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Nessie's Loch Ness Times

The Friendliest NewsPaper on the WWW

Established December 3rd, 1996
         Saturday 21st July 2001
Issue No 241

Highland Route is One of the World's Top Journeys

A 320 mile jaunt that takes in some of the Highlands' most spectacular scenery has been named among 10 of the world's most scenic road journeys.

The accolade for the journey from Fort William to Tongue, in Sutherland, came from the Automobile Association. The nomination was welcomed by the Highlands of Scotland Tourist Board, who hoped it would assist in attracting more drivers to the region. "It is a great honour," said Casia Zajac, the board's spokeswoman. "But it is not surprising. The Highlands are renowned throughout the world for their spectacular scenery. We are delighted it has been recognised." The routes were selected for their beauty, and featured in the AA Magazine. The Fort William - Tongue route joins the 45 mile trip between Penrith and Corbridge in north west England, along with the 55 mile Presteigne to Aberystwyth journey in Wales.The magazine says: "While commuting on the M25 is about as much fun as having your teeth extracted without the benefit of anaesthetic, great roads are out there and they're just waiting to be explored." It says of the Highland trip that the drive provides scenery about as good as it gets with spellbinding views. The run is described as one of the best motoring experiences in the world. And it is still a route where you can drive for miles without encountering another vehicle. The AA describes the route as a 320 mile roller coaster ride on a variety of road conditions ranging from good quality trunk road to single track with passing places, not far removed from the old drove roads they follow. But it is a spectacular route offering sea and landscapes that are the finest in Scotland. Only twenty minutes north from Fort William, just past Inverlochy Castle Hotel, a favourite haunt of superstars, it is well worth stopping at the bronze memorial to the Commando heroes who trained at Spean Bridge during World War II, readers are told. The memorial's hilltop site gives panoramic views of our tallest mountain, Ben Nevis, and to the south the brooding wilderness of the Grey Corries in the Mamore Mountains. The route takes you up the Great Glen on the A82 road, which can be quite busy at times. At Glengarry, you take the Road to the Isles and head west for the port of Kyle on the A87. That is a good position from which to visit the misty Isle of Skye, making a detour on the way to the village of Plockton made famous by the Hamish Macbeth TV police series. Shortly before Kyle, there is fairytale Eilean Donan Castle at Dornie. It is said to be one of the most photographed castles in the world and it certainly gets big exposure on Scottish calendars and shortbread tins. The AA recommends deviating from the main road to take in the remote peninsula of Applecross, driving over the single track road through the Bealach na Ba. That drove road is not for the faint hearted driver or car, and torque will be well tested on the Alpine hairpins before the 2,053ft summit is reached. Heading north again, the driver must remain alert on the many twisting sections of single track along the side of Loch Maree to Gairloch and Poolewe, where Inverewe Gardens surprise visitors with their many sub-tropical species able to grow there because of the mild Gulf Stream climate. The road follows the contours of the many sea lochs and passes below An Teallach on the way to the tourist town of Ullapool, a white washed gem in Wester Ross where there are fine hotels and restaurants aplenty. The route north passes Inchnadamph, where there is Scotland's only major potholing network, and across the waters of Kylesku via the dramatic and award winning bridge, and on past the River Laxford, the splendid salmon waters much favoured by Prince Charles. The north of Scotland is reached at Durness and from there a visit to the spectacular cliffs of Cape Wrath, the most north westerly point on the British mainland. Journey's end is reached by skirting Loch Erribol, a famous wartime anchorage, and Tongue itself is big enough to boast several fine places to spend a night in the shadow of Ben Hope, the most northerly Munro mountain.

