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Nessie's Loch Ness Times

The Friendliest NewsPaper on the WWW

Established December 3rd, 1996
         Saturday 28th April 2001
Issue No 229

It's Official: Skye's No Longer an Island

The Island of Skye is famous the world over and is celebrated in song, story and legend - the Skye Boat Song is one of our most famous airs.

But now there's a shock for all lovers of the romantic isle. The Scottish Executive has ruled it is no longer officially an island - it is technically part of the mainland. Highland MSP Rhoda Grant raised the matter in the Scottish Parliament recently following the statement by Rural Affairs Minister Ross Finnie on the lifting of restrictions on the foot and mouth disease recently. Regulations for movement of stock on the islands were different from those for the mainland. Now that it's linked by the bridge which was opened six years ago, was Skye still classed as an island, Mrs Grant asked. Mr Finnie confessed he wasnt certain but as far as he was aware Skye was an island. Later in the day, Mrs Grant asked the same question of Deputy First Minister Jim Wallace. He wasn't sure either. However, an Executive spokesperson confirmed that, for the purposes of the regulations, since Skye is now linked to the mainland by a bridge, it was being officially classed as part of the mainland. Sheep and cattle, it was said, could easily walk across the bridge. People on Skye reacted with amazement at the news. Former Runrig singer Donnie Munro was born and brought up on Skye and now works for the Gaelic College there. "If Skye is not officially an island, I'm delighted," he said. "Any item bought from a mail order catalogue or ordered from down south is free to Kyle of Lochalsh. "If it has to go across the bridge it's classed as going to a remote island and there can be a charge of anything up to 80." Skye Bridge campaigner Robbie the Pict says this means the fee charged to travel to what used to be an island was now simply a road toll. "So it's even more of an intrusion than we thought," he said. Councillor Drew Miller, from Portree, represents the island on Highland Council. He was furious. "It's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard coming out of the Scottish Executive, and I've heard quite a few," he said. "Of course Skye is still an island." Lord Macdonald, Chief of Clan Donald, who runs Kinloch Lodge Hotel on Skye, said, "When I was born in 1947 Skye was an island. I don't see that anything has changed since then." A spokesman for the SNP said the Executive only had to listen to the words of the famous song to know Skye was an island. "It just shows how out of touch in Scotland Labour and the Lib-Dems are when they don't know you still have to go over the sea to Skye, even if it is on a bridge."

Rainbow Mystery

Former teacher Moira MacDiarmid, out walking her dogs near her home in the West Highlands recently, had to rub her eyes in disbelief when she found herself gazing at - a white rainbow. Moira is a keen naturalist and observer of weather patterns in the spectacular area around Gairlochy, near Spean Bridge, where she lives. But she had never seen a phenomenon like this one before. Moira described the experience, saying, "It was 6.45 am and, with dawn breaking the light of the moon made the sky stunningly clear. Over Loch Lochy, towards Clunes, I saw a white rainbow - beautifully formed, no shades and no colours. There was moisture in the air at the time, and I reckoned the rainbow could have been caused by the interaction with the moon." a call to the Met Office, in Bracknell, Berks, had the weather forecasters scratching their heads, but spokesman Colin Donnelly soon had the answer. "Although nobody here has ever seen one, it's apparently called a Lunar Rainbow," he said. "If the moon is bright enough and the conditions are showery, then rainbows can be observed by moonlight. But, as the human eye can't distinguish any colours because of the faint light at dawn or dusk - the lunar rainbow appears to be white."

Bloody History of Castle

Proposals to make the scene of one of Scotland's bloodiest clan battles into a major tourist attraction have taken a step forward. Despite it being poorly signposted and almost hidden from view off the A82 Glasgow to Inverness road, it is estimated that around 15,000 people a year visit old Inverlochy Castle on the outskirts of Fort William. Now an Inverlochy Castle Association has been formed to help generate more than 6,000 funding to carry out the first phase of an ambitious 1 million scheme. It will entail the removal of a number of trees and shrubs which screen the castle, improving landscaping and providing a network of paths. The association also hopes that funding can be found to employ a part time project officer to oversee development. In the long term, the association wants to provide a visitor centre, picnic areas and riverside walk, replace a narrow access bridge and improve interpretative facilities and marketing. "Despite the castle being partly hidden by trees, it still draws an estimated 15,000 people a year," said Highland councillor Brian Murphy. "We feel we can improve on those numbers significantly just by opening up the vista so people can see it from a distance." The 13th century castle - scene of major battles in 1431 and 1645 - is currently undergoing major renovations by its owners, Historic Scotland, which has backed the Fort William initiative. Mr Murphy said it was hoped to eventually provide new flooring in the castle towers, which would add to the visitor experience.

