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Nessie's Loch Ness Times

The Friendliest NewsPaper on the WWW

Established December 3rd, 1996
         Saturday 1st September 2001
Issue No 246

Abbey Owner Looking for More Funding

Former TV presenter Terry Nutkins is looking for more funds to turn an abbey on the shores of Loch Ness into a world class tourist draw.

The former front man for TV's Really Wild Show is visiting the US in a bid to assemble a multi million pound package to develop what he says is one of the finest sites in Europe, on the most famous loch in the world. Among company's he will be visiting to seek backing are Disney and electrical giants Sony. Mr Nutkins and two business associates last year bought Fort Augustus Abbey, which closed as Scotland's last Catholic fee paying boarding school in the early 1990s. In 1999, the Benedictine monks finally severed their 130 year links with the building which had been leased at a yearly peppercorn rent by Lovat Estates since 1867. Mr Nutkins formed Abbey Millennium (Scotland) in 2000 to buy the imposing building. The abbey is built on the site of an 18th century fortress built by General George Wade in 1730 and named after nine year old Prince William Augustus. Sixteen years later, as the Duke of Cumberland, he was nicknamed Butcher for ordering the deaths of many former combatants and clansmen after his rout of Bonnie Prince Charlie's army at the Battle of Culloden. A modest tourist enterprise set up by the monks during the 1990s failed to bring in enough funds to secure the monastic community's future, in the abbey with it's picturesque setting at the south end of the monster loch. Now Mr Nutkin, who has spent most of his life in the Highlands and who has an extensive background in tourism, wants to meet to managers of international entertainment corporations, including Disney and Sony. He also intends meeting personal contacts and other well heeled private individuals. The former Trust House Forte general manager and owner of the Inverness-shire village's Lovat Arms Hotel said: "I have no reason to think that big companies will not want to come on board and be associated with what we are doing here." Since he took over late last year, Mr Nutkins has organised for minor repairs to be done and he has opened up the building and grounds to bring in some income. In the near future, he plans a 500,000 tropical world in the grounds. The abbey church will be available for couples wanting to get married on Loch Ness side, while his business also plans to lay on medieval style banquets and other functions.

Clan Castle Discovered

Archaeologists using Indiana Jones techniques believe they have discovered an ancient clan castle previously thought to have been the stuff of legends. The three strong team rigged up a Tyrolean traverse using climbing ropes across a 50ft wide rocky chasm between mainland Lewis and the 40ft high sea stack of Dun Eistean to investigate the former stronghold of the Morrisons. A series of important discoveries which have surprised the tree strong team from Glasgow University suggest they have found the remains of a medieval tower, which features on the Morrison clan badge. Chris Barrowman, the team leader said: "As professional archaeologists, we thought that the clan had a romanticised view of what was on Dun Eistean. The historical records are very sketchy. "But from the excavations we have carried out in the last few days, it seems the clan may well have been right. "It is very exciting because there are no other surviving medieval remains of this kind in the Outer Hebrides." The long term project to investigate the past of the tiny cliff bound island near Ness, not far from the Butt of Lewis at the northern tip of the Hebridean island began last year. The project is being funded by the Clan Morrison Society of America and Historic Scotland and is being supported by the local historical society Comunn Eachdraigh Nis.

Skye Invention Lands First Prize

Portree Primary School pupils won first prize recently in Glasgow's Science Centre's "be an inventor" challenge in which more than 5,000 children from 187 schools took part. The annual event promotes the creativity and imagination of youngsters by helping them develop skills in generating ideas, planning, design, product evaluation and marketing. Portree Primary also won the North and North East regional final and received 250. The pupils also received 1,000 and the winner's trophy at the recent final at the science centre. Pupils at the school designed recycleable plastic envelopes for teenagers called plastephelopes. The envelopes are made of the same material as plastic felt tip pens and have a snap fastening. Joe McGrath, the centre based co-ordinator, said: "We are absolutely delighted with the level and quality of the entries this year."

Everest Recalled

The 14 men involved in the RAF Mountain Rescue Service Everest climb, met up again recently in Coylumbridge to relate their adventures. Formally known as the RAF MRS Chomolungma Challenge, after the Chinese name for the world's highest mountain, the effort saw two team members make it to the summit via the North Ridge Route. That gave the team the honour of becoming Britain's first single service expedition ever to reach the summit. The team was involved in a number of rescues during their attempt or more of them could well have reached the top. In the event, Chief Technician Dan Carroll and Corporal Richard "Rusty" Bale were the two who succeeded. Dan said: "The weather looked reasonable so we went for it. What a feeling when you reach the summit. It was the best ever." The idea for the climb came after an unsuccessful joint services attempt on the mountain in 1988. But RAF personnel on the trip thought it was achievable. A plan was put to the RAF mountain rescue teams four years ago and all the planning came to fruition. Part of their success was due to acclimatising in the Annapurna area of Nepal then going into the base camp late while fit and strong. Normally an expedition nominates two people for the summit, but the RAF team had hoped to put every man on top of Everest. However, although there were a number of summit attempts just two men made it. During their time on Everest the team saved the lives of at least two people, a Korean and a Chinese scientist, and their camp became known as something of a medical centre with two Frenchmen even asking for sticking plasters.

