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September 2016 Issue
Contents of the online version:
All photos are copyright either of the individual photographers or West Word.
Mallaig Bakehouse and Marion Affleck's honey and beeswax products were two of the local stalls. Photo Richard Lamont
MALLAIG FOOD FESTIVAL A 'WILD' SUCCESS
'Taste the Wild', Mallaig's new Food Festival, was a huge success, bringing crowd of visitors to the many stalls and demonstrations on Saturday 10th September. It was a rare fine day, breezy but warm and sunny, for people to enjoy tastings and demonstrations and the UK's first Prawn Peeling competition, won by Steam Inn Chef Elaine Bowman.
Inside the Prawn Market, Sarah Winnington-Ingram from Arisaig House, cooked and talked about foraged mushrooms, and Duncan Gibson of Glenfinnan House Hotel gave a run down of how stalked deer are dealt with from the hill to the plate. Inside the Fish Market was a great display of fine produce, both local and Highland.
More photos to follow in October's West Word.
TOP AWARD FOR JAFFYS
Out of 10,000 entries to Great Taste 2016, only 141 received top level Gold Awards and only four entries were awarded the top regional Golden Forks - so many congratulations to Jaffys yet again on winning both!
Celebrating the very best in food and drink, the Great Taste, the world's most coveted blind-tasted food awards run by the Guild of Fine Food and sponsored by Harrods, has reached its grand finale for 2016.
Having already retained their long running place in the UK's Top 50 food producers as well as their fourth coveted triple Gold star award, Jeff and Shona Lawrie of Jaffys were awarded the Golden Fork for the best food or drink in Scotland for their Oak Smoked Kippers - having won the same award in both 2011 and 2014.
With woody, smoky and nutty notes, "balanced by a lovely sweetness", the judges including some of the UK's top chefs and journalists really enjoyed this succulent and natural tasting herring, which is "traditionally caured and slowly smoked over oak fires."
Out of 10,000 products entered into Great Taste 2016, Jaffy's Kippers were celebrated as the best tasting product in their region at the Great Taste Golden Forks Dinner held on Monday 5th September at The Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington, where over 300 guests from the world of fine food gathered to hear the results of many months of rigorous judging. Out of the 10,000 entries only 141 were awarded the top level three gold star ratings and only four took home the top regional Golden Forks.
The award has already brought significant interest in Jaffys Kippers and Smoked Salmon with interest from award Sponsor Harrods as well as Waitrose, Selfridges and the US based natural supermarket chain Wholefoods Market.
John Farrand of the Guild of Fine Food and Stephanie Pritchard, Scotland Food and Drink, present the awards to Jeff Lawrie (right)
How can it be September already?! It doesn't feel that long ago we were kick starting August with a very wet games day! Didn't put anyone off though! A good effort went in this year; Gabriela's obstacle course, the genius idea of a big pipe to slide down with lots of soap and water, the bar outside at the front and a fantastic raffle, as well as the traditional tug of war, though only the men got to take part as there was no opposing women's team for us girls!
And it might have started with some more mental rain but all in all, it's been a pretty good month. The sun finally burst through, right on time with the school going back of course, but it did mean that we got to have some fires on the beach which was quite a luxury, even with the return of the midgies. A lot of birthdays this month, including two big ones, Kira turned 18 and Rick turned 60, and had a fantastic birthday booze cruise on board the Western Isles for the day. A craicin' day out it was.
It's also that's time of year where the WAGs (and children!) of the stalkers say goodbye to their menfolk for the next few months as they disappear up the hills chasing deer….Yep, Stalking season has begun.
Veronika is still doing a roaring trade in Wednesday night Fish and Chips and there are still a reasonable number of tourists around, though it is definitely getting quieter now that the schools are back. The Tearoom is continuing evening meals for the next few weeks, and Doune will be open until October.
An amazing short drone film of Knoydart has been produced and was premiered at the start of August for us locals. It was very impressive, in fact, it looked spectacularly unreal, some of it, like it had been whipped straight out of a movie. Well done to Amie, who was the one who did all the hard work of going through all the footage, taken by a tourist, and editing it into the film. Once it is produced, all households are to be given a copy and then I believe it might be available in the shop/display room.
Coming up, the annual garden day which will take place on the first weekend in September. Always a nice wee family day out, especially if the weather is good!
That's all for now folks.
ISLE OF MUCK
When a vacancy is advertised the ideal outcome is one applicant - the right one. But when in response to our desire to ''Find a teacher for Muck'' was followed by a visit by a BBC news team, we knew that that was an unlikely situation. And when the BBC was followed by two reporters from the Sun who were willing to camp outside the Hall to get their story, it was even less likely. In the event 57 hopefuls applied and in this situation we were very lucky to have head teacher Andy Murray to sort them out. So in the near future the eight that he has chosen will be paying the island and the school a visit; followed by a selection panel and hopefully by Half Term or even Christmas the vacancy will have been filled.
Clare came to Muck from Iona on 8th May 1973 together with Bryan who had taken the job of boatman on the island and for the next 29 years she played a major part in island life. So it was very fitting that on 1st September, family, friends and islanders from Eigg and Muck gathered at the little graveyard at Port Mor to say goodbye to Clare who had finally left this world after a long illness. Kath Robinson from Doune and son Lachie played beautiful tunes; I spoke briefly of her life and we all sang the Beatles number ''Let it Be.'' Finally we departed a grave covered in island flowers and those which Clare herself loved to grow
Muck Primary's Trip to Nethybridge Outdoor Activity Centre
The first magical thing we went on was a boat, and then we had an hour and a half of sailing then finally we arrived in Arisaig. Next we had a long tiring car journey but Mrs Boden got lost so we ended up at the back entrance. Eventually we found Nethybridge at 10 o'clock at night. We got to bed at half past 10. In the morning we went to the very colourful climbing wall, it was great fun. There was also an excellent tight rope. The wall was a bit difficult but some of us got to the top.
