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Nessie's Loch Ness Times

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Established December 3rd, 1996
         Saturday 8th April 2000
Issue No 174

Ben Nevis Has Been Sold

An English landowner has sold Ben Nevis for a knockdown 450.000 price.

Warwick based Duncan Fairfax-Lucy will transfer ownership of Britain's highest peak to a conservation trust. The deal - hot on the heels of the proposed sale of the Cuillins on Skye - sparked a furious debate about the buying and selling of Scotland's heritage. Roseanna Cunningham, MSP, the SNP spokeswoman on land reform, said the deal was a reminder that much of Scotland is in private ownership. She said: "We are lucky this sale involved people who will be responsible. It could easily not have been. The proposed land reform legislation coming before the Scottish Parliament would have no effect on this sale. We need to look again at this legislation." Fairfax-Lucy, head of an originally Scots family that moved to England generations ago, is selling the 4406ft mountain plus two other peaks in the Nevis range to the John Muir Trust. The group have launched an appeal to raise 1 million to ensure the deal goes through on June 21, when they assume the title deeds, and to fund conservation and upgrading work on the mountains facilities. Included in the sale are 4045ft Aonach Beag and the 4012 Carn Mor Dearg. Only the top 2000ft of Ben Nevis is in the ownership of the Fairfax-Lucy family. They sold the lower slopes to the mining company British Alcan in 1920. At his home in Warwick, Duncan Fairfax-Lucy said: "I'm selling because I want to preserve Ben Nevis for the future. I know the John Muir Trust is the best way to do that. "I also wanted to make sure that they could purchase the three peaks at a price that was fair to them and fair to me." He added: "I've known them for a long time and have been a member of the trust for the last six years." He said by selling Ben Nevis to the trust it was being returned to the people of Scotland. The John Muir Trust already own and manage six areas in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland totalling 47,000 acres. Knoydart, part of the Cuillins, Sandwood Bay, Strathaird and Schiehallion are among the places already in their ownership. Neil Clark, Highland Council member for south Fort William and chairman of the Ben Nevis working party, said: "I must admit I am fairly upbeat about working with the Trust." But he added: "The news of the sale came as a major shock when I heard it.". Lochaber councillor Dr Michael Foxley said: "I think the John Muir Trust will be more tan capable of looking after the land. They obviously have a great deal of experience in this type of land management." John Muir was born in Dunbar, East Lothian, in 1838 and his family moved to Wisconsin, USA, when he was 11 years old. He was the founding father of America's national Parks and on April 21 the States celebrate John Muir Day.

Times Past

Visitors to Applecross will be able to travel back in time when a new heritage centre opens later this year. The Applecross Historical Society is behind the new Clachan Heritage Centre, which will preserve and display items of local historical interest, as well as providing an insight into Highland life centuries ago. The museum will be housed in restored buildings at Applecross, next to the site of the ancient seventh century St Maelrubha's Monastery. The centre will be the latest addition to a growing number of new visitor attractions being developed in in the area, including a footpath network and new pier facilities for visiting yachts. Chairman of the historical society Alistair McCowan said: "The Applecross peninsula has a great deal of historical interest and value, that has gone largely unrecorded over the years. "The decision to investigate the establishment of a heritage centre was taken after a local meeting generated a great deal of interest in the history of the area. As a result, we have had an overwhelming response to our calls for items for display." The peninsula is a priority area for Ross and Cromarty Enterprise due to its geographical isolation and declining population. The Applecross Estate Trust has supported the development by providing a suitable site and buildings for the Historical Society and by helping with the preparation of plans for the project.

Highland Spa Water on Tap Again

Revitalising waters which once attracted Victorian visitors in their thousands to a Highland spa resort are set to flow again in a 180,000 project. The restoration of the Upper Pump Room in Strathpeffer will create the period setting for a modern interactive visitor centre that focuses on the history of the spa. The village was a fashionable Highland holiday destination in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The pump room, formerly a medical and curative centre, is located within the Spa gardens which are also being restored to their former glory. The site is also home to the Spa Pavillion - a popular dance venue in the 60s and 70s. The physical restoration of the Upper Pump room and its adaptation to a visitor centre is being managed by Highland Buildings Preservation Trust. Mia Scott of HBPT said: "The Upper Pump Room is one of the last surviving remnants of the Strathpeffer Spa. "Through careful research, and using the services of a local dowser, we have been able to establish the location of the wells that once supplied the Upper Pump Room, several of which had been buried as a result of road realignments and building work."

