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Nessie's Loch Ness Times

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Established December 3rd, 1996
         Saturday 25th August 2001
Issue No 245

Scotland Movie Dream

A 200 million Hollywood style film studio is being planned for the former Motorola plant in West Lothian. The ambitious project has the backing of some of the biggest names in the movie industry and 100 acres of adjoining land has also been earmarked for the plan.

Disney, Universal, MGN, 20th Century Fox, Warner Brothers and Dreamworks, owned by Steven Spielberg, are all involved in the talks. The Thistle Motion Picture Company will include studios for film, TV and music recording, a heritage theme park and an arts training academy. There's been an upsurge in interest in having a base in Scotland thanks to films such as Braveheart, Rob Roy and Loch Ness. If plans run smoothly, the Bathgate centre could be operational within two years. Willie Dunn, economic development convener for West Lothian Council, said any development would be welcome. He added: "This type of proposal is very exciting, not just for West Lothian but for Scotland. "Indeed, such a prestigious project would undoubtedly benefit the whole of Britain." The charity trust Acres Foundation (Scotland) Ltd, who provide training and hands-on experience for promising youngsters, are behind the scheme. And the driving force within the charity is former Hollywood talk show host Scott Gregor. The 54 year old novelist and his wife Carmel have been working on the project for two years. At their home in Brechin, Angus, Scot said: "Architects are already working on the plans and we have made initial inquiries about purchasing the site." Previous attempts to set up a studio in Scotland have ended in failure. Rangers football team boss David Murray and Sean Connery wanted to build a studio at Hermiston Gait, Edinburgh. But they couldn't get planning permission to build on a green belt site. Sites at Inverness, Fort William and Glasgow have all featured as possible spots for the studios.

New Pavilion Opened

Five years of hard work by a Highland community has paid off with the opening of a new sports pavilion. Built with the help of a grant from the Lottery Fund, the new facilities at Ballachulish, in Lochaber, will be used mainly by the local shinty club and schools in the area. The existing Jubilee shinty park at the lochside village has recently been developed, and the changing area will bring the club in line with other shinty teams and boost their capacity to host matches in the future. At the opening od the pavilion, Iain Brown, secretary of the Jubilee Parks Management Committee, performed the ribbon cutting ceremony and top shinty side Kingussie, current holders of the Camanachd Cup, played a demonstration match. Mr Brown said: "I would personally like to thank the long list of contributors for this project and I am confident that everyone has just reason to be proud of the excellent facility our community now has. "We said we wanted to create one of the finest sporting locations in the West Coast of Scotland and now feel that is what we have achieved." Ian Robson, chief executive of Sport Scotland said: "We are keen to promote awareness and participation in sport, particularly at community level. "Projects like the Jubilee Parks Pavilion is a fulfilling way to achieve that aim. It is wonderful to see the people of Ballachulish being rewarded with the opening of this excellent facility."

Doggy Devotion Gets Medal

A volunteer for the Highland Hospice has shown such dogged devotion to duty that she has been awarded a unique medal in recognition of her service. For the past 10 years, Tufty, a 12 year old springer spaniel, has been a familiar face around the hospice in Inverness. In appreciation of her sterling work, she has become the first canine recipient of a 10 year service medal for being a volunteer for the Highland Hospice. Her owner, Hazel Smith, the director of nursing at the hospice said: "She comes with me every day I am working at the hospice and virtually has a free run of the place. "She does her own thing. Often we arrive together and go home together, but during the day we might not see each other. "I feel having a dog around very much normalises the place. It is something of an ice breaker. "There have been one or two poignant moments when she just sits quietly with people who have been bereaved. She is very sensitive." Tufty is not the only dog at the hospice. Hazel's other springer spaniel, three year old Orrin, is following in Tufty's paw prints. "She did her first night shift when she was nine weeks old, but I don' think she is quite at home there as Tufty. She is more timid. "But both dogs are in their element at functions because they circulate and clear up the crumbs." Said Hazel: "In this part of the world, most people have had some experience of animals and so it is quite reassuring when they see a dog in the hospice." Tufty has also taken part in fundraising activities and has twice completed the Great Wilderness Challenge, a 25 mile walk across Wester Ross. In honour of her long service, a special medallion engraved with her name was presented to her by Provost of Inverness Councillor Bill Smith.

Clan Gathering

People from all over the world congregated at Achnacarry Castle in Lochaber recently for the 2001 International Gathering of Clan Cameron. Achnacarry is the home of Sir Donald Cameron of Lochiel, now in his 50th year as chieftain of the Clan Cameron, and was dubbed "Castle Commando" during World War 2 when the area was used to train around 25,000 allied special forces. Due to turn 91 in September, Sir Donald has held sway as chieftain for almost half a century but has been married even longer as he wed Lady Margaret in 1939. This is the first clan gathering since 1995 and special events were laid on at Achnacarry Castle, including historic battle re-enactments, helicopter and falconry displays and, of course, pipe bands. Accompanying Sir Donald were his son Donald Cameron Younger of Lochiel and his grandson Donald Andrew Cameron. Donald Cameron Younger said it was wonderful to see so many clan members from as far afield as Australia and New Zealand with more than 100 from North America alone. Achnacarry estate covers more than 60,000 acres but Donald Cameron Younger said: "It is mostly absolute hill land, but it is beautiful and we like to think of it as clan land." With his father in his 50th year as chief, he added: "That makes Dad very special and I hope he will carry on the chieftainship for a long time yet." But as his father already has almost half a century under his belt it is unlikely that Donald Cameron Younger will ever be able to achieve the same record. Clan Cameron has written history going back to the 1400s and judging by the turnout at the gathering, which included a massed band of Camerons climbing Ben Nevis, there is a strong future ahead.

