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

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September 2011 Issue

Contents of the online version:

Top stories
Monthly news from Knoydart, Muck, Canna, Rum
Railway, harbour and crofting news
Coastal Ranger - Birdwatch
Local Genealogy

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Mallaig's new £900,000 Yachting Marina is now operational. Friday 9th September, 2011 was a red letter day for the west coast port of Mallaig as the much vaunted and anticipated yachting facility was declared open for business. The new facility, which can provide berths for up to 48 yachts, was part funded under the Sail West project and co-financed by Mallaig Harbour Authority, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and by The Highland Council. Sail West is a maritime tourism led by Donegal County Council and funded under EU's INTERREG IVA Programme for Northern Ireland, border region of Ireland and Western Scotland managed by the Special European Union Programmes Body. The opening of the Mallaig Yachting Facility is a welcome addition to Mallaig's continued development.
'The Authority has been planning this development for sometime so it's great to see it finally in-situ" said Mallaig Harbour Authority Chairman Michael Currie.
'We believe this development will complement as well as augment existing yachting facilities here on the west coast of Scotland and that its position will enhance the opportunity for the yachting fraternity to explore and enjoy the magnificent sailing experience available here on this quite stunning coastline.'
The Mallaig Yachting Development consisted of three key elements, dredging, shoreworks and pontoons.
The pontoons in Mallaig - open for business

The dredging of the inner harbour was carried out by Coastworks, Fairlie, Ayrshire, at the turn of the year with the dredging depth of 2-4 metres being attained relatively easily. Irish contractors McLaughlin & Harvey undertook shoreworks, completing the land reclamation element of the work in early August.
In tandem with the shoreworks construction, Varis Engineering Ltd from Forres completed the development by anchoring the forty eight berth pontoons and jetties in-situ and placing the walkways and access bridge onto the shorebase.
Mallaig Harbour Authority is indebted to several agencies for their financial input into the Project but mainly to EU Interreg IVa via their Sail West Initiative which contributed £570,000 (670,000 euros) to the Scheme; to Highlands and Islands Enterprise; and also to The Highland Council.
'Quite simply, the Project would not have gone ahead without the financial input of these agencies.' says Harbour Manager Robert MacMillan. 'Their assistance was the "key" that unlocked the financial aspect of this development and the Authority is indebted to them for their on-going support.'
Frank McGrogan, Project Manager for Sail West welcomed the opening of the new facility and suggested that the timing was excellent in that the project partners behind Sail West had just launched 'MalinWaters' - the new consumer facing brand name. It is targeted to make the Malin sea area a top class destination for sailing enthusiasts over the coming years. The new Mallaig marina will undoubtedly act as a quality facility in completing the necessary sailing infrastructure in the West of Scotland.
Scott Dingwall, Head of Regional Development, Fort William Area Office, Highlands & Islands Enterprise said: 'We are delighted to have been able to support Mallaig Harbour Authority in the delivery of this regionally important Sail West project. It will provide a key facility for sailing and marine tourism on the west coast of Scotland and provide a welcome boost to the area.'
Provost of Lochaber, and local Highland Councillor for Caol and Mallaig, Allan Henderson said: 'The economic impact of the Mallaig Yachting Development is warmly welcomed by the local community. I congratulate Mallaig Harbour Authority who took the project on board and which is set to benefit the whole of the village as visiting sailors use services and facilities available to them on shore. The expansion of the harbour facilities to include a yachting marina is an extremely welcome link in the chain of west coast facilities for the yachting world and is the epitome of partnership working, bringing many tranches of funding together to deliver a near £1million project.'

I'm sure you've all seen the brilliant photos that Moe Matheson took in last months West word of the Knoydart Games. The weather held and a great time was had by young and old alike. It was noted there were a few Mallaig ladies missing from this years games, which may be why the Knoydart ladies won this years tug-o-war, who knows maybe it was just a coincidence? We weren't complaining and we were lucky twice in one day with the Knoydart men also winning. As always we had a bumper raffle, with great support from so many local businesses, near and far. We would like to give a huge thank you and of course thanks to everyone for coming along and joining in. This year's ceilidh was fantastic with some of the doctor mango and the chickpeas performing.
There was a support band for the first time in the hall and I have to say - we were brilliant! I'm sure you'll all have heard by now the phenomenon that is the Knoydart Ukulele all-stars; it proved to be a good tactic because the hall was jumping by 10pm (and no, cynical readers - it wisnae oot the windaes, although it was roasting, a bit like a ceilidh in a sauna!)
The all-stars are 13 women playing the ukuleles with Paul Williams on the bass ukulele and Mark Harris on flute and percussion. And you'll never have guessed that I'm in the band too, so I'm a wee bit biased. We've had a busy month and played at the church at the Tarbet Games and a few tunes in the hall for the Abandon ship tour, not to mention to a packed gazebo at Heather Manson's 40th in Mallaig. We hope to continue our 2011 wild n wet tour so if you're looking for a band and don't know who to call….
The Tarbet Games was the usual fun and frolics with Frank on fine form doing his best not to swear in charge of a megaphone. Thank you to everyone at Tarbet for putting on such a great day. Connie Grant was a vision in peach as the Queen and even managed to take part in the hill race in her frock, poor Layla - she nearly/might have won the hill race had she not taken a wrong turn. The tug-o-war at Tarbet was a close contest and Team Nevis won, it has to be said that Team Nevis must've had all of Knoydart, Tarbert - past and present (Steve and Sue came back for the day with their 2 boys), visitors to the aforementioned, and part of Mallaig and Morar….phew, the other side seemed to be about 5 or 6 guys from the lifeboat. A fair game I'd say.
I hope you managed to catch one of the gigs of the Abandon ship tour, organised by Drew Harris. This ramshackle bunch of pirates and 1 Viking took to the seas and toured Arnisdale, Sleat, Doune and Inverie playing tunes, singing songs and having great craic before going on their merry way. It was a great concert in the hall and a brilliant session in the pub afterwards. Wish I could find the words to say how magic it was but I'm sure you're getting the point.
The hall has had a flurry of events this month. There's been the film nights, a talk by Mark Woombs and bingo, which I've to mention Lucky Jan (Marriott) as she's now known, you might not recognise her walking about because she may be disguised as a Hebridean Princess passenger look a like with her waterproof poncho that she recently won! We've also started playing table tennis, not sure who the ping pong champion is but watch out for Paul and Elaine's mean back handers, not to mention "killer" Mel!! We also had an auction, which raised £450. Gary and Diane Thomson kindly donated items for this to be split between the hall fund and the Knoydart Foundation. Gary and Diane owned Gardener's cottage for a number of years and have many friends here. They recently sold the cottage and we would like to wish them well in the future. Look out for a Knoydart history talk by Davie, more film nights and a disco on the 16th. Join the hall's facebook page to keep up with what's going on, in Inverie village hall.
Dundo Morrison has come back for a visit and this time 50 years ago saw the Morrison family move to Knoydart.
The end of the season is nearly upon us and we are starting to see seasonal staff trickle away, I'm probably going to forget folk but here goes, cheerio to Sheena, Kiwi Heather - also known as big hev (sorry, joke) and Amy. Phil the chef left last month. Good luck guys and haste ye back. Olivia starts Glasgow School of Art this month and Pippa returns to her nursing degree in Edinburgh, and Paisley who has been working this summer in Cornwall returns to Glasgow to university. Sorry if I've missed anyone out.
Look out for the Macmillan coffee morning, which will be going on all day on Friday 23rd September in the tearoom. Help us beat last years target of £660!
Just a few quick Knoydart snippets ...Tommy misses party on Eigg! ...Knoydart folk head away to Mull for the day to visit Calgary sculpture trail ... Chic and Joanne won the wood stacking competition with their pair of dummies... Layla's Ukulele in tatters... Well done you to Jacqui H. Coming up birthdays in September are Victor and Dave Marriott on the same day, Jim Sharp, Willie D and Hannah. And finally we're all waiting for Knoydart's newest resident to arrive! I'm sure mum and dad to be, Mel and Jim Sharp are too. Cheerio for now,
Isla Miller

