I’m sitting here writing this on the 2nd August wondering where the Summer has gone, and wondering if August will fly by just as quickly. It has been a very busy couple of months!
The seas around Kishorn and the West Coast of Scotland are full of boats. Work boats, passenger ships, ferries and fishing boats. It was lovely to see the Waverley a month or two ago, a prime example of restoration and preservation at its best. She received the usual Pipe Band welcome in to Kyle, with a number of pipers and drummers in the band being from Kishorn. This year I was finally organised enough to get to the Skye Bridge to see her pass underneath (and past the cassion leg supports that were built in Kishorn!) and then get back to the pier to watch her tie up for the night. I am sure that some of you reading this took a trip on her this year!
In Kishorn itself, we have regular boats that come in and out of the loch on a daily or weekly basis. The Ferguson Transport landing crafts come in and out almost daily, and we see the larger cargo boat Harvest Caroline II at least once a week. The blue and white Maursund comes in to load up building supplies for St Kilda every week, though once loaded she usually sits off Kyle until there is a weather window. The landing craft and fast-boats from the fish farm go daily out to each site and back while on the opposite site of the loch there is usually a tug or two working with the building of fish cages. The Kishorn fleet are at the moorings at Rhunasoul and it has grown this year!
History Fact of the Month – The Gallows Trees
On the hills behind Courthill, there is a line of large trees on a clear piece of ground. These trees are called The Gallows Trees. It is thought that they were used until the 19th century when there was a court of justice at Courthill. If you were found guilty of a crime and were sentenced to hanging, you were taken to the Gallows Trees.
It is also thought that due to land boundaries, there were separate justice systems on either side of the Applecross mountains. If you committed a crime on the Kishorn side of the hills, you were able to escape from the court by climbing over the mountains to reach the safety of Applecross where you were considered innocent with your crime unknown. However, if you were caught and captured before reaching Applecross you were taken to the Gallows Trees where you were hung in sight of the ‘safety’ boundary – the trees offer a very clear view of the Applecross mountains. It certainly adds another meaning to the Gaelic for Applecross – A’ Chomraich, the sanctuary.
Old maps of the area are full of Gaelic names, but what looking at old maps also does is allows you to piece things together about the history of the area. I posted on Kishorn Online recently about a stone by the side of the road near Sanachan which I assumed was a mile stone, used to measure road distance in the days before electronic technology! A resident commented to say that there was another one near Courthill. On looking at a map published in 1905, I discovered that these mile stones are marked on that map along with the distance to either Lochcarron or Shieldaig. I also discovered that the stones had been laid sometime around 1902, in preparation for this new 1905 map. There are many more marked on the map, and I intend to find as many as I can if they are still standing!
I launched the new Kishorn Online website in July and there are lots more history pages for you to look at.
Visit http://www.kishornonline.co.uk to find out more!
Scottish Gaelic was a language that once dominated this part of Scotland and this is evident in local place names which still exist today, though many now appear on roadsigns as the English version; Air-darroch (Ardarroch – point of Darroch), Achadh na Traghad (Achintraid – field of/by the beach), Bealach na Ba (pass of the cattle) to name just a few along with some abandoned settlements such as Comasdonn and Reidhleacach. It is so important that those who live in the Highlands and Islands in particular don’t forget about the Gaelic language. The decision by Police Scotland to put Gaelic on all their vehicles was met with a lot of anger. But a language that could die-out if not encouraged should be protected and there are many ways of doing it, including putting it onto vehicles and road signs. Many of the ‘haters’ underestimate just how many people in the country are fluent or have some fluency in Gaelic. Just look at how many Gaelic schools there are now along with Gaelic being part of the English medium curriculum, which means that more and more of the younger generations will have Gaelic.
You think that putting Gaelic onto police vehicles is a waste of money? Police Scotland having to foot a £5million bill for Donald Trump’s visit to Scotland is what I call a waste of money. Luckily Scotland refused and Westminster paid!
