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September 2021 Issue
Contents of the online version:
All photos are copyright either of the individual photographers or West Word.
ISLE OF CANNA LAUNCH CROWDFUNDING APPEAL TO BUILD THREE NEW COMMUNITY OWNED HOUSES
The tiny community of 15 on the Isle of Canna is appealing for donations to help complete the funding package to build three community owned houses. They are aiming to gradually increase the population of Canna to around 30 but currently there are no available empty houses on the island to enable the population to grow.
The Isle of Canna Community Development Trust has launched a crowdfunding appeal to complete the £750,000 total of funding required to build the houses. The community has to raise £200,000 as their contribution to the overall cost.
The houses will be managed and owned by the community; they will be warm, energy efficient and let at affordable rents. The island's owner, the National Trust for Scotland, have released the land needed for this development. It is planned to start building these three new community owned houses in spring next year so that Canna can welcome its new residents later in 2022.
Geraldine Mackinnon, Chair of the Isle of Canna Community Development Trust, said, "The Isle of Canna Community may be small but we are always up for any challenge that will help us create a sustainable future for our island. We have a positive track record with previous projects and hope everyone will come on board and help us make our Community Housing a reality."
Contributions toward making Canna a more sustainable place to live can be made via their crowdfunding page: www.crowdfunder.co.uk/isle-of-canna-housing-project
OLD FORGE COMMUNITY SHARE OFFER LAUNCHED
The Old Forge Community Benefit Society Ltd has launched a community share offer with the goal to raise £204,500 by inviting members of the local community and interested parties to invest in the society and become shareholders.
Stephanie Harris, secretary of the society, said, "After months of hard work we are excited to launch this community share offer and begin raising vital capital to purchase The Old Forge pub. By investing in shares, members will have a direct say in the future success of the society and the pub once under community ownership."
Community shares are a form of share capital unique to community benefit societies. As a social investment for the greater good, profits will be reinvested back in to the business and other local projects that provide wider community benefit. Shareholders benefit from interest payments and other members perks, have voting rights at meetings and the opportunity to stand for the management committee. The investment raised from this share offer will go towards the overall capital required to make an offer on the pub. The society has submitted an application to the Scottish Land Fund, which they expect to have a decision on in the next couple of weeks, and if successful the share funds will be combined with the land fund grant for acquisition.
Stephanie continued, "Under our Society's rules, 75% of the shareholder members must be residents within our community, and this is to ensure that the pub will always be managed by the community it serves. However, this means that we have set ourselves an ambitious target to raise over £200,000 from around just 100 people. To maximise our fundraising potential, we have set the minimum investment amount for the 25% of non-resident shareholders at £10,000. Group applications are welcome as well as individual members."
The society plans to launch a crowdfund campaign upon conclusion of the share offer which will be an opportunity for many more people to get involved in the project and put their own stamp on the future of the Forge.
Speaking about the reasons to take a community ownership bid forward, Stephanie explains that, "In such a small community, pubs play a vital role in the social and economic health of the area. As Knoydart has developed over the last decade, unfortunately our pub has not and today it does not provide the services that locals and visitors expect. We feel very strongly that under community ownership the pub can be rebuilt in to a thriving business at the heart of the community again, and today marks a huge milestone in making that happen."
The share offer will run for approximately four weeks, and the documents associated with the offer are available to view on the society's website: www.theoldforgecbs.org/invest
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
My apologies for the delay to the subscription copies last month. Yes, you've guessed it - we had problems with the printer! Hopefully this month's run will be less eventful.
A couple of bits of info I've received and not managed to squeeze in elsewhere:
~ The Ferries Community Board are requesting that all travellers wear a mask unless exempt from doing so;
~ Highland Council's Gaelic classes are starting up online again this month. SpeakGaelic A1, Thursdays 7 - 8.45pm, and Gaelic lower Intermediate, Wednesdays 7 - 8.45pm. The classes will start from Wednesday 15 September and will run for 13 weeks. Email Margaret.firstname.lastname@example.org, Gaelic Team, Highland Council, for more information.
Once again, my thanks to Morag and Ewen for their help and to Anne and Jane for labelling envelopes.
Another month gone and the long summer evenings are slowly starting to recede, the brambles are appearing thick and fast, the mornings are cooler and noticeably crisper. The kids went back to school; Victor now in P5, Rossa P4, and Bruce in P2, with Ossian still in nursery, joined by a very excited Hamish.
Things have been very busy at Kilchoan Estate recently; with the holiday let properties undergoing thorough renovation thanks to new owner Mr Heinkel. The cottages have all been completely gutted and redone, and the plan is for them to offer a higher end luxury for guests.
The village Hall hosted another live music event, with the lovely Amy Paparinsky playing on the 21st Aug. There are more upcoming music events happening soon, and it's great to see our hall finally getting the use it deserves.
In Hydro news, the work is going well and it will soon be time for the old pipeline to be drained and permanently disconnected from the dam and turbine. The majority of the new pipeline has been installed and the switchover process should hopefully begin on the 13th of September. It has been estimated that this may take 4-6 weeks to complete and during this time, while things are being swapped over, the community will be on generator power. Usually this means we would be operating on the old system of 7am to 11pm but Knoydart Renewables are considering trialling a 24/7 set up. Once the pipeline work is complete then site restoration will commence which could take until the end of the year or longer depending on what kind of winter we get. (So not ready to think about winter!)