On Thursday we did Mission Impossible. It was a hard thinking adventure course. We all had to trust each other because we could not do it on our own. We did very hard tasks like unlocking padlocks. There were lots to do before the padlock number showed itself on a wooden pole. Everyone had great fun doing difficult tasks and had to work together.
On Thursday after lunch we were doing canoeing, and at first we all did very well. The teams were Jasper and I, Hugh Tara and Ruth, David and Kitty, Mrs Boden and Daniel, and finally Mrs McFadzean and Willow. Our Instructor for the canoeing was Ollie (it was a tiny bit funny because he was the same instructor that we had last year for dry slope skiing) anyway we played this game where Ollie threw balls on to the pond and we had to row round the pond collecting the balls. At one edge of the pond there was a bridge. Mrs Boden and Daniel were going for a ball that was next to the bridge, and Daniel stood up to get it but he could not reach, so Mrs Boden said "sit down, and I will get it". She leant over to grab the ball, but she hadn't realised that Daniel had not sat down and the next thing we knew Mrs Boden and Daniel were gone and their canoe was upside down, then Mrs Boden came shooting out of the water. It turned out that Daniel had ended up inside the canoe, in the end they were both okay. At the end of canoeing me, Jasper and David jumped in at the bridge and it was AWESOME! Also Kitty went in from the bank. Jasper and I swam across the pond and even though we knew it was very deep it was also great fun but all the others walked back across the path.
ISLE OF CANNA
Canna continued to be a popular destination for visitors during August with everyone very busy and fortunately the weather began to improve again with some glorious days on the beach.
At the beginning of the month members of the community had the opportunity to visit the Marine Harvest fish farm on Muck. An interesting and informative day and also a chance to meet our friends on Muck.
The school term has started again and our newest resident Martin is enjoying teaching the three children at the Canna Primary School and has already been entertaining some of the Rum children who came to visit.
Indigo Carnie has arranged a weekly ceilidh dancing class in preparation for our end of season ceilidh on 24 September. This has demonstrated to some of us that we were not as fit as we thought! This will also mark the end of the season for Café Canna who will close on the same day. No doubt Chris and Anna will be looking forward to a well earned rest.
Gerry and Murdo on the farm are busy gathering the sheep from all over the island to get them ready for the lamb sales in Dingwall at the beginning of September.
There will also be a new face at the pier with myself taking on the duties of Harbourmaster from the beginning of September. Thanks to Lochnevis skipper, Kenny Macdonald, and Port Manager, Nancy Mclean, for a useful induction into the new role.
Criomagan (Crumbs) from Canna House
The nice weather in August has meant many visitors to Canna House gardens and this year, visitors have been able to take advantage of some the quirky little 'interpretation' cards hidden around the Gardens. These cards tell visitors stories of John and Margaret Campbell, their cats, their farm, their garden and their food! The gardens have been looking beautiful with the colours of late summer and the Gardens were open as part of Scotland's Gardens scheme this month.
The gardens also had the inaugural return of the Canna House Croquet Tournament with local residents battling it out, in surprisingly competitive form, both on the 'lawn' and against the midgies! It is hoped to make this a regular feature of activity in the Gardens. Visitors can also partake of a game of quoits or giant draughts!
This month also saw documentation officers Indigo and Liz, tackle the work of documenting all of John Lorne Campbell's priceless collection of recording equipment from the 1930's onwards. A fascinating collection of machines, made all the more priceless by the fact that he also kept all the brochures, instruction manuals and receipts for all the equipment.
Archivist Fiona also undertook a presentation at the Skye Book Festival in August, together with Prof Hugh Cheape and journalist Ray Perman. Entitled The Campbells of Canna, this presentation entertained and enlightened sell out audiences with the stories of the Campbells, their lives, their photographs and their songs. The presentation also included one of Margaret's pictures of sheep being driven through Wentworth St, Portree in 1928.
Fiona also undertook a solo concert in the Rhu Church on Canna, which comprised many of the songs of the Canna Collections. Despite the lack of electricity in the Church, the capacity audience joined in with songs of seals and babies, redshanks and dogs, lost lovers and Jacobites. These concerts will also become a frequent item on the Canna Arts calendar.
ISLE OF RUM
Team Rum attended the Small Isles Games on Eigg in very depleted numbers due to the poor weather but those who managed to get across had a cracking time and did us proud - well done Fliss, Joss, Jinty, Trudi and Rhys (who manage to be about 20% of Rum just now anyway!)
Back to School at Rum Primary saw the school roll increase by a staggering 100% as Andrew and Ashton double the numbers for Mrs Ingram.
Lots of people around on island - volunteers for the ranger service, croft 3 and SNH all getting lots done around the island along with the usual summer visitors, plus the start of the stalking season meaning echoes of gunfire and the promise of venison, not to mention hopes of less deer hanging round the village!
A fishing competition saw various visitors and islanders at the pier reeling in fish and a flurry afterwards of keen fishers for a few weeks afterwards - mackerel, trout and pollock all pulled out of the sea and enjoyed for dinner. The bramble season has started and you can spot the pickers by their purple stained fingers! New jam flavours have already appeared on the shelves at the croft 3 shed including Bramble & Rum, Bramble & Chocolate and Bramble & Mint.
The monthly bring and share meal had an Italian theme in August and we had a fair few visitors to the island in attendance as it happened to coincide with the Friends of Kinloch Castle Association anniversary celebrations so they joined us for many pasta dishes, tiramisu and biscotti. That was the same night that we realised Jinty's new fly zapper's ultra violet light meant luminous marker pen glowed and various of us gained temporary tattoos drawn on with it. That took some scrubbing to get off the next morning!
SNH have a consultation for an extension to the SPA around the coast of Rum and Canna currently so an event was held to give more information about what that might mean.
Weekly dolphin and whale watching boat trips aboard the Sheerwater meant a couple of really good weeks of encounters with dolphins and porpoises. Still a huge lack of seabirds around this year with even the shearwater numbers just not being present out at sea.