Saturday 6th August marked the apex of the social calendar on Muck. For we were hosts to the 2011 Small Isles Sports.
Not only the Sports but the Small Halls Band as well-talented young musicians from the Borders and their parents. Talented not only on the bandstand but on the sportsfield as well for they ended the day only two points behind Muck who won. Not only did we have the more usual events such as the hill race and the tug of war but there was an unusual team obstacle race. This involved bulk bags, towing quad bikes, skiing with four persons on each pair of skis and wheelbarrows to the finish. Super weather and a large crowd including the hall builders made it a memorable afternoon; bar b queue on an open fire followed and then we danced till midnight in what is likely to be the last ceilidh in the Gallanach barn. The new hall is progressing well with all the internal partitions and insulation in place. The outside is complete apart from the four large windows in the roof. Daniel the architect told the committee that the cladding could be any colour as long as it was black so black it is!
On 23rd August on the same day as the visit of our MSP Dave Thompson, Alan Lamb christened Hugh Lawrence Traquair MacEwen in the tent, in the garden of Port Mor House.. Great to have Alan back at the lectern and Hugh behaved perfectly. Good to meet Dave as well who seemed to be really keen to help us with problems with our new Power Scheme.
Lawrence MacEwen

Another very busy month on Canna with lots of visitors enjoying the peace and tranquillity of the islands. We even had the yearly visit above of Peter's micro-light on calm days. No time for enjoying that on the farm though with Gerry and Murdo very busy as always with fencing works and a good bit of ragwort pulling ably assisted by Gregor, Julie, Caroline, the boys from Kate's and we even managed to rope in Brian, the great, great nephew of Margaret Fay Shaw Campbell over from America researching his family connections with the island. Great to see the school boat in again though Caroline may not agree! Although she did seem to be smiling as she left with her new shoe collection! The school holidays over, they pass so quickly. A busy month for birthdays and congratulations to Amanda, Winnie and Caroline and Stewart (what age!!).
Hats off to Winnie who has been treating our thirsty Saturday visitors passing by her house to a cup of tea and her famous scones while the Gille Brighde is temporarily closed at the moment.. Hebridean hospitality at its best.
Canna House has been doing very well in its first year of opening with Magda's guided tours very popular. Lots of great feedback from visitors. The House will be welcoming back the "Canna Brooch" from the West Highland Museum and will be on display for a few months. An artefact well worth coming to Canna to see as well as the many other treasures in Canna House.
The month ended with a visit by Dave Thompson MSP after the momentous election results of May it was down to business and visiting the communities. Dave was a keen listener and offered support for the many community projects currently planned on Canna. Both he and his wife Veronica promised a return visit possibly with the First Minister! Dr. Campbell would be pleased.
The community and the National Trust for Scotland are supporting The Spences with their new venture, 'Canna Craft Ltd' which should be trading soon. We now have a shortlist of candidates approved for the Canna House Gardener's position and hope to have visits from all the candidates next month.. On the 1st of October, Canna will hold its first ever Fèis. It's already shaping up to be a superb day celebrating the best of Gàidhlig culture, what better setting than Eilean Chanaidh!! Hope to see as many of you over as possible. In the meantime
I am off to wash some more fleeces!!
Julie McCabe

August on Rum
Summer's almost over and although the weather forecast predicted alot of rain over the last two weeks, the sun's come out and it's been pretty good really. The kids are back to school; Nell joins Mark and Sorcha at Mallaig high school and Little Eve joins the nursery at Rum Primary bringing the school roll up to two. Rhys is busy trimming the hedges as part of his groundskeeping duties and Sandy has replaced the broken rails on the Rockery burn bridge with lovely wooden ones - the village is looking dapper.
Today (31st) Sean Morris completed his sponsored walk of the Rum Cuillin. Accompanied by Neil Boyd, it took them 8 hours - pretty good going when it takes your average hill walker 12 hours. Sean has done this walk to raise money for the British Heart Foundation (mentioned in letters, last month) and you can still sponsor him at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/rumcuillin
They were greeted back in the village by a merry band of wellwishers and a bottle of bubbly - well earned!!
To raise a few more funds, there will be a charity tearoom on Saturday, organised by Ali - only healthy cakes though!!
Next big thing is the ceilidh on the 9th September with a new band to Rum - Funkeilidh, this will be followed by a craft and market day on Saturday 10th - local crafts, produce, cakes, exhibitions etc - all welcome.
Today there were two goats in the village, which is unusual. Haven't seen goats over here in 11 years, it's quite a bit out of their way and they negotiated their way through the deer fence...hmm, maybe not so difficult then.
Dave Thompson MSP visited Rum on the 23rd as part of his Small Isles and Knoydart tour. An accumulated list of issues was passed on including ferry service and freight, the future of Kinloch Castle, housing shortages and community aspirations. By the time he has visited all the islands, I daresay there were enough common themes to make an impact.
The Broadband trial still need a bit of tweaking to get it fully functional. The signal is now reaching Rum ok, but we now have a few local problems. Hopefully be running properly in the next few days.
And Merv the merganser didn't make it.
Fliss Fraser

Thanks to Chris Lofthouse of West Linton for this photograph of two common dolphins seen from MV Lochnevis off Canna on the 18 June this year. Chris says 'A pod of about 20 or 30 dolphins approached the boat and many were riding the bow wave and jumping.' And he sends best wishes to everyone on Rum! photo

After two months on Canna the new family has launched itself into business by opening a little craft shop on the island. Duncan and Alison Spence say it was a challenge getting everything ready in time for the opening on 1st September but they made it with the 'help' (!) of their two year old daughter and 7 month old son. Once the children were in bed during the August evenings Duncan and Alison set to work painting the interior of the shop, fitting it out in a 'rustic' style (i.e. bits of driftwood) and doing lots of online research for suppliers and consumables.
The shop sells lovely crafts made by individual artisans and artists based mostly in the Highlands, with more local Canna-made crafts to come during the winter months when the islanders all have a bit more time!
If you're planning a trip to Canna then go and have a look at the original watercolours, tweed bags and purses, jewellery, silk scarves, knitwear, glassware, greetings cards, tea towels, postcards and more. You'll find the shop in the wee wooden shed near the restaurant.
Opening hours vary according to the season and the boats so check in advance on 01687 460078.

I have always considered my self privileged to having had my first and most memorable stag stalking adventure on the island of Rum. My previous experience was limited to hunting Sika hinds in the small forest blocks of Northern Ireland. What a contrast I found on Rum with its rugged Cuillin and expansive glens. It was a far cry from the claustrophobic forest rides and fire breaks of my home turf. This trip combined two of my favourite pastimes, mountaineering and hunting, taking one stag high up on Hallival after a tight rocky scramble and another on the seaward grassy slopes of Glen Guirdil. The backdrop of Bloodstone hill and Canna was a magnificent setting for my most outstanding days stalking in more than ten years of hunting deer.
I was on Rum at the invitation of the Rum Deer Management Association (RDMA) as part of its 2004 launch of a market testing exercise to establish the demand for deer stalking on the island. The RDMA, which is led by Rums longest serving resident, Derek Thomson, is entering the third year in the operation of its deer stalking franchise with Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH). Derek's vision of providing sustainable employment and income from this natural island resource through commercial stalking is still in the early stages of becoming a long term reality. The first two years have brought guest stalkers from locations such as Denmark, Sweden, Germany and Ireland. Some of the shooting guests have also brought their families with them to enjoy the non-hunting attractions of Rum, all adding to the local economy and filling beds at Kinloch Castle.