Miracle Escape

A partially blind and deaf dog had a miracle escape when he fell 100 feet down a gorge and splashed into a river. Drum, a 12 year old springer spaniel, had his nose to the ground when he rolled down a 20ft steep bank and then plunged a further 80ft into the River Glass. Fiona Wood and her friend Rhonda McGorrie of Evanton were out walking their dogs and took Drum with them. He belongs to their friend Tom McGhee who was working at the time. The women got the shock of their lives when Drum disappeared down the bank. The dog managed to swim 50 yards down the fast flowing river before he started barking. Fiona rushed to the nearest house, and phoned the police in Alness who in turn alerted the Dundonnel Mountain Rescue team. By the time Fiona got back to the scene, Drum had stopped barking and she feared the worst. Members of the rescue team quickly arrived at the gorge and abseiled down the sheer drop to find a wet but otherwise unhurt Drum sitting on the bank. One of the team members put the dog in a rucksack on his back and carried him back to the top. Fiona said: "I got an awful fright. It was even worse because it is not my dog. "I do not know what I would have told Tom if Drum had drowned. "He just was not looking when he fell down the gorge. He is an old dog. "When he stopped barking I honestly thought he was dead. I was amazed when the mountain rescue team member appeared back at the top of the gorge and there was nothing wrong with him. It was a great relief. Drum was being looked after by Fiona at her Easter Ross home, and was receiving lots of "tender, loving care". Fiona added: "He seems none the worse for the incident."

Monster Kilt

The people of Keith did a Highland Fling with a difference recently after creating what is thought to be the biggest kilt ever made. And there was a very unusual wearer of Scotland's national dress - an 8ft wooden man made from whisky barrels. The mega Gordon Highlanders kilt measures 10yds long and 54 inches from top to bottom, and has a two metre waistline. It can fit round three people together. The record breaking kilt took just two weeks to make thanks to students at Scotland's only kilt making school. The finishing touches were given the royal seal of approval from Arlene Archibald, best known for making a kilt for Prince Charles. "Everything on this massive kilt is exactly as it should be on an ordinary one. The only problem is that it weighs so much and is difficult to work with," said Arlene. But locals realised that to show the tartan off to its best effect they'd need a large model. The coopers at the nearby Speyside Cooperage in Craigellachie thought they had the perfect solution matching the mammoth task of making the kilt with a sturdy giant made from old whisky barrels. Community group United Keith say it is the perfect way to demonstrate their town is the tartan capital of the world. Chairwoman Linda Gorn said: "We got the idea after trying to think of something original to launch our annual Tartan Day. We believe this is a world first." Visitors will be able to see the kilt and barrel man at Keith's Tartan Museum over the summer before he takes up his winter residence at the Speyside Cooperage.

Sponsored Trek

A Highland charity found increasing its coffers was a stroll recently. Around 50 people took part in a sponsored walk for the Pat Dogs charity, in Inverness. Taking the lead was Kate Jack, Highland area co-ordinator, who started the group off from the crazy golf park on Ness Walk. The group followed a circuit, through Ness Islands and back to the park, notching up two and a half miles. Kate said: "The walk was wonderful, absolutely superb. "The weather was kind and the dogs didn't fight - we has a great time raising money for a worthwhile cause." The charity, which has 4,500 registered dogs on its books in the UK, takes pets to visit hospital wards. The event was the first time the group had staged a fundraiser in the Highland capital. The event formed part of a wider walk which was being organised under "Pets as Therapy Fun Walk Over Britain" banner.

Spa Centrepiece

A historic Highland Spa resort recreated genteel 19th century lifestyles recently, after lying derelict since World War II. The start attraction at the Strathpeffer Upper Pump Room centred on the exploits of "Mrs Mitchell", who visited the resort in 1905 for a peat bath as a cure for overindulgence. Her unforgettable image has been preserved for all time in the form of her naked statue being winched from her revitalising bath still covered in peat - which just happens to conceal the necessary places. The Easter Ross pump room, which was recently refurbished, was handed over to the company who will operate the building as a tourist attraction, on behalf of Highland Council, which owns the building. The Strathpeffer Pavillion Association will run the pump room. Strathpeffer was the first place to offer peat baths to the public, as in Victorian times they were said to cure obesity and lumbago. The four year restoration project has been overseen by the Highland Building Preservation Trust in association with the Highland Council Planning and Development Service. The building, which is a fully operational pump room, where visitors will be able to sample mineral water from the village's five wells, also includes an exhibition explaining the spa's history.