ISLE OF EIGG
This year it was Eigg's turn to host the Small Isles games, and a great day it turned out to be, despite the appalling weather which unfortunately deterred quite a few from coming over for fear of being stuck on the island... Ailidh was a great compère, Ewen and Jacqueline organised everything superbly and the competitors were full of enthusiasm. A special medal should go to Rhys from Rum for entering absolutely everything, but in the end the Eigg team won, perhaps due to sheer number of participants, and a great number of them being our fit young volunteers! The dance in the evening saw the return of Ian MacFarlane and singer Anne Martin to the island who gave us fabulous music and songs.
Luckily rain and wind did not dominate the whole of August, and on the many nice days that we had, you were sure to see a gathering on Laig beach with a bonfire and or a barbecue! Finn Jobson and Teaghan McCarthy celebrated their respective birthdays in this way, and much fun was had all. This was the way we also said goodbye to Dean Jones, our SWT ranger, who we look forward to see on Eigg again next year.
However that windy weather at the beginning of the month resulted in one poor racing pigeon getting blown of course 500 miles north of its destination, ending up on Eigg mucking in with a flock of rock doves hanging around John and Christine's feeding station at Galmisdale. Witnessing a peregrine swooping down on one of the flock, John and Christine decided to catch the pigeon before he suffered the same fate, and having succeeded in contacting the pigeon owner near Telford, managed to get him reunited with its 6 months old racer thanks to Owain and Larraine's friends who were heading back that way after their holiday on Eigg! This was a very lucky pigeon indeed.
August also saw the return of the classic rock band Blaze to the island for a concert ending up a nine days Highland tour. The band, who were interviewed earlier on Nevis Radio, was on top form and Mick, still recovering from his long illness, was absolutely superb on bass guitar and vocals. Well done Mick! We look forward to more of your classic rock tunes next year!
An evening of robust debate occurred at the beginning of the month when Marine Harvest came to Eigg to explore the possibility of including the island as yet another fish farm location in the Small Isles. The outcome of it was that the islanders felt they first needed to revisit the founding values and goals that led to the establishment of the isle of Eigg Heritage Trust before discussing matters further. On the other hand there was nothing but support for the proposal to include Red Throated Divers in the current Special Protection Area around Rum, as these birds do nest in the lochs behind the Sgurr and are felt to be a real wildlife asset for the island.
Finally the month ended with a celebratory event: Saturday 27 August being the 20th anniversary of the launch of the Eigg buy out campaign, a community meal was organised which was very well attended and a picture of the community as it is today was taken in front of the hall, with a new banner held by all our youngsters answering the original message of "let's crack it" with a confident "we've cracked it!" The Donald Black concert following from the meal was a perfect ending to the night, which ushers our 20th anniversary year! Watch this space...
Despite the deluge of rain on the days leading up to the Games, the morning of Saturday 20th August dawned with bright sunshine. This set the tone for the day and a very successful 70th Glenfinnan Gathering and Highland Games was enjoyed by a record crowd.
The first Games at Glenfinnan of the modern era were held in 1946. There had been a "gathering" in 1945, at the end of the war, to commemorate the bicentenary of the Raising of the Standard in 1745. A huge crowd had also attended the centenary in 1845 and managed to get there using all means of transport. Following the 1945 gathering, the local landowners got together and decided that this should be an annual event. The Games as we know were born and the history, setting and atmosphere make it a unique and very memorable event. The Highland Dancing competition, although short on local dancers, attracted some talented dancers from afar and the crowd enjoyed an afternoon of dancing of the highest quality.
Overall winners were Rachel Walker from Fettercairn, MacKellaig Cup (Adult Dancing) and the Mairi Rae Quaich (Adult Sword Dance), Isla MacKenzie from Fearn, Glenfinnan House Hotel Cup (Junior Open Dancing) and Eva Collister from Falkirk, McGuire Cup Open Dancing (8-11).
The Adults dancing the Strathspey and Reel of Tulloch. Photo Mairi Illsley
The adult dancers in their Irish jig costumes with Mairi Illsley. the overall winner Rachel Walker is to Mairi's left. Photo Mairi Illsley
COUNCIL BACKS POOL'S PLANS
The Highland Council has awarded Mallaig Pool and Leisure a magnificent £275,000 towards their much needed refurbishment plans, a big building block in the £1.1m they are hoping to raise.
Fiona Baker, Chair for Mallaig Pool & Leisure said: "We're absolutely delighted the Highland Council has recognised the value of Mallaig Pool to the community and supported our refurbishment programme with an award of £275,000 of public funds towards our goal. This is a culmination of three years methodical and detailed groundwork by the team of enormously talented, dedicated and largely volunteer Board and Management to whom all credit must be given. Enormous thanks to Cllrs Henderson and Thompson who have been vocal advocates on our behalf and represented our case at Committee today. And also to Councillor Maxine Smith who has supported us from the start. We could not have come this far without them in our corner. There'll be celebrations, but we're keenly aware that the hard work starts now. Over the next three months we await the response of a number of other funding agencies. This project will only be entirely successful if we can now deliver the collegiate sp£5,000onsorship necessary to match fund this significant award. But this is a great boost. Public support and fundraising efforts, particularly by the Friends of Mallaig Pool, has been overwhelming, and we can only remain positive for the future of the Centre."
Brian O'Rourke, Pool Manager, receives a cheque for £5000 from Robert MacMillan, CEO of Mallaig Harbour Authority, towards the refurbishment.
Team GB's sensational performance at this year's Olympics appears to have brought about a surge of interest in competitive sports. Inspired by the whopping 67 medals Team GB took home, leisure centres and sports facilities up and down the country have noted a huge surge of enquiries since the beginning of Rio 2016. According to the Amateur Swimming Association, in just over two weeks, over 20,000 more people have searched for a local swimming pool, up 53% on the previous month. With this in mind, it is imperative the Government supports this momentum and the growing demand for leisure centres throughout the country to increase health and wellbeing, and to combat obesity.
