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Nessie's Loch Ness Times

The Friendliest NewsPaper on the WWW

Established December 3rd, 1996
         Saturday 15th September 2001
Issue No 248

Highlands Voted Top UK Visitor Destination

A survey conducted by Collins Road Atlases names the Highlands as Britain's most attractive location for visitors.

The top ten regions in the survey were, in order: Highlands, Devon, Greater London, Argyll and Bute, Kent, Cumbria, North Yorkshire, Cornwall, Norfolk and Hampshire. Highlands came out on top for its combination of stunning natural attributes and variety of cultural and historical features - beating the ever popular tourist destination, London. For visitors interested in past times, Highlands boasts 27 castles, 11 battlefields, 16 ancient monuments, eight museums and 12 distinctive religious buildings as well as 19 lighthouses. Its 971km of primary roads are easily navigated and it has the fewest overall centres of population in Britain. With more miles of unspoilt coastline than any other area, 32 nature reserves, the most lochs and lakes and the highest and biggest mountains, it's a must for fans of the great outdoors as well as those fascinated by Britain's historical heritage. Rt Hon Charles Kennedy MP, Leader of the Liberal Democrats commenting on the results of the Collins Survey said: "It comes as no surprise to me, a born and bred Highlander, that my region has topped the popularity polls as a holiday destination. The Highlands exemplifies all that is great about Britain - with stunning scenery, a beautiful coastline, fascinating history and a genuine sense of community." Second place Devon scored highly too. With more Tourist Information Centres than any other county, 18 historic houses, 14 museums and three theme parks, it provides good all round activities as well as gaining points for outstanding seaside resorts, sandy beaches and the diversity of its landscapes. In the rest of the overall top ten, Argyll and Bute scored highly for its natural features including Loch Lomond. Cumbria comes out in sixths place because it was judged the best place to visit in Autumn due to its spectacularly colourful scenery.`

Tribute to a Village Legend

An exhibition on the life of a Highland man who devoted more than 70 years of service to his community went on display in Kingussie recently. Roddie MacLean, of Hycliffe, Kingussie, now aged 90, was actively involved in the huge changes in the welfare services over the past century, from poor houses to the DHSS. He participated in the promotion of tourism facilities in Badenoch and Strathspey, including the promotion of the Cairngorm Chairlift Company near Aviemore in the 1960s. His greatest achievement, he believes, was the planning of the Norwegian Memorial in 1973 to the soldiers who used the area for training at Glenmore during World War II. Mr MacLean, who was also secretary of the Kingussie Bowling Club in the 1920s and for the Badenoch and Rothiemurchus Highland Games has donated all of his personal and formal papers to the Highland Council for public use. The exhibition was opened by Highland Councillor Angus Gordon, chairman of Badenoch and Strathspey committee.

Paying Homage

A Japanese senator has made a pilgrimage to the Highlands to pay tribute to a doctor who spent a lifetime administering medicine to an ancient Japanese people. Shigeru Kayano visited the home of Chief of the Munros, Foulis Castle, near Evanton. As part of the Japan 2001 Festival, the national Museums of Scotland presented a fascinating display of the collection of Dr Neil Gordon Munro who lived in Japan for 50 years and built a collection of important artefacts which otherwise might have been lost. Dr Munro, who died in 1942, was a champion of the Ainu, an ancient people from Hokkaido, the northern part of Japan. They had always been discriminated against in Japan and only in the latter part of the 20th century did this change. Shigeru Kayano, an Ainu himself, made his pilgrimage to the castle, the home of the clan chief of the Munros, Hector Munro, to perform an Ainu ritual to thank the spirit of Dr Munro for his support in helping the Ainu to survive against all the odds. When he arrived at the castle, Mr Kayano said: "Dr Munro's house was built between the hills and the river. Seeing Hector Munro's house, I am immediately reminded of Dr Munro's house. "I now understand why Dr Munro chose to live in Nibutani, my home town, as the beauty of the Highlands reminds me of my roots." The ceremony was filmed for the Japanese equivalent of the BBC and Casia Zajac of the Highlands of Scotland Tourist Board hopes that the story will help attract Japanese visitors to the Highlands.

Culture Capital

Ambitious plans to launch a bid for Inverness and the Highlands as European Capital of Culture 2008 were welcomed recently by Highland councillors in Ross and Cromarty. The council's leisure director Alan Jones told area committee members that Inverness had a one in 10 chance of being chosen, as opposed to a one in 32 chance of achieving city status, which it did earlier this year. He said the many public and private agencies involved in the bid were all pulling together, and promised members that even if the bid was not successful, the spinoffs would result in a "win-win situation". The bid was approved in principle by the council's education, culture and leisure committee. Councillor Roy Macintyre, Gairloch, observed that there might be more support regionwide if the benefits to the rest of the Highlands were identified. And both Councillor Sandy Mackenzie, Conon Bridge, and Councillor Peter Cairns, Munlochy, inquired about the financial implications of the bid. "It's an admirable bid, but at the back of my mind there's something called revenue consequences, and after 2008 things have to continue to be funded and paid for," said Mr Mackenzie. "Is there any benefit we can gain if we don't succeed?" Commented Mr Cairns: "We have a huge backlog of repairs to schools and other buildings. I think we should consolidate our existing facilities rather then erect new buildings." "I think that to invest in what we have makes much more sense," Mr Jones agreed. "I think we must look at the 75 village halls we have rather than create culture centres or sculpture trails. "We're not thinking of something that's nice for a festival without thinking of its sustainability." Among suggested themes for the bid which have emerged are St Columba and the Christian heritage, and the unique and diverse cultural and musical heritage of the Highlands.