Deal Falls Through

The planned sale of a Highland castle has fallen through before the deal was completed. Negotiations for Castle Grant at Grantown, have been ongoing for the past year but the buyer pulled out. The Edinburgh office of selling agent FPD Savills was forced to re-advertise after the 11th hour collapse in the sale. No reason was given for the anonymous buyer pulling out. Jamie Macnab, a spokesman for FDS Savills said: "Once again Castle Grant looks for a sympathetic purchaser to continue the heroic work undertaken by the vendors and their architect. "It is understood that the planners are prepared to consider any sympathetic schemes which do not compromise the integrity of the building." Castle Grant is one of Scotland's most important castles and was once a jewel in the vast Seafield Estates, before falling to a succession of disasters, death duties, dry rot and an abortive plan in the 80s to turn it into a luxury hotel. By 1990, although it did have a new roof, it was in a ruinous condition internally. Since then the current owners have carried out major restoration works, starting with making the castle wind and water tight by replacing all the rooms, there are 27 on the north elevation alone. Internally they have refurbished the ground and first floors of the main castle block and both wings, which form a U shape enclosing the elevated south facing courtyard. The second and third floors and the attics have not yet been renovated and have no internal divisions and in some cases no flooring. The main block of the castle faces north with a classical facade designed by John Adam and somewhat unkindly described by Queen Victoria as a "very plain looking house, like a factory." The castle is set in 35 acres of parkland and grounds just to the north of Grantown, with fine mature trees and a landscape lake.

New Mountain Record

Britain's highest mountain saw a new record set recently when a group of students representing 28 nations reached the summit of Ben Nevis together. The attempt by 60 members of Strathclyde University's Nevis full time Master of Business Administration (MBA) course included representatives from countries as diverse as Taiwan, Indonesia, Estonia, South Africa and Mexico. In addition to establishing a new record for the largest number of nationalities on top of the 4,406ft peak in one group at one time, organisers hope their effort will boost Scottish tourism. Charles Higgins, and MBA student and one of the organisers of the event, said: "Each year the graduate school of business names its full time course after a mountain, then sets the challenge for the students to climb it. "We decided to make our trip as special as the mountain we were named after, and use the opportunity to boost publicity for Scotland on a worldwide scale. "We contacted the Guinness Book of Records before the attempt and they could not find a category matching what we were hoping to achieve, so we regard this as the establishing of a new record. "We are pretty confident that no one has had such a large group of diverse nationalities on the top of Ben Nevis. "Everyone involved enjoyed it, although it was pretty cold on the top."

Island Centre Opens for Business

A picturesque Wester Ross island, once closed to the public, has further improved its visitor friendly image by opening an interpretative centre. The community trust that owns Isle Martin, a mile north of Ullapool, applied to Highland Council for planning permission to convert one of the 400 acre island's old houses into a visitor centre. The exhibition, which will tell the story of Isle Martin's colourful past, will take the form of display and information boards. Historical artefacts and old records from the island will also be on display. The island - the most northerly of the Summer Isles - was gifted to the Lochbroom community by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, which actively discouraged visitors, just over two years ago. Since then, the Isle Martin Trust has worked on access improvements, such as a new jetty for easing boat landings on the island and a small visitor ferry. Before that, a crumbling jetty and lack of modern facilities made the island, which has been uninhabited for more than 80 years, virtually inaccessible to the public. The centre is part of a volunteer project to make use of the three viable buildings on the island now that the island is open, and more accessible to the public. At the moment plans are modest, with one house to be used as a store and the other as a bunkhouse for volunteers who go out on working parties. The trust is in the process of applying for funding to help with the project. Trust chairman Roy Osborne, a retired civil engineer, said: "We are trying to open up the island a little bit, with boat trips, outings and events. We've been maintaining the houses with the help of volunteers in the past, but we obviously still have to buy all the necessary materials to so the work. This is eroding the trust's money, so we are hopeful of getting funding."

Charity Event

Over 90 people took part in a punishing marathon length cycle ride recently to raise over 5000 for a vital medical charity. The Annual Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland cycle event covered a 26 mile route, starting from the North Kessock Village Hall on the Black Isle, taking in Beauly, Redcastle and Kirkhill and finishing at Charleston Academy in Inverness.

Political Roundup

Let Us Have a Say About our Water

Consumer watchdogs are demanding stricter monitoring of Scotland's water industry. They fear proposed changes to the industry mean Scots will face higher charges and worse services than in England and Wales. The Scottish Consumes' Council want the Scottish Executive to set up an independent watchdog organisation.

Highland Weather Forecast

Saturday Afternoon
Bright/sunny periods. Patchy rain in E. Winds light SW'ly. Temperature 16c to 20c.
Saturday Night
A few showers near W coast. Rain easing in the E. Winds light S-SW'ly. Temperature 7c to 12c.
A showery start but as the day progresses bright and sunny spells will increase as the showers die.
Once again it will be settled with some sunshine along with a light SW'ly wind.

Glenmoriston Arms Hotel and Restaurant

Glenmoriston Arms Hotel
Character, Comfort and Creative cuisine just a short stroll from Loch Ness and in the very heart of Highland history.
Where each guest is welcomed as an individual and owners Neil and Carol Scott make sure that guests enjoy a unique blend of warmth, elegance and informality.

Glenmoriston Arms Hotel

(Sponsors of Legend of Nessie site)


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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