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Nessie's Loch Ness Times

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Established December 3rd, 1996
         Saturday 11th November 2000
Issue No 205

Historian Gets the Task of Finding Scots Battle Site

An under fire council has appointed a historian to find the exact location of Scotland's greatest military victory over England.

Stirling Council came in for criticism recently when it emerged the authority planned to build houses on a field believed by many to be the site of the Battle of Bannockburn. The council vowed to launch an investigation to find out the true location of the battle before going ahead with the development. The authority revealed it had asked one of the country's leading history experts to carry out the work. Fiona Watson said she was honoured to be asked to carry out the work and said she was looking forward to it. Ms Watson, who has lectured on the Wars of Independence at Stirling University since 1995, said: "My remit is to look at where people have said the battle is and come up with the most likely site. I will speak to local historians and look at eyewitness accounts dating back to the battle itself." The Scottish forces, led by King Robert the Bruce, defeated King Edward II's English troops in June 1314. Ms Watson said she hoped to have a preliminary report on her findings soon and her final report will be ready this month. Standing beside the Bannock Burn, Ms Watson stressed it would be difficult to say exactly where the battle was. She said: "There are a lot of sites where people think it could be. "It was such a huge battle that no one can guarantee one place was the exact location. But I hope to use my judgement to come up with the most likely battle site." The row of the battle site developed earlier this year when a book published by an eminent historian cast doubt on the exact location of the battle. In the book, Bannockburn: Scotland's Greatest Ever Victory, Peter Reese said the battle was miles away from the Bannockburn Heritage Centre, which was built on the outskirts of Stirling to commemorate the battle. Mr Reese claimed Bruce triumphed after the outnumbered Scottish army trapped English forces between Bannock Burn and Pelstream Burn. His views were backed by local historian Archie Bone, who first contacted Stirling Council six years ago urging it to erect a commemoration plaque at the filed at Millhall. Mr Bone welcomed news of Ms Watson's appointment, and said he awaited the results of her investigation with interest. Council archaeologist Lorna Main said the council might revise its plans depending on the outcome of Ms Watson's investigation.

Mountain Rescue Team Rewarded

Dundonnell Mountain Rescue Team has become the first mountain rescue team in the UK to win the Investors in People(IIP) award. The success rate in the national scheme has been higher in the Highlands and Islands than anywhere in Scotland, but is all the more worthy when awarded to an organisation made up entirely of volunteers. The IIP standard sets a level of good practice for training and development of people to achieve goals for businesses and organisations and maximise their best assets - their members of staff. Former team leader, and now chairman of the team, Angus Jack was behind the programme and said: "I am absolutely delighted the team has won this award." Current team leader Bill Amos added: "IIP was impressed by the fact our members feel very much part of the team. "Our effectiveness is enhanced by this team spirit and enables us to work as a cohesive unit with organisations such as the RAF and the Coastguard helicopters." The team can call on up to 35 members with another five or so undertaking a year's training. Bill explained, "We have members who work shifts, have stints off-shore and the like, and that governs how many we can call out at a given time, hence the need for training new members." The team is responsible for rescues in an area covering more than 2000 square miles - Fisherfield and Letterewe Forests, the Beinn Dearg hills, Ben Wyvis, The Fannichs, Mullardoch and Strathfarrar. One of the most challenging areas is the remote, steep and complex ridge of An Teallach - which saw three people die and another hospitalised last year.

Inverness in Euro Title Bid

Inverness is bidding to follow the lead of Glasgow and Dublin by becoming European Capital of Culture. Councillors gave the go ahead recently for a bid to be made for the town and the wider Highland area to compete for the title of capital of culture in 2008. But they also called for caution in the amount of money spent on the bid. A meeting of Highland Council's cultural and leisure committee heard from service director Alan Jones that 2008 was the UK's opportunity to host the European culture capital. New criteria meant that for the first time applications would not be solely based on a town or city and their hinterland would also be considered allowing Inverness and the Highlands to make a bid. All bids have to be lodged within the next 18 months and Mr Jones said that towns and cities in England and Wales were already preparing applications. Councillor Garry Coutts (Beauly and Strathglass) supported the Highland bid but warned that he had been involved in a previous bid for city of culture status that had failed despite an investment of hundreds and thousands of pounds. "I want us to be very realistic from day one about the budget for this," he said.