Mallaig Leisure Centre is one such facility that is appealing for £1.1m worth of funding from a number of trusts and organisations. This funding will go towards extensive refurbishment and replacement of essential equipment to breathe much needed life into the Centre and enable it to continue to provide the community with a fantastic resource for the future.
The importance of the refurbishment can be reflected in the efforts of the local community, who have raised over £10,000 towards the project in just six weeks. Sue Currie of Arisaig says: "I think that the pool has been the most important building in this area to my family in the last 30 years. I want it to be reborn for us all - can't wait for the grand opening." The Centre is an incredible community resource, with people regularly using the facilities and travelling from as far as the Ardnamurchan Peninsula and the Small Isles. Abigail Jackson of Mallaig agrees that the Centre is "essential to the area, everyone should learn how to swim, but it is highly important in a fishing village. Upgrades are necessary to keep it running and to keep people coming."
Mallaig Pool & Leisure would like to thank everyone who has supported them. All donations to the fundraising campaign are really appreciated and can be made at https://campaign.justgiving.com/charity/mallaigdistrict-swimmingpool/mdsp-refurbishment or by texting the code MDSP00 plus the amount you want to give e.g. "MDSP00 £5" to 70070. Any small amount will make a big difference.
A Write Highland Hoolie!
Mallaig's Book Festival
West Highland Hotel
Friday October 21st - Sunday October 23rd 2016
Congratulations to Heather Thomson, S3, who won the art competition we ran in Mallaig High School to design a picture we could use on the back cover of our Book Festival programme. Her cheerful and colourful painting of a steam train puffing out book titles in clouds of steam is shown on the back page of West Word this month too.
The programme will be available to everyone attending the Hoolie, and all the information in it is on our website, www.a-write-highland-hoolie.com and on www.eventbrite.co.uk. We can also email a programme to anyone who would like one.
Tickets are on sale now, through these website or by phoning Ann on 01687 450263. All events are ticket only, even the free ones, so please get booking! To book lunch and/or dinner on either day, contact the West Highland Hotel, 01687 462210, email email@example.com The Festival will open on the Friday evening with a free event, the Celebration Launch by Angus MacDonald of Roshven House of his debut novel, Ardnish was Home. Dinner and music in the bar from Elsa Jean McTaggart and Gary Lister rounds off the first day and it's rumoured that some authors and guests are also bringing their musical instruments. What a hoolie! Saturday 22nd October is a day packed with talks by six authors, a visit by Bookbug with stories, rhymes and songs for pre-school tots, and a creative writing workshop for primary school children. Dinner and music again end the day. On Sunday 23rd October there is another free event: the showing of Mallaig High School's Herring film, the announcement and reading of the winners of the creative writing competition being run at present through all our local schools, and Jonathan Tevendale reading his national prize winning essay. This is followed by another visit by Bookbug, a panel discussion and a final talk and then tea and home, clutching our signed books. All of the talks are £6, except for that of Sue Lawrence, writer of many cookery books, which is £8.50 a ticket and includes coffee and cake made from a recipe in her Scottish Baking book, and children's writer Debi Gliori, for whom tickets are £3.
There will be a number of stalls selling a range of books by the participating authors and others, and books by many of our local authors will be for sale on the Mallaig Heritage Centre table.
For hotel bookings & special rates: 01687 462210
Tickets: book through www.eventbrite.co.uk or call 01687 450263
Thanks to our sponsors: The Moidart Trust, The Arisaig Fund, The Gower Trust, The Highland Council, The Road to the Isles Marketing Group, Birlinn, Islay Mist Scotch Whisky, Lochaber Housing Association, Clare Mackie and MacDonald Orr Design.
Charity no. SC046724
SCIO registered in Scotland.
MALLAIG LIFEBOAT LOG
Monday 8th August 2016 Missing Yacht Maverick of Clyde
Asked by Stornoway Coastguard to search the anchorages to the North of Mallaig to locate an overdue yacht. Departing the harbour at 13:05hrs the Lifeboat checked the anchorages at Isle Oronsay, Sandaig and Loch Nevis. No trace was found of the yacht in these localities and the Lifeboat returned to station at 15:00hrs. Yacht finally located of the East coast of Skye two days later.
Wednesday 10th August 2016 Sailing Dinghy in Trouble
A phone call to the station from a member of the public alerted the crew to a drifting craft at the Back of Keppoch, Arisaig. The first informant believed the vessel to be dragging its anchor towards rocks. After going through the necessary channels the Lifeboat was launched to investigate. Arriving on scene the Y-Boat was launched with two crew onboard to check out the vessel. Fortunately just before the Lifeboat arrived the owners had managed to borrow a dinghy and retrieved their craft back to the shore. With no damage sustained and all safe and well the Lifeboat returned to station.
Monday 15th August 2016 Machinery Failure on Yacht Adante.
Mallaig Lifeboat was "Requested to Launch" by Stornoway Coastguard to assist the 34ft sailing yacht Andante position East of the Isle of Soay. Yacht had suffered engine failure and was not making way under sail (due to wind/tide). Mallaig Lifeboat Launched and proceeded to the yacht's position where a tow line was passed, secured and the yacht was towed to Mallaig Harbour without incident. Upon arrival at Mallaig Harbour the yacht was secured alongside Mallaig Lifeboat for entry and berthing. At this time one of the yacht's crew suffered seizure like symptoms and collapsed in the yacht's main cabin. 3 Lifeboat Crew members transferred to the yacht to perform casualty care. Once the yacht was berthed at the Marina in Mallaig Harbour, the female casualty on the yacht was transferred into the care of the Scottish Ambulance Service. Mallaig Lifeboat was then released by Stornoway Coastguard, refueled and made ready for service.
