuelled expectations of a Potato shortage by the weekend, as the outlook appears to be particularly blighted.
Geoff Soe-Paing

Suddenly there seems to be houses going up here, there and thither and houses for sale all over the place! Has there ever been a period of such change in Arisaig's history?!
The new road is looking very smart and there are lovely views from the new stretches. With even more new parts opening next week we can certainly believe there's only four months left of the job.
The McCalmans came and played to a packed Hall during August. By request they sang their famous A830 song, and prefaced it by saying they'd been coming up for years on the awful road, and they'd come up this year-and it was WORSE! If they sing it next year it will be with nostalgia we hope!
Thanks to Joanna and Anne Baillie for managing the MsFits evening while we went away for a night.
Little Arisaig was descended on by 350 steam train passengers-twice! However the café management decided it wasn't worth opening on the Monday for them. The lady who wrote in to the Letters' Page this month is right - it's more about being hospitable and welcoming and the reputation among travellers of the village itself, than anything else.
We're enjoying a lovely spell of Indian summer as I write this. The leaves seem to be turning a bit early this year but the swallows are still here.
Ann Lamont
(P.S. Had another vote for the hyphen and one for the double barrelled version!)

The main event in August was of course the Glenfinnan Gathering and Games held on Saturday 16th August. It was a lovely, sunny day, which was totally unexpected and people came prepared for rain in wellies and macs. Memories of getting soaked to the skin last year were clearly fresh in people's minds. It was a good Games with a friendly atmosphere. There were lots of children at the Games, locals and visitors, taking part in the races and the slate painting. We ran out of slates so some children went gathering stones to paint. Iain MacKellaig did well racing against younger men in the Hill Race and coming in a very respectable 2nd.
Most of the village were involved in the Games; Joan in the secretary tent, Glenfinnan Brewery were there with very popular free samples, Duncan had a spit roast and bar on the go and Mary was there with Sharon and Martin in the burger van. Gail and the art class held an exhibition, slate painting for kids and sale of paintings and generated some sales. And that's to say nothing of the people you don't see who work so hard getting the field ready and directing people to the car park. The preparation and work of Ronnie MacKellaig and the Games Committee ensures the Games continues to be a great occasion year after year. The games dance was in Glenfinnan House Hotel with the Glenfinnan Ceilidh Band. It was a good night that continued well in to the next morning at various house ceilidhs.
Baron Lumsden of Cushnie, age 74, and President of the 1745 Association sadly passed away in the night of the 28th / 29th August in Glenfinnan House Hotel. He had been staying there with members of the 1745 Association for their annual gathering. There could perhaps be no finer location for the passing of a man holding such an interest in the events of 1745.
Torr an Eas has been spruced up and is looking rather smart after all the houses have been painted white. It is their first coat of paint they ever had despite being built eight years ago. One of the new builds in Torr an Eas was named 'The White House'. Now they are all white!
I must make special mention of Joe Gillies who turned 50 in April. I forgot to mention it all those months ago so belated Happy Birthday Joe. He celebrated by going on holiday with Gry and took a day trip to Africa so he could turn 50 on a different continent. Congratulations to Cameron Ramsay on winning the inaugural fishing competition for the Archibald MacKellaig Memorial Cup. Iain MacKellaig came second and won a bottle of whisky
Eileen O'Rua

As already reported in West Word, Dr Paul Millar, a diplomat at the Czech Consul in Edinburgh, is planning to erect a monument in Arisaig in honour of the hundreds of Czechoslovak soldiers who were trained at the Special Operations Executive's Schools during the Second World War.
Planning permission for the site near the waterfront is yet to come, and Dr Millar has set up the charity to raise the funds required. This charity is called CZECH MEMORIAL and details can be found on the embryo website www.pomnikparasutistum.cz which is in both Czech and English. There is a lot of interest on the site where you can read of the recent events which have led to Dr Millar's decision to erect a memorial. The site lists all known Czechoslovakian trainees and agents, their assignments and a list of their parachute drops.
Two years ago, a special exhibition on Commandos was unveiled at the Scottish War Museum in Edinburgh. Among the items on show were a few mementos of Czechoslovak trainees at the Special Training Schools of the SOE in 1941-1943. The Curator of the Museum, Stuart Allan, who at that time was writing his book Commando Country asked Dr Millar to try to decipher some signatures in a small book, given to instructor Ernst Van Meurik by one group of trainees. Dr Millar deciphered all twenty of them, and says: 'each one of them was a hero.' He decided then a memorial must be built and where else but Arisaig, 'where, before they went into action, they could take the last breath of air filled with freedom.'
Ann Martin

