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Nessie's Loch Ness Times

The Friendliest NewsPaper on the WWW

Established December 3rd, 1996
         Saturday 23rd March 2002
Issue No 272

Brewery Project Cheers Lochaber Village

The West Highland Way, which annually brings thousands of walkers to Kinlochleven, is about to bring the Lochaber village a jobs boost.

That is thanks to a stopover during the 95 mile jaunt between Milngavie and Fort William by a drinks marketing executive, Neill Cotton. After seeing a sign earmarking a site in the former British Alcan aluminium smelter complex for a brewery, the 27 year old Lancastrian decided to make further inquiries. He has now unveiled his plans, which will see a brewery open this year in one of the smelter's former carbon bunkers. When fully operational, Atlas Brewery will employ about 10 people, producing up to 36,000 pints of beer a week - 1.5 million in a full year. Mr Cotton, whose family is closely involved in the brewing industry in Cumbria and Lancashire, said: "With the Scottish beer market continuing to grow, and with drinkers moving up to specialist and premium products, this is an exciting time for Atlas to be starting out." The two initial beers for the brewery will be marketed in both cask conditioned and bottle form - a light modern British ale and clear, spicy wheat beer. A third will be added soon afterwards to the range. The brewery will deliver its beers to pubs, restaurants and retailers across Scotland, as well as selling direct to the public from its premises and through its website. Atlas joins other Highlands and Islands micro breweries on the Black Isle, Orkney, Shetland, Arran, Skye and Stornoway and at Aviemore, all helping to slake the thirst of Scots, who consume 2.1 million pints a day.

Cromarty Firth

The future development and management of the Cromarty Firth coastline came under the spotlight at a seminar in Alness recently. The aim of the event was to discuss how green agencies can work with ongoing industrial projects to ensure development along the 18 mile coast without causing a huge impact on the environment. The Industrialised Estuaries seminar was promoted by the Cromarty Firth Liaison Group - a local voluntary partnership of private industry and public agencies interested in the future of the Cromarty Firth. Malcolm McArthur, chairman of the group, described the Cromarty Firth - which extends from Nigg Bay and Invergordon to Dingwall and Ross and Cromarty - as an "asset" which must be properly managed and maintained. He said: "It is vital for the future prosperity of the region that its coastal environment is recognised and valued as a key asset which requires to be properly protected and managed. "This seminar is part of a programme of best practice seminars, whose aim is to bring together experts and interested parties involved in the management and development of the coastal zone to ensure this asset is managed in a positive and consistent way for the benefit of all." Initiatives discussed at the seminar included the Nigg Bay coastal realignment project, and the Beatrice pipeline replacement project.

Gaelic Only TV Channel Wanted

The new chairman of the Gaelic Broadcasting Committee (CCG) has declared that a new channel dedicated to the language will be his priority. John MacAskill has been a member of the CCG for the past five years and his appointment as chairman was announced recently by the Independent Television Commission (ITC). He succeeds Matthew MacIver, whose term as chairman ended last year. CCG is in charge of the Gaelic Broadcasting Fund, which was established under the terms of the 1990 Broadcasting Act. Mr MacAskill is a past chairman of Gaelic development agency Comunn na Gaidhlig and of the Gaelic Arts Project. He was also director of European affairs and director of finance at Highlands and Islands Enterprise, as well as secretary, chief officer and executive board member of the Highlands and Islands Development Board. Mr MacAskill was awarded the OBE last year for his services to crofting and the Highlands. He said: "Broadcasting is moving through a period of change in technology and in the expansion of the number of channels available to viewers. "This brings pressures on the traditional terrestrial broadcasters, with the result that it is becoming increasingly difficult for Gaelic programmes to find slots that suitable for viewers. "If progress is to be made which builds on successful developments over the past 10 years a dedicated digital channel for Gaelic is essential. "One of my priorities in my new post will be to ensure that we make every effort to achieve a new Gaelic channel, controlled by Gaels and properly funded."

A View of the Heavens

Highland astronomers are celebrating after taking delivery of an impressive new piece of equipment. The 50 plus group of star gazers from the Highland Astronomical Society met recently to put a new seven foot long telescope through its paces. The low cost Dobsonian telescope was built from scratch by the society's own members for only 250. The project, which began in August last year, was completed with the help of donations for materials such as plywood and aluminium tubes. The society's Antony McEwan, who was one of the telescope's makers said: "It's called a Dobsonian after an American telescope enthusiast called John Dobson, who made it popular in the 1970s as a low cost alternative to the more complicated commercial telescopes. "It's quite a big telescope really. It allows you to see objects that are nearly one and a half thousand times dimmer than what would normally be visible with the naked eye." The Highland Astronomical Society's members were given a sneak preview of the new telescope. Explained committee members Maarten de Vries: "Some of them have been following the proceedings quite closely. "We've posted images on the web so they can follow the progress - we are a small group but we've had a lot of support and it has been fun." For more information check the society's website at:
Highland Astronomical Society

