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Nessie's Loch Ness Times

The Friendliest NewsPaper on the WWW

Established December 3rd, 1996
         Saturday 19th May 2001
Issue No 232

Historic Black Isle Village Offers Hi-Tech Opportunity

Visitors to the recently re-opened Cromarty Courthouse Museum can enjoy a virtual tour of the village with the help of cutting edge technology.

A new multimedia CD provides a unique tour through Cromarty using 360 degree rotating photographic images and a scrolling hand-drawn map on which every house is illustrated. Entitled "Generations in Stone", the CD is the product of a four year project to record the buildings of the historic town. It provides a history of Cromarty and detailed information on 80 individual properties, identifying their date of construction, important architectural features and an outline of the building's history. Museum curator Dr David Alston said: "Technically this is at the edge of what can be done with current software. We used a pilot version of the CD in our displays last summer and we have distributed copies to a number of people. We are delighted by the reaction and it confirms our view that, in its quality and innovation, this is a unique project." The research behind the CD identified a 35 year period after 1795 as being crucial to Cromarty's development. The town's main strength lies in the fact that many of the buildings constructed in this period have survived. They range from Bellevue, once the home of the commander of the king's Hanoverian Army, to small fishing cottages, from industrial buildings, such as the hemp factory to the lodges of the Freemasons, Free Gardeners and the Friendly Society. Within the same town there is also a broad contrast of materials used to construct buildings. The town's first bank is made from fine dressed stone while the Mission Hall raised in the 1880s is built with corrugated iron. The CD not only provides information on Scots architecture it also draws attention to human stories from the area. Cromarty's West Church is fronted by the grave of a much loved minister, the Rev Alexander Stewart, who was buried between the doors of the Free Church he had helped to found, as a mark of respect. The houses built by James F Thompson, a local bank agent, were eventually bought by the coastguard but only after Thompson had taken his own life in despair at having failed to sell the properties. Donald Miller's eighteenth century house survives only because of his successful "wars with the sea" where he built a sea defence in the form of a sloping sea wall which took several attempts before he found the right design. Some buildings mark the technological breakthroughs of their time. Dr Gibson's modern 1930s house has futuristic garage doors which were opened by a photo electric cell. Dr Alston added: "We believe this is an important educational resource and something which will help the community take greater pride in its past."

Prestige Flag Awards

The Highland Council has scooped four prestigious yellow flag awards for clean and safe beaches, while in Argyll Oban's Ganavan Beach has also been pronounced a winner. The top beaches include two new designations for Golspie and Achmelich Bay which join past winners Dornoch and Nairn to double the number of flags granted to the Highlands in this year's Seaside Awards. A total of 21 Scottish beaches compared to just 16 last year, receive yellow flag status in the award list, which was published recently. The awards are issued by Keep Scotland Beautiful and the Tidy Britain Group. Welcoming the increased number of Scottish beaches which feature this year, John Summers, national director for Keep Scotland Beautiful, said: "The difference between these results and other recent coastal beach surveys is that the Seaside Award beaches relate to areas where a degree of management is in place to ensure good standards. "There is still much to be done of course with litter and rubbish around our coastline and we are working hard with other agencies to tackle this scourge. We are also looking to recognise remoter beaches for their high quality and to develop criteria to reflect their importance. This is a top priority for us in 2001 and is being tackled on a UK and Europeanwide basis."

Art Venture for NW Skye

A new print gallery art venture in North West Skye is set to provide an added visitor attraction as well as year round employment. The project by artist Kathleen Lindsley and her graphic design partner Nick Carter will also bring an old, disused croft house back into productive use. The pair recently bought a derelict croft house in Skindin and plan to convert the property into a gallery for the sale of arts and crafts goods. Ms Lindsley has operated her part time business, Raven Press, from her family home in Milovaig since 1994, but the expansion into new premises will allow the couple to operate the business year round. The new gallery will be in a prime location, next door to the prestigious award winning Three Chimneys Restaurant. Raven Press produces fine prints from wood carvings. The wood engravings produced by Ms Lindsley are renown for their high quality and have been exhibited widely both solo and with the Society of Wood Engravers. Mr Carter, a qualified graphic designer and self employed creel fisherman, is going to carry out the restoration and conversion work.

Osprey Migration Observed

Migrating ospreys and their chicks are being tracked by radio transmitter over thousands of miles of ocean and mountains as they head for the West African sun from their summer nests in the Scottish Highlands. Osprey expert Roy Dennis, of Nethy Bridge, follows the birds on a home computer linked to a French satellite ground station in Toulouse in south west France. Tracking data from the last two years suggests future osprey generations may not have to travel 3,000 miles to their traditional winter quarters in West Africa. Dennis believes global warming may mean they can happily find food in Europe during the winter instead of having to go to Africa. He also revealed the incredible stamina of osprey chicks. A late born chick hatched near Carrbridge in August last year was given little hope of survival after Dennis discovered it had been unable to leave its nest because it was snagged by a fisherman's nylon line. "How wrong I was proved to be," said Dennis, who climbed up to the nest and disentangled the bird. The bird was still in its Scottish nest at the end of August. But by September 5 it was near Winchester in Hampshire, and by the 14th at Aachen on the Belgian/German border. And there it seemed to stay, suggesting it may have become too enfeebled to continue or may even have died while the transmitter had continued to send signals. "Then suddenly its radio reported from near Lyon on the River Rhone in France. "Ten days later it was actively migrating across the Sahara desert in southern Algeria. In December it was on the border of Mali on the river Niger," said Dennis. "Marvellous."