The 'Gurkha Highlanders' were once more in Mallaig last month to start their annual 200 mile hike from Mallaig to Stonehaven, on the route dubbed 'The Gurkha Way'.
The trek is undertaken every year by serving Gurkha soldiers to raise funds for the 10,000 surviving World War II veteran Gurkhas and their families and 5000 widows, who receive no pension and only £5 a week from the Gurkha Welfare Trust.
From 11th August the seven men yomped through the mountains, taking in the Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge, where they laid a wreath. On across Rannoch Moor and via Dalwhinnie and Braemar, they arrived in Stonehaven on 19th August, completing what the Gurkha Welfare Trust calls a 'debt of honour'.

CROFTING ROUNDUP - Joyce Wilkinson SCF Area representative.

Shucksmith Inquiry
Meetings have been held throughout the summer in the Highlands in response to the outcome of the Shucksmith Inquiry. Lochaber area held a meeting at the Mart in Torlundy on the 8th July and it was attended by Patrick Krause SCF Chief executive and Becky Shaw from the Committee of Inquiry .
There have been some concerns raised at these meetings, particularly regarding the proposed Burdens and the structure of the new regulation. On a whole, certainly at the Lochaber meeting, reassurance was given that nobody should ever have their croft taken of them by a local board just because they are unable to work it but there is still a great deal of detail that has not been revealed, hopefully things will become clearer soon.
There is to be a further meeting on Tues 2nd Sept in Salen Hall There has also been consultation from the Scottish Parliament through questionnaires sent to Grazings clerks, the responses have mostly all been received now and the Scottish Parliament are keen to stress that although many believe that the Shucksmith report had to be accepted as a whole or not at all this is not the case, and while there parts of the package that some find unacceptable there are many parts that are very workable and appropriate to the future of crofting. It is good to know that they are listening to the Crofters.
Mark Shucksmith and Mike Rusell MSP will be at the Barra Gathering on the 8th of October.

SCF Gathering in Barra
The Annual Gathering held by the Scottish Crofting Foundation will be held on 6th 7th and 8th of October . The ferry leaves Uig at 9.40 on the 6th Oct. The theme this year must be Local food production by the sound of the programme. Talks include The Soil Association on 'Good Food', Quality Meat Scotland on 'Direct Marketing', SAC on 'Marketing Croft Produce' and Scottish CO-OP on 'Ethical Sourcing'. There will also be the Croft Producer of the Year award. There will be visits to a Butcher, a Polytunnel and a Machair croft. It sounds lovely, I hope some of you are able to go.

Local Food Initiative
Various Crofting townships in Skye and other areas are responding to the new awareness that land left fallow can be brought back into food production to benefit the community and wider. There is funding to help these schemes as they are community based and are in line with changing Government policy towards food production.
If there is anybody local who would like to help me form a working group to initialise a Local Food Production initiative maybe they could make contact . The idea would not be able to materialise without the use of land. So initially it would be hoped it might be possible to bring together some people who are willing to let an area of land be brought into food production and some people who do not have access to land who have a few hours spare and would enjoy the benefits of growing their own . As in Skye surplus produce could then be sold locally to everyone's benefit. It's only an idea but it has been seen to work successfully in other areas.

On and Off The Rails
Mallaig Fire Crew rescue The Jacobite
On Sunday 17th August, the regular Jacobite steam train from Fort William to Mallaig was terminated at Arisaig due to essential engineering work to the rail track at Mallaig.
It was only after leaving Fort William that the train crew realised that they would not have enough water to return from Arisaig to Fort William. An emergency call to Fire Officer David Johnston was placed, and David and his fire crew agreed to travel to Arisaig and 'top up' The Jacobite. A very relieved driver and fireman were greeted by David and his merry band, and around 2000 gallons of Arisaig water was pumped aboard!
Aboard the train were 20 passengers who were booked on the Skye ferry, so a mini-bus was needed for transport from Arisaig to Mallaig. To the rescue came Ian Macnaughton and Moe Mathieson who agreed to take the passengers to the ferry. As the engineering work at Mallaig Station was still not complete on the following Monday morning, it was decided to 'book' David Johnston and his fire crew for a repeat performance!
All went well and passengers for the ferry on Monday were transported from Arisaig by Jack MacLellan West Coast Railway Co. would like to thank all those people who helped out on both days (see the acknowledgements on page 25.