Sunday 21st August 2016 Assisting Police Scotland
Mallaig Lifeboat was Requested to Launch by Stornoway Coastguard at the request of Police Scotland to assist with the removal of a male from a Fishing Vessel berthed in Mallaig Harbour. Due to the location of the vessel, tidal conditions and nature of incident, removal by lifeboat was the safest option for all persons involved. Due to the nature of the incident, Mallaig Lifeboat launched with minimal crew on-board (including the LOM) as well as two Police Scotland Officers.
Once on scene one Police Officer boarded the Fishing vessel to assist his Police Scotland colleagues who had already restrained the casualty. Casualty and one Police Scotland Officer were transferred from the fishing vessel to Mallaig Lifeboat without incident and Mallaig Lifeboat returned to her berth with casualty and two Police Scotland officers. Once casualty and Police Officers had been landed, Mallaig Lifeboat was shut down and made ready for service.
Tuesday 23rd August 2016 Misinterpreted Distress Call
Launched by Stornoway Coastguard to investigate a DSC message received by a yacht. The position of the transmission was given as one mile to the East of Sleat Point. On scene at the position were two local prawn creelers who relayed to Lifeboat that they were all safe and well and had not issued any DSC call accidently or otherwise. Moments later the Coastguard received updated information that the DSC had been misinterpreted by the first informant, rather than being a Distress call it was actually a Test call. Lifeboat returned to station at 09:30hrs and made ready for service.
NEWS FROM MALLAIG HARBOUR - September 2016
After 25 years at the helm of the British Ports Association, Director David Whitehead OBE has opted for a September retiral and is pictured here being presented with a celebratory bottle of Mallaig Harbour Water by Mallaig Harbour Authority CEO Robert MacMillan. The occasion was a recent Scottish Ports Committee Meeting in Inverness.
David joined the port industry in 1990 as Director of Policy of the British Ports Federation and subsequently became Director of The British Ports Association. He was awarded the OBE in 2011 for services to the ports industry.
As can be seen on the Harbour web-site a Notice to Mariners was issued by The Authority on 24th August 2016 (it can be viewed in this edition of West Word) stating that remedial work has commenced on the fish quay landing berths by contractor Gairloch Support Services (GSS).
New piling, piling repairs and the replacement of the lower set of walings is due to take place along the length of the fish pier and will be carried out in sections in order to keep disruption to the fishing fleet to a minimum.
Replacement of the lower set of walings will involve a dive team so great care needs to be exercised by sea going harbour users throughout the term of the contract.
Contractors GSS hope to have all works completed by early December 2016. Engineers Wallace Stone will be overseeing the construction works on behalf of the Authority.
Earlier this year, in March 2016 to be exact, the Authority commissioned Fisher Associates to develop a Masterplan for Mallaig Harbour the purpose of which is to provide a structured framework for the development of Mallaig Harbour over the next 10 - 15 years.
Key Harbour Stakeholders, Authority Board Members and officials, Highland Council Planning, Nevis Estate and Environmentalists etc have all been consulted so now is the opportunity for local villagers to be involved and have their say in the development process of the Masterplan. You are therefore invited to attend the Masterplan Drop-in Sessions being held in the Mallaig & Morar Community Centre on Thursday 15th September (10.30am - 12.30pm; 2pm - 4pm; 6pm - 8pm) and Friday 16th September (10.30am - 12.30pm).
An Open/Public Meeting is also being held in the Community Centre on Friday 16th September at 2pm. Your views/thoughts/ideas are welcomed.
Skye MSP welcomes Transport Minister's commitment to Armadale to Mallaig crossing
The MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, Kate Forbes, has welcomed Transport Minister Humza Yousaf's visit to Sleat and commitment to ensuring a reliable service on the troubled Mallaig to Armadale route.
Mr Yousaf met with the Sleat Transport Forum at Sabhal Mor Ostaig on Skye on Thursday 25th August, and discussed the options for the forthcoming winter and next year's summer timetable.
At the meeting, Kate Forbes MSP and Mr Yousaf heard how tourist attractions' takings were down by tens of thousands of pounds on the previous year because there had been so many cancellations.
Kate Forbes MSP, who attended the meeting with SNP colleague Ian Blackford MP, said: "I am grateful that the Transport Minister came to Skye to discuss this important issue with Sleat Transport Forum. We then travelled to Mallaig on the popular ferry route.
"We can all agree that what has happened on the Mallaig to Armadale route this summer is not acceptable, and I am pleased that the Transport Minister agrees that this cannot and must not be repeated again.
"I firmly believe that all communities, however remote they may be, are entitled to a reliable and robust service for ferry crossings."
News in Brief
Torrential rain on Thursday 11th August caused more than 100 tonnes of stone and mud to career down a hillside near Lochailort, blocking both the road and the railway line. The A830 was closed from about 6pm on Thursday afternoon until 2pm on the Friday, when one lane was opened with traffic light control. The railway line, however, did not re-open until Monday 15th because the infrastructure of the line had to be examined. Buses were put on to replace the trains. One of the steam trains was stranded in Mallaig for four days but its hundreds of passengers were rescued by a fleet of coaches on the Thursday night.
A man will go on trial in Glasgow on the 28th September, accused of trying to kill 11 people by starting a blaze at a holiday home in Mallaig Mhor last October. His mother, brother and other relatives, including children, were in the house when it is alleged Kieran Ridley turned on the gas on a cooker, poured petrol on the kitchen counters and then set it and a refuse bin alight. It is also alleged he left the scene with the house keys having locked the doors and windows. Thankfully, no-one was injured, apart from one woman who needed treatment for smoke inhalation. Firefighters had to enlist the help of coastguards to take them to the scene in their 4×4 because the half-mile rutted track to the house was too narrow for fire engines or ambulances, and there was a 300ft drop into the sea on one side.
ON AND OFF THE RAILS
Having enjoyed eight consecutive days away from Mallaig (the longest since arriving here 23 years ago), I need to remind myself, as well as you, of future dates to work towards!