Now, what else...
Ian Robertson stepped down as Foundation director after many years on the board, Morven from the Shop has moved into the school flat, Drew and Kirsten's house build is coming along very well, and is nearly at the watertight stage and we had a lovely visit from former resident Christine who sadly had to relocate to England almost two years ago to live with her daughters as her health was declining and she was unable to continue living here with the challenges it presented for her (sadly this is sometimes the case with our elderly), but it was lovely to see her back even just for a short visit. We were also graced with a visit from former postie Tommy and former ranger wee Jim, always lovely to see old faces.
Beannachdan bho Gleann Fhionnain!
Saturday 21st August saw a group of Glen volunteers starting to strip out the former MOWI Shorebase building in preparation for its transformation to a multi-purpose space for use by the community. A small army of villagers arrived suitably tooled up to help clear debris and complete the stripping out work. At the same time, a platoon of younger volunteers set to clearing the adjacent gabion baskets of unwanted vegetation.
By 1pm, with just a few bits left to tidy up, the workers broke for a well earned barbecue, courtesy of Glenfinnan Community Facilities and supplemented by numerous generous contributions from villagers. We look forward to more news as the re-fit progresses.
If I were to think of one thing that I have missed greatly during the pandemic it would be live music which is why I am excited to bring you news that one of our local musicians is releasing her first solo album in 16 years. Message in a Bottle, the new album from Ingrid Henderson, is set to be released on Friday 17th September. The record is a celebration of Scotland's spectacular coastline and marine life, but also carries a stirring message, examining the environmental impact we have on our coasts and waters. Ingrid said: "The majority of the material on Message in a Bottle is self-penned in reaction to our Scottish coastline - the story of the bottle weaving through currents, learning about coastal communities and exploring our relationship with the sea."
Ingrid will be launching and performing the album live at Eden Court, as part of their Under Canvas events, on Wednesday 15th September. Message in a Bottle will be available to buy on CD and stream and download on all digital platforms.
For more information please go to: www.iainmacfarlaneingridhenderson.com
Am fear as fhaide chaidh on taigh, 's e 'n ceňl bu bhinne chual' e riamh 'Tiugainn dachaigh'
(To him that farthest went away the sweetest music he ever heard was 'come home')
ISLE OF MUCK
Hello, Muck Calling . . .
Well what a belter of a month with mixed blessings regards the really excellent weather we have been having . . . fantastic for our visitors and outdoor living . . . not so good for the Island's water supply which got dangerously low to the extent that the Tearoom closed for a spell (glad of the unscheduled time off truth be known ??), but the travellers that were on Muck absolutely loved their time with us, loving the walks, beaches and colourful nature. We had a 'Red Carpet' event which was very well supported when the Cinema rolled ashore with a Premier viewing of "The Prince of Muck" as one of many venues around Scotland showing at the same time as part of the Edinburgh Festival. It was a fun evening and always good to get together as a community. The Cinema's equipment has remained to show various films on other nights. We have two new arrivals on the Island: Alfie has become the Lodge's new Head Keeper and is accompanied by his girlfriend Alivia and we hope that they settle and fit right in and we wish them well . . . and luck as the new shoot season is knocking with Stalking on Rum already underway and Birds beginning mid September.
We had a returning group of Sea Kayakers with us for a week and we thank them for the time they took to give lessons and water time to the children and any adults that were interested especially with it being so calm out and about and once again they will write a few lines about their experience which I will pass on for print.
It is fairly noisy out at the moment with calves being weaned off their mothers in readiness for market.
Well guys that sums up August's news from us to you!
ISLE OF CANNA
Operation Raleigh have been over in Canna this month with a group of 18-24 year old conservation volunteers doing path building, clearing weeds around young trees and beach cleaning. They made a fabulous job of cleaning Tarbert Beach and collected a whole trailer load of plastic, rope, net, etc.
We are hoping to establish an ongoing work plan with this group, the National Trust for Scotland and the Community, and get them to come back next year to continue with ongoing projects.
Martin Collins from the Coastguard has been over to do some refresher training and finally get new recruits Caroline MacKinnon and Craig Martin online and ready for action. Our team now has six members and although we may feel that being in the Coastguard is onerous at times it is a very important service to maintain in our rural location.
Great to have a wee catch up with Colin, Ruth and the Gang from Muck while they were on their mini Small Isles cruise. Nice to have some face to face farmer chat too. . . We are all looking forward to seeing the Prince of Muck movie. Not to forget also a wee visit from Lucy Conway from Eigg who brought over The Small Isles Cinema Set and entertained visitors and locals with two movies. Always good to catch up with our fellow Smallislers.
This month we have launched the Isle of Canna Housing Project Crowdfunder. We are trying to raise £200,000 shortfall to help us build three new affordable rent homes to encourage folk to come and live and work on Canna. It is essential for the survival and sustainability of our island that we increase our population and create a stable, thriving community. Please share this on social media and by any other means and donate if you can. Thank you.
We would like to say thank you to Nancy MacLean for her 19 years of service to Canna and the Small Isles through her role as a CalMac employee and wish her all the best with future plans.