Jacobite 'Black Five' has short visit
On Tuesday August 12th, Ian Riley's 'Black 5' no. 45407 travelled up from its base in Bury, Lancs, to take over duties on The Jacobite but it managed only one outing to Mallaig on Wednesday 13th August when a cracked cylinder was found on its return journey. It travelled light engine back to Bury on Friday 15th August. Hopefully it will be back in Fort William fully repaired for Jacobite duties starting Monday 8th September. Albeit a very short visit to Mallaig on 13th August, it arrived tender first, so it travelled back to Fort William chimney first which greatly pleased the photographers. Should the 'Black 5' not be ready in time, Ian Riley has promised use of his restored Type 4. The last of the Class to visit Mallaig was about 5 years ago when 75014, belonging to Ian Gould, was a regular on the Jacobite. This locomotive no longer holds a main line certificate and will never again visit Mallaig. It now works on passenger traffic on the Paignton - Kingsweir line in Devon, which is a preserved line.

Jacobite season nearing end
The Jacobite steam train finishes on October 10th. This year has been a very good one, both for the operators (West Coast Railways Ltd) and the businesses in Mallaig; all the cafes, restaurants, gift shops, etc. have benefited from The Jacobite passengers.

Royal Scotsman record visits
This year has seen a record number of visits to Mallaig from Edinburgh. Although the passengers alight at Arisaig and then travel by coach on the old road to Traigh, it is nice to see the luxury train on the Mallaig line. There are Scotsman trips planned for September and October, the last one being on Saturday 11th October. For information on the Royal Scotsman, go to www.royalscotsman.com. This will give you dates of arrival in Mallaig and tour prices (you will be surprised at how much they cost!).
That's all for this month, for any train information call at Mallaig Station, where Suzie will do her best to help you. See you on the train!
Sonia Cameron


Craigneen BF93
The Moray Firth steam drifter Craigneen (BF93) was a familiar shape at Mallaig in the late 1930s and early 1940s but met her end on the port's Station Point in the early hours of 10 March, 1942. This model was commissioned by journalist David Morgan of Forres who is the grandson of her former engineer, the late William Burns of Banff.
The plank on frame display model is 30 inches overall and weighs just three-and-a-half pounds despite carrying a battery to illuminate navigation and other lights.
Craigneen was built at Banff by the Stevenson & Asher yard on the town's Greenbanks and launched in 1913 for Ritchie family of Whitehills. She was 88.6 feet overall and displaced 90 tonnes gross with power provided by a 16-inch triple expansion Plenty steam engine developing just 26hp.
She fished the Moray Firth from local harbours until requisitioned by the Admiralty from 1915 until 1920 as an armed anti-submarine vessel carrying a three-pounder gun on her foredeck. During this period she allegedly served in the Mediterranean in Italian waters.
Back in Scotland she resumed fishing on the East and West Coasts, initially under Ritchie ownership, and regularly used Mallaig to land catches. By this time William Burns engineer (or 'driver' as the were known) had retired. Her ownership changed after war broke out but she continued to fish from Mallaig until the fateful night of March 10, 1942, when, according to the Mallaig Police Station log of the time, a "mistake in navigation made by the skipper" put her onto the rocks at Station Point around 1am.
Although all crew got ashore safely and a substantial amount of gear was salvaged, the 29-year-old steam drifter was a total loss and shortly afterwards she slipped under water. Family records of her loss referred to the kindness of Mallaig people in caring for the crew. David, a sailor who occasionally visits Mallaig in his yacht 'Fulmar', would like to identify the precise spot where 'Craigneen' sank and would like to know from any local divers if anything remains wedged in rocks on the bottom.
The model was built by Mike Pendlebury in 2008. If anyone has any further information on the loss of the Craigneen, David can be contacted at 01309 672876.