Derek has gathered into the RDMA fellow islanders to take on the tasks of pony handlers and larder assistants. He has however had to seek outside assistance from qualified off island stalkers to take the growing number of guests out onto the hill. Derek's aspiration is that the RDMA team will be completely Island based and he is hoping that with training and experience he can bring on one or more of the team to achieve the necessary qualifications to become a stalker. This needs to happen, says Derek, to maximise the benefit to the Rum community's economy.Derek reports that the customer base is building with guests re-booking for the following season and recommending Rum to their friends. Most bookings come through the Danish sporting agency, Limpopo, but many enquiries are also received from the RDMA's web site, www.rumdeerstalking.com
What is it that the guests find most attractive about stalking on Rum? Derek says that most of the guests are more used to the continental style of driven shooting where they are located in a fixed stand to await the deer and game being driven towards them. They come to Rum to experience a purer form of hunting, where the quarry has to be selected, tracked and stalked using the natural cover and the wind to get into the best and safest position to take the shot. The guests are also very taken with the use of the traditional Rum highland ponies for carcass retrieval. This is a unique experience for the hunters and makes for very interesting photographs to show their hunting friends back home as they tell their tales of challenging stalks through the rocks, gullies and burns of Rum.
Derek is also hoping to encourage more British stalkers to come to Rum and is undertaking a marketing drive to raise local stalker awareness of Rum as a top UK stalking location. As far as I am concerned, I need no further convincing having returned to Rum to join the RDMA as a stalker and to help with training. I am looking forward to helping Derek and the rest of the team through a busy season this year.
Dave McCullough
Bangor, Northern Ireland

Sean Morris, who underwent a heart bypass operation last year has recently tackled a gruelling charity hill walk on the Isle of Rum National Nature Reserve. In April 2010, Sean was airlifted to hospital after suffering severe chest pains and, following tests, was surprised to learn he had been diagnosed with coronary heart disease at the age of just 42. This resulted in the bypass procedure being carried out at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.
He and fellow islander Neil Boyd (21) tackled the Rum Cuillin ridge, summiting the five peaks of Hallival, Askival, Trollaval, Ainshval and Sgurr na Gillean in a bid to raise money for the British Heart Foundation.
Sean has lived and worked on Rum for more than 10 years and has recovered well enough to go back to his physically demanding job for Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) carrying out practical management and monitoring the island's spectacular wildlife.
He said: 'Neil and I managed to complete the 14-mile section on Wednesday 31st August. I wanted to do this charity walk to pay tribute to the skill and care of the surgeons, nurses and doctors before and after my operation which meant I am able to lead a normal and active life with my wife and 2-year-old daughter once again.
'I was keen to give something back by raising money for the British Heart Foundation (BHF) to help their research into heart conditions. I would also like to pay tribute to the support they give to heart patients and their families and this was also a good way of making people more aware of the health benefits of visiting Scotland's NNRs.'
The tough route took in steep ascents and descents and rock scrambling.

Photo courtesy of SNH

The boat Jaqualine which ran aground in the South Channel of the entrance to Arisaig carried a BBC crew who were making a film for the programme Landward - about the difficulties of navigating the channel into the bay! As can be seen from the Lifeboat Log, they called for assistance but managed to free themselves.
Euan McIlwraith was filming a sailing trip around the Small Isles for the BBC2 programme when the boat got into difficulties. Mr McIlwraith said they 'moved to one side' to let other boats past and found themselves stuck on a rock. The crew filmed the incident so there is every chance that it will appear in the finished programme.

On Saturday the 27th August, a member of the Salen Coastguard Rescue team was contacted by a walking group near Glenuig. This began a search and rescue operation to locate and evacuate a group leader who had fallen and had a suspected broken ankle.
Concerned that this could be a protracted stretcher carry, area manager Phil Wren arranged for the Mallaig team to also proceed. The group were located by the Salen team close to the Loch Moidart shore near Shona Beag. With the Mallaig team arriving shortly after they secured the 68 year old male in the stretcher and began the half hour trek to the main road and the waiting ambulance.
Phil Wren commented that on Ardnamurchan this was a perfect example of services working together to a successful conclusion.

Eight earthquakes centred on Roshven, Lochailort occurred in August.
The first, which was also the biggest at 2.9 on the Richter scale, came at 08.37 on Sunday 21st August, with reports of hearing and feeling it at 09.40. It was nearly 17km down under Ardnish opposite Roshven. The next four occurred between 11.13 and 18.24; this last a 2.0 magnitude, centred 12 km down in Roshven.
Three more small ones on Monday 22nd came between 00.43 and 03.15 but there were no reports of them being felt.
Lochailort is part of the Lochaber Geopark. Park director Noel Williams said: 'Most earthquakes in Lochaber occur as unweighting of the earth after the melting of the ice formed during the last glacial period some 12,000 years ago. The land effectively 'bounces back up again', a process Earth scientists term isostatic rebound.
Earthquakes are a common event in the west Highlands but the British Geological Survey have said that to have five on the same day was 'slightly unusual'. Their site has this record: 'Felt Lochailort, Glenfinnan and Acharacle. Reports described 'there was a bang, then a rumbling, almost like a distant explosion', 'rumble lasted for two or three seconds with a distinct thump' and 'it was the loudest and most severe we've witnessed since living here but thankfully the shortest'.'
The first quake was also felt in Arisaig by Editor Ann and husband Richard, who thought there had been an explosion nearby when a loud bang shook their windows.
This is the largest event in the area since the magnitude 3.5 Glenuig earthquake on 23rd January 2011 which was felt with a maximum intensity of 4 EMS. Historically, larger earthquakes have occurred in the region; a magnitude 3.6 event occurred on 14 October 1902 and a magnitude 3.2 occurred on 1 February 1809.
The most recently recorded quake in the area was in Knoydart just a few weeks before on 30th July 2011.

Despite a mixed forecast, Games Day turned out to be bright and virtually rain free. The setting, as always, provides the most fantastic venue. The crowd was slightly down in numbers but this did not impact on the atmosphere of the day. BBC were filming from a helicopter with a 360 degree camera, so some good shots of the action may appear on our screens later in the year.
The Dancing competitions were enjoyable, though lacking in the numbers of previous years. Slightly concerning is the fact that there were no competitors in the Under 8 section. This competition usually gives us an indication of up and coming talent. The single adult competitor, Suvi Chisholm, had come all the way from Oregon USA. There is usually a strong adult section at the Games. However, a strong group of dancers aged 12-16 provided entertainment and competition all afternoon.
Field events have become very popular over the years and the Tug of War attracted strong competition. Conaglen, once again, were triumphant. One talented young man won both the Junior and the Senior Hill race. This must be a record which will surely stand for a long time to come.
Mairi Illsley

Photo by Mike Illsley

I recently won a Maker's Award from Hi-Arts and have been using it to do some work with eco-yarns. I was particularly attracted to a yarn called Seacell because we live by the sea. Seacell yarn was developed in Germany and it is made in Peru. It is partly derived from seaweed and then mixed with Lyocell, which is woodpulp-based. The yarn that I use is Seacell spun with royal alpaca.
It's always nice when your work gets a mention, but the recent articles written in the national press about seaweed fabric were quite comic. We don't have a vat of wood pulp and stringy seaweed bubbling away in the workshop!
The papers' slant was the benefit to allergy sufferers as Seacell and Lyocell have been found to be much less irritating to inflamed skin. This was the aspect of the story which interested them, but my choice was primarily a creative one. Any ethical consideration had more to do with the sustainability of the yarn.
Anna Skea