Finally, congratulations to Sinead Wilkie from Canna and Kyle DeArnot who were married in Pollokshields Burgh Hall on Sat 21st. And Pete and Liz Holden, celebrating 40 years of wedded bliss this month with surprise visitors and an impromptu celebration at CafeCanna.
Criomagan (Crumbs) from Canna House
August has been a lovely month weatherwise mostly, and this has meant that I have been able to host two special Gaelic Song and Story presentations in Canna House Garden, for guests from the Hebridean Sky cruise ship which has called into Canna after visiting St Kilda.
On both occasions, more than 70 people came and listened to some songs and stories from the Archives and it was especially lovely to have a 'live' audience again! Included in the programme were several songs from St Kilda which the audience seemed to especially appreciate, having visited the archipelago in the preceding days. August 1930 was of course the month of the evacuation of St Kilda and Margaret Fay Shaw was one of the last civilians to visit the island before evacuation. She visited in May of that year and took several photos of the islands as well as writing an account of her trip in the paper "St Kilda - The Last Summer" in which she vividly details her encounters with the local residents, the landscape and the stories connected to the islands. She wrote,"As we approached the islands in the St Kilda group we could see thick white cloud concealing the tops of the islands, and we were surrounded by thousands of sea birds, mostly fulmars and gannets. Near the entrance of the long horseshoe bay of Hirta, the main island, the cloud lifted and gave that vision of wild beauty that has so often been described. The small islands looked inaccessible but Hirta itself was a most pleasing place with good pasture on its giant velvet green slope reaching to the summit of Conachair, the highest sea cliff in Britain. In the strange northern light every stone on the hillside appeared almost luminous. There was a row of houses with chimneys smoking and people with many dogs were hurrying to the shore. A group were put out to meet us in a heavy rowing boat."
This article of Margaret's can be read in full at www.nts.org.uk/stories/st-kilda-the-last-summer
August 19th also marked the anniversary of the death of John Lorne Campbell's father, Lt Duncan Campbell, who died in 1954. John received word of his father's death in the middle of a fierce storm and could not get off the island. He rowed out to the yacht Patrice, moored in the bay and tapping on the hull, asked the owner Robert Wallace Menzies if he would take him to the mainland to get the train south. Robert took John and Margaret to Mallaig leaving his wife and children in Canna House with Sheila Lockett, John's secretary. The family continued to visit Canna almost every year after that, painting and repainting the dates on the cliff face. The name of the boat is painted on the cliffs behind the waiting room at the pier and the Patrice still berths in the harbour whenever the family can visit.
ISLE OF RUM
This summer has been kind, lots of sun and not much wind; generally speaking there has been enough breeze to keep the midges away when the sun disappears behind a cloud, though they have had their moments.
The good weather makes for happy tourists and we have had bucket loads. All the accommodation has been full for most of the month and the take up of our moorings has increased hugely. With the relaxation of Covid restrictions on public transport, we are now getting a fair few day-trippers, which has brought welcome news to the small businesses that rely on them like the café, shop and craft shops.
August brought the Small Isles Cinema to Rum at last; a long time in preparation but worth the wait to have the opportunity to see current films without having to go to the mainland. It will be a very welcome addition during the winter months. Many thanks to Jen at Screen Argyll for having the vision of putting this together.
August is back to school time and Jocelyn joins Eve and Ashton at Mallaig High School; a lot of the restrictions at the school residence have been dropped which will make life more bearable but Highland Council have gone back from providing a weekly school boat to a fortnightly one which the parents and children were very disappointed about; as a consequence the children are coming home on the ferry on the weekends when there is no school boat. It is hoped that with enough pressure Highland Council will see that the welfare of the children is more important than any cost implication from chartering a boat once a week. Back at Rum primary the school roll is five with two about to start nursery. With two long term supply teachers now filling in, the children are finally getting five days a week at school but with the teachers staying in a static caravan and no accommodation available for a nursery teacher it is still a precarious and unacceptable situation. Nothing has changed for such a long time and again, HC are appallingly slow at dealing with the situation.
On a brighter note, gardens have been flourishing with all the sunshine and an abundance of produce is upon us, with the usual courgettes/marrows and also tonnes of tomatoes. Derek has the best garden and probably the only deer proof one, everyone else having resorted to a polytunnel.
I'm not going to mention the castle other than to say it's for sale and there has been plenty of press coverage about what its future should be. We could talk endlessly about it but currently our energies lie elsewhere.
Covid is still around and whilst this summer has brought some respite to us all - again the weather has helped to keep spirits high - it is starting to turn brisk and soon the darker, colder months will be upon us. The financial knock on effect of Covid will still be felt by some small businesses who haven't generated enough in this shorter season to keep them going through the winter and whilst things may appear back to normal, it is important to remember that behind the 'I'm fine' and 'it's okay' some of us may be struggling. As a small community, we are only as strong as our weakest member, so look out for your friends, and those who aren't your friends; they need support too.
ISLE OF EIGG
What a glorious August we've had on Eigg. The Eiggachs have been making the most of the sunshine with lots of community gatherings on the beach, including a lovely Japanese themed party to celebrate Tadhgan's tenth birthday. Unfortunately, the long dry spell has also meant water shortages and we've had to be extra careful to conserve our usage. I don't think any of us will take our running water for granted ever again. The idea of a power shower is like a gift from Poseidon himself!