Betty's Land Army Medal
'I thought it was a box of low energy bulbs,' said Mallaig resident Betty MacPhie, 'but what a lovely surprise when I eventually opened the package. I admit I became a bit emotional.'
Betty was speaking after receiving a medal and citation from the Prime Minister. The citation, dated July 2008, reads: 'To Elizabeth H. MacPhie, Women's Land Army. The Government wishes to express to you its profound gratitude for your unsparing efforts as a loyal and devoted member of the Women's Land Army at a time when our country depended upon you for its survival. (Signed) Rt. Hon. Gordon Brown MP, Prime Minister.'
'I'm chuffed to bits', said Edinburgh born Betty, who carried out her Land Army duties at Bracadale near Dunvegan on Skye over a three year period while the menfolk were away fighting for their country. Looking after the cows and the sheep, growing vegetables, getting the hay in and all the other chores -'even tilling the soil looking at the rear end of a horse,' laughed Betty.' It was hard work but also enjoyable and it certainly never did me any harm…and it's great that the Government is finally recognising the role played during the war years by the women who formed the Land Army.'

FISHING FOCUS - by John Hermse, Mallaig & North West Fishermen's Association
Its been a mixed summer with generally better weather on the West Coast than enjoyed in the rest of Scotland. Prices for nephrops has fallen due primarily to a glut of the smaller selections being landed. Prices for other species of shellfish have not risen in any meaningful way and certainly not in line with the huge increases In the cost of fuel.

Creeping Environmentalism
What have Offshore Special Areas of Conservation, Inshore Areas of Conservation, Special Protected Area Extensions, Marine Bill(s) etc, etc, etc, have in common? Well, they all purport to protect our pristine Marine environment and not interfere with commercial marine users. In reality they have the opposite effect but the promoters must keep up the pretence of non-interference to try and con the pliant locals for long enough to emplace the designations. Then the fun begins! Closed areas, restrictions, planning restraints, protection for the hundreds of thousands of seals (oops I mentioned the S word ) as the enviro police crawl about looking to invoke an ever increasing number of puerile laws to restrict and harass our fishermen and other producers who have worked in the area for years. No subsidies, compensations or grants for beleaguered indigenous industries but you'll get thousands in Enviro aid for planting a few trees, spotting a whale, going loopy over a basking shark and possibly getting rid of a few hedgehogs or squirrels. Just ask SNH where the bulk of their grant Assistance goes and the usual suspects which have the cheek to be termed "charities" are at the top of the pyramid.
The Sound of Barra SAC ( 10849 hectares) which was discredited in 2002, returns with a vengeance to haunt the Barra fishermen. The new proposed area is TWICE as large as the one proposed some eight years ago. To add insult to injury, there are additional proposed sites at Mingulay (30527 hectares) and Stanton Banks (174500 Hectares). There is no doubt that this is an attempt to regulate the industry out of existence. There is no doubt that the Scottish Government is more aware of the problems facing fishermen than previous administrations. Now is the time to show a bit of balance and leave the West Coast alone. We have enough of the dreaded designations. Stop patronising us with this new wave neo imperialist conservation nonsense and let us get on with producing top quality seafood.

Fuel High fuel prices continue to be a burden for the industry and as previously mentioned the winter months with shorter working days are when the full effects will be felt. A Government backed task force has been set up to look at the problem and already a number of innovative ideas have been mooted are being researched. The main problem of course is the lack of any help from the UK government who have as usual ignored the plea of the UK industry for help on the fuel issue.
The Scottish Government announced that, as a first step, resources totalling almost £29 million will be made available to implement the three-year plan. This includes focusing £26 million from the European Fisheries Fund on measures to help the fishing industry adapt to rising fuel prices. The plan will:

Scottish Ministers reiterated their determination to continue to press the UK Government and European Union for additional aid.

Quota Management
The much debated Quota management consultation is now at an end and it appears that the majority of the vessels in the Scottish Industry are in favour of the measures suggested inn the Consultation document. One thing is certain, something had to be done and we have waited years for DEFRA to take the lead to correct their overdue cataclysmic mismanagement of the quota system with particular reference to the Under 10 metre sector. Jonathan Shaw, the man who loves to say no, reacted with a fit of childish pique when those pesky Scots had the audacity to grasp the poisoned chalice and sort the problem out themselves. The ones who have complained bitterly about some of the principles proposed in the document are those in the industry, perhaps in foreign ownership, who have lined their own pockets for years, whilst purporting to support the industry. The arrangements governing fishing rights are crucial as they provide access to our rich fishing grounds. There therefore must be benefits for the current generation of fishermen but we need to ensure that these benefits are available to future generations as well.