Ancient Court Will Decide

A fight broke out recently over a former Sutherland district councillor's bid to become the 20th chief of the Clan MacAulay. Iain MacAulay, of Drumbeg, Assynt, is the front runner for the chieftainship. He revived the clan in 1994 and has been selected by clan members to become the first chief for 250 years. But a namesake who now lives in Chester is opposing his selection because Mr MacAulay is not a direct descendant of the last chief, who died in 1764 and left the clan chiefless. Iain MacAulay, who was born in Helensburgh but now lives in Chester, said the honour should go to someone who can prove they are a direct descendant of the last clan chief. He argues the selection should be delayed for five years while further searches are carried out. He said: "We have lasted 200 years without a clan chief, what difference will another five make?" His opposition has not deterred the Highland pensioner and his name will go forward to a meeting of the ancient court, which has been ordered by Lord Lyon King of Arms. Mr MacAulay, a grandfather who lives in Drumbeg, was commissioned as Commander of the clan at its first modern assembly in 1998. He said: "I know that I am not a direct descendant but I feel the time is right for the clan to have a new chief. I have been selected by my fellow clan members to be elected and I consider it to be a great honour. "My namesake is always trying to cause trouble when it comes to elect a new clan chief, I think he wants it for himself for some reason. The court will decide who becomes clan chief and the final decision will lie with Lord Lyon."

New Gun for the Castle

Edinburgh castle's new One O'clock Gun has been put through its paces when it was fired recently for the first time in Stirling. The 105mm artillery piece is set to replace the old 25lb gun in its ceremonial role above the streets of the capital this autumn. The new weapon took its maiden shot at the Army's workshop. Following a successful test fire it is now set to be manoeuvred into place on the castle's ramparts. The wear and tear caused by firing off nearly 15,000 blank rounds has taken its toll on the original gun, and both spares and ammunition are now in short supply. More than six decades after the weapon was first introduced to the British Army it is now set to be replaced by its modern equivalent. The man who fired the maiden shot, Sergeant MacKay, or "Tam the Gun" as he is universally known, said he would be deeply saddened to see the old gun go but had resigned himself to the march of time. The District Gunner said: "After working with it for the last 23 years it will be very sad to see the old 25 pounder go, it will be like losing an old friend. "It is an excellent piece of engineering which has served the castle very well over the years. "But it is now past its shelf life and it is time we brought the ceremony up to the present day. I am looking forward to using the new one." The replacement weapon which has seen active service in both the Falklands and Bosnia, is an air and land portable field gun used by all units of the Royal Artillery. It is expected to give an even more impressive retort than its predecessor when it becomes a fixture on the castle walls in November.

Taste of Success

The single malts and blended whiskies produced by the 175 year old Ben Nevis Distillery in Fort William have nce again taken pride of place in the world wide showplace. At the Belgian Monde Awards for international food and drink, the 10 year old Ben Nevis single malt, holder of two consecutive "Grand Gold" medals, made a rare hat trick by striking gold once again. And, because of achieving "three years of continuing high quality", an inscribed plaque was presented. The international judging panel members were in raptures over the commemorative ceramic Dew of Ben Nevis flagon produced last year to mark the anniversary of the distillery. A gold medal was struck specially, and presented to Ben Nevis Distillery managing director, Colin Ross, for "recognition of a classic container - and contents". To complete the set the "Supreme Selection" of blended Ben Nevis whiskies carried off a Mooned Silver Award.

Charity Event

Terriers Tweedie and Muffin didn't paws for thought when they were enlisted in helping to raise money for the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The terriers have retrieved more than 440 lost golf balls on the Aviemore Golf Course in the last 18 months. Their owner Moira Gray sold the golf balls at an inaugural fun day for the association's new animal welfare centre at Inshes, Inverness. The day, which attracted up to 1500 visitors, raised about 2000.

Political Roundup

Bid to Rescue 'Ailing' Gaelic

Gaelic should have equal status with English, a Nationalist MSP claimed recently. SNP education spokesman Mike Russell accused the Scottish Executive of doing nothing to preserve the language. And he said he would present a Bill to secure equal status for the language - which has 86,000 speakers, most bilingual. Mr Russell said: "I cannot do the government's whole job for them. But I intend to make a start."

Highland Weather Forecast

Saturday Afternoon
Cloudy in W, E brighter/showery. Winds strong W-NW. Temperature 12c to 16c.
Saturday Night
Clear spells in E, a risk of showers. Winds mod/fresh NW. Temperature 6c to 11c.
Remaining rather cloudy with isolated showers. The wind will be fresh NW and rather gusty.
Sunny spells. Showers at times. Becoming mainly dry by night with long clear spells. Fresh winds easing to light.

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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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