We were happy to welcome Julie, the new CalMac port manager to Eigg, together with Nancy and Fiona Galbraith when Nancy was presented with a small gift of appreciation from the folk of Eigg for all of her hard work. We wish her all the best in her new venture.
Work at the Tigh Nighe is almost completed and Phase 2 of An Laimhrig is about to begin, starting with the laying of the concrete for the new build. The new shower and wash house building is looking great; fair play to all of the construction workers who have been working diligently round the clock to complete Phase 1 on time and of course, a huge congratulations and well done to Becca who is gallantly leading the charge.
The new school year has begun and there was a large crowd down to the pier to wave off our new S1s, Maggie and Betsy, who are joining Clyde and Finn at Mallaig High School. Eigg's loss is Mallaig's gain and we are sure the girls will have lots of wonderful experiences at High School. At Eigg Primary, we have three very eager and enthusiastic new beginners. Arlo has sailed seamlessly into p1, Ellis joins his brother Oran in Nursery and Miss Fee has rejoined the teaching staff.
In other news, Dylan achieved his day skipper ticket and sailed Selkie home with proud mum Celia in attendance. Congratulations Dylan!
Camille had a very moving experience with a descendant of the Eigg MacDougals who emigrated to South Africa. The lady was truly overwhelmed with emotion on her visit to her ancestors' homeland. Her people told tales of abject poverty on Eigg, living in turf bothies and catching TB but they have kept the tradition of celebrating every important event with a dram of Oban Malt. And all eyes were cast towards the sea when John Coe and his pod of orcas made a welcome return to the shores of Eigg. Here is Norah, our SWT Ranger with a round-up of the wildlife news on Eigg:
"August brought so much amazing sunshine, calm waters and abundant wildlife, sometimes it felt like we were on a tropical island! We were fortunate to have two pairs of successful breeding Hen Harriers again this year, though sadly the White Tailed Eagle didn't manage to raise a brood. There were plenty of shorebirds around though and good numbers of Oystercatchers, Ringed Plover and Arctic Terns could be seen around the pier. The calm weather also brought many sightings of dolphins and minke whales offshore, whilst several sightings of otters were made. And the wild flowers put on a great show which attracted many butterflies and moths. We took part in the annual Big Butterfly count, which is a national campaign to raise awareness about the importance of butterflies and insects."
Hats off to . . . Arisaig's Sue Edwards who has been knitting these wonderful lobsters for display at the Shellfish Shack!
A Write Highland Hoolie!
Mallaig Book Festival
Friday 12th - Sunday 14th November
This will be the sixth year of the Hoolie, and the fifth full Festival. We have some exciting new developments to announce, and a few changes from previous years. We're staying confident that it will all go ahead as planned though there have been some difficult decisions and some changes have had to be made reluctantly, to ensure it will be a safe event to attend.
The main change is that tickets MUST be booked in advance because numbers are more limited. We must ask that you print them out to bring with you or have them to view on your phone. If this is impossible for you, then please contact The West Highland Hotel, details below. Tickets will be going on sale soon. All talks are £8, with the one exception - on Friday, Paul Murton with accompanying musicians, will be £14; this ticket will include entry to the evening ceilidh. This Friday evening ceilidh will only be open to tickets holders to Paul Murton's talk and to hotel residents. We apologise for the disappointment this may cause.
Our programme is now online at www.a-write-highland-hoolie.com with details of the authors to follow soon, and you can sign up there for our newsletter.
We have a lot of music at the Hoolie this year! Our opening talk, on the Friday, is Paul Murton chatting about his latest book The Highlands with musicians Duncan Chisholm and Hamish Napier, who will play tunes associated with places he mentions. Tickets will include a free dram and entry to the evening ceilidh after dinner when Duncan and Hamish will again be playing.
The ceilidh on Saturday evening will feature Ingrid Henderson and Iain MacFarlane.
On Sunday, Donald S Murray will talk about his latest book, For the Safety of All: A Story of Scotland's Lighthouses, accompanied by Skye singer Anne Martin with Gaelic songs from the book.
This will be followed in the afternoon with the great tea and prizegiving, with songs from Mallaig Gaelic medium and entertainment from children's author Alan Windram. Prizes will be awarded for the writing and art competitions, and also for last year's writing competition.
Music features at the Hoolie Hoolets junior festival too. The Hoolets is launched in the High School on the Thursday with the inaugural Hoolie School of Music Sessions! Duncan Chisholm and Hamish Napier will hold a workshop with senior pupils, hopefully resulting in the pupils having their own tune.
And looking ahead to 2022 . . .
Announcing The Deirdre Roberts Poetry Prize
The local communities were all shocked by the sudden passing of Deirdre Roberts, less than a month after her husband Alasdair. The Hoolie team has lost a close, warm-hearted friend who was a staunch supporter of the Festival. Deirdre was a founder member of the committee in 2016, retiring at the beginning of last year. She tirelessly raised funds for us and was a great help at the weekends themselves. We shall miss her very much.