Inshore Fisheries Groups
Inshore Fisheries Groups are again ready to be rolled out in Scotland after a taking stock exercise of over a year. Most inshore fishermen will welcome having a say in the management of their industry but it's a pity that some of the consultations and initiatives such as the Marine Bill were not left until the IFG's could pass comment from a local area perspective.

Birdwatch by Stephen MacDonald
Sea birds and waders dominated the bird reports this month, as birds passed through the area from higher latitudes. On the 22nd August an adult Pomarine Skua was seen just off Mallaig Vaig by the crew of a fish farm boat. It was chasing gulls along with Great Skuas. Still plenty of Skuas seen in the Sound of Sleat with up to 5 GreT Skuas together off Mallaig, following prawn trawlers returning to harbour. Arctic Skuas were also widely reported in the Sound of Sleat. A few Storm Petrels were seen most days and quite large numbers of Manx Shearwaters were seen feeding between Mallaig and Skye.
At least 17 types of Wader were recorded during the month. A juvenile Ruff seen at Traigh boatshed on the 19th and a male Grey Plover on the beach in front of Traigh House on the 25th are both infrequent visitors here. On the 1st of the month, a rather dreich day, 3 Black-Tailed Godwits, still in summer plumage, spent the day feeding in a field at Portnadoran. On the same day there were at least 60 Dunlin, 13 Sanderling, 10 Knot, 4 Turnstone and 3 Redshanks along with the local Ringed Plovers at Traigh. Golden Plover were reported throughout the month at Traigh, where there were 40 on the 6th. There were 12 in a field at Back of Keppoch on the 27th along with 16 Lapwing. A single Bar-Tailed Godwit was on the Morar Estuary on the 30th, along with 4 Greenshanks, 6 Dunlin and 25 Ringed Plovers.
Great Spotted Woodpeckers were reported from many gardens in Morar, from Sea-view, Woodside, Rhubana View and Bracara. Most reports were of juvenile birds although adults were also seen at Bracara. Good sized flocks of adult and juvenile Goldfinches, Twites and Linnets were seen feeding on roadside vegetation at Traigh, Back of Keppoch and Glasnacardoch.
Sparrowhawks were reported from gardens in Mallaig, Morar and Arisaig. A Peregrine Falcon was seen over Mallaig Primary School on the 19th. After the sighting of the Barn Owl at Arisaig House on the 1st, a Barn Owl was found nesting in a hole on a rock face near Mallaig at the end of the month. A juvenile Cuckoo was seen in a Morar garden on the 18th.

A Little Genealogy by Allan and Elizabeth MacDonald (email: ealasaid6@btopenworld.com)
The Camerons of Cnoc na Feannag and Swordland, Morar