Isle of Rum Community Trust Ranger Service (Early autumn 2011)
It's autumn at last and with the chance to witness the unfolding movements of many migrating birds and the forthcoming red deer rut, it's an exciting time to be on the island. As the manx shearwater young are almost ready to leave their subterranean worlds for warmer climates, we ask (very politely of course) to be aware of light pollution in Kinloch Village. You can help limit the amount of crash landings by turning off any unnecessary lighting and by drawing curtains (other options include sitting in the dark or going to bed at nine o'clock). If you find any grounded birds please hand into myself or Sean so that they can be ringed and released (if in the Mallaig/Arisaig area please inform Martin at the Moorings Guest House (01687 462225). Top tip...a cardboard box punched with small holes for ventilation is a good place to store them until help arrives and will limit stress.
Deacon Blue's drummer Dougie Vipond has been over this month filming a short piece on the islands community development and the Rum ponies for Landward (BBC Two), and is due to be broadcast sometime in November (check your Radio Times for more details).They also filmed a short piece about shearwater research on the island, as Holly Kirk from The University of Oxford has been up at the colony continuing her work to pin point important resource areas for the birds at sea. To achieve this, a total of 13 birds were singled out for individual attention and fitted with miniature satellite tracking devices (GPS loggers and Geolocators), with the GPS loggers fixing the birds positions. To retrieve the data from the loggers, Holly then had wait out high in the colony for the birds to return over the next ten nights. Early indications suggest that this years birds are foraging closer to home particularly around Colonsay; last years birds appeared to be taking longer forays with one of the survey birds making a trip most of the way to Greenland.
The usual ranger guided walk and talks are doing well and the campsite has been pretty well used and enjoyed. Our Community Wildlife Garden is slowly taking shape (please check out the poster at the hall). Further ground work for the various planting zones and pond etc. will commence this autumn in earnest, so any help would be greatly appreciated. I'll be organising a few volunteer days soon, so I'll keep you posted.
Archie (one of our Rum ponies) is now happily living in the Midlands and is being trained for show jumping and will also be entered at the Highland Show in Edinburgh next year. On the raptor front, one of our golden eagle pairs managed to successfully raise one chick and hen harriers bred for the first time since 2006 producing 2 young males. Three pairs of merlins successfully bred also. Red-throated divers have done well on the island this season with 9 chicks reared to fledging. After their initial apprehension at using the site for the first time, the pair of swallows at the Visitor Centre took the plunge and successfully raised 4 young. Despite the noise and cigarette smoke, even the pair that decided to nest directly outside the Courtyard Bar where successful. Nicorette patches for the fledgers weren't provided due to lack of funding at present, so it looks like it was cold turkey for them all. Even though the majority of our swallow population haven't had second broods this year, a total of 15 pairs bred around the island producing 54 young.
It has been a very poor summer for sightings of both basking sharks and minke whales around the coast of Rum and Eigg, with Ronnie from the Sheerwater only reporting about 40 minke whales and not a single basking shark between here and Arisaig all summer. We have still had a few exciting marine sighting however, such as the 2 killer whales spotted by Stuart Johnson off A'Bhrideanach on the 23rd July (thanks for the photos) and 12 bottle nosed dolphins off Rubha na Roinne on the 4th August.
Other notable species included the long staying green sandpiper which has been recorded several times in the north-east of the island between the 18th-June-15th August and a lone female crossbill put in a brief appearance in the Castle Policy woodland on the 10th June. As its now the end of August we're starting to slowly see a trickle of passage migration. 14 storm petrels have been caught and ringed over the last few weeks, and meadow pipit, goldcrest and siskin numbers are building up also. 2 more crossbills and a single grasshopper warbler were observed on the 23rd August in Kinloch. A really bad view of a possible barn owl at Rubha na Roinne on the night of the 18th August will always remind me to leave a head torch where it belongs, as you never know quite when you'll need it.
Mike Werndly, IRCT Ranger Service

The islanders of Eigg are mounting strong opposition to plans by The Scottish Salmon Company to site a new fish farm off the east coast of the island and have started an e-petition against it.
Representatives of The Scottish Salmon Company visited Eigg on the 2nd August to put forward their proposals.
The statement from Eigg reads:
Eigg is owned and managed (including the foreshore) by the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust, a community led organisation whose aims include taking all appropriate measures to conserve the natural heritage of the island for the benefit of the community and the wider general public. To this end Eigg is building a reputation as a green island working towards sustainability. Visitors come to the island to learn from our experience and to enjoy the natural and cultural heritage of the island and the peace and quiet. Most of the islands electricity is generated by renewable technology and the sound of diesel generators is but a distant memory.
Highland Council has recently received an initial application to site a fish farm off the east coast of Eigg, north of Kildonan. The site identified covers an area extending to 20ha (this equates to 28 football pitches) & would consist of 14 x 30m diameter cages which would be serviced by a 10m x 10m permanently sited barge (powered by diesel generator). Eigg lies within the Small Isles National Scenic Area. A large fish farm would have a considerable negative impact on the approach to the island and could also impact negatively on the peace and quiet that visitors seek when they come to the island, as well as on the quality of life of nearby residents.
Amongst the many attractions Eigg has to offer close to the proposed site are:
The Eigg Wall, a popular dive site, less than 1 km from the proposed fish farm site, populated by crabs, lobsters and wrasse and an abundance of other marine life eg plumose anemones, sponges, tubeworms and squirts, as well as scallops at the bottom of the wall. A Harbour seal colony in the vicinity of the proposed site on the approaches to Eigg pier Grey seal haul out nearby. This is a popular attraction for the tourist boats coming to Eigg. Otters are seen regularly around the east coast of Eigg including the proposed site.
Sea trout are caught on rod and line by residents and visitors in and around Kildonan and Galmisdale.
Clean Sandy beaches at Kildonan and Galmisdale popular with campers, sea kayakers and families.
Seagrass beds a priority marine feature in Galmisdale and Kildonan bays. Golden Eagles nesting and hunting along the cliffs of the east coast.
Guillemots, Razorbills, Cormorants, Shags, Fulmar and Arctic Tern to name but a few of the seabirds that breed alongside the area of the proposed site.
Cetaceans and Basking Sharks are regularly seen around the East coast of Eigg.
The Kildonan to Cleadale walk, beneath the cliffs, following the shoreline is one of the best walks on the island with uninterrupted views across to the mainland and the possibility of siting many of the above species and a few more as well as viewing sites of geological and archaeological significance along the way.
These along with many other attractions on Eigg bring visitors old and new to the island and provide a mainstay for the island economy. Although the development is likely to create three or four jobs, we believe the overall effect would threaten current and future jobs based around the natural heritage and the green economy.
The pristine marine environment surrounding the small isles makes the area a strong candidate for marine protected area designation - to some extent because it is one of the few areas on the west coast without fish farms.
On the 2nd August representatives of The Scottish Salmon Company (TSSC) came to Eigg to meet with residents and directors of Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust. Contrary to the inferences in last month's short piece from TSSC, they did not satisfy residents that the proposed fish farm would benefit Eigg in any way, whether it be in terms of local jobs, renewables projects and cultural initiatives or any other benefits. They did not satisfactorily answer our concerns about the impact on the natural heritage and the knock on effect this could have on the islands tourism industry.
Following the meeting with TSSC the community considered the proposal at length. The outcome of the resulting paper ballot which had an 86% turnout was 97% against the development.
Please sign this petition at petitionbuzz.com/petitions/stopeiggfishfarm to help us show to the Highland Council Planning Department and The Scottish Salmon Company that it is unacceptable to site this development in such an area.


On Tuesday 6th September we held a charity Zumba class to help raise funds for the girls doing the SHINE marathon on Saturday 10th September 2011. Forty ladies came along to support the event & we danced the hour away to some old classic tunes.....Abba, Footloose, Dirty Dancing and such like. Everyone was fantastic sports and dressed in tutus and leg warmers, Abba costumes and even a clown came along to join in the madness. We had a blast and with the class proceeds & raffle we raised a wonderful £250 for the SHINE Cancer Research appeal. The community spirit was at an all time high and for one hour of 'exercise in disguise' we really did 'ditch the workout and join the party'.
The ladies who are doing all the real hard work on Saturday 10th at the SHINE marathon in Glasgow and who came along to the Zumba are: Margaret MacPhee, Janet Mac Donald, Clare Gunner, Catherine MacDonell, Jacqueline MacDonell, Gillian Cameron, Neilian Lees-Eddie, Pam MacDonald and Margaret-Ann MacDonald.
On behalf of Zumba Alba, I would like to thank all who supported the event and kindly donated prizes and wish all taking part in the SHINE walk the best of luck.
Pamela Burns

Rosemary Bridge of Arisaig has retired from her post as Lochaber's Area Education, Culture and Sport Manager. Pictured tight with her daughter Olivia, Rosemary worked her way 'up the ranks' from being a teacher at Lochaber High School in the 1980s, then becoming Head Teacher of Mallaig Primary School. She was appointed Head teacher at Upper Achintore Primary School in 1998, and became Lochaber's first female Area Manager on taking up that role in December 2003. She was presented with gifts and flowers by Hugh Fraser, Highland Council's Director of Education, who said Rosemary was one of a small band who had experience of working across the entire field of education from nursery, primary, secondary and management.