I was reading an article a few weeks ago about the Royal Bank of Scotland stopping their mobile service to Barra – a trial service in case the branch on the island closes. Many reasons were given including lack of available space for the bank van on the ferry, but one of the main reasons was due to hostility against the staff. The same problem was experienced here in the area at the time of the Lochcarron bank closure. Staff were being heckled or shouted at in the street. This problem has not gone away and it is still happening, but this time to the staff of the mobile branch that comes down from Gairloch twice a week. They often get shouted at for reasons such as being ten minutes late arriving into Lochcarron, having just negotiated one of the busiest and most dangerous roads on the whole of the NC500, the Bealach na Ba. I know that many people are frustrated that we no longer have a permanent branch. But where was the campaign at the time of the closure consultation? Where were the petitions, letters and emails to councillors, MSPs and MPS? I wrote a number of them to our representatives. It’s not as if we weren’t given warning about the closure. We have been given the next best thing and those people who have ever been aggressive towards any member of the Bank of Scotland team need to take a very good hard look at themselves. They need to think about where the van has come from if it is ten minutes late. I don’t believe that enough was done in the community to stop the Lochcarron branch from closing and those who didn’t do enough can’t really complain! This aggression is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. If it continues, the bank could withdraw the service altogether for the safety of their staff. Make the most of having some sort of bank here in our local community because if we lose the mobile service, the aggressive customers must take the blame.
One of the campaigns that has dominated my Twitter and Facebook feed over the past few months is the campaign to stop Highland Council closing many of the public toilets around the local area and around the NC500 in particular. With help from MSPs and MPs the council reversed their decision to close Dornie Hall toilets, to the relief of many hundreds of people. I have lost count of the number of times I have stopped to use the facilities there, usually in a rush heading South or back home. It’s also the perfect place to take a quick break, with the takeaway coffee shop being located right next door to the toilets. One toilet saved, many more to go. Public toilets are not a luxury – they are a necessity. You wouldn’t build a house with no toilet in it, would you? It shouldn’t be up to the community to keep them open, like the council are trying to suggest is the better option. Even a toilet block needs lighting, water, cleaning and repairing. It costs money and money that the council should have allocated in their budget. We are lucky that our Lochcarron toilets are not under threat, and will continue to open on a seasonal basis. Remember that the toilet block at Lochcarron Garage is open all year round, located on the hotel side of the fuel pumps.
I try not to let the council spending issues take over my blog. However, it is one of the biggest issues facing us right now. Many people avoid politics and political issues, but I think that no matter what your view is you must get involved or show some interest at a local level. Do a wee bit of research into what issues certain candidates or councillors prioritise. Do you vote for the person, or for the political party they stand for? If you are not happy with the way things are run, sitting back and just moaning about it won’t change it.
It helps to get the facts straight right at the beginning – for instance in Highland Council it is an Independent led administration who joined forces with other parties to make a majority. The main opposition is the SNP group. The administration has just agreed their new budget, hence the campaign to stop the closure of the toilets set out in this budget. The SNP group unusually did not produce an alterative budget this year which has put the voters in a position where it is very much a like it or lump it situation. This has offered no alternative for voters to look at before the next elections. There is no comparison available. It means that we’re stuck with a budget in which the administration councillors voted to retain their free council meals, but close public toilets and cut Community Council funding to almost non-existent levels.
It angers me when blame is thrown around without proper research or knowledge. I read about someone blaming the SNP for the fact there is no new Stromeferry Bypass or Achnashellach road. Incorrect. Those roads are council roads, being part of the A890. Therefore, in theory, it should be the council that pay for it or fund funding for it. The issue lies with the roads not being trunk roads, and therefore not managed by the Scottish Government and Transport Scotland. Maybe if they were, it would be easier to find funding to replace these inadequate and unsafe stretches of road. Who is not in the administration in the council and not in charge of the budget? The SNP. Perhaps the blame lies with the Independent led council administration for not finding the money for the replacement routes. Maybe we should be starting a campaign to turn these roads into trunk roads. But with no SNP budget this year, we can’t see how much money they would have planned to spend in preparation for the replacement routes if they were the majority administration, or even see their plans to find funding.
We are just a month away from the 12 week closure of the Bypass. It will be completely closed every night from 10pm until 7am the following morning. It won’t be fully open throughout the day, and road-on-rail diversion convoys will operate between certain times. The posters below can by downloaded onto your computer, smartphone or tablet. You can find more information about the closures on the website or Facebook page.
The Meeting House is almost finished! It will be great to see lights on in the building again, and smoke coming out of the chimney pipe.
I came across some more old photos; two of Ardarroch and another of the Kishorn Shop when the post office was still there. Spot the Selfie Box too, though now in a slightly different place!
I’m hoping that it won’t be so long before I write my next blog. Despite living in this remote corner of the Highlands, there is still lots going on! Schools re-open at the end of the month, and the holidays will be over. Before you know it, the leaves will be starting to turn brown. But let’s just enjoy the last few weeks of summer… here’s to some more good weather!
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