In the June issue of West Word when I was recording the original crofting tenants of Morar, I suggested that the tenants of Riverview (originally known as Cnoc na Feannag) in 1884, should not be confused with the present tenants, although the naming pattern was similar. I have since learned from Elspeth Cameron, wife of Ronnie Cameron, Fort William, (mentioned below) that they are all descendants of Alexander Cameron, b. 1811, probably in Coire Choille. In an effort to correct any possible confusion, here follows an abridged genealogy which, hopefully, will help to clarify the origins of this family in North Morar. More research would need to be done to confirm this particular Cameron family's dùthaich.
According to the Cameron family and local folklore, the family roots were in Coire Choille, (Coirechoilly) near Unachan, which is now called Spean Bridge, although I haven't been able to find any absolute evidence.
In the 1841 census, living in Tarbert were Alexander Cameron, b. 1811, his wife, Catherine Gillies, b. 1816, dau.Catherine b.1834 and Flora, b. 1838. The place of birth is not given other than that, all were born in the parish of Glenelg. In 1851, living in 13 Mallaig (which was actually Stoule) Alexander Cameron's birthplace is given as Fort William. Another 4 children have been born in North Morar, namely, Angus (of whom more below) b. in 1843, Mary aged 6, James aged 4 and John (more below) b. February 1851.
In 1861 there is also a daughter Ann, (more below) b. 1857. Alexander Cameron, aged 55, is now recorded as being born in Knoydart. Alexander's birthplace, in 1871, is also recorded as being in Knoydart and the family is living in Tarbert, North Morar. In the 1881 census, Alexander, now aged 74, is living with his family at no. 4 Mallaig Bheag but he is recorded as being born in Argyll, at Ceapach (possibly Keppoch, near Coire Choille). Alexander died before the 1901 census. As demonstrated, the birthplace of Alexander is obscure but, a death certificate from the Registrar should confirm his place of birth and the names of his parents.We will leave that generation of the family there and look at three of his children, Angus, John and Ann.
Angus, b. 1843, married Catherine (MacLellan?) and had children, John, b. 1873, Kate, b. 1875, (more below) Mary, b. 1876, James, b. 1877, Ronald, b. 1880 and Angus b. 1881. By 1891, Angus, Catherine and family were living at Croc na Feannag (Riverview), Morar but tradgedy struck the family, as reported in the "Oban Times", March 1899 - an account of a shipwreck off Eilean Ighe, Arisaig, when a boat sailing from Arisaig to Morar River, was lost with all three crew members. These were Angus Cameron, Croc na Feannag, John MacEachen, Kinsadle and Neil MacVarish, Bracara.
For some unknown reason, two years later, in 1901, there was no tenant in Cnoc na Feannag and Angus' widow, Catherine, with all the family had removed to Stoule. After her husband's drowning Catherine wouldn't have been granted the tenancy and neither would her son, John, as he was then, unmarried. This may be the reason that, in the June article, I missed the connection between father and son.
To continue with Croc na Feannag, John Cameron eventually acquired the tenancy ca. 1912, after he had married Margaret Graham (more below) of Tarbert, North Morar. John Cameron and Margaret Graham had 4 children, Angus, Peggy, Jimmy and Ronnie. Ronnie, now aged 93, is the last surviving sibling, married to Elspeth and living in Fort William.
John, the brother of Angus who drowned off Eilean Ighe, was married to Sarah Gillies from Swordland and they lived in Mallaig Bheag. They had 9 children. James, b. 1883, Angus, b. 1885, Donald, (Dan) b. 1887, Ewen, (Hugh) 1889, Alexander, b. 1890, Margaret, b. 1891, Ann, b. 1892, Catherine, b. 1893 and John, b. 1895. I don't know what happenned to all the members of this family but, Angus, b. 1885, who appears to have spent time in Swordland, as a youth, living with his uncle Donald Gillies, took over the tenancy of Swordland. That tenancy of Swordland is still held by Donald Cameron, Angus' son, who lives in Fort William. Dan Cameron, b. 1887, lived round the Kyber, Mallaig and his son, John and grandson, featured in the W.W. Photo Library in July 2008. Hugh, b, 1889, was unmarried and worked, for many years, in Mallaig station. One of the daughters, possibly Catherine was mother of the late Freddy Watson of Mallaig Bheag.
Ann Cameron, b. 1857, married Alexander MacLellan of Coiteachan and their children were, Isabella who married ? MacKenzie, Donald (Sandy), Alexander, Catherine who married Donald MacRae, who reputedly started the kippering business of D.A. MacRae and, Clementine. As mentioned in previous articles, (Nov. & Dec. 2004) this family is still known in Mallaig as "the Sandys". As a note of interest, Catherine Cameron, b. 1816 was staying with her daughter, Ann, in Coiteachan in no 9, Mallaig in 1891. Who were the above-mentioned Grahams? Dugald Graham from Kinlochfyne married Ann MacLellan of Kylesmorar. My belief is that, Dugald, who was a fisherman, came to the area with the herring fleets and settled in North Morar when he and Ann married in 1846. They had 2 children that I know of - John, b. 1847 (recorded by Morar Baptismal Record, as opposed to all the census records stating that John was born in 1857) and Duncan, b. 1849. John Graham married Margaret? and their children were Donald, b. 1879, Mary Ann, b. 1882, Duncan, b. 1884, Jessie, b. 1888 and Margaret, b. 1890. John's wife, Margaret was deceased in 1892 It was their daughter, Margaret, b. 1890, who married John Cameron and came to Croc na Feannag. John Cameron's patronymic was Iain, Aoghnas a'Choire which supports the Coire Choille connection. John's sister Kate, Aoghnas a'Choire, married ? MacVeay and they had 2 children, John, who worked on the railway and Jimmy who was MacBrayne's bus driver in the area for many years.
Moran taing to Elspeth Cameron, Fort William and Donald Cameron, Swordland for information on this family.


