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Nessie's Loch Ness Times

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Established December 3rd, 1996
         Saturday 25th March 2000
Issue No172

For Sale: The Black Cuillins of Skye

An island mountain range which has been in the same clan for more than 800 years is for sale with a price tag of more than 10 million.

The Black Cuillins in Skye, which cover around 35 sq miles, have been put on the market by owner John MacLeod of MacLeod, 29th chief of the clan MacLeod. Highland Council described the mountains as a world treasure and called for them to be secured for the nation with lottery funding. Mr MacLeod is selling to raise money for essential repairs to Dunvegan Castle, which he has built into a major tourist attraction since inheriting it in 1965, and to fund a series of conservation and tourism projects on the island. The area for sale includes over 14 miles of coastline, two salmon rivers, a licensed campsite, sheep farm, farmhouse, cottages and farm buildings. Mr MacLeod said the decision to sell the mountains had been the most difficult one of his life but stressed all the money would be reinvested in Skye. "They're beyond price," he said. "They're part of my soul and part of me is constantly divided. I'm very very torn." But he added: "By putting the Cuillins on the market, I hope to satisfy what I see as the primary responsibilities of the 29th Chief of MacLeod. "Firstly, to assist the fragile economy of north west Skye by providing opportunities for employment in the community. This will be done by enhancing and securing a tourist attraction that, together with others, provide so much of Skye's lifeblood. "Secondly, to ensure that any purchaser continues to value and safeguard the interests and pursuits of all those from the wider community for whom the Cuillins offer so much." Highland Council called for the estate to be bought, at district valuer's valuation, by a partnership of public bodies, local tenant farmers and local communities, which could access Heritage Lottery Funding. Councillor Michael Foxley, chairman of the council's influential land and environment select committee, said the council had the experience to play a big role in such a bid. Local councillor Allan Beaton regretted the sale but appreciated the need to generate funds to upgrade Dunvegan Castle. He added: "Over the years the public have enjoyed unrestricted access to the Cuillins and this must be continued at all costs. I would strongly support public ownership, with strong community involvement." Councillor Angus Sutherland said he was disappointed by the sale.

Four Peaks Challenge

An adventurous teenager is set to scale Britain's highest peaks as part of a gruelling challenge ahead of a year long stint carrying out voluntary work abroad. Matthew Browne from Kirkhill a pupil at Fortrose Academy, will set off at Easter to tackle Ben Nevis, Snowdon in Wales, Carantoo Hill in Ireland and Scafell Pike in England in under 56 hours to raise sponsorship money for his Guyana adventure. A keen climber, Matthew (18) said he has been training since the beginning of the year to build up his strength and stamina for the challenge which he will attempt with a group of 15 who are raising money for a similar project. Matthew hopes his mountain challenge will attract the eye of local businesses to sponsor him before he leaves in August. He said: "Hopefully they will be interested in what I am doing. I've never been to South America before and for the work I'll be doing I need to be self sufficient. It will be a very new culture to me. "My brother went on a similar project and he put the idea into my head. I wanted to do something different and worthwhile in my year off."

Search Is On

Highland residents who can produce the oldest airmail letter for a national exhibition could scoop cash for their efforts. People are being asked to search their attics and cellars for old letters sent by airmail to help create an unusual archive about communication to the region from around the world. The National Museums of Scotland is putting together an exhibition of airmail albums over 25 years old which will tour the Highlands in May. The event will coincide with a special Send an Airmail Day on Monday 29th May, commemorating the UK's first chartered airmail route from Inverness to Orkney in 1934.

Visitor Centre Opens

Culloden Visitor Centre opened recently for the season. Although people could walk around the battlefield itself at any time and get a certain amount of the story of the battle and it's aftermath, it is in the centre itself that the full story is told, both in the exhibition and in the excellent audio visual presentation. This can be listened to in English, German, French, Italian or Japanese and there is a voice only track for the hard of hearing as well as subtitles for the profoundly deaf. The centre bookshop, reckoned by some to contain some of the ranges of Scottish books anywhere, will also be open and able to supply some quality gifts as well as books for all tastes. At all NTS properties in 2000, children and teenagers are being encouraged to find out about the heritage of their own country. To make this easier for them, the NTS is welcoming, completely free of charge, up to three young folk aged 18 or under when accompanied by an adult.

Castle Street Memories Wanted

Castle Street in Inverness is to be put under the historical spotlight later this year. The Local History Forum is to feature the street at its June event and is looking for material to illustrate its role in the town's history. Photographs, signs, receipts and newspaper articles relating to the street will all be welcome, as will recorded reminisces of life in Castle Street. Documents and photographs can be copied and returned to owners immediately and any articles used in the exhibition will be returned the following day. The convener of the history forum, Sheila MacKay, said that anything relating to Castle Street, Castle Wynd and Raining's Stairs would help to paint a vivid picture of the area. "We have already got some stories on tape from people who used to live in Castle Street at the turn of the last century."

Forbidden Island

Conservationists are set to reclaim an Inner Hebridean island from the ravages of its huge red deer population. Scottish Natural Heritage wants to restore the balance of flora and fauna on Rum, once known as the "forbidden island". The proposals were outlined in a new 10 year management plan for the 26,000 acre publicly owned nature reserve island, which has been the responsibility of the agency since 1992. A project officer has already been appointed to spearhead a drive to almost double the tiny population on Rum, whose ecology is internationally recognised. Before the Highland Clearances, 400 people lived on the island but in recent years the population has fallen to as low as 19 and currently stands at 30.

Time Travel

Youngsters gathered at Inverness Museum and Art Gallery recently to take part in a special "Time Travellers Day". It was organised to give children an idea of what living in the future will be like and a glimpse of life in the past. A special Millennium Time capsule will be buried in the Ness Islands later this year. In addition, the event saw a number of youngsters preserve their hand prints in clay. The idea is that when the capsule is opened after 2100 the children of the future will be invited to press their hands against the clay prints taken from those of the 21st century. Suggestions for the time capsule ranged from the latest Star Wars videos and games, pictures and various memorabilia, to copies of newspapers and photographs. The children were also shown a number of items which could have been included in a theoretical time capsule buried 100 years ago and invited to discover what these objects informed them about the lifestyles of their ancestors.

Charity Event

Two Highland charities have become the first to benefit from a donation scheme set up by the Bank of Scotland. Both Riding for the Disabled and the Highland Cot Death Support group have received 1000 from the bank to help their work. The riding charity will use the cash for special saddles for the group and the cot death support group will spend it on monitors for children at risk. The charities were nominated by staff at the bank's Highland branches.

Political Roundup

Kennedy Backs POs

Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy took his campaign to save sub-post offices on the road in the Highlands recently. The Ross, Skye and Inverness MP - who has already spoken out in support of retaining local post offices. The campaign started at Tore Post Office. Mr Kennedy said: "The aim is to force the Government to abandon plans to remove benefit office work from sub-post offices." He said the plan would take business away from sub-post offices and is liable to threaten their viability.

Highland Weather Forecast

Saturday Afternoon
Some rain in the West a.m. Bright in the East. Locally heavy rain later. Wind light to moderate South Easterly. Temperature 12c to 16c.
Saturday Night
Locally heavy rain. Misty. Winds moderate to strong Easterly. Temperature 8c to 12c.
Bands of showers across the region. Bright with sunny spells. Moderate North Westerly winds. Fairly mild.
Mainly dry. Fairly cloudy with limited sunshine. Light Southerly breeze. Mild temperatures.

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