Cromarty Street Names

A new street sign in Cromarty reveals to younger residents that the small lane on which it stands is the "Slooch Moochd" or Pigs Pass. The name and the history behind it, although remembered by the town's older residents, was in danger of being lost in the annals of time. The local community council, however, raised funds and attracted Highland Council grants for the sign and two others which needed replacing. Council chairman Anne Short explained that the sign recalled important aspects of the town's pig rearing and international trade in salt pork and bacon and Cromarty's long gone Gaelic community. She said: "We had to replace two other signs, Little Vennel and Big Vennel, and we thought we should try to get one for the Sloch Moochd as we did not want to lose the history attached to it." Cromarty's first venture into the pork trade was in the 1770s when the laird, George Ross, built a unique hog yard to the east of the town, which incorporated breeding and feeding areas. As part of the regime, hundreds of pigs were driven down to bathe in the sea on hot summer days - a practice believed to firm up the flesh of the animals. Barrelled salt pork from these pigs was shipped from Cromarty to the East and West Indies - but the enterprise collapsed im 1782/3 when poor harvests created food shortages throughout Scotland.

Centre Stage

Lochaber youngsters who have achieved success in their chosen field were again back centre stage recently. The pupils were guests of honour at a civic reception given by Highland Council's Lochaber area committee at Fort William. It is the second time the area committee has held such an event, with convener Olwyn Macdonald presenting certificates of achievement. Most of those taking part had achieved success at last Autumn's Royal National Mod in Dunoon, either individually or in duets, trios or choirs. Among them was Coisir Og Lochabair, which won the Donald Morrison Memorial Award for the highest marks in the learners' choral competition and also the Caledonian MacBrayne Trophy, with one of its members, Andrew MacDonald, also taking the silver badge for solo singing. Lochaber High School third year pupil, Peter Conway had his success in a UK wide photographic competition recognised, as did Paul Cameron, who won a silver medal in the Scottish judo championships and was later selected to represent the country in the British championships. Many of the young musicians presented selected pieces in return for the council's hospitality.

Seal Sanctuary

A 1 million animal hospital with a difference could become the latest tourist attraction in the Highlands. Two wildlife charities plan to join forces to create a seal sanctuary in Caithness, modelled on a centre in Holland. The Seal Rehabilitation and Research Centre at Pietermurren, a two hour drive from Amsterdam, helps nurse sick seals from the coasts of Holland, Belgium and Northern France back to health. The planned centre would be next door to the semi derelict John O'Groats House Hotel, which has been shut for three seasons. Now Heritage GB, which plans to refurbish the landmark hotel on the shores of the Pentland Firth, is talking to the two charities about a site on the surrounding 16 acres. British Divers Marine Life Rescue, led by local man Alistair Jack, is well established in the area and has a rescue boat and a sea mammal ambulance in Caithness. Mr Jack said the other charity involved in the talks is English based International Animal Rescue. He said: "What we hope to create here is a seal centre which is the best in Europe. "It will be modelled on the Dutch one, which attracts 350,000 visitors each year." In the longer term he hopes the centre will eventually be able to rehabilitate other marine mammals from Scottish waters, such as dolphins and porpoises.

Charity Event

Radio listeners were in a bidding frenzy recently during Moray Firth Radio's annual fundraising auction. The charity radio auction, now in its 18th year, raised around 70,000 from almost 1400 items donated to the station for the event, including a new Inverness flat provided by Tulloch Construction. The station's auction organiser Joyce MacKenzie said: "The auction has been very successful and brought the amount raised by Moray Firth Radio for charities to over 1 million."

Political Roundup

Fairer Deal Wanted for Isles

Minister of State for Scotland George Foulkes has backed the united effort of Britain's fragile island communities to get a fairer deal. Mr Foulkes spoke out at the opening of a two day conference recently on Islay which aims to form an action plan to ensure the future economic and social sustainablity of the UK's many island communities. He told the 70 delegates, from island communities at home and from Europe, that "there is no doubt that this (Islay) and the other island communities have contributed significantly to the culture, to the language and to the diversity not just of Scotland but to the whole United Kingdom as well, of course, to the economy".

Highland Weather Forecast

Saturday Afternoon
Cloudy, patchy rain, showers pm. Brighter in the E. Winds mod/fresh W-SW. Temperature 9c to 14c.
Saturday Night
Clear spells. Showers later in N - W coasts/hills. Winds mod/fresh SW-NW. Temperature 4c to 7c.
Mainly dry and bright after overnight mist patches have cleared. Winds light NW'ly.
Dry with variable amounts of cloud and bright or sunny periods. Mostly light S-SW winds throughout.

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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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