Photo courtesy of Iain Ferguson, The Write Image



John Brydon left Mallaig for Skye on 12th August to start his fundraising trip around the coast of Britain and Northern Ireland, with the aim to raise £10,000 for the charity Kirsty's Kids, started by John and wife Jan in memory of their daughter Kirsty. As West Word goes to press, John is on the home leg, near Oban, having spent four weeks battling all weathers and minor roads on his 125hp motorbike.
He was seen off by 8 year old Fraser MacKintosh of Morar who presented him with a tube of Smarties filled with 20p pieces - the second such donation from Fraser.
Next month we hope to have more about his trip.


photo photo

Above left, Dave Thompson, MSP, opens a rather damp Games Day on the Loval Memorial Field

Two views of Mallaig taken from the same viewpoint some years apart. Can anyone date the photos?

photo photo

Lochailort musician Jim Hunter chatted recently to Aonghas Grant, who reminisced about the erection of the cairn at Loch nan Uamh which commemorates the landing of Prince Charles Edward Stuart in 1745. We thank Jim for sharing it with us.
The year was 1956 and I think it was September. At that time I was the shepherd at Rannachan working for Lochailort Estate and the Cameron Head family. He was a member of the 1745 association who tried to upkeep the traditions of the Jacobites and had engineered the idea of getting a cairn built where Prince Charlie had left at Loch nan Uamh. He'd gone down to Arisaig and a man there had shown him the spot, in fact I think it was Johnny Mackinnon the piper who did a lot of joinery work for the estate, was a great pal of Cameron Head ,and in fact gave him piping lessons. Frances Cameron Head was a very keen but not very good piper.

Johnny had built the cairn at Loch Ailt, and I'm not a hundred percent sure but I think it was him who built this one too. Anyway they brought all the estate stuff down, with Farquhar Macrae, Danny Toye, George Howie, Matty Morton and myself. So we all had banners, some very old going back to the 1745. They belonged to Cameron Head and his association with the Clanranalds. There were another three or four people there but I don't know who they were, I would say that they were members of the society. There was also two very famous pipers there, the legendary Angus Macpherson, and John Macfadyen. Two of the best pipers in Scotland at that time. By that time Angus Macpherson was an old man, but he had been one of the truly great pipers. photo

photo I don't remember much about the opening ceremony, but I remember that John Macfadyen played the pibroch My King has landed in Moidart and Angus Macpherson played the oldest known pipe setting of Lochaber no More ,Then Macfadyen tuned up Cameron Heads pipes and he played the ground of some pibroch which I can't remember. He just played the first part without any variations. It must have been a bit hard for two of the great pipers listening to Frances Cameron Head playing, but he was real keen to do it. He was a real gentleman though, helped everybody, was very good to everyone.

Afterwards in the evening there was a wee ceilidh and dance in the ballroom at the castle, and Farqhuar, myself and George Howie on the drums played for it. I remember the highlight of it was a lady called Miss Briarton who was an aunt of Cameron Heads. At that time I was about 25 or 26 and anyone over 40 seemed very old, but she would have been heading on to about 80. Angus Macpherson was in about the same age bracket, and even as an old man he was very handsome, had every hair on his head, so smart and always well presented. We played for a Scottisch and Angus took old Miss Briarton up and danced it in the old style where they started off like a Gay Gordons. Everyone discreetly left the dance floor and left the old couple dancing so elegantly. When they finished there was a massive round of applause. So that's my memories of the cairn inauguration. Back last summer (2010) my good friend Barbara Mcowen was over from Boston and I took her out to the cairn and told her this story, the photos were taken on that day. I'm certain that I'm the last man alive who remembers that day 55 years ago.
Aonghas, famous as The Left handed Fiddler of Lochaber, will be celebrating his 80th birthday on 13th September
His book of tunes. The Glengarry Collection: the Highland Fiddle Music of Aonghas Grant Volume I, was released on October 21st 2010. It includes a DVD with Aonghas playing 61 of the tunes in the book. His recent CD, The Hills of Glengarry, has also been released recently by Shoogle Records.
There are some interesting interviews with Aonghas on the Am Baile website - ambaile.org.uk

Mallaig Lifeboat Log
The Mallaig Lifeboat, Henry Alston Hewat, was called out three times during thr month of August.
Saturday 20th August: Mallaig Lifeboat launched at 01.07 hrs and tasked by Stornoway Coastguard to go to the assistance of the motor launch Aquatron which had dragged anchor and grounded on the north shore in Loch Scrisort, Isle of Rum.
Arriving on scene at 02.00 the Lifeboat found the casualty aground and settled due to the falling tide. Rum Coastguard personnel were able to make their way down to the Aquatron and talk directly to the crew - two retired couples! It was decided to take the women off and via the Lifeboat's Y-boat this was achieved with the two women being transferred to the pier. With the 10 metre Aquatron now high and dry, having sustained no obvious damage, the remaining crew were happy to sit it out and await the rising tide. At 07.30 the Lifeboat made her way across the bay to the Aquatron and when the time and tide was right, the Lifeboat towed the casualty free from the shore. With all well, the Aquatron was released and made her way to the pier to pick up the rest of the crew and wait for the weather to improve before continuing their voyage south to the Clyde. Lifeboat refuelled and ready for service at 09.24 hrs.
Monday 29th August: Cloudy with bright spells and a light breeze were the weather conditions at 12.55 when the Mallaig Lifeboat went to the assistance of the yacht Jaqualine which had grounded on a sandbar in the South Channel in the Arisaig Estuary. With the falling tide, the Jaqualine began to list to starboard but, because the grounding had occurred just about low water, by the time the Lifeboat arrived on scene at 13.19 the tide had begun to flood and, quite quickly, the Jaqualine began to float free without assistance. The Y-boat was launched with a couple of crew to speak to the crew of the Jaqualine, to ascertain if the boat was damaged. As a precaution, the yacht returned to Arisaig Marine to be lifted out for inspection. With everything now in hand, the Lifeboat was released and returned to Mallaig at 13.47.
Tuesday 30th August: Launch requested by HM Coastguard to a suspected medivac from Inverie. Before the crew were paged, it transpired that there had been some confusion by NHS 24 as on further investigation the casualty was actually in Mallaig and not Inverie. Lifeboat stood down.


CalMac Ferries would like to advise that the scheduled annual overhaul for the Mv Lochnevis will be from 9th October to 24th October inclusive; however this may be subject to change. The vessel operating in her absence on the Small Isles service will be the Mv Loch Bhrusda, supplemented by other local contractors if necessary. Passenger numbers will be restricted therefore group bookings are essential through the CalMac Mallaig Office. For any further enquiries or information please contact the Mallaig office on 01687 462403 (option 2).

Mobile Crane
The Authority's crane has suffered a major breakdown and it's looking likely that it will have to be transported south for repair. There will therefore be no mobile crane services provided by the harbour for the next few weeks.

Pontoon Yachting Facility
As can be seen from the front page of West Word, the Harbour Authority took possession of the Yachting Facility (likely to be dubbed Mallaig Marina me thinks) on Friday 9th September - several weeks behind schedule.
With the yachting/tourism season all but over there will be no "opening ceremony" this year. Local Board Members are of the view that the facility should be officially opened next Spring as a pre-cursor to the 2012 summer season.

Pontoon Charges
At a meeting of the Local Board Members held on Wednesday 17th August 2011 the following charges for use of the pontoons were set:-

The death has occurred in Edinburgh of Colin McGillivray Thom. He was 83 years old. Colin became a well known figure in the fishing industry following two spells as Secretary to the Mallaig & North-West Fishermen's Association in the 80's and 90's.
Colin was appointed Secretary to the Mallaig Harbour Authority in January 1976 a position he held for 8 years. During his time with the Authority he also took on the part time post of Secretary to the M&NWFA (1980-1984).
In September 1988 he returned to the area to become the first full time Secretary to the Mallaig & North West Fishermen's Association a position he held for 5 years before retiring to Edinburgh.
During his time in Mallaig Colin was also Secretary to the Mallaig Community Council. Learned, likeable and personable, Colin was a friend to everyone and lived life to the full. On a personal level he was extremely helpful to me when I took over from him as Secretary to the Harbour Authority in May 1984 and he introduced me to the rigours of squash, a game he loved and which he played well into his 70's.
Colin will be long remembered here in Mallaig and the Authority extend condolences to his wife Dinah, son Simon, daughter Julia and grandchildren Anneka, Nikolai and Annabel.
Donations in his memory can be made to the RNLI, West Quay Road, Poole, Dorset BH15 1HZ
Robert MacMillan, Port Manager
01687 462154