Dear Editor,
A camping coach - I remember them well. They were always a source of curiosity for us as children. There was also a sense of mystery about them, but I do not remember the family mentioned. Angus MacLellan was our next door neighbour for all the time we stayed at St Cumins.
Violet Wilson (nee Jamieson)


Hi my name is Sandra McCallum and I am writing from St. Bruno de Montarville (near Montreal) CANADA. In 1978 and 79 my husband , young son and I stayed in a mini paradise named GLENUIG. We rented a caravan from Margaret MacDonald, and had the most wonderful vacations. One of the things we all remember was listening to Margaret's son ,home from University ,playing his pipes in a hut in the meadow. Spell binding in the warm , soft June evenings. Thirty years later David and I have planned our holiday for September and will be staying near Eilean Donan Castle. To our great surprise and joy we discovered that the Glenuig MacDonalds will be playing at the castle during our visit. We have tickets and are immensely excited to hear the sound of Glenuig after all these years. We regard Glenuig as a very special place. I saw otters there for the first time. Golden Eagles soared overhead, Samalaman beach gave us pleasure and a deep sense of tranquillity. The walks were wonderful with magnificent scenery and seals to keep us company. GREETINGS FROM CANADA


Dear Editor,
I got a response , via Birlinn, to Back o' the Hill, from an old lady called Elizabeth Spalding who went with her family to live in Glenfinnan in 1932. She was a MacLaren and had a sister Catherine. I associate the last name with Sunart and forestry in an earlier time (early 19th century) but I know nearly nothing about this family; the name never came up that I can recall (but I am gone from Craigag and Glenfinnan since 1950 or 1951). I wonder if privately I might stir a memory of her and her family. Fill a gap I didn't know existed.
Sincerely, John G. Gibson.


Dear West Word
I'd be most grateful if any of your contributors or readers could enlighten me about two queries. I'm a hillwalker based in Edinburgh who often visits because I think your area is the most beautiful in all of Scotland.
1) I've managed to find very little information about the history of Oban on Loch Morar, which I've visited as an MBA bothy, and wonder if anyone has information on this. What was the occupation of people who lived there and when did the last family leave for good? Was it known as Glenoban or did that refer to the whole settlement, as I noticed there were a lot of ruins around it. In the 1980s, the writer Ian R. Mitchell interviewed an elderly lady brought up in the present Glenpean bothy, who described being carried as a baby through wild Glen Pean to their friends at Oban, who ferried them across for her baptism in the chapel at Tarbert.
2) Would anyone recall who was parish priest, or perhaps visiting/local priest, at Glenfinnan in summer 1983. I was reminded suddenly and sharply of this when I recently visited to climb more hills. I thought some readers might help and possibly have their own memories. The priest I saw while on holiday and attending a service in summer 1983 was a Gaelic speaker, and would have been at least middle aged then. He conducted such an extraordinary, memorable service that it always stayed with me. He gave this excellent sermon about present day class discrimination and landlords whose parties he would never be invited to, recalled the Clearances knowledgeably and then, during the prayers for the dead, told the congregation cheerfully that many times he still saw and heard the voice of some popular local person - who was undoubtedly deceased. Nobody in the congregation seemed to find this at all odd, in fact a few people nodded!
A friend from the western isles suggested it might have been Canon McQueen, who is still listed as being at Eoligarry on Barra although if so he must now be very elderly. If it was indeed him and he's still living, I would certainly like to drop him a note of appreciation sometime.
best wishes
Sarah Nelson.

Watch this space for extracts from next month's issue!
Letters, e-mails and comments are welcome.
Feel free to Sign our Guestbook

List of Issues online

The paper version of West Word contains approximately 40 pages (A4 size) including:

  • Reports from the local communities
  • Reports from the coastal ranger, lifeboat log and weather
  • Columns on local sport and politics
  • Poets corner, letters, snippets
  • Feature articles, local events, festivals and games
  • .....and lots more photos!

West Word
Morar Station Buildings
Inverness-shire PH40 4PB
Tel/Fax: 01687 462 720
E-mail: editor@westword.org.uk

Sign our Guestbook or Read our Guestbook
(Your comments may be printed in next month's issue)


Copyright © 2002-2008 West Word
Page last updated: October 2008

Site designed by
The Internet Guide to Scotland