Jacobite: WCRC have extended the afternoon service from Friday August 26th until Friday, September 9th. Good choice by them, the passenger numbers are good, as is the weather, and a reward for Mallaig as the passengers continue to enjoy the catering and shops before returning at sunset. The morning Jacobite continues to run seven days a week until Friday September 18th. It will then revert to Monday to Friday until the last day of the season on Friday October 28th. We will hold the farewell party on the platform for the faithful crew and amused passengers and any of you who care to come along at 12.25 on that day. After the last three years of rain, hail, gales and snow on the last day, we must be due to have at least a dry day!! Putting up flags and balloons has not been my happiest memory and photos!!!
Saturday October 29th
SRPS are currently taking bookings for a railtour to Fort William from Polmont (diesel hauled) and pickups on the way, using their own carriages and stewards with meals on board, to be 'double headed steam hauled' on the return journey by the departing two 'Black Five' Locomotives which had served us so well this Jacobite season. When the line was closed in August after a landslip, one of them was marooned in Mallaig for four days after the passengers and staff were transported late that night from Mallaig in a fleet of coaches, but the crew were in attendance each day. Ian Riley, who owns the locos, and 'his boys' have the work ethic and the skills that ensure that the Drivers, on board Staff, Train Manager and passengers are 'happy travellers'. During the line closure the Black Fives and the K-1 loco travelled to Crianlarich and back on two days, and on the third day did four journeys to Glenfinnan and back. Imagine all the paper work that created at WCRC! More details on the SRPS railtour go to www.srps.org.uk/railtours.
Royal Scotsman Touring Train is due to make its last three visits for this season on 17th and 24th September and 4th October (sold out), into Mallaig. Haste ye back!
Pathfinder Tours Autumn West Highlander Tour returns to us, hauled by two DRS Class 37 locomotives, on the afternoon of Saturday, October 1st. Passengers stay in hotels in Fort William the night before. The tour starts from Exeter on the previous day and returns on the Monday.
Statesman Rail Tours visit Mallaig using the Jacobite locomotive and stock on Saturday, October 8th - running to morning Jacobite time. This is part of a three-day railtour from London King's Cross on the Friday and is named the West Highland and Jacobite Statesman; it returns to London on the following Sunday. I believe there is a further one later in October. Details to follow.
ScotRail have announced that the summer Sunday service train will cease (again!) on October 30th, leaving us with one train out of Mallaig on a Sunday at 16.05, and one into Mallaig at 23.35, until next March (probably). The good news is that our two new Drivers are working trains on their own (without a pilot) and our Conductor/Guards are fully staffed (four Drivers, four Conductors/Guards). I will just mention that Oban is having three Sunday winter service trains!! Of course, I'm pleased for them, but why not us!!
The winner of the ' Black Five on the Jacobite' DVD was John Wallbridge from Southampton with the correct answer drawn of '70 minutes' as its length. Great reaction from purchasers of it. To watch the trailer or buy online go to www.dragon-in-the-firebox.co.uk.
A different journey, a different line The journey that I promised myself for the past two years that I must take by rail finally came to fruition on Saturday, August 13th. Twenty-five years ago, Steve and I travelled by rail between Inverness/Kyle of Lochalsh/Wick and Thurso so it was time to do it again. This was when the locomotive power was Class 37s, but with the introduction of Class 156s and then Class 158s the thrill of travelling behind a Class 37 is no longer available.
So, after catching the ferry to Armadale, we connected with the waiting bus to Broadford. A two-hour wait for a connecting bus to Kyle of Lochalsh with luggage in the rain did not appeal, so we hailed a local taxi driven by one (the only one!) Findlay McKay and twenty minutes later we arrived at our destination, Kyle of Lochalsh Signal Box where we had booked to stay for a week. The Box was renovated in 2013 and comprises self catering, nicely appointed, living accommodation downstairs and a brilliant model railway installation/exhibition upstairs.
During our week, we travelled to Inverness, Dingwall, Plockton and Strathcarron for days away, and I enjoyed the facilities of the Kyle Leisure Centre in the evenings, just five minutes walk from the Signal Box. Steve spent many hours working on the model rail exhibition, repairing and servicing locomotives and rolling stock, and held two open days to visitors to the box who were able to work the trains under supervision! The model is still in a 'work in progress' state, but if you visit the Friends of the Kyle Line shop and museum on the station platform you can obtain the key and go to the model exhibition and play with it (what's not to like!) all day long. At present, it operates by button control, which runs for ten minutes at a time with authentic sounds. The idea is to include seven working/running lines from the era 1897 to 2016, showing and running the various locomotives and rolling stock used, which are on display in the Box.
Hopefully, Steve will return in the winter months, perfecting the layout with the help of Peter Beck and Pat Myhill, both of whom have been involved since its conception.
To view the Signal Box, go to www.kylerailway.co.uk or phone 01599 534824 to check opening times. Normally, the exhibition is open between 10.30-16.30 Monday to Saturday. If you find yourself at the Kyle, do call in at the shop and museum. There is a huge variety of gifts, not just railway related but craftwork, knitwear, baking, local beers etc.
To become a member supporting Friends of the Kyle Line will cost you £10. This gives you a discount on hiring the accommodation. Obtain an application form from FOKL, Station Buildings, Railway Station, Kyle of Lochalsh, Ross shire IV40 8AQ, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To check dates to stay, telephone Amy in the shop on 01599 534824. Prices vary according to season. Close by is the leisure centre, three takeaway shops, restaurants and a good bar at the Kyle Inn! A large friendly Co-op is nearby. A thoroughly enjoyable week. Hope you enjoyed reading about it!!
Congratulations go to Jenny and Bill Anderson who live next to the railway line at Rannoch and have expertly developed The Rannoch Station Tearoom Cafe and restaurant to the point where they are shortlisted in this year's forthcoming ACoRP awards in the Most Enhanced Station Buildings and Environs category. They are up against four other national buildings, the category is sponsored by The Railway Heritage Trust, and the winner will be announced at the Gala Dinner ACoRP Awards ceremony on Thursday September 29th at Southport. Good luck to them both. They put their heart and soul into the premises, running quiz nights (with bus trips to get there for locals), Easter egg hunts, and with craft items and cake baking to drool over. Check it out for lunch on the train! We have.