On and Off the Rails
I honestly fooled myself during a manic august that September would be quieter, but having spread out before me all of the dates to write about, it seems I was wrong! I cannot count how many times a day during August I was at Mallaig railway station. In between meeting and greeting friends and business people on the many various trains, gardening and watering at Mallaig and Arisaig railway stations, delivering Mallaig brochures and leaflets to the Jacobite for distribution, restoring lost property to travellers, giving directions to persons, returning home with carrier bags of minging Jacobite tea towels to wash and return the next day, celebrating birthdays and leaving parties on The Jacobite, all ensure that I sleep well at night! Then there are my stints on The Royal Scotsman. I cannot get my head past the embarrassment of running the gauntlet as I go to the railway station in my kilt, etc. 'Ach, you're awful highland today' seems to be the kindest comment, whereas the craic comments ar so funny but unprintable!! Just when I think I have got away with invisibly walking past two locals talking, the comments follow!! It's well meant, and so clever, I cannot compete. Thanks fellas...
Then there is supplying the chef on board The Royal Scotsman with local produce and preserves for consumption that night, which pleases me. Also finding myself agreeing to look after six half whisky casks of flowers at Morar railway station next year AND voluntarily caretaking the Hi-Trans office between various transport meetings at Arisaig railway station …and now writing this (if it's not too late Ann)…I think I can say I'm hardy!! That's all I do, even without any pleasure train trips taken during the month which, for me of course, is every one. I never fail to get on any train and feel the relief and bliss that a few hours travel on a train gives me, and I always appreciate the staff on any train that I travel on for delivering me safely to my destination.
The September/October issue of First Insight, ScotRail's customer newsletter, is now available on board any of their trains. Free of charge and full of useful information, it is well worth a read.

Club 55 returns
ScotRail have again produced their 55 years of age and over discounted travel ticket for the Autumn. Commencing on Monday September 19th and running through until Wednesday 30th November, you can travel anywhere in Scotland for £19 return fare. If you hold a Senior Railcard or a Disabled Person's Railcard, over the age of 55 you qualify for a further £2 reduction. You do not have to book Club 55 in advance, but if you do you qualify for free seat reservations, which is good if you particularly like a window seat, or to travel forwards or backwards, or require to be near (or far away) from the toilets. Visit Anne at Mallaig railway station for leaflets with full details or to pre-book tickets. You can also visit club55.co.uk for bookings, full terms and conditions etc, or call 08457 550033. Remember you may be asked to provide proof of age when purchasing your tickets or travelling. Return travel can be up to one month from the date of outward travel - and you can go as far south from Mallaig as Carlisle or Berwick-upon-Tweed.

ScotRail GroupSave offer on any ScotRail service
With this ticket, up to four people (adults of any age) can travel off-peak for the price of two. So, for example, a return from Glasgow to Edinburgh could cost just £5.70 each. Please ask at any staffed railway station about this ticket, or visit scotraiil.co.uk for terms and conditions. It really does seem a better way to travel. Remember: 'Two's company, four's an absolute bargain!'

Jacobite News
The Jacobite steam train service, running daily Monday to Friday from Fort William to Mallaig and return, continues to bring welcome visitors to Mallaig. the last date for 2011 is Friday October 28th. It is currently operating with six coaches plus the brake van, which also contains the guard's van and souvenir/gift shop (open whilst the train is in Mallaig, usually from 1.15pm to 2pm) and worth a look inside for Christmas gift ideas! John Cameron's steam engine The Great Marquess K4 61994 should be returning on service this month, as well as Ian Riley's two Black 5 steam engines, 44871 and 45407 The Lancashire Fusilier, and possibly Bert Hitchin's steam engine Black 5 45231 The Sherwood Forester. All these engines have their own dedicated support crews, plus West Coast Railways's Drivers and Florence the Jacobite Guard.

Day Excursion and Touring Train dates 2011
On Wednesday 14th September 'Spitfire Rail Tours' are visiting Fort William from Crewe. This one day visit will be diesel hauled by the Deltic Royal Scots Grey 55022 locomotive.
The Royal Scotsman will visit Mallaig on Saturday 17th and Saturday 24th September. This will bring their total of visits to Mallaig this year to eleven. We hope to see them return in 2012.
Statesman Rail are due to visit Mallaig as part of a three day tour of the West Highlands of Scotland. Using the Jacobite steam hauled locomotive and running to Jacobite timings, they are in Mallaig on Saturday September 24th and again on Saturday October 8th. Their brochure states: 'On arrival in Mallaig there are numerous eateries offering the famous local fish n' chips. There is plenty to see and do in the couple of hours before the return journey.' Mallaig, you have been advised!
Oban are also getting two one-day visits. SRPS are visiting Oban from Carlisle on Saturday September 24th with West Coast Railway Company's Vintage Class 37 English Electric diesel hauled locomotive. Then on /Wednesday October 19th, Compass Tours visit Oban from Penrith. This one day trip is again hauled by a West Coast Railway's diesel locomotive, a vintage Class 37 English Electric.

Advance notice tours for 2011 and 2012
A collection of escorted rail holidays in our area of Scotland is proposed by a company named 'Treyn' (pronounced train?) who are based in York. Using existing Rail Operating Companies such as ScotRail and West Coast Railways, they provide great value hotel/rail escortd holidays. They are new to our area, so we wish them luck and look forward to welcoming the visitors they bring to Oban/Fort William/Mallaig etc. They intend to be in Oban for Christmas 2011 and Hogamany. There are six planned tours using the Jacobite with dates from May 19th to October 21st 2012 (so we are confident of welcoming back West Coast Railways with the Jacobite in 2012 - thankfully) plus nine tours of the West Highlands and Skye, using ScotRail on the West Highland Line and West Highland Extension to Mallaig. for a brochure or more information, call 01904 734640 or visit www.railholidays.com
Pathfinder tours, based in Stroud, have announced an Easter Scottish weekender Diesel excursion.


West Coast Railways' very own Piper, Connal McBride, is pictured above on his very last day as 'official' piper, with other West Coast crew members. All on The Jacobite wish Connal all the very best in is new job. He has moved to Glasgow to a music academy to obtain a Pipe Major's accreditation. Good luck Connal! Hope you will pipe for us on The Jacobite in 2012 (as a Pipe Major!!).
We would like to thank everybody who contributed to his 'going away fund' and especially Neil McLeod who presented him with a framed photograph of Connal's adopted Mallaig seagull, 'Sid'. Connal fed him with chips from leaving the nest, Sid will no doubt miss him!


Young Polish sea cadets visited Mallaig recently. They were staying at Spean Bridge, but decided to take a trip to Mallaig in order to see the 'Harry Potter' viaduct at Glenfinnan. On the train journey, they sang and played guitars, reciting Polish folk songs much to the amusement of their fellow passengers. The photo shows the group at Mallaig railway station with Steve, who took pictures of them to be posted to them in Poland on their return.

See you on the train!
Sonia Cameron

CROFTING ROUNDUP - by Joyce Wilkinson, SCFA Representative/Area Assessor

Abattoir News
It is welcome news that Mull Slaughterhouse has now reopened after the fire last October, thanks to the efforts of Tom Nelson, Glengorm and members of the Mull community who were able to raise funding from HIE, Argyll and Bute council and The Princess countryside fund. As before they are licensed to take cattle, including horned cattle. up to and over 48 months, as well as pigs sheep and the carcasses of deer.
Mull abattoir has only been able to reopen by combining and sharing the slaughtering and butchering workload with other islands. Islay has its own abattoir and butchers but throughput can't be kept high all the time so the slaughter man, John Codd, now comes over to Mull two days a week. The butchering service on Mull has also changed, Iain Anderson who was in house butcher for Blackwater abattoir on Arran, also temporarily closed, is now doing the butchering on Mull and is also responsible for training local novices to butcher. Mull slaughterhouse are also offering a good opportunity for an apprentice butcher to learn the trade. Please make contact with them if you are interested. The other good news on the butchering front at Mull is that they now have their meat preparation license which enables them to make sausages and burgers. Any crofters taking cattle sheep pig or deer carcasses to Mull could have part or all of them returned as burgers or sausages and legitimately offer them for resale to the public. Environmental health guidance only allows the resale of these meat items when they have been prepared at a cutting plant licenced for prepared meats. I'm sure all local meat producers and consumers will welcome these changes and support the new team of Ruth Martin[ office], Iain Anderson [butcher] and John Codd [slaughter man]. Local abattoirs are very important as they support sustainability of local communities through food miles and value to producers and consumers, they also improve animal welfare as most are small and less stressful to the animals, being a one man one beast operation, and journey times are less. The smaller abattoirs are also preferred by the smaller producers/ crofters, who by having only few animals tend to be more attached to them , and want some reassurance that they wont suffer too much at the end. Good abattoirs like Mull and Islay are only too happy to take the time to show you and explain to you how the animal is to be killed, and as the throughput is slower the animals are less rushed or stressed

Plans for a Skye Abattoir get under way
Invites to tender are out for constructing an abattoir on Skye . The Skye & Lochalsh area has now been without abattoir facilities for nearly 20 years, apart from a brief experiment with a mobile slaughterhouse. This results in journeys of up to three and a half hours to Dingwall or Grantown abattoir or a ferry crossing to Lochmaddy. The situation has recently deteriorated further due to the curtailment of the delivery service provided by John M. Munro Ltd.
Skye has a good local meat supply and a local abattoir would be welcome for the same reasons as given above for Mull.

