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Nessie's Loch Ness Times

The Friendliest NewsPaper on the WWW

Established December 3rd, 1996
         Saturday 15th April 2000
Issue No 175

Have Huskies Will Travel

A family have trekked 200 miles from Argyll to the Highlands to open the UK's first husky sled dog training centre.

Deep sea diver Alan Stewart and his wife Fiona, are living on the Seafield Estate near Grantown with their 10 Siberian huskies, Cumbrian trail hound and German short haired pointer. They are seeking suitable terrain in Strathspey to set up the Cairngorm Sled Dog Adventure Centre to put potential mushers through their paces. Champion sled dog racer Mr Stewart is confident he will be training novice husky racers in the Cairngorm wilderness by next winter. The venture is being backed by Rick Swainson - five times winner of the famous 1,200 mile Iditarod sled race in his native Alaska. Mr Stewart said after moving from Ardrishaig: "The Cairngorms are the perfect place to set up Britain's first dedicated sled dog training centre. "The climate is the best geared for the sport and we will be on the doorstep of the last true wilderness in the country. "Our racers will be going into places which have never been seen in midwinter." He added: "The training centre will give people an insight into one of the most exhilarating sports around. "I've been working as a deep sea diver all over the world for the last 16 years but for me, nothing beats the buzz of being pulled by a team of huskies at speeds in excess of 20mph through snow." Mr Stewart, who has been racing huskies for nine years, last year became the first man to cross Ben Macdui in the Cairngorms with a team of dogs. He won the 10 day Ushuaia stage race in Patagonia in 1997. Mr Stewart has also led husky expeditions into Chile. The dogs will pull heavy quad bikes twice a day as part of their training. Mr Stewart said of Rick Swainson's endorsement: "For him to become centre patron is a tremendous fillip." It is intended to open the centre between November and March each year.

Hi Tech First

The historic Royal burgh of Dornoch is to pioneer a project to make details of its heritage available to the public via the latest computer technology. It is expected to be the first town in Scotland to have its centuries old public records scanned on to CD-ROM to allow people the opportunity to consult them in their place of origin. Eight CDs carrying 27 volumes of Dornoch Town Council minutes from 1729 to 1975 should be available for public examination at Dornoch Library by Easter. Highland Council archivist Bob Steward, who is co-ordinating the project, revealed this facility would be extended to other Dornoch records and other areas if the experiment was successful.

Award for Effort

A project to restore a listed Victorian railway station in the Highlands back to its former glory was presented with a prestigious award. Aviemore Railway Station has been commended by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors in Scotland, in its award scheme this year. The work, which was funded by Moray Badenoch and Strathspey, Railtrack and the Strathspey Steam Railway Company among others, was completed two years ago. Chairman David Orchraton said: "This is an excellent example of a scheme using public and private funding to achieve an outstanding and attractive result. "A new lease of life has been given to an old building and this kind of conservation is also a small scale regeneration for the local community. "I am also pleased that there has been detailed thought about the future maintenance and upkeep of the station which I hope will keep its future secure."

Plan for Knoydart

A new business plan was presented to inhabitants of Knoydart Estate recently, just a year after the historic buyout by the community. The owners of the 17,500 acre estate celebrated a year in charge in March after the takeover from debt ridden former owner Knoydart Peninsula Ltd. Bernie Evemy, the secretary of the community association and one of the directors of the Knoydart Foundation, said the past year had allowed members of the community to be more at ease after a number of problems. "It has been hard work but we are laying the foundations for the future," he said. "One of the main differences is that people are much more secure now because we did not know what to expect when the takeover was going on. People have found the have become more involved in the community as everyone is a member of this committee and that committee. "The past twelve months have been spent identifying which way to go forward and the new business plan was presented to the community recently."

Popular Highlands

The number of people living in the Highlands is expected to rise slightly over the next 16 years, while the population of Scotland is forecast to fall. The breakdown of population projections for the regions, released by the Registrar General recently, show that 208,3000 lived in the Highlands in 1998 and that is forecast to go up by 196 to 208,496 by 2016. But the country's population is due to drop from the 1998 figure of 5.12 million to 5.08 million in 2016. A Highlands and Islands Enterprise spokesman said: "What it shows is the whole of Scotland is showing a population decrease while the Highlands is showing a population increase of 0.1 per cent. That is still a decent performance, given the national trend."

Major Boost for Inverness

Hotels and businesses in Inverness are expecting a mini boost next spring after the Scottish Labour Party announced recently it would be holding its annual conference in the town. The event is expected to generate a lot of money for the area, which is already enjoying a boom in the conference tourism sector. The Law Society of Scotland chose the Highland Capital as the venue for its annual gathering in April ahead of Gleneagles, and the Scottish National Party will also be holding its conference in September in Eden Court. Norman Lauritson, chairman of the Highlands of Scotland Tourist Board, welcomed the announcement. "It is excellent news that the Scottish Labour Party has chosen Inverness for its annual conference," he said. "It shows a genuine desire to spread business to more rural destinations. "March is good timing as it is a quieter month in the tourist season. "We are keen to continue having Eden Court as a major conference venue because it brings people in to use the hotels and services offered by the town."

Lost Skills

Shetland could lose its traditional knitting skills unless more young people move into the industry, it has been warned. Having survived the slow death of the Scottish knitwear industry, Shetland heads into an uncertain future due to a lack in interest among young people. Lorna Graham of the Shetland Knitwear Trades Association says young blood is urgently needed to revitalise an industry that employs 150 people plus another 1000 home knitters and is worth more that 5 million to the Shetland economy. She said: "Shetland has a lot of opportunities for young people and the knitwear industry is not what people see as a way forward for them. We would like to encourage a lot more younger people into the industry, as we are losing a lot of the skills, because younger people are not learning them."

Charity Event

A charity has come to the aid of one of Scotland's busiest mountain rescue teams. The Order of St John recently handed over a 35,000 Land Rover to Fort William based Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team. It eases pressure on team members, who are faced with raising 60,000 a year to run the 40 strong outfit which has just completed its busiest ever year dealing with 67 incidents, five of which involved fatalities. Miller Harris, rescue team association secretary said: "Without help from individuals and organisations such as St John, many rescue teams would find it difficult to survive."

Political Roundup

Virtual Institute.

Scotland could soon have an "e-institute" to help businesses sell on the Internet, Enterprise and Lifelong Learning Minister Henry McLeish said recently. Mr McLeish was speaking in the Scottish Parliament, outlining the Executive's commitment to help business take advantage of the information technology revolution. The debate cames after publication of a Scottish Enterprise plan to accelerate the take up of e-commerce by business. Mr McLeish said: "One thing we can do today is to send a clear message that e-commerce is vital for the future of Scotland."

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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