Pipes Honour

A World War II veteran who flew hazardous bombing missions was recently honoured on his 90th birthday. Former Squadron Leader Jim Breakey received an accolade called the March of the Royal British Legion (Scotland) which was played by piper Finlay MacKenzie at his home in Inverness. The celebration was prompted by senior members of the Royal British Legion in Inverness, who decided to prepare the surprise 90th birthday party. Mr Breakey, who was awarded the Distinguish Flying Cross for his acts of outstanding bravery flying Lancaster bombers during the war, was also heavily involved in the Boys Brigade movement.

Battle Scene Return

Highland World War II veterans whose military service is forever linked to a French community have been invited to make a special pilgrimage to an Inverness twin town. Veterans who were in action at St Valery-en-Caux have been invited along on a 60th anniversary pilgrimage being made by the 51st Highland Division in June. The trip centres around commemoration of the 1940 battle and organisers are particularly keen to be contacted by anyone who was taken prisoner at that time, as well as those who evaded capture and went on to liberate the town in September 1944. Two of three brigades of the 51st Highland Division were captured in St Valery in 1940. The division had been surrounded by the forces of General Rommel which reduced the town to ruins and prevented the Royal Navy from approaching the harbour. In the aftermath of the battle, around 6,000 Scots soldiers were taken prisoner. Most of the division took part in the D-Day landings of 1944 in Normandy and were involved in six weeks of hard fighting thereafter. To avenge the misfortunes of 1940, it was given the honour of later liberating St Valery, and links between those involved have remained strong to the present day. The pilgrimage being organised for June will be led by General Sir Derek Lang.

On the Move

A bid is to be made to move the highest cafe in Britain bit by bit from its 3,600ft perch to a new home in a Highland museum. The unusual igloo shaped Ptarmigan restaurant near the summit of Cairn Gorm, has been earmarked to be reconstructed at the local authority owned Highland Folk Park in Newtonmore. The timber cafe, which was built 32 years ago, is to make way for the construction of the Cairngorm mountain railway. Owners, the Cairngorm Chairlift Company said it was delighted to be able to gift the Ptarmigan cafe to Highland Council. Spokeswoman Tania Adams said: "The Ptarmigan has attracted a lot of comment since being built on Cairn Gorm in 1968 and I am sure that it will continue to provide a talking point at the Highland Folk Park." The museum's curator, Ross Noble, has however, sounded a word of caution. He remarked: "We are very keen to see the building saved but we do not know if it is possible yet. "At the moment we are in the throes of discussion with engineers and surveyors over the cost of the project."

Flowers of Scotland

There was more than a hint of Spring at the Eastgate Centre in Inverness recently when the Floral Art Club held a colourful exhibition to welcome the new millennium. Flowers were creatively and lovingly arranged by club members to represent Scotland through the ages in a special exhibition which opened. Eastgate Centre manager Eric Milne said: "It was a beautiful display, something really different for the centre and it certainly lifted our spirits at this time of year." Members of Inverness Floral Art Club were present at most times during the exhibition to provide information for shoppers about the displays.

Charity Event

The roulette table turned out to be a wheel of fortune for an Inverness charity after it scooped 120 during a fund raising evening. Hosted by Dickson's Motors to promote a new car, managing director Dougie Pitt invited Children 1st events organiser Lilian Ross to the casino evening in a bid to raise cash for the charity's family resource centre in Killen.

Political Roundup

Call for Sign Language Recognition

British sign language should be recognised as an official language by the Scottish Parliament an MSP said recently. Winnie Ewing, SNP MSP for the Highlands and Islands, was moving a motion in a member's debate calling on the parliament to implement the European Parliament's recognition of sign language as an official language. Her motion was observed by a large group of deaf people, with the debate signed to them. Mrs Ewing said: "About 5,000 to 7,000 people are born profoundly deaf. They have never heard a human voice, they have never heard music, they have never heard birds sing. "They want access on equal terms to all walks of life. They want to access their full potential and they want to raise their self esteem for their deaf identity."

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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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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