Canal Upgrade

British Waterways have issued details of it's programme of repair work at Laggan locks on the Caledonian Canal, which started on the 29th of October and will run till April 2 next year. The vital work has been planned for the winter months to cause the least amount of disruption to canal users. Working in close partnership with Historic Scotland, British Waterways consulted widely to ensure that all those likely to be affected by the winter programme were made fully aware of the works schedule. Work at Laggan will involve the stabilisation of the lock walls, repointing of masonry, regrouting and the replacement of three pairs of lock gates. Many of the techniques and specialist products used in this process were specially created by British Waterways for use on the Caledonian Canal.

Scottish Trains "Stolen"

Rail bosses have been accused of staging a Great Train Robbery after switching locos from Scotland to England to keep services going in the south. Thousands of irate Scots have been told they will have to complete their journeys by road so English commuters can enjoy regular trains. The scandal came as the country was plunged into chaos by the closure of the West Coast line, to search for cracks in the rails. It outraged politicians and rail users, who accused the rail operators of treating Scotland with contempt. GNER have switched nine diesel trains from Scotland to England to replace their normal electric services, which have been hit by the Hatfield disaster last month. It means the east coast service now only runs as far as Edinburgh and passengers are being forced to complete their journeys by bus. GNER, the east coast main line operators, claimed they had been forced into the move to keep a regular service to and from London. The Scottish trains are now running between Leeds and London. SNP transport spokesman Bruce Crawford said GNER were a "disgrace". He said: "It is completely out of order and a disgrace to strip trains out of Scotland so as to run a service in England."

Battle Over "Leapfrog"

A tiny wine and spirits business is taking on the might of drinks giant Allied Domecq in a row over the trademark of a well known Scottish whisky. Unlikely as it may sound Allied are trying to stop London based Murray McDavid using the name Leapfrog on their bottles - because it sounds too much like their whisky, Laphroaig. The unusual legal battle was sparked more than two years ago when Allied took exception to the use of the Islay malt's name on the Murray McDavid bottles. Although the lengthy court action proved inconclusive, the smaller firm backed down when Allied threatened further expensive legal steps, but cheekily changed the name to Leapfrog. Now Allied are challenging their right to use the name as they say it will cause confusion. The company buys casks of pure malt whisky, including Laphroaig, from third party brokers, who get them from the small number of barrels reserved by the distilleries for small specialist producers. The whisky is then tasted, the finest casks kept and the rest sold on. Then the bottled spirit is marked with the name of the distillery from which it came. Director of Murray McDavid, Mark Reynier, said: "How Allied can claim there is confusion I don't know. "Certainly none of the other malts we bottle and label in the same way has caused this kind of furore."

Bridging the Gap

The Army has stepped in to help bridge gaps on the proposed Great Glen long distance footpath. Thirty students who are members of Queens (Belfast) university officer Training Corps are putting their skills to use in a 10 day exercise. They are building a bridge for Highland Council across Laggan Spout on the Caledonian Canal, and also providing new decking on the old Aberchalder railway bridge, at Aberchalder Estate. The work is to designs by British Waterways Board and the Royal Engineers, and is being carried out under the auspices of the Ministry of Defence's military aid to civil communities operations. The bridges were officially opened recently by Highland councillor Basil Dunlop, chairman of the Great Glen Steering Group. The Great Glen Way is the fourth and last of the formal long distance routes in Scotland. Linking Fort William with Inverness, it is expected to be opened by 2002.

Charity Event

A two hour long sponsored street jamming session boosted school funds and raised money for a cancer charity when more than 100 Charleston Academy pupils took part in the event. Reliving some of the routines that aerobics instructor Andy McKechnie put them through are this group of pupils, donating half of the proceeds they raised to Macmillan Cancer Relief's fundraising manager in the Highlands, Hilary Kirkby.They raised more than 1000.

Political Roundup

Tolls to be Taxed

Europe announced recently that VAT will have to be charged on bridge tolls. This, according to the Liberal Democrats, will cause severe difficulty for the Scottish Executive, and Sarah Boyack, because assurances had been given to the users of the Skye Bridge that the tolls would remain fixed. John Farquhar Munro MSP has written to Sarah Boyack to seek assurances that tolls will not rise after the imposition of VAT, and that the Treasury of Executive will meet this cost burden.

Highland Weather Forecast

Saturday Afternoon
Rain/showers in the S and W. Drier/sunshine in the N and E. Winds mod/fresh S-SW. Temperature 7c to 9c.
Saturday Night
Rain /showers in most places, especially in NE later. Winds moderate cyclonic. Temperature 2c to 5c.
Sunday
Mostly dry with bright or sunny periods. A few showers towards the N coast.
Monday
Very cold in a fresh to strong N wind. A mixed day at times with sunshine and showers, wintry at times.


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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