Time Gun Test

Edinburgh Castle's new One O'clock gun was tried out for size recently to ensure the new lighter weapon will be manageable when it is introduced later this year. The 25 pounder howitzer, introduced in 1953, is due to be decommissioned and replaced by a more modern 105mm light gun in September. The Army brought in a 105mm to check it could be moved easily from different parts of the castle. The District Gunner, Staff Sergeant Tom McKay, who maintains and fires the gun, said: "Normally the gun is fired from Mills Mount. "However on Armistice Day it's fired from the Half Moon Battery, so we are just ensuring that everything fits before we bring it into service." The gun, held at Edinburgh Castle by the Royal Artillery's 105 Regiment, was the only remaining time gun to be fired in Britain, providing timely reminder to thousands of visitors and city dwellers every day. An Army spokesman said: "A 105 was brought up to the castle to make sure it would fit snugly in its new home and it did. "Everybody involved with the One O'clock gun will be looking forward to using the new one, which is currently used throughout the Royal Artillery."

Dedicated to the Pipes

Gillian Chalmers, from Fraserburgh, aims to keep one Scottish tradition alive after signing up to play the bagpipes at an exclusive musical school. The 12 year old has been playing the pipes for only four years, but so impressed judges at the world renowned National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music at Plockton that she was immediately given a place. Gillian has already made a name for herself at competition level, winning the March, Strathspey and Reel in the under 13 category at Carnoustie last October. She also took first at the Scottish Pipers Association in Glasgow and a first and second at the Young Piper of the Year in Nairn in November. Her ambition after completing her secondary education is to attend the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow and ultimately make a career out of playing the pipes. This is all good news for bagpipe enthusiasts - recent figure suggest more people in the Far East are learning to play the pipes than in Scotland. The decline has been put down to a lack of financial support and expertise for young players wanting to start while still at school. The National Centre is hoping to change all that after opening its doors just 11 months ago. It's already attracting world famous musicians who specialise in the violin, pipes, Scottish harp and chanter.

Best Feet Forward

It will be a case of best feet forward in Norway for a group of North dancers this summer. For members of the Kilmorack Scottish Country and Happy Feet dance classes will be forging links across the North Sea when they undertake a cultural exchange trip in June. Under the name Norway 2001, 28 dancers led by their tutor, Frances Grant, will join Norwegian dance enthusiasts including a group of Scottish country dancers in Oslo. The trip has resulted from a visit made to Scotland almost three years ago by the Venner Av Gammel Dabnser group led by John Nordbo of Oslo. During their stay, the Norwegian dancers visited the Highlands and joined the Kilmorack group for a social dance. "We have kept the friendship going and they have now invited us back to visit them," explained Frances. The Scottish group will stay in Bergen and Voss before travelling to Asker, near Oslo, where they will be taking over a guesthouse. They will be accompanied during their tour by musicians Marian Anderson and George Bremner. Added Frances: "We will not be performing as dancers - the dances will be social events." Between now and June they will continue with their fund raising efforts to help pay for the hire of halls and to take a "taste of Scotland" to Norway.

Upgrade for Visitor Centre

The visitor centre at the award winning Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve near Kinlochewe in Wester Ross is set for a 500,000 upgrade, after owner Scottish Natural Heritage secured a funding package for its redevelopment. Planning permission has already been granted for the extension of the existing centre, a former croft house at Aultroy, to include an expanded area for interpretation and new toilets. There will continue to be a small retail section stocking items related to the reserve. A series of all-abilities "talking trails", described as a "next generation learning orientated experience", will be installed in the building itself and the surrounding area. The car park will also be extended and there will continue to be no admission charge for any of the facilities. Manager of the Beinn Eighe NNR, SNH's David Miller, welcomed the announcement. "It's great news that the funding is now all in place, particularly since we celebrate the reserve's 50th anniversary this year. The upgraded centre will focus on the provision of barrier free access and the whole interpretative experience, inside and outside the centre, will be based on trails."

Charity Event

Inverness shoppers are to help in raising 100,000 for Alzheimer Scotland this year - without it costing them a penny. Tesco will donate a penny everytime a customer uses one of its cash machines to withdraw cash. Launching the campaign, Lady Mackay of Clashfern said: "This is an important charity and I am delighted to be involved in this launch with Tesco Extra. After all, it's not everyday supermarkets give away money especially in such large amounts."

Political Roundup

Westminster Battleground

Former SNP leader Alex Salmond claimed recently that Westminster attacks on public spending in Scotland will escalate over the next five years. The Banff and Buchan MP, who has decided to fight to retain the seat instead of sitting in the Scottish Parliament, said the threat was a key reason to campaign to send as many SNP MPs to London as possible at the general election expected in June.

Highland Weather Forecast

Saturday Afternoon
Sunny periods. Showers, wintry in W. Rain in NE. Winds mod in W, fresh SE in Shetland. Temperature 7c to 11c.
Saturday Night
Clear periods NW. Cloudy with isolated showers. Winds mod/fresh W-NW. Temperature 2c to 5c.
Mainly cloudy, a few brighter periods but frequent showers, some heavy. Light W'ly winds.
Early showers tending to die out with brighter periods developing. Light to moderate winds.

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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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