See you on the train
From Personal Angle
In the days before RORO ferries and/or concrete slipways, the ways and means of getting vehicles to the islands were often up to man's ingenuity and courage.
This photo shows Brucie Watts' Clansman (or Islander?) - sometime in the 50s I would imagine - about to offload a small lorry at the Isle of Eigg.
CAN YOU HELP?
A television documentary company would like to hear from anyone who was boarded out in Arisaig during the 1950s. We would also love to her from anyone who knew the Clark Brothers - Tommy, George and Jim - who were boarded out in Arisaig between 1954 and 1957. We are looking for any information at all to help with our research. Please call Bianca on 0141 637 5720.
Lifeline For Remote Area At Risk - BT Threaten To Remove Public Call Box From Bracara
BT are trying to remove the public telephone box from Bracara. They say that it hasn't been used for twelve months and fail to see how important it could be in an emergency. They say there is a mobile signal - but as everyone who lives or visits the area knows, it can be intermittent and is unreliable. What's more, no account has been taken of the fact that the area can experience power cuts that take the mobile network down completely, sometimes for hours and occasionally for days on end. In these circumstances the public telephone may, in extreme circumstances, make the difference between life and death. The next nearest public phone box is in Morar, approximately three miles away.
You wouldn't take the life boats off a ship because it had never sunk and I believe that the action BT are thinking of taking is comparable. If you have any thoughts about this proposal or would like to express your concerns directly to BT, then please e mail: email@example.com
ALL CHANGE IN THE DIOCESE
Both our Parish priests are on the move this month, at very short notice, taking effect on the 16th September, as part of a number of changes within the RC Diocese of Argyll and the Isles.
Fr Tony Wood moves from being Administrator of St Mary's, Arisaig, Our Lady of the Angels, Mingarry and St Mary & St Finnan, Glenfinnan, to be Parish Priest of St Kieran's, Campbeltown. Campbeltown is very familiar to him, he visited his brother there at every opportunity for twenty years until he answered the call and joined the Church.
Fr Joe Calleja moves from being Parish Priest of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour and St Cumin, Morar, and St Patrick, Mallaig, to be Parish Priest of St Mun's, Dunoon.
In their place, Fr Stanislaw Pamula moves from St Peter's, Daliburgh to be Parish Priest in Arisaig, Morar, Mallaig and Mingarry. Fr Roddy McAuley will become Parish Priest of St Mary & St Finnan, Glenfinnan and Dean of St Margaret's Deanery. He remains Parish Priest of St John's, Caol.
Mgr. Basil Loftus will take up residence in Our Lady of the Angels, Mingarry and serve that parish.
Although we will now have one priest for Mallaig, Morar and Arisaig, this is not an amalgamation of parishes, but is due to the necessity to cover twenty-five parishes with twenty priests. Some parishes are having to share one priest. The three parishes still exist.
We wish Fr Joe and Fr Tony all the very best in their new parishes and look forward to welcoming Fr Stan to the area. He will be living in the Morar chapel house.
There will be some changes in service times from 16th September.
BIRDWATCH September 2016 by Stephen MacDonald
A bit more activity on the bird front this month as many of our summer visitors prepare to leave and birds that have bred much further north begin to appear as they also head south. A steady trickle of waders were seen around Traigh, Camusdarach and Back of Keppoch throughout the month, most moving on quite quickly, sometimes just stopping to rest or feed for a couple of hours. Some birds did linger for a few days.
A juvenile Ruff and three Black-tailed Godwits fed in the 'Games Field', Traigh, from the 27th until the month end at least. Golden Plover were seen on several occasions on the golf course and adjacent fields, 32 seen on the 31st the highest count. On the shoreline, there were regular sightings of Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Sanderling, Redshank, Whimbrel, Curlew, Knot and Oystercatcher. A juvenile Curlew Sandpiper that was seen on the 26th-27th on the shore by Traigh boat shed, was the most exciting find. This small wader breeds in Arctic Siberia, spending the winter in South East Asia, Australia and Africa. A few turn up most years in the British Isles, mostly on the east coast, but this year has been a bumper year with numerous widespread sightings. Most of the words have been juveniles, which would indicate a very successful breeding season for them. Interestingly, the breeding success of Curlew Sandpipers and some other Arctic waders is linked to the population of Lemmings! In poor Lemming years, predatory species such as Skuas, Snowy Owls and Arctic Foxes will take many more Arctic breeding waders instead.
All photos by Stephen MacDonald
Plenty juveniles Kittiwakes, Guillemots and Razorbills seen offshore during the month, along with some huge flocks of Manx Shearwaters. Stormy Petrels were seen almost daily in the Sound of Sleat, and a single Sooty Shearwater was seen near the Oberon Bank, between Arisaig and Eigg on the 12th. The first grounded juvenile Manx Shearwater of the season was found in Mallaig on the night of the 28th - 29th, and a Stormy Petrel was found in Mallaig Harbour on the morning of the 31st.
Goose numbers also built up during the month with flocks of Greylags gathering in fields at Morar, Traigh and Back of Keppoch. Also a few groups of Canada Geese were seen in Arisaig and Traigh. There were 24 at the Canal mouth, Arisaig, on the 9th and at least 44 in a field at Traigh on the 14th. The Mandarin Duck was seen several times on Loch nan Eala early in the month. Red-throated Divers were seen regularly and a Black-throated Diver was on the sea at Camusdarach on the 15th.
Three Jays were seen by Loch nan Eala on the 28th and Great Spotted Woodpeckers were reported from several Morar gardens.
A Barn Owl was seen on several occasions in the Fank Brae area, Mallaig, and Long Eared Owls were seen several times around the golf course. A juvenile Hen Harrier was seen briefly on the 13th by Silver Sands campsite and a Sea Eagle was reported from the south side of the Morar estuary on the 21st.