Distant Memories

The Inverness Saltire Society scored a hit with its members recently as record numbers turned up to hear a talk by a distinguished author. Highland writer and maritime expert Jim Miller, was on hand to introduce the Saltire Society to a pet subject of his, Scapa Flow. The sheltered open water encircled by the Orkney islands contains some of the most interesting shipwrecks in the world. For years it was the main anchorage of the Royal Navy and has many relics left of British naval history. Chairman of the Highland branch of the Saltire Society, retired psychiatrist, Dr Alastair Scott-Brown, said it was a subject dear to many of his members' hearts. "I read Jim's book as I have a Royal Navy connection, as do several of our members in the branch. "One of our themes is linking the Navy in Scotland and history and geography, which is part of the Saltire ethos of dealing with history and culture." He said of the meeting: "It's been very well subscribed. We've got about 30 active members in the branch here, but actually we have a total membership of something like 70." Author of the book, entitled Scapa, Jim Miller said he was delighted with the response to what has long been a fascinating subject for him. Mr Miller said: "I was born and brought up in Caithness. My family are from a fishing background and I've heard about Scapa Flow all my life. "I've long been interested in the maritime history of the area. "One of my earlier books was a maritime history of the Pentland Firth, called The Wild and Open Sea." He added: "I'm fairly well known in Inverness because I've been here for a while, but the size of the audience is a nice surprise."

Strathspey Fungus Woods

A Strathspey woodland is to benefit from future conservation schemes after being identified as an important fungus area in Scotland. The Important Fungus Areas (IFAs) project has compiled a list of 70 sites of great significance for fungi. The dossier, which includes Curr Wood, at Skye of Curr near Dulnain Bridge, will form a basis for future conservation decisions and ensure that the key sites receive appropriate protection and management advice. More than 450 sites throughout Northern Ireland, Wales and England are also included in the report. Until the publication of the report by Plantlife, the Association of British Fungus Groups and the British Mycological Society, no one has known where the best sites for fungi are in Scotland. It is not known exactly how many species of fungi exist throughout the UK, but it is estimated to be 12,000, with between 20 and 30 new discoveries a year.

Blood of the Vikings

They left their mark in more ways than merely giving us the place names for Wick, Ness and Lerwick. Research has indicated the Norwegian branch of the Vikings has left its genetic fingerprint in parts of the British Isles. For those from, or living in Shetland, Orkney and the Far North with red hair, fair skin and freckles, the finding will come as no surprise. It merely confirms what people have known for centuries - they have the blood of Vikings coursing through their veins. Research published by the BBC recently suggests the Norwegian Vikings did not just rape, pillage and raid the indigenous population, but settled down and raised families with and around them. Their genetic make up still remains in some parts of the British population, some 1,200 years after the first Viking raid from Norway. And the most Viking places in the British Isles are Shetland, Orkney and the area around Durness in Sutherland, with an estimated 60% of the population in these areas almost directly descended from the Norwegian Vikings. The Outer Hebrides, in comparison, have Norwegian Viking blood in about 30% of their population. The research was carried out by leading biology professor David Goldstein, of University College, London, for the BBC on a documentary on a genetic map of the UK - aiming to trace population movements in Britain across the ages through DNA of the present population. Professor Goldstein and his team divided the British Isles into 22 regions, and picked a settlement in each area from which they would collect DNA. Samples were taken, using mouth swabs, from men in Stornoway, Stonehaven, Kirkwall, Lerwick, Oban, Pitlochry and Durness, and all over England, Dublin and the Isle of Man.

Charity Event

The 122,000 raised by the 215 teams in last year's Highland Cross event has been distributed to nine good causes in the Highlands. The Highland Cross, which is run close to Midsummers Day, involves crossing Scotland from Kintail to Beauly. Teams of three first have to tackle 20 miles on foot through the mountains followed by a 30 mile cycle from Cannich to Beauly - and the list for those wanting to enter is over subscribed every year. Shopmobility Highland, Birchwood Lochaber, Ness Doc and New Craigs all received 20,000 to be spent on specialised vehicles.

Political Roundup

Deputy Minister Rules Out City's Breakaway Bid

A separate city council for Inverness has been ruled out by Scotland's Deputy Finance Minister Peter Peacock. As the debate continued over whether the city should go it alone and break away from Highland Council to form its own authority, Mr Peacock - who has particular responsibility for local government - said a separate city council was unlikely to be put forward by the Scottish Executive.

Highland Weather Forecast

Saturday Afternoon
Sunny spells in many areas but some patchy rain in places. Winds mod SE'ly. Temperature 7c to 14c.
Saturday Night
Cloudy in the W with drizzle in places. Dry elsewhere. Winds mod/fresh S'ly. Temperature 3c to 9c.
A mixture of sunshine and showers in the W. Starting cloudy with rain in the E but sunny spells expected pm.
Rain followed by brighter weather, some sunny periods, only one or two showers in the far W and N.

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This is Caledonia ( Caley for short ) A Ness-Scape family member and mascot. She is a White German Shepherd. Caley has decided to take over the editing of Nessie's Loch Ness Times, and she's sure she'll make a good job of it. What do you think?

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