Great Wall Walk

The widow of a hillwalker who died on one of Scotland's highest peaks is to undertake a fundraising charity walk along the Great Wall of China. Margaret Fraser, who lives on the Black Isle, is undertaking the 10 day trip this month to raise money for the Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice in Glasgow. However, she also sees it as part of the healing process after her husband Donald (32), a former mountain rescue team member, and a fellow hillwalker fell to their deaths two years ago while on the 3483ft An Teallach near Dundonnell. Mrs Fraser, who was also in the group, fought unsuccessfully for two and a half hours to resuscitate her husband. The couple, who had known each other for 10 years, had travelled abroad extensively and when a friend told her about the walk in China, she jumped at the chance. "It has taken a while to get myself back together. This is certainly giving me a goal to aim for. It is somewhere I have always wanted to go."

Viewpoint Unveiled

A Highland author unveiled the new look Neil Gunn memorial viewpoint in Ross-shire recently. Katherine Stewart, who is known for her book, A Croft in the Hills, was delighted to see that interest in the life of the Scottish writer is as strong as ever. The new feature at the viewpoint near Strathpeffer is a plaque designed and built by locals, which gives more of an insight into the life of Gunn, whose works include the Silver Darlings. The footpath and drainage up to the 12 year old monument have also been improved after its trustees received a grant of more than 2000 under the Awards scheme. Mrs Stewart, a former French teacher at Inverness High School said: "It is a great privilege to be here. Neil lived and walked here, so the plaque is very appropriate and now, of course, his work is known worldwide. "I was working in the library recently and I looked over to see a sixth year schoolboy, who was writing furiously and had copies of The Serpent and Highland River beside him. "He told me he loved the work of Neil Gunn. It's good to see young people today are still appreciating his work."

New Wedding Plan

The Scottish Executive handed an early wedding present recently, to those planning a civil marriage ceremony with the romantic Highlands standing to benefit in a big way. The White Paper "Civil Marriages Outwith Registration Offices" will allow civil marriages to be held at any venue outwith Scotland's 247 registrars offices, provided the dignity of the marriage ceremony is upheld. Casia Zajac, communications officer with the Highlands of Scotland Tourist Board, said the announcement came on the back of the flood of Highland wedding venue inquiries sparked by Madonna nuptials in Dornoch last December. "This is great news," she said. "We have already had inquiries from people wanting to get married in a lighthouse or on top of a mountain. This will open the floodgates." Local councils will be given power to approve specific sites as venues for civil marriages, according to the Executive, "as long as they (the sites) preserve the dignity of the marriage ceremony." The Highlands Brigadoon type image of lochs and glens, Blue Flag beaches and heather covered mountains is reinforced by Loch Ness and the internationally renowned monster. The move was welcomed by Barbara Fraser of Historic Scotland, whose Urquhart Castle site overlooking Loch Ness is undergoing a controversial and expensive extension and is due for opening in late autumn. She said that accommodating marriages in the organisation's castles and monuments was a growing part of their business. "We have people wanting to get married at lots of our properties and if civil services are now to be allowed that is something we would welcome."

Charity Event

A garden party at the home of Lady Christian Innes has raised 441 for Marie Curie Cancer Care. The event held at The Loom House, Aultgowrie by Muir of Ord, included the appearance of three vintage cars - a Bentley, Triumph Stag and Jaguar. Music was provided by Strathpeffer band, Dizzy Heights, while Sasha Mackenzie of Fort Augustus played her clarsach.

Political Roundup

No Capping Pledge

Deputy Justice Minister Iain Gray gave MSPs an assurance recently that the legal aid budget would not be capped. He said legal aid funding was demand led and awarded by the Scottish Legal Aid Board to everyone eligible.

Highland Weather Forecast

Saturday Afternoon
Sunny spells in the E am. Rain in W spreading E later. Winds mod/fresh. Temperature 14c to 18c.
Saturday Night
Rain then showers. Clear spells in W & N. Winds mod/fresh W'ly. Temperature 7c to 12c.
Sunday
Mainly cloudy, a few brighter periods. A possibility of frequent/heavy showers in W, occasional in E.
Monday
Cool and cloudy with a few bright spells and showers. Moderate to fresh winds.


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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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