Marjory MacDonald - Highland Dancer,Teacher and Judge
The Arisaig Games celebrated its 80th anniversary this year, on Wednesday 27t July and the Games Committee sent out a request for photos and stories of those 80 years.
Satunum McElroy (nee Kainth), Marjory's foster daughter, responded with this article about Marjorie MacDonald, which we are pleased to represent here.
Born on 6th March 1920, Marjory was the daughter of Donald MacDonald (known locally as 'Donald the Post') and Annabella MacDonald. She was sister to Mary, Flora, Alexandrina (Ena), Louisa, Catherine (Katie), Donald and Margaret.
Marjory started dancing at a very early age and was initially taught by Lachie Gillies, Morach, Arisaig who also judged the Highland Dancing at the Games.
It was clear that Marjory was a very gifted and talented Highland dancer. In her early teens she was ranked among the finest dancers in Scotland. To further develop her skills she went to Glasgow to be taught by Mr Bobby Cuthbertson, a well-known dancer, teacher and judge (attributed with the development and introduction of the now current extended 'High Cut' which features heavily in the Sword Dance). It had been said that Bobby Cuthbertson 'never had an equal and it was doubtful that he would ever have a rival!'
Few girls danced at the Highland Games before the War. Marjory was the only one in her family to compete and her dancing was so natural, free and effortless. Her deportment and stage presence was 'second to none.' Very soon she was excelling the master (Bobby) himself. Bobby Cuthbertson went up to Arisaig by train or bus after the First World War, around 1919.
Off to the Arisaig Games of 1964 (l to r) neighbour Flora MacDonald, Alexandrina (Ena) and Marjory MacDonald with Carol (7), Ranjiet (5) and Satunum Kainth (6), outside their home in Arisaig
There were Highland Games in Morar (1st Monday in August) for several years before they were first held in Arisaig (the last Wednesday in July). Both Morar and Arisaig Highland Games tended to be a more local affair whereas the Glenfinnan Highland Games (which were started by a Mr Tully) were considered to be 'big games'. Competitors travelled from throughout Scotland to participate. Regularly the games were attended by dancers such as Mary Aitken from Aberdeen, Sydney Black, Mr Cuthbertson (Glasgow), J.L MacKenzie, Daisy McKenzie (Inverness), Jack McConnachie, Marjory Bruce (Glasgow), Adrian McIntosh (Corpach), Uni Cameron (Fort William) and his daughters Libby, Nettie and May, Frances Forbes, Jackie Grant, Andy Sutherland, Jeanette Miller (Goddaughter of 'Donald the Post'), Billy Forsyth and Mary Dilby to name but a few.
Many of the competitors went on to become teachers eg:- Bobby Cuthbertson, J.L MacKenzie, Francis Forbes, Jack McConnachie, Marjory Bruce, May Falconer, Edith McPherson(Inverness) and Daisy McKenzie.
In 1948, Marjory and Jack McConnachie choreographed the Highland Scottishe in Arisaig which was initially intended to be danced as an exhibition dance.
Marjory, aged 22 in 1942.
The photo was taken outside her home, The Pheasantry in the Glen, Arisaig, as she was about to go to compete at the Arisaig Highland Games.
In addition to holding Highland Dance classes in Arisaig, Morar, Mallaig, Banavie, Corpach, Fort William, Portree and Strontian, Marjory also taught in Manchester and London. She passed on her amazing talent to hundreds of children over the years. For many, her classes were the only source of activity available to youngsters in the local area and this was a major highlight for so many of them.
Marjory was a most beautiful dancer with beautiful posture and a unique style. She was inspirational, extremely proud of her Scottish heritage, fully committed and passionate about encouraging her pupils to progress not only as dancers, but as young individuals.
Enjoying the constant support and companionship of her sister Alexandrina, Marjory supported Highland Games throughout the country as well as many local ceilidhs and concerts in the Astley hall in Arisaig and beyond. At the concerts, her dancers were the main highlight and were accompanied by the well-known piper Mr Johnny McKinnon (who later invented the electric bagpipes).
Her talents were eagerly sought after for judging and her Arisaig School of Dance was famous. Many of her pupils excelled themselves at Highland Games and ceilidhs throughout Scotland and beyond. She had the wonderful gift of being able to pass on her enthusiasm and her own unique talents to her pupils. Eleanor MacVarish, a former pupil of Marjory's had her own dance school as did Marjory's foster daughter Satunum Kainth who ran her own 'Arisaig School Dance' in Houston, Renfrewshire in the 1990's and made several TV appearances as a Highland dancer, singer and fiddle player.
Marjory died in 1989.
Satunum Kainth, aged 20, at the Cowal World Highland Dancing Championship.
WIDE WORLD WEST WORD
Shirley McErlane, niece of Robert MacMillan, caught up on the West Word in Tortola, British Virgin Islands.
Thomas MacKinnon, centre, left Arisaig in 2013 and made sure he packed the then current copy of West Word for his trip around the world. His first World Wide photo came from Thailand in November 2013 where he was shark diving and in the second the following month he was working on a farm in Australia. In August 2014 we got two, one on a boat in the Torres Strait, Northern Australia, where he was fishing for banana prawns and the second sailing around the Fiji Islands. We're delighted to see that West Word has survived so far and was still with him as he sailed from Opua NZ to New Caledonia on the S/V Dona Catarina., a trip of 1100nm. We hear that Tom has now moved on again and look forward to his next photo!
Arisaig's June Cairns took her copy on a visit to Zambia where she went with Morag Muirhead on a Church of Scotland twinning visit to develop friendships and gather information about life there. Here she is outside a traditional native hut where they had lunch. More next month on her trip...
Mallaig's Bob Burt showed son Stephen's girlfriend Cristina his copy of West Word at the Celtic Barcelona match in Dublin
Watch this space for extracts from next month's issue!
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