Local Silver Fetches Thousands

Two rare silver pieces crafted by a pair of Inverness craftsmen were among the items snapped up in a recordbreaking auction in Edinburgh recently. An 1820 pepper caster by silversmith Robert Naughten of Inverness fetched 3400 and an 1805 marrow scoop by Charles Jamieson, who also worked in the Highland Capital, fetched 2500. The auction was held at Thomson, Roddick and Medcalf's dedicated silver sale in Edinburgh and collected 30,000 from the top 10 items. Auctioneer Sybil Medcalf said that both Inverness items were significant in the sale because of their rarity. "Robert Naughten specialised in table-ware such as forks and spoons, so the pepper caster was quite a rare piece." she said. "The scoop, used to take out bone marrow, is also a rare piece and was particularly nice."

Secret of a Clootie Dumpling

Top scientists have discovered what housewives have known all along - the secret of a good clootie dumpling is in the suet and the cloth. Researchers at New Scientist magazine were besieged with readers' letters when they asked "What makes a perfect steamed pudding?" Arguments raged among readers through the Internet - with some contributing from as far afield as Australia and Texas - about what makes the Scots pudding so mouthwatering. However, the theories were so varied researchers put their labs to work and carried out experiments making dumpling in three different ways. But, bizarrely, they used cricket balls and Airtex shirts in their experiments. They wrapped four Airtex clooties around the cricket balls - rolling two in a mixture of butter and oil. Two were boiled for 15 minutes and two left in cold water. The aim of the experiment was to decide what stops puddings going soggy or sticking to their cloths. When untied it was shown that the combination of air bubbles and fat make for a tastier cricket ball - and presumably cricket ball. Roughly translated, perfect results come from a good strong cloth and top class suet. Bells of Shotts, the dumpling makers say they're surprised so much scientific work and research went into this. "While there's a science to perfection, it's interesting the New Scientist team used cricket balls when it should have been easier to make the dumplings," said Arthur Bell. "It's sacrilege to try to use cricket balls to probe the secrets of one of Scotland's favourite dishes. My granny could have told them but she departed to the big clootie dumpling in the sky some time ago. "As most good cooks know, the cloth and suet matter but so do the flour, dried fruit and spices. My oldest cookbook goes back to the 1820s and suggests some bakers yeast. "But no matter how it turns out the kids will always eat clootie dumplings - and you don't need a scientist to tell you that."

Charity Event

The Highland Hospice has received a valuable cash boost from Inverness's longest running garage. Macrae and Dick, established in 1878, has given 1,200 to the hospice, which provides outstanding care for terminally ill people. Each year the company sends out a calendar to every customer who has bought a new or used car within the past twelve months and donates a sum of money in respect of each calendar to the hospice movement.

Political Roundup

MSPs Take up offer of Supermarket Surgeries

The chance to check out your local MSP - along with your week's shopping - will become increasingly possible as a supermarket chain expands a novel scheme. Safeway, which has two branches in Inverness, has contacted Members of the Scottish Parliament to offer the use of their stores as surgeries for constituents wanting to enlist MSPs' help for a whole host of problems.

Highland Weather Forecast

Saturday Afternoon
Cloudy, patchy rain. Bright spells in the E. Winds light/mod E. Temperture 13c to 17c.
Saturday Night
Clear spells in the E. Cloudy rain in places mostly in the W. Winds light/mod SW. Temperature 9c to 12c
Sunday
Showers or a little light rain and some driers areas in the NW. Staying cool with light variable winds.
Monday
Settled, dry conditions and a few sunny spells a.m. Cloud and a mod SW'ly wind will move in p.m.


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Caledonia



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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