Scottish Crofting Foundation Annual Gathering celebrates 125 years since the Crofting Act 1886
This year it will take place in Skye, from lunchtime on 3rd Oct until lunchtime of 4th Oct. The venue is Sleat on Skye.
The gathering will be opened with a keynote address from Stewart Stevenson MSP, and minister for the environment and crofting and will be followed by a Historical talk on crofting by Dr Annie Tindley, as well as talks on crofting culture and land . Day two includes interesting talks on crofting community ownership and common grazing development opportunities. There are still two vacant free member places for SCF members from Lochaber so please get in touch with me if you feel this event might be of interest to you. You can also attend with a ticket place , these are good value for members and include lunch on both days, younger crofters [those lucky ones under the age of 40 !!] get a further discount and can have lunch and attendance both days for £30. Overnight accommodation can be arranged. Non members are also welcome but it will be a little dearer.
This event is a good networking opportunity for all those interested in crofting, crofting communities and meeting up with crofting representatives[ lobbying opportunities]

Croitearan nan Eilean (Crofters of the Isles) have organized a major conference for September to discuss a fundamental issue which not only affects the Western Isles but the whole of the United Kingdom; the breakdown of community life. Like the SCF the CNE are celebrating 125 years of the crofting act 1886 and have invited some distinguished speakers discuss some fundamental issues that affect crofting communities and wider society today.
A statement released on 1st Sept from CNE
'Crofting activities were the glue which kept communities close-knit and formed such a vital part of the culture. People worked together, helped each other; it was a time of discipline, selflessness, caring and kindness. They gave us the extended family where grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins were very much part of the family. They gave us the oral tradition of handing down stories from one generation to another. People visited each other's homes on a regular basis and exchanged the latest news or gossip. In every village they knew each other so well that even youngsters could rattle off the family trees of their neighbours. Have these times gone, never to return? Has village life changed beyond recognition? Has the 'sense of community' all but disappeared? Few people know or care who their neighbours are. These are more selfish times in which we live. Why? What has gone wrong? What has caused the breakdown of communities? Why have values changed so much? Is the above a true reflection of community life today? Does it matter? Should we not care? Was their much to admire about island life decades ago that could teach us all valuable lessons today, not only in the islands but beyond?
The subject-matter has become very topical recently with the unedifying and unacceptable scenes from recent riots in London and other cities south of the border.
A spokesman for CNE states that "We live in a culture of rights without responsibilities. We have become obsessed with political correctness, human rights and litigation where the sense of duty, honour, commitment and responsibility is considered old-fashioned and irrelevant in today's society. Much can be learnt from the crofting way of life."
The conference will be at the Caberfeidh Hotel, Perceval Road South, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis HS1 2EU. Tel: 01851 702604
Registration will take place from 08.45. The conference should finish by 17.30 which gives guests ample time to have a meal and refreshments before the Grand Concert at Studio Alba at 19.30. For further information contact: HQ@croitearan.com
I hope to be going myself should anyone require a lift.

Let me see now, where should I start? I suppose where I left off last month is as good as anywhere! I closed with the mention that I was due to observe at the world championship trial at Aonach Mor, well I did, and I was duly amazed at what these riders were able to do. Unfortunately I wasn't quite so impressed with my own performance in getting up to my section as I had to first ride up the "Red Run" and when the trial was over I had to come down the "Black Run". For those of you that are not familiar with these terms I will simply say that these are the routes that the downhill mountain bikers perform on. That simple statement gives no idea of just what these runs are like, and I can safely tell you that I was absolutely terrified on my descent, and took at least four times as long coming down as the lunatics on bicycles! I apologise to all the cyclists that do this sport for calling them lunatics as I can now appreciate the skill levels required to do these times, but I cannot think of a more suitable word to describe anyone who has the courage to pedal flat out down these tracks! But I take my hat off to them!
Returning to a more normal level, what have I been doing this month? Firstly I must comment on the walks numbers over the past weeks. Having had such a decent July the numbers at the beginning of the month plummeted with only a dozen folk up to the last week. However for some strange reason the last two walks have seen double that number trotting along behind me! Well, not actually trotting as the last walk was the "Arisaig Triangle" which is a reasonable climb to the peaks above Arisaig! and, fit as I am?? I no longer trot to that sort of height!! I have to say that the two groups that I had on these walks were great craic, and I look forward to their coming again next year! The whole point seems to be that the walks no longer seem to have the same appeal to people, and I am beginning to wonder as to whether I should continue with my programme for next season. Maybe I should cut it down to requests only and stick to low level, I just don't know. Unfortunately I need to present my programme to the Highland Council by the end of October, and the way the year seems to be hell bent on finishing I am going to have to make up my mind pretty soon. Anyone got any suggestions? So what else has filled my time? It seems that I have been doing a lot of travelling this month. I've been to Strontian to assist with a "Plant Walk" (which didn't happen!) Glenfinnan to look at another possible outing connected with "Harry Potter", Fort William twice, once for regular meetings and once to assist with some preparations for an event that we are planning for the beginning of October and working visits to both the Glenfinnan Games and the Lochaber Show. The show visit and the games slot were part of our new recommended idea to "Raise the Corporate Profile". I'm sure that the idea would work if we only had the right sort of equipment to promote ourselves, but I feel that a wee laminated logo cellotaped to the fabric of our pop-up gazebo doesn't really hit the spot! Never mind, maybe we can cobble something better together for next year!
Only yesterday (29th, yes I'm late again!) I attended a Fungi course in the National Trust Centre in Glencoe which was interesting. I can't yet say that I could now lead a foray into the wild to collect the edible delicacies, but I did at least manage to collect a rather clever little sheet with a key to help recognition. I'm afraid that I always find that when a professional leads something like this, they are always a little bit too "into" their subject and it is difficult to share their obvious enthusiasm! I had hoped that going to this - and it cost me £25! - I would come home with the ability to comfortably recognise four or five good edible varieties, but unfortunately in our couple of hours outside, no edible types were found! Oh well! Someday!
Well folks, that's about it for this month, so we shall see if September keeps up this reasonable spell of weather that we have been having, although I expect that "Irene" will yet have something to say to us! Meantime, look after yourselves and stay off the chocolate! You know the number: 01687 462 983
Angus Macintyre

Birdwatch - August report - Stephen MacDonald
A few more birds on the move this month as passage waders make their way south.
A juvenile Ruff on the Caimbe river at Back of Keppoch wad a nice find on the 1st. it hung around for several days and was last seen on the 5th. a flock of 15 Turnstones at Traigh on the 4th were the first returning birds reported.

Photo by Stephen MacDonald

Several small groups of Knot (see photo above) were seen from mid-month, the best being 46 at Traigh on the 14th.
Other waders sighted at Traigh included Sanderling, Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Whimbrel, Curlew, Golden Plover, Redshank and Oystercatcher.
Two Greenshank were at Bourblach on the Morar Estuary on the 31st.
Sea birds reported during the month included a single Sooty Shearwater between Arisaig and Eigg on the 23rd. Pomarine Skuas were reported on two occasions; a single between Arisaig and Eigg on the 13th and two sightings of single birds on the 25th further north in the Sound of Sleat. Also several Arctic and Great Skuas were seen during the month. Stormy Petrels were reported from several different locations in the Sound of Sleat.
Ten Canada Geese were seen at Invercaimbe on the 15th and were then seen on several occasions at Back of Keppoch and Kinloid. The local Greylag Goose numbers built up as the month progressed, with a flock of 95 at Traigh on the 16th and up to 40 birds on the playing field at Morar.
Swallows, Sand and House Martins were starting to flock together and gather on overhead wires by the month end. A single Swift was feeding along with at least 20 House Martins at Druimindarroch on the 29th.
Several reports of juvenile Sparrowhawks from Mallaig, Morar and Arisaig.