We wish to commemorate her involvement with the Hoolie and, as she loved poetry, we will be inaugurating an annual award for poetry in her name. We have reluctantly decided it is too late to organise it for this year but will keep you all informed of the details for 2022.
West Highland Hotel: 01687 462210 email@example.com
A Write Highland Hoolie: firstname.lastname@example.org www.a-write-highland-hoolie.com
A new bench in memory of local fisherman Hendry Addison sits proudly in the picnic area of East Bay overlooking the harbour. Designed and constructed by local craftsman Ross Milligan, the iroko bench sits atop a concrete plinth and the engraved plate reads, 'In memory of Hendry Addison 30/4/1941 - 10/2/2019'.
Hendry's daughters Jacqueline and Margaret wish to thank Sheila Gillies who, following Hendry's passing, organised a raffle in the Mallaig Co-op which raised the sum of £416. The balance of the total cost of the bench and its installation, £600, was met by Hendry's family.
Hendry was proud of Mallaig. He tended and looked after the village flower tubs, cleaned up East Bay beach, litter picked along the Mallaig - Morar Road, and, along with others, recreated and maintained the Circular Walk to Mallaig Vaig. He invested in the youth of the village encouraging and learning scores of youngsters through their driving tests. Took patients to hospital in his car, visited the elderly and made CDs galore of his beloved country music and countless DVDs of the village which he distributed to the local populace and beyond. A friend to all, the bench is a fitting tribute to Hendry, and his family invite you to sit with him, recall happy memories and remember him with a smile!
It has been a busy few months for us here in Mallaig. It has been lovely to see the village busy again this summer and the positive impact this has on local businesses. However, it has also brought with it the usual summer pressures.
We have worked throughout the summer with the local rangers and parking attendants to manage the large volume of vehicles and campers on the beaches off the B8008 and this has worked well.
We know this remains a recurring issue but the large majority of people who were spoken to were willing to engage with the advice given. Tickets have been issued and vehicles uplifted when people have continued to ignore advice and we will continue to work with the council to address issues in the area.
There have been a small number of occasions when the anti-social behaviour has escalated, one incident resulting in a local officer suffering a black eye.
On a staffing front, we are looking forward to welcoming Hugo back from a firearms deployment. Going the other way, Leigh Brown will be leaving us shortly to take on a temporary promotion as Sergeant in Fort William.
I would like to stress the importance of reporting incidents of concern to us. Please call 101, pop into the station or even wave us down if you see us passing. Fixing the issue as it is happening is far easier than after the fact and we are always happy to chat.
PC Robert Willens
Mallaig Lifeboat Log
10th August 2021
Launched by Stornoway Coastguard at 15:45 to the assistance of an eight metre catamaran which had grounded in the Kentra area of Ardnamurchan. On-scene at 16:25 the casualty was found to be still aground with its port hull nearly submerged. Two crew proceeded across in the Y-Boat and were able to free the casualty from the rock. The Y-Boat brought the casualty to the Lifeboat and was strapped alongside. The Salvage pump was passed over and pumping commenced. In the meantime the Lifeboat slowly proceeded out to safer deeper water for a fuller assessment of the casualty's condition. The sleeve that contained the port dagger board was found to have prized open in the collision with the reef. The dagger board was reinstalled to provide a face that would allow for blankets and any other soft material to be stuffed into the opening to reduce the ingress of water. After a while the ingress of water was reduced substantially so that the salvage pump could maintain the water at a reasonable level.
With weather conditions being very favourable, light winds and slight sea conditions, it was decided to keep the casualty alongside for the duration of the tow back to Arisaig and the marina. Arriving at Arisaig at 19:45 the Lifeboat berthed at the landing pontoon. Three crew members then assisted the casualty under its own power to the slipway at the Marina where local Coastguards assisted in beaching the casualty. Once the casualty was secure the Coastguards brought the salvage pump and other equipment back to the landing. Lifeboat departed Arisaig and returned to Mallaig berthing at 20:45, fuelled and ready for service.
17th August 2021
Advised by Stornoway Coastguard at 13:00 of an impending launch to a yacht with engine problems. With favourable north-westerly winds the yacht would be able to sail from the West side of Sleat Point to off Mallaig. The crew were paged at 14:40 when the yacht was a couple of miles off Mallaig. A short run out saw the yacht under tow at 15:05 and taken into the harbour and brought alongside. The yacht was berthed at the marina and the Lifeboat back at the pontoon at 15:50.
23rd August 2021
Requested by Stornoway Coastguard to transfer Coastguards to the head of Loch Nevis at 17:27. A walker suffering from exhaustion was to be recovered from Sourlies Bothy. The walking party he was part of continued to the pick up point and raised the alarm with the boatman who duly notified the Coastguard. Lifeboat departed Mallaig at 18:05 with six Coastguard team members and proceeded to the head of the Loch. On-scene at 18:40, two crew and a Coastguard member were sent ashore in the Y-Boat to assess the casualty. The casualty, who was accompanied by another male, had gone over his ankle and had been struggling to keep up with the rest of the party. So as walking wounded the casualty was able to board the Y-Boat and transfer to the Lifeboat. Once the second crewman and the other male were recovered from the shore the Lifeboat proceeded to Inverie. Once alongside, the casualty was reunited with his colleagues and advised to seek medical attention for his ankle. Lifeboat departed Inverie at 19:30 and berthed at the pontoon and made ready for service at 18:00.
3rd September 2021
Launched by Stornoway Coastguard at 18:20 to the Morar estuary to assist in the location of a vulnerable adult. Rescue 151 and three Coastguard teams also tasked to the area. On-scene at the estuary at 18:30 the Y-boat was launched with two crew onboard. The Y-Boat searched the remoter beaches at the mouth and then all the way up to the bridge. Coastguard teams and the Helicopter carried out shore search of the main beach and located the casualty. The casualty was handed over to Police Scotland and transferred to Fort William for assessment at Hospital. All teams were stood down and requested return to base. Once the Y-Boat was recovered the Lifeboat returned to Mallaig berthing at 19:50.
Michael Ian Currie
Mallaig Harbour News
It's a slow news month at the Harbour, with lots of background work going on for various projects, but nothing much to report!
Looking back at last year's news, last August was a month of celebrities and dolphins. We haven't had the celebrities this year, but there has been a lot of wildlife around again, with lots of sightings of dolphins from Western Isles Cruises and Minch Adventures amongst others, and even some minke whales visible just outside the harbour mid-month.
The amazing weather has continued throughout August, which has kept the Marina busy. To the end of August, over 800 visiting vessels have used the Marina this season. Considering we weren't able to operate at full capacity for much of the summer, this compares well with the 2019 figure for the whole season of 1,125, and is certainly a lot more than last year's total of 360! We've been looking at making some improvements at the Marina, and have submitted planning permission to replace the portacabin 'office' with a more permanent wooden structure, which will give a bit more space and be a bit more welcoming.
Regulations have continued to ease this month, and Sail Scotland, along with Wild Scotland have been in discussion with the Scottish Government about the future development and growth of the marine and outdoors sector. This is an important sector of the economy for this area as a whole and people are being encouraged to register their interest in the process at https://bts.scot/outdoors-scotland-strategy/get-in-touch/
We have also been circulated details of the £800,000 COVID-19 Marine and Outdoor Tourism Restart Fund: Round Two, which is being delivered by VisitScotland on behalf of the Scottish Government. The fund is open from 8th September to 29th September. The Fund is intended to provide support to marine and outdoor tourism businesses who have been significantly affected by Coronavirus (COVID-19). Round Two is to specifically support Scottish-based businesses in the marine and outdoor tourism sector that have faced hardship due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and to help keep them in business as they recommence operations, and you can find more details of this on the VisitScotland website.
As a member of the British Ports Association, we get regular updates from them, and one of these was a summary of the SNP and Scottish Green's draft policy programme, which includes a commitment from both parties to a Natural Environment Bill, under which there will be a set of legally binding targets to protect and restore Scotland's biodiversity by 2030, including marine habitats. Their plans include adding to the existing MPA network by designating Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) covering at least 10% of Scotland's seas. There is also an intention to take specific, evidence-based measures to protect the inshore seabed in areas outwith these designations. To do this they will consult on a number of proposals, including:
- applying a cap to fishing activity in inshore waters (up to three nautical miles) that will limit activity to current levels and set a ceiling from which activities that disrupt the seabed can be reduced in the light of evidence as it becomes available,
- keeping that limit under review, pending fuller consideration and gathering of evidence to underpin any further actions required to protect inshore marine habitats. These could span a suite of options and could potentially include spatial management measures if suggested by the evidence,
- through this system, providing access only to vessels that hold a licence which has a historic track record of fishing activity in inshore waters over a recent reference period,
- in the first instance and in the interests of delivering this as soon as possible, bringing this measure into effect by varying certain existing licence conditions pending the introduction of appropriate legislative measures, and
- also reviewing the status of any unused 'latent' scallop fishing entitlements. Where no investment has already been made to activate that entitlement, such as vessel conversion in cases where an owner has committed to changing fishing method, these entitlements would be revoked.
As a fishing Harbour, we will be interested in how these proposals develop, and will keep you all informed!
We are also continuing to work away in the background with the plans for the Outer Harbour Development, and have commissioned some ground investigation works to start 6th September. These will include boreholes, which will be drilled from a cantilever platform on the edge of the quay in six locations along the inner edge of the outer breakwater, and four grab samples to be taken from a small boat. We have issued a Notice to Mariners about the works, which are due to last until the end of September, and this can be viewed on our website www.mallaig-harbour.com.
On and Off the Rails
Six issues of West Word ago I was passing on the welcome news that the full Jacobite steam train service was (subject to travel restrictions being lifted - which they were) due to commence that month. Thanks to West Coast Railway Company, since then we have welcomed their guests twice a day, seven days a week, with only a few "vintage railway" hiccups, when the service has been terminated en route. The staff and crew have worked their socks off to keep the mechanical side of the service fully operational. There were times when the service operated in "low steam" with assistance from a diesel locomotive at the rear to eliminate trackside fire risks. Film crews with helicopters, drones and celebrity narrators have come and gone for TV scenes that will bring newcomers to Scotland in 2022 I'm sure.