Auntie Mary's Creepy Crawly Corner
Rachel has asked: what is a lichen?
A lichen is a plant is formed by a mutually-beneficial (referred to as symbiotic) relationship between an alga and a fungus. They grow together in a definite arrangement. The alga provides the energy from photosynthesis; the fungus fixes nitrogen and provides shelter.
The alga is usually a blue-green or green, frequently unicellular but sometimes a filamentous species. The fungus is usually an Ascomycete.
Algae form a large assemblage of lower plants, once regarded as one group, now classified into : blue-green algae, green algae, brown algae, red algae, and diatoms and their allies. Marine algae are commonly known as seaweeds. An alga grows in a particular structure : unicellular, filamentous or multicellular.
A fungus is an organism which has no chlorophyll. Green fungi are coloured by other substances. Fungi tend to be either parasites or saprophytes (feeding on dead organic matter). A fungus consists of a mycelium which is a web of minute tubular threads, called hyphae. These give rise to the fruiting structures, often the feature by which the fungus is recognised.
The fungi are divided into four groups according to the shape of the fruiting body : the mushrooms and toadstools; the ball-shaped species e.g. the puffballs; the funnel and cup-shaped species; and the bracket types. There are around 100,000 species of fungi in the world, with over 10,000 of these growing in the British Isles.
Ascomycete: spores develop within tubular cells called asci, generally 8 spores to an ascus.
Basidiomycete: spores produced on end of a basidium, commonly 4 (less often 2 or 6-8).
Lochaber is one of the best places in the British Isles to see unusual lichens. This is because the clean air and damp, relatively mild climate is very suitable for epiphytes such as lichens, mosses, liverworts, and ferns to grow.
Dr Mary Elliott
References: ME's mother!

Wide World West Word
Well, no fears that our supply of World wide West Word photos was drying up!

photo photo

Brian Bannister and wife Kenna, both originally from Arisaig,
took their copy to Nova Scotia recently and took the photos at some familiar signs!

Celia, Allan and Freya MacKenzie on a recent trip to Memphis and read their copy standing beside Elvis' plane, the 'Lisa Marie' at Graceland. Celia is originally from Morar and the family now live in Atlanta.

Three (Ayrshire) Vikings took time out from their duties at the Viking village in Largs, to catch up on West Word.

Edward, Jamie and Christopher took their West Word from Arisaig to the Barra Head Lighthouse on the uninhabited island of Berneray, situated at the southernmost tip of the Outer Hebrides.

Mallaig's John and Dawn MacPhie showed their copy to the some of the Masai tribe in Kenya!
We're waiting to see if any of them will subscribe...

A Little Genealogy by Allan and Elizabeth MacDonald (email: ealasaid6@btopenworld.com)
Letters and News by the Loch Side
In Arisaig House, there is a beautiful painting done by Henry Tanworth Wells (1828-1903) The painting is of a scene on Loch Eilt, of a postman, Donald MacDonald of Achraig, "Ath a' Chreag) delivering mail to two boats on the shore, near Arienskil, at the end of Loch Eilt where the River Ailort flows to the sea. The painting was a present to Gertrude Astley (1849 - 1920) from her sisters, Beatrice (Mrs Cheetham) and Connie, on the occasion of her marriage in 1883 to Arthur Nicholson (1852 - 1932). Their father, FDP Astley had been drowned in Canada in 1880.


Depicted in the scene are 8 people, very recognisable, such is the clarity of the picture. Each of the subjects was painted in the gun room of Arisaig House and later incorporated into a background of Loch Eilt. Painted about 1867, H.T. Wells used the painting for his diploma submission in a successful application to join the Royal Academy in 1870. Later on, the Astley family of Arisaig House was so keen to acquire this painting that, in 1882, they exchanged "The Volunteers at the Firing Point", another Wells painting in their possession, for it. So it came to be in Arisaig House, a gift to Gertrude Astley on her marriage. It is believed that the niche which houses the painting was built to accommodate it and there it still hangs, a survivor of the fire which destroyed the house in 1935.
In the picture, Donald MacDonald, the horseman delivering mail, was from Achraig, a small Arisaig settlement between Kinloid and Achnaskia which no longer exists. The new section of the A830 Arisaig by-pass runs through the middle of where the hamlet used to be. In 1841 there were 6 families consisting of 26 people, in 1881, 4 families of 11 people, and in the 1891 Census. Achraig is not mentioned.
Next is a boy, Christopher MacRae, with red hair, aged about 11 years, sitting on the bow of the boat, feet in the water.
Beside Christopher is F. D. P. Astley (1825 - 1880), proprietor of Arisaig Estate, sitting. Sir John Millais, famous Pre-Raphaelite artist, is standing next to Astley. Sitting in the boat with his back to the scene is John MacDonald progenitor of the Tigh na Mara family of Arisaig and my own great-grandfather. Donald MacDonald next, was the Captain of Astley's steam yacht, which the John MacDonald, above, crewed round the world at least once. Duncan MacRae, is sitting holding a magnificent sea-trout, probably about 10-12 lbs (5kg) in weight. Standing in the boat, holding a landing net is Sir Henry Halford, the founder of the Halford Stores Group.
Wearing a bowler hat is Angus MacDonald, Water Bailiff at Arieniskil and father of Donald the yacht captain. This family possibly originates from Tor Beithe, Rhu, Arisaig. Sitting in the stern of the boat is Mr Henry Evans, (1831-1904) engrossed in a book and not showing any interest in the proceedings. Evans, from Derby, was a well-known and wealthy banker, and in the West Highlands of Scotland an equally well-known deer-stalker, yachtsman and naturalist. After renting various tracts of ground in the Highlands, in 1875, he leased the forest which comprises the extensive mountain ground in the centre of the island of Jura, spending some months of the season there for the next thirty years.

Some notes and genealogy:
Donald MacDonald of Achraig, grandfather of the late Mrs Grant, who was married to William Grant, (d. 1943) Manager of Arisaig Estate before WWII. Their son Alex Grant became a teacher in Fort William. A sister of Mrs Grant was married to William Goldsburgh, valet and butler to Arthur Nicholson, (later Sir Arthur KCB) proprietor of Arisaig Estate after his marriage to Gertrude Astley. The 'boy' is Christopher MacRae, son of Duncan. Duncan was grandfather to Mary Dempster, née MacPherson from Smirisary and Arisaig and great grandfather of the Dempster family of Arisaig. It is a family belief that Christopher became a Professor and went off to live in France.
Duncan MacRae was married to Mary Isabella Gillies of Scamadale, known as 'Mary Iain Scamadale' daughter of Iain Gillies, Brunicory and Isabella MacDonell, Bracara. Duncan and Mary had a daughter Isabella Mary, who married John MacPherson from Glenuig, and had four children:
(1) Donald MacPherson married Annie MacDonald daughter of Seamus Ruadh MacDonald, Bun a' Caimbe, Beasdale and Lochailort and Sarah Tipping They had a son Philip;
(2) William MacPherson who died young;
(3) Mary, who married Findlay Dempster, Arisaig and had ten children; Isabella Mary, Catherine, Donald John, Findlay, Mena, Mary Ellen, Morag Anne, Jean and Robert.
(4) was Angus MacPherson, Angus 'Para' to give him his patronymic, who disappeared under mysterious circumstances in 1973. He attended a cattle sale in Corpach and sold beasts belonging to himself and neighbours, left the Auctioneer's Office and was never seen again. The latest female to carry the name, Mairi Isabella, is a daughter of the late Donald John Dempster, five generations of naming tradition.

Watch this space for extracts from next month's issue!
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The paper version of West Word contains approximately 40 pages (A4 size) including:

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