But now it is time to remind you that the Jacobite season will - by the time the next West Word is out - have ceased its afternoon timetable for 2021. The last scheduled date for the PM service will be Friday 1st October which means that the Saturday and Sunday PM service will end the weekend before on September 25th and 26th. What a blessing to Mallaig it has been to have the Saturday and Sunday morning and afternoon Jacobite service during (the still continuing) ScotRail RMT Union conductors' strikes, which in our area has meant no ScotRail train service on Sunday for six months - with no bustitution. The good news on The Jacobite is that the morning service will continue to run seven days a week through to Friday 29th October. Phew!
The Belmond Royal Scotsman luxury touring train is fitting in 14 Saturday visits to Mallaig this season. It is always worth a stroll onto Mallaig railway station platform; it's usually in at just before 11am, departing at 11:40am. There are usually no guests on board as they have the option of departing the luxury train at Arisaig for a circular trip by coach through Arisaig and Morar. This year, so far, not one guest has declined to do this, and they then return to canapés and cocktails on Arisaig platform before rejoining their train - next stop afternoon tea at Inverlochy Castle. Very nice too. The train itself, with top and tailed liveried locomotives to match, makes for a good photograph - and the crew are always glad to see locals.
ScotRail Conductors strikes continue
Sad to say that in this time of trying to encourage customers to rejoin the train service, as we ease back on to the rails, even just to go to the cinema for an evening or for a meal away from Mallaig, Sunday still remains a no-go! The RMT Union voted for strike action to be taken by its conductors on ScotRail/Abellio services on Sundays. The RMT - after six months of strike action - was required to re-ballot members to continue the Sunday strikes. The members voted by more than 80% to continue striking as part of their dispute over being paid less than the drivers (who are in a different Union - ASLEF) for working, or being available for working, on days off.
Continued action was backed by 384 votes to 93, with 477 of the eligible 622 workers taking part in the ballot. Industrial action short of a strike was supported by 429 votes to 48. The RMT said (on 26th August 2021) its national committee was 'considering the result' and a decision on further action would be announced shortly. RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said, 'This is a stunning result'.
On the same day, ScotRail said it was facing its most serious financial crisis because of the Covid pandemic, and that no extra money was available for the RMT's demands. The operator said it was only surviving through the taxpayer support of more than £400 million which had nearly doubled such funding.
The recovery of the railway as an attractive, trusted, reliable, affordable travel option for workers, passengers, tourists, and to cut down on car emissions seems a long way off - between now and COP26 in Glasgow in November. Currently the strikes are due to continue until the end of October - but rumblings are already afoot for them go on to include November 2021. Sad news indeed.
Meanwhile, ScotRail employees are to get new uniforms next year, with 'ScotRail/Scotland's Railway at Arms length' coming into force next April. Hooray!
One comment that the RMT are using is that 'All ScotRail grades are essential workers'. I totally agree with that but with the caveat that it does not mean they are all doing the same grade of pay jobs. All sorts of workers kept public services going through the pandemic, whether in a Union or not, and lots of unpaid persons put their lives on the line too. Is it really the time, as we go into the autumn and winter, and through COP26 trying to 'save the planet', to disrupt the public whose service the railway is? I rest my case.
News is just filtering through that the Unite Union, whose members include railway engineers, may ballot for strike action. These would include men and women who maintain the ScotRail/Abellio fleet of hired-in train carriages.
ScotRail presents a 'Fit for the Future' document
On the 20th of August 2021 ScotRail published online a plan which includes a consultation on a revised/new timetable for Scotland's Railway. (I'm still waiting for my requested paper copy.) This currently will come into effect in May 2022. The consultation is open online for two months for comments from the rail travelling public. It shows no change of service in our area, i.e. Mallaig to Glasgow, with timings as they are at present (phew!)
A lot has been written in the Scottish newspapers and railway magazines about the document. Much of it comments made by the railway unions condemning the report overall and the cuts to services included, but the truth as I see it is this. There are 'timetable changes' planned on some routes which mainly consist of not initially bringing back all pre-pandemic services - e.g., shuttle service trains between Glasgow and Edinburgh, which pre-pandemic were every 15 minutes and are currently every half hour.
David Simpson, ScotRail's Operations Director, says that the cost of running the railway from next May after the impact of Covid (and the current strikes I would add) means that it is essential to offer value for money as well as meeting the needs of customers.
Alex Hynes, the MD of Scotland's Railway, said, 'The pandemic has changed how people travel across Scotland, so our services will reflect these travel patterns and deliver timetables that are reliable, have enough capacity to meet pre-Covid levels of demand, and are sustainable. We are currently consulting on the timetable changes being proposed and we would welcome the views of our customers.' I immediately think 'connectivity would be nice!' We shall see - I will study the report when I get it!
Initially (as I understand) the Company wants to drop from its pre-Covid number of 2400 services per weekday to 2100 services per weekday. Currently ScotRail is running just over 2000 services per weekday, as pandemic restrictions are eased slightly.
Railway Unions are accusing the Company of plans to cut 300 train services. ScotRail say they are just not putting back on as many whilst slow returning customer trust builds up! I believe most customers will find that the number of calls to their station, and the destinations served will be similar to what they are now in slow recovery. The sad news is that whilst the unions rally against the Company customer trust will not return.
Spotted in the Lochaber Times recently and it will be on the second page of this West Word too: Reference 21/03902/LBC - Works include the installation of new IoT equipment (antenna, gateway box and associated cables etc) and new building penetration to allow for waiting room WIFI at Mallaig Railway Station. So now you know, dear reader!
August West Word book review and draw
Thank you to all who entered the draw to win a copy of Martin Williams' book All Rails Leading to the Smallest Street in the World. The book captures the author's journey to cover all railway routes and stations in Scotland in a seven-day week pre-pandemic. The resulting read is a triumph and I feel it should be adopted by a TV crew or film company to be developed. The drawn postcard - a beautiful 'stag at bay' LMS Scotland for Holidays LNER card - has earned Pat MacFarlane from Acharacle a book to be dispatched by post this week. Congratulations - enjoy the journey.
Still waving at the trains from the garden instead of seeing you on the train,
Auntie Mary's Creepy Crawly Corner
Thanks to Martine for sending two photos to Kirsty, asking "What is this insect, and is it harming this plant?"
For identifying this bug, the facts that its wings have two different textures and the shape of its body place it in the Insect Order Hemiptera [literally half wings] in the sub-Order Heteroptera [meaning different wings]. The other sub-Order is the Homoptera [wings of a uniform texture]. Then, from its specific shape, colouring, and habitat - on a garden plant - it looks like a Capsid Bug of some sort and there seems to be a cuneus. This is a triangular section on the 'harder' part of the forewing next to the membranous 'softer' end section. These bugs in the Miridae family are referred to as Mirid or Capsid or leaf bugs; the names seem to be inter-changeable.
The following descriptions come from M. Chinery's book outlining the main characteristics of British Insects. Hemipterans have piercing mouthparts adapted to suck juices from plants or other animals. The mouth parts or beak is usually held flat under the body when not in use. The antennae may be quite long relative to the body size, but only have a few segments, often four or five in Heteropterans. The front pair of Heteropterans' wings are usually hardened or partially so, and they tend to have flattened bodies, with the wings folded flat over the body when at rest. In contrast, Homopterans' wings are held sloping over the body.
The Miridae family is the largest family known in the Heteroptera: over 200 species occur in the British Isles - that is, nearly 70% of all British Heteropterans. Capsids live in habitats from the seashores to the tops of hills, from bare ground to dense woodlands. Most Capsids are described as "rather delicate plant feeders, but a number are at least partly predatory".
Alas, we can't get enough definition in the photo to be sure if this bug has black 'knees'. If these leg joints are black, then it might be a Black-kneed Capsid (Blepharidopterus angulatus). This leaf bug is common on fruit trees and is mainly predatory, feeding on red spider mites which can do much damage to plants. Alternatively, it may be one of the common leaf bugs which as adults or nymphs feed on leaves or developing fruit. Martine, the flowerheads already seem to have cocoon gossamer which suggests that these leaf bugs are maybe not the culprits! You could try leaving some untreated and see what happens . . .
Dr Mary Elliott
References: M. Chinery 1994 Collins Field Guide - Insects of Britain & Northern Europe. 3rd edition
BIRDWATCH August 2021 by Stephen MacDonald
Overall a mostly warm and dry month with little rainfall and only a couple of really windy days. Fairly typical birdwise with lots of juvenile birds evident. Wader passage continued throughout, but with the good weather, most birds kept moving, few stopping to feed or rest and only for a short time. Small numbers of Dunlin, Sanderling and Ringed Plover were reported from Traigh and Camusdarroch.
Sanderling - Stephen MacDonald
Greenshank and Redshank were seen on the Morar Estuary, Traigh and Loch Ailort. A single Bar-tailed Godwit was seen on the shore near Gorsten, Back of Keppoch on the 15th. Turnstone were reported from Traigh and West Bay, Mallaig.
Sea birds on the move also, as most of the auks and gulls have left their nest sites. Both Great and Arctic Skua reported on numerous occasions from the Sound of Sleat.
Storm Petrels were seen regularly and a Leach's Petrel was seen near the Oberon Bank on the 28th. A single Sooty Shearwater was seen just west of Muck on the 26th. A Little Gull was seen on Loch nan Ceall on the 19th and a Sandwich Tern was also reported from there on the 28th.
Great Spotted Woodpeckers reported from several gardens in Morar and Arisaig. A Goldcrest was seen feeding on spilt crumbs from fat balls on several occasions in a Morar garden.
Sparrowhawks also widely reported from gardens, most of the observations were on juvenile birds.
A Kingfisher was reported from the 'Caimbe' downstream of the road bridge on the 16th.
On the 31st at least five Ring Ouzels were seen feeding on Rowan berries at a location on the hillside on the north side of Loch Morar.
WORLD WIDE WEST WORD
Thanks to Jane for sending in this picture from the (former) SWI's visit to the Rural Complex museum and cafe in August.
Jane says, 'We had a lovely time, thanks to Isobel Campbell and her daughter, Linda. And had a great sing along!'
Josie took a copy to read on the on Sgurr an Utha recently. The summit has great views down Loch Beoraid and out to the Small Isles and beyond.
The massive cloud of flying ants around the summit cairn thought West Word looked pretty interesting too!!
Watch this